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   Chapter 2 No.2

The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1 By Christina Engela Characters: 5949

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:02

He resisted a powerful urge to smash his fist down on the console – that wouldn't solve anything. Besides, the last time he did that, he still had a medic handy to treat the resulting injury.

Yes, he had taken out insurance on the Pegasus – that was pretty much standard fare, and the law didn't really leave him any choice there – but a fat lot of good insurance was going to do him stuck out here! He sighed again, trying to bury the frustration he felt – and also the rising tide of panic.

How the hell was he going to get out of this?

The highlight of his evening was going to be staring at the blinking bridge instrumentation – which just happened to be running on the emergency batteries and actually blinking, like for real. Mykl turned on the emergency beacon – there was little else he could do. That at least still worked – and, seeing as he had to conserve as much energy as possible, he cut all unnecessary power, and shut off the lights and heating equipment in most of the ship. Then he cut power to the gravity net on the other two levels and sat back, to wait.

The star-scape on the viewscreen did little to inspire him. He couldn't repair the engines – even if he had the know-how, there was nothing left to repair. As the hours passed, his mind slowly began to wander, and he started to fantasize about being down in engineering, trying to build a workable stardrive out of the parts of a landing thruster, a garbage compactor and the cheap Swiss watch on his wrist. Nope – he didn't see it working. He sank back into the padded seat by the console resignedly. There was nothing more he could do now, except wait – and offer prayers to whatever gods happened to be listening.

* * *

Somewhere else in the dark vastness of deep space, another starship was also experiencing problems, though perhaps not quite as severe as those of the beleaguered loderunner Pegasus. The I.S.S. Antares was a military ship in the Terran Space Fleet – a warship. Although not a new ship, she was one of the frontline service ships, pride of the Fleet. She'd been in service a good many years already, and since keeping up with the pace at which technology advanced was quite expensive and also labor-intensive in updating a ship of her size, there was the inevitable factor of creeping obsolescence.

Many older ships in the imperial Space Fleet nearing retirement age were occasionally sidelined to be refitted and upgraded with modern equipment to extend their useful lives, and also to keep them as close to the most efficient and effective standard possible. Thus, technologically at least, Antares was currently one of the most advanced ships of the Imperial Space Fleet. Unfortunately, Antares had been rushed out of dry dock so hastily – due to circumstances that will still be made clear – that she was now also one of the most troubled.

For Commander Ripley Jones, second in command onboard the Antares, it was a situation that was becoming rap

idly more and more troublesome. It had been said, and fairly often, that nothing is infallible – the Antares apparently being the proof! Most refits took around six months in dry dock to complete, and Antares' refit had been almost complete when the call from Fleet Command came through. As Exo, Ripley had been part of the refit management and planning team, and was intimately familiar with the progress on a daily basis. They were just two weeks away from final checks, with trials scheduled for the week after that. The state the ship's critical systems were in now was nothing short of chaotic! Some of the crew had been attending training courses to familiarize them with the upgrades – some had been away on shore leave, and were probably still blissfully unaware of what was going on… Antares had left without them.

After hastily recalling all available crew, Antares had left Spacedock 7 thirty hours ago. Since then, there had been nothing but problems! The entechs – engineering staff and technicians were kept busy tracing and solving breakdowns in the ship's sensors and telemetry, system failures of a wide variety, and finally – the Last Straw: a brand new coupling seal in the stardrive engine failed! Fortunately, the cut-out worked – or the whole of engineering would've disappeared in a flaming ball of anti-matter, and would probably have taken half the ship with it! Five crewmen were seriously injured as it was, and were under hi-care in the sickbay. In the meantime, the rest of the crew was being occupied with running tests of their equipment – specifically weapons systems, shields, survival gear and so on.

Right now, as Ripley was pondering the status quo, Commander Nore, the newly promoted long-time Chief Entech, had the offending unit stripped down and under repair. Even so, Antares was still underway – albeit at maximum sub-light speed – and Ripley was currently in an elevator with a very pissed Captain Joel "Joey" Falcone.

Normally he was quite patient and benevolent, but the sixty-year-old officer had good reason for his frustration. Falcone himself was due to retire in just one month; his active duty was to have ended at Spacedock 7. He'd decided enough was enough, and he wanted to spend the remainder of his years with his wife instead of gallivanting around the galaxy. Retirement was no longer mandatory – except for reasons of ill health, or when people reached the point where they could no longer meet the demands of their roles on the job. A lot of people lived beyond the 'magical number' of 100 these days, and still enjoyed very good quality of life. Some wanted to continue working, for whatever reason – and retirement became voluntary after reaching the age of 60 years, which is where "Joey" Falcone was at. He had two sons and a daughter – all of them in different parts of the Service – and his wife, who was two years older than him, had already retired from her job and was waiting for him at home.

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