Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
“We need to figure out how to get home faster, with less jumping.” Mary glanced around the conference table.
Her five remaining pilots sat around her. Ben, a goofy-looking fellow who couldn’t map his way through any social event but could calculate faster than most computers, sat next to Mary. Next was Avi, a darker man whose reserved face hid most emotions. Heather, an emotional blonde, was next. Tanner had been in a daze since the attack five months ago. Michelle, who often made games of calculating coordinates, rounded off the table.
Michelle made the first move. “We’ve been doing just that since you announced your pregnancy. We’ve been playing with longer jumps, or less lagtime to allow the spatial engines to cool.”
Mary nodded. “Tell me about your conclusions, then.”
Michelle ticked off a finger. “Longer jumps might get us home in less jumps overall, but human bodies weren’t made to pass through the upper dimensions. The longer the jump, the harder it is on our bodies. The adults on board would suffer. The effects on your child, once she’s, um, uncoupled from your protection?” She shook her head. “We’d get you home in time for your kid to turn to goo, and the rest of us in major need of hospitalization.”
Michelle raised a second finger. “We have a similar problem with less lagtime between jumps. Our engines might be able to handle less of a cooldown cycle, but our bodies wouldn’t. We need time to recover from the jumps, too.”
The pilot shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you beyond what you already know. The computers provide the most efficient route already. All we do is double-check it and deal with unexpected occasions, really.”
Mary drummed her fingers on the table. “So tell me something new. If you’ve been talking about it, you must have come up with something.”
Avi raised a finger. “Is it possible to put you to ‘sleep? I know that ‘sleeper beds were not made for children, but certainly it would yet accommodate you.”
Mary shook her head. “Paul – Dr. Yost – and I have been looking into that. Our beds weren’t made for pregnant women, and even if they were, they’d provide only nominal protection from foldspace’s effects on the human body.”
Avi pondered a moment longer. “It seems that the easiest solution, then, would be to terminate the fetus.”
Ben, in a moment of profundity, whacked Avi. Heather repeated the action.
Mary held up a warning hand to the two pilots flanking Avi. “Mr. Rivant, that is not an option we will entertain. Understood?”
Avi’s eyes flickered to Ben and then back to the captain. “You asked for options.”
Heather hit him again. “She’s not going to kill her baby!” She looked to Mary. “What if we took longer to get home? Would a longer wait time help the baby recover before jumps? Couple that with faster jumps now, while the baby’s still protected.”
Mary considered. “We normally have rations for an extra month or two. Most of Hydroponics was destroyed during the attack, setting us back that extra and then some. Then they killed some of us,” she struggled to keep her voice steady, “which provides more food. I think we could handle another week or two out here. It would provide some cushioning.” Mary nodded and addressed the assembled pilots. “Do what you can to assemble a new flight path with those two changes. Go farther in the next four months or so. Then longer lag times after that. Talk to Mr. Bishop to find out what our rations are, so you have an accurate time line.”
Avi raised his finger again. “The movement you go into labor would greatly effect our calculations. Will you be induced?”
Mary attempted to keep all ice from her voice. “Thank you for joining the discussion, Mr. Rivant. Dr. Yost believes that it will be best to induce, but that doesn’t mean that the baby won’t attempt to show up early. Get the inducement date from him, and make your plans accordingly, with some wiggle-room for just-in-cases.”
Avi nodded, his mind already working through what would have to be done.
Mary left them the conference room. At one time she would have loved this problem, but it was too personal now. She walked the short distance to the bridge. Trent monitored systems from his tactical station, while Grayven sat in the captain’s chair for her shift.
Her executive officer stood as Mary entered her sight. “Captain.”
“Relax.” Mary waved a hand. “Trent, the pilots are busy calculating a new course. Review their numbers and help out with whatever they need.”
“And have you found out anything on your little project for me?”
“No, Captain. I know that I was in the party that found you. I know that we dragged you back to the ship. Unless I can get over to their boat, I won’t be able to find out much more if anything. Since we left their ship behind, the chances of doing that are, well, slim.”
Grayven glanced back and forth as the other two conversed. She broke in, “Captain, what are you trying to figure out?”
“I want to know who the father of this child is. I want to know what happened to him and who did it. I don’t know whether to thank that person or kill him yet.” Her hand fell lightly on her swollen abdomen as she spoke. She was doing that more these days, as she felt the stirrings of her child.
The exec looked out to the viewscreen. “Whoever took out the, the father of your child deserves praise.”
“That’s not for you to decide. Concentrate less on who deserves to die and do what we can so that this child can live. Grayven, coordinate between the pilots and everyone else. Double check Trent’s double checking. We’re getting this child home.” Mary crossed her arms. “One way or another.”
Read Part 4 here.
Read Part 5 here.
Read Part 6 here.
Read Part 7 here.
Read Part 8 here.