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These might be a little short for a few days. I’m getting my next assignment for the Flash Fiction Challenge this evening and will be working on it all weekend so I will have less time to work on this novel.

Fleet 8

“This is a difficult situation, Mr. Wade. You’ll be signing on as the new third mate and chief relativist. We need a fresh eye on all diagnostic equipment and you should begin the calculations for maneuvers at relativistic speed as soon as you can.”

“I’ll need access to all ship’s data.”

“Of course, but also remember that our relativistic experts were the first killed and we require a human eye for breakdown.”

“I’ll keep my eyes open.”

“Do so. The Mercy has a full surface monitor system. We keep constant watch on everyone, but no one ever registers near the bodies.”

“Some sort of scan blocker?”

“It’s possible.” She said. “Or maybe some sort of computer virus erasing data about a specific source. The technician’s have found nothing, but that’s not necessarily evidence. As far as we can tell it’s even possible that all of this has been caused by a strange set of computer error forcing grav-guns to malfunction and overload in an extremely coincidental manner.”

“You don’t really believe that?”

She shook her head. “No, but I wish I could. It would be easier than to believe that one of the people I’ve shipped with for the last several years could have done this.” She shrugged. “Maybe it’s a stow away.”

“That’s damned unlikely.”

“Agreed, but I’d rather allow for the impossible for now, if you don’t mind. My crew and I have watched nearly two centuries pass. We are each other’s only constants in a changing universe. The thought one of them could do this…”

She didn’t need to finish. “I’ll make ready for breakdown as fast as I’m able,” I said. “Is there anything else?”

Captain Ryan shook her head, returning to her calculations. “If you’ve any questions along the way, you may come to me or Mr. Cord. We are the only two with full knowledge of the situation.”

I set my empty glass on the table and turned to leave. I paused with my hand on the door release and turned, smiling. “Captain, a favor?”


“There’s a petition going around,” I said. “Sign it.”

She laughed. “Dismissed, Mr. Wade.”

The door to the Captain’s office slid noiselessly shut behind me. Several members of the bridge crew glanced up to determine if I was anyone important before returning to the work they’d been doing. I studied them for a few moments. They were uniformed, but most of them left it loose or unbuttoned. Hair and hygiene seemed to vary with crew member, but every work station was clean and well-kept and each of the bridge team was clear-eyed and sober, despite their occasional appearance. It was something to work with at any rate.