Nothing is ever what it seems
I didn’t have the luxury of taking a moment to consider what I was going to do, other than to draw the inevitable conclusion that whatever I did, there would be consequences.
One thought did cross my mind, in relation to the alien ship and her Captain, why hadn’t they exercised their superior capability, stopped the Russian ship, and taken the offenders away themselves. And, given the captain was prepared to destroy my ship, why had he let the Russians go?
“The Russian ship is hailing us, sir.”
“Very good, I’ll be there in a moment.”
They had waited a long time before asking our intentions, so what had they been waiting for? The fact they appeared to be immobilized was, to me, a little too convenient. Also, they had to know the alien ship was nearby, but even that raised the question of why they were standing off, and not alongside us.
Something was not right about this whole scenario.
I came on to the bridge, Number One standing in front of the Captain’s chair, the bridge crew waiting expectantly.
“Get the Russian ship’s Captain on screen.”
A moment later he appeared, with a depleted bridge crew, different from the last time we spoke.
“What can I do for you?”
“Why is the alien vessel here?”
“I think you know the answer to that question.”
“What did he tell you?”
“How about you tell me why you think he’s here?”
Why was his concern more about the alien vessel than the state of their propulsion unit? Unless there was nothing wrong with it.
I motioned to the comms officer to cut our side of the conversation.
He had taken up a position behind the defense team.
“If they try to move or power weapons, stop them.”
“Russian ship powering up propulsion, sir.”
“Just say the word.”
A gesture told me the artesian ship was back online.
“Do not try to leave or we will disable your ship.”
A tense few seconds before the navigator said, “powering down.”
“Good choice. Now, prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with force. Am I understood, Captain?”
A measured reluctance in his tone when he said, “Yes.”
“Number one, boarding team assembled?”
“Good. Any resistance is to be dealt with severely. If the Captain or a representative of the ship wants to come with their crew members, let them. Bring those on the list back here.”
The Russian captain was still on the screen.
“You have no right or jurisdiction to do what you are doing, and I will be recording this as an act of piracy.”
“Will that be with the international space agency?”
“My superiors, we have already alerted them to the situation.”
“As far as I am aware, your superiors did not register your flight plan as per the treaty that they are signatories to. Also, you are on a ship that no one knows about. All of that could be forgiven though, but you had to cause what can I call it, an Intergalactic incident which may yet setback relations with an alien race for a long time. You would be well advised to tell me now what the hell happened so I can at least try and save you from very severe consequences.”
On a secondary channel that number one had switched to after arriving at the Russian vessel, I heard, “what do you mean you cannot dock?”
The pilot replied, “They haven’t initiated the docking sequence.”
“Is it an incompatible system?”
“No, it’s exactly the same as ours. It’s like they’ve ripped everything off. They’re stalling.”
To the captain of the Russian ship, I said, “I get it. No Captain likes to have his ship boarded. But this is not the time.” To the General, “Target their propulsion unit. On my mark…”
“You are making a mistake,” the Russian captain said.
“Docking initiated. It is exactly like our system, right down to the override authorization code.” Number one had the same thought that just come to mind. Then, “Lieutenant, don’t hesitate to use force if you have to. We have to assume anyone on the other side of the door is a potential hostile. Counting down, three, two, one…”
I heard the whoosh of the door, and then utter silence, broken only by Number One, “What the hell…”
© Charles Heath 2021-2022