"Well," Steve begins.

WHOOOUP! screams an alarm.

"What was that?" asks Doc.

"I don't know," replies Steve. "It's never done that before."

WHOOOUP! it screams again.

"All hands to the bridge!" Veronica yells at them over the com.

"Are we hands?" Steve asks, half slurring.

"I think so," Doc replies. "Where's the bridge?"

"Downstairs. C'mon, I'll lead the way."


"Damnit!" Mark shouts as he wakes up from his drooling stupor. "What in God's name is that fuckin' rooster doin' up this late?"

"Something awful," Doc explains. "Let's go."


The bridge is one of the last clean places left on the ship, mainly because no one goes there. The cleanest place is the conference room just off to the side. No one has been in there for over three hundred years, as all official ship's business is done at the bar.

Doc wishes this situation was one that could be handled from the bar.

"Remind me to install a command console in the galley," Steve says. Doc isn't sure if Steve just read his mind or if he's accidentally projecting his thoughts on others. This sort of thing has been happening too often, lately.

Veronica is in the pilot's seat busily mindlinking with the ship's computer. The large, curved holo-viewscreen is splattering a technicolor array of data and incomprehensible three-dimensional imagery faster than anyone but she can process.

"What's going on?" Doc finally asks after failing to make sense of the thing. He casually takes a seat left of Veronica at the helm.

"Incomming starships, unknown design. Three gunships, two cruisers, and one destroyer. They're on an orbitital intercept course. Targetting hot." She manipulates the display to provide a better view. It doesn't help much.

Steve plants himself in the captain's seat and promptly vomits.

Mark takes a seat to Veronica's left. "Woo-hoo! Where's the button for the missiles?" he asks.

The touch-screen command console in front of Mark promptly powers down.


"Any idea who they are?" Doc asks.

"Negative," she responds in total business mode. "Not Exkorean, not EDF. Configuration suggests Earth origin. Specifications unknown."

"Where'd they come from?"

"They just appeared on the scope. Either they just jumped out of hyperspace or they just dropped their stealth shields. Trajectory implies the latter."

The computer dings a bit.

"Incoming transmission," Veronica says.

"Don't answer it!" Steve shouts. "Activate temporal jumper thingy!" he slurs.

"What are you talking about?" Veronica yells back.

"I just installed it!"

"Whatever it is, it's not online."

"Shit! I forgot to plug it in."

Another alarm sounds. "They're painting us," Veronica says. "I really think they want us to answer the phone."

"No! It could be a basilisk! Get to the asteroids as fast as you can!"

"A what?" Doc asks.

"A mind-locking program," Veronica answers. "Visual and audio stimulation designed to hypnotize and possibly damage the brain. Brace for emergency warp."

Veronica does them all the favor of turning the viewscreen to internal ship status displays so as to spare their alcohol soaked brains the nausiating visual effects of XD warping. It doesn't help. They all feel the universe turn inside out, mostly in their stomachs.

Steve vomits again. Mark does too, all over the console. Doc considers throwing up as well, but ultimately decides to save it for later.

"Doc!" Thunderhorse calls from the observation deck. "What is happening? The sky is turning inside out."

"Someone's after us. We're flying to the asteroid field," Doc explains.

"Ah," he acknowledges. "Doc?"


"What is an asteroid?"

"A big rock."

"Ah. Doc?"


"Why are we going to the field of big rocks?"

"I don't know. Steve, why are we going to the field of big rocks?"

"What?" Steve asks, wearily leaning over the arm of his captain's chair, drooling.

"Why are we going to the asteroid field?" Doc repeats.

"Time jump," Steve barely answers. He returns to being sickly.

Mark, meanwhile, has passed out.

Veronica is busily navigating the ship through it's mind-bogglingly complicated multi-dimensional hypserspace route.

"Are they following us?" Doc asks.

"Impossible to say. We don't have any long range hypserspace sensors. We'll only know if they get directly ahead of us."

"How does that work?"

"Too complicated to explain. Think of a boat where the only way you have to navigate is a map of the currents and a fishing bobber. Then imagine there's a boat in front of you leaving a wake."

"Aha. Could they throw us off course?"

"Possibly. But our map of the currents is so good they would have to be very subtle about it. They would not be able to get in front of us at this speed, at least with any engine I've ever seen."

"That means we're leaving a wake, too, right? They can follow us?"



ERR said...

to be continued

Doc said...

I read this an hour after you put it up but I realized you were waiting for me to say something after three days.

So I'm saying something.

"What fresh new hell is this?" and, "Bring it on!" as well as, "Let's roll!".

Please continue. I can't wait to see what blows up in our face next. Nothing good ever followed the sound of "whoooup". My only hope is that this is Zaphod showing up to say congrats.


ERR said...

No, actually, I was busy at work which is why I stopped there. I've got some time this morning, however!