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Book: The Nomads and the Mind Machine
Chapter 39: Appalling Failure

Sovereign Tihsadeen gripped tightly onto the arms of his chair as the strongest set of vibrations yet passed through the crisis bridge.  “What was that?!”

Crisis Engineer Pug Peelsadeen was peering at his screens.  “There was a sub-fusion detonation right above the rear of the ship.  Many of our maintenance crews were vaporised.”  He turned.  “We were lucky it missed.  If the detonation had been much closer we would certainly have suffered fatal damage.”

“Idiot!”  The sovereign shouted.  “Bounty hunters do not miss in such a fashion.  They were not attempting to destroy us.  They wanted to disable the subspace drive.  They wish to capture us!”

Pug was confused.  “Capture a ship as large as this?  That’s not possible.  There are only four bounty hunter ships out there, and they are small and…”

The sovereign got to his feet.  “They want prisoners, fool!”

The crisis engineer nodded.  He knew when to say no more.  He returned his attention to his screen.  “Two of the bounty hunter ships are missing.”

Sovereign Tihsadeen looked up at the screen.  There were now only two bounty hunter ships.  Both were currently flying through the exposed bulkheads on the starboard side of the ship.  “Where are the other two?”

Pug was replaying sensor images on his console.  “They were both over the subspace engines when sub-fusion detonation occurred.  It looks like they were caught in the blast.”  He turned.  “They disappeared!  They were destroyed by their own kind!”

“Some good new, at last!”  The sovereign said, allowing himself a moment of joy.  He thought for a moment.  “Although such an error is uncharacteristic of…”

The crisis engineer interrupted.  “The two remaining ships are heading towards the subspace engines!”

“What’s the status of the subspace engines?”

“The power-up is almost complete, sovereign.”

Sovereign Tihsadeen watched the sensor image of the two bounty hunter ships as they approached the engine section of his ship.  “We must go to subspace speed immediately!”

The crisis engineer shook his head.  “We need a few more seconds, sovereign, otherwise the protection field will not generate.”

The sovereign screamed.  “If those bounty hunters disable the subspace engines I’ll have your gender reassigned in such a horrifically excruciating manner that your eyes will…”

With an incredible sense of relief Pug spoke.  “The subspace engines are fully powered-up!  Course set.  Engaging subspace engines now!”

After feeling the familiar and brief sensation of disorientation and nausea, the sovereign knew that the subspace threshold had been breached.  He sank back down into his chair and sighed.  “Well done, Pug.  Very well done.  What is our status?”

The engineer examined his screens.  “We are on course for the home world, sovereign.  Subspace engines are stable.  There are massive fluctuations in our power matrix that are causing problems in the outer sections of the ship.  Engineering teams are already heading to those areas.  Considering the incredible amount of damage we’ve sustained, our successful transition to a stable subspace state is remarkable.”

“Yes, indeed it is.”  The sovereign said.  His sense of relief of escaping the bounty hunters faded as he remembered the appalling failure of his mission.  He frowned and then got to his feet and rubbed his groin.  “I have some business to attend to in my quarters.  You have control of the bridge, Pug.”

The crisis engineer nodded.  “Yes, sovereign.”

Sovereign Tihsadeen turned and strode purposefully off the bridge.

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