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[ED. NOTE:&#160 This multi-part vignette is being cut short so that the Realm&#153 Players can bring you another short story immediately following.]

[SCENE:&#160 The corridors of Pegasus.&#160 Admiral Darth Venomous has made the horrific realization that the Worf-class Bird of Prey’s main computer has been infected with Windoze Vista&#153 and is the cause behind the degradation of the antimatter containment field.&#160 He uses the Force&#153 to catapult himself towards Main Engineering at breakneck speed in desperate hopes of shutting down the main processor by whatever means may be necessary, before containment completely collapses, resulting in the fiery destruction of the vessel.

Cut to Engineering, where Chief Engineer Ozymandias McCool, having received the frantic directive from Venomous to do whatever he had to do in order to disable the main computer, had procured a phaser and was firing near-blindly into whatever control panels even remotely looked like they might contain isolinear chips.

Cut back to the rapidly-approaching Venomous.&#160 Fifteen feet from the engineering section, the ship suffers a massive jolt and a huge explosion blows the entry doors outward, catching Venomous flush before he can use the Force&#153 to deflect them aside and knocking him backward 30 feet before coming to rest on him.&#160 The last thing we see are the lights going out on deck through the Sith Lord’s eyes as we fade to black.]

OFFSTAGE VOICE #1:&#160 Admiral…?&#160 Admiral, can you hear us?

OFFSTAGE VOICE #2:&#160 M’lord, wake up, please&#160 wake up…

OFFSTAGE VOICE #1:&#160 Looks like he might be coming around.

OFFSTAGE VOICE #2:&#160 Admiral, can you hear us?&#160 Admiral…?

[Fade in gradually.&#160 Things are a blur, as we still see things through the eyes of Lord Venomous.&#160 Clarity & definition are slow in returning, however, then fades back to black as the Admiral re-closes his eyes.]

VENOMOUS:&#160 …uhhhhhhhh…unnnnnnhhh…

[Cut to third-party external view.&#160 SCENE:&#160 the medical wing of Realm&#153 Spacedock.&#160 Realm&#153 Fleet Medical Officer Cmdr. Carlisle Pepper and Supreme General Rayegun hover over the fallen Sith Lord, deep-seated concern only now leaving their faces as the Admiral has shown signs of coming back to life.

RAYEGUN:&#160 He gonna be okay, Doc?

PEPPER:&#160 I think so, yes, General.&#160 His powers of recuperation are quite extraordinary.

RAYEGUN:&#160 Excellent.&#160 I should not have liked to lose both the Admiral and&#160 Chief Engineer McCool in the same day.&#160 Too many others gave their lives today aboard that bird as it is.

PEPPER:&#160 Quite.&#160 On the other hand, had Commander McCool not used his phaser to destroy Pegasus’&#160 main computer, the death toll could have been much&#160 higher.&#160 Will you be assuming day-to-day command and handling the notifications of next-of-kin, General?

RAYEGUN:&#160 Not quite yet, Doctor.&#160 McCool had no family we know of, but I don’t want to consider him completely gone until the Admiral has had a chance to make that decision.&#160 Lord Venomous always has a trick or two up his sleeve that I don’t know about, so keep McCool’s body in stasis until then.&#160 As for day-to-day ops, someone has to handle things until His Rudeness gets back on his feet, so it might as well be me.&#160 How long is&#160 he gonna be there, Doc?

PEPPER:&#160 He’s made incredible progress thus far, General, but he still has a ways to go.&#160 The concussion of the blast, plus the doors falling on him took their toll, and he isn’t as young as he used to be.

RAYEGUN:&#160 He isn’t as young as anyone&#160 used to be, Doc.

PEPPER (suppressing a grin):&#160 Of course, General.&#160 He should be up & around before too long, I’d say.

RAYEGUN:&#160 Good.&#160 Keep me advised, Doctor; I’ll be in Ops continuing the investigation, should you need me.

PEPPER:&#160 Thank you, General.

[Rayegun exits the med wing as we fade out.]

The whole purpose of this vignette was to announce the recent installation of Windoze Vista on the Big Box&#153.&#160 However, while performance on my primary machine was mostly postitive, certain functions of Vista were sufficiently pathetic to warrant a return to XP.

Along the way during this two-month sequence, I lost, then subsequently regained the data from my twin 40-gig IDE hard drives, which contained pretty much everything I had in the way of critical stuff – music, tax records, email spanning 10 or so years, backups to the system, that sort of thing.

The system’s now screaming like a banshee running XP SP3 on a 32-gig solid-state SATA hard drive, one of six brand-spanking-new hard drives populating the Big Box&#153.


NEXT: One of our Klingons is missing… (for real, this time – UPDATE:&#160 After the obligatory May 13th post, that is.)

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