The bridge of the U.S.S. Ellen White rocked violently; Klaxons blared. The main lights had failed and the remaining crew were bathed in the wan green glow of the emergency lights.
"The Progressives demand a response, Captain Doctor Carson," said Lieutenant Fiorina. "Our shields are at less than 50 percent power."
Space Captain Doctor Ben Carson sat in the command chair, unperturbed, his tented fingers tapping softly at his lip.
"Sir?" she said. "Are we going to surrender, or…"
"Do we still have full power to the transporter?" the captain said, his eyes slipping slowly from the 3-D model of the battle before him.
They had been engaged with the Progressive Alliance Navy battleship, the Darwin, for just over an hour. Running on pure logic, its factoid torpedoes had breached the White's hull in half a dozen places. Their denial-powered negative space engine was cycling at dangerously high levels.
"Well, yes," Fiorina said, "But … you're not thinking of sending anyone to the Darwin, are you? The Progressives are heavily armed! They have data. They have seamless arguments!"
The bridge's doors opened and a reedy voice sliced into the chaos: "It would be suicide!"
"Why, thank you for joining us, Commander Santorum," Carson said.
"I'm sorry I'm late, sir. I was helping to move the wounded to the faith-healing center…"
Carson chuckled and shook his head. "I'm not being sarcastic, Commander. Really, it's nice of you to join us." He smiled beatifically.
"Uh… Yes, well…" Santorum looked around the bridge, the control panels flashing angrily and the emergency siren still stinging in his ears. Fiorina caught his eye and gave a small, confused shrug.
"I'm happy to be here, sir."
Carson nodded as if that settled something. "Yes, I want to send a mission to the Darwin."
It was hard to hear the uncomfortable silence that followed, but it was there.
Fiorina and Santorum exchanged quick glances. The rest of the bridge became even more absorbed in the repairs directly in front of them. This was not the first time that Space Captain Dr. Ben Carson had been on the verge of sending the crew into harm's way based on an idea spun into existence out of filaments of desperation and mild lunacy.
Santorum stepped toward the command chair, his hand moving nonchalantly to the ad hominem attack pistol he kept holstered to the small of his back. "Tell me more about your plan, sir."
"We'll send a crew of the … the men in the red shirts. The men we always send. We'll send all of them."
Fiorina and Santorum nodded slowly, unconsciously in unison. "Riiiight..." Santorum began.
"Because they are the reason we're under attack. You see," Captain Dr. Ben Carson said, enunciating his words with great care, "The red shirts are red, like the color of blood, so they attract danger. It's very simple. It's science." He smiled again.
There were a few enlisted men on the bridge, in the red shirts. One of them stifled a sob.
Santorum raised an eyebrow. "So if they're off the ship…" he said.
"...we're out of danger," Fiorina finished.
Carson nodded enthusiastically.
"Brilliant!" Santorum said.
"It's so crazy, it just might work," Fiorina added.
Carson turned in his chair, his eyes picking out the men whose uniforms foretold tragedy. "You, you, you, and you … Head to the armory, pick up some nonsense rifles and fantasy grenades. We're counting on you."
The rest of the crew on the bridge turned back to work; shoulders not in red visibly relaxed.
Space Captain Dr. Ben Carson hit the comms link. "Hail the commander of the Darwin," he said. "We'll need to know the terms of their surrender."
*With apologies to the author.