Time Bomb


REPORT: MERI-11-5122


DESCRIPTION: The following comprises a transcript of conversation occurring in the forward (open) hold of the Magpie-class debris recovery vehicle CMS Comber’s Bounty, in the minutes immediately preceding its destruction. The transcript was recovered from a surviving buffer memory of the local voice command system node and as such is of limited quality and records only local sounds.


FLTCOM: — you brought this thing onto my ship without checking, you —

[silence, approximately 6s]

FLTCOM: Because you did not bother to check what this “marvelously intact” piece of wreckage was before you brought it aboard. In contravention of procedure, good sense, and every other consideration but the chime of coin behind your eyeballs.

[silence, approximately 14s]

FLTCOM: Oh, yes. It’s an antique. As I profoundly hope did not occur to you, the VI-4 libration point is most famous for the Battle of Meridian VI-4. What we have here – is your camera on? – is a Type 95 Deep Javelin, one of the most ridiculously deadly torpedoes the Bureau ever came up with. Yes, it’s centuries obsolete, but that doesn’t make it any less deadly.

[silence, approximately 7s]

FLTCOM: Let’s start with the drive. See these nice, shiny nozzles? There’s your first clue. They’re as pristine and unsullied by use as your cerebrum. The nuclear salt-water drive on this never fired. That means these tanks are still full of highly enriched uranium tetrabromide, which is unlikely to have decayed enough to help us. If any of the valves marinating in the corrosive nuke-juice decide to fail, we get a nuclear drive plume in here. And if the damn stuff has crystallized on the baffles by now, we could get a critical assembly by poking it too hard.

[silence, approximately 2s]

FLTCOM: The warhead? That’s just a nice, safe, nucleonic shaped-charge driving a plasmated beryllium filler through whatever’s in front of it. That would be Mechanical Switching Three, Auxiliary Avionics, and most of the rest of the ship, if you weren’t clear on that. That uses the X-rays. The gamma rays, meanwhile, they tickle the off-axis lasing rods to give it some extra punch. And that little thing on the nose that’s less than a foot from the bulkhead? That would be the proximity fuse set for a couple of miles. Arms as it leaves the tube, and yes, it is armed.

[silence, approximately 15s]

FLTCOM: Do? What I am going to do is return to the bridge and put out a distress call for the Orbit Guard and the best EOD tech in the system. What you are going to do [sigh] Much as I would like to strap something with the apparent density of your skull to the nose of this catastrophe as improvised shielding, you – assuming you wish to board any starship in the future as something other than ballast – are going to return to your cabin, stay there until instructed otherwise, and while you are contemplating the number of different ways in which you have probably killed us all, you can memorize every single damned illustration in the Dangerous Debris Diges —


Notable Replies

  1. Sounds like the commander was a tad too focused on reaming his subordinate a new one instead of evacuating the ship or dumping the payload into space.

    Also, our first under-the-gills look at a torpedo! These are fired from AKVs?

  2. “Bitch later, safe and disarm or dispose and detonate first.”

  3. Avatar for avatar avatar says:

    Guys, even humans can walk and talk at the same time. :laughing:

  4. “I am an EOD Technician. If you see me running, try and keep up.

  5. Avatar for avatar avatar says:


    Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that.

    You have here a bomb that is literally frozen in the process of exploding, because some tiny piece of that very clever machinery has got stuck. You absolutely do not - even if you were a big enough ship to carry small craft - do anything, anything that might provoke said machinery into unsticking itself. (Like, say, cause vibrations or apply force to it.)

    Sit back, relax, and wait for the EOD technician. This ain’t amateur hour.

    (In actuality, they got unlucky because thermal expansion of metal due to having a nice warm ship nearby reconnected the broken firing circuit in this particular dud and it went off anyway, but the Flight Commander was doing the right thing by clearing the bay and not attempting to screw around with the bomb.)

    We’re back in the past again for this one: the reason you’re seeing a torpedo here is because the favored weapons mix was different back then, that’s all. Melonpedos of this vintage are not a useful weapons system in the age of the kinetic barrier.

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