Author’s note: I’m grateful to Metal for providing the inspiration for this story. It is set in a thinly disguised, probably recognizable fictional universe (hint: it rhymes with “car check”), so if you’d rather call the simspace a “holodeck”, you have my blessing. It’s a long story (11 chapters) and it starts slowly; please be patient!
Unical date: 3752.563.21
[Framing shot: a space station in orbit above a yellow-orange gas giant planet. Cut to interior of station.]
“I know this isn’t the best of circumstances,” Commander Shizaki said, “but there really is no other choice. We must make do with what we have.”
Lieutenant Sam Green tried to keep his face impassive, allowing only concern to show, a slight creasing of the skin between his eyes. “I understand. Bareem needs to return home, of course. But… are you certain there’s no one else who could make the trip with me?” Don’t show even a trace of enthusiasm, not a hint.
The commander shook his head with regret. “No one, I’m afraid. This station’s normal complement is eleven staff, and we’re down two as it is so we were already stretched thin even before this emergency. The need to get Lieutenant Farquhar home for his father’s funeral pushes us to the absolute limit. I’ll be sending Lieutenant Urkenzie out in our one available interstellar-capable ship to take him back to Kerangia and then return. That’s a fourteen-day round trip, and during that time we’ll have to shut down parts of our operations. That will result in angry communications from research teams all over this sector, each one of them in high dudgeon over the absence of data they were expecting us to provide. I anticipate at least one court case to be filed over the fact that our staffing shortage meant missing out on the once-in-ten-thousand-years opportunity to, I don’t know, capture the spectral signature of a snout-nosed pulsar or something equally absurd. The case will of course be dismissed as frivolous but it will still be a tedious bureaucratic hassle.”
He put his hands flat on his desk. “But that is my problem to deal with. Yours, of course, is to get those tribronium plates to Kappa Redulans. Those people are in dire need, and compared with that, the conniption fits of inconvenienced researchers don’t even register.”
“Of course, of course,” Sam agreed. “Main power system destroyed, backup teetering on the brink of collapse, which means no air recycling and no climate control after it fails. And so far away!”
Continue reading Captain Jack and the Race to Redula – Chapter 01: Pyrellia’s Wing