Greg looked out the window, the blackness spreading beneath, above and around him. The ship’s hull slipped away beneath the window and only darkness could be seen. From the left a bright globe appeared, flames tearing off its surface and flying into empty space. The ship turned and the ball of fire disappeared behind the edge of the window, its glare retreating. As it retreated the blackness took on a new appearance as lights flickered on, within minutes the blackness was blanketed in shiny points of light. Although nowhere as bright as the globe of fire, their combined light was enough to see around the unlit cabin.
The small window Greg had been looking out of was tiny compared to the Cockpit window that wrapped around the front of the ship giving an almost 180 degree forwards and 45 degree above. A small red light on the cockpit was flashing on and off, on and off. Greg floated across the room and bumped into it casually, it flashed on once more before dimming into darkness. Greg drifted over to a switch to the left of the button and his hand slowly pushed it forward. A voice called out of the computer.
“Please fasten yourself in the seats provided, you are about to accelerate to three fourths light speed,” the metallic voice paused then continued, “Remember, fastening properly will save you in the state that you fail to negotiate strong gravitational waves.”
The ship moved forward and then stopped, it hung motionless in nothingness. The computer voiced its prerecorded messages.
“Magnetic shield, up.”
“Photon shield, up.”
“Gravitic shield, up.”
“Matter shield, up.”
“Acceleration in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… 0.”
“Have a nice voyage.”
With these words the ship suddenly accelerated at tremendous speeds, the pinpricks of light moving slowly towards the edges of the cockpit window. A large yellow ball, billions of times larger than the ship came closer then vanished around the edge of the windscreen.
The ship continued onwards. A speck of light appeared in front of the ship within a second it appeared as a boulder and disintegrated within a few feet of the ship. Greg ignored it and the shards were instantly a million miles behind him.
The ship continued onwards. Another enormous ball sped past, this one was a deep red. An arc of rocks appeared and vanished beneath the ship, ignoring the metal shape that had invaded their realm.
The ship continued onwards, time passed and objects appeared and vanished again. Some were beautiful and some were menacing. One object rode alongside the ship but the ship quickly overtook its glowing ball and fiery tail.
The ship continued onwards.
The ship continued onwards.
The ship continued onwards.
Greg finally pushed the switch again and the metallic voice interrupted the silence of the cockpit that had begun to appear dreary and stale.
“Deceleration in 5…4…3…2…1…0.”
“Please wait until informed to unfasten.”
“We have stopped relative to local star and initiating orbit about closest planetary object. You may now unfasten.”
“Please give further instructions…”, the voice paused for a while before continuing, “Please give further instructions…”
Greg floated in front of the windscreen.
On another ship in the vastness of space Samuel shifted in his suit and adjusted his microphone. He typed a brief command into his wrist-com and read the figures that moved across his face shield. He turned to a camera hanging in the corner of the airlock.
“Suit pressure fine, temperature fine, Samuel fine!” He grinned foolishly at the camera.
“Just get in there and do your job!” A female voice buzzed over the intercom inside Samuel’s suit, “After this we have to file a report to justify the salvage.”
Samuel moved forward and opened the door, behind it was the umbilical to the other ship, and he grabbed hold of the tether and slowly made his way across the gap. Space stretched out around him and the glow from Jupiter’s swirling clouds was spectacular. When he reached the hatch to the other ship he scanned it and input the number he received into the keypad. The door slid open with a hiss. Inside a small amount of vapour hung on the floor, it blew and swirled away as he stepped in. Samuel reached up to a small cupboard above the inside door and pulled out a red box about a foot long, luckily for him the job was made easier as weightlessness, making the box easy to transport.
Back in the other ship Samuel leant over Margaret who was feeding the ‘black’ box information into the computer. When she finished she began to interpret the data to Samuel.
“Unmanned lifetime…twenty years!” she sounded shocked, “This thing’s been out here two decades without life!”
“Perhaps it’s been on auto-pilot from elsewhere?” Samuel asked.
“No. Records show that eighteen years ago its light-drive was operated and then shut down again a month ago. Its orientation and history show it traveled from the Centauri systems.”
“Then it could be a ship that was damaged in the war and retreated back to Earth. It may have someone in stasis.”
“No. It doesn’t. Yet someone must have switched on the engines in the last five years.”
“The box allows a live feed from inside the ship, we should check it out before venturing inside.”
Margaret typed in commands and swung her chair around to the second screen where an image began to appear it was a live video feed from the cockpit. It was empty. Margaret shrugged.
“Its empty of life it seems.”
Suddenly a body floated past the camera. Its back was facing them and it was slowly turning. The hideous gaze of a soldier stared at them through the camera, its eyes empty and the skin peeling from the burns to its face. A bullet hole was positioned in his shoulder so that the arm was attached by only a thread of skin and three more ran across his chest. The nameplate proudly read ‘Col. Greg Jones’
Colonel Greg Jones floated past the camera and bumped into the windscreen, he rebounded and his arm swung around, the hand attached brushed upon a switch.
The lights in the ship all turned on. Greg was home.