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Don't Panic

by Alfredd Mann

As Ingstram sat in his command chair, he wondered what evil, vile things he would do to Taft and Iffley once he had taken their ship.

Iffley would pay for what he did and lose a Key to boot. That would make Ingstram very happy. His thoughts were interrupted when the navigator reported large masses of starship-type images on the scanner. "What is it?" inquired Ingstram.

"Looks like a large starship contingent, and it is bearing down on us. Time to engagement, 35 seconds.

"Prepare evasive manuvers, and throw shields toward the front. Arm the weapon systems and prepare for a generally bad experience."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Ingstram thought for a moment. "Could this be Iffley's fleet, set up in ambush? No, surely not. Iffley is not that kind of person. Or is he?"

"25 seconds till engagement," said the navigator nervously.

"Acknowledged," said Ingstram.

He knew his ship could not withstand half of that fleet, much less the whole thing. If his ship was hit just once it would be all over.

He left the bridge and headed for the nearest escape pod. He checked the systems on it and prepared to use it. He made his way back to the bridge and asked for a status report.

"Things not looking very good, sir" said the navigator.

"I know that, son, but always remember: Don't panic. That is the motto of many of the galactic hitchikers that we pick up. I don't understand it, but it seems to work for them."

"Time to engagement, 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, engagement!"

Ingstram went into action. "Full power to the shields, fire MegaDestroyer cannons. Go for the lead ship."

The Fashigal's guns were impressive, but not quite as impressive as they needed to be. The first burst from her cannons seemed to have little or no affect on the fleet's lead ship. It returned fire and heavily damaged the Fashigal's shields.

"Shields holding, but one more shot like that and we lose them!"

As if on cue, the lead ship fired another blast, even more powerful than the first. This blast totally wiped out the Fashigal's shields and heavily damaged the outer hull.

"Return fire," screamed Ingstram as he tried to stay upright in his chair.

The Fashigal returned fire but it was no use. The shots seemed to be bounching off the shields of the other ships. Ingstram knew that all was lost, so he left the bridge and made for his escape pod.

Inside, he strapped himself in, and ignited the pod's single rocket. As he flew away from his battered ship, he realized that Iffley had won the battle but maybe had lost the war. He aimed his craft for the only home he knew. Ganymede. From there he would formulate his next plan and make Iffley think twice about double crossing him again.

 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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