Peterson rose stiffly from the navigator's chair, standing back and stretching. She
nodded at Gregory as he took her place in the chair.
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
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.
because you always act like one."
headed for the door.
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.
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.
then, the shipwide speakers crackled briefly, then began to issue a synthesized feminine
degree turnover maneuver to begin shortly. Please prepare for zero gravity."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
spied Gregory in the Nav chair. He craned his neck to look at her. Was he doing all
the hell are you doing?" She shouted at him.
We're in a powerslide! The engine won't shut off!"
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.
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.
there was really only one option left, which was to-
engineering! Have them scram the engine!!"
hesitated only an instant before reaching for the Comm board. A few moments later
his voice shouted out from the shipwide broadcasting system.
the engine down! Scram! Scram!"
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.
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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