A crew encounters a strange mystery
|“Oh, oh.” Lieutenant Jacobson was the navigator, and “oh, oh” were not words a crew wants to hear from the navigator. “I was afraid of that.” Another unwanted statement.
But an undocumented part of a space ship commander's job is to offer an appropriate query to any statement that isn't crystal clear. “What's up, Rocco?” Commander Retson hoped that the response would be something innocuous; something like, “a big glob of jelly fell out of my sandwich. I knew I shouldn't have put so much into it.”
But Lieutenant Jacobson's answer was quite a bit more serious. “Do you remember that dwarf planet we passed earlier?”
“That one we all laughed at because it was shaped like Dittmire's head?”
“Was not,” Lieutenant Dittmier grumbled.
“That's the one,” said Lieutenant Jacobson.
Commander Retson put down the paperback he'd been reading. “What about it?”
“Well, sir, I think it's following us.”
“Are you sure?”
Communications officer Margolis cackled. “Does it still look like Ditt--”
“Cut it,” warned Lieutenant Dittmier.
Lieutenant Jacobson tried to be more tactful. “Let's just say it looks exactly like it did earlier.”
Commander Retson joined Lieutenant Jacobson at the telescreen and stared intently for a few moments. “That's it, alright. I guess it might be orbiting its sun at a greater speed than we're going.”
“No chance, sir. It was going the other way when we passed it.”
The commander watched the screen for a few more seconds before calling to the helmsman. “Mr. Carter.”
“I already checked, sir,” said Carter. “And we …. oh,oh.”