Warpt Factor – Installment 21

The Lofty Albatross moved through space like a boat on calm waters, but the atmosphere on the bridge was that of a storm about to break.

CMO Carter was the first to interrupt the silence that had fallen upon leaving dinner.

“Captain, forgive my asking but do you feel it’s a good idea to travel to coordinates sent anonymously like this?” Carter asked.

First Officer deCourville clicked his tongue. “It is crucial we explore the possibility that this message was from the adversarial force that caused such troubles on Rigel Six,”he replied, though his words lacked the certainty they usually held.

Izzy crossed her legs, uncrossed them, crossed them again, and finally stood up from the captain’s chair.

“One of you needs to fess up,” Izzy snapped. “Something’s not right and I’ve got a hunch one of you has some clue or an idea or even a full understanding.” She walked to Professor Everest first, who wouldn’t make eye contact. Izzy leapt up, and Professor continued to look away.

“Look me in the face, you coward!” Izzy huffed. She marched over to First Officer deCourville.

Fontaine glanced at his watch, then looked to the doors to the bridge in a panic. “Look at the time,” he muttered. “I’ve got to go complete my seventeen minute rejuvenation cycle for the evening. That is a real thing that a Cicardox does, and I would appreciate you respecting my honesty by not looking into that claim further.” He dashed to, then out, the door.

Izzy turned and caught CMO Carter staring.

“Load of help you two are,” CMO Carter sneered. “First Officer fled the bridge and you won’t even so much as squeak like a stowaway mouse. I’ll tell her, but she’s not going to be happy.”

Izzy raised an eyebrow, her hands on her hips. “Go on,” she commanded. “Talk.”

CMO Carter inhaled slowly, exhaling in a deep sigh. “It’s a recruiting technique,” she said. “Someone out there sees you as talent worth sniping. It’s interesting, though…”

“What’s interesting?” Izzy asked.

“You just took over this ship not more than a month ago, yes?” CMO Carter asked.

Izzy thought about it. “Maybe two weeks, give or take? It’s hard to say.”

“I suggest we’re on our guard, if we even accept,” Professor Everest said. “Some of these sorts don’t handle ‘no’ well for an answer.”

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