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Galactic Enterprise Lob Book - page 8

For a moment it sounded like rain, and then the alarm went off.  Decker wondered why emergencies always seemed to happen while he was asleep as he bounced out of bed.  “Computer, status,” he said as he began to put his clothes on.  That the computer did not respond was not a good sign.  He activated his wrist communicator.  “Status,” he said again.

This time there was a response.  “We’ve hit some kind of dust trail or cloud, and we are being peppered with what is essentially sand and small stones the size of peas,” a voice replied.  “We have some hull penetration throughout most of the ship.  As far as we know, the self-sealing liner on the inner hull is handling the problem so far, but injuries have been reported.  Bulkhead doors closed automatically, and so far we show only a slight loss of pressure in areas nearest the hull.  Someone said the computer was hit, but she’s working fine up here, so I suspect some communication line took a hit.”

Decker felt the whole ship shake as the central core elevator carried him up toward the Command Section.  “What was that?” he asked the moment he set foot on the ship’s bridge.

“We’ve had a fuel tank take a hit,” a crewman replied.  “The central core below the Communication Section has decompressed.

Decker sat down in the command chair and punched in the number for the Engineering Section.  “Andy, talk to me, everyone alright down there?” he asked very concerned.

“John here, sir, Andy was in the core when the fuel tank went up.  We are trying to get a rescue crew together on the chance that the elevator was not damaged and it is still holding pressure.”

Decker looked over at one of the crewmen.  “Sensors are out in that part of the ship.  I have no way of knowing if the elevator is still holding pressure,” he said.

“Ok, John, do your best.  Do you know what the damage is?”

“We had a couple of fuel tanks between the solar panels rupture, and it looks like it took a big bite out of us.  I ejected all the fuel tanks on that side of the ship before they could start a chain reaction.  As it was, they all went up anyway and took out two of the solar panels in the process.  The core on our end has some major structural damage.”

“John, my monitor, is showing that we are about to clear this dust cloud.  Sit tight until we do.  The moment that happens we’ll get some Starfighters out with some rescue craft to help you get to Andy.  Right now, just try and hold things together.”  Decker pushed the off button.

“Captain, right now we are flying as blind as a bat.  How are we going to tell when we clear the dust cloud?” a crewman asked.

“Somebody is just going to have to open a door and look outside,” Decker replied.

It took almost a half hour to clear the dust cloud.  Colonel Kessler suited up, opened the landing bay doors, stuck his head out, and looked around.  He could see the dust cloud slowly receding in the distance. The outer hull was pitted from a micro-meteor scouring but still looked to be in good shape.  He stepped aside as two rescue craft launched.

John was one of the first to reach the elevator with a rescue crew.  The pipe stuck through the side of the elevator said it all.  Explosive decompression had sucked almost everything out of the elevator.  Andy’s body was found impaled on the pipe, and most of his internal organs were sucked out of his body.  The 2 men with him somehow survived.  The hole in the side of the central core was large enough that it was easier to pull the elevator out and bring it into the landing bay to effect the rescue of the men still trapped inside.

John somehow did not feel worthy to be sitting in Andy’s chair at the conference table in the captain’s office.  “Andy was the only fatality,” Tony said.  “Sixty-three were injured of which eighteen were serious but not life-threatening.  All-in-all I’d say we were very lucky.”

“We've got 2 months before we need to slow this bucket of bolts down,” Decker said.  “Are we going to be able to do that considering the damage we have suffered?”

Everyone looked at John.  “We don’t have the material needed to fix the core, but it might be possible to disconnect the damaged section from the ship, push it away, and then reconnect the undamaged portions of the ship back together,” he said.

“Why didn’t we blow up when we hit the dust cloud?” April asked.  “Main power to the reactor was cut in the explosion.”

“The anti-matter reactor was offline at the time,” John replied.  “Because we were close enough to run on solar power we were doing a long overdue service check of the reactor and the engine liner.  If we had been online, you’re right; we would have become a big hole in space.”

“How long before repairs are complete?” Decker asked.

“We’re looking at a week for most of the major damage to the outer hull,” John replied.  “To fix the central core, we’re looking at another 2 to 3 weeks.”

“How about you, April, how long before we can see again?” Decker asked.

“I need at least a week before I can have our sensors fully functional again,” she replied.  “But, we’ll have some of our eyes up and running by tomorrow.  Right now, if we have to, we can be guided by telemetry from Earth.”

“So we still have communication with Earth?” Kessler asked.

“We never lost it, but we do have communication and data lines down all over the ship because we ran a lot of them in the space between the inner and outer hulls,” April replied.  “We are rerouting them a quickly as possible, but it will be a few weeks before they are all back up and running again.”

“This is by far the toughest blow we have suffered on this trip, and we have to keep going,” Decker said.  “Everyone is counting on us to be brave for just a little while longer.”

The memorial service for Andy was broadcast throughout the ship.  The Reverend stood at his little podium from which he gave his Sunday morning sermon to his faithful followers back on Earth.  Today he was heavy of heart because he knew the man he was about to eulogize.  “A few days ago we lost a good man,” he began.  “One of our best.  He was both a teacher and an eternal student soaking up all the knowledge the world had to offer.  He left behind more than a wife and children.  He left behind a hole in many people’s lives.  The Galactic Enterprise was as much a dream of Andrew Adam Perry’s as anyone’s.  He put a great deal of love into this ship that carries us through space and that we can carry on is a testament to the care he put into designing and building of this ship.  Andy set a good example for all of us to follow.  He gave up a great deal to help his fellow man and the world today is a better place because of him.  Even in his last moments of life, he did not think of himself, and his quick action saved the lives of the men with him.”

“That is what the world needs more of, men like Andy,” The Reverend continued.  “We need more men who think of others before themselves.  Imagine such a world, Andy did.  We may miss him in the flesh, but he is still with us in spirit.  So we consign his body to space and his memory to our hearts hoping we have learned something from the example he set before us.  As long as this ship continues to exist, he will always be with us.  The Galactic Enterprise is a monument to his genius and his love for his fellow man.  Those it carries will always remember him.  May the God in Heaven keep him safe until we meet again.  Amen.”

Decker’s eyes were filled with tears as he pushed the button that sent Andy’s body drifting off into space.  Andy had been with him almost from the beginning.  He had believed in Decker when no one else had.

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