As I left the fleet command center, I felt a palpable weight lift from my shoulders. The stress of handing in that report had left me paralyzed for days. Writing the report itself, however, was snugly within my comfort zone. Locked away for days in a room with nothing but astrometric readings and telemetry data was just the vacation I needed.
Returning to my workstation on the lower deck a familiar face greeted me.
“So how did it go?” Chris inquired, looking up from the holo display, seemingly distracted.
“far better, yet far worse than I could have ever imagined” I replied as I sat at my station and pulled up the latest planetary scans.
Without a word, Chris sat staring at his station’s display, seemingly lost in his work.
“Chris? Don’t ask questions if you’re just going to ignore me.”
“Sorry Val, I’m just trying to wrap my head around these readings” Chris finally replied.
“Find another alien fleet?” I replied, doing my best to hold in the laughter. Back on the Intrepid, during our basic training, Chris nearly sent half a squadron to attack an uninhabited gas giant he mistook for a fleet of ships. What he thought was weapons fire, turned out to be an electrical storm in the planet’s upper atmosphere. Five years later I can still get a good laugh out of it.
“I’m being serious Val; these neutrino readings are off the chart, I have never seen anything like it.”
Pulling myself out of the self-induced state of amusement, I realized Chris was not in a joking mood. Straitening my jacket, I turned back to my station and pulled up the sensor data Chris had become so enveloped with.
“Have you been able to identify the source of the emissions?” I asked in an apologetic yet inquisitive voice.
“That’s the thing; they are coming from every direction our sensors can scan. I have already ruled out a supernova, black hole, or any other local radiation source.”
“Could it be a sensor malfunction?”
“I have already confirmed the data with every ship in the fleet. But that’s not the most concerning part.”
“What do you mean?” I replied, as I turned to look back at Chris, who was now looking directly at me.
“All of the neutrinos are coming directly at the fleet, from every direction they converge on our location.”
“Have you let command know about this?” I said, now standing, with a visible worry seeping onto my face.
“I sent it up just before you walked in.”
Before Chris could finish his sentence the admiral’s lapdog, Lieutenant Parker, came storming through the door. What is it this time, I thought to myself. Parker had developed a reputation of putting his career first, and his crewmates second. So, for most of the crew, contact with him was minimized to the best of our ability. Out of breath, and apparently rushed, he turned to Chris and me.
“Gather all of the data you can about the Neutrino emissions; the whole fleet is leaving the sector in five minutes” The lieutenant ordered.
“What do you mean five minutes? We are supposed to be surveying this area for the next week” I replied angrily, having spent the better part of a month preparing for the scans in this particularly dense zone.
“I don’t know what’s going on either. All I know is the admiral wouldn’t even let me use the com line to get a hold of you two. He insisted I come down here myself. Now get all the scan data you can and don’t talk to anyone outside of command about this!”
Without another word, the lieutenant turned and left, the doors sealing behind him.
“You heard the man,” Chris said, moving on to his station.
Stunned, I swallowed the lump now forming in my throat. I turned to my station, hands shaking, I grabbed the armrest on my chair as I stared at the screen. I should have never left the Intrepid.
Chapter three coming soon.