Wednesday, August 5, 2015

False Hope

Exec: What do we have Ensign?

Ensign: Ma'am, we ... ma'am ...

Exec: They're called 'shoulders' Ensign. I can wear what I want on my downtime. You're lucky the Captain is off ship. He'd come barreling up here from the shower wearing suds. Oh for, about face and give me a report mister!

Ensign: Aye ma'am. Thank you ma'am. It's the battlecruiser Lowell. Transponder and engine signals match the Index. No escape pods launched. Shuttle bay door is open.

Exec: Any sign of Shuttle 1?

Ensign: No ma'am, still missing.

Exec: (I'm going to kill the Captain for going missing when I find him.) Put the stats on the main view. Thanks. Minimal power. Low life signs. Okay ... drop a recorder buoy to mark it and let's continue the search.

Ensign: Ma'am ...

Ensign: The next words out of your mouth better be 'aye aye'. Are you receiving?

Ensign: ... aye aye ma'am.

Exec: Good.

Ensign: Yes ma'am.

Exec: Schaeffer. Sometimes you have to know your limits. The Lowell was sighted six times before this. Two of the ships sighting her sent parties aboard before all contact was lost and the ship's boarding went missing too. Of the four others one experienced total sensor and navigation failure, another drive failure and one ... the crew went berserk and began rioting.

Ensign: But Shuttle 1 could have been aboard.

Exec: It isn't. Trust and believe my dear.

Ensign: How can you know?

Exec: Because what ever happened to the Lowell she isn't Fleet now. She's a damned trap and an intelligent one. If it got the shuttle you bet your shirt it would have had the shuttle's transponder on and its distress call blaring. Whatever is there ... wants us to stop and go onboard.

Ensign: Yes ma'am.

Exec: There are no life signs there. There are 58 life signs on this ship and eight more on Shuttle 1. Now resume the search. Fleet has specialists they call for cases like this. It might even be an attempt at first contact but ... I don't know.

Ensign: Aye ma'am. Permission to speak?

Exec: Shoot.

Ensign: The Captain probably would have filled that hulk with ion torpedoes.

Exec: Possibly. He might even be right to. Resume search.

Ensign: Aye aye ma'am.

With thanks to Winchell Chung for reminding me of the story of The New Hope related in Sargasso of Space by Lady Andre Norton.