“The last backup battery just died.”

The flight director finally laid his head on his desk. “So, that’s it, then? The world’s done for, and we have no way to bring our probe back.” If only everyone could know just how important that probe is.

Another tech piped up. “We have enough juice to run a computer, or send the commands. Not both.”

The first tech added, “I have some guys looking for more batteries for calculators.”

The director’s shoulders slumped. He had finally had enough. “Go home, everyone. If you still have one, just go. Even if they find batteries, it’ll be too late to send any-”

“Tell the probe to fire its engine at 37.3 percent for 139 seconds,” a new voice said.

Everyone turned to find an old and bearded man in the doorway. “Who are you?” the director demanded.

“The way I see it,” said the whitebeard, “is that you can waste your time with your computers and your calculators, or…” He held up a small, thin white object. “You find yourself some old geezer that can still use a slide rule.”

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