Literary Challenge #13 : The Void
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Join Date: Dec 2007
The Spider's Web - Part 2
02-24-2012, 11:21 AM
Explosions erupted all over the bridge as several EPS relays overloaded. The ship shook violently. According to my internal chronometer, the transit through the anomaly lasted for 33.6 seconds before we reached its opposite aperture. I picked myself off the ground and returned to my seat.
“Damage report,” I called out to my Operations officer, Jensen Marcombe. As he rambled through the list of damaged systems, I began to notice something disturbing on the view screen. “Where are the stars?” My question caused the bridge crew to pause in their duties as they looked to the view screen and marveled at the obvious lack of our celestial companions. “Where are we?” I demanded.
The order spurred them back into action. Thule checked and rechecked the sensors. “Confirmed, Captain. There are no stars in this region of space. However, I’m detecting several derelict ships nearby.”
As an analysis of the ships began, Thule announced that one of the dead ships powered up its systems and was approaching the Copernicus. I asked for a threat analysis, and my tactical officer announced that most of its weapons and defensive systems were offline and that it was operating in a reduced power mode. I ordered the comm officer to hail that ship.
A moment later, a strange alien appeared on the viewer. I asked him to identify himself. “There’s no time for that,” he replied quickly. “Power down your systems immediately before it detects you.”
His demands caught me off guard. As I stumbled for a reply, he continued. “Bah. Too late. It’s seen us. We’ve got to get as far away from here as we can.”
“What is it?” I demanded.
“The creature that calls this realm home, hungers for energy, and with your massive warp core, your ship can sustain it for quite some time. Beam me and my crew aboard, and I’ll sacrifice my ship to give yours an opportunity to escape.”
I glanced over to Thule who shrugged, indicating that he didn’t detect any creature. “It’s invisible to scanners, but I can show you how to configure them to see it. It’s nearly upon us. Beam us to your ship now!”
The transmission was cut off suddenly, as the alien vessel’s power systems began to fluctuate dramatically. When the first in a series of small explosions rocked the alien vessel, I ordered my crew to transport them aboard and warp away from their ship.
I took an armed security team to the transporter room to greet the five members of the alien crew. They all appeared emaciated and wore a long history of injuries on their frail frames. A pair of them carried a large piece of equipment and set it down once the transport was complete. I greeted them, introduced myself, and asked them to accompany me to sick bay.
“I am Georgio Hah’kano of the Chortorron freighter Pleiseid,” he replied. “We are glad you came along when you did; our power reserves were running dangerously low. We wouldn’t have survived another week let alone another encounter with the creature.”
“Our doctor is going to treat your injuries and make sure you’ve had a good meal,” I said. “When you’re ready, we have some questions.”
“There’s no time to waste. The only thing I require is your ship.”
The security team swung their rifles toward the alien crew. I indicated to them to hold their fire with a clenched fist raised to shoulder level. “My ship?”
“You have the power reserves necessary to get us all out of this place.” He reached slowly into his pocket, removed a small padd, and handed to me. I quickly studied the data displayed on the padd, as he continued, “As promised, here are the sensor specifications that will let you see the creature that’s hunting you. It can completely drain every watt of power from your systems in a matter of minutes. There are two ways to escape it: keep moving, or completely power down your systems, which I suspect is not an easy process for your ship.”
“That is an astute observation,” I said handing the padd to the officer closest to me. “Take this to Commander Craxol and have her configure our sensors to these specifications and notify me the moment it’s ready.” The officer took the padd and trotted down the hall to the turbo lift. Then, I urged Captain Hah’kano to tell me everything he knew about the situation that we found ourselves in.
Over the next hour in sick bay, he told us about himself, his crew and ship, their mission, the void, the creature, and what was required to escape. Essentially, they were part of a convoy carrying supplies from their homeworld to one of their outer colonies, when the void swallowed the convoy. The trip into the void damaged their ship severely and they had to shut down all systems to prevent disaster. It was their saving grace as it turned out, because the lifeform sensed their arrival and immediately fed on all of the ships in the convoy but theirs. Once they got their systems online, they turned and ran from the creature. Eventually, they discovered that they could escape the creature by shutting down power until it was at least six light years away. They’ve been playing a game of hide and seek with the creature ever since.
Amazingly, they survived in the void for four years seven months and twenty-one days. They rationed their supplies until they ran out and scavenged what they could from the new ships that entered the void that tried to either fight the creature or weren’t fast enough to run from it. Over the years, they cooperated with other survivors. But equipment malfunctions, slow shutdown and start up times ultimately led to their eventual destruction. The crew of the Pleiseid was stranded and alone in the void.
During their say, they searched every inch of the void for a way out. They provided a navigational chart of the void that described its shape as an ellipse that spanned more than 30 light years at its widest point. The only known aperture is the same one we used to enter the void. The creature stalks the area heavily knowing that a food source may arrive at any time. Over time, they came to discover that they could trigger the aperature to open. However, with their dwindling power reserves, they were unable to muster enough power to maintain the opening long enough for them to escape. That is until we arrived, when they sacrificed their own vessel to help all of us escape the void.
When Craxol reported in that the sensor array was ready, I pulled up a sensor display and saw the creature that pursued the Copernicus for the first time. It was massive and moved at surprising speeds. It was not going to be easy to stay away from it.
When the Chortorron Captain finally outlined the escape plan, I determined it to be sound and set my crew to interface their equipment with our deflector dish. We waited until we were out of range of the creature’s immediate view before we dropped out of warp, powered down all systems, and began the upgrades. Once the creature passed by the sleeping Copernicus and moved out of view, we powered up and traveled at maximum warp back to the aperture.
It wasn’t going to be easy. Based on the equations Georgio provided, I calculated that we had enough power to hold the aperture open for 38.8 seconds. It didn’t leave much room for error, but the level of risk was acceptable. We quickly took a position close to the exit, and triggered a deflector pulse to kick start the aperture into its expansion phase. With our shield configured to a matching frequency, we dumped warp power into them, which blew out relays across the entire ship. Traveling at full impulse, we entered the aperture, and immediately felt the resistance of the aperture against our shields. The ship began to shake violently as it attempted to squeeze us back into the void, but we fought valiantly for every kilometer that we traveled.
Our power reserves immediately began to dwindle. We diverted auxiliary power to the shields followed by emergency power. As our power levels spiked, the strain of the aperture on our shields decreased momentarily as it was shoved away from the ship. Reaching a crawl, we successfully exited the void. We rerouted power away from the shields and dumped it into engines. We jumped to warp for a few moments to get away from the strange anomaly. Once we were a safe distance away, we launched a warning beacon and resumed a course for Deep Space Nine.