Tuesday Night Fiction Ep. 5: “Strange Visitors”

Here’s one I wrote at some point during school. I was attempting to pack as much science fiction action into a thousand words as possible. This one actually taught me a lot. Hope you like it!

Strange Visitors

by Joe Forrest

Alarms blared across the bridge. The ship was struggling to stay in one piece. The readouts were speeding across Visian’s screen. He made corrections through the neural interface at blinding speed. For every issue he solved, a new one popped up.

“Quinn, report please.” For all the madness, his voice remained calm. “Kill those alarms as well.”

“Reality drive is offline,” said Quinn as the alarms went quiet. This was her first mission. He hoped it would not be her last. “The actuality dampers aren’t slowing us down. We’re diving through universal constants at an alarming rate.”

Visian continued making corrections to the flight path. The dimensional turbulence was increasing as they passed through the universal membranes. It was disorienting, but pilots had been trained for this. They were going to crash. It was his job to ensure their survival.

“Do a scan. Find us a habitable destination with the least impact on any indigenous species.”

“Aye, aye,” she said. She began the calculations. Visian noted that she seemed at ease. He knew, however, that inside she was panicking. “I’ve found one. We can punch a hole outside of it’s solar system. There’s a primitive species on the habitable planet. They have not yet reached industrial status.”

He pulled up the information on his neural net. He grimaced. The little blue orb was familiar. After all these years, he knew this planet was one of the lynch pins. It was the cradle of all human existence, even in his home reality. It was one of the Origin Worlds.

“Old Earth,” he said.

Quinn gasped. He smiled at her astonishment. In the explored realities of the civilized multiverse, Earth was a protected landmark. No one was allowed to set foot on it without the proper clearances. This would be the first time that she would ever walk on any Earth. A novel experience as an agent, no doubt.

“Should we attempt communication with the local reality office once we’ve breached?” she asked.

Visian further examined the information about their intended target. The chronal resonance evaluation placed them in a time stream well before any multiversal explorer presence would exist.

“No need,” he said. “We’re in a fresh shard. They don’t exist here yet. We’ll be the first.”

A grin spread across her face. He understood the excitement. As a rookie, the chance to explore a new universe was an unheard of experience.

“Prepare for breach,” he said.

Quinn’s demeanor changed. The training kicked in as her implants sifted through petabytes of information. Visian was proud of her performance.

“Breaching temporal wake in thirty seconds, local time,” she said.

He opened his mind’s eye to the violence around the ship as it began to exit the shift into the normal time/space of the local universe. Wave after wave of temporal distortion buffeted them. He looked at Quinn. Her visage warped between that of an old woman, a child, and her current self. It was disorienting to those that had never experienced it, but this was not Visian’s first trip.

“3…2…1…mark.”

The ship groaned. Unimaginable stresses threatened to rip it apart as it breached the membrane between universes. They had just torn asunder physics in such a way the universe sought to erase them from existence. While the Reality Drive wouldn’t allow a return trip, it still offered protection from the reality distortion feedback. It was a handy invention that way.

“We are spooling down from superluminal. We will arrive in the Sol System of this reality in less than two minutes.”

“Roger,” he said.

An explosion rocked the ship. The interface went mad with color.

“We’ve lost control of the ship,” said Quinn.

Visian pulled up the diagnostics. The Reality Drive core had leaked. It was spewing probability contrails throughout the back end of the ship. Most of the ion drive was gone and they were spiraling through the system. They would still land on Old Earth, but it would be a bumpy ride.

“Manual override,Quinn. Get me some control so I can at least slow us down a bit. Otherwise we’ll skirt off the atmosphere or dive through it and burn up.”

She worked fast, rerouting as many functions as she could. She noted with passing interest that they’d just passed by Mars.

“Minimal navigation back in your hands, sir,” she said. “No computer aid though. You’re flying manual.”

He smirked. “Now this is fun. Prepare to brake.”

He flipped the ship as gracefully as possible. They passed the moon at half the speed they were previously going. He made calculations in his head, correcting the ship path as he went. Minutes later, they struck the atmosphere of the planet. They slowed considerably, but they were still going much too fast. The G-forces of reentry were staggering.

“Are we going to survive this?” Quinn asked through gritted teeth.

“Sure,” he said. “Well…maybe.”

The ship computer abruptly came to life and warned them of impending impact on the surface. It suggested that they use the emergency crash procedures. Visian instructed the computer to do so.

They impacted in the hard ice of what would one day be the Baltic Sea. The computer had done what it could and that saved them both. The ship had been buried in the glacier, several miles down. It had left a hole that they traveled up and emerged on the harsh surface, surrounded by the current ice age.

They stood, looking around them at the white expanse.

“What do we do now, sir?” asked Quinn.

Visian smiled. “We do our job, Quinn. We explore.”

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