27 August 2012

Just Visiting...

“Captain Kreuger, sir, we are quite lost.”

“Finneus, how can we be quite lost? We’re either lost or we’re not lost.”

“Yes sir.”

“Well, please explain mister ‘Our star charts are infallible’.”

“Well, Captain, it seems the decision to test the engines and sails has caused a bit of drift. We’re off course, and the ship can’t map stars while we’re under magnosolar sail power.”

“Watch your tone there, Finn.”

“Sorry, sir. I just think it would be wise at this point to perhaps cut the engines before our momentum takes us any further away from known territory.”

“I suppose that’s a good idea. How long until the ship catches up mapping what’s behind us? We’ve never run into this problem before.”

“By Dr. Haswell’s calculations, it should have happened already. I’m running some diagnostics to find out what went wrong.”

“Fine, fine. Just keep me posted. I’ll be back in an hour or so after my workout. I’ve got a hot date with my video log.”

“Wait, please. Um, Sir...Captain...Nathan, this is serious. The diagnostics aren’t looking good. I don’t think the StarDrive is working, and without the ability to map the course we just took, we’re lost.”

“Pffft. That’s not serious. Serious would be if the sails failed to unfurl or retract. Serious would be if we couldn’t produce breathable air. Serious would be if the goddamn crapper stopped working.”

“So the fact that we’re adrift, carried on momentum to send us further adrift doesn’t worry you at all? Are you insane?

“I’m not insane, Finn, just an optimist. Our ancestors sailed boats into unknown territory all the time back on Earth. Do you think they got weepy every time the wind didn’t behave? No! They found a point of reference with their eyeballs and got their ships back on track. We’ll do the same. Come on, let’s get to the viewport.”

“Captain, may I speak frankly?”

“Of course. What’s on your mind?”

“We’re all starting to wonder if any of the home office’s calculations were wrong. Why haven’t we found anyone yet? Everyone back home said this was the galaxy to explore. these solar systems were the best candidates.”

“I’ve been asking myself that as well. Look, we’ve been wondering that for most of recorded history. Even if we don’t find anything on this trip there will probably be others. We are the first mission after all.”

“I suppose you’re right, Captain, but wouldn’t you like something to show for our work? Here we go. Viewscreen, show us the outside, full spectrum.”

“Just look where we are, Finn. Look at this view. This is enough for me. No matter what we find or don’t, our species has accomplished all this.”

“I suppose so, Captain.”

“Look over there, off to the left. That looks like the dwarf star we did our last slingshot around. Let’s move back there and see if our charts can reorient themselves.”

“Aye, Captain. It looks a bit like the dwarf, but it could just as easily be one we’ve never seen before. What makes you so sure?”

“Mostly that egg-shaped infrared spew coming out of it. If you paid attention when we passed by the first time, the spectrum analyzer showed an identical spew. Real hard to duplicate something like that, don’tcha think? You’re the nav, Finn...don’t you watch the full spectrum?”

“I...I suppose I wasn’t...Sorry sir. Plotting a course.”

“Fine, fine.”


“Yes, sir?”

“If I’m wrong about the dwarf star and we’re going to drift alone in space until we die, I thought you would like to know...I switched your name for someone else’s on the manifest.”

“I know, sir. I know.”