Hundreds of years from now, on the other side of our galaxy, aboard Deep Space Probe Sixty-nine, the Captain and Navigator are arguing about their orders:

“What’s the name of this star again?” the Captain inquires.

“I don’t know,” the Navigator responds quickly enough. “It hasn’t been cataloged yet.”

“But our position is correct, yes?” the Captain persists.

“These are the coordinates we were given,” the Navigator explains through clenched teeth.

What are we doing out here?” the Captain rhetorically exclaims in frustration. “This whole thing doesn’t make any sense; if this were a new planet, then where are all the other DSPs?”

“Let’s just do what we were ordered to do and get out of here,” the Navigator suggests.

“Sigma Narse Four,” the Captain repeats. “So let’s count out four planets from the star and that’s our baby.”

“But the third planet shows an atmosphere,” the Navigator begins.

“I don’t care!” the Captain explodes in impatience. “We were ordered to Sigma Narse Four and that’s where we’re going; we’ll do the planet survey and send it in and that’ll be that.”

The Navigator sighs, disgusted herself with this whole routine. “Yes sir,” she simply replies as she carries out her orders.

“Hey Hubert,” Hector interjects to his partner in crime aboard J-1967 a little while later. “There’s a DSP in orbit of the next planet out.”

“That seems strange,” Hubert comments as he confirms Hector’s readings. “Walt and Chely already did a planet survey there.”

Hector hits his intercom button. “Bridge to Captain,” he intones into it.

“Captain here,” Carolyn’s voice replies over the airwaves.

“What’s up?”

“Needed on the bridge, ma’am,” Hector simply explains.

“What is it?” the electronic version of Carolyn’s impatience wants to know.

“Well, do you know if Walt and Chely turned in all their planet surveys?” Hector inquires in his staccato Hispanic accent.

“They should have,” comes the answer from below. “Why do you ask?”

“Because there’s a DSP in orbit of the fourth planet right now.”

“One DSP.”

“That’s correct Captain.”

“I’ll be right up.”

“Damn straight you will be,” Hector mumbles to himself after disengaging the intercom.

“Hector,” Daisy drawls out in reproach from her communications console.

Hector turns around to look at his girlfriend but otherwise offers no comment.

When Carolyn reaches the bridge, she is greeted by the sight of the DSP in orbit of the neighboring planet on the main viewer; she sits down in her Captain’s chair and hits the intercom button. “Bridge to Science Officer; needed topside.”

“Acknowledged,” Brandy’s voice returns to her after about a minute.

When Brandy reaches the bridge, Carolyn’s unspoken question to her is, What do you suppose we have here? She checks a few monitors and consults her library computer. “It is as it appears to be,” Brandy confirms at length, “DSP Sixty-nine,”

Carolyn turns around in her seat. “Would you raise Arial please?” she entreats of Daisy.

“Yes ma’am,” Daisy responds as she addresses her work station.

Down on the planet surface, Arial’s communication device beeps at her. She opens it up. “Hello?”

John can hear first Daisy’s voice and then Carolyn’s but the conversation is indistinct. Finally she says, “Hold on a second.” Next she addresses Walt and Chely. “Hey–you two lovebirds,” she begins. “Did y’all turn in all your planet surveys?”

“Yes,” Walt simply responds. “Why?”

“Because we have a visitor,” Arial explains.

“Where?” Chely incredulously inquires. “Here?”

“No,” Arial responds as she points. “Next planet out.”

Uh-oh,” Carmen comments when they pull up on their view screen the relayed image.

“Let’s keep cool now,” Ethan wisely counsels. “It’s only one DSP and it’s in orbit of the wrong planet.”

“Walt, what are your orders?” Arial asks him after waiting a discrete time.

“Let’s see what they do,” he decides after conferring with Chely. “There’s nothing there; it shouldn’t take that long for them to figure that out.”

“Exactly,” Carmen agrees.

“Walt says continue to monitor but initiate no transmissions,” Arial sees fit to interpolate over her device.

“This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Walt decides after some more thought.

“No, it doesn’t,” Arial confirms. “But there they are.”

“Can you find out who gave their order?” Chely inquires of the Admiral.

“I don’t know if I should right now,” Arial conjectures.

“What if Carolyn calls them, just to say hi?” Carmen throws out for discussion.

“That’s a possibility,” John decides.

“What if I get their voice mail?” Carolyn asks on board her ship as this plan is laid out to her.

“Then leave a message,” Arial suggests.

Daisy–Daisy?” Carolyn repeats her communications officer’s name to focus the latter’s attention. “Would you raise them please?”

“J-class Nineteen Sixty-seven to DSP Sixty-nine,” Daisy intones as casually as she can. “Come in please.”

“Hi there,” the electronic reproduction of the Captain’s voice reaches them over the radio waves. “This is Deep Space Probe number Sixty-nine. Neither Starlite nor I is available right now, but if you leave a message, we’ll be sure to call you back. Ciao!”

Hello, DSP Sixty-nine,” Carolyn intones from her seat. “This is Captain Carolyn Marks aboard J-class Nineteen Sixty-seven. Just happen to be on the next planet over and thought I’d give you guys a shout. If your schedule permits, feel free to call me back. Otherwise, have a better one!”

“Starlite,” Hector repeats to Hubert after Carolyn has audibly ended her message. “Guess we know what’s up with them, huh?” “Brilliant,” Arial congratulates Carolyn from her end.

“Well done,” Ethan concurs. “Now the ball’s in their court.” Or–best defense is a strong offense,” Chely intones in wonder.

“Now that,” Walt sums up. “Is what I call a team effort.” “Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Carmen comments.

“Who wants to take bets on whether they call us back or not?” John throws out for discussion.

“If I were them,” Chely entertains hypothetically. “I’d finish up with my boyfriend, file the planet survey and get the you-know-what out of here.”

"Unless,” Carmen now counters. “You were curious yourself as to what is going on, and you wanted to sound out the other Captain.”

“The plot thickens,” John sees fit to suggest.

“Or the plot thins,” Ethan sides with Chely. “They leave and don’t say anything.”

“Whose command is that DSP under?” John asks Arial.

“Tom’s,” Arial announces in satisfaction after she consults her directory.

“So you know him,” Walt clarifies.

“Oh yeah,” Arial confirms as she nods. “We go back a long way; he’d be straight with me, if I called a favor in.”

“Mark was right,” John keenly observes. “You really do get around.”

Arial simply returns the look, as if to say, Beneath my dignity to even respond.

On board DSP-69, the Captain is the first to awake; after he listens to Carolyn’s message, he calls up his own Spacefleet Command’s directory. “Whoa,” he softly intones in wonder as he checks out Carolyn’s Service profile, though careful not to disturb his Navigator and girlfriend, who’s still soundly sleeping in the aftermath of some strenuous intercourse. “This chick is hot.”

 Catty stills the viewer. "I still don't understand why you guys did what you did," she expresses her quandary with a gesture of her hand. "If you guys had done nothing, they would have completed the planet survey and taken off without incident."

John shrugs before he expresses the obvious. "You don't know that. Besides, it was Carolyn's decision," he simply maintains. "She's the Captain."

"No matter what, huh?" their new moon expert needlessly questions him, because she knows what he'll say.

He shakes his head in resignation to the truth. "Always has been; always will be."

October 20, 2019 05:37

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