XMF Galactic Race (NaNoWriMo14) Part 19
“It’ll take at least that long to work out the calculations. Where should we jump to?” Lewis asked the bridge as a whole.
“We still have the coordinates of our origin near Mars Orbital? How about there?” Faye piped in from the engine room.
“We could, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be empty. Maybe if I shift out of the orbital plane a bit…” Lewis disappeared into his calculations as he conjured up a simulation on a second display.
Mac just sat back and watched his crew work. Amanda watched the vital signs graphs but otherwise didn’t have much to do at the moment. She took the opportunity to observe the crew and get a feel for their interactions with each other.
Faye kept an eye on the Gate Drive and checked on Doug every few minutes. “Hey! Doctor Fantastic!” she called to him. “We’re getting ready to generate another, more interesting data set. How do you feel about that, huh?” It wasn’t until she tapped him on the shoulder that he rewound the conversation in his head and realized she asked him a question.
“More interesting? How?”
“Gonna try to jump back without using the Mars Gate.”
“Fascinating. I mean, it worked before, with the Neptune crew, and Entregar, but at that range…”
“And then you can go back to analyzing logs to your heart’s content. We’ll be back on Mars Orbital and the drive can cool off.” Faye turned away from Doug and opened the line to the bridge again. “Professor Improbable says we’re good to go.”
“Are my nicknames really that impenetrable? Who do you think?”
“Right. Sorry. I think I’ve worked it out …” Lewis scanned through his screen again. “I worked out the destination with sensor data, then checked it against our origin from the last Gate, since we won’t have a Gate network when we’re out there. Everything checks out and there’s a very low probability that we’ll all die.”
“No higher than usual, right?” Mac.
“Yeah. About that low.”
“How very reassuring…” Amanda managed to put the feeling of rolling her eyes into the words.
“Engineering ready?” Lewis asked.
“Ready, aye.” Faye responded.
“Navigation ready. Captain?”
“By all means, Kid. Take us home.”
“Prepare for Gate on my mark.” Lewis counted them down again and pressed the button. This time there was no request to the destination gate, no acknowledgement from it. The computations were fed into the wormhole generator and the Gate Drive spun up as the mists of the vortex swirled in front of the ship. Lewis guided them through and out the other side without incident.
“Breach in three … two … one … Welcome to Mars space.” Lewis announced their safe arrival.
“Why isn’t the wormhole closing behind us?” Mac asked the question on everyone’s mind.
“I … don’t know?” Lewis suggested.
“You need to generate the counter wormhole manually. Usually the Gate does that for you.” Doug answered from engineering.
“Oh. Right. Gate Theory 101. It’s been a long time since the academy… Activating counter gate.” Lewis created another wormhole inside the one they just left, then watched as they two cancelled each other out until the swirling mist winked out of existence. “I’ll have to add that to the Gating routines… or at least make a new button so it’s easier to fire.”
“After we’re docked, Kid. You can use the docking arms this time.”
“Oh thank God. There’s not a lot of room in that hangar. I was not looking forward to that.”
“Once we’re docked, you’re all on three days’ leave. Do what you will, but be back on this ship by 0700 Tuesday. Barring unforeseen circumstances that’s when we’ll depart for the race.”
There was little fanfare when Cartographer left the station, and even less when she engaged her Gate drive and exited the wormhole outside of the Solar system. “Let’s stretch her legs and see what she can do” had been the order, and Lewis calculated the wormhole for as far as his sensors could see. With a relay beacon from Entregar, their next jaunt took them to the race start.