Excerpts From A Galactic Odyssey
“Well,” Hex interjected, “when the humans are ready to move to another
planet they’ll have to go elsewhere besides Earth.”
“Indeed they will,” Ben agreed. “The problem is there aren’t very many
suitable planets within the present range of our space travel, which is about
150 light-years. We’ll have to go out much farther. Our engineers in the Space
Fleet are working on developing a new hyper drive that will extend our range to
Several days later, Paul and Heather attended graduation ceremonies. The
head of the Department of Interplanetary Affairs, Weji Tanko, addressed the
“Four years ago, the 136 of you began your training for the Space Fleet.
Today, all 136 of you are here, having successfully completed a rigorous
curriculum. Remarkable, isn’t it?”
The audience roared, “Yes!” and stomped their feet in approval.
“What’s also remarkable,” Weji continued, “is this is the first class to
include a group of humans, eighteen of you, as we begin to work with integrated
crews. We did this after a pilot project with one human turned out successful.
So far, we’ve seen how well Reptons and humans work together, as you prepared
for a career in the Space Fleet. In a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, you
will extend our frontier of outer space as we expand our colonization…”
After Weji spoke, the graduates received their diplomas. A reception
followed. Heather noted that, despite the presence of family and friends, one
person was conspicuously missing—her father.
I hoped Dad would have changed his mind and come, she thought, feeling
disappointed and rejected. But that was too much to expect. Why did I think he
might show up? It hurts to realize he really didn’t want to see me graduate and
become a commissioned officer in the Repton Space Fleet. I was only fooling
myself thinking he would.
The ceremony ended. Now Paul and Heather had nothing to do over the next few
days but wait for notification regarding their first assignment.
“We’re in big trouble, everyone,” Hex said matter-of-factly over the
intercom to his crew. “Due to an apparent malfunction, we ended up on the other
side of the galaxy, lost in completely unknown territory with our hyper drive
down. But I promise you this. We’ll find a way to get back home. After all,
we’re among the best in the Space Fleet…”
Hex signed off the intercom and looked around at the members of his bridge
“I wish I shared your optimism, Captain,” First Officer Tuca Yassu said.
“The reality of our situation is we won’t be able to make any hyperspace jumps
to nearby star systems.”
“Sir,” Tuca added, “once we lose maximum power, it will only be about
another five minutes until we fall into that black hole. We will be crushed and
stretched to death.”
“Don’t remind me,” Paul said. “I don’t look forward to becoming
spaghettified…And, everything we’ve recorded during this voyage, all of our
data, will go down the drain, never to be recovered.”
Hex stood up from his chair and switched on the intercom. With a solemn look
on his face he addressed his crew. “Attention all crewmembers. This is the
captain. We have a serious situation, where we are slowly being dragged toward a
black hole. Despite all efforts we are unable to pull away, and it looks like
this could be the end of the line. Unless we come up with a miracle, we all have
about an hour and a half to live.”
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02/17/11 06:53:22 PM