…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
There was a bang and a clatter and the vessel quickly dropped out of Warp.
Just prior to this, [solar] winds had been detected from the rear and the captain had given the go-ahead to “open her up a bit and increase to Warp 3.0.” [30mph]
They were on their way back from collecting supplies from the Argus region and rear cargo bays were loaded. They had been heading into [solar] winds for some of their journey here, so when they turned back for the return journey it was nice to pick up speed. But no sooner had they switched the vessel into its “head-down” geometrical formation (a stance which may resemble “bicycle-riders” of the twentieth and earlier twenty-first centuries) and begun to pick up speed, when the bang and clatter were heard, and felt.
The vessel had only just past another traveller journeying in the opposite direction, although they themselves were only on impulse power [a walker] when the wounded quickly descended out of Warp. It was remarkable how many possibilities of what had gone wrong ran through the great minds of those on board within those few short moments; had there been a grave oversight during a previous maintenance procedure, had nuts and bolts [of the derailleur gear] not been sufficiently tightened, [had the chain snapped]?
The captain was already on the blower in those few moments before the vessel had even ground to a halt [as much as a body can manage to do in the vacuum of space].
“Report.” He demanded.
“Er, there’s something wrong with engine, Sir.” Was the reply over the intercom from the engine room.
“D’uh.” Was the muttered reply.
“We’re on it, Sir.” And indeed they were; observations were already being made and readings taken; it didn’t look good. The engine had seized and looking in on it from afar it appeared that parts were missing.
The vessel stopped and they began to double-back under impulse-power, to see if they had left any vital debris in their wake; the other traveller was off into the distance already – it was remarkable how long it had taken them to come to a halt, and how far they had travelled. How far had they travelled?
There was no sign of any missing parts and attentions were drawn away from sensor readings and instead investigations were begun in earnest. Worries were mounting on board – would they have a slow journey home? Could they radio for help? Could someone even come and collect them and their vessel? They were less than one-third of the way back to their home [planet].
It was quickly discovered that one of the three rear starboard-side cargo-bay retaining mechanisms had snapped, the lower one, sending a substantial part directly into the engine, jamming it solid, right at that critical moment of “giving it some.” [The flimsy bungee cord on the lower part of the right rear pannier had snapped, sending the steel hook down and round the gears… had spokes now been damaged as the banging and clattering had suggested?]. Heads would roll – guilty acknowledgements revealed that “some deterioration” had been observed, but not reported or acted upon, and the condition then had been deemed by those concerned to be “fine.”
Things didn’t look good at first, but as the shrapnel [bent hook and the remainder of the bungee cord] were carefully removed [unwound] from the engine [gears] it was ascertained that there was no further damage – the vessel was operational at least and continue on its homeward journey (under the strict orders of “No more gunning it.”)