“Contact with the Q’Tal”
All rights reserved by the author
He sat there in his ship floating through the blackness of space, overcome by what had just happened. How could he have been so naďve, so stupid. He was filled with an overwhelming sense of guilt, and he looked at the button that the scientists had put on the ship, a time warp button. It would warp time and jump the minds of everyone back to the date specified leaving their memories intact, but everything special was new. He pressed the button and hoped.
year today is 37NW. The NW
In 26NW, a problem occurred during the testing of the first antimatter engine. Using the same idea as the nuclear fusion drive, the magnetic field, to contain the reaction, the scientists had hoped to contain the energy produced from this reaction. They were wrong. A miscalculation by the computer in the predictions of the energy required to contain the reaction had occurred. A scientist ignored this error because he felt the computer was just being safe. He was wrong, but Earth will never know what really happened on Mars that day. Shortly after the reaction was started, it was out of control, destroying the base on Mars and carving a big crater in the face of Mars. The scientists on the Moon base were more careful after that.
In the year 33, a working antimatter engine was developed and fitted onto a space probe designed to stand up to heavy G-forces and equipped with a camera and transmitter to take pictures of deep space and send them back. It was destroyed shortly thereafter in a dust cloud in space. Shielding then became the topic for research. In 35, a scientist by the name of Stephen Ciesla came up with the idea for a Ciesla coil, a device which accumulates a massive amount of energy and flings the ship into “zero space,” nothingness where the laws of relativity do not exist and where there is no maximum speed, as far as man can tell. This then became the preferred method of space travel for manned space travel because relativity would not be a factor. After shields were developed in 37 that could take the damage from space particles without draining too much energy, the first manned spaceship with the new technology was created and sent out into space to explore, discover, and colonize.
Zach stood tall, looking out at the massive spaceship dubbed “The Discover” that his younger brother, Jason, was soon to pilot. He was extremely jealous, but he decided that since their parents weren’t around anymore, that he would grow up and let his brother have some fame. He watched as the crew walked out onto the catwalk towards the awaiting ship.
The ship was nearly half a mile long and about a quarter of a mile wide, shaped like something you might see out of one of the old science fiction films with the sleek pointed body and angled fins. It wasn’t equipped with any weapons, but it did have the new Ciesla coil, without it, the space ship could travel for a few years relative to Earth, but come back and a few thousand years would have passed on Earth. It had the latest shielding technology to protect against small object collisions, but since travel was through zero space, there wasn’t much worry.
He looked on as Jason got onto the ship. Zach probably wouldn’t see his brother again only because Zach was to pilot the next ship on the next mission. After the ship departed he would be in constant radio contact through the radio tower that the SEA (Space Exploration Agency) built that was able to send radio waves into zero space. After the door closed Zach moved over to the computer console where he could remain in constant contact with his brother. He sat down and switched on the radio and began testing the radio.
“Hello… Testing… 1… 2… 3…” he said into the microphone.
“We hear you loud and clear” responded his brother.
“Prepare for launch T-10 minutes” said the computer in its boring, monotone voice.
Zach watched as the ship left the space dock ten minutes later. It was a beautiful sight. The first manned space flight out of our solar system. He wished he was piloting it, but at the same time he was happy for his brother.
“Sir, you should come here” cried the ensign.
Zach walked over to his console, with which up till a week ago, he was using to remain in constant contact with The Discover with. About a week ago, the communications center at the SEA was chaotic. Any clue as to why communications had suddenly stopped was being searched for, but things were quickly turning bad. A week without communications is, by SEA standards, considered missing, and two weeks is considered lost.
The reason the ensign had called Zach over was that there was a tiny spike on the radio receiver that indicated a faint signal. All power was transferred to the radio tower to try and boost the signal. Faint static was heard for a few seconds before all went dark again.
Zach looked out the window at the nearly completed ship which he was to pilot into the large expanse of space. It was nearly finished, only a few more weeks to go before it would be on it’s way, then it would be roughly a two year zero space drive to where his brother’s ship was presumed lost.
“Just you wait,” he whispered, “Just wait.”
Zach looked out the window of his shipped he dubbed “The Avenger” into the empty whiteness of zero space. They were nearly halfway to their destination. He wished it was more interesting than just the white blankness of zero space. So far, no further contact had been made with The Discover, and everyone else had given up hope. Zach was still hoping that something had happened to The Discoverer’s communications system and they would pop out of zero space and find his brother waiting for him there.
It was nearly time for them to jump out of zero space. Hopefully they had made the calculations close enough because once they jumped out of zero space they would have to stay slow so that relativity didn’t come into play causing everything around them to age rapidly while they stayed relatively normal.
“Prepare for jump out of zero space” droned the computer. Zach had come to hate the voice of the computer over this long journey. The computer and the food were what he hated the most, it tasted to plastic like. The steak and mashed potatoes tasted like old shoe leather and the potatoes were all gritty and the butter slid right off it.
At that point, the ship lurched forward and came back into the blackness of space. Black, empty space, except for the stars in the background and the blackness, it looked just like zero space.
“What are our coordinates” Zach questioned.
“We are approximately 2.6AU’s from our targeted exit point.”
Not bad he thought to himself, he had heard horror stories of probes ending up light years from their destination. Of course, that was in the early stages of the Ciesla coil system.
They traveled around for a few hours looking for any sign of the ship, destroyed or intact, but found nothing. They sent out transmissions over the communications channel, yet got no reply. They were about to give up and head back to Earth when something came up on the scanners. The scanner picked up some metal which was quickly analyzed and was found to be of earthen origin. They scuttled over as quickly as possible and found the remains of the other ship.
“No!” cried Zach, “Search the ship for any sign of life.”
“Sir, there’s nothing there” replied a crewmember.
“Wait, I’m picking something up here.”
“Is it human?” asked Zach.
“No, it’s something… different.”
“Bring us in closer.”
The ship moved forward, past the wreckage, to what appeared to be a box. The box was pitch black, with an occasional glint of light from the nearby sun. It didn’t appear to be any sort of weapon or ship, it was just floating there, out of place among the metallic wreckage of The Discover.
“Sir, something just came out of zero-space.”
The ship turned around to face what appeared to be another box similar to the small one by the wreckage, only much bigger. This one had little pock marks all over it’s hull, windows it was presumed, and what appeared to be weapons were on its sides, and these sides were slowing rotating to face The Avenger.
“Sir, we are being hailed,” said the ensign with a touch of fear in his voice.
“Patch us through,” replied Zach.
“Sir, there only appears to be static, at least nothing our decoders can read.”
Then, all of a sudden, the bridge of the ship was filled with a booming voice. Only later did Zach realize that it wasn’t really a voice, it was inside his head, and he could understand it.
<Do not fear. We have come because our beacon made us aware of another ship in this region,> said the voice. <We are from the third planet around this sun. Your sister ship came two years ago, and we were intrigued by your technology. Shortly after her arrival, another ship came out of zero space and your other ship was quickly destroyed. The bandits left to quickly for us to catch them. We quickly sent out scavengers, but were unable to locate any survivors, but we did manage to save you’re zero-space coil, and we have adapted it to fit our own energy methods.> It dawned on Zach, that since they could speak telepathically, perhaps they could read his mind. He quickly tried to forget about everything.
<Yes, we are able to read your mind to some extent, we are sorry to say though, that we are afraid your brother did not survive the destruction of his ship,> said the alien.
Zach thought to himself in hope that they would pick it up and answer his question as they did the last one. ‘Who are you, and what do you want. Who destroyed my brother’s ship, why shouldn’t we destroy you.’ All these questions raced through his mind.
<In time your questions will be answered. My name is Dri’iik, we call ourselves the Q’Tal. We are a race from our planet, the third planet around our sun. Our planet has no name, we simply talk about it through images.>
All at once, images of a planet more beautiful that Earth flashed through Zach’s head. He saw the utmost beauty, the strange complexity of its innermost secrets, and the utter calmness. He saw creatures with three heads, and creatures with no heads. Nothing on the planet had mouths as far as he could tell. All this came to him at once, and all of it made him fall down and weep. The ensign rushed over to him to see if everything was alright, but Zach simply brushed him off. He stood back up and began to think once more to himself.
‘Your planet is beautiful, more beautiful than our Earth. Someday I would like to visit it, but for now I must ask, what is it that you want from me, from us.’
<We simply wish to be friends; we are a peaceful race, built for cooperation and trade, not for war. We have a collective mind, meaning whenever one being learns something, it is quickly distributed throughout the entire race, and everyone learns the same thing no more than a few minutes after the initial revelation. Because of this, we are always thirsting for knowledge. We do have one question for you. We examined your ship, and we are confused as to how your engine works. If you share this knowledge with us, we will tell you some of our secrets.>
Zach was wary to share too much information, but at the same time, he was excited at making contact with the first peaceful extra solar race. Zach thought obviously enough about what he wished to convey back to Dri’iik. ‘I’m not quite sure how our engine works, that’s the engineer’s job, I just pilot it. Once in zero space, we use our antimatter propulsion engines which work by mutually annihilating matter with antimatter. The energy released is immense and one pod of antimatter is enough to power the ship for 26 days. The one problem that we have is trying to control an immense reaction such as this, but we have been able to use magnetic fields to contain the reaction.’
<I see, the fuel you have is interesting, but very volatile. We use what is called dark mass; it is the “missing” mass, or the extra mass which your species has yet to discover otherwise you would be using it. Over time, it emits small amounts of energy. Enough to power our ship, but little enough that it will last a long time and not cause a catastrophic accident. Since we found you Ciesla coil, we adapted it and now travel through zero space as freely as you. This was an awesome achievement as we are now free to go as fast as possible without having to face the realities of the Plon’ka revelation, or what your Einstein calls relativity. It has been great sharing this knowl-.> He had abruptly stopped talking
Zach thought to himself ‘What’s wrong, what’s going on?’ but there was no reply.
<We must leave quickly, two of our beacons have been passed by the same ship that destroyed your brother’s ship. We cannot run to my planet as they will surely find us there, we must run to Earth and hide. Send us the coordinates and we will help if things turn out badly.>
Zach recovered quickly and turned to the ensign, “Set a course for Earth and begin charging the Ciesla coil.”
“What’s wrong sir,” asked the ensign as he pushed buttons on the panel in front of him.
“The alien ship that destroyed The Discover and murdered my brother are on their way back here, we must leave. Send the coordinates of Earth to Dri’iik, and lets get under way.”
“Sir, are you sure that is wise?” questioned the ensign.
“You have my orders; now let’s get out of here.”
“Sir, a ship just jumped out of zero space.”
The ship jumped into zero space just as Zach got a good look at the new alien ship, a massive black ship that looked built for war. Something about it seemed familiar, but it was too late now, they were in transit in zero space, and their next stop was Earth, with their new found allies.
Two years later, much has been learned from communicating with the Q’Tal. Shortly after their jump into zero space, Earth was contacted and told of the situation. All effort was put into building space based turrets capable of protecting Earth from and attackers should they have been followed.
It was nearly time for The Avenger to jump out of zero space. As they did, the first thing Zach noticed was that he was farther from Earth than he would have liked, he was nearly out around where Saturn would have been if it wasn’t on the other side of the sun.
“Pull up a closer image of Earth,” ordered Zach.
As the ensign punched a few buttons, the makeshift screen that they had gotten from Dri’iik showed an image of Earth magnified enough so it looked like they were right there. There they saw Dri’iik’s ship, a ship of compelling beauty as he came to learn. What appeared to be a blue nova erupted from Dri’iik’s ship.
Zach looked on in puzzlement, and wondered what was going on. He attempted to communicate, but realized that Earth’s communications were down. An EMP pulse he quickly realized. Then, no less than a dozen of the war ships they had seen before their quick departure from the Q’Talian system came out of zero space where they had been waiting. With all of Earth’s defenses down, they quickly made short work of the defenseless ship and the now defenseless Earth. A few minutes before everything was over, power was restored and the few turrets that were left began attacking, but it was too little, too late. The ships began laying waste to Earth and then landed ground troops.
After the power came back on Dri’iik’s ship, they turned to face Zach’s ship which was almost back to Earth. Dri’iik quickly crippled Zach’s ship, leaving it to drift in the vast coldness of space with its life support systems failing and half the crew dead or injured beyond hope. Earth was captured; the only fighting capable ship was quickly disposed of, the moon base was sure to be taken care of soon. All of humanity had been wiped out in a harsh blow and the Q’Tal had once again prevailed in battle.
He sat there in his ship floating through the blackness of space, overcome by what had just happened. How could he have been so naďve, so stupid. He was filled with an overwhelming sense of guilt, and he wished the scientists had finished a logical time machine so that he could go back and change it all, but it wasn’t going to happen not again, he wasn’t going through that again. He took one more look out the window just in time to see the last volley of lasers hit his ship and then all went black.
© Copyright 2004 by the author
All rights reserved