A Russian ship?
The navigator had left the object on screen allowing it to materialize as we got closer.
I had to marvel at the magnification the scientists had managed to produce for the scanners on this vessel, the first of a new class, and based on our experiences, no doubt later ships would have less of the quirks we had found so far.
Not that any were serious, or if they were, that common sense and prior experience couldn’t resolve. It was the reason why we had this chief engineer.
He had retired and was happily spending the rest of his life with the woman who had put up with all those absent years, until she died suddenly, and left him without purpose.
This ship had changed that.
I could see the outline of the distant ship and although it might not follow a standard design, it showed all the signs of coming from our planet.
Was that because we had no idea what a ship might look like from another planet or alien race? I still wanted to believe there were other life forms out there, but how much of that was hoping they looked like us?
“The system still cannot identify what type of ship it is, sir, but it doesn’t look alien.”
It didn’t, now that it was much clearer.
“Would you know if it was?”
“No, sir. Not really. Time to intercept, just under fifteen minutes. If they are intending to intercept.”
Number one just came out of the elevator and onto the bridge. He wasn’t rostered for this time, but I suspect he had been watching the drama unfold in his cabin.
“Suggest we go to code Red, just in case their intentions are not friendly.”
We had a weekly meeting of department heads to discuss what we would do in an alien encounter, other than shoot first, and talk later, usually the military first response to any problem.
Some ground rules were implemented, one of which was to keep fingers off the triggers of our weapons, until we had justification. It was noted we had no idea what kind of weapons they would have, or how good our shield systems would be, that would come after the first encounter.
But we did know the ship could withstand any attack from an earth-origin attack, from the nuclear bomb to cutting edge lasers. It was a little more problematic for the humans though.
Code Red, our highest alert, meant that Number one and I could not be in the same place, for obvious reasons. He would go down the attack room, where the bridge systems were replicated, along with an array of other units. It would be from there where a relation, or attack, would be managed.
And no, the lights in the bridge did not turn red, just dimmed. The only indication was a red bar running across the top of the viewing screen, on which the oncoming vessel was now clearly visible.
“It’s from earth, the scanners have identified the propulsion system, and from the scan analysis, it appears to be more advanced than just about everything back home.”
“The infamous Russian ship, do you think?”
“Doesn’t have to be. Anyone with enough money could have financed the project, though it would be hard to hide something like that. The question has to be, what’s it doing this far out, and, for all intents and purposes, returning.”
“We’re assuming again. Perhaps they were just going to the outer edge of our known galaxy so that they could say they were the first.”
There had always been that great space rivalry between the Russians and the Americans. Later, the Europeans and the Chinese had also thrown their hats in the ring, and it was possible this ship could be Chinese. They too had a burning desire to be the first, and there’d be no surprise if we found a Chinese or Russian flag on the first liveable planet outside our solar system.
But, right now, that was all ahead of us. At this moment, it was a little disconcerting to discover we would not be the first outside our known galaxy.
© Charles Heath 2021-2023