"Are we there yet?"

I'm going to kill him. I'm going to kill me. I'm going to kill everyone on this ship if he asks that one more time.

"No. We weren't there two seconds ago. We weren't there two minutes ago. We weren't there two hours ago. And, two days ago, where were we? Not freaking there!

So. Two minutes from now, where do you think we'll be?"


"It was a rhetoric question, you paperclip."

"I knew that."

The live video feeds from the exterior cameras, displayed on some "refurbished" view screens in the cramped cockpit, showed nothing; lots and lots of nothing with a few dots of white light thrown around. In the feed from the aft, one of the dots was a lot larger than the others, though it was shrinking rapidly. Soon, it would be indistinguishable from the myriad of other points of light in the cosmos.

"When will we be there?"

The pilot buried his face in his hands and heaved a sigh that sounded more like a genocidal growl.

'Long trip' just didn't cover it.


"Bailey, can you confirm that all the enemy ships have been neutralized?"

"I can confirm whatever you want me to, sir. Doesn't make it true."

The first officer leaned his head back, collecting his calm.

Bailey said, "Yes. Most of our vile and despised enemy are in tiny little pieces floating out in the vast interstellar regions of space."

"Most of them?"

"Um, there's one on our port side matching speed with us."

"Well, we're going to have to outrun them. Get us up to light speed."

The navigator punched in the command to the computer and a faint rumble could be heard from the normally silent engine room, several decks below and behind. A wave of nausea swept over the crew and was gone; the first officer straightened up a little more, resting a hand on the back of the navigator's chair.

"Alright, are they still in range of our scanners? How far back did we leave them?" he asked.

Bailey said nothing for a long while, fiddling around with the instruments and interpreting the readings. Finally she looked up, her face unreadable behind the mirrored visor of her space suit.

"We gained about two feet on them."


"They've matched speed. Once we entered light speed, they did, too."

The first officer was silent.

"Well, dang," said Bailey, "Guess we're going to have to duke it out when we get to the planet at the same time. At least we both ran out of ammo already."

The first officer remained motionless.

"On the bright side," Bailey continued, "they're probably going to spend the next four years as bored as we are."

Finally, the first officer spoke; "We will not be bored. We have a lot of preparations to make and plans to formulate for when we get there. Plus we have to stage some defenses and offenses against the enemy ship to eliminate them before we arrive and ensure the integrity of this vessel."

"Uh... what are we gonna do, throw synthesized tomatoes at each other?"

"Oh, be quiet. Keep monitoring them and notify me if something happens."


The first officer strode out of the room.


"Now then, let's have a look," the doctor tugged some sterile gloves over his suit and peeled the curtain around the patient's bed aside.

"Dear Lord-!" he flung the curtain back into place with a swoosh.

The now-concealed patient uttered a series of high-pitched gurgling whines amid which words were interspersed: "Wh...at iss it, doctor?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing! I assure you, you'll be good as new in a few... um, weeks. Possibly a few months. But nothing to worry about! Haha!" He eased the curtain open again with a sharp intake of breath and visibly steeled his nerves.

"Nurse," he called out, not taking his eyes off the patient, "Brandy please." To himself, he said, "I'm going to need it for this one..."


The first officer leaned his elbows on the table, looked down the long expanse of it to his right, then at the empty spot around the corner at his left. Then he glanced at the clock.

"Well, I guess I'd get to find out what happens when every officer on the spaceship is reprimanded by the captain for being grossly late to the first officer's meeting of the trip. That is, if the captain wasn't also grossly late."

He slouched over the table, staring at the door.

Finally, it grated its painful way open with an agonized squeal and the head nurse darted through, panting heavily.

A trail of gore appeared in his wake, dripping off the formerly periwinkle gown. The medic stripped off crimson gloves, shoved them casually in the trash can, and sat down, sending a splatter of unidentifiable fluids off the gown onto the surrounding furniture.

He obviously mistook the intent behind the first officer's alarmed stance and said sheepishly, "You didn't hear what happened to the chief medical officer? Um... I'm his replacement, I guess. Next in line for the job and all..." He trailed off and looked down into his lap where he neatly folded his hands.

The first officer said nothing.

Another pained screech from the door and the pilot walked in -

"Oh my god, jettison that little blue guy or I'm going to kill him. Capt – oh, he's not here yet. Nevermind."

"No, he's not. Now, what were you saying about this blue soldier?"


"It was not nothing."

"It was, too."

"It wasn't! I heard you – the doctor – medic – heard you! You're on the security cameras! You can't possibly deny it! You were about to ask the captain something very illegal. And unethical. And mean."

"...I deny every syllable."

The first officer was about to make a reply; the squeak of the door interrupted him and the figure of the captain silenced him.

"Captain!" the first officer stood and snapped to attention. This marked the first time he'd seen his captain in person.

"Hmm." grunted the captain, plunking down at the head of the table and drawing his legs up on the chair and resting his chin on his knees. The pilot sat down as well, still fuming, and glared steadily at the table.

"Right then," the first officer said, after seven solid minutes of listening to the ventilation system doing its job.

"Um... so what's the first thing on the agenda, captain?"

"Darned if I know."

"Right. Right, so what about this hull breach from the battle? Hadn't we better fix that pronto? I think you mentioned that when you called us all in here."

"It's fixed."

"...Why are we still wearing our space suits?"

"I'll let Roddy answer that."

The captain waved his hand over a panel on the edge of the table, cuing a monitor to unfold from the middle of the table. The avatar of the spaceship's controlling artificial intelligence fizzled into view on the screens.

"{Salut, Captain and Crew of the USS Crown of Creation (CLS)..}"

"Roddy, tell them why we're still wearing the suits," the captain spat apathetically.

"{Affirmative, Captain. There are lethal levels of chlorine gas in the air. We must lower the chlorine to a safe level before I can unlock your suits..}"

There was a moment of silence, then the captain prompted the AI: "Tell them the other thing you told me, too."

"{I don't think they have the appropriate security clearance to hear this..}"

"Roddy..." Danger crept into the captain's monotone and the computer relented.

"{The percentage of chlorine in the air, according to my thoroughly accurate readings, is approximately 0.000...000...00...4. Give or take a few dozen zeroes due to increasing boredom during calculations. Remember, you are perfectly welcome to exit the spaceship at any time you choose..}"

"For the record, no, you aren't," this to the officers; then to Roddy, "shut up and get back in your table."

The monitor lingered a moment, flickering a little green and yellow, then folded back down. The last panel slid into place leaving the table smooth and gray again.

"So to review what we all definitely got in the handouts when we boarded," the officers looked askance at one another here, the silent question "what handouts?" bounced between them; the captain obliviously continued; "the brass has ordered us to go to this "strategically significant" planet, get there before our loathed enemy, set up a base of operations, and defend this planet. We have four years of travel before us and our shipboard AI won't let us out of our bloody space suits. Get used to it."

"Sir, you got the personnel reports," the first officer interjected, "did you see if any of the other ships in the fleet made it out of the post-takeoff ambush?"

The captain shook his head. "Of course they all got themselves killed. And I don't mind saying -"

"Wait, c-captain," the medic interjected shyly, "Um, sorry, but I'm getting a call from medical and I think I have to... What's that?" he spoke into his suit's communication apparatus, "Huh? Hold on a second, I can't hear you – how do you turn up the volume on these things?" He fingered the controls and mistakenly hit the speakerphone switch. Echoing through the bare meeting room, the disembodied voice of one of the nurses boomed through: "- And he's in pretty bad shape – I think you should come and have a look at him and tell us -"

"I'm on my way – only, where are you and how bad is he hurt?"

"The engine room, near where the breach was. He's not moving and... he's not got anything above his shoulders, either - I'm kind of worried, to be perfectly honest!"

⊰❀To be continued...❀⊱

Notes: So... Welcome. I'm not gonna hold myself to updating weekly or monthly or anything, since I always try to do that and then college rears its ugly head and slices all my intentions to shreds with its slime-covered teeth. Honestly, gamble on my updating monthly. But fave and review any time. And I mean, if you're one of those super-energetic people, you could review more than once, even!

Next chapter featuring: the fate of the headless man (or woman); character names(!); the little blue guy; and ExPLosIoNS!