Monday, April 16, 2007

Level VII, Part III

“The warp drive is running at maximum efficiency,” L7 stated smoothly. “We should reach Earth shortly.”

“Thank you, L7,” I replied. Maybe having this super computer onboard will work out. He already analyzed my warp engines and was able to configure them to run 4.8% more effectively. Pretty sweet, huh?

“Hmmm, Jon, I seem to be picking up a distress signal on my long range scanner,” the computer continued. “Do you wish to investigate?”

“Of course,” I answered. “If someone’s in trouble, I need to lend a hand.”

“Very well,” it answered dryly. “I shall set a course.”

The Danger Sled warped to the source of the distress signal and we were soon in range of the disturbance.

“The ship is in communications range, but not yet in visual range,” L7 informed me. “Would you like to hear the transmission?”

“Affirmative,” I answered. “Bring it up.”

“… Starship Yippiyuk… quantum…. damage….” the transmission crackled. “…Stranded… Please help…. Explosion…”

“The transmissions have ceased, but I do not detect any explosion or unusual energy readings.”

“Still, they sound like they’re in a lot of trouble,” bring them up on the screen when we are in visual range.”

“Of course, Jon.” The super computer was silent for several minutes as my ship glided towards the vessel. “The ship is now within visual range, Jon,”

An image of the stranded vessel quickly flickered on the screen in front of me. The ship was drifting, but it showed no outward signs of damage.

“No energy readings,” L7 informed me.

“I see that,” I said while looking at the scope.

“The ship is now powering up,” L7 continued. “Jon, I just compared this ship’s output signature with Space Patrol’s known database and this appears to be crewed by a band of space pirates.”

“You got into Space Patrol’s database?”

“Of course, Jon,” the machine replied. “It was easy; I am a Level VII intelligence.”

“Right,” I answered. “So it’s the old fake distress signal trick, huh? Well, I’m ready for them.”

“This is Captain Rapier,” an evil voice crackled over the comm system. “Power down your systems and prepared to be boarded!”

“The ship is attempting to latch on with a tractor beam,” the super computer said smoothly without panic.

I grabbed the controls to the Danger Sled and was preparing to spring into action. The engines roared to life and my space plane arced away from the probing fingers of the pirates’ tractor beam. I started to maneuver my ship towards the rear of the larger craft when the controls quit responding.

“What th--?” If I can’t fly this thing, I’m a sitting duck.

“Standby for warp drive,” L7 announced. “Engaging.”

Space peeled back into a stream of lights as the Danger Sled launched back into warp. In a fit of uncharacteristic anger, I slammed my hands against the controls and cursed.

“Where are we going?” I demanded.

“We are once again heading towards Earth, Jon,” he replied. “I am afraid that I cannot allow you to risk yourself fighting those pirates.”

“What? I would’ve had them. I was about to fire a torpedo up their tailpipe. I do it all the time. Now I can’t go back there because they’ll be looking for me.”

“Don’t worry about them,” the computer replied. “I alerted the local arm of the Space Patrol. It is now their duty to catch the space pirates.”

“I just told you that I would’ve had them,” I repeated. “Take me back, I’ll help the SP’s stop them.”

“I’m afraid I can’t to that, Jon,” he replied. “According to the First Law, I cannot injure another being or, through inaction, allow a being to come to harm.”


Professor Xavier said...

That Danger Sled seems mighty useful. I'm guessing it's either alien tech or Tony Stark built it for you. Seems like he does all the cool gear.

Mr. Bennet said...

I never got the point of the First Law...

Vegeta said...

And it let Space pirates escape? bah! Uselesss contraption.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That Asimov has a lot to answer for with these laws.

Kristi said...

Would you like to play a game of chess?