Chapter 20: Boldly Going Forward ('Cause We Can't Find Reverse!)
“Here we are going!”
“Oh no! We are NOT flying into a black hole!”
“But is not being black! ‘Tis being kinda goldish-orangish colour…”
“I don’t care! We have no idea where we’d be going!”
“So you want to be facing older girl’s wrath?”
Jumba smiled, knowing he had won. Nothing was worse than Nani on the warpath – not even plunging headfirst into a not-so-black hole.
“Um… OK,” he groaned.
“Warning: Unknown ship detected. Vector 56 Mark 320.”
A 20-year-old European girl sighed. This is going to be a looong day…
“Ensign, take us about and open channel.”
“Yes ma’am,” replied a 21-year old female of Hawaiian decent.
A beep signified the comm. uplink was open.
“This is Captain Jameston of the U.S.S. Serenity. Please respond.”
“This is the Constitution-Alpha class vessel U.S.S. Serenity. Please identify yourself. We mean you no harm.”
“Just a Class-C plasma converter…”
“But those are ancient!”
“So is this vessel…”
That was true – Starfleet had given Jameston the oldest ship in the fleet, a Constitution-Refit, 130 years old and counting. She had personally overseen all repairs, upgrades and whatnot, and had thought of the new name and number. NCC-82535. Starfleet had been so impressed that they had given it a class all of it’s own. Just for a few repairs… after all, it needed to be brought into the twenty-fifth century more than her techno-phobic mother! She wished her father could see her now, in this trashcan of a ship…
She rested her head in her hands. Could that thing have…?
No, it was impossible.
“Well, follow that ship. Maybe it will lead us back.”
“WE SHOULD BE GETTING THERE RIGHT ABOUT NOW…” Jumba roared over the sound of the hyperdrive in overdrive.
“WE SHOULD BE GETTING THERE RIGHT ABOUT…”
Suddenly, the engines halted. Space, or the image of space rather, rebounded on them like a rubber band on one’s finger when one pulls it too tight.
In the dead silence that followed, Jumba’s words reverberated around the ship. Lilo covered her ears quickly, wishing to prevent permanent hearing loss.
“Oh… er… I’ll just be scanning surrounding star systems…”
“Captain’s Log, stardate 139869.1.
With the sudden appearance of another, but substantially larger, ship of the same design, I have turned the ship about (again) to identify the source of the vessels.”
“Have you succeeded in achieving a comm. uplink, Ming?”
“No, ma’am. I’ve tried all frequencies except one that hasn’t been used in about 400 years, but I don’t think that will…”
“Can you do it?”
“Then do it.”
Ming was saved from answering by a sudden blaring sound.
“Malo, I thought I told you to turn off the auto-red alert, not make it more annoying!”
“Yes, but there’s…”
“I don’t care what it is, just turn that thing…”
She stopped suddenly when she saw what was on the screen.
“How far away is this?”
“About 24 light-years and closing fast.”
“OK, set a course for Sector 001 at highest maintainable warp! Now!”
“What is it Jumba?”
“Well, for one thing, ‘tis being a… a distance between us and Earth.”
Pleakly eyed Jumba suspiciously.
“What kind of distance?”
“Well… the large kind.”
“You didn’t land us near Orion’s Nebular, did you?”
Orion’s Nebular, not to be confused with the Orion Nebula, was the outermost outpost in Federation space. It lay just over 200 light-years from Earth – almost one-eighth the way from Sol to the centre of the galaxy.
“Phew! Well, that’s a relie…”
“We are being over thirty-thousand light-years from home. It would be taking over 200 years for us to be going back.”
“WHAT! We’re on the other side of the GALAXY?”
“There’s more bad news…”
“More bad news?”
“The distance between us and home is not just through space. Adjusting for star and galactic drift, orbit decay and change of organisation of constellations, I have estimated today’s date and time to be Saturday 14th of November 2374, 5 hours, 20 minutes and 37 seconds past mid-nocturnal cycle. We are being in future.”
At this, a loud clunk was heard, signifying Pleakly fainting, soon followed by a loud yell, signifying Stitch prodding Pleakly with his claw.
Less than 20 light-years away, a woman sat at a console, twiddling her thumbs. All was dark; the only thing you could see was the silhouette of the female against the glow of the screen. Every now and then a spark flew from one of the many severed wires.
Thousands of voices filled the room, each in harmony with the rest, an unnatural symphony of words.
“The Galactic Federation ship GFS-5615 has exited aperture 7389.”
She smiled. “Lilo Pelikai, we meet again…”