Laugh Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's Inside

Best of RAH:
A Matter of Life (and Death) Support...

by Greg Borek

This story first appeared in the June 1994 issue of Random Access Humor.

Copyright © 1994 Greg Borek, All Rights Reserved.

Losing anti-matter containment. Containment field failure in 30 seconds.

Any options?

No, sir. We must jettison the warp core.

Do it.

Core jettisoned, sir.

Damage report.

Primary power systems inoperative. Weapons systems inoperative. Defensive shields inoperative, navigational shields only. Several substantial hull breaches. Only 22% of crew stations reported personed and ready. Life support nominal. Operating on battery power only. Communications almost restored. Slowing to sub-light speed.

Damn. I was hoping we would make it to the starbase. What is our ETA?

Sir,...

Science officer, report. Everyone on the bridge is a Star Fleet officer and we can face facts. What is our ETA?

Sir, we have lost all propulsion systems and are travelling on momentum alone. Given our current velocity, my calculations place us at the starbase in approximately 47.242 years. Life support and all power systems will be exhausted in 27.842 years.

Hmmm.... Who operates the starbase?

The Bureaucrati, sir.

Bureaucrati? I thought they were denied admission into the Federation.

They were, sir. This starbase was donated to the Federation as an example of their technological competence. The base is completely manned by Bureaucrati.

As I recall they were judged as technically competent, but there was some other reason why they were refused membership. Any data on that?

No, sir. Only that all contact teams were required to spend several months on Eroticon III recovering. Sir, engineering reports communications restored.

Thank goodness for that. Open a channel to the starbase.

Open, sir.

Bureaucrati Starbase, this the USS Bismarck. We are heavily damaged and have lost all propulsion and navigation systems. We are proceeding at best speed...

[Welcome to the Bureaucrati starbase support line. We hope that we can be of assistance to you.]

Uh..., thank you. This is the USS Bismarck. We have sustained heavy damage...

[If you have opened a channel just to be friendly, press 1 now. If you...]

What the...?

Sir, I believe you are speaking to some sort of recorded message.

What the...? A recorded message? Who would have a recorded message...?

[...If you need to hear the selections again, press # now.]

What? What was that? Now we've missed it. Quiet, everyone. Communications officer, press #.

Aye, sir, # pressed.

[If you have opened a channel just to be friendly, press 1 now. If you are a Ferengi vessel and are attempting to swindle us out of yet another starbase, press 2 now. If you are the Borg and are attempting to assimilate the known universe, press 3 now. If you are a starship that has been heavily damaged press 4 now. If you are interested in tourist information for the Gamma quadrant...]

Communications officer, press 4.

Aye, aye, sir. 4 pressed.

[Thank you. If the entire crew is dead, press 1 now. If you no longer have life support, press 2 now. If the ship has been damaged because you made Q angry, press 3 now, but we are required by law to inform you that the nosy, meddlesome busybody will know that you have called us. If your ship is currently adrift or you no longer have navigational control of your vessel, press 4 now. If your weapon systems are firing in an indiscriminate manner...]

Communications officer, 4 again.

Aye, sir, 4 pressed.

[Thank you. All of our emergency ship rescue consultants are busy right now, but if you please wait, a consultant will be on line as soon as one is available. Thank you for your patience. (William Shatner's rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" begins to play softly in the background.)]

What is going on here? Don't they realize how dire our situation is here? How long do they think they can keep us on hold like...

[We regret any inconvenience caused by this little delay. We take pride in our service and realize your time is valuable. We will connect you to the next available service consultant. (Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs" begins playing in the background.)]

How do we get someone's attention? We have to break out of this hold and somehow get someone's attention...

[While you are waiting we would like to take this opportunity to make you aware of some of the fantastic services available at our starbases throughout this sector. Consider a Bureaucrati starbase for your next shore leave. Holodecks are available, at a minimal charge, to all...]

Aaaah! How long does this go on for? We only have 27.842 years of life support left.

[...indoor plumbing. We would also like to take this opportunity to dissuade any of the more cynical races of the galaxy from thinking we are deliberately keeping you on hold to advertise our other services. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this delay. We will be with you shortly.]

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Greg Borek is a C programmer with a "Highway Helper" (okay, "Beltway Bandit" - but don't tell his boss we told you.) in Falls Church, VA. He has previously been mistaken for a vampire. Greg can be reached via e-mail at:

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