“No, Captain,” they both stated, in unison once again.

“Carry on,” I replied and continued my walk down the coordinator.  I had to smile.  “Young love,” I breathed softly. 

Eventually, I found myself in the observatory.  Ensign Terry Allen and Ensign Harriman Tarrwater were engaged in a lively debate over an engineering question.

“Gentlemen, do you have a solution to our problems,” I asked.

 They stopped in mid-sentence and turned toward me.  It was obvious they had not noticed me enter the chamber.

“Captain,” Tarrwater began.  “The reason the communication and navigation systems are out is simple.”

Only an engineer would say simple, I thought.

“Shielding.”  Tarrwater waited for me to reply.

“Shielding?”  I asked perplexedly.

“If I may explain, Captain,” Allen jumped in before Tarrwater could continue.  “The cables for communication and navigation were constructed six years ago.  The rest of the cables were made three years ago.  The latter have a quarto shield design.  The former only had two layers of protection.  This is why there was a system burn out.”

“Do you concur with this analysis, Ensign Tarrwater?”  I asked.

“Certainly.  They were in such a hurry to launch us that they did not replace the old cables with the new shield design.  Safety was sacrificed for the political launch date.”

“Are you willing to place that in an official report, Ensign?”

“We both are,” Allen replied.

“Bottom line, gentlemen.  Can you repair the damage?”

“We have kilometers of new cable on board.  With the engineering crew’s help and time, we could restore the systems,” Tarrwater confidently stated.

“However, Captain,” Allen interjected, “They will not be operating at optimal efficiencies.  Some components can be rerouted, but . . .”

“No buts, Captain.  They will work,” Tarrwater interrupted. “Ensign Allen occasionally forgets that I’m a trained engineer.  He dabbled in engineering in college and at the academy.”

“What Ensign Tarrwater forgets,” Allen responded with confidence, “is that I saw no need to sit in classes to refresh my memory.  My father is the chief engineer for the lunar space stations.  I grew up with engineering tasks pouring into me like water.  Experience has always proven to be the best friend in space.”

“Jerry-built systems will not do in space,” Tarrwater declared defiantly.

“Excuse me!”  Allen responded with raised eyebrows.  “Your English arrogance is appalling to this lunar raised chap.”

“My progenitors were building and sailing ships before your ancestors ever set foot on a ship to America.”

“Indeed!  That’s probably the reason my progenitors sailed from Holland to Nova Scotia.  Dutch ships were more in line with their taste of freedom from English oppression.   English ships were death traps.  From Nova Scotia they migrated to New England where ship building was an art to behold.  I believe the War of 1812 proved that point to the English.”

“Gentlemen!  I assume that you two can work efficiently together and place your views of engineering training and genealogy to the side for the sake of the ship?”

With shocked looks, they both responded, “Of course, Captain!”

“Good!  You have until I awake from hyper stasis to have the systems running.”

They both gulped.  “Three months?”  They said in unison. 

“Carry on,” I smiled slightly as I turned and left.  Knowing those two, they will have it ready when I awake even if they have to stay up day and night to do it.  They love a challenge, especially, when they are attempting to outdo the other.  New Academy ensigns are a rare breed- arrogance of youth and ability.  

To Be Continued….  


G. D. Williams       © 2011