A Rude Awakening

811 words. Approximately 4 minutes reading time

I woke up to the sound of the general alarm. The first thing I noticed was the difficulty I had moving. Apparently, they’d killed the gravity generator for this drill. The mess deck was lit by dim red lights, but I had adjusted to those long ago. As I floated out of my rack space, my half-engaged brain heard the PA announce “Emergency stations! Emergency stations!” No reason given – must be a general exercise.

The alarm repeated as I grabbed my uniform, fought to get into it without gravity’s aid. Next was my emergency respirator. A quick glance at the gauge showed me a green indicator, confirming two hours of oxygen.

I got out into the flats and noticed flickering lights. This was new. It’s then that I noticed the odd pitch of the engines. While I’m not an engineer, I’d lived aboard Slipdagger that I know what she should sound like. That wasn’t my partship though – someone else needed to worry about that.

I got to my station with the Emergency Repair Team. Someone was on the headset already. His respirator mask made it impossible to see his face, and I couldn’t see his name badge. I gave him the thumbs-up; and watched him mark me down on the roster. I suited up the rest of the way and started checking the toolkits while the rest of the team filtered in.

“Five minutes,” called the PA. “Ship is at emergency stations.”

I looked at the rest of the ERT, floating around the shop. A few had managed to get footholds near the edges of the room, but there were too many of us. Of course, the latecomers always got the best seats.

“D’you hear there, this is the Captain.” We all looked up at the PA speaker. “During the transition out of hyperspace, we had a power surge on the main generator. Fires were put out by rapid response and damage is being assessed. Damage control priorities are the restoration of power and navigation. This is not a drill.”

From the back of the room, I heard the comms guy. I recognized Mike’s voice. “Dispatch a team to forward navigation. Complete loss of systems.” Immediately I grabbed my tools. I waved to the command section, making sure they saw me. The supervisor gave me a thumbs up, then indicated an apprentice to join me. We headed out of the shop and forward towards the navigation space.

As we headed out, I took stock of my companion. He was new – this was his first cruise. The white stripe on his rank flash showed that he hadn’t even completed his ship’s orientation.

“Do you know where we’re going?” I asked the rookie.

“More or less. I’ve gotten a basic tour of our spaces, but that’s about it. I’m afraid I won’t be much use to you for troubleshooting.”

Great. I was saddled with a rank amateur. I hoped that the problems would be simple.

When we got to forward nav, my hopes were dashed. The door was vacuum-sealed. I grabbed the phone beside the door and dialed the net-access code. I heard the tone brief tone indicating that I had joined the ERT party-line, then someone speaking.

“…ilizers and gyros are bent. I’m getting some stock numbers. Hopefully, the binrats have some parts for us.”

“This is After ERT, roger. HQ did you copy?”

“HQ copies.”

“Forward copies.”

I took advantage of the silence to announce myself.

“Forward nav on net. Reporting.”

“Forward ERT, go ahead nav.”

“This is forward nav, we are unable to enter the gyro space. It indicates vacuum-sealed, and I can’t see the equipment status.”

“Forward roger, we have just received reports that forward nav is non-responsive because it has been blown out. Do not attempt to breach the seal, that room has been lost to space. Return to ERT.”

Damage reports continued to come in, but they were pretty disheartening. We didn’t have the parts to repair the after nav system, and the salvage team didn’t get much out of forward. The captain stood down emergency stations since there was no purpose in us staying on high alert. In fact, he ordered a stand-down of all personnel not required to get us back on track. Unfortunately, as one of Slipdagger’s navigation system experts, I had a few long days ahead of me.

Eventually, we got some equipment together. The result is shoddy-looking. It’s held together with duct tape and prayers, but we hope it will do something. The captain and the ship’s navigator have had a look at it, and they agree that they can work with the limitations of what we have. Basic stabilizers to keep us level, but no computer guidance. They retreated to their cabins to pull out pencils, papers, and calculators.

Tomorrow, we will find out if my repairs worked.

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