“What is it?” said Karen, staring at the blips on the radar screen.
“I don’t know,” Tom responded, the color draining from his face. “Some kind of deep-space radiation storm. But not like any I’ve ever seen.”
Boots, the new ship’s cat, jumped up onto the navigation console and strutted between Karen and the screen. She batted at the moving radar blips with her tiny paws. “Not now, Bootsie,” Karen scooped the cat up and deposited her on the ground. To Tom, she said, “Can we divert?”
Boots, insulted, sat and licked her paws.
“It’s too big and moving too fast. It’s coming right at us.” Tom read the displays for another second, scrolling through the data with one finger. Boots jumped back onto the console and rubbed her whiskers against Tom’s finger, closing her eyes and purring madly.
Tom shoved the cat out of his way. “Karen, I need to you go to the engine room and shut off all the manual breakers, so maybe this thing won’t fry our electronics. If it doesn’t kill us, at least we’ll have a functioning space ship.”
“I’m on it.” Karen rose up out of her seat and sprinted towards the cockpit door—and nearly tripped on the kitten that twined between her legs. She stumbled, stepping over the cat, and ran down the corridor.
The cat trotted behind her. “Meowp? Mroop? Mewp?”
Karen wrenched the breaker box open, ignoring the lid that clattered to the floor, making Boots jump. She frantically threw switches and pulled fuses out of their sockets. The fuses littered the floor of the engine room. One by one the ship’s systems shut down. The lights went out. The vent fans went quiet.
Boots batted a fuse down the corridor, then, after a butt-wiggling pause, chased after it.
One final breaker, and the artificial gravity shut off. Karen’s feet rose off the floor. Bootsie twisted around as she floated, still trying to get at the fuse.
“Here it comes!” Tom yelled down the corridor. “Hold on!”
The ship rocked violently. Green lightning shot across the engine room, showering sparks wherever it touched the metal bulkheads. There was a sound like the crackle of high-voltage wires. The overhead lights lit up of their own accord and pulsed a pale green. One of the lighting panels shattered and showered Karen with clear plastic shards.
Tiny green bolts of lightning shot from Karen’s fingers. Her teeth ached. She felt a rising warmth in her chest. The very air seemed to glow green. She screamed.
In the cockpit, Tom hunched over, holding his belly, and gritted his teeth. his hair stood on end.
One more brilliant flash of green lightning, and it was over. The ship was quiet.
Karen replaced the fuse in the gravity system and sank gently to the floor as she eased the slider up to one g. She turned on a few more essential systems, then stumbled up to the cockpit while Boots, looking dazed, followed along behind her. “Are you okay?” she said to Tom.
“I think so,” he said, scrolling through the system diagnostics. “It’s crazy, but it seems like that storm…it seems like it didn’t do anything at all!”
Boots jumped up onto the console. The cat said, “You know, I’m actually not so sure about that.”