The crew of the Valiant Explorer have only three days before a nearby sun goes supernova. They are hard at work trying to save their ship and themselves before the explosion. Jim Rivers is the navigator who found himself in charge of the ship and all the people on board. Ted Markham, one of the leads in the environmental department, has been an outspoken opponent of God because of everything that is happening. He is about to pay Jim a little visit.
It was the evening of Day Two. The crew worked around the clock in shifts. There was no calling in sick, no time for games or silly arguments. Everyone’s lives depended on their ability to seal the entire ship or as much of it as possible with the newly discovered metal Trinite. They had started with the first section at the head of the ship and were working their way back. Any sections left unsealed by the time the explosion started would be jettisoned. They didn’t have to seal all ten units, only the connection points between them.
Six sections had been completely sealed. They were now gearing up to start on the seventh. Iron for melting was becoming scarce. The department heads met again and everyone agreed that the last section of the ship would be cleaned out and jettisoned, leaving only three more to seal. By the time they cleaned it out, there would be more than enough iron to make trinite. The floor grates were made of iron, as was some of the duct work and equipment. Crews began work immediately.
There had been a few injuries; a woman using a welding torch, concentrating on the work at hand had not seen another worker reach by her for something and had burned the man badly. He was in the infirmary recuperating and would be put back into cryostasis soon. Another worker had been in a hurry and spilled some molten iron. Several workers went to the infirmary. Everyone would recover but each delay brought them closer to the impending explosion with less done and more anxiety.
Ted Markham lay on his bunk, seething. He had not missed the snickers, the snores and the faces of the crew at the memorial. A bunch of sheep. They were a bunch of sheep and they didn’t even know it. He laughed, thinking ironically of the biblical reference. Sheep indeed, though not the same kind as Jim believed.
It melted his heart to think of his wife and daughter, waiting to hear from him and counting the days until they could be together again. Their transport was scheduled to run six years after his which meant that they were well on their way. He would not be there when they arrived. Nothing would be there. What would they do? How would they survive? Would they be able to gather enough fuel to return to Earth? They would of course, have supplies – but for how long? How would he ever make his way back to them?
Ted turned on to his back and stared at the ceiling. They might already be there. No one seemed able to tell how long the Valiant had been off course. It could have been a month; it could have been ten years. If only there was some way to tell how long they’d been asleep…the pods! The pods would tell them how long each person had been in cryostasis. If they took the hard drives out of the burned pods and hooked them up to Stella, the computer might be able to tell them when they had short-circuited. With a renewed sense of purpose, Ted rose from his bunk and went to find Jim Rivers. This could be the information they needed to know how far off track they were.
“Jim,” Ted asked, “do you have a minute?” Jim looked up and saw Ted.
“Sure,” he replied. “What’s on your mind?”
Ted proceeded to explain his idea about the cryostasis chambers and the information that the burned out hard drives might hold.
“So if we’re figuring we’ll live through this thing,” Ted waved at the view port, “then this is information we could really use.”
“Ted, this could really work.” Jim said, excited. “Wow this is… this is good!”
Ted beamed. “Well you don’t have to look so surprised.”
Jim immediately stopped smiling and began to speak. “No I didn’t mean it like that…”
But Ted clapped him on the shoulder and laughed.
“I’m only kidding man,” he laughed.
“Well, you got me.” Jim laughed too.
Ted stopped laughing pretty quickly and looked out the view port at the ever-increasing white dwarf star.
“I guess I’ve made my feelings pretty clear before on what I think of God and all that.” He turned to look at Jim. “Can I ask you, a Christian man, to do something for me?” Jim nodded.
“Of course Ted. What is it?”
“Will you remember my wife Amanda and my daughter Grace when you pray at night? I guess I don’t believe, but they do. Even if we make it through this, I’m not likely to ever see them again. They are on their way to Altera by now, and there won’t be a welcoming party when they get there. I can’t get to them, and I can’t help them. There is nothing I can do.”
“I’d be glad to Ted,” Jim said nodding. “I’d be glad to.”
“Thanks.” Ted said simply, still looking out the window. He cleared his throat after a moment and turned back to Jim. “Well. I guess I’d better get working on those pods then.”
“Right, and good idea Ted. Even Stella didn’t think of that one.”
Ted smiled, he felt vaguely better than he had when he walked in. “Yea. Thanks.”
Jim turned back to his console, a thoughtful smile on his face. Somehow he thought Ted’s wife would be pretty happy to know that her husband was requesting prayer on her behalf.
(See the link at the top of page for the entire Supernova story)