Chapter Two

In an instant, the hurried officers of the bridge surrounded us. To my right, a holo display projected a three-dimensional layout of all the ships in the sector. In the center of it all was the Intrepid. A massive marvel of engineering; her hull resembled the shape of an ancient B-2 bomber, although on a much grander scale. With a wingspan stretching nearly 250 miles across she was a sight to behold. In the center of her gargantuan structure, she held a biome plucked straight from the earth itself. It was our last reminder of home and our much-needed source of air. Surrounding her was a flurry of activity, what appeared to be flies buzzing around her massive hull were, in fact, hundreds of thousands of ships, sensors, and drones.

Michael, the commander of fleet logistics and security calmly stepped away from his station and walked toward us. As he came closer, the holo display reoriented itself and enlarged a small portion in the upper right-hand corner. What at first glance appeared to be a couple of dozen small specs soon took form as they grew and the resolution was enhanced.

Michael turned to me in his typically plangent voice to explain what we were seeing.

“Thirty-four unidentified ships have just entered Sector-58. Their current heading puts them on a direct intercept course with our reconnaissance fleet in that quadrant.”

“Has their presence been detected?” I replied while lifting my hands upward to orient the display to include the reconnaissance fleet.

“Unknown at this time captain. They are in strict radio silence while on the outskirts of the sensor grid. But on their current heading detection is inevitable, if it hasn’t already happened. We need to act quickly to ensure their location isn’t broadcast back to wherever these ships are from.”

“I am moving defense grid eleven into a response position. There is a 73% chance of detection.” Sam chimed in over the hum of the officers at their stations.

“Make damn sure those drones stay out of sensor range of the ships Sam! And Michael, send a priority subspace message to the reconnaissance fleet. Apprise them of the current situation and instruct them to alter their course to a new heading away from the intrepid. Use a subspace relay so it can’t be traced back to us. If the unidentified ships follow, we will be left with no choice.” I commanded with a stern assuredness.

Like a finely tuned machine, the bridge crew began carrying out my orders with methodic accuracy. As I studied the display, a high-pitched hum grew louder with each passing second. The sound enveloped me, and the world began to grow more distant. The edges of my sight began to blur until my only focus was on the 34 ships on our outer perimeter. The sound of rushing blood found its way through what was now an all-encompassing ringing.

Darkness.

In the distance, I can hear a voice. A calmness overwhelms me. I can feel it drawing me closer.

 

Chapter Two, Page Two –>