Reentry from hyper-space travel elicited two immediate reactions from every deep space crew. Check the coordinates and check the systems control panel. Since this crew didn’t know where they were going in the first place the coordinates didn’t much matter and even if they did, they would have revealed nonsensical information within the uncharted territories. The systems panel was another matter.

Going into hyper-space always carried with it a sense of fate with a heavy dose of prayer. Two potential fatal dangers accompanied every trip—explosion and implosion. Wrong coordinates and the ship could potentially be blown to smithereens upon reentry into the same space as another object. If the coordinates were good, implosion, from a vessel stressed beyond its fatigue levels, and hyper-space placed as much fatigue on a ship as the most violent combat maneuvers, was a real possibility. Older vessels, for this very reason, seldom used hyper-space travel except as a last resort.

The only good news regarding these two dangers is that if either occurred, the occupants would never know. Death would come quicker than the mind could process any awareness that something had gone wrong, like going to sleep and never waking up is how the textbooks described it. Of course, since no one had ever lived to tell what it was like, many felt these explanations simply served to comfort and give courage to those brave enough to travel at risk. How one really died in these circumstances remained unknown and unknowable. Those who traveled deep space were well-paid and no one resented that fact. No risk, no reward as they say.

Bravo-Four-Zero, however, suffered a different fate, a fate both better and ironically, perhaps worst than never waking up, of going peacefully into the night. The crew was alive, but the systems panel was blinking and screaming that virtually every system onboard was in crisis.

Each onboard system was monitored on a single panel. Bluish-green was good—reddish- orange was bad. The entire cabin glowed an eerie red with the massive blinking red panel. Seems the crew was going to die, but no such luck to go peacefully. They were awake, aware, and scared out of their minds.

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