Symmetry of Fate
by Tony Owens
Watkins calculated the trajectory in his head.
The ships nav-com would soon confirm what
his gut feeling had already lit upon. Too far to
starboard and they risked rematerialising inside
a quasar, too far to port and they would miss the
Silurean battle fleet entirely.
Navigator Johannsen smiled in anticipation. It
was a game they had always enjoyed.
234-893. Epsilon quadrant.
seconds later the nav-com boomed Suggest co-ordinates
234-893. Pause. Epsilon quadrant.
There was the customary round of applause from
those on the bridge. They had seen this act many
times before but they never tired of it and the
captain never tired of demonstrating it.
He nodded in
acknowledgment and Johannsen punched in the
numbers. There was the ten-second pause while the
warp engines fired up and they got ready to make
the jump. Something, however, was not quite right.
There was a minor tremor. Nothing that a civilian
would notice, but Watkins had flown this old tub
across five galaxies and into countless battles.
Engineering. Status report. He barked
into the commlink. Something weird, cap. We
seem to be down one mithrallian crystal in the
hyperdrive. Its thrown the vector feed into
chaos. Im not sure that we can guarantee a
the calculations in his head again. This time he
had less a gut feeling than a feeling that his
guts were about to deposit lunch in the control
room. He braced himself. There was nothing now he
could do to stop him, his crew of four hundred
and his intergalactic starfighter from
rematerialising inside a large planet. Someone
somewhere had really stuffed up this time.
days earlier - Jenkins calculated the
trajectory in his head. It had to be just right.
Too far to the left and he risked hitting Polly
in Accounts and too far to the right and it would
bounce harmlessly off the water-cooler. It was
all or nothing now. Every muscle was tensed,
every fibre of his being alert. The paper plane
leapt from his outstretched fingers, a thing of
beauty and a harbinger of doom. It embedded
itself perfectly in the back of McDonalds
head, nestled in his greasy hair. Nobody
applauded. They were sick of Jenkins and his
stupid jokes. Especially McDonald, who was often
the target. He picked the projectile out of his
hair and carefully laid it on the desk in front
of him. He turned to rebuke his assailant,
knocking over his coffee cup. Damn, look
what youve done now. Ive spent all
morning on these requisition reports.
chastened. "Let me help." He took the
most sodden document and held it up to the light.
As he read out the data, McDonald punched in the
numbers. They continued apace until about three-quarters
of the way down the sheet. "Can you read
this? Is it a five or a six?"
next to the request for mithrallian crystals."
think. Or is it a six?"
look at the time. Its five oclock
Lets make it five." Not that it really
mattered. If there was a stuff up, someone
somewhere would put it right.