Trash litters the corridors. Someone’s ripped down the Antarean-inspired light fixtures, disabled the lifts.
Stay out of the galley. Armed thugs from the Captain’s faction hold it; and they don’t shoot to stun. The Captain and the First Officer themselves were recently seen on the rec deck, taking pot-shots at each other from behind stanchions.
Our poor USSS Farseeker – battered beyond recognition most would say. Many of those saying this go on to batter it still further. We’ve long since ceased to have any recognizable mission, or any consistent course to any fixed destination. One faction grabs the helm, we pitch to port, another fights them off, and we yaw to starboard. Today the First Officer’s people hold the comm; they’ve decided to turn us around, take us back to Republic space. Tomorrow, the Captain’s goons will likely grab the wheel, do an about-face, and announce we’re headed for the Great Deep Unknown. Asteroids zip by; they knock off our comm antennae and livery, and we’re helpless to steer clear.
Now there’s a ship in our view, a breathtaking vessel of soaring, clean lines. Not of Earth manufacture; in fact, no Earth crew has ever encountered the like. Communications reach us in the language of tensor algebra, geometric poetry. Our resident eggheads inform us that this indicates an advanced and brilliant species of sentient life, hitherto unknown to Man.
The First Officer’s people announce that they’ll attempt to communicate. Weakness! the Captain’s partisans scream. A scuffle ensues. It spills out of the Bridge and down the main corridor. The oxygen generator takes an accidental hit; now you need masks to venture above Deck 3. The Captain’s faction wins out. They demand that we tell the “filthy insects” (are they insectoid? We haven’t seen them yet; we have no idea) to surrender immediately. Surrender what? They haven’t threatened us. No matter. Tell them to prepare to be boarded, and that they’ll be exterminated if they put up resistance. Sorry but the safety of our Human crew takes precedence; can’t risk an encounter with hostiles. As we’re attempting to translate this into the what we know of the beautiful algebraic syntax of the unknown race, someone lets loose a neutron volley from the Farseeker’s big guns. The ship disintegrates in a cloud that looks like milkweed.
Final transmission (as far as we can interpret it): We do not understand.
The Captain’s army now begins rooting out those who were in favor of communication. Obviously we have Bug spies on board. (But we don’t even know they were insectoid…oh, never mind). A firing squad lines the detainees up against the aft bulkhead. Down they go, like cornstalks in the wind…
I manage to hide. I’ve got cans of rations in my quarters – not my assigned quarters (they’d find me there) but the quarters of a murdered bioengineer. I can hide out until the ghastly internecine struggle plays itself out. (And then…?)
It’s dying down now. A former Custodial Technician by the name of Gog Wayley has gathered disaffected Captain-ites and First Officer loyalists to his side. His army grows, and begins consolidating turf. Decks 22-17, now Rec, now Supplies. The Captain’s remaining partisans fail to hold Maintenance 4. They go down in a bloody tangle. Gog Wayley’s army removes the Captain’s head, mounts it on a makeshift pike.
They’ll take the Bridge soon, so I hear.
And what is Gog Wayley’s vision for the ship? There are wealthy colonies in the neighborhood of Garbafon. They are poorly defended. Gog Wayley brays that their riches will be ours. We’ll swoop out of their skies like a great bird of death and lay their nations to waste.
They’ll be up here on the Bridge within the hour. The First Officer’s people hold it, but their arms are few, their helmsman’s expertise nonexistent.
Helmsman Sriva and I exchange a glance of mutual understanding. I plot the course. He lays in the vectors. The First Officer’s guards don’t even see us do it.
It’s finished. Inside of an hour, the USSS Farseeker will plunge into the nearest F-Class sun and disintegrate.
Away with this mad mind-riven bird of sky-borne death. Away with it forever.