Where the hell are we?
When I opened my eyes, there was a moment where I felt I was rising up from the bottom of the ocean, holding my breath, and heading towards the light.
I was in the captain’s seat, and as my vision focussed, I sucked in a huge breath and sat up. There were others in front of me still slumped over their consoles, barely visible in the emergency lighting.
I tried standing intending to go over to the navigation console and felt my legs buckling under me, and had to sit down again.
I heard a groan from behind me, followed by, “What happened?”
It was the Chief Engineer.
I turned just as he attempted to stand and collapsed to the floor.
I tried again, with more success, and walked slowly over to him. That was when a different sort of light illuminated the bridge and, when I turned to see what it was, just saw the edge of a planet come into view.
We were very close, and it seemed the ship had adopted a circumnavigation path. The ship also seemed to be slowly rotating, hence the changing view of the planet.
Others were stirring. I helped the Chief Engineer up.
“Whatever happened,” I said, “we seemed to have traveled to an as-yet-unnamed planet.”
“Mars perhaps?” He sat back at his console.
A voice yelled out, “not Mars sir, Uranus. And in the distance, that reddish-colored moon is Oberon I think.”
Exactly where the alien ship had said there was a colony, under the ice surface.
I turned to the Engineer, “Chief, what’s the state of the ship?”
“It apparently is on standby, awaiting our command. It is as the Navigator says, we are at Uranus, in a geosynchronous orbit.”
The moon that we believed to be Oberon came up on the screen, and standing off it was three ships, the two that we had encountered, and a larger ship, no doubt belonging to the kidnappers.
“Do you have the elapsed time since we started the test?” I was curious how long we had been unconscious.
I would also like to know why were ended up unconscious, but that was a matter for later. The other problem; the three ships would soon discover our arrival and would be curious themselves, and I didn’t like the odds if we had to go into battle.
“Sixty-five earth minutes, sir.”
I’m sure he would tell me just how fast we had traveled soon enough. “I’ve got to get back down to engineering. I’ll have a report as soon as possible, but, if required, we’re on standby for any operation you deem necessary.”
“Very good.” Then, “Any chance we arrived un-noticed?” I asked the navigator.
“No sir. We were just scanned, so they know something is out there.”
I found it surprising that the kidnappers had told me precisely where they were going. Perhaps they had not expected our ship could follow them, and that, until just over an hour ago, was exactly our thoughts too.
“Is it possible to scan the moon, and the planet?”
“In the process of doing so, sir.”
I went over to the military console where the officer was quickly checking all the systems. “Everything online and available?”
“As far as I can tell. We should be able to retaliate if we have to.”
“It may be sooner than we think. One of the ships, a smaller one, is heading in this direction.”
I yelled out, “Anyone needing medical assistance?”
No one replied. It seems they had all suffered the same malaise I had, a period of unconsciousness. Then a series of reports filled the bridge as each officer reported their systems were online and ready.
I then asked the ship’s department heads to report in, and each came back, not asking the obvious question, but to say everything, and everyone, was ok.
Five minutes later, the ship could be seen approaching us, stopping in indeterminable distance from us, but it was quite close, close enough to make out the detail of the outer hull, and, I noticed, for one of the scientists to scan the vessel and take photographs for reference if we needed to know about it later. The first alien ship in our database.
Then a voice came over the communications system, not one of ours. “Hailing earth ship’s captain. We are sending one of your crew back to you, we do not know what is wrong with him.”
The next instant the captain, in a prone poisition, appeared on the deck in front of the chair. “Medical team to the bridge,” I said.
I went over to him, and he appeared asleep. I checked for a pulse, and there wasn’t one. He was cold, and not a good sign.”
“We have him,” I said. “What happened?”
“He collapsed. Our medical people tell me from what they know of your physiology, that he has stopped breathing, and possibly had what you call a heart attack. I assure you we did not harm him, or your other crew member in any way.”
One of the ship’s doctors came out of the elevator and ran over to us, and immediately did a scan. We were the first ship, the first people, in fact, to use the new technology which was supposed to diagnose most of the problems humans could suffer in a matter of minutes.
“He’s dead, sir,” the doctor pronounced. He had brought several others on the medical team, along with the means to transport him back to the hospital.
They carefully lifted the captain onto the mobile stretcher. “Permission to leave, sir?”
The alien captain, if it was him, came back, “We would like to know how your ship managed to get here so quickly. Our knowledge of your technology makes it impossible for you to travel such distances as you have, and especially in that ship.”
“We’re trying to work that out ourselves. Would you like to tell us how you can move so quickly yourself?”
“We have nothing to hide. Perhaps we could meet and discuss it.”
© Charles Heath 2021