Elle Peterson rose stiffly from the navigator's chair, standing back and stretching. She nodded at Gregory as he took her place in the chair.

"Maintain heading of 270.82 degrees by 14.23 degrees. Don't forget that Midpoint is coming up soon." She tapped a red digital display on the console. It read;

The numbers ticking off with the passing seconds.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Jesus, Elle, how come you always gotta treat me like a goddamn kid?" He scowled as he slid his hands through the control grips.

"Only because you always act like one."

She headed for the door.

Elle found herself in a tight metal corridor. All her muscles were stiff from sitting through her last 8-hour shift, and she stretched again, wincing at the number of pops that her bones made. She wasn't quite as young as she used to be, she might as well admit it. Her shift was finally over, though, and there were 16 beautiful hours of freedom before she would have to strap into the Nav chair again.

She started down the corridor to a nearby galley on a cue sent to her by her empty stomach. She asked the computer for a bowl of chili and waited for it to arrive. Shortly the door to the food processor slid open, revealing a white bowl filled with a red substance the approximate consistency of oatmeal. With a frustrated sigh she scoped up the bowl, and grabbed a spoon from a nearby holder . She hated space food. Wedging herself behind a tiny collapsible table, she dug a spoon into the stuff, inspected it dubiously, then shoved it into her mouth. It wasn't half-bad, if the texture was strange.

Just then, the shipwide speakers crackled briefly, then began to issue a synthesized feminine voice.

"180 degree turnover maneuver to begin shortly. Please prepare for zero gravity."

It was the computer, announcing that it was about to start the maneuvering necessary for the deceleration that would take up the remainder of the voyage. Far below her, the sound of the Walterium reactor dwindled, then faded altogether. Her hair rose around her like wispy snakes as the artificial gravity produced by the shipís forward acceleration ceased Elle looked at the bowl of "Chili" in her hands, then, with a smirk, sent it drifting slowly upward, adding a slight spin for artistic effect. She watched the bowl journey slowly towards the ceiling. Several minutes passed as she watched the mesmerizing rotations of the bowl. She loved the serenity of the ship during midpoint, with neither the churning of the reactor nor 1.25 gravities weighing her down. The little bowl, with itís payload of artificial chili and spoon, had almost reached the ceiling when the throb of the main engine started up again. The chili, so close to attaining itís goal, drifted back down reluctantly as the gravity increased. Elle reached up and plucked the "Chili" from the air. No longer hungry, she set it on the table and stood to leave. As she set the bowl down, it inexplicably began to slide. Puzzled, Elle watched it as it picked up speed, then toppled off the edge of the table and splatted down onto the seat.

Elle's eyebrows raised. That shouldn't have happened. Normally, when the ship was under way, any artificial gravity produced by thrust would be focused directly down. This seemed to be going horizontally. She moved to pick up the bowl and felt herself off balance. She caught herself against the edge of the table. Something was definitely not right. As 1st Nav it was her responsibility to do whatever she could to set it right. She didn't trust Gregory much either. She headed quickly towards the door. She could now actually feel the horizontal gravity's force accumulating, it was work to walk to the door of the Galley and into the corridor.

Suddenly, there with a lurch and a shuddering groan the ship was struck by severe cavitiations. Already unbalanced by the unusual gravity, Elle lost her footing and slammed to the floor, sliding across the corrugated surface. With a cry she threw her arms up, just before she slammed up against a wall. Her head struck the steel of the airlock doors and stars danced briefly across her vision.

Squinting from the pain, Elle levered herself off the deck and started again, more carefully, to gain access to the bridge. Struggling as if on a steep slope, she moved her way forward. Just as she
reached the bridge door, the ship convulsed once more, almost sending her sliding back again.

She slapped the door open pad, but the steel double doors did not slide apart. The ship was in lockdown mode, all bulkheads closed to prevent chain decompression in case of a hull breach.

Gritting her teeth, she popped open the manual open panel, and yanked on the yellow and red striped bar inside. There was a slight pause, a pronounced clunk as the MagLocks released, and then the doors hissed open.

She stumbled through the door, heading for the Nav chair. The bridge was awash in warning lights and buzzers, flashing red strobes and a Synthesized voice saying "warning hull overstress warning hull overstress warning hull overstress warning-" Over and over.

She spied Gregory in the Nav chair. He craned his neck to look at her. Was he doing all this?

"What the hell are you doing?" She shouted at him.

"Nothing!! We're in a powerslide! The engine won't shut off!"

"What?" Elle whispered under her breath making her way slowly to the Nav chair. A powerslide was a combat maneuver, a turn while under main engine thrust. It created a huge amount of stress along the hull, and was only used by smaller vessels, usually only a third the length of Gravlaw.

She reached the back of the Nav chair, holding tight to the headrest to keep her footing. Quickly she scanned the instruments. Greg was right. The ship was in a wild, corkscrewing, unchecked turn. None of the maneuvering thrusters were engaged, meaning that whatever was affecting the turn had nothing to do with the maneuvering systems. The only operating engine was the Reactor. She quickly checked the readout. It was turned down to neutral, but it was quite obvious that the engine was operating either at or near full power. So the bridge connection to the engine had failed somehow? That left two options. There was a secondary, emergency control station located farther aft. They could attempt to reach the station, but in all probability Gravlaw would shatter and spill it's atmosphere and crew before they got halfway there.

So there was really only one option left, which was to-

"Call engineering! Have them scram the engine!!"

Greg hesitated only an instant before reaching for the Comm board. A few moments later his voice shouted out from the shipwide broadcasting system.

"Shut the engine down! Scram! Scram!"

Scramming the engine would certainly stop the acceleration, but it was hard on the components and required that the entire engine be reset before being started again. Under the circumstances, Elle thought, I don't think anyone'd protest.

Just as she finished he thought, the Engine blew out with a tremendous roar. A sustained groan issued from the ship's hull as the metal unburdened itself of stress. They had stopped the acceleration of the spin, but not the spin itself, or the centrifugal gravity. Greg immediately activated the fore and aft thrusters, slowly counteracting the spin. The horizontal gravity caused by the spin diminished, then finally disappeared altogether. The interior of the ship was again at zero G.

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