Alarms and lights blared from every direction. Matt still held Keiko in his arms. He had spared her harm by having her land on his body.
“You can take your hands off my breasts now.
“Sorry but I had to grab hold of something.”
“Nice that you think I have enough to grab hold of.” She grabbed his hands and removed them. “Next time ask first. So, what just happened?”
“The logical conclusion is a large object much had impacted the hull of the ship.”
“In orbit, that doesn’t sound right.”
“Luckily for everyone the hull remained intact.”
“How can you possibly know that?”
“If it hadn’t everyone would be flying through space.”
Having no luck contacting the control center Matt and Keiko suited up and made their way through the dark corridors. The emergency lights finally came on as they got to the first level. They entered the control center to the image of a graveyard of derelict ships floating in their path.
“You sure don’t see that every day.”
“Glad you could join us Major,” came a scowl from “Chief” Conrad.
“Is that how you address a superior officer Chief?” Quinn asked.
“Damn Right.” Conrad said. “I’m not showing any special treatment not even for the Captain.”
“Chief,” Quinn was not happy to hear that. “Glad you’re here Major.” He looked at him with trepidation. “The command stations, were supposed to be on automatic control but nothing is working.”
Matt looked around at stations which except for Travers at the Pilot seat were empty. “Everyone in the Infirmary. Luckily know serious injuries.”
“They’re ours, aren’t they?” Doris asked her voice cracking. “Maybe even the Lewis and Clark?”
“Maggie reported the Lewis and Clark crash landed on the surface.” Matt placed his hand on Doris’ shoulder. “They put up a hell of a fight.”
“Yeah, and they lost.” Keiko added cryptically.
“MOTHER, please respond,”
“The whole system’s failed?” Conrad surmised. “Ain’t it your job to keep it going Mr. Engineer?”
Quinn gave Conrad a stare.
“Let’s not jump the gun, we just got here,” Matt added. “I suggest we go to manual.” Matt blessed with a photographic memory, ran the images of the system blueprint through his mind. “With your permission, Captain.”
“Pilot Travers, Give the major your station.”
Matt sat down and began switching all consoles to off position. “I’ve purposely bypassed all the safety protocols I figure they’re not working anyway.” The console made a cranking noise like shifting gears and a joystick popped up.
“Now you’re talking,” Doris said clapping.
Matt found the thruster controls and the Horizon shook, rumbled, and sprung to life. The huge debris the ship had collided with shattered into shads and slammed indiscriminately into surrounding chunks of wreckage flying everywhere.
The ship rocked to port side as they hit something. Then the force of the next collision shook the crew. Again, something slammed the starboard side.
“Major, where’d you get your pilot license?” Quinn snapped.
Suddenly the debris began to be fewer and fewer until they were all in the visible plane in front of the Horizon.


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