Fiction Fragment Friday
Cutting this story a bit close and barely getting it out while it is still Friday. I don’t really have much to say about it. I came up with the first line and the idea of what caused the commotion on the bridge and just went from there. I wrote not quite sure how to end the story until inspiration hit. Hope you enjoy.
“Captain on the Bridge.” My first officer announced my arrival as I stepped off the transport and into pure chaos. The bridge was filled with crew calling out information from their stations and all talking over each other. It was impossible to make out what any of them were saying. I had been paged to the bridge only to find my usually disciplined crew in a panic.
“Everyone quiet.” Despite the chaos my voice was enough to immediately gather everyone’s attention. “That’s better.” I turned to my first officer. “Mrs. Trask report.” I could see the relief on her face at no longer being in command. I made a mental note to have an uncomfortable discussion because I needed to be confident in her leadership when I’m not around. This was the first time she had ever given me any reason to doubt her abilities.
“Captain three vessels of a completely unknown design have jumped into the far side of the solar system. They are on an intercept trajectory.”
I turned to my communications officer. “Mr. Micheals any communication from the unknown vessels?”
‘No sir. I’ve tried greetings in all the standard languages with no response. I’m also not getting any transponders from those ships. They are putting out some kind of signals, but nothing I recognize. I’ve got the computer trying to analyze it.”
“Good work. Miss Cheng what do we know about these ships.” I turned to my sensor engineer. On a normal day sensors, communications, and basic system functions would all be handled by a generalist. This was not a normal day though and my experts had made it to the bridge before I did. I wasn’t happy about that and would need to figure out if I had been called late or just been slow.
“Well Captain they don’t seem to be running any sort of stealth, but our sensors also can’t penetrate their hulls. I have external design and am having no problem tracking them. All three have energy shields around them and multiple mounted weapons. Each ship is about a fourth the size of ours, but twice as well armed. I suspect based on the energy outputs that they can outrun us as well. No idea how they compare with jump technology.”
“ETA to interception if we do nothing?”
“Ok, I want all the information we have gathered so far bundled up and sent to Mr. Micheals. Once compiled get that sent off on a communication probe back to command central. Astrogation, I want jump options planned for the three nearest systems with stations. Tactical I want targeting programs ready with priority on weapons first and engines second. Just to be clear we are not assuming they are hostile, but we need to be prepared in case they are. Questions?”
The ensign at the piloting terminal turned to face me. “Captain, those designs don’t even look similar to anything I’ve ever seen. Could they be aliens?”
“Again, we don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but we need to be ready in case it really is a first contact. I want options for communicating if we don’t know their language or have compatible communications technology. We have sixty-three hours, and we are not going to waste them panicking. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir.” The bridge crew answered in unison.
“Essential crew only on the bridge. I want teams working on this not individuals so get your departments together. Mrs. Tracks, I want department head meetings in my office at the top of every hour. Any situational changes though I want immediate updates on. Do not wait for a meeting to tell me anything they do.”
“I’ll be in my office not standing over all your shoulders. I need to prepare some speeches in case this really is a first contact situation.” I left the bridge but made sure that I was not leaving it alone. I couldn’t let the crowds and cross talk continue. I needed them off the bridge and working.
When I reached my office, I slumped down in my chair and let out a deep breath. The confidence I projected on the bridge was a mask. I was just as concerned as everyone else, but it was important that my crew never saw that. The next few days my decisions could very well get all of us killed. Even worse if this was a first contact situation wrong actions could lead to war.
After about twenty minutes there was a buzz at my door. “Come in.” My first officer joined me in my office. I motioned for her to sit. “I take it there is an update.”
“Yes sir. One of the ships launched a shuttle. It made an intersystem jump and will be here in about an hour.
“Inter system? That shouldn’t be possible.”
“That is what our people said too. Either way it happened, and they are almost here.”
“Well, I’m taking that as a good sign. They sent one lone ship that I’m assuming is not as well armed as the others.” I sat back and thought about it. Either they wanted to communicate and thought it would be better face to face, or the shuttle had some sort of trick up its sleeve. “Clear one of the docking bays for it. I plan on being there personally to greet them, but let’s not be dumb about it. I’ll take a full complement of guards with me, and I want the bay ready to open to space if something goes wrong. We are not taking chances here. If something happens to me, your priority is getting this crew home.”
She agreed, but I could tell by her tone she was not happy about it. I wasn’t exactly happy about any of it myself. With time a premium I headed down to the docking bay. I tried to prepare myself that anything could come out of the shuttle. It is hard to prepare for anything without a frame of context though. The best I could do was watch the shuttle come in and land in the empty bay. Then myself and my security detail stepped into the big nearly empty room. The door to the shuttle opened as I approached.
The creature that stepped out was not human. It was too tall, had too many tentacles, and simply did not move like a human. Soon there were four of them at the bottom of the ramp. Then the vilest most inhuman creature I have ever lain eyes on stepped from the ship.
“Becky,” I said with a bitterness that I could not contain.
“Hello Benjamin,” my ex-wife said with a tone as cold as my own. “As much as I would rather not, I suppose we should talk. My new friends here have much to discuss and I’m the only one they have taught their language to.”