Episode 129: Chain of Command

The assembled guards looked from Captain Ortega to Alsafi, unsure of how to proceed in the face of his grave pronouncement. Alsafi realized she had become the object of scrutiny and held up her hands.

“Whoa, hey now, why’s this my call?”

“You’re the highest ranking person here, ma’am,” said one of the soldiers. “Captains outrank Lieutenants, especially Wraithstrike Captains.”

“One of the reasons I joined the Wraithstrike unit was to get out of the command chain, you know,” she said. “Okay… Ortega, I’m gonna trust your reputation here. We need to get people who can disarm these… generator bomb things.”

“I think I can handle this one,” said Ortega. “You’ll want to get whatever engineers you can while you figure out where the other ones are.”

“Right… probably just the ones she would’ve passed between her cell block and here. I’ll coordinate those efforts. Four of you… actually, six of you, stay here with Ortega. Captain Ortega, you will stop this generator overload and then remand yourself into the custody of these soldiers who will escort you back to your cell… back to a different cell, actually. Is that how you use remand?”

“I hope so, that’s how I use it.”

“Great,” she said. “Come with me, the rest of you. Actually… I’ll take this alone, sorry. All of you, watch Captain Ortega.”

Without even a flash of light, she vanished. Ready for the spectacle this time, Ortega heard the faintest rush of air and felt a gentle breeze as she vanished. The Wraithstrike method of teleportation didn’t mask itself from air displacement effects. Probably not a big tactical advantage, but he filed the information away for his report on the situation later, if he survived long enough to file it.

“Get to work,” said the guard who’d spoken to Alsafi, pointedly aiming a rifle at Captain Ortega. “One of you get his energy blaster. And keep an eye on the other stunned prisoner.”

Ortega nodded, leaving the blaster on the ground and turning to the terminal. Ensign Trell had been thorough, but there were only so many ways you could sabotage a power generator if you intended for it to generate enough power to cause malfunctions rather than just shutting it off entirely. She’d probably built in some redundancies in the event of discovery.

Someone, somewhere, finally turned off the alarm, but a different alarm sounded, one with less urgency but more implied dread.

“All available engineers near the cell blocks, report to the nearest power generator stations,” said Alsafi’s voice over an intercom. “Ship destruction imminent if you don’t comply. …the two of you looking stunned in the break room, put away your card game and start moving, we really don’t have the time for this. All of you, get going.”

Ortega went over what he saw Trell’s hands do in his mind, and thought about all the similar overload count-downs he’d dealt with before. Ideally an engineer would be along soon to fix anything he did wrong. He glanced at the capacitor readout display.

Forty-Six percent.

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