Sole survivor encounters an alien rescue device
He awoke to discover the ship had not survived the shockwave they encountered while on their journey to a distant star. The commander unstrapped himself from his seat on the bridge. All power was off. The ship was adrift. The soft orange yellow glow from a nearby cluster of stars lit the control room. He heard no chatter from the crew or other parts of the ship. Realizing the artificial gravity was not working, he shoved himself over his console to wake and aide the men all strapped in in front of him, only to learn he was alone. He needed to know the condition of the rest of the ship. He turned around to notice there was a dim light shining through the small window in the passage way door to the rest of the ship. It shimmered, and he thought, help was coming and pushed off towards it. But as he floated closer, he realized that something was wrong. Pulling himself up to the portal, he sees the severed rear portion of his ship in a slow rotation behind the command section. He was stunned as he peered out to see his ship twisted and broken. Taking a deep breath, he establishes composure, and with his eyes scourers the remains for signs of life. After several rotations, he asks himself what he can do. He recalls there were emergency batteries and pushed off to see if he can get power to the communications panel. With urgency, just short of panic, he gets a communication panel to work. While making his way to the panel, thoughts that he may not be alone provide a sense of hope which filled his mind, but after an hour of broadcasts he calmed himself to face the most likely truth. He left the panel to stare out at the remains of the ship rotating in the sea of stars behind him. Studying the damage, he soon realized there were fires on board. He watched them grow as more and more portals began to glow in the darkness. It also meant that the engines were likely to explode soon. In four or five hours, he thought. The thought to transmit a message or jettison the emergency beacon were thoughts until remembering those components both resided on the rear potion now sheared away. The command compartment was now getting cold. A sharp recount of his physics informed him he was likely to be frozen long before the ship would be propelled into deep space by the blast from the engines. Exhausted both physically and emotionly, he gets back to his chair and with a few emergency supplies he's gathered prepares for the end. He thinks in the silence, I could blow the hatch open. That would be quick, but a more calming thought comes to him. I've always liked watching the stars. And I've a little time left, I think I'll just sit and enjoy the view. Soon he falls asleep under the soft silent glow of the universe.
The Commander felt warm and rested as he opened his eyes to find himself in a large room with a continuous cylindrical wall around him. He lays still on a small bed at the center. He recalls someone waking him when the voice speaks from behind him. Turning quickly to see a young man, like one of his crewman, but he had never seen this person before. Studying him more closely as he approached he realized he only resembled a crewman. His uniform was without any details, even seams.
"Who are you... and where am I", he asks.
The young man smiles, I’m the rescue portal and you are no longer aboard your craft."
"What...what do you mean, rescue portal and where's my ship?
There was a pause by the young man, which angered the Commander who then stood to confront the man. But, As he approached, the young man turned to him and continued to speak. I'm adjusting my communications for you. The Commander paused and visually sweeps his surroundings to notice there was no door.
“Hey, this is a prison.”
“Not at all, in a few moments you will leave here.”
“Where are you going to take me?”
“That sir, is your choice. I have a message for you. We the Altrazan sincerely apologize for the destruction of your ship and the loss of life onboard. It was too late when we became aware that you did not understand the message of the construction buoy you encountered a half a parsec earlier. It was to warn craft of any kind to wait till an, all clear signal had been given. You were the only survivor. We take blame for this and offer restitution for you.”
“Restitution, I have no ship, my crew is dead and you are going to offer money for them? You can kiss my....”
“No Commander we offer no exchange. We offer life.”
“Life... what are you talking about? You’ve just given me life. You’re planning to take it away?” The young man still smiling says to him.
“Time is short. Listen…”
“Why should I listen to you, you destroyed….”
“Commander, listen to me. Time is short.”
“I am a rescue portal and you must choose the portal you will use.”
“What Portal? I don’t… “Just then the mist around the room faded, moving away in all directions to reveal three huge boxes. The commander darts his eye on each. His eyes raced up the sides and he was awed by their surfaces which seemed to be mirror-like but he could not find the young man in them. Two are white and one black. The mist continued to flow back exposing these cubes fully and reconstituting itself into a new wall.
“OK… but how do I choose, what are my choices?”
While pointing, he answered, “Home, death, or the unknown”, as the commander turns toward the young man.
“I think, I understand, I can go back, or end it all now, but I’m an explorer, I’ll always be an explorer because I want to understand. I came out here to explore, so there’s really only one choice for me.” the young man smiles.
“It’s done” and the commander directed, walked to the black box and the Commander passed through its walls to vanish from view. The young man’s image then fades away replaced by a small glowing box which hoovers where he stood, and with the voice of the young man says, “A wise choice Commander, and may all your journeys be bold ones.”
Word Count 998 Writen by D. Sannara Ferguson aka Ironworker Dec. 15 11 for The Writer’s Cramp
I am continuing this story, so I invite all readers to return in a week or two to discover what the commander gets to explore.