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   Chapter 4 No.4

The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1 By Christina Engela Characters: 4268

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:01


Ripley tried to sigh as softly as possible. Everything, it seemed, was meant to have been fixed or straightened out at Spacedock 7. The car-computer spoke, finally.

"Mess Hall." It announced in a monotone voice.

"Thank the gods, finally." Said Falcone. Ripley, although irreligious, gratefully echoed the sentiment in her thoughts.

The doors parted slowly, and Ripley and Falcone stepped out onto the bridge – which was alive with activity. Crewmen were busy at their respective stations – the helm, sensors, weapons, comms. The comms desk was currently vacant – the communications officer had been relieving Falcone at his station. A youthful lieutenant who looked around 21 to Ripley (and probably like a teenager to Falcone) swiveled round in the command chair like a bowl of handsome, well-built fruit on a display stand to face them. Ric Nordyke smiled at her briefly, with the knowledge that fraternizing with a senior officer was likely to cause trouble no matter which way it went.

"Get outta that chair, Lt!" Falcone growled at the young man, giving him a big wink as he did so. "You look like you're enjoying my chair far too much!"

"Yes sir!" Nordyke breathed as he quickly stood up to vacate the Captain's chair.

Ripley knew that nobody graduated from the Academy as an officer younger than 22, so he must've been older than that, even if only just. Nordyke was one of the very new crew drafted from Spacedock 7 when the crisis struck and they had to fill all their personnel shortages post haste. He seemed eager to please, and certainly seemed to prefer the prospect of serving his first years aboard a starship than on a dreary old space dock.

"Captain!" Nordyke called, face aglow with the excitement of a reasonably green crewman.

"Yes, Lieutenant?" Falcone replied, already halfway towards the command seat at the center of the bridge. Ripley took her seat at the Exo's station, which was immediately to the left of Falcone's, and observed from there. Nordyke turned to face Falcone.

"I just wanted to inform you that we've picked up a distress call, sir!"

Falcone paused to look at him

a moment before sitting down.

"What? Only one?" He shrugged. "So?"

"We – uh…" Nordyke faltered, caught off-guard by Falcone's demeanor, "We're the closest vessel to the source, Captain?"

Falcone was no spring chicken – he knew the course of action to be taken. It was law. Distress calls had to be answered and investigated with all possible haste… even in the light of their current assignment. The only problem was, Ripley reflected, with the stardrive strewn all over engineering, the sub-light drive could propel them at a maximum speed of only around 100 000 kps – which meant, in interstellar terms, that they might as well stop.

"Who's in distress?" Falcone asked, making it plain that it was an unwelcome intrusion to their already daunting workload. Like the Last Straw. Ripley thought for a moment the lieutenant's hesitation meant he was thinking the same as her – what all of them were thinking: 'You mean aside from us?'

"Er… It's a freighter, sir. S.S. Pegasus. Registry says private owner, name of d'Angelo."

Ripley seemed suddenly shaken up, tense. Interested might have been a more descriptive term. It was that name, d'Angelo. She quickly turned towards Nordyke and gave him a quizzical look.

"What exactly is that man's name, Lt?" She asked him.

Nordyke glanced at her matter-of-factly.

"Skipper of the Pegasus, sir?"

She nodded in answer.

"Uh. d'Angelo, small 'd', apostrophe, big 'A' – Michael, I think – though it's spelt differently… M-y-k-l."

"Mykl!" She breathed, almost to herself.

Falcone eyed her suspiciously, noticing that his usually crisp and aloof Exec seemed to be stroking her long fawn brown hair absentmindedly.

"You okay, Commander?" He asked.

"Mm? Oh – yes, sir." She replied, recovering her composure. "I think I know the owner of that ship, that's all."

"You think?" Said Falcone, "Or you know?"

Ripley blushed.

"Well, unless there's more than one Mykl d'Angelo, then I know him, sir."

"Friend of yours?"

"Uh – well, no, sir." She replied in a more level tone. "I knew him while I was at the Academy, sir."

"An ex-Fleet man?"

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