I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 2

Back on the bridge of that rickety starship

The only things moving on this upcoming voyage out into the unknown, is the planets on our screen.

When we were last on the bridge, the chief engineer, yes, we still have them in the 24th century, was telling us it was a no go.

When you’re standing on a ship that cost more money than you can imagine, then double that unimaginable amount, and realise it would normally build two other smaller ships, then you can be assured that someone very high up in the chain of command, sitting in an office somewhere safe back on the planet, who may or may not be wishing they were in your place, would be anything but happy.

I was lucky that I didn’t meet that someone during the recruitment process, only later on an inspection of the ship just before the handover from the builder to Space Command.

This was not the first, but the first of a new class. Bigger, better, faster, more suitable to space travel than those that came before.

And, having several junior officers with a passion for history, one of them came up with a simile for our predicament. When new cars were created, way back in the 20th century, the first of the series always had teething problems. That’s why you wouldn’t buy the first of a series.

We didn’t have that luxury, but here’s the thing, it was based on an earlier model with a few new enhancements. It was one of those enhancements that was the problem.

A few minutes after the captain went to his quarters, his voice came over the speaker system. “Number One?”

Ok, I have a name, but trying to get the captain to use it might be difficult, what with regulations, and his rather stiff manner, each of which might get in the way.


“Go down to engineering and get a report on progress.”

I could do that over the internal comms. What was going on? Belay that thought, I was not going to question an order.

“Yes sir.”

I glanced in the direction of the second officer, and he nodded, getting out of his seat. He would take charge of the bridge, even though we were going nowhere.

He walked over to my position, and I headed for the lift.

Automatic doors. It was not an innovation, but when I came aboard a week ago, they were not working properly, so using the lift to me was a leap of faith.

A few seconds later and what might have been from the top to the bottom in a skyscraper, the lift slowed, then stopped. The doors didn’t open.

Don’t panic. Just wait and breathe. There you go. The doors opened…

…onto utter chaos!

© Charles Heath 2021

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