Captain William "Will” Thornby, 40, was the Commanding Officer of the S.S. Archer, a science and exploration vessel belonging to Interstellar Federation.
His wife, Kate, 38, lived with him on the vessel as the ship's intergalactic anthropologist and linguistics expert. Their home planet, Phion S-Nine, a planet in the Simto star system in Beta Quadrant, was the governmental seat of Interstellar Federation.
They had three children; a son, Nick who was 17, a daughter, Shasha who was 16, and another daughter, Amy, who was 14. The kids lived with them on the ship.
Will was a bear of a man, tall (6'5"), with a deep resonant voice, short dark brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He was extremely muscular, with six-pack abs and a chestful of dark brown hair that peeked through his uniform shirt. At 40, he still had a physique that could take your breath away.
The female crewmembers, human and alien alike, all loved it when he was jogging through the ship's hallways or exercising in the fitness center.
They felt the same way about the Katchik doctor, B'rant.
Kate wasn't jealous about the attention Will received when jogging or exercising. She knew she was his one-and-only, his soulmate, the love of his life. He felt the same way about her. They were constantly hugging and kissing, much to the embarrassment of their two teens!
Kate was 5'8", buxom and curvy, with medium-length reddish-blonde hair. She was also a fashionista.
Their kids were miniatures of each of them. Nick was more like Will physically and in temperament, while Sasha and Amy were more like Kate in those respects. The girls were fashionistas every bit as much as their mother was!
Rarely did the Thornby ladies not wear makeup or do something fancy with their hair! Their fingernails and toenails were always painted in bright colors.
One day, as they were about to leave the space dock by Phion S-Nine, Will said over the ship's intercom,
“Ladies and gentlemen, it's official. We're finally on our way for our joint mission with several of our alien allies. We're all now truly pioneers and explorers.
”We'll be exploring parts of space that are on the outskirts of our galaxy.
”I don't know what we'll find over the next two years, but I'm thrilled and excited to start! Let's go see what's out there, shall we?"
The bridge crew broke out into broad smiles and cheers, as did the entire crew.
Five minutes later, his wife and kids arrived on the bridge, excited to start this journey with him.
“We're going to stay at around Warp 4.”, he said.
Other than 10 alien crewmembers and their families, the crew was entirely human. While not all the intergalactic governments represented aboard were allies, this mission was considered far too important to let their petty political differences get in the way of a successful space exploration mission. This mission would be one for the history books!
The mission was to last 6 years, but everyone knew it could be longer or, worst case scenario, over in no time whatsoever, depending on what was found out there.
“Alright, everybody. Here we go. Sully, indulge yourself!", he said to the helmsman, Major Sullivan ”Sully” Decker.
Sully immediately set the ship at Warp 4...and they were off!
Will and Kate gave each other a hug and passionate kiss, then hugged their kids tightly.
Over the next four months, they occasionally saw stars and barren planets with no signs of life. They orbited the planets as they did their research. Occasionally they came across alien life forms but, generally, they didn't.
Ster'lakh, the Cardistanian second-in-command, enjoyed plotting the newly discovered stars and planets in charts. In addition to being second-in-command, he was also the ship's science officer.
Away teams, which always included Kate and some of the alien crewmembers aboard the ship, would go down to planets and bring back samples of soil, water and plants.
They'd also scan the planet's terrain. Kate specifically looked for evidence of lost civilizations and their languages.
They'd orbit each planet the teams visited for at least 2 to 3 days...longer if necessary. They took their time in order to thoroughly investigate each planet.
One day, shortly after breakfast, the ship's alarm sounded. Will and Ster'lakh swiftly ran to the bridge.
“REPORT!”, Will exclaimed as they arrived.
“A ship is heading straight towards us, Commander! We've been trying to hail them. There's been no answer!”, said Sully, the helmsman.
“TACTICAL ALERT! CIVILIANS SHELTER IN PLACE! EVERYONE STAY AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS!”, Will said over the ship's intercom.
“Shields up! Take evasive action! Get us out of here!”, he told Sully. “Hold on, everybody!”
It was too late. The underside of the oncoming ship scraped the hull of Will's. The other ship tipped to the right, taking out one of its nacelles as well as four of Will's ship's six nacelles.
The other ship then flew away without stopping to render aid to his crew and ship.
“Damage report!”, Will exclaimed.
”Widespread, Sir. There was no reason for what they just did to our ship!“, said Ta'zanh, the Katchik navigator.
”Sir, we're down four nacelles. Our other two are damaged, but hanging on! We've got maybe 1/4 power, that's IF they don't come back and take another swing at us!
“Our hull has major breaches. Decks four through six are having depressurization problems.”, Monty, the ship's engineer said.
“Those damn fools just left us out here, stranded in deep space, with only two barely working nacelles, Sir!”, Ster'lakh exclaimed.
In typical Cardistanian fashion, he then spewed a slew of expletives in Cardistanian.
“All civilians and crew experiencing depressurization, get to sick bay immediately!
”Security, do a welfare sweep of decks four through six. Those decks are experiencing depressurization. Fully pressurized suits, guys. Carry oxygen for yourselves and those unable to get to sick bay!
“Doc, you're about to get busy! If you can spare someone, send a med tech with them.”, Will said over the intercom.
Knowing his and his family's cabin was on Deck Six, he said over the intercom,
“Kate, kids, if you can hear me, hold on. Help will be there soon. I love you!”
Taking a deep breath, he continued.
“I love all of you, and am proud of each and every one of you! Take shallow breaths and try to stay calm.
”Expend as little energy as possible. Help is on the way to all of you.
”No matter what happens, you're the best crew our Federations and Empires have. I'm damn proud to be your Commanding Officer...and your friend!”, he said, calmly reassuring his crew.
“Open a channel, Lieutenant. I want to talk to that ship's Commander!”, he then said to the Dehmo communications officer after turning the intercom off.
The other ship was long gone, and not answering.
“DAMN!”, Will exclaimed. Taking a deep breath, he said to the communications officer,
“Contact Federation headquarters. Tell them we need help immediately! We need to get to the nearest space dock right away, or to have another ship tow us there!”
“Yes, Commander!”, she replied.
“Sully, turn us around and set a course for the last planet we visited. Take it slow and steady.
”One quarter impulse power. If we had emergency blinkers like transport pods do, I'd tell you to put them on. Fly slow, like my grandma does when flying her glittery purple pod.“, Will said to Sully and Ta'zanh, using light humor to help his bridge crew stay calm.
Everyone knew the danger they were in, especially with two barely working nacelles and depressurization on three decks.
“I've got the Director, Commander. It's very glitchy though.”, L'ucia, he communications officer said.
“Onscreen.”, he replied.
“Will, what the hell happened out there?”, the Director of Starships, a former Academy instructor of his asked, calling him by his given name. The transmission was going in and out.
“Some damn fool ship collided with us, Sir! We hailed them before and after, with no result. They've definitely got damage on their bottom hull and are missing one nacelle. Our top hull's severely damaged.
”We've got depressurization in Decks 4 through 6, four of our nacelles are gone, and our last two are in bad shape. They're holding on, but just barely.”, Will said.
“Will? I can't hear you. Come in?”, the Director asked.
“We've got some casualties, Sir. We're still getting those on the depressurized decks to sick bay.
”We've set a course for Unzha, but we'll need help getting there, especially if any more decks become depressurized.”, Will replied.
“I lost them, Sir.”, L'ucia said.
”Try again, L'ucia.“
”Yes, Sir.“, she replied.
”Still nothing, Commander.“, she said after trying for two minutes.
“Alright. Keep it slow and steady, Sully. L'ucia, keep trying to see if we can find anyone, any ship, I don't care what government it's from.”, he replied.
For the next 19 hours, the ship flew slow but unassisted. Kate was on the bridge with him, bringing the bridge crew food, home baked snacks, and drinks.
At one point the last two nacelles failed completely, setting them adrift in space. There were no ships in their vicinity of space.
“Commander,”, Ster'lakh said to him quietly, “may I see you in the Ready Room?“
”Sure.“, Will replied.
”Commander, I've been looking at the maps and stars around us. Nothing in this vicinity is anywhere near Unzha. We didn't pass through this way before the collision. We've NEVER been through this way.“
”Ster'lakh, are you telling me what I think you're telling me?“, asked Will.
”Will, there are no records anywhere for where we are right now. As far as all the empires and federations are concerned, this area of space is uncharted territory.
“I can't tell you how to get to Unzha because I don't know where we are. Even the most ancient documents and charts have no information about this area. I've no idea how to get us to help. I'm sorry, Will. We're quite literally lost in space.“, Ster'lakh said.
”How did that happen? We turned around and started back the way we came.“, replied Will.
”The only thing I can figure is that our navigation system was knocked out during the collision.
“The communications system seems to have been affected as well.”
“Alright. Let's keep this between us for a few more hours. I want to give L'ucia a little more time to see if she can get in touch with anyone. If she can't, then I'll address the crew. I don't want to start a panic.”, Will said.
Over the next few days Will never left the bridge unless to use the bathroom or when he was inspecting areas of the ship to personally assess the damage.
Will ate on the bridge, slept on the bridge, sleeping in his Command Chair or even on the hard floor at times. He never slept for more than two hours at a time. The bridge crew chuckled at his loud snoring.
He changed clothes and washed up in sick bay when he'd stop by to check on injured crewmembers.
Kate brought the bridge crew meals, snacks, and drinks, playing several styles of music for them on her small-screen, trying to keep their minds off just how dangerous a situation they were in.
She made sure they were all taken care of, doing her best to keep the bridge crew fed, comfortable, and their minds off the very real possibility that they weren't going to survive to be home to their families or home planets ever again! Their kids helped out in sick bay.
Mostly, though, they traveled through blackness. There were no other ships, or even a space station, to be found. They were alone millions or possibly even billions of miles from any charted territory. This continued for one week. The crew had absolutely no idea where they were.
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