Solar Wind

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 1: Prologue

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“We have cleared the storm, captain.” advised an accented voice through speakers. “Sensors are searching starcharts for familiar patterns in an effort to determine approximate location within known space.”

“Thank you, Orac.”

The response came from a man considered young by his peers, as his black hair had not yet started to gray with the wisdom of age. Save for a single scar over his right eyebrow, his face was unblemished, offering further to his youthful appearance. By his subordinates he was known as captain, but by his commanding officers his moniker was often “kid” or some other condescending title. It irked him to no end, but he knew of course that was the very reason they did it. He had learned the “game” of military hierarchy quickly, which meant he understood the reason for officers making sure those lower in rank needed to be reminded of their place.

As he pondered his reasons for taking the mission that had brought him to some currently unknown corner of the metaverse, he began inspecting the bridge to be sure nothing was out of place from the decidedly rough flight thus far. To the captain’s relief, nothing seemed damaged or broken, though the navigation array seemed to have a few malfunctioning sensors…

“Orac?” he asked while crouching to fiddle with the components of the holographic display.

“Yes captain?” the computer responded helpfully.

He spent a moment looking over the components for the display before closing the cover and standing with a huff. “What are the results of the starchart search?”

“Inconclusive.” the computer replied after a moment of silence.

The captain raised an eyebrow skeptically, making his way to the head chair. “So basically, you’re saying you have no idea where we are.”

There were a few more moments of silence before the computer stated, “If you wish to use layman’s terms, that is correct.”

He shook his head with a sigh as he fell back into the captain’s chair. “Lovely. Do us a favor and run a few proximity scans while deploying the scout probes. We’ll likely be able to learn more if we can find a point of orientation, and perhaps some intelligent life might be able to help us. See if you can find a populated planet nearby.”

“Understood, sir. Deploying the probes and firing up the proximity sensors. I would advise ingesting some sort of sustenance, lest you faint from exhaustion...again.” the computer responded in a snarky tone that seemed somehow unfitting for a machine.

The captain rolled his eyes as he stood. “If you’re going to needle me, then at least call me by name. Saying such things and then referring to me as ‘sir’ or ‘captain’ just confuses me, because my mind wants to discipline someone, but there isn’t anyone to do so to.”

“Very well, Diedrick.” the computer replied with an implied grin. “Now, will you make your way to the rec quarters on your own or must I blare alarms to herd you there?”

Captain Diedrick Cornelius Thompson was strong in many ways, but at the moment found himself rather helpless before the threats of a computerized GIN unit.

“Fine, fine.” he grumbled before beginning the journey to the rec hall.

To his endless gratitude, Diedrick found the Hyperion to be the pinnacle of the technology available to Sector A-34. Running from the work of an astral Genuine Intelligence unit (which unlike centralized units was not based in any one area of the ship), the Hyperion was able to be piloted by an entire crew, or a singular individual ‒ the latter of which was currently the case. Since it was designed with a large crew in mind, it offered the very best in modern amenities for nutrition, entertainment, and comfort. While normally it made the spacecraft seem like a miniature city, vacated, it seemed to echo more than necessary with silence.

Diedrick sat at one of the tables in the mess hall, hungrily shoveling what was once a liver pie with peas into his mouth. He thanked whatever deity was watching over him that the developmental team for his ship had thought to include such a comfortable ship interior, which was a stark contrast to the downright frightening appearance of the exterior.

As a Class 2 destroyer vessel, the Hyperion had changed the tide of battles merely by it’s appearance alone; enemies fled at the sight of its sixty-two laser batteries, and those that stayed were made to be examples to any foolish enough to stand against the pride of the Sol planetary system. Powerful shield batteries shielded the ship from space debris and all but the most determined of attacks, and the hull was heavily armored with nanomachine technology that would repair damage accrued.

Currently however, the captain was simply pleased to have hot food and a hot shower available to him.

“Captain?” a familiar voice chimed over the sound systems.

He swallowed the bite he had taken and looked to the ceiling speaker that he could see. “What is it, Orac?”

“The probes are still out, but preliminary scans have finished.” the ship’s computer answered. After a moment of silence, the computer continued with, “There is a very large Class C planet within fifteen million kilometers.”

“Well-” the captain began to answer excitedly.

“However,” the computer interrupted, “it seems to be completely sheathed in some sort of radiation. Said radiation is from an unknown source, but seems to be electromagnetic in nature and is more powerful than gamma radiation. The problem with this is that said energy is preventing surface scans, and all preliminary space scans have shown a distinct lack of any observation satellites in orbit. That, however is by far the most easily grasped information.”

“O-kay…” the captain muttered, scratching his scruffy beard in response, “what is the strange thing you are inevitably going to tell me about this planetary system?”

“Its single moon and the star revolve around the planet.” the computer, Orac, explained dryly.

Captain Diedrick raised his eyebrow skeptically. “Isn’t that sort of, oh I don’t know...impossible? Physics don’t work that way; thousands of scientists throughout history have proven that the more mass an object has, the more gravity it commands. This is why the star of a planetary system is always the central focus of said system, since no planet can get as large as a star can. Are you sure your sensors aren’t malfunctioning?”

“I take offense to your question, Diedrick.” Orac replied with annoyance. “My sensors are error free, meaning that either the planet is somehow more massive than the star ‒ which is nigh impossible ‒ or there is some other force at work here; a force we do not yet fully understand.”

The captain nodded with a sigh. “I suppose for now, we’ll have to assume the latter. Have you-”

“Sent communications to headquarters? Yes, I have. We are currently broadcasting on all frequencies, but we have heard nothing as of yet.” the computer replied with a glum tone.

Captain Diedrick slumped a bit, resting his chin on his palm as he thought for a moment. “Well, we have little other choice than to attempt to make contact with any beings on the surface and see if they can help us. Even with quantum bursts, it’ll take at least a week for us to hear back from headquarters if they aren’t in this galaxy. Considering the fact that we can’t even use the star charts to find where we are, I believe that’s rather likely. Send down the terraprobe to see if it’s safe first, and if it returns, I’ll head down to the surface. Park us in medium orbit with shields at full but weapons on standby. If there are any sapient beings on the surface and they are able to detect us, I want to give them the impression of only cautiousness, not hostility.”

“Understood, captain. Entering hyperspace in T-minus ten minutes and counting. Please make your way to the bridge.” Orac advised before going silent.

Captain Diedrick sighed before standing and flexing his hands a few times. “And so it begins again.”

Next Chapter: Chapter 1 Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 2 Minutes
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