A continuation of the first post, this story has turned into quite a space-time opera fun thing to write.
Contributions from both myself and S.J. Hundak on this one.
I looked out over the 3000 or so faces. Bored, excited and eager to go home faces. If I got out of this alive I promised myself to retire, find a nice, safe job somewhere in a little cottage industry back on Earth.
“Uhm, Kiki’s Time Travel and Emporium wish you to have the best time in your visit here. And to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” hope no one caught the lie. “We have decided to give you a quick tour of the rings of Saturn. This may take a few days,” months, “and sleeping arrangements will be made for all of you. We will still, as promised, return you to our real time only a few minutes later than when we left.”
I caught the eyes of the, now worried, waiters and signalled them to keep the food and champagne going. The crowd murmured, fortunately it murmured more good than bad.
I quickly checked the scanners and the ship’s telemetry. Once I’d set the course for Saturn I could fix the drive, hopefully.
Shock #2 came then. Something was sucking us towards the Sun.
It was only a tiny aberration in reality, but the implications were huge. The sun’s mass was much greater in this time period than the chronocharts had indicated and the resulting change in gravity was throwing us way off course. I was correcting for the change, of course, but something was very wrong. If the instruments were off we would likely crash into some Kuiper belt object. If the sun really was that much denser, then perhaps we were in a different time than we had anticipated.
I needed to consult the Oracle.
The engine that drove this ship was a small blue haired teenage girl. Her quarters were near the aft of the ship, and no one except the crew were allowed to get within a hundred feet of her. The incredible force behind her powers would give you an intense headache, vomiting, and finally loss of consciousness without proper equipment to protect you from her proximity.
Her name was Kayla. I hoped she could shed some light on this problem, because I was quickly running out of ideas.
Barely fourteen years old and the child held the lives of thousands in her hands. That kinda did some mental tricks to a person’s psyche.
Then again, to have the mental power to run one of these engines, you had to be peculiar to start with.
Still, whatever happened I always approached Kayla with care-and always with the latest Spip Hop music pod and a large cola float.
Trust me, bribery can get you anywhere.
Then again, as I looked around at the mess I wondered. The passages leading to Kayla’s haunt were twisted. The Ylithium alloy walls, supposedly able to withstand a direct nuclear hit, gouged out with what looked like huge claws.
This, I realized didn’t look good.
I heard Kayla’s music, The Thraptors swinging away to the latest technochip which sounded, for want of a better word, like a rooster vomiting. I’ll never understand teenagers.
For a moment I thought Kayla wasn’t there. She was, in a semi-transparent sort of way.
“Contact,” she said. “Alien. Bad.”
“How close?” We could be famous, and rich if we could get a good scan of the first aliens ever encountered.
“Real close. Their signal only traveled for a couple of kiloseconds.” With her head resting in her hands, and her body shifting in and out of coalescence, it looked like she was trying to hold herself physically in our time.
She paused and solidified long enough for me to hand her the cola float and then took a long drink from it. “Thanks.”
She sat down in the center of the spherical control chamber and I flipped the music pod over to her. “I got you this, too. My kids don’t need them anymore.”
She turned it over in her tiny hands. “Kind of old isn’t it?” The crooked smile reminded me of my own daughter when she was that age.
“Alright, alright. Enough with the age remarks. The aliens? Do they have something to do with the mass aberration we’re seeing? And the drive malfunction?”
“Yes. I think so.” She struggled a moment, faded out then back in. “They’ve been here for a long time.”
“Can you locate them,” I asked. “I’ll get the rest of the crew ready and we’ll make this a big extravaganza. A premier for the Discovery 2 Channel.”
A gentle shudder echoed through the ship’s hull. Not enough to notice if you were unfamiliar with the ship’s operation but for me, a signal, a definite warning.
Kayla shuddered too, wavering in and out of visibility in perfect synchronization to the vibrations.
“They know about us. Refusing to let us leave.”
“That’s good,” I said, pausing as Kayla’s face went even paler. “Isn’t it?”
“Kaine.” Kayla’s voice cracked, creaking like a rusty door. “You don’t understand, at all,” she added. “We’ve been caught…in their…net. Like. Fish.”
Kayla vanished. No fireworks, super bright lights, swirling vortex. She was just gone.
With her went the only chance we had of getting back home. Not to mention, if I understood her correctly, the entire ship was being reeled in to meet a maybe not so friendly alien race.
Jeeps. What the Hell could I do now?
I scrambled back to the bridge, the whole ship still humming softly. I took a number of detours along the way, but still couldn’t evade the passengers. I smiled weakly and waved, hoping they wouldn’t notice the sheen of sweat that now covered my face.
Once on the bridge I keyed the door lock behind me. The pilot was frantic already. “Kaine. What. The flarn is this thing?” Arni had a visual of them already it looked like. I peered over at his screen.
The thing was still a few hundred thousand kilometers away, but it was big. It looked to me like an enormous, cosmic starfish, filled with fractal designs. “Give me a close up.” I pointed through the mist screen.
“Wait, right there. Is that thing moving?”
It was iridescent, and seemed to reflect all light that hit it. It was changing shape, and it made my stomach hurt to look too long. The patterns in it were intense.
“Kaine, we’re moving straight towards it. All of our dampeners are having no effect whatsoever.”
“It’s ok. I have an idea.”