“The threads!” Doall said. “Inconceivable, look for threads that are off by 90 degrees.”
Basil replied by rolling his eyes. “Among all the threads in the altered universe?”
“Right… Um… Bridge to Teleporter room. Dolfrick, we need you to send the Inconceivable Commander Deary’s last teleporter record. Hurry – we only have a few minutes. Lieutenant Cruz, try reversing the polarity of the tractor beam by 90 degrees.”
“We already did. No result.”
“Try it by 45,” someone from the bullpen suggested, but everyone scoffed. After all, you can’t reverse the polarity by 45 degrees. That’s crazy talk.
“Button’s done,” the crewman declared as she proudly stepped back onto the bridge. “I even gave it a nice clock to count down the time.”
She tilted the button for everyone to see. Rather than a digital readout, it was indeed a circular clock face with a minute hand and a second hand. It showed three minutes, five seconds. The clock made faint ticking sounds as it counted down the time to the Inconceivable’s doom.
People “ooo”d appreciatively.
Suddenly Smythe snapped his fingers. “Analog! Cruz, reverse the polarity two hundred seventy degrees and try again.”
“Aye, sir!” Cruz’s hands stabbed at buttons. If he’d had time, he would have replicated a nice dial and installed it. In fact, he made a mental note to suggest it later. There was something satisfying about turning a dial as opposed to punching buttons. However, the results themselves were just as rewarding.
“Got them! Pulling them toward us. It’s like dragging a spoon through my nona’s chili, but it’s moving.”
“Your nona made chili?” LaFuentes asked.
“What? You think we ate pasta all the time?”
“Captain,” Doall interrupted, “I think that’s the key to our ‘patch’ as well. I’ve almost got it programmed.”
Jeb turned to gape at her. In fact, most of the crew paused in their wild scheming to do the same. This was a new record in Doall-saves-the-day. “What? Just in the time we took to snag the Inconceivable?”
Ellie’s cheeks pinked. “Well, the science teams on the Inconceivable and Rational Plausibility are passing me the data and I’m consolidating it into a program. Is that okay?”
Jeb grinned. “It’s good to see you leading a team, ensign.”
From the Security console, Enigo pouted. “So I don’t get to shoot the NO-BRAINR after all?”
Doall shrugged apologetically, but from the Inconceivable, Basil said, “No, but you can shoot that star. In fact, every ship should fire all weapons at the star as soon as we reprogram the NO-BRAINR.”
“What? Why?” Jeb asked before his chief of security could cheer.
“Because no one wants to give up their warp core, is why! We’re going to have to power that star up if it’s going to counteract the black hole. Oh, don’t ask how. It’s a thread thing; you wouldn’t understand.”
Again, Ellie gave an apologetic shrug. This was beyond her level of math as well, but the Inconceivable science team chimed in agreement it would either work or send them into a mirror universe.
“One minute, y’all,” the Impulsive warned.
“But I’m pulling the Inconceivable away from the black hole,” Cruz protested. “That should have bought us some time.”
“Oh, it did,” Pulsie replied with electronic amiability, “but that there countdown clock Ensign Mort there made? It’s tied itself into the self-destruct.”