Holodeck Hell (part 15)



Part one here

“Tzang, where the hell have you been?” the captain snarled without looking up from his consul.

“Sorry Sir I have been…” she began, but she didn’t finish.

Captain Tassan was giving his full attention to the screen while his hands danced over buttons and pads like a pianist playing the minute waltz.

Tzara could see that the view plate was filled by the huge globe of a steel grey world that was getting ever bigger even as she looked.

“What can I do?” she asked, but all around her display boards died or flickered in haphazard ways she had only seen in disaster training.

“Not much,” Tassan sighed and finally sat back, for all his efforts he had achieved nothing. “I have uploaded the logs and maydays have been set to automatic,” he explained, “The gravity well has us and even if by a miracle the system would reboot, we will be a smear dirtside before we can hope to break free.”

Tzara gaped at the doom bellow them as it rushed towards them. Then the screen adjusted and for a second she thought they had pulled away.

“Twice magnification now,” the captain muttered.

Tzara jump on her station and ran a rapid diagnostic, “We can… shit, what about…” she ran the numbers, but even as she did so the screen quickly adjusted again and the onrush of the planet below them was seen in real size without the benefit of magnification.

“We can hold her steady just long enough for the escape pods to get away,” Tassan sounded like a man dead. He was.

“Captain?” Tzara said.

“Abandon ship,” he said.

“You’ll need help,” Tzara said and dropped into the co-pilots seat.

Officer Tyler, a young ensign moved to the system auxiliary and began activating the escape pods. It was her first mission out, and unless she fled to a pod straight away, it would be her last. Tzara had always hated the girl, not least because she was young and far too eager, but to some extent because despite cutting her hair down to a blonde buzz cut she was pretty and popular with the crew. Even now her deep blue eyes were alive with hope as if she alone could save the day.

“Captain, I have to reset the core every…” Ginette Strom looked at her chronometer and then slapped the consul, “43 seconds, or else we go into a spin and no one gets off.”

At 30-something Ginette was an old pro in the engineering team and even impending doom did not faze her.

Tassan nodded in resignation. “Good to have you aboard people,” he said.

The rest of the bridge crew stood like lost sheep as the ship began to shake. Tassan looked at them and frowned, “Go people, go, get to the life pods,” he ordered. They ran leaving him, Tzara, Ginette and Tyler to keep the ship alive.

“The first pods are away sir,” Tyler reported, “Two more,” she added excitedly and made an adjustment.

Tassan nodded gravely.

“Sir, what caused this?” Tzara asked, she had to know.

“There was a virus, hit the data core,” he shrugged, “The chief said it was of extra-terrestrial origin. It might not have mattered but for the proximity of this damn mega planet, seven times the size of Jupiter, that and the fact that the virus caused a systems drain just at the critical time.”

Tzara let her mouth hang slack and her knees sagged. “No, no, no, no,” she groaned and then in the voice of a ghost, “It’s all my fault.”

“The last of the escape pods are away,” Tyler said excitedly.

Tassan nodded. “Ladies, I thank you, head for the pods, maybe…”

“Captain, you go, I will…” Tzara urged him.

“Tzang, get the hell out of here,” he barked and then made one more adjustment to the consul.

“Time to go girls,” Ginette yelled and dragged Tzara by the shoulder.

The three of them ran, deck by deck to the pods, they ran.

“We will never make it,” Tyler panted, “Even if we do… we are already way too deep in the well.”

Tzara sucked in air staggered against a wall. What did it matter? She had killed them.

Ginette staggered to a halt to get her breath. “Tyler go, you have to try.”

Tyler paused.

Just then Tzara realised where they were. The holodeck was round the corner. The ship was dead, but in holo-stasis a body could survive almost any impact. In any case, in time dilation they could survive for years in the few moments before impact. “I have an idea,” she said.


“Are you crazy?” Tyler screamed, she looked ready to make a bolt for the escape pods.

“No, no she’s not, it could work,” Ginette said urgently.

“We should go,” Tyler was starting to lose it.

The tortured scream of metal shook the ship and all three women were thrown to the floor. For a second Tzara thought it was the end. They all exchanged horrified looks and gathered the breath as the ship steadied.

“Listen,” Tzara said quickly, “I have a programme, it is… it will put us into status damn near indefinitely… if the stasis field survives the crash then… we could be rescued… if not we will probably never wake up anyway. It is a long shot.”

“You talked about temporal suspension, you mean we could live a holo-life before we die or…” Ginette was a quick study.

“You got it, but wait, you have to know…” Tzara took a deep breath as she readied herself for confession.

“Save it sister, let’s get inside,” Ginette snapped and staggering against the increasing instability made of the holo chamber.

Tzara had no further chance to explain as no sooner were they through the door when Ginette engaged the still loaded program that Tzara hadn’t had time to clear.


The grey-clad avatar stood watching the impassively. The chamber in which they now stood was serene and they could even hear birdsong.

“Listen,” Tzara yelled at the ‘man,’ “You have to set the temporal displacement to maximum or else…”

The avatar smiled. “I understand the situation, I have set the temporal displacement to one second subjective to every giga-second ship time. You are already in stasis.”

Tzara was stunned; she couldn’t even do the math just then.

“That’s incredible,” Ginette gasped, she was actually grinning. “I never knew that was possible, how are we able to process that? I mean whatever the system can do, the human mind has its limitations.”

“Perhaps, but your consciousness had already been synthesised and attuned to ‘Galen’s World.’” The avatar reassured her.

“Galen’s world, Is that fair? They should be able to…” Tzara protested. Her two crewmates had no idea what awaited them.

“Galen’s world is the only scenario loaded and the only one that can survive given the current allocated resources.” The avatar managed to sound patronising even in his neutrality.

“Oh my God,” a confused and distracted Tyler broke in, “That’s 40 years a second,” she said, having just done the maths.

“There are some 17 seconds left to final impact, with a 43 percent probability that the stasis core will survive the crash,” the avatar explained.

“Seven hundred years,” Ginette said in a tone of absolute wonder, “Subjectively we will exist in holo-stasis for about 700 years.”

“There are some anomalies, but you will be able to select body modifications and scenario role details before you are committed,” the man said and smiled. “Apart from Tzara, who has already chosen her path.”

Tyler stood slack-jawed, just seconds before she had been dead, and now she was about to live forever; or at least potentially.

“I have to tell you something,” Tzara began.

“You caused the crash didn’t you?” Ginette said solemnly. “Even if everyone else got away safely, and that is a big if, the captain will die.”

Tyler turned on her as if the accusation was preposterous, but Tzara only nodded.

“But I still have to warn you…” Tzara blurted, the scenario is…

“I will let the avatar brief me,” Ginette interrupted her, but her eyes cut into Tzara like knives.

“Me too,” Tyler agreed.

Tzara bowed her head. “Welcome to hell,” she whispered.

To be continued

3 Responses to “Holodeck Hell (part 15)”

  1. 1 DJ

    Thanks for your comments and I understand – I have deleted both comments as requested.

  2. WOW! This was a twist I did not see coming! Well done 🙂

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