I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 18

Can we say, full steam ahead?

The captain and the Chief Engineer were a team. I was on the outside, and I doubted being temporarily being promoted would change that.

And while it might not hamper the running of the ship, there might be pushback on some of my decisions, so it was going to be important to have his support.

But it was time to bring up the reason for my visit. “The Admiral said we have a faster ship than most of us were aware of.”

“Project Alpha. It was need to know, as you can understand.”

“Who exactly is aware of the fact?”

“Three engineers. The captain, the navigator, helmsman, and six engine specialists. Van was going to tell you before the general announcement in a day or so once we’ve gone through the preparations before a short test.”

“It didn’t happen in the trials before the handover?”

“It did, but it was not the resounding success we were expecting. It’s the reason for the delay in departure.”

And the reason I was on the ship at all. Had the ship left when it was.intended, I would have still been on the moon base waiting for transport. The fact I made it at all was all down to fate. Which, for once, was on my side.

“You were on board for the trials?”

“As was Van. You would gave been,too, if you hadn’t got stuck at the moon base.”

“The problem, if it was it was problem, I assume has been fixed?”

“Let’s hope so. We’re going to need it, if what I hear is true.”

“Last question, when?”

“By the time you get back to the bridge. We’ll need to have another talk later.”

“Of course.”

There were so many questions the chief engineer, and obviously the captains best friend certainly on-board the ship, didn’t ask, starting with information on the alien.

I suspect he already knew as much about the alien ship as he needed.

Back on the bridge it was hard to tell whether anything was happening. Unlike a freighter where there was no more than three present any one time, out of a crew of about twenty. Here, there was about twenty or so, each quietly monitoring systems.

The second now first officer .jumped out of the captains chair the moment he heard the elevator doors open.

“No change, still on course for Uranus.thw two shipyard still there, effectively in our path, no sign of the other ship, but we believed it is cloaked, or at the very least, obscured from our scanners.”

“Very good.”

I took the.few.steps.to the navigation console.where.i could see our trajectory, and.the planet Uranus which intersected.our path.

“Mr Saville.”

He preferred being called by name, not rank.

“Sir?”

“I assume you’re across Project Alpha?”

“Yes.” He had a quizzical expression, that said, how do you know about it?

“Stand by, were about to see if it works this time.”

Quizzical expression to total concentration. I saw him enter code, and the console change to a different screen.

As I turned to return to the captains seat, not that I felt like sitting in it, I saw a message flashing at the top of his screen, “System awaiting command”.

Umpteen billions worth of research, technology, and man power was sitting on the end of a green button that had the word “go” on it.

We were according to my console, sitting on an SSPD of 3.25. It was close to the tip speed I knew we were capable of, and just under cruise.

I sat. A short announcement. I was not sure what to expect when we moved to a higher speed, but I was guessing it would be similar to what it was like now, a gradual increase in speed, to the maximum.

We’d soon find out.

“Attention all personnel. We are about to run a test on our propulsion unit.”

“Mr Saville.”

“Sir.” He turned to look at me.

“It’s the moment of truth. Let’s go.”

© Charles Heath 2021

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