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C-Beams Stories


Derrick ran from the kitchen and down the corridor as an alarm wailed. He burst onto the ship’s bridge, dropping a potato he had clutched. At the far side of the room he saw the ship’s crew huddled around Bernie the engineer. Bernie was crouched beside a terminal, pulling at its tangle of wires.

Derrick leant on his knees to catch his breath.

“We’ve got a catastrophic problem,” Doctor Julia whispered as she picked up the potato and handed it back to him. “The ship’s lost power and we’re drifting into an asteroid field.”

“What about our shields?”

“They’re offline.”

“Christ,” Derrick said as he tucked the potato inside a pocket. “Well, what good is it to call me up here? I’m just the damn cook.”

The doctor shrugged. “I guess you never know when a cook will come in handy.”

Bernie stood up from the terminal and shook his head. “It’s no good. Only the alarm system has power.”

“This is terrible,” Deputy Stacy said as she sniffed and wiped her eyes.

Captain Harris rubbed her back. “Everything will be fine, dear. I can fix it.”

“Fix it,” Bernie exclaimed. “You turned off the bloody shields inside an electromagnetic field. Now the batteries are completely drained. And look…” Bernie pointed through a window. Outside, several asteroids span towards them. “We’re drifting into an asteroid field – with no shields.”

Captain Harris glanced at Deputy Stacy and lifted his chin. “I am well aware of that, Bernie. I was merely instructing Deputy Stacy on how to operate the shields. And let me remind you, this ship has a backup battery to prevent any such kind of power failure.”

Bernie threw up his hands. “Yes, but the electromagnetic field has drained the circuitry. There’s no power to activate the back-up.”

Captain Harris turned to the ship’s mechanic. “Harry, go below deck and perform a manual override.”

Harry gaped at the Captain and pointed at the asteroids. “Captain, that would take an hour. We have at best ten minutes before an impact.”

Captain Harris cleared his throat. “Well then. We’ll just have to put out a mayday call and launch the escape pods – if you can’t do your job in a timely manner.”

Harry ground his teeth and raised a fist at the Captain.

“Wait,” Derrick said as he fumbled the potato in his pocket.

He raced over to Bernie. “Quick, hand me your pliers, Bernie.”

A smile broke across the engineer’s face when he saw the potato. “You’re a genius, Derrick.” Bernie pointed at an orange wire. “Here, use this one. It’s a direct connection to the backup battery.”

Derrick snipped the wire and pushed each end into the potato.

“What on earth are you doing?” Captain Harris shouted. “You can’t solve our problem with a potato.”

“It’s done.” Derrick turned to the Captain. “There’s enough current in this potato to switch on the backup battery. Now go, activate the shields before its too late – you twit”.


(Originally posted on the Total War Center forums.)

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