This part originally appeared in the October 2013 issue.
As provisions and things were put in their places, the black gang spent their time pre-liftoff going over the Casimir maneuver drive, to make sure the Waffles had every maneuver G possible when called on, and checking the twin Garabaldi-Singhs to make sure they would generate maximum energy.
Getting clearance from Heimdall System Control, the Waffles lifted off from its ferrocrete pad at 0800 local time, following a course worked up by the ship’s quiet navigator, Tower, with a projected two hours twenty-seven minutes to Transition point.
As the engineering crew monitored the twin plants, readying for the Crossing, Gibby had decided that he was not going to spend another Transition lying sedated in the Med Bay, so when the green doctor commed him about there being a bed ready for him, Gibby told Doctor Wong “I’m not going to be a lab rat for some damned vivisectionist!” and instead locked himself in the Spares Locker on the Engineering Deck, which also doubled as one of the Ship’s Lockers, which held any number of lethal weapons, and could be locked from inside.
“Mr. Wyeth,” Dr. Wong said, “I have no idea what you are talking about. I am no vivisectionist, but rather a surgeon, assembled at the Heimdall factory on Heimdall to provide cutting edge medical care to those in need.” He sounded like an ad.
“You did something to my brain while I was out, Doc! I know it!” the agitated Gibby yelled over the comm.
“Mr. Wyeth,” Wong continued, “I monitored your brain activity during the Waffles’ last Crossing. Your Grand Mal seizures seems to be a product of being exposed to Transitional energies. While an exceedingly rare condition, I see that from your files you’ve been identified as a ‘Sensitive’…”
“I just want them to stop, Doc! I been an Engineer for almost thirty years and prone to migraines, that’s all! Now I’m having seizures ! And visions I can’t half remember! I'm just sick of it all!”
The rattling sound of some weapon being loaded could be heard over the comm while Gibby yelled.
“A regimen of the proper anti-seizure medications should take care of any problems you may be having, Mr. Wyeth,” Doctor Wong said. “Together we’ll find an answer, Gibby.”
Gibby yelled and fired a shotgun in the confined space. The gun roaring as a load of heavy shot caromed off walls, miraculously missing Wyeth.
A few of the black gang pounded on the door to Gibby’s hideyhole; screaming through the wall at the Chief Engineer to see if he was alright.
“Leave me alone!” he screamed back.
Listening in from the bridge, Captain Fyyg contacted Yohan Geisel, one of the Waffles’ black gang, on a different channel.
“Yohan, that lunatic must be gotten out of there. How do you propose we do it?” the Captain asked.
“Well,” Geisel began, rubbing the stubble on his chin, “ordinarily I’d suggest the Anti-Hijacking protocols—Modulate the grav plates to slam the subject into the deck at several Gees. But we can’t do that, as the black gang must stay on station until Transition. Don’t wanna beat your entire Engineering Staff unconscious.”
“No, that obviously wouldn’t work,” replied Fyyg. “How about gas?”
“No,” replied Geisel. “Same problem. It’d take out all of Engineering.”
“If only we could isolate the Locker from the rest of Engineering…” Fyyg mused.
“Even though the Locker seems to be cut off from the rest of the Waffles, it really isn’t, Captain,” said Yohan. “The air Gibby is breathing comes from somewhere.”
“Right through the air vent on the port wall, Yohan,” Captain Fyyg said.
“Yessir,” Yohan agreed.
Within an hour, Geisel had been to the Ship's Locker on the bridge, withdrew a grenade and several shotshells loaded with ‘Brick’, improvised an explosive device, and mounted it to the air vent access to Gibby.
The Captain came down, rapping lightly on the door to Wyeth’s hidey-hole. “Gibraltar?” he asked, then continued, “It’s me, Nordel. Dr. Wong is up in Medical right now, so no need to worry about him.
“I’ve got a couple of cold ones here, Gibby. Maybe you could come out and we could discuss this like grown ups.” Fyyg opened a bottle and took a long pull.
“My, but that’s good!” he said.
Gibby admitted a cold one would be good right about now.
At a signal from the Captain, Geisel activated the device, shooting several cubic meters of heavy ‘Brick’ .into the locked room. Big Gibby Wyeth hit the deck several seconds later like a poleaxed hog.
“Well, he’s out,” said Geisel. “But still in.”
Handing the crewman the cold beer he’d meant for Wyeth, Captain Fyyg ordered, “Get a few of your Flints on the job, Yohan. Cut him out of there, and confine him to the brig until further notice.”
Yohan popped the beer and took a swig. “Yessir, Captain.”
“And step it up. I want that lunatic caged before we make Transition!” the Captain ordered.
At Yohan’s direction, the small mob of Flints swarmed the thick hatch; removing the hinges and lock in under a half hour.
The entire contents of the Spares Locker was covered in a fine, brick-red powder, as was Gibby’s massive face-down and unconscious form.
Another of the black gang held a Netgun ready, should Gibby still be in a mood to make trouble. Fortunately, the engineer lay there drooling on the deck until Doctor Wong arrived with his grav-stretcher team.
Wong checked Wyeth’s vital signs before the stretcher team placed him on the bunk in the brig, with only some fifteen or sixteen minutes remaining before Transition.
At seventeen hours into Transition, Gibby apparently woke to use the fresher, but didn’t remember it; not coming to his senses-proper until some twenty eight hours total had passed since he’d been hit with the ‘brick’.
Waving at the security monitor, Gibby yelled, “Hey, lemme out! This has gotta be some sorta mistake!”
The ‘Professor’, who was standing watch on the bridge, answered him. “Sorry, Gib. You went off yer nut. You stay locked up ’til Captain says.” To avoid an argument, he switched off the monitor’s sound.
When it was time for shift change, Brodie came to the bridge with Salome holding his hand.
As the ‘Professor’ got up to go, he nodded toward the security feed, saying, “He’s been doing that for three hours now, Brodie.”
“Oh ya?” the big ape said, as he sat down. Salome sat down in a chair nearby, and the two of them watched Wyeth in the brig. First he’d shake the bars of the brig until he got tired, then take a break, as, panting, he’d regain enough energy to make another go at the bars again.
Brodie, who’d been in the brig a few more times than he’d like to admit, flipped on the monitor’s speaker. “You need to quit all this nonsense, Wyeth; you’ll hurt yourself,” the chimp said.
“Look, I’ll call the Captain in a few minutes and let you know what’s what. Until then, I think you ought to just sit there and relax.”
Calling the Captain in his office, Brodie found he was away from his comm. In all likelihood, Fyyg was spending the evening with Ilsa in their cabin.
Lying to Wyeth, Brodie told him the Captain would be by first thing in the morning. A tiny lie, but a harmless one if it’d allow the poor chump to quit rattling around and get some rest.
After sitting down on the bunk, Gibby realized that he was dead tired, and lay back, arms crossed above his head, dropping off almost immediately into a deep, dreamless sleep.
On the bridge until morning, and with no one around but the two of them, Salome sat on Brodie’s lap and kissed him; fingers running through the thick fur on his head as she took his hat and tossed it away to land on the bowl of fruit nearby. Brodie nibbled on her neck as he squeezed her large breasts.
As the pair groped on the deck, Salome get up on all fours and pulled her dress up, urging the ape to come and get her as she spanked her big butt, then propped herself against the Sensor board to provide the big chimp with more leverage.
The battered Serverbot; the old egg-shaped, wheeled one that’d come aboard the Waffles with Captain Peel, woke itself up at 0245 as it always did, to provide Captain Fyyg with his first cup of coffee of the day. Captain Peel had been a woman who liked her coffee black and strong, at 0530, with a shot of bourbon in it. Captain Fyyg was a man who liked his Bicerin at 0300, but with a bit more chocolate.
Stepping from the shower, Fyyg took the coffee and thanked the robot as he always did.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, he offered some to Ilsa.
“Take that wretched liquid away from me!” she snapped, “And, Shiva, let me sleep until 0700, Nordel, Please!”
At 0315, the Captain not wanting any more Bicerin, the Serverbot shut itself down again.
Nordel got dressed, and from 0400 to 0515 he read through an old Pre-Atomic comic strip, Gasoline Alley. At 0515 he put away his reader and went down to the brig.
“You’re lucky, you know,” the Captain started, “that no one was hurt earlier, Gibby.”
Gibby woke, bleary, agreeing with Fyyg, “Right. No one was hurt.”
“Because had anyone been injured, you’d have found yourself floating home, Herr Wyeth.”
“As for what we do now, Gibby: You’ll cheerfully undergo whatever regimen Herr Doktor Wong has worked up for you, or you come back to the brig until we can find a habitable world—any habitable world—to drop you. Is that clear?” said the Captain.
“Yessir,” said Wyeth, saluting.
“Until we have any more trouble out of you—which we won’t—you’ll be released on your own recognizance,” explained the Captain.
“Thank you, Captain,” said the Chief Engineer as the men shook hands through the bars.
“Mr. Le Boucherre,” the Captain called through the comm.
“Yessir!” replied the ape.
“Open the brig, if you please,” Fyyg asked.
At the flip of a switch the magnetic bolt was thrown, and the brig became an empty cage once more.