Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
With slow majesty the huge spacecraft swings about, displaying alien lines in the distant star’s light. Mantled wings of golden energy cant toward the tiny needle that darts about, shooting beams of visible and invisible energy at it. The behemoth remains silent and apparently indifferent.
“Damn it! Why doesn’t it respond?”
As Lieutenant Kai ‘Stev’ Stevraphanos thumps his control board for the third time in as many minutes, Captain Witt Slatterly sighs and looks up from his library screen.
“Go easy on the architecture, Stev. We may need that fire control.”
“We’d have needed it before now, Captain. That Jonah’s likely carrying more lethal firepower than the Tirsuse Agreement allows our entire fleet.”
Stev has a point. The unknown vessel shows ports for over a hundred offensive weapons. He flips his screen to external, keying CORRELATE into the recognition computer. Then he goes back to admiring the immense vessel. That’s the first thing that hits you. The sheer size. Any spacefaring navy that has the bloody arrogance to build this big is a potential threat. On top of that, any race that build ships this graceful needs to be seen.
It resembles a reptilian eagle. Enormous sheets are laid to form scales that cover the entire vessel. Scanalysis gives impossible data that indicates refined countermeasures. But the wings and tail are the truly frightening things: energy fields – even, non-coruscating, near zero emission – but within open frames. The trailing edge is open to space. That sort of energy manipulation is only dreamed of by our scientists. The fact that the trailing edge is nearly a half-kilometre long on the shortest section alone is just insult on top of injury.
The wingspan is six kilometres. The tail fan is a three-quarter kilometre equilateral triangle, and the body nearly three kilometres long. The probable ship weight is beyond the projection program’s capacity.
Witt’s got thirty years in space. Has shipped with both civil and martial arms of the Galactic Navy. The largest ship is one and a half kilometres. He knows of a Viperon warcraft nearly two kilometres long, but that’s all engines; built for speed. This stranger is a warbird, and probably quick with it. But it holds position, apparently ignoring Slatterly’s ship, the merely two-hundred metre interceptor ‘Fair Venture’.
His contemplations are interrupted as the recognition computer beeps it’s termination sequence. He reads as the comp overlays details on the external veiw. The data is conclusive. This vessel is the biggest, most potentially deadly spacecraft ever encountered in the history of the Galactic Navy. It also shows all the visual cues of having been out here for an extremely long time.
He leans back and glances up at Stev.
“A genuine Jonah. Unknown. Not even dreamt of. Our capital ships were built to intimidate and, if necessary, take on any of the known dreadnoughts, even the friendly ones. This machine could laugh at our best.”
“Only if it’s got shields as good as it’s wings, Captain.”
“More like if it has anything that still lives. It’s been here for quite a while.”
“Biggest archaeological find ever, I hope. I don’t think any Navy would let that drift off, so, it’s owners are long gone. Does leave one nagging thought that bothers me, though.”
He points at the screen: “What if that’s only scout sized for their current fleet?”
“Then I’m going to get a quick transfer to the wet Navy on some tropical paradise planet, Captain.”
He bursts out laughing.
“Sound plan, Lieutenant, very sound. I might even join you.”
I suspect that there are going to many late, sleepless nights for many people for many years over this .. 😉
Hah! I think I’d take that option too. 😛 (Would love to see this continue as a full novel if you’re so inclined, also!)
The original version of this was written nearly 30 years ago. It’s been lying around waiting for the longer story it could be a part of. During a cruise through my story fragments, I found it, dusted it off and turned it into a flash. It deserves to be let out, and maybe – as sometimes happens – the act of releasing it will attract the inspiration to take it further.
I second that motion of flushing out this story. The description of the ship was rich and vivid, I would love to see more and find out where this story is going.