This was written in response to the one word photo challenge which I rather enjoy, and details can be found at the link below. This week I had to use the word “hummingbird” as inspiration. It had me thinking of thinking of things of a geostationary nature…
In the cold of space, 80000 Miles above the Kazakh steppes the Hummingbird emerged from Faster-Than-Light and Captain Jenkins ordered it be placed into geostationary orbit. Shortly after a call went out across the ship-com for the vessels four most senior officers to come to the captain’s quarters.
“Gentlemen” Jenkins began, “take a seat please”.
The three men pulled up chairs around the table. Henderson, the Chief Engineer, waited for Jenkins to be seated before speaking.
“What’s happened sir?” he asked.
“What makes you think something happened Henderson” the Captain asked sharply.
“Sorry sir” Henderson replied “but we drop out of FTL and go radio silent and now we’re locked in orbit at four times the usual distance instead of heading home. That’s not protocol.”
Jenkins took a deep breath. “About 30 minutes ago, on approach to FTL drop out point, I received an encoded fragment of a sub-light notification warning us to stay away from Earth. Sub-light then went offline.” H paused before continuing. “When we came out of FTL I initiated a comms freeze override and engaged full shielding.”
Coles took off his hat and placed it on the table. “And we know nothing more Sir?” He was the eldest of his senior officers and a damned good Chief Navigator and the best Comms officer in the fleet.
Jenkins stood and began to pace, he didn’t think as well when he was sat down. “Not a thing Charles. I wanted to brief you all before we start full scans.”
“Sir, if I may” Coles interjected.
“We’re ready to go Sir, we can initiate fulls scans as soon as you give the word.” he stood as if to leave.
“I need to know if we are visible” Jenkins asked calmly, still pacing. “I need to ensure that should we take down the shields to run scans we maintain minimal risk of exposure.”
Coles put his hat back on and straightened it. “Sir, From this distance we are pretty much undetectable with shields up. We will need to reduce shield strength to half to initiate full diagnostics but even with reduced shields we should be hidden from anything but a targeted scan”
Jenkins stopped pacing.
“Okay, let’s do it. Initiate full planetary scan.” he continued, turning to Henderson and Carter, who had sat silently throughout . “Gentlemen, all hands on deck please. We have no idea what is going on down there.”
Both men replied in unison standing. “Yes Sir.”
As the three men headed for the door Jenkins called over to Carter. “Let’s bring the rail guns online Master Chief” he instructed. “I don’t want to get caught cold”
“Yes Sir” Carter replied and exited after the others.
Jenkins followed his officers and headed to the bridge. He wasn’t prone to panic or overreaction, but something felt wrong. “Officers never run” he told himself as he settled into his chair, three large screens in front of him.
“Coles” he shouted out across the deck, “drop shields to 50% and initiate full Earth side scans please. And pinpoint the fleet for me will you.”
“Sir, yes sir” came a prompt reply.
Jenkins waited a few moments before the first results started to be returned. His screens lit up and a cascade of information began to filter through.
“Jesus Christ” he exclaimed as the information began to pour through. “Coles, are you getting this?” he shouted.
“I am sir” came Coles’ response. There was a note in his voice that made Jenkins uneasy. “I’ve validated outputs and there are no errors.”
“Shields back to 100%” Jenkins ordered sharply. “Henderson, take us out to 160 thousand miles full speed.”
“Yes Sir!” came a response “One hundred and sixty thousand. Initiating sub light engines.”
Coles walked across to the captain, his face ashen and spoke quietly “Sir, there are no mistakes – those transponder results are unmistakable – that is the entire fleet in pieces down there with zero signs of life.”
Photo courtesy of Stevebidmead @ Pixabay