I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 23

Where did that ship come from?

When I stepped out on to the bridge number one was waiting, “we received a distress call a few minutes ago, and we’ve been trying to get the ship back to get the details. Then, it just appeared.

Not far off the Port bow, another ship, about half the size of ours was not moving, and it was clear we were doing a circuit to check he outside if the ship.

“It’s the ‘Ionosphere’, one of the research vessels, but according to our records, it should be off Jupiter.”

“Is there anyway we can find out if anyone is alive on board?”

“Our sensors are not clever enough to discern life forms, at least nit yet.  They’re working on it, and it’s going to be in the next upgrade.  We basically restricted to what’s going on outside.”

“Then we’d better send a shuttle, see what’s going on.  Gather a team, take the military rather than security, and a systems expert, and head it up yourself.”

“I’ll let you know when we depart.”

“Make it sooner rather than later, there may be people who need help.  Better add a doctor to the team.”

He nodded and headed towards the elevator, calling up the shuttle bay.

The ‘Ionosphere’ was one of three older research vessels with a crew of about 290, mostly scientists.  The fact it was drifting was not a good sign.

Chalmers was the duty scientist on the bridge, and I went over to his station.

“Are you familiar with the ‘Ionosphere’?”

“Yes sir.  Spent about 6 months on the first exploration to the edge of our universe, surveying and analysing Pluto.”

“Am I correcting on assuming she was lately at Jupiter?”

“Yes sir.  She had been deployed to Saturn first, then Jupiter.”

“You hadn’t heard officially or unofficially she was due back at earth space dock any time soon?”

“No sir.  In fact I was just communicating with a colleague on board a day or so back, who said they had, or though they had discovered an anomaly in space, and had deviated towards it to investigate.  Whatever it was, it had sent some of their instruments crazy.”

Number one’s voice came over the communication system, announcing the shuttle had left the bay and was encountered to the other ship.  A minute later we could see it.

In the same instant, a thought crossed my mind, one that might explain how the ship was not far from us, and on the same course.

“Can you tell me if if Jupiter and Uranus are in alignment, along our projected trajectory?”

“As a matter of fact, they are.”

I was not the greatest scientific mind on the ship, that was why we had a first class scientific team aboard, but I could think outside the box, where some of the scientific minds were closed to ‘out there’ possibilities.

That’s why it didn’t seem impossible to me that the Ionosphere ‘hitched a ride’ in what might be called a wormhole, that sort of anomaly that Jerome Kennedy had been talking about.  It struck me that these worm holes could be like black holes and ships could enter them and come out the other side, a very great distance away, in a very short time.

It would explain how the enemy ship had disappeared, but it didn’t explain why we were able to follow a trail.

That would be a matter for Kennedy

Number one was back on the communications system with a report. “We’ve docked and come on board. At first we thought everyone was dead, there were people on the floor and hunched over in their seats, but the environment is intact and work, and they are mostly unconscious. I have gone directly to the bridge and we’ve woken the Captain. He has no idea what happened, they were investigating what he calls a ripple, and then nothing till we woke him. We’re going to look at the logs and see if what happened has been recorded.”

“Very good.”

Fifteen minutes possibly longer passed when he reported back, not exactly in the serious manner I would expect. “You are not going to believe this, sir, but the ship has just travelled a distance that would normally take them several months, in less than an hour. They were at Jupiter, sir, but that was, according to their log, no more than two hours ago.”

© Charles Heath 2021

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