Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mission Impossible 2 - Cat and Mouse

Jumping in space was a complicated business. It required triangulation of a group of stars, matching against the existing star system, taking into account the time taken for the jump, and avoiding any gravity wells during exit.

This made for a fun discussion between Dranke, his navigator Piteer and his Science officer Fenie. But their predictions did not evoke any merriment. The fleet of alien ships they had spied jumping inward towards the galactic disc had looked menacing. And they had seemed to be heading straight towards Earth. Home to humanity. Fenie did not know what to feel. All her life she had imagined aliens; and now they were heading towards her beloved Earth. It did not feel like an adventure. It felt like the end. She yelled out unnecessarily "Brace for jumps" as the black darkmatter starcraft jumped inward, mimicking the path the alien fleet had taken. It was a grim game of cat and mouse.

Dranke looked at the starmap with foreboding as he watched the jumps making a spidery trail towards Earth. It looked very similar to the alien fleet's path. He asked Fenie for an overlay. Fenie pulled up a larger starmap showing the alien fleet in red and the darkmatter starcraft in blue. Their paths intersected a number of times. Dranke swore and asked for further readings. They had been tracking the alien fleet for over two Earth weeks now, and it was getting to be a continuous war with sleep. He had to see this through!

They had shot off a communication to spacecommand, but for all practical purposes, it would only be received much after they reached Earth. It was a marker, Dranke consoled himself. It would be received by the other darkmatter starcraft in the area surrounding Sol. There were two others. Though Dranke's team was the only one to have left the galaxy.

He had headed off to bed. There was nothing more he could do. As he left he watched Fenie and Piteer were creating tracer lines on the starmap. They were looking at alternate predictions. He would get a few hours rest and plot the remaining jumps home. They were hot on the heels of the alien fleet now.

Dranke woke from his nap drenched in sweat. He had had a nightmare about failing in pilot class. He stretched and shrugged off the dream. He knew exactly what it meant.

Dranke threw on his comfortable soft battle fatigues and padded onto the bridge. Fenie had knocked off earlier. Piteer nodded an acknowledgement "We are just three jumps away from the aliens. We could push for larger jumps and catch up with them, but we lose certainty with longer jumps." Dranke processed the information without stopping "No, just keep plotting. We are almost in the vicinity of Sol now. I want to keep watching the alien fleet. Do not engage."

Piteer took his leave and Fenie took over the controls. They had to now work in rotation. No sense in losing people to fatigue. Fenie suddenly stared at Dranke as his face broke out in a huge smile.

Dranke looked at the starmap to see what she was indicating and before he could react, Fenie yelled out "They are diverging from the galactic disc.... heading past the Sol system." She was now grinning idiotically.

Dranke felt like an idiot himself. He scowled. "Track them and lets get some communications going with spacecommand. I'm sure they will be very interested to know there are other intelligent beings in the Universe." He slumped in his chair, the tiredness taking over as the tension seeped out of his muscles. He was glad it had been a false alarm. Then it sunk in.... humans were not alone in the Universe!

(Pic courtesy : Flickr / NASA /

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