Fiction Fragment Friday
This is another story that came from thinking up the first line. I have two major ideas in this story that I like, but the story overall does not quite live up to it’s potential. I do think something could be made from this first draft that is far better than what is currently presented. Still I hope you enjoy.
The moment I jumped into the system I knew that something was seriously wrong. My first indication was the communication array lighting up with traffic across every channel. The second was a lack of response from the system’s telemetry buoy. Finally the navigation hazard alerts triggered on a dozen ships heading my direction. I was overwhelmed by all the information coming in for just a moment, but as Captain I don’t have that luxury.
“Priorities,” I said out loud to myself. Then I hit the button to connect to my wife down in engineering. “Hey hon things are looking kinda weird here. I need those engines spun up and ready to jump again in case we need it.”
“Fifteen minutes is the best I can do. Also define weird.”
“Not normal.” I shut off the connection. I knew that I would pay for that later, but I really didn’t have a better answer for her just yet. That was my second priority.
The communications coming in from the system were chaotic. There was a mix of basic chatter, encrypted messages, and a makeshift traffic control system. I started with that channel. “This is Captain Blake from the cargo freighter Navis. I’m pinging my ship ID out there if anyone can triangulate and give me an approach vector.” Without the telemetry buoy the best I could hope for was having my ship identity bounce from multiple ships in the system and hope someone could triangulate off of a known location.
“Roger Navis, this is Pyle station. There is an insurrection in the system. We request that all civilian ships please leave the system at your earliest convenience. This is to ensure your safety.”
“Well that’s just great,” I said to myself. I turned my attention to the navigation hazard alerts. It looked like every ship in the system was trying to get out. There wasn’t any risk of collision. Space is extremely large and it is actually harder to hit something than it is to miss it. The larger concern though was that all of these ships were going to be jumping soon. Jump systems poke a hole in space and they are not gentle about doing so. This many ships jumping in such a short time would cause a backlash. Ripples in space was not prepared for.
“Hey babe we need those engines running and ready to absorb jump energy.”
“How much energy?”
“Oh about 58 ships worth.”
There were a string of curses coming from engineering. “What the hell is going on out there?”
“Insurrection, everyone is bugging out.”
“Again? I told you we shouldn’t have taken this cargo. I don’t care how much the early delivery bonus was the system has changed hands five times in the last decade.”
“Yes dear, I know you told me. Now tell me if we’re going to die or not.”
“I’ll be ready you just get your jump coordinates put in because when this wave hits we are riding it out of here.”
I didn’t want to tell her how difficult that actually was. I was giving her what to most engineers would be an impossible task, but my wife was not most engineers. Also, the Navis was not most cargo ships. I knew that she would either pull off a miracle or I would never know that she had failed. I just needed to do my part.
I didn’t know exactly where I was which made accurate navigation impossible. Given time I could use solar radiation to get close enough, but I didn’t have that kind of time. Instead, I decided the only thing I could do was go backwards. I knew where I had come from and how far I had moved since arriving. That would have to be enough. Running everything in reverse I set my destination and crossed my fingers that I didn’t do something wrong. If I did the best we could hope for was that we wouldn’t ever know.
The energy wave hit us and I watched as it was soaked in and redirected directly into our engines. I thought for a moment that they were going to overload but as the ship shook we poked a hole in space and in an instance we were somewhere else. I saw the power drop and go into a recharging sequence. We had safely transitioned, now I just needed to figure out where we were.
My math was wrong. Not only were we not in the system I expected, but we were not in a system at all. We were in interstellar space close to a system, but there was no buoy in the system broadcasting to tell me which one. I was picking up a very faint signal though and moved the ship towards it. It was a tiny probe of some sort communicating back to the nearby solar system. I decided to bring the probe on-board hoping for a clue as to where we were.
The probe was mostly a large dish antenna and the technology was so outdated I didn’t even know where to begin trying to understand it. The most notable thing I found on it was a plaque. It had drawings of two being that didn’t look like anything I had ever seen before. One appeared to be male and the other female, but they only had two arms and two legs. The drawing didn’t seem to indicate any form of shell at all. If I had to guess I would say that these creatures were some sort of mammal, but their inclusion on this plaque seemed to indicate that they were the creators. No mammal had ever gotten that intelligent as far as I knew. The drawings seem to indicate that they came from the third planet in the solar system.
“Well, it’s going to take me a few weeks to figure out where we are so I might as well go see if I can get a peek at the neighbors.” I set coarse for the third planet from the star. My screw up just let us find the first intelligent life in the galaxy and my wife and I would be making first contact.