My name is Cuthbert Franks; yea I know I've heard them all; and I'm a 35 year old asteroid miner in the Trinity system. By the way I go by 'Cutty' so don't get to wise-assed about it. Now from time to time we have pirates raid us for our stockpiles and most of us miners have 'played' with our ships so that we aren't completely defenseless. Take mine for instance; it looks like just another old freighter converted to ore processer but, you would get a surprise if you tried to take her.
I have 4 hemispherically trainable ion pulse cannons positioned around her waist belt; I have 16 phase disruptors mounted 8 forward and 8 aft and as a real deterrent to being attacked I have 2 16 torpedo rotary launchers stowed in the small cargo bays just behind the command module. My power comes from 9 tri-phase fusion reactors mounted in 3 rows of 3 down the ships structural core. I am capable of 2.66 FTL and doubt any pirate could keep up with the Wanderer.
As a matter of course we keep our emergency frequencies monitored 24/7 so if someone need help all they have to do is holler and they'll be heard. Today is my turn to monitor the ether and so far it is just another boring day sitting on my ass. When suddenly I faintly here; "Mayday, mayday, mayday this is the colony ship Irish Rose. We have been holed in the command bridge by a meteor and are out of control." "Mayday, mayday, mayday this is the colony ship Irish Rose. We have been holed in the command bridge by a meteor and are out of control."
"Irish Rose, Irish Rose this is Wanderer how do you read me; over." I sent.
"Wanderer this is Irish Rose we read you 4-by-4; how us; over." I received.
"Irish Rose this is Wanderer I have you 4-by-4; give me course and speed; over." I send.
"Wanderer this is Irish Rose course 152x61x44; speed 0.89 light and accelerating; over." I receive.
I laid this into the computer and the answer I got was pretty good so. "Irish Rose this is Wanderer; pursuit looks good. Am underway, rendezvous 2hrs 14mins. Wanderer out."
"Wanderer this is Irish Rose confirm rendezvous 2hrs 14mins. Bless you. Irish Rose out."
I hit the acceleration keys and went 1.5 light to get to them just before they went terminal velocity as the main engines are not capable of pushing the ship past 0.95 light for any sustained period without causing a meltdown of their core and the destruction of the ship. The computer told me that the compliment of the Irish Rose was 45 officers and crew but that all would be in the command and control center until after transition to FTL. If their deflector failed and the bridge is destroyed the only way to control the ship is from the emergency C-N-C in the aft most part of the ship just ahead of the core shielding. It is going to be iffy but if I pull this off the salvage/rescue rights of a ship this size would be????? I push my ship to 1.75 light but have to be careful as I don't want to overshoot and waste time having to backtrack.
1hr and 48mins and I have the Irish Rose on my scanners. I go sublight to 0.98 light and prepare to match relative speed to zero so as to mag-grapple over her docking port.
"Irish Rose this is Wanderer I have you on scanners and am matching speed and position so as to mag-grapple at your portside docking port. Have someone standing by to receive my signal; over." I send.
"Wanderer this is Irish Rose there are no crew alive and I am a retired Video Transmission Tech. so I managed to find the emergency transmitter and sent the Mayday. Can you instruct us in securing the docking port; over?" I receive.
Just as I had feared; nobody knows shit. "Irish Rose this is Wanderer I have you visual now and am approaching from above. Will instruct in docking port procedures when at port. HOL..." I cut the transmission as I am now over flying the bridge and there is nothing left of it. It appears as though the meteor went through at an angle and literally erased the bridge structural blister from the hull. I don't have a lot of time as we are doing 0.93 light and I can see the glow from her fusion core vents, and it is very red going to orange.
"Irish Rose this is Wanderer are you standing bye?"
"Wanderer this is Irish Rose standing bye."
"OK just to keep things simple I'm not going to use the normal ship calls as we don't have time. Now go to the hatch and find the control panel; and on it find the button that says 'External Override'. When you find it press it and count to 10 then release it, then count to 10 again and press and release the button."
"External Override button, press and hold a 10 count, release for a 10 count, then press and release. Is that correct?"
"Yes, do it." I said.
I see the lights in the port lock cycle from white to green then to red and back to white as the controls are shifted to the panel on the outside of the ship. I use the grapple to pull the ships together and secure my ship to the hull. "Computer maintain speed match and await my signal for engine shutdown. Copy."
"Await your command for engine shutdown. Copy." The computer sends.
I unseal my inner hatch and grab my helmet as I close the inner hatch and start the cycle to seal the skirt between my ship and the Rose. I get the go ahead light and unseal my outer hatch and before me is the docking port and its control panel. I press the buttons to set the cycle in motion to allow both hatches to be open at once. As they open I get just enough room to squeeze through and when beyond the inner hatch I press emergency close to reseal everything.
I am running down the corridors toward the core tunnel screaming at everybody to; "GET OUT OF THE WAY!!" I find the access hatchway and spin the wheel to get it undogged and open. Once inside I redog the hatch set and reseal my helmet so I can monitor the radiation levels and launch myself down the ungravitized tunnel. The emergency control bridge hatch is open, thank the stars, and I grab the headache bar as I enter to stop myself and rotate to a position where I can see things. There it is the Emergency Engine shutdown button; speed 0.96 light. "Computer on my mark shutdown the engines." "Shutdown on your mark, aye."
"3, 2, 1, MARK" and I hit the button; I hear my computer saying shutting down engines as I am searching for the tell-tales and find them all falling into the safe zone and see the speed indicator showing a reduction of 0.01light. It worked.
As I climb back up the tunnel I'm talking to my computer; "Computer maximum deflectors and set maximum power to grapples." "Maximum deflectors and full power to grapples."
"Computer set reverse thrust to 20% and watch the strain on the grapples, do not let it exceed 60% of holding power." "Reverse thrust to 20% and strain on grapples max at 60%."
I am back in the passenger area and everybody is cheering and crying and screaming "THANK YOU" at the top of their lungs. Before me stands an older man with his hand out, I take it and he leans in to be heard. "Walter Jacobson retired Vid broadcaster," he tells me.
"'Cutty' Franks, miner," I tell him.
"Can you tell me what happened?" I ask.
"We had left Ceti Omicron 4 about an hour before and were settling in for the run up to our last jump to Joshua's World when there was this huge bang and the ship shuddered and all the emergency alarms started going off. We finally got those turned off but when we went to the entrance to the bridge all the pressure doors were sealed and when we used the external viewer to look around we saw that the bridge was gone. I started looking for the emergency com set and when I found it started calling out the Mayday. I was on my sixth 5min cycle when you answered and the rest you know." He told me.
"Computer; Can you connect to this ship and control the jump drive and other engine functions?" I asked my ship.
"The remote operation selectors must be shifted from local to remote in the Emergency Command and Control center. Then this unit can control all functions of both vessels."
"Walter; can you get all of your people together and find out what they want to do. I can get you back to Ceti Omicron 4 or by utilizing my control computer I can take you on to Joshua's World. There is a repair station in orbit there that can fix this ship temporarily and then shuttle it to a major repair facility. It is entirely up to you and your people."
Walter calls together a group of people and for the next hour or so they hash out what they want to do. In the mean time I go to the galley and get myself a bite to eat and some REAL coffee. Walter finds me enjoying the coffee and walks up smiling.
"The Elders have chosen to go on to Joshua's World and have granted me the privilege of informing you that having risked your own life to save us we are granting you 10,000 hectares colony rights and marriage privilege from any of the available women onboard."
I look at him completely dumbfounded and say, "Say what???"
"The Elders have chosen to go on to Joshua's World..." "I got that part can you please repeat the rest as I'm not sure I heard you correctly?" I ask.
"You mean the part about 'having risked your own life to save us we are granting you 10,000 hectares colony rights and marriage privilege from any of the available women onboard'."
"That's the part." I answer. "Are you sure. Women are few and far between out here and there are usually not enough to go around."
"We're sure. There are 2,314 men and boys onboard. If you look around you will see the fact that there are 6,686 women and girls onboard. Almost 3-to-1 female to male."
.... There is more of this story ...