"We seem to have encountered a sort of energy field. Our shields are failing, our engines are useless. We're trapped, Captain."
"Not good enough, Mister. I want answers! That thing is trying to destroy my ship. I want to know why."
"Captain, the odds of my discovering that with the information at hand are nine hundred and ninety-nine to one. Or, to put it in your terms, one in a thousand."
"One in a thousand?"
"And you're... sure this is correct?"
"Captain, I make every effort to be accurate."
"Yes, yes, I know. But that still doesn't fix our problem. Here we are, stuck inside this energy field without a clue as to why we're here. And what is that unearthly screeching?"
"Captain, what you are hearing is the alarm for one of my scanners. And its data may prove to contain the reason why we're here."
"Please, sir, enlighten me."
"I shall do my best. It appears that our sensors have detected a life-form, in size many times vaster than we ourselves."
"Do we have a visual?"
"I can arrange for one... visual ready, Captain."
"Fascinating. It appears to be humanoid."
"Not just humanoid, Mister. Human."
"A female of the species, I believe."
"Yes, that's correct. What's she doing?"
"The device she's seated in front of appears to be an old-style computer, circa early twenty-first century. She's using a sort of word processing program."
"Magnify the image."
"Aye, sir. Magnified ten times."
"Look at what, sir?"
"What's on the screen!"
"It seems the female is using a primitive interface - a keyboard, if I remember correctly - to type a dialogue into the computer."
"Our words are appearing on her screen almost before we say them. Wait, what's she typing now?"
"It says 'I know you're there', Captain."
"She's aware of us?"
"Then why won't she let us go?"
"She replies 'I'm the author. If I let you go, then what would happen?'"
"We'd be free, that's what. Look, she's turning. Smiling at us."
"Now she types 'Your story seems unique, but I have many others. Your predicament is really only one of a thousand other things I could throw at you.' Note the motif, Captain. Twice now, if she was controlling me earlier, she has mentioned this idea of one in a thousand. Perhaps a theme?"
"Perhaps. But we have a mission. We can't waste our time here."
"Now she writes again."
"She says 'I'm sorry, but we really can't let this go on'?"
"'Your lives must continue, and it was nice talking to you'?"
"What does that me-?"
"We seem to have encountered a sort of energy field. Our shields are failing, our engines are useless. We're trapped, Captain..."