Saturday, February 25, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.9

I gave Callen some meds for his headache and applied a cranial patch to his temple in case it was a concussion which had taken him out the better part of the past two days. It was the best I could do considering I did not have the med eval system or Horus to confer with.

Callen was a good sport and once his headache started to subside he insisted on moving to the bridge to see if he could fix Ma-rye-a.

I sat down in my pilot’s chair after I rigged some dim lights so Callen could work. I was keeping an eye out the front viewport for the return of the criminal element we had a glimpse of earlier in the day. It was a little past midnight and the rest of the kids were on the bridge with Callen and me.

Tiff and Mims were sharing the co-pilot seat. Oh, to be young and slender again.

Drake was pacing. “All just to win a frickin’ game!” he snarled and kicked the bottom of Callen’s boot as he lay on the deck under the control panel.

“Hey!” Callen complained and started to come up. He was young and smaller, but he was not going to take that. He already felt horrible about what he did and apologized over and over to everyone. He was done apologizing. He just wanted to fix it now and Drake was getting in the way of his process.

I jumped up, wedged myself between them and put my hand on Drake’s chest. “You back off!” I ordered. I looked down at Callen, still on the floor, “and you get back to work. The least I want is those shields back up by the time those men get back. I’d really like some power to the engines so we could just run away, even if it is only in the atmosphere and to another continent.”

Drake growled, turned, and went back to pacing. Callen ducked his head back under. I could hear the fuser working in his hand.

How had I missed Callen doing this when he initially altered Ma-rye-a’s programming? Where was I when he was on the bridge tinkering under the control panel? Probably keeping an eye on Mims and Drake, or listening to Tiff and Carrie go on and on about fashion. Why hadn’t any of the AI crew told me he was tampering with the ship? I wanted to know, but at the same time I didn’t want to delay Callen in any way. We needed Ma-rye-a up and running, now!

“You rotten, Slick,” Drake started in on Callen again. He just had to be talking. “You had to mess with the program. Thought you were so smart,” he growled. “Well, look at the mess you got us in. Trying to show you’re better than the rest of us, when all along you know you’re defective or you wouldn’t be Slick to begin with. It’s a faulty gene. It’s like you’ve been programmed wrong.”

“Shut-up, Drake!” Mims hollered before I got the chance. “Just shut-up! If it wasn’t for you riding him all the time he wouldn’t feel like he had to prove himself.”

“Yeah, Muscles-for-Brains,” Tiff piped up, “if you were half as smart as him, you’d be helping instead of doing nothing, but complaining.”

Mims slipped out of the chair and went to her knees beside Callen. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

I could hear Callen’s muffled voice refuse the offer. He broke it, he was going to fix it.

Mims just glared up at Drake as if to say, ‘see what you did,’ and then went back to her place in the chair with Tiff.

Drake stopped pacing and went over to lean against the door jamb into the hall.

All three of them glared at each other and I just let them seethe.



Fifteen minutes later the prep unit started spitting out cookies onto the deck. It broke the tension in the room as the kids tried to catch the pastry projectiles flying across the bridge.

“Cookies with the power of a speedster,” Drake quipped. “You’re getting there, Slick.”

Callen came up out from under the panel with fire in his eyes. “Stop calling me that!”

I moved quickly to intervene, but once again, it was Mims who spoke up. “You are such as dick-head, Drake. I don’t know why I ever liked you.”

This statement brought the jock up short. I guessed from the look on his face that he had never been rejected before. I bet the girls just naturally flocked around him. He probably had to beat them off with a stick. He shoved a cookie in his mouth and went back to silently leaning against the door jamb.

Callen gave Mims a sweet, shy smile and ducked back down under the panel.



More time ticked by and soon it was close to 2:00 a.m. Drake had folded up on the floor with this back against the bulkhead by the door. The girls were curled up like a couple of Dar-dolf pups in the chair. They all three had dozed off. I could still hear Callen working and talking to himself. He was getting frustrated. I was beginning to wonder if he really could repair the damage he had done, when Ma-rye-a spoke.

“Ca… Ca… Captain,” she said softly, as though she were a person just awakened from a sound sleep.

Callen lid out from under the panel as the other three kids woke up to my ship’s voice.

“Ma-rye-a,” I sighed thankfully. “How are you feeling?”

“I… I… I am damaged,” she stuttered.

“I know,” I responded sympathetically. “Do you remember what happened?”

“I… I… flew really fast,” she sounded amazed at herself.

“And?” I prompted.

“Tha… Tha… That’s all I remember.”

“I can fix that,” Callen said, and dipped his head back under the panel.

“We were thrown out of the Window and into a red zone,” I explained. “You were shot down by the drones.”

“She… She… Shields Up!” she said as though she were giving an order. The lights on the panel before me lit up and the monitor showed that we had partial shields.

“Good girl,” I complimented. “Do we have power?”

“Pow…Power…Power?”

“Can we hover?” I asked more specifically.

“No direct power to my cells as of this moment. Redirecting minimal power to life support.”

“There, that does it,” Callen said as he popped his head back out from under the panel. “Speech center is fully operational now.”

“Ma-rye-a? Damage report.” I leaned forward in my chair to listen carefully to her assessment.

“Reserve power is negligible. Shields at reduced power and inoperable on the starboard side. Debris appears to fully cover the starboard side as well. Maxium Gun Turret is cracked. Bulkhead remains secure except for area of turret repair. Inadequate Turret repair makes me unavailable for space travel at this time. AI - Horus, Sam, Moby, and Carrie suspended until power can be replenished or repaired.”

“If we were to bring up Sam’s program, could he help us repair the damage to the power grid in order to get up to hover speed?” I had my fingers crossed.

“I believe so, but he would have to move fast before the reserve power was exhausted.”

“Right.”

All four of my passengers were looking to me for a decision when we all heard what I had hoped we would be able to avoid, the sound of digging beneath the ship by the cracked opening of the gun turret. The criminal element was back and they knew what they were doing.

Art by Sherry D. Ramsey for The Star Traveler Series by Theresa Snyder

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you'd like to get a heads-up on my latest book releases, sales, and freebies, make sure to sign up for my newsletter! And you don't have to worry about getting a bunch of junk - I only send it out when I really have something you might want to hear about.

* indicates required
Close