“Heather can we get out of here yet?”
“Regular engines functional. I wouldn’t try a Quantum Displacement.”
“Indeed,” Walsh said. “Jack, make straight for that wormhole we came through.”
“Aye, sir.” After a minute he reported, “Sucking black hole is taking us in.”
Walsh leaned forward. “Let’s hope we come out where we left from.” They did. They were at exactly the coordinates they’d flown to while waiting for the WPC experiments to complete. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
The Ambassador appeared at his side. “Whew. Now that we know we won’t get hopelessly lost, how soon will we be able to get through the other wormhole to look for the Fabaris?”
“We’ll be up to full power in about an hour.”
“Give me a heads up when it’s time to go through. I want to be ready to talk to the Fabaris if we find them.”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s the plan.” With the excitement over, she went back into her office. Walsh breathed a sigh of relief and undid a button on his shirt. “Heather, I’ll be in the observatory,” he said, and hopped up the stairs eagerly. It was kind of a waste him having an office downstairs opposite the Ambassador’s, he mused. He also didn’t spend much time lording over the lower bridge from the command chair situated on the upper area, centered between the offices. His chair did have quicker access to the maglev port behind it at the back of the upper bridge, and a strapping-in system for QDs, he had to concede.
An hour and ten minutes later his work was interrupted again. Steeling himself, he did up his button and headed down. Who knows what they would find through this second sucking black hole…
The Ambassador was coming out of her office as he hit the stair landing and he nodded at her. She looked resplendent in a calf-length deep red dress with angled fringed hemline. It looked like it was somewhat low cut with close-fitting bodice, but covered with a black blazer that matched the fringe and waist tie. Walsh supposed she wanted to look nice to talk to alien officials. What he said was, “Here’s hoping we find the Fabarian ship this time.” Turning to his less distracting navigator, he said, “Jack, take us through wormhole two.”
They approached the dark swirling force and Walsh imagined he could feel the sucking as he watched the ship on the holo enter and whoosh through at high velocity. He tensed, waiting for more spiral suckers or other, unknown dangers.
The space they emerged into was peaceful, however. The only things in sight were a few happily winking pulsars and the great Fabarian ship that looked oddly like the dark silhouette of an outlandish race car, with three central cargo holders hanging down like misplaced exhaust pipes. Walsh stepped aside as O’Bien predictably made for the external com on the central holo.
“Hello, this is Ambassador Karen O’Bien on the human ship Chiron. It looked like you’ve had an accident, so we followed you through a wormhole to see if we can help.”
A face they didn’t know appeared. “Captain Rod. Thanks, but I hope we didn’t condemn you to oblivion. Our batteries are running out of power. In another few hours our interior atmosphere will fail. We made the mistake of fighting the sucking forces of the wormhole, and our engines over-extended and blew out. We have no way to get back to our space.”
“Is Tatnas with you?”
“He is. He’s really busy right now.”
“We have full power and the ability to recharge from the ambient vacuum energy in space.”
Captain Rod perked up. “That could be a life-saver.”
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