The last of the crewmembers filed in and the hatches sealed up. The
groaned as the massive hulk of her hull slid out of the birth and started for the outer solar system. Saratoga
“Don’t exceed port speed,” Hunter warned as Cindy reached for the gear shift. “Seriously, one more infraction and they’re going to write me a ticket.”
“Oh, what’s one little ticket?” Cindy raspberried.
“Nothing, except they write it in your skin with a letter opener,” Hunter growled. “Just keep her in neutral, ok? The old gal’s engines still need a little time to warm up.”
Pulling the ship out of the mothballs in under thirty-six hours was a small miracle. As it was, supplies and equipment were still waiting in corridors and service walkways while the skeleton crew struggled to organize the holds.
As per regulations, no ship could leave port for even a few hours without a complete BEL and EEL complement onboard, inventoried, accounted, and signed for. There was nothing more irritating than losing a starship simply because the photon torpedoes weren’t going to be delivered until Tuesday.
BEL was of course Basic Equipment List, and EEL stood for Emergency Equipment List. Most GS gear was rugged and designed to last forever in long-term storage, but because the older something got the greater the likelihood of a malfunction, it was standard protocol to remove all gear from a ship that was going to be put in the mothballs for an indeterminate length of time. Nothing nailed down was subject to this protocol, but everything that wasn’t integrated into the ship fell under the umbrella.
And there were a lot of things not integrated.
“We’ll need about twelve hours to complete the modifications,” Jason commented. “And I don’t even want to begin until we’re tucked into some dark little corner of space.”
“Agreed,” Hunter nodded. “Cindy, why don’t you start by plotting a course for the Durgon System and engaging at FTL Factor Twelve?”
“I could do that,” Cindy nodded and reached for the gear shift. “But you really should have said ‘start by obtaining port clearance accelerating at sub-light past the system’s heliopause.’ Oh well, your bad.”
“What?” Cindy asked, pausing.
“Cindy, we still have to finish a systems diagnostic,” Jason explained. “A COMPLETE diagnostic!”
“Are you sure?” Hunter complained. “That could take hours…”
“Could,” Cindy licked her lips. “Won’t.”
A flick of the wrist and Cindy cranked the ship up to seventy PSL and went into a barrel roll. Lights across her console flickered momentarily, but remained resolutely green.
“All systems are still green,” Cloud reported over the COM. “Hey, as chief engineer, I should have been informed before we applied for port clearance; I think I’m supposed to submit a systems report or something…”
“An oversight,” Hunter shrugged. “Cindy, engage FTL as soon as we clear the outer solar system, and eh… stand by for stealth mode?”
“Roger, Roger,” Cindy grinned. “What’s our vector Victor?”
“I told you, my name is J’NALL!” J'Nall shouted. “And if you say ‘surely you can’t be serious’, I’m going to walk over there and crack your skull!”
“Well, that’s an entirely different threat altogether,” Cindy laughed.
There was an awkward pause as J'Nall blinked uncertainly.
“That’s an entirely different threat,” the rest of the bridge replied in unison.
“ARGGGGHHHH!” J'Nall screamed.
“We’re at FTL now sir,” Cindy reported with a very respectful salute. “Shall I hold course?”
“Sure,” Hunter shrugged. “We’re six hours from Drugon, then we’ll change course and go maybe another ten light years, that should be far enough off the beaten path.”
“Right,” Jason nodded. “Chess?”“Why is it that game never gets old?” Hunter sighed.