Captain Bansemir leans back in her chair, tapping her lips with steepled fingers.
“Perhaps,” she says.
I grit my teeth to prevent an outburst. My eyes flit to Mister Kex, who, perhaps seeing my restrained intent, glowers menacingly at me, as though daring, just daring me to speak out against the captain.
“With… respect, Captain,” I say. “And this is not to hurry you unduly, but, I kind of need a decision on this soon.”
Captain Bansemir smiles cheerily at me. “Oh, it’s not a matter of me deciding, Jacob,” she says. “It’s just that, well, we’re pouring everything we have into the propulsion switchings of late, and we’re kind of reaching the limits of our safety breakers.”
“Mom, it’s like I keep saying,” says Nemo, her arms tightly folded and her heel at seat level. “We could just slow the stupid ship down a little. It’s not like we know where we’re going or anything.”
“Well,” says the captain, briskly. “That being as it may, we’ll never find out if we don’t exert ourselves a little and push push push! We might as well get to wherever it is as fast as possible!”
“Look, aren’t you listening?” says Nemo, proving once again her immunity to the Mister Kex Rule of Enforced Respect. “The stupid engineering staff or whatever needs to fix the stupid toilets. We could slow down for long enough to let them do their thing.”
I nod to the younger Miss Bansemir, well-gratified that she’s coming down on my side but a bit piqued at her means of initial address. “It won’t take long, Captain,” I say. “We can be back to full speed almost immediately.”
“I’m sorry,” says the captain. “We’re just going to have to find another way.”
“Okay, whatever,” says Nemo, reaching for the helm. “I’m just gonna slow the ship down.”
“YOUNG MISSY,” exclaims Captain Bansemir, “YOU WILL DO NOTHING OF THE SORT.”
Mother and daughter lock eyes and wills for a moment. Nemo eventually loses, but not without putting up a hell of a fight. “Stupid helm,” she mutters, sinking back into her seat. “I mean, we’re on rails, so it’s not like I can do anything but change the speed.”
“You serve a very important function, Nemo,” says the captain.
Nemo pffts. “Yeah. Right. I’ve got one control you let me use and you’re always ordering me to put it to full maximum safe. Some job.”
Captain Bansemir resumes her cheery air. “I’m sorry, Jacob. Alan. I really had hoped we could get through an encounter without the creeping spectre of family drama darkening the doorstep by rearing its ugly head.”
“Quite all right,” says Alan, even as Norway sniggers at us from over at Ops.
“Yeah, it’s fine,” I say, heading for the hatch. “No problem, Captain. Now if you’ll excuse me, folks, I’m gonna go off and get used to using the litterbox.”
“I offerz certificashun!” exclaims LOLcat, from over by the recycler. “Yu get tiny diplomaz!”
“Now now, don’t be a sourpuss, Jacob,” says the captain. “We’ll get your toilets back on-line.”
“How, exactly?” I ask, pointedly. “I mean, respectfully, Captain,” I say then, eyeing Kex, “might you share your plan with us?”
“Certainly!” says the captain. “Mister Norway?”
Norway’s shell whirrs and twists around, until its tubular “hand” is pointed toward a display panel. In a moment, we can see Norway himself arrive at the hand segment through the shell’s transparent panels.
“Very simple, actually,” says the little rodent, gesturing grandly at various data points as the ambulatory Habitrail lifts him up and down. “As the captain said, we’re at the limits of our safety breakers here. But my calculations have shown that our current breakers cut off well before any significant harm could be done by the power flux to the October’s hardware or infrastructure. The logical conclusion?”
“Somewhat more un-safe safety breakers,” says Alan.
“Exactly!” says Norway. “Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of just changing the settings. Our current breakers are hard-coded to a certain level of flux. We’d need an entire new set of breakers.”
“Feg,” I mutter. “I see where this is leading.”
“Now, as luck would have it,” says the captain, “we know exactly where we can find a new set of breakers with a flux capacity that should meet all of our needs.”
“The bays on thirteen,” I say, nodding.
“Correct,” says the captain.
“Naturally,” I say.
Deck thirteen is where all the useful stuff seems to be, lately. And I am convinced there is no accident to this, because it just so happens that as a result of phenomenon creep, the entire cargo area of deck thirteen has been subsumed by the Labyrinth and, as a result, the Entity.
It seems pointful to, at this point, finally discuss the Labyrinth and the Entity with you. Let’s do that next time. See you then.