Stellar Pathways, Part 2
By Michael J. Pfeffer

Part Two: Parts Beyond

March 23rd, 1998
Somewhere in dimensions unexplored
Several million miles above the Milky Way galactic plane
Aboard the MJP-911
10:34 AM, Lawndale time

A slow beep resounded through Daria's room, getting louder and louder in pitch. Daria
rolled over in her sleep, shrugging off the beep. All of a sudden, it turned into a loud,
whooping alarm. She sat up, startled, and the alarm shut itself off. Eddie spoke up.

"Good morning, Daria. Sorry to wake you, but the default for my alarm system is 10:30."

"Eddie... just go away, okay?"

"Can I interest you in breakfast?"

"Breakfast?" She hadn't really tried out Eddie's full capabilities, but Michael usually didn't
lie... "Okay. Can you make Belgian waffles?"

"Can do," Eddie said. A moment later, a hatch slid open and a tray extended. A plate with
two thick, steaming waffles with a strawberry-glaze sauce was on the tray. Daria picked up
the fork and knife on the tray and took a taste. Firm, yet fluffy, and sweet, but not too cloying.

"Thanks, Eddie," she said between bites. "You're not that annoying."

"I exist only to serve, Daria," Eddie piped up, "and I finish with the satisfaction of..."

"Shut up, Eddie."

March 25th, 1998
11:25 AM, Lawndale time

Just as Daria and Jane walked in, Jesse and Trent got into another shouting match over a
game of Knok-Hockey.

"Listen- you can't hit the puck when it's in the defense zone! It's general rules!"

"No way! If you play free-for-all, then anything goes! And you agreed to play free-for-all!"

"That's only because you wouldn't play any way else! And noooo, we can't play on the
computer because of your _morals!_"

"Okay, fine! You go up against Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers!"

Just then, two sizzling bolts of lightning flew from the cockpit and hit Trent and Jesse,
freezing them in place and silencing them immediately. Mara looked back from the pilot's
seat. "So much for self-hypnosis with them around," she said with a smile.

"Amen to that," Jane said.

March 26th, 1998

1:40 PM Lawndale time

"Two turkey sandwiches on rye, both with Mayo, one with lettuce, two triple cheeseburgers
and shoestring fries, one calzone, and two slices of pizza. Anything else?" Michael read off
after a heated debate over lunch.


"Okay, Eddie. You get all that?"

"Hi, Michael, what can I do for..."

"Eddie, didn't you hear any of that?"

"No, sir, I've been updating my system files for the past few minutes."

"Eddie, open up your microchip bays for nonessential systems, would you?"

"Sure thing!" A board popped open. "I hate to ask, sir, but what will this serve..."

Michael pulled out two green and two blue wires, and Eddie sped up his speech.
"tohelpwithmakinglunchsir!" and cut out. Everyone applauded.

Michael stood up. "I'll make them myself."

6:20 PM Lawndale time

That same day

"Hey guys, we've got a problem."

Michael looked around from the cockpit. "We're coming pretty close to a black hole soon.
Better strap in."

"Wait a second... black hole?" Daria asked, sounding more than a little agitated. "How close
and how soon?"

Michael checked a readout. "About one hundred thousand miles, and in thirty seconds."

"One hundred thousand miles? That sounds pretty far," Trent said.

Mara turned around in the copilot's chair. "Trent, a black hole is a huge pool of gravity,
formed from a collapsed star. Not even light can escape its grip."

Jesse gulped. "Not even light?"

"Ten seconds," Jane said, checking her watch. "Five... four... three..."

The ship began to shimmy and shake.

"Not too bad so far..." Daria said.


The ship was flung off course as it flew closest to the gravity pit. Loose objects flew around,
crashing into the walls and floor. Daria was hit worst, being at the edge of the table. She hit
her head on the closest wall, accidentally cut her hand on the table itself, and landed on the
remnants of a peanut butter sandwich. "Oh, no, not again," she moaned as the chaos
calmed down.

Jane took a first aid kit from the starboard bulkhead a minute later and tended to Daria's
wounds. "Well, you've got a bump on your head, a cut on your arm, and a sandwich on your
butt. Remind you of anything?"

"If there's a cyanide needle in there, I suggest you use it. Either me or you, it'll end quicker."

"Funny girl, eh?" Jane said, rubbing a cotton swab soaked in iodine over Daria's cut.

Daria winced. "Now turn the pistol the other way. Can you just patch me up and we can get
on with our lives?"

"The jeans may need some cleaning, though. Otherwise, you'll be all right."

Michael walked out from the cockpit. "Good news, everyone. I've just calculated our
distances traveled and yet to remain, and we'll be arriving at our destination, wherever the
hell it is, at 3:30 PM. Be ready for anything, and get a good night's sleep. Everyone ready to
make contact?" he said with a smile.


"I'm ready, Michael, and I'm..."

"Shut up, Eddie. See you all later."