Lt. Jason Smegg: "Holo-Surrender"
"Oh, great," Lt. Smegg thought. "First build a starbug in 24 hours, now
trick a band of mercenaries into thinking we're going to surrender. Two
impossible tasks in my first week on assignment, and one of them isn't
even an engineering job!" He did what he always did when faced with a
tight situation: played a video game in the holosimulator.
"Die, ProtoMan!" the lieutenant screamed at the console through clenched
teeth. He tapped the "B" butten repeatedly, unleashing a fiery storm of
plasma fury at the evil android. He thought again of the problem. How to
make the mercenaries think we're surrendering? We could just say we're
surrendering and then shoot them... No, that's too obvious, and besides
they'd want to make sure we don't have any weapons.
MegaMan started to glow green, then yellow, then white. Then the good
android fired a huge bolt of energy at his evil twin. ProtoMan bent back,
froze in place, glowed bright red, then the familiar spinning sparks of a
defeated enemy appeared. He was dead. At least for now.
What about insisting that the formal surrender take place in neutral
territory? That would mean a shuttle in deep space, giving the crew
plenty of time to defuse the bomb. But what reason would Bob have to
accept that condition? He'd insist on meeting the captain either at a
place of his own choosing, or wherever the captain happened to be at the
Then it hit him. It was a crazy idea, but it just might work...
Lt. Jason Smegg retrieved four bio-suits, an empty oxygen tank, some
polyresinate glue, some white, silver, and black paint, and a plasma
cutter from a storage bay, making several long trips through the
corridors as there were no antigrav pallets large enough available. He
took them to the 19th holosimulator bank. This was the smallest of the
ship's recreational facilities, consisting of no more than a
three-meter-square room with four standard VR suits along a side wall. He
carefully took each bio-suit and attached the skin of a VR suit to its
inner lining with the glue. He then took the oxygen tank, cut it open
with the torch, and fit the front half of the tank around the simulator's
computer controls, mounted on the corner of the wall. Finally, he took
the paint and painted his best attempt at an airlock on the far wall.
("Just like in the cartoons," he thought.) Leaving the room, he painted
over the "Holosimulator Bank 19" sign by the door and changed it to
In his quarters, Lt. Smegg now began programming a simulation of the very
room he had altered, as well as a section of the ship's exterior,
including the captain floating in a bio-suit just outside the ship. When
he was done, he uploaded it to the holosimulator core, naming it
"Zero-Gee Training Exercise 001-Beta" so as not to arouse the suspicion
of Psycho Bob or any hackers the enemy might have on its side.
Lt. Smegg called Major Harris on the intercom. "Major, I'm all set. I can
handle it from here on my own. All I need is to meet the bad guys."
Harris replied, "Okay, kid. I hope this plan of yours works, because I
don't even know what it is. Come to think of it, I don't even WANT to
know what it is, given your usual state of mind. I'll get the commander
to announce the surrender. Where would you like to meet the mercenaries?"
"On deck 15, in front of the hydroponics bay." Smegg didn't want to
reveal the location he would lead them to, as this would incite fears of
just the sort of trickery he had in mind.
The Clarkson Brethren leader, Bob the mercenary, the mercenary who looked
like Dr. Robotnik, and another crony appeared in front of the hydroponics
bay while Lt. Smegg was waiting for them.
"We've come here to accept your surrender," the Brethren leader said.
"I'm afraid we've had a bit of a mix-up," Smegg replied. "The captain
planned to hold the meeting in that room over there," (gesturing to a
door), "but he got called out for an extra-special emergency EVA."
"The captain went on an extra-vehicular excursion?" the leader asked
"Yes, I'm afraid so; usually captains tend not to do that sort of thing
but this time there was a problem with the ramscoop collectors and that
just happens to be his area of expertise, so he decided to go out and
have a look himself. He says you can come out with him and discuss the
terms of surrender with him while he's working on the problem. He's quite
good at multi-tasking, you know."
"I suppose that would be acceptable," the leader replied.
So Lt. Smegg led the four to the holosimulator-disguised-as-an-airlock
and opened the door. "This isn't one of our best-maintained airlocks," he
said, as if to explain the shoddy paint job, "it's just not used often
enough to bother with." He opened the door and let the four in.
"How do we know the biosuits are safe?" asked Bob the mercenary. "You
might have punctured them so we all die when we go out."
"A good point, Mr. Bob," Smegg said, "but I assure you the suits are
perfectly safe. You can test their airtightness with a high-pressure
pump. Or, you can just get in and see if you feel a draft."
Bob accepted this explanation, which was not quite scientifically
accurate (Smegg had not thought of this issue before and had to
improvise), and the Clarkson leader and the mercenaries got into the
Lt. Smegg then said quietly to the computer, "Holly, initiate program
'Zero-Gee Training Exercise 001-Beta.' in 10 seconds"
The crony who Smegg didn't recognize heard this and said, "What?"
"Oh, just talking to myself. It's hard to get these airlocks to work
properly. Ah, here it is. Now I'll leave the room and you can go talk to
Lt. Smegg left the room, leaving the mercenaries and their client trapped
inside the now-beginning fantasy...
The airlock opened and the four floated out. Right outside the ship the
captain was working on the ramscoop fuel system. "Oh, hello, I suppose
you want me to surrender now."
"That's right," the Brethren leader said.
"Well, okay, I surrender this ship and all its crew yada yada yada. Just
don't hurt me! Please don't hurt me!"
"You have to sign these papers."
"How can I sign papers when I'm floating in space???"
"Okay, come inside and do it."
So they came back inside the "airlock" and the "captain" signed the
"Now we have control of this ship!" the brethren leader said evilly. "Uh,
what were we going to do with it again?"
"Don't ask us, we're just mercenaries," Bob said.
"I guess I'd better ask my boss," the brethren leader said. "So let's
They unawarely crossed out of the programmed simulation and into the
realm of their pure imagination and memory of the ship.
"We won! We won!"
Meanwhile Lt. Smegg reported to Major Harris: "Major, I've got them
trapped inside Holosimulator Bank 19. You won't believe how I did it! Hee
hee hee! They don't even know they're in there!"
Harris replied: "Well, kid, looks like you pulled this one off. You got
lucky this time."
"With all due respect, sir - whatever! We won! We won!"
"Let me get this straight - you want to fly on a magic carpet to visit
the king of the
Potato People and plead for your freedom? And you want me to believe
you're perfectly sane?"
-Psycho Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf, "Quarantine"
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