Prologue : Part 3

Darnel stared out the window, and let the petty bickering of her officers wash over her. Amidst their clamoring there was a simple solution that in their haste to deny the painfully obvious. The way back was denied to them, for even if they managed to correctly plot a course that was at best a navigational nightmare. The Empire, if it still stood by this time would have changed beyond all recognition.

They would be regarded as outsiders, and even if they were accepted; would have to re-certify for the basic competencies for their professions. Meaning this crew's long years of dedication and sacrifice to achieve this assignment would have been wasted.

This thought more then anything decided her course of action. “Computer,” she stated in her even voice. At this her officers broke off their contentious discussion and turned to look at Soren. “Yes, Captain Soren?” the AI responded.

“Have you achieved a precise determination of our current position?” She asked, still looking out the window as her Officers waited with barely any restraint as they awaited the Captain's judgement on what their course of action should be.

A section of the Captain's wall lit up with a holographic projection showing the universe from a two-dimensional top down view. The map was marked with the main astronomical features of the Empire, it's worlds, borders and transit lanes glowed markedly. The Empire occupied nearly a half of the upper right quadrant of the Galaxy, yet their current position was somewhere within the outer spiral of the lower left quadrant of this Galactic spiral.

The Computer announced “Captain I believe I have achieved an accurate positional fix, however verification will still take a few more moments.” The AI then tightened the focus in incremental jumps and overlaid several quasars, pulsars and Solar bodies with accompanying multi-spectral analysis of their light and radiation emissions as well as a graviton displacement analysis to determine stellar drift. The display then changed from a two dimensional display to a three dimensional display showing a detailed cartographical view of the surrounding space.

The Computer then announced “Verification completed, positional fix computed accurately to within a error margin of approximately 7 LDU.” The Captain looked at the stellar grid presented to her and asked “Computer, what was the nature of verification for this positional fix?”

The Computer replied momentarily “Positional fix was verified using short range visual sensors to identify stellar formations, spectral sensors to analysis the waveform emissions, which was then compared to all recorded stellar formations. Record match was obtained within a 72.987 percent degree of certainty against last transmission from the Gallos 5 spatial probe, launched during the 56th year of the reign of Shinzan the 153rd. Transmission was analyzed by Deep Space Telemetry in...”

Soren allowed the computer's flow of information to continue for a moment longer, and then commanded “Enough.” She turned to her Officer's and said, “Revive the rest of the crew, I want a full account of the damage the ship has suffered within the hour and have sufficient repairs made to bring this ship back to at least the semblance of operational status within 12 hours, I also want a Combat Air Patrol launched immediately, even if you have to put the pilot's in the ships and simply decompress the entire launch bay and recon missions to commence as soon as possible after the CAP has been launched. As far as I'm concerned we are in enemy held territory until proven otherwise.”

Colonel Denning tried to speak after she had issued her orders, but she simply stared him down and then said, “Dismissed.” Denning and the others filed off to revive their respective staffs and left Soren alone in her office as she stood staring out at the stars.

Leiutenant Commander Granger's eyes were glued to his instrumentation as the transfer team sealed the flask of grayish green proto-matter into the test reactor. Their initial air patrol had turned up no hostile contacts, and it appeared as if the local cluster was devoid of almost all civilisation. What it had turned up however was a rogue planetoid, a phenomena so rare that the Captain had immediately sent a science team to it's surface.

Granger erected the strongest shielding he could within the test chamber as a safeguard, and double checked safety protocols and the stringest test measures he had devised. The planetoid had been mostly a barren uninhabitable rock, which wasn't all that unusual as far as rogue planetoids go, what it did posess was a deposit of a material that no imperial scientist had ever dreamed possible.

A naturally occuring multi-molecular resin that appeared to amplify energy. It didn't even matter what type of energy it was, as the unfortunate scientist who stepped into a small amount of the resin discovered as he was propelled away from the surface with such violent acceleration that he was now in the med bay undergoing surgery.

Granger was sure that they were as ready as they ever could be, and picked up the handset to contact Captain Soren to receive final go ahead to conduct the test.Darnel was striding down the decking towards CIC when the overhead announced. “CO contact Science Lab”. Darnel reached the next comm handset and after removing it from the recepticle selected the relay for CIC.

“CIC, connect me to Science Lab.” Darnel waited as the call was transferred through and when Cmdr Granger answered “Science Lab.” Darnel said calmly.”I trust everything is ready.....then proceed Mr Granger and good luck.” Darnel returned the handset to the recepticle and then continued on her way towards CIC. If this test of Granger's worked, then there was a good chance that they might be able to find a way home that didn't require stasis pods or journey's of ridiculous lengths of time.

So engrossed in the status reports that she was reading that the explosion threw her to the decking and after a moment of disorientation she picked her self up and ran the remaining distance to CIC. When she arrived there, her XO was over by the Damage Control board and the mass of alarms and displays indicated that the science lab was the source of the explosion.

Colonel Denning immediately half turned his body so as to make eye contact with his superior but still maintain an eye on the DC board and forcefully stated “The damage is limited to the sections around the science lab, but there was a energy spike that got through. By the size of it, it could have ignited the number 2 fusion reactor if Granger hadn't taken the appropriate precautions. But the bigger problem is that the explosion buckled one of the lateral struts.”

Captain Soren stood at the center console and stared hard at Denning before she all but shouted, “All right that's it, I want long-range recon patrols out looking for a place to set down and repair. Also include a report on any strategic minerals within this forsaken sector.”

Darnel all but threw the status report folder at the centre console in disgust, they would all be useless now. “If Granger survived I want both him and Deras in my quarters, NOW, to report on what their lunacy has done to my ship.” At this, Captain Darnel Soren stalked out of the CIC in a fit of fury towards her quarters. The current watch would not benefit from her presence until she cooled down and that was what she intended to do.

The End

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