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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Spacetime Nav

The ore freighter, Andromeda 4, moved silently through deep space.

‘Continue at heading 1456.98. Wormhole at 0.05 parsecs,’ said the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

‘Why did you program the Spacetime Nav to speak with that accent?’ asked Kestrel.

‘It’s from a 20th Century science fiction film,’ replied Wark, slightly adjusting the helm controls to conform to the recommended heading. ‘I think that's rather fun.’

‘I have to admit,’ continued Kestrel, ‘that automatic, spoken advice in pinpointing wormholes has made navigation so much easier - particularly in finding routes between the alpha and beta quadrants.'

‘Wormhole ten thousand kilometres ahead,’ interrupted Obi-Wan.

Kestrel looked out towards the swirling vortex that marked the entrance to the wormhole. ‘It’s rather small, isn’t it?’ she observed. ‘I’m sure we went through a bigger one, coming the other way.’

‘Obi,’ said Wark, addressing the Spacetime Nav, ‘is this route suitable for a class D freighter?’

‘Continue ahead,’ replied Obi-Wan, as if dismissing this trivial challenge to its judgement.

The freighter vibrated violently as it entered the wormhole.

‘We’re hitting turbulence at the edge of the wormhole,’ Kestrel noted. ‘Can’t you fly nearer to the centre?’

‘There’s no room,’ replied Wark. ‘It’s only just wide enough for the ship.’

The vibrations increased, and the speed of the freighter slowed.

‘Shit, we’re jammed,’ Wark finally concluded.

A voice came from the deep space communicator, ‘Hello Freighter Andromeda 4. Can you hear me?’

Kestrel tapped the communicator panel. ‘This is Freighter Andromeda 4, on route from the alpha to the beta quadrant.’

‘This is the inter-quadrant shuttle, Aquarius,' came the response. 'We are one thousand kilometres in front of you, travelling towards you. Or, at least, we were. We can't get past. Are you jammed in the wormhole?’

‘We are currently stuck,’ Wark conceded.

‘You’re the fifth one this year,’ continued the pilot of the Aquarius. ‘You should have used the wormhole at 1657.43. This one’s not big enough for anything but small spacecraft.’

There was a long pause.

Finally, the pilot of the Aquarius broke the silence, ‘You’re using one of those bloody Spacetime Navs, aren’t you?’