Ten full seconds of silence greeted Lilliana’s pronouncement.
“Are you serious?” Galatea asked, breaking it.
“Deadly,” Lilliana said, with pointed emphasis. “We have a full set of fuel bars for the trip on from Rylea. We’ll just be putting them to use a little earlier. That’ll give us the speed we need to escape, and then some.”
“Well… it’d certainly be unexpected,” Dick said, though he sounded far from certain.
“An’ a great way to bare our arses at the dirty feckers, like,” Regan put in.
“It’d be unexpected because it’s absolutely insane!” Galatea said. “Even by the standards of this ship. The instant we start pulling bars out of the array, the field will start to decay, the safety module will shift us back to sublight speeds… and I hardly need to point out that moving even a thousand million kilometers per hour in a straight line is the same thing as being dead in the water when compared to a fully maneuverable cruiser.”
“And that would be why you’re taking the safety module offline before we do this,” Lilliana said.
“So, the field will instead collapse on top of us and kill us all,” Galatea said. “That’s infinitely preferable. I am, of course, being sarcastic.”
“It’ll take at least thirty seconds for the field to collapse. Regan and Leo can swap out the bars in under twenty, if they each take five of them.”
“Feck that, I’ll do the whole thing meself in ten!” Regan said.
“You’ll do half,” Lilliana said. She gave the blonde youth an indulgent smile. “We have to let everybody play their part.”
“Dare I mention that the safety module is not designed to be taken offline, for the simple reason that maneuvers such as the one that you are proposing are tantamount to suicide?” Galatea pressed.
“Tantamount to suicide beats outright suicide, which is what every other option is at this point,” Lilliana said. “I realize disabling the safety module is not as simple as flipping an off switch. If it was, we wouldn’t need you… but we do, so go and short-circuit or cross-circuit or whatever the Void you have to do to make this trick work.”
“Operator, that’s an order,” Lilliana said, in her command tone. It wasn’t a voice she had to use very often. The rest of the crew–Dick aside–were an informal lot, and they responded well to informality. Galatea didn’t.
As near as Lilliana could tell from the short time the Commonwealth citizen had been onboard the Rebellion, Galatea didn’t respond well to anything. She was brilliant at her job, but she never managed to do it without interminable grumbling and protestations about the conditions under which she was forced to work. Under the best of circumstances, Lilliana accepted that as she accepted the rest of the crews’ individual quirks… the important thing was that the work got done. This was hardly the best of circumstances, and time was of the essence. Lilliana could see that Galatea was already formulating her next objection; she decided she needed to employ a carrot.
“Leo, Regan… if we pull this off, you two can share Galatea as a reward.”
“What? A citizen of the Commonwealth… an underage one at that… offered up as a sexual treat?” Galatea said. Though she was thirty-two years old, that was indeed three years below the age of majority in the Galactic Confederated Commonwealth. “I am shocked, I am appalled, I am aroused… but mainly I am shocked and appalled. If I did not have a duty to this ship and its crew, I would not stand for this… but as it is, I have a job to do, which I shall now discharge. I hope the fact that I require no such lewd enticement to move me to action will serve as an inspiration to the rest of you.”
So saying, she hurried off the command deck towards the rear of the ship.
“Well, the Cat,” Regan said, winking broadly at Leo. “Duty calls. I’ll see ya when we’re through, Gypsy Rose,” she said to Lilliana on her way out of the compartment.
“Make sure you’re actually finished before you start with Galatea,” Lilliana called after her and the cat man. “And make sure she’s finished before she gets started on her own.”
“Have you ever considered hiring anybody who isn’t completely insane?” Dick asked, now that he and Lilliana were alone on the deck.
“Aw, where’d the fun be in that?”« « 2: Extreme Measures 4: Safety Off » »
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