Electric guitar solo echoed through lower decks of the ship, losing more and more notes until it turned into high pitch screeching.
‘Shouldn’t he be listening to something smoother by now?’
‘Never ask him that,’ the Chief Engineer said to the latest team addition. ‘According to Captain, the guys playing it are older than him.’
‘But why do WE have to suffer?’ The new, shiny robot from T-Series rolled its frontal cameras. Guitar-only part ended and now the walls vibrated in the rhythm of drums and bass.
‘Look at the bright side. At least we know the battle starts soon. They never tell us anything.’
It was not Chief’s first mission, and he knew the drill. Captain would stop the rock classics and his wrinkled, yet still steady hand would point at various dots on a radar and he would shout “Fire”. Then it was up to the Weapons Officer to calculate coordinates, enter parameters and press the big red button. None of the fancy folk upstairs cared for what happened next, how their orders were executed. Chief and his robotic team prepared, armed, loaded, and fired torpedoes.
Low lights on the ship’s bridge were low to make it easier to read from the screens. Tactical display throbbed after the previous blast from the enemy’s base.
‘That looks bad. I have to rub my left eye.’ Captain moved his finger across his right eyelid. ‘I mean, the only eye I have left.’ He laughed and winked at the First Officer. ‘Did I just blink or wink at you?’
‘Captain, there are more ships approaching.’ Almost none of her face muscles moved.
‘You’re not my best audience.’ Captain grunted and placed his fingers at the screen. ‘Destroy this ship. It’s the biggest.’
‘Captain, may I point out…’First Office rose from her chair.
‘No, you cannot. Fire.’
Beeping signal and flashing red light prompted Chief to launch the attack sequence. He nodded to the T-robot to push the torpedo into position. Another robot performed the calculations and transferred them into the guidance system. In the rising temperature, Chief’s forehead glittered with sweat, metallic surfaces glowed, paint on T-Series worker melted and filled the air with grey smoke. Chief moved his hand across the cool touch screen, marked all systems green and pressed “Start”. All in less than predicted quality standard of 25 Earth seconds.
‘What’s next?’ T asked. ‘Is it always so quiet?’
Engineer hushed him and lifted pages, folders, mugs, food wraps off his desk. There was a silent, but definite ringing coming from somewhere under the trash pile.
‘Aha,’ He found a source. It was a phone, covered in dust and bits of ketchup. He lifted a receiver. ‘Hallo?’
The robots gathered around him.
‘Yes, this is the torpedo room, sir’ Chief stood at attention. The voice in the receiver shouted profanities.
‘But sir,’ Chief’s face lost all the colour. ‘How can fire be friendly?’