Title: Christmas Encounter
By: Miki Yamuri
The patrol had been long and uneventful. Outer space was a very large expanse, and the invention of the Wormhole Drive opened the Galaxy to Earth. Although the huge void of Interstellar Space wasn't empty by any means. Besides massive energies, planetesimal sized asteroids, black holes, and other such things, there was the constant danger of rogue bandit patrols. Those who had chosen to scavenge and plunder rather than build and explore. It was odd, but they had encountered none of these Bandits on this long and boring patrol.
The Captain sat back in his comfortable command couch as he scanned over the daily reports. He smiled as he took a sip of the wonderful coffee the galley had managed to come up with. The voyage had lasted long enough hydroponics had started producing coffee beans to roast and grind into coffee. The synth-coffee was good, but nothing beat out the real deal.
He noticed a side note from one of the young lieutenants. According to old style Gregorian Calendars, it was December 24, 99921456799 ... Christmas Eve. The Captain decided to announce a ship wide stand down for the next 48 hours. He was positive the on board AI could handle most anything that might crop up based on the events thus far.
As fate would have it, scanners found something. It was moving at an incredible rate of speed unheard of to human science. The configuration was so strange, AI enhancement protocols couldn't determine what it might be nor even extrapolate a visual. What showed on magnification, was a block with an ID number.
The Captain raised an eyebrow when stellar cartography determined on back trace, the object had to have originated from Sol System. This brought a tingle of major concern through the Captain as Earth had no technology that could mask an object so completely from sensors, nor could travel faster than light in plainer normal space/time.
The Captain unlocked the base of his couch and swung around to face sensor control. He said with an edge, "Yeoman, report. I want to know what kind of energy signatures, vapor trails or anything else might be present. That thing has to have a tail pipe at least ."
The young woman was hard at work doing a deep field scan. She turned slightly and replied, "I'm not really getting any kind of readings, sir. It appears to scanners to be rather cold, as far as background radiation temperatures are concerned. That's the only reason we can see it. It appears to be a dead spot or hole in space that's moving at hundreds of times light speed ... in plainer normal space. That ... that's impossible ... sir."
The Captain ran his hand over the top of his head and tugged slightly at the collar of his tunic in back. He knew from stellar cartography tracking, extrapolations put the object on a collision course with the ship. He said in his authoritative sure voice, "Helm, evasive maneuvers Triangulum. Take us out of the path of what ever that approaching thing is."
The young man replied, "Aye, Captain. Evasive plan Triangulum."
The persons within the ship could tell it had begun to change directions rapidly as maneuvers slightly exceeded inertial damping. The young woman at the scanner console began to frown and take on a look of concern as she began to push buttons and change scan ratios. The Captain didn't need to ask what the problem was. What ever the object was tracked their course changes perfectly. It was definite, what ever it was had sophisticated tracking and helm control and had a solid lock the the ship.
The young man at Helm said worriedly, "Sir, it's no use. No matter what I do it still has a solid lock."
The captain said sharply, "Red Alert, Shields up. I want all countermeasures on line and launched immediately."
"Aye sir!" Replied the young man as he pushed the sequence of buttons that brought the ship to Red Alert Battle Conditions.
For the next few minutes as the battle alarm sounded, ordered chaos ruled as the ship's crew performed their well practiced routines and manned all their battle stations and made the formidable warship battle ready. The massive weapons came online as the shields surrounded the vessel while all the counter measure technology launched and came on line. The captain beamed with pride. If anything from Earth had a chance of surviving an assault from such an unknown encounter, the Prancer was the warship.
The Captain swiveled slightly and said, "Tactical, how long until bogey intercepts us?"
The young lieutenant replied quickly, "If current speed remains the same ... about 5 minutes sir."
The Captain was incredulous. That meant the object would cover 6 light years in under 5 minutes in plainer normal space/time. He shook his head as a cold icy feeling ran down his spine. The captain knew if this was going to be a hostile encounter, they had already lost. The technology to travel this way was unknown and impossible according to the solidly proven theories Eisenstein postulated many centuries past. The wormhole drive was a miracle as far as Earth Physics was concerned and opened a whole new understanding of the way things operated in the universe. This, was totally alien and proved all of Earth's understanding was majorly flawed.
The Captain said, "Comm, is that object within communication range?"
The young woman at the comm station replied quickly, "we had NR space comms at that range only, in another 2 minutes, normal comms will be available at the speed the object is traveling."
"Broadcast on all frequencies, and maybe even on some of the antiquated channels, a universal friendship message. I wouldn't want this to turn hostile. We might not like the outcome."
"Aye sir." was the young woman's reply as she began to tap the appropriate places on her comm board. She sat for a few seconds, then a look of total incredulity came across her pretty features. She unlocks the base of her couch and swivels around, "Sir ... I'm ... getting a really weird reply on all frequencies."
The Captain said, "Put it on speakers, I want to her it."
The young woman swiveled around and pressed a spot on her board. The wonderful sound of Santa Clause is coming to town played across all channels accompanied by Silent Night and a few other ancient songs from Earth's distant past.
Out the front view, it loomed from the icy cold darkness of space like a large winged bird of some sort. All white and glowed with tremendous energies beyond the Prancer's computer's ability to identify. In a bright flash, it passed through Prancer's shields as if they didn't exist, and locked onto the main airlock.
Security forces assembled at the door to the lock as pressure equalized within. They trained their mighty combat weapons at the door.
The door slid open, out stepped all jolly and quick only one it could have been, St Nick. With A Ho Ho Ho and a wink of his eye, Christmas had found Prancer as the ship was bedecked with decorations, and holiday song filled each corridor.
Merry Christmas to all, and a very safe and Happy New Year.