I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 9

What’s the worst that could happen?

Captains invariably hated the word ‘problem’. I did too, because it conjured up so many different scenarios, each more scarier than the last, and maginified exponentially because we were in space.

We took a closer look, and it was the sort of damage if it was back on Earth, one would associate with weapons fire, lasers to be exact.

Yes, in the 24th century we had ray guns, handheld, and ship bound.

The only problem was, only the cruise class vessels, like the one I was now on, were allowed to have them, and using them, well, the paperwork alone could keep a complement of 20 working day and night for a month.

Test them, yes, less paperwork, use them, no. There had never been a reason to.

But someone had, and on a freighter, which only meant one possibility, that whatever the freighter had been carrying, had been worth violating a thousand regulations and rules.

And bring their ship and selves out into the light.

It was, of course, Space Command’s worst nightmare realised, that the ideal of space exploration as a united effort by everyone, had a member who had decided against unity.

Unless, of course, the improbably had happened, there was life outside our solar system, and we were dealing with a new planet, or people.

Except I would not expect them to use something as conventional as a laser.

Myrtle had put us very close to the damaged area and taken a number of photographs, and the engineer had analysed the damaged area.

Then, cleared to enter the freighter, she took us up to the cargo doors and waited as we watched them open.

It was the same time the engineer’s hand held computer started beeping.

And a warning light on the console in front of Myrtle started flashing, accompanied by a warning klaxon.

Another vessel had just entered our proximity zone.

© Charles Heath 2021

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