Greg dropped his hands from the control grips, sighing.
    "Well, looks like we made it."
    Elle nodded, easing her fingers from their death grip on the Nav couch headrest.
    An unmelodic blend of alarm buzzers and verbal warnings blared, filling the cramped Nav Compartment. Greg set about checking his instruments, looking any more impending problems.

    With an electronic sputter, the shipwide intercomm cut in.
    "This is Captain Evharsen.Crew
list All stations check in. Give me a full accounting of crew injuries and equipment casualties. Do not secure from lockdown. Officer Swanson,Crew list Meet me in the Nav Compartment".

    "Uh oh." Said Greg. "Now we're in for it. How are we gonna explain this?"

    Elle shook her head. "I have no idea. After 16 years pushing ships, I've never, ever seen anything like that·" She trailed off.

    They worked silently, resetting tripped alarms, diagnosing systems, and checking readouts, until Greg finally cut the master alarm and the bridge was immersed in silence.

    "I wonder if everybody's okay?" Greg glanced at Elle.  Now that the crisis was actually over, he was feeling nervous and jittery.

    "Well," She sighed, "With the way the ship was spinning, the outer edges would have been hit the worst. Engineering's way down by the Reactor, so it must've been really hairy down there. Probably pulled 4 or 5 G's. I'm surprised they were able to scram as fast as they did.  The rest of the stations are right around the midline, like we were, so it wouldn't have been so bad.  But if anyone'd been walking around like I was, they might be in pretty bad sha-"

    Elle cut off in midsentance as the compartment door opened. She came to attention and flashed a quick salute as Captain Evharsen floated into the Nav station.

    Evharsen nodded, sweeping the Nav station with his weathered eyes. 1st Officer Swanson trailed in behind him.

     Greg craned his head around the back of his seat, trying to get a good view of the Captain. Though he'd been on Gravlaw for six months, he'd only seen Evharsen two or three times.  The Captain, at first appearance, seemed fierce, almost predatory. But now, after further observation, Greg noticed a more Grandfatherly air to the man, especially now with his brows bunched with consternation.

Evharsen hovered in the middle of the compartment for a moment, completely at ease in zero G. Then he spoke.

"Alright, Nav, what happened here?"

Greg winced, swallowed, and began his story.

'Well, you see sir, It happened like this.."

The Captain listened patiently while Greg slowly and painfully unraveled his tale. Once it was over, he scratched his chin, nodding.

"Very well, Karwick. I'll address you and Ms. Petersen personally on this later. But for now·" He reached across Greg and keyed open the Shipwide comm. "Alright Crew, let's have those reports!"

"Engineering, checking in okay. Cid suffered a minor blackout due to the rotation. Main engine is currently inoperable, as a result of the emergency shutdown. Stressing along the length of the ship has most likely created microfissures around the midline pressure hull. However, the plates are holding and we retain 100% atmospheric integrity. Also, there is the possibility of a cargo shift. We will submit another evaluation once we have a chance to more thoroughly examine the ship. Engineering out."

"Systems checks out okay. No injuries or computer systems failures. We're just damn shook up over here. Systems out."

"Security, Checking in okay. What the hell's going on over there? No injuries, lockdown remains in effect. Security out."

The speaker crackled once more, then fell silent.

Evharsen nodded, flipping on the Shipwide once again.

"Crew, well done. You were faced with a life threatening situation and reacted as calmly and professionally as any crew anyone could ask for. Engineering, begin your inspection of the pressure hull, then make preparations to restart the main engine. All other crew, remain at active stations and stay on your toes. Lockdown is to be maintained until hull integrity has been affirmed. All further reports should be forwarded to my cabin. Once again, well done. We may very well have avoided a major catastrophe. Captain out."

With that, Evharsen turned to face the 1st officer.

"Randy, find out what caused this. Talk to the crew, get some opinions. Then get the facts. Send the results to my compartment."

Swanson nodded. "I'll get right on it."

The Captain took one last look around the compartment, then propelled himself out.

Greg quirked his mouth. "That was pretty abrupt·"

Swanson shrugged his shoulders. "He's like that. Don't let it get to you. He knows what he's doing. I guess I've already got your depositions, I'd better be moving on."

He floated himself through the door, resealing it after him.

Go to next part of story>>