Lance Steele seems to have hit a nerve in some peoples' funny bones, so let's introduce the rest of the crew before this gets too out of hand. :D
Lieutenant Lance Steele of the Galactic Patrol scowled with grim determination. His airship’s engines didn’t behave like diesels, the weather was implausible, the sentence structure was a nightmare, and his characters wanted to pitch the obvious Russian spy overboard, abandon the expedition to the North Pole, and set course for Florida!
He squared his shoulders and narrowed his gray eyes. Picking up his favorite editing stylus, he approached his comp-o-pad, resolved to defeat the demons of passive voice or die trying!
The lights flickered. “What the hell?”
And then, just like that, he was flying. In that insanely long instant before impact Lance looked down upon his narrow, steel-walled cabin and thought “Damn! This is going to HURT!”
But the artificial gravity system’s safety field grabbed him and set him gently on the deck.
Lance growled and got to his feet. He was already opening the airtight door when the tannoy barked. “Lieutenant Steele to the bridge! Captain to the bridge!”
He rushed to the bridge. It wasn’t far; Stiletto was a small ship.
“Ensign Bimbeaux! What happened?”
His second in command spun to face him, managing to stop herself before the inertia of her breasts pulled her around in a complete circle. “Lance!” she breathed, wide-eyed. “Something happened!”
“I gathered that,” Lance said very gently, cursing to himself silently. “As science officer, do you perhaps have any idea what?”
“I don’t know, Lance! All I can think is that we hit an area of locally positive spatial curvature! As you know, Lance, that would overload the hyperdrive, causing the plasma shunts to pop open so as to prevent damage by overheating and overloading of critical systems! This would drop us out of hyperdrive and into normal space far from any hope of rescue! And I broke a nail!”
“That’s not too serious,” Lance said.
"But Lance!" Linden breathed. "It was on my index finger!"
Lance sighed deeply, sat down in the command chair, and twisted the tannoy control to the engine room position. “Chief? Any damage back there? Can you get us up and running again?”
“No problem, Lieutenant Steele. Everything popped off and shut down back here, but I’ll have us up and running in twenty minutes.”
“Lance?” Linden turned toward him, chest heaving. She had paled all the way to her sensuous pouting lips. “Listen to this!”
She switched the ultrahyperniftycom to the overhead speakers. “Mayday,” it said, in a familiar voice. “This is Lieutenant Lance Steele aboard the Galactic Patrol Courier Boat Stilleto. All power systems are offline. Life support is reduced to critical levels. Any ships, please respond. Mayday!”
Lance paled too. “A message from ourselves? That’s impossible!”
“It’s so scary, Lance! But it couldn’t happen! Unless of course we traveled back in time to send ourselves a message! For that to happen, we would have to hit a speed within quantum uncertainty of lightspeed just at the very instant we crossed the event horizon of a black hole!”
Lance looked at her for a moment. Then he grabbed the tannoy knob. “CHIEF! I think we’re in the neighborhood of a small black hole, maybe Class B.”
“That would explain why the hyperdrive shut down. You see, it could cause the curvature of space to go positive, locally. That would--”
“Yeah, but I think we’re about to fall into the black hole. We need power right now! Is there anything you can do to get things going right this instant?”
“I can try to implosion-start the main matter-antimatter reactor, but it’s dangerous!”
“Your majesty!” Sigurd the Unlucky shouted, spinning in his seat so he could see her with his one eye. “Passive detectors have recorded an antimatter explosion, bearing 115 down 39, range three light-minutes!”
Dyspepsia the Third, Leather Queen of the Pirates of Orion Alpha Beta Zeta Pi Chi Three, shifted slowly and seductively on her imitation leopard-skin command couch. She managed a sexy smile, hiding her pain with long practice. Damn, if the Pirate Queen’s Handbook (third ed.) had mentioned anything about how badly chain mail bikinis can pinch naked flesh, she might have stayed in the wholesale flower trade!
“Is it the Galactic Patrol?”
Sigurd tapped on his keyboard with his hook. “The radiation spectrum is similar to a Type 13 reactor exploding.”
"From a courier boat, perhaps? It would be just our luck to lure in the Patrol and not a rich, fat merchantman."
Sigurd frowned. "This doesn't make sense. The harmonics look almost as if someone tried an implosion-start."
"Oh? The explosion must have been natural, then. Not even Lance Steele of the Galactic Patrol could be stupid enough to try that."
"Are you sure, Your Majesty?"
"On second thought, you may have a point."
Dyspepsia the Third shifted seductively on the plush fake leopard upholstery. She gasped and somehow managed to change her grimace of pain into a come-hither look. She should have stayed in the flower business. Definitely.
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