Meanwhile, Underneath the Flight Deck

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Meanwhile, Underneath the Flight Deck

“I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m just ‘Crewman Number Six.’ I’m expendable. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I’ve gotta get outta here.”  -Galaxy Quest

Vynn Styn was just about at the end of his life-support tube.  He had grown weary of the expectations of his coworkers and seriously considered detaching the flight deck and sending the whole lot of them out into space.  The way folks bellowed orders at him without so much as a “please” had irked him since he had started the assignment on board.  Really, it all came down to practicality and courtesy.  Apparently, when all these “bold explorers” were off discovering new worlds, they had left logic and respect back on Earth.

At first, Vynn hadn’t minded.  The first time the Irpvites shot their space torpedoes at the hull, he had almost found it exciting.  Vynn had been well trained as a ship’s mechanic back at the academy, so he knew all the details of the structural integrity.  He had been taught that each piece of paneling was strong enough to absorb fusion bomb-level attacks.  The problem was that the fasteners were not so resilient.  The ship’s manufacturers, contracted out to the third-lowest bidder, had skimped on the adherents.

Every time that the ship took so much as an errant satellite to the bulkhead, the ship’s sensors screamed that there was about to be a breach.  This necessitated that someone, usually Vynn, had to go outside in a suit and make sure the panels were reattached.  He disliked the activity, but told himself that it was a crucial part of the job.  Still, he would have preferred if The Captain would stop ordering the crew to send them into hyperwarp drive while Vynn was still outside.

Vynn had the only ID-signi-card that would enable the engines to perform hyperwarp drive.  When he was outside trying to make sure that they didn’t have a gaping hole in their traveling home, The Captain would bristle over the mentalcomm that they needed to leave right this second.  The man didn’t get that Vynn couldn’t be two places at once.  There was always some planet about to explode or some black hole about to suck them into its event horizon or some alien armada coming to blow them off the map.  Vynn always shook his head at these “crises”.  If The Captain wanted good work out of his crew, then he would have to be patient.

ImageIn general, Vynn found that the flight deck generally abused the fine spaceship and assumed that the equipment would do whatever they demanded of it.  Oh sure, when they were in the lunch room stuffing themselves with tubes of caviar and steak-pellets, they would go on and on about “this fine ship that we are lucky to have” and “the ship has saved us again.”  Really though, they abused the elegant piece of machinery.  If the Brigadier Lieutenant wanted to see the Spaceship Nebula back at home port, they wanted to get there at triple hyperwarp speed with boosters at full.  If there were some peace treaties that were falling apart, the mentalcomm chirped with demands to break off faster than hyperwarp speed with boosters at maximum-plus.  And of course, when they had gone to the surface and punched some alien life form in the face or eaten the supreme commander as jello shots, then they were all surprised when the aliens sent their entire fleet to destroy the Nebula.  So, screaming and crying, “What happened?  What did we do”, they would demand that Vynn and his coworkers blast the engines past their limits once again.

Spaceships were built to be robust, but the crew just asked too much.  They didn’t respect the technology.  Each and every hyperwarp demanded a careful mix of fusion, nuclear radiation, and electronics that controlled it all.  They had even taught him at the academy, “Only use these in the event of an emergency.  They aren’t built to be used more than a few times.”  The Nebula’s crew used them at least once a month; often once a week.  The ship’s hull was showing signs of deteriorating.  The walls around the engine and power source were both starting to buckle.  That much heat and energy in a confined area was just too much for the hybrid metal struts.  Vynn, naturally, had tried to explain this to The Captain every time he defiled some head of state.  But no, The Captain would just go on about how, “She won’t let us down, Vicki.  Put her to work.”  Not only could the man not get Vynn’s name right, he clearly didn’t know what he was talking about.  Vynn should have known he was in trouble when he was assigned to a ship piloted by a quadrant-leader’s nephew.  Photon rifles instilled fear into most of the crew.  However Vynn was convinced it was his intrepid leader that was going to be the cause of their demise.

Vynn had more or else consigned himself to a tour of being ignored and ill-treated.  Orders would be barked, advice would go unheeded, and the mechanical and engineering crew would get their bunks short-sheeted.  Such were the politics aboard any spaceship touring an unknown galaxy.  It didn’t mean that Vynn couldn’t get his kicks in.

The deck made it far too easy for Vynn to get away with anything.  Half the time, despite regulations, they were too busy making doe-eyes at each other and declaring how they would sacrifice the lives of everyone on board for the one subordinate that they loved.  (Vynn didn’t think that did much for every other crew member’s morale.)

Whenever Vynn was annoyed, he’d make up an illness.  Once he took some coolant out of an inactive hyperion-missile and poured it over a carton of milk.  He sopped that up with a torn uniform and ran it up to the flight deck.  “This…” he’d stammer dramatically, “Is all that’s left of Ensign YoureaMoron!  He got infected and we can’t reconstitute him back to a human!”  The Captain was always horrified and poked at whatever concoction Vynn made up.  Vynn had found that The Captain didn’t know the names of any of the engineers.  He could make up a different insult, slap it on a piece of dusty uniform, and the man was never the wiser.  Idiot.

Putting forth that much effort was only for when Vynn felt creative.  When he was feeling lazy, he’d simplify matters.  One day The Captain had the brilliant idea that since they were docking at home soon, with the engines “past extra-uber-maximum”, naturally; Vynn and his crew should polish the outside of the deck.  Vynn didn’t offer that the task was suicide.  He didn’t point out that he needed his crew to keep the engines from exploding with the demands the dolt was putting on the machine.  He simply made something up.

“Captainnnnnnn”, he said as slowly as possible.  “We’ve encountered some sort of time disruptioooooonnnnn.  We seem to be moving at a slower rate than the rest of yoooouuuuuu.  We think we have a solution, but it is going to take some timmmmeeeeee.”  The Captain, of course, bought it.  Localized time disruption; what a buffoon.  Vynn knew he should have gone into the private sector.  Of course, it was nice knowing that when he told the flight deck that his crew had all been miniaturized, they would believe it.  They would never actually come and investigate for themselves.

No, investigating a life-threatening situation onboard would have put their precious pretty faces at risk.  Let the grunts and the guys actually running the ship assume all the danger.  The “threat” of being miniaturized or “attacked by space mold” usually meant poker night.  Vynn still couldn’t believe that Tyng had gotten a full house.  They’d have to have another game, and soon.  They were weeks away from any civilizations, maybe it was time for the engineering crew to be attacked with a sudden case of “calcium dilation”.  After all, the flight crew seemed to think they could run the Spaceship Nebula all by themselves; why not let them at it?


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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