THE PATHFINDER MISSION Part Nine, a short story by actung. Date added: 2011-11-25. Times viewed: 523.
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Upon his apprehension Philippe was left with a walk of shame, although to him he had nothing to feel shameful about. The hallways of The Pathfinder were lined with just about everyone on board, all the way to the holding cell. To look at Philippe it seemed that he was almost enjoying what was happening. The name calling heckling was in a way feeding Philippe’s ego. His grin being one most definitely narcissistic in nature and this grin would turn into a short snarling laughter upon being placed in the holding cell.
The morning following Maria’s ordeal it had been discussed as to whether or not she should be informed as to what was going on outside of the ship. The obvious thing was to let her rest; however when she awoke and had seen for herself what was going on outside through the view port in her bedroom, she soon made her way to the command centre bringing Cindy with her. With what was happening outside of the ship Maria was not surprised with the hive of activity she came across in the command centre. Despite all the activity it didn’t take long for Maria to make an inquiry even though it was one to which she already knew the answer to.
‘Why was I not informed?’
‘Do you really need an answer?’ asked Simon.
Taking her position at her regular console in the room, Maria glanced down towards the ships chief pilot before beginning to gather data of her own.
‘How long has it been since we first came across this?’ she asked.
‘Just over ninety minutes now’ replied Simon.
‘Ninety minutes and no one called me? Ten of fifteen minutes I’d understand but a whole ninety minutes’.
‘It is amazing isn’t it?’ Jeff asked rhetorically. ‘I have never seen anything like this before but I have heard the stories of the Northern lights and the likes back home’.
Outside of the ship an aurora of neon lights stretched across thousands of metres of space. As deep as it is wide, this light show in space was a sight worthy of awe and wonder.
‘Are those bolts of lightning?’ asked Jeff referring to the flashes of white lights happening between the layers of neon colour.
‘Yes’ replied Maria. ‘What we are looking at here is an electrical storm’.
‘I did not know they could happen in space’ said Simon.
‘Sure it can, and it quite likely means there is a planet not too far away, most probably on the far side of the storm’.
‘An inhabitable plant?’ asked Jeff.
‘Quite possibly yes, but we would need to determine that for sure’ replied Maria.
‘Then what are we waiting for, shouldn’t we just head right through it?’ inquired Jeff.
‘Hold on there a minute, as I have already mentioned, that storm is electrical, if we get to close to it then it could knock out every system on board this ship, including gravity and life support’.
It was just as well then that Jeff has been sitting at the secondary piloting station. His impulse would have been to head straight for the storm with the intent to fly right through it and that would have been disastrous, but such a disaster still may just be quite likely.
‘Jeff have you brought us closer to the storm?’ inquired Maria.
‘No I haven’t I am not in control of navigation, Simon is’.
‘Well I haven’t moved us not in the last while anyway’ spoke Simon.
‘Then if we haven’t moved then the storm is coming our way. Simon I need you to move us back a bit’.
Simon worked at his controls and the storm continued to move closer. Looking confused he worked the controls some more.
‘We are not getting anywhere Simon what is happening?’
‘The engines are working, we are just moving forward towards that storm when we should be moving backwards and away from it’.
Maria contacted engineering through the com system and Robert would respond.
‘We are having a bit of a problem up here Robert, we need to get away from an electrical space storm, power from up here is not strong enough and we are moving forward instead of backward. Is there anything you can do to help from down there?’
‘No, there is no point in adding power to the engines. Adding power does not mean they will work any better than they already are’.
‘Any suggestions to what we can do then? We need to get away from that storm. It seems that we are being drawn toward it’.
‘The only thing I can suggest is that we use the booster system to power right through the storm, if we do that we will enter the storm but it would be at the speed of light so we would actually hardly spend any time within the storm at all. We would pass through it so quickly that the amount of time we do spend in it would not even register on a stopwatch’.
‘Ok we will need to do that as soon as possible. At this rate we will be inside the storm in a couple of minutes, how soon can we use the booster?’
‘It is ready whenever you are’.
‘By the way it is quite likely that there is a planet on the other side of that storm, if we activate the booster, what can we do to avoid hitting the planet’.
‘There is no need to worry about that. As you know we have a deflector system which allows us to completely miss anything that may stand in front of us while we move at the speed of light, even if there is something as large as a planet which may be as close as being on the other side of that storm’.
‘Ok Robert put the ship on immediate alert; we are going to use the booster in the next few seconds’.
Maria waited for just about a minute before giving Simon the go ahead to start the booster however they were about to encounter another problem. The energy bubble collapsed almost as soon as it was activated. Robert knew immediately why this happened. The storm had already begun to interfere with the ships systems.
‘Maria we are going to need to do what we have done once before and turn off everything and begin rebooting’.
‘It took fifteen minutes the last time to reboot. We only have seconds, we need to use the booster and we need to use it now’.
Simon tried to activate it once more. The bubble began to form but collapsed for a second time. Main power also began to fail. Everyone in the command centre as well as engineering began to presume that that was it. They were doomed. They would have to reboot while spending time inside an electrical storm, something that would not be able to be done as the storm would knock out all efforts to regain power. With seconds to go before entering the storm back up power kicked in. Simon’s controls had not powered down, when he notice the power return he activated the booster. The energy bubble formed and the ship powered into light speed.
Just when one problem had been averted another one arose. As with most operating systems on the ship, if it is not hand operated then it is electrical or both. While having lost power temporarily the holding cell had also temporarily become unlocked. Two security guards had been on duty, standing outside the holding cell which held Philippe captive. One of the two guards lost his balance when the ship went to light speed. Philippe used this to his advantage, attacking the other guard first upon escaping the holding cell. The ship may have averted an electrical disaster but now a serial killer was once again free. The only advantage the ship’s crew had this time in comparison to when Philippe was the unknown killer is that he is no longer so much unknown.
With having to go to light speed so quickly, quite a number of accidents occurred around the ship. The whole medical crew were on duty with almost all of them in different locations attending to various accidents. So momentarily Stanley and two nurses were the only ones in the medical facility, waiting for those with injuries to either make their own way to the medical facility or for others on the medical staff to arrive back with those who could not make it there on their own accord.
When the medical bay doors opened Stanley had been waiting, ready to go into action but he would need to go into different kind of action to what he had been anticipating, for it was not a probable patient with physical wounds needing to be treated coming through those doors but more a guy with a mental wound, a psychological wound, a man looking for the kind of help to which the doctor would at no time be willing to offer.
Philippe entered the medical bay. He told the two nurses to leave. They did not need to be told twice, they both left as quickly as they could. Now Philippe is in his prime, he is tall and strong. The same however could not be said about the doctor. He was slim, even though he still was only just forty years old Stanley was or is most definitely not as strong as he may have been in his own youth. Frailty made him a shell of the man he may have once been. He would be able to put up somewhat of a fight if needed be but at that he would be expected to quite easily be on the losing end of any battle which did not involve him making an attempt to save someone’s life. Looking at the doctor Philippe began to smile and that smile quickly turned to laughter.
‘So glad you are here doctor. I need you to do something for me’.
Philippe began to approach the doctor and Stanley backed away. They almost began to move in a circular motion but there would be no way that Philippe would allow the doctor to get anywhere near to the door. Whatever Philippe wanted Stanley to do, Stanley knew that it would be something that he would not want to get involved with.
‘See doctor I have been a bad man and I know that I have been a bad man, I cannot help that. This is just who I am. I have desires, I have impulses and unfortunately these impulses and desires do so often get the better of me’.
‘You don’t need a doctor, you need a psychiatrist’.
‘That, my dear doctor is where you are wrong. I want you, in fact I need you. I need you to kill me, so I will never be able to do anything bad again’.
‘You are insane, you do know that right?’ Stanley spoke with a fear that was very evident in his voice.
He continued moving backwards, keeping his distance, knocking anything and everything near him over in an attempt to keep the mad man in front of him away.
‘I would like to kill you, believe me but I am just am not that kind of guy at all. The ability to kill is just not in me. I am a doctor, I save people, I do not kill them, and so there is nothing I can do for you. I am sorry but that is just the way it is’.
‘Look doctor you don’t have to stab me or beat me to death, I am sure there is something that you could give me to put me asleep? Huh? Come on doc, what do you say?’
Stanley was now backed up against a wall and Philippe stood a couple of inches in front of him. Stanley had to do something now so he threw a punch which landed where he had intended it to land but in the thrust of the moment Stanley lost his balance and fell forward. The punch had little or no effect on Philippe other than making him angry. There was only one thing that Philippe was going to do now in this moment and that was to grab one of the doctor’s operating knives and move towards the doctor while he was still on his hands and knees. Philippe stood behind Stanley and grabbed a fist full of his thinning hair before slitting the doctor’s throat from the left side to the right side.
Before he could even release the grip he had on the doctor, Philippe would meet the end to which he had so desired. The path to that end was just not what he had expected or hoped for. Security stormed the medical bay and an armed guard did not hesitate in using his gun. One shot was fired and the projectile hit Philippe right in the middle of his forehead. His head snapped back and came to a halt. A couple of seconds passed and blood began to flow from where the bullet hit before Philippe eventually fell to one side. The doctor managed to grab his own neck with both his hands but there was nothing he or anyone else could do. The sound of Stanley attempting to breathe seemed for a moment to be the only sound in the immediate vicinity. Seconds passed slowly. Stanley fell forward. The doctor was gone.
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