Wormhole Space Wandering
Ten seconds can be a long time when you are travelling through a wormhole; not the garden variety, but that superhighway from one galaxy to another. You can travel millions of earth kilometres in ten earth seconds.
And if you are being pursued by someone who wants to see your guts spread out all over the cosmos, then you can always put your foot on the gas. That at least makes you feel a little better, an illusion of progress, although you know that you won’t reach your destination any sooner. Einstein knew his stuff.
“We are entering the outer vortex now, Captain”
I nodded to Veraty as she quietly delivered that information in her usual, matter-of-fact way. Of course, she could not experience any kind of anxiety or fear. Her modified genes prevented such emotions from ever registering.
However, as Captain, I was fully aware of our dangerous situation.
With the more powerful and sophisticated Gangdlin warship on our tail, there was no time to lose. We had ten earth seconds to save our skins. That was the earth time that it would take to reach the end of this space highway. And then we would be totally exposed to our enemy. But this was our only means of escape; our only chance of survival.
“We have now entered the Zertik channel, Captain” said Veraty calmly. ”We should traverse in ten earth seconds. Countdown has begun.”
I quickly glanced at the earth clock, one amongst many, on my control panel. And then, as expected, Time slowed down.
“We must increase velocity to maximum level. That will give us some breathing space. Some thinking time. I need to speak to Silven.”
“I will notify him,” Veraty replied.
I settled myself on the bridge pilot’s seat. I often thought that this was far too comfortable. The temptation was to doze off and sleep. I suddenly thought of my own comfortable bed at home. Would I ever sleep in it again?
“We have now reached maximum velocity,” Veraty announced.
In the wormhole, maximum velocity meant that the concept of time became irrelevant; non-existent if you went fast enough. Despite that, I knew our enemy would wait for us on the other side.
Their fleet was large and our pursuer would have already organised one or more of their craft to intercept us as we left our safe, cosmic haven. Being in the wormhole only provided some temporary respite.
I watched Veraty as she completed the acceleration manoeuvre. I admired her professionalism and courage. She had been on many missions as my Communications Officer, First Class. We had now destroyed over fifty enemy ships together. We had been lucky to remain unscathed. Perhaps now our luck was finally deserting us.
Silven entered. For a reptilian, he was unusually short but still an imposing figure at around seven feet tall.
“You wish to speak to me, Captain?”
His voice had a deep, guttural resonance but with a powerful air of authority. He was someone you could not ignore.
Andros Silven, my Navigation Officer First Class, was one of them — a Gangdlinian.
He had joined the Earth Combat Federation, as soon as the war began, to fight against his own kind. He had his reasons. Four good ones, in fact. The Gangdlinian military had executed his family unit of four in one of their periodic purges. His property was confiscated, and they sentenced him to a penal colony. But he escaped.
Naturally, he knew how the Gangdlinian military operated in a combat situation.
As well as navigation, he was responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the nanobots that operated the ship. He was an indispensable member of our three-man crew. Now I needed his advice.
“You appreciate our situation, Silven. Our pursuers seek our destruction. We have bolted down this space, rabbit hole to escape them but eventually we will have to surface somewhere. If we show our heads at the end of this channel, they are likely to be lopped off by our Gangdlinian adversaries. Is there some way we can navigate to an alternative, safer departure?”
Veraty interrupted our conversation.
“The Gangdlinian war ship is following, sir. Our system has recognised its specific signal. I can confirm that it is a CWV (Consolidated War Vessel). No attempt is being made to match our speed. They seem content to follow at a measured distance.”
With this news, I weighed our position.
In open space, our ship, a mere Verdian 5 Fighter, could not outrun or outgun a Gangdlinian war vessel. So they would force us to fight or surrender. The latter alternative was not an attractive option. All prisoners taken by the Gangdlinians were enslaved or used for biological experimentation.
I thought back to 2021 when the war began. It was this alien experimentation that had been the cause.
A new president of the USA, Joseph Biden I recall, had told the truth about the alien presence on the Earth. He announced the aliens had been with us since the 1950s. The governments of the world had tried to keep it secret, to debunk all the reports.
But as soon as humanity had developed the nuclear bomb, then the aliens had realised that we were a threat to their own security. They stepped up their surveillance of the human animal and began their experiments to discover what made us tick. It became increasingly difficult for the world governments to deny their existence.
The alien, Gangdlinian race and the Greys had already established bases in various parts of the globe. The former had claimed the oceans for themselves while the Greys went underground.
When the news of alien experimentation on innocent human beings was discovered, there was an outcry and an immediate call for action. The peoples of the world demanded that all aliens must be expelled and by force.
After negotiation, the Greys left voluntarily, genuinely fearing the violent nature of the human species. They did not want a confrontation, even though they were technologically superior.
However, the reptilian Gangdlinians, deep under the ocean in their fortified bases, resisted.
With scientific help from the Greys — no friends of the reptilians — we eventually drove the Gangdlinians from the seas of the Earth. But the reptilian invaders, now also at war with the Greys, continued to harass humanity, hoping to regain their power.
And now in 2130 the conflict was still claiming lives.
Silven suddenly spoke, his deep voice immediately capturing my attention.
“Captain, we face death. I do not wish to be a Gangdlinian slave. I fear that my fate would be a lot worse than yours. We cannot go back. We could go forward and fight. But they would certainly destroy us. The enemy ship is far more deadly than our own.”
He paused for a moment, looked around the control room, and then……
Then I felt the shaking. My entire body was pulled and pushed. My surroundings disintegrated, the pieces caught up in a whirlpool of flying coloured fragments. Then momentary darkness.
A familiar voice suddenly said.
“You’ve got ten seconds to move yourself, my lad. You don’t want to be late for school again.”
I opened my eyes. My mother had already flung back the curtains of my bedroom. The morning sunlight hurt my eyes.
“Get yourself washed and dressed pronto,” she said and then bustled out of the room.
Silver, our cat, jumped on my bed, landing on top of my “Fantasy SCI — FI” magazine and slipped on its glossy cover.
“Silly cat,” I said.
When I finally got up and reached the bathroom door, it was locked.
As usual, my teenage sister Verity was in occupation. I knocked, but she told me to disappear down my own black hole or rude words to that effect.
It was a good job my mother was downstairs.
This story has also appeared in Reedsy