Deep Space – Chapter Eight

The door slid open and Amy entered the room. She sat down and wheeled her chair back up to the console.

“So what did you do with your five hours? Checkers? Chess? Hangman?”

“No actually I’ve been exploring the ship. From my chair at least. Lots of interesting things aboard. And some mysteries.”

“Well it’s about time to try our next move. Should we test this cloaking device first?”

“No. I don’t want them to know we have a cloaking device.”

“Actually why do we have a cloaking device? Not something a cruise ship would need.”

“There’s a lot about this ship that’s very non cruise ship like.”

“So how do we do this?”

“Well you did bring up an issue that needs to be addressed. Eddie, how do we know this cloaking device will work?”

The emotionless voice of Eddie answered. “I have run diagnostics. Everything is in order.”

“Okay. So here’s what we do. I’ll count down from five. At zero you activate cloaking. Then immediately after I’ll launch the decoy. Then we sit tight till they take the bait. You’ve got a course laid in?”

“I do. Roughly a hundred and twenty degrees away from the decoy’s course.”

“All right. Hands on controls? Ready?”

“Ready.”

“Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Cloak.”

“Cloaking active.”

“Launch.”

 

 

“There they go.”

Captain Rice leaned forward in his chair. “Get on them. We need to stay close. They’ve been hatching something. I’m expecting some quick course changes.”

Lieutenant Cameraday’s hands flashed rapidly over his control panel. “On their course. Going to light speed.”

The bridge was quiet as all eyes followed their displays. After a few minutes Lieutenant Groce turned his head slightly toward the captain but his eyes never left his display. “Something’s wrong.”

“What?”

“Their speed is dropping.  Slowly, almost imperceptible, but it is dropping.”

“What do you think?”

Groce turned fully to face the captain. “I don’t think it’s them. I think it’s a decoy.”

“Why would a retired cruise ship have a light speed decoy?”

“I don’t know but I’m convinced that’s what we’ve got.”

Lieutenant Cameraday joined the conversation. “That would mean a cloaking device as well.”

Groce said, “Who are these guys?”

They all turned to look at the scarecrow. Scarecrow said nothing.

Captain Rice said, “So we need to go back to where we left them. We can assume they’ve gone off in another direction. They’ll have a good head start and we don’t know which direction.”

Groce said, “I dropped a sentinel before we left.”

“What made you think to do that?”

Groce shrugged. “Just hedging our bets.”

“Good thinking. Can we get their course from the sentinel?”

Groce turned to his console. “There it is. Got it Larry?”

Cameraday answered, “Got it. Following. Boy they’re really moving.”

 

 

Sam was up pacing again. “Did it work?”

“I think it did. They definitely took the bait.”

“Good. Let’s make another course change before they figure it out.”

“Wait. They’ve stopped. Sitting. Back to light speed at new course.” Amy looked at Sam. “They’re back on us.”

Sam put both hands over his face and rubbed vigorously. He clasped his hands behind his back and looked vacantly around the room.

Amy watched him carefully. “What next.”

“I don’t know. We’ve gained a little ground on them. Let’s don’t give it up. We’ll stay at maximum light speed for now.” He turned to the display screen. “Eddie, what else do you have in your bag of tricks?”

“Nothing else that I know of.”

“Come on. There must be something.”

“I will suggest one thing. Use wide area scan instead of focused scan. They can follow the focused signal back to you.”

“So we’re making it too easy for them.”

“That’s right.”

Amy tapped the controls. “Got it. Wide area scan.”

Sam folded his arms. “So what else?”

The calm voice gave the bad news. “Nothing else.”

Sam heaved a sigh and started wandering the room. “How long can we last at maximum speed?”

“Approximately ninety earth days.”

“Then what happens?”

“Then you would be powerless. The crystals would exhausted. You would need new crystals to re-energize the reactor.”

“Basically dead in the water. Nothing more than space junk.”

“That’s right.”

“Can’t have that.”

Sam paced. He ran his hands through his hair. He growled in frustration.

Amy watched him for a while. Then she turned to the screen.

“Eddie, what’s burst mode?”

“Burst mode is an experimental program. It is not ready for operational use. It is very dangerous.”

Sam stopped and looked at the screen. “Eddie do I detect a hint of emotion?”

“I am not programmed for emotion.”

“Still I did detect a change in your voice. You sounded… nervous.”

“I cannot be nervous.”

“I think you’re nervous. I think this…” He looked at Amy.

“Burst mode.”

“This burst mode makes you nervous.”

Silence. Sam and Amy looked at each other.

Sam folded his arms and considered the screen. “Eddie, we want to know more about burst mode.”

More silence.

Amy said, “Eddie.”

“Yes.”

“What is burst mode?”

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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