I was just getting my clothes back on when the Captain made the announcement.
” This is Captain Suzuki” he began ” Due to present circumstances, I am issuing a Red Alert. I would like for all non-essential staff and passengers to return to their rooms. Please do this in an orderly fashion and use the fold out G chairs. We are in imminent danger of a collision with the approaching ship. We are trying hard to maneuver the ship out of harms way but are having no luck. If you have a Deity or Deities that you pray to please do so now. We need all the luck we can find . Captain out.”
The lights in all the halls started changing from white to red and a klaxon went off.
“Do you want me to stay?” I asked.
Bunny was already heading for the door. ” I’m classified as essential “she said, giving me a sad smile.
“Okay, then I’ll see you at the pub after shift change, first pint’s on me”
She actually brightened on that one. then closed the door behind her.
I looked at the three dimensional display of the incoming objects trajectory and it just seemed off. Objects don’t travel through space in a straight line. This one was. It was not being affected by the different gravitational pulls normally associated with regular ships, no minuscule course corrections. It was making a line straight for us, well where we will be in about a half hour, and if it was a conventional ship it would have had to flip and burn about thirty hours ago.
The ship started to shudder and groan as the crew tried to get us moving, then it started to quake. The engines shut down again and the rumbling stopped.
“Screw this” I said to no one, ” If I’m gettin’ my ticket punched, I want a front row seat!” I started heading for the pub
The pub was locked down but my ID chip buzzed the door open. Inside I found Juliette, sitting at a booth by herself a large glass of something clear in front of her. She had been crying.
“Help yourself” she said glumly her elbow on the table, head leaning on her hand.”Open bar tonight”
I poured a pint, walked over and sat beside her.
“Stupid question, but are you okay?”
She leaned back and pushed her blond curls out of her face ” Yeah, just peachy for someone about to be atomized”
“Have Faith my beer slingin’ friend.” I said “I don’t think today is your day, maybe not tomorrow either”
“What makes you so damn sure about that?” We both turned to the door and there was Mercy, still in her work overalls. She too looked scared. That frightened me. At six foot two not including her two inches of afro hair she was formidable presence. The kind you want to back you up in a bar fight. Not that there were many bar brawls on the ship. The last one resulted in Alice turning the gravity down to near zero. It made for a hilarious ballet.
Always confident, seeing her looking scared was highly disconcerting.
She poured a beer for herself and came over to join us. “Well?”
“It doesn’t make any sense” I said and took a sip “Why let us through the gate in the first place? The could hold us indefinitely on the other side, but they only held us long enough to make sure we didn’t get smashed by that other ship. Now there actually THROWING a ship at us? I don’t buy it.”
Mercy sipped thoughtfully
“For shits sake I hope you are right!” Juliette said and began to chug her drink.
“Hey! Slow down there Missy, you want to be conscious for the show”
She finished her pint and belched. “It’s only water. Don’t tell anyone, but alcohol makes me barf. And don’t call me “Missy”! You know what happened to the last guy that called me that?
“I know, I know” I held up my hands ” He ended up having to wear orthopedic underwear”
That got a snort of laughter out of the both of them
I got us all more drinks and sank back looking up at the panoramic ports, seeing the huge gate to the side of us, a billion stars overhead.
The collision klaxon sounded. Mercy moved from the chair to the bench beside me and grabbed my hand. Juliette leaned her head on my shoulder and grabbed my other hand. I looked up and saw the green star . It started to get bigger. That thing was moving! I figured about ten seconds to impact. It got bigger and bigger. “Don’t Close your eyes!” I recited in my head over and over again. I was starting to see details of the ship. The green glow was now filling the pub.
It stopped. It did not slow down. It. Just. Stopped.
It was stationary about 500 meters from the ship.
Both women were hunched over, eyes closed, waiting for the impact. The Klaxon stopped. In the ensuing silence I briefly though about yelling “Boom”, but figured that that would be bad for my health and the seat cover.
“See?” I said ” it’s all cool!”
They both opened their eyes and looked up. They squealed with joy hugging me and kissing the side of my head like it was my doing. I can roll with that!
After we all calmed down, Juliette opened the bar back up. The all clear was given by the captain for all to resume duties. Bunny showed up all smiles and hugged us all. People were starting to flow into the pub. It was a party atmosphere!
Suddenly, Alice was there and a screen appeared in the air. “I have a ship wide communication coming in from the alien vessel”
People gasped as a giant eyeball appeared on the screen. It seemed to peer back and forth and a voice said. ” Is this thing even on?” There was some kind of mechanized gobbling sound in the background. ” What! They can already see me? Dude!” The eyeball moved backward and became a face. A Human face. It was a male, about 30, long scraggly blond hair and a whiff of a goatee on his chin.
” Um..Well…Um.. Hi there people of Earth” He said waving at the camera. ” My names Dallas… I’m also from Earth…um..long story.” He moved further back. He had a rumpled shirt over a tee shirt and was wearing shorts. ” Sorry about the overly dramatic arrival, but this stupid ship has only two speeds. Go really friggin’ fast and stop. And I also think that it’s the Library’s version of a practical joke, scarin’ the bejesus outa people. Anyway..I’m Dallas..No wait I said that. Okay.. I’m here to tow you to the library, but first I need to check a few things, and may need to upgrade a few systems so that you don’t all blow up and die. So I am going to come over with my little buddy Ted.” he moved the camera over and down and people gasped at the sight of Ted.
“Yep. I know He’s just a floating head. Thats Why I call him Ted, as in “Ted the Head” get it? I know he looks kinda grumpy, but once you get to know him you’ll find him warm and lovable, if a bit spiky. Anyway, we’ll give you time to mellow out and we’ll hop over in say, about 24 hours?”
He moved the camera back to him. ” I gotta talk to your Captain now, so I’ll see ya all tomorrow! Take care now!” He waved at the camera again and then the screen blanked.
I sat back and rubbed my hand over the top of my head. ” This is just getting weirder and weirder” I looked at Bunny, ” I think I know that guy”