Friday, November 06, 2015

Saigon Special

Part One

In a flash of light a black arrowhead shaped vessel appeared above the north polar region of the planet Mars.

It had been a hard journey.

The frigate UMCS Nguyen Loan was returning to Freya from its last scheduled deep space mission.  Nguyen Loan had been the first unit of a class of frigates and was the first scheduled for retirement.  There had been a discussion of the mission at the fleet command level, was it necessary to use this ship to transport a diplomat and show the flag?  Or should the mission be performed by another ship that was in better condition?

There was no question now of it.

On what was scheduled to be the last jump through hyperspace for elderly vessel had clearly gone wrong.  The first clue was general sense of nausea felt by all aboard during the jump.  The feeling of nausea was a known indication that the hyperdrive had malfunctioned and the ship misjumped.  The second sign of a misjump was the complete absence of traffic in the home system.  There was no communications or any other sign of a human presence in the system.  Furthermore the point of exit from hyperspace completely wrong.  The ship exited hyperspace further than planned from the primary and secondary stars of 10 Ursae Majoris. 

As the navigator examined her data it appeared that something else was wrong.  The planets were all in the wrong positions.  On the possibility that there was a temporal factor to the misjump she checked the planetary positions against the shipboard database.

“Let me get this straight,” said the captain, “we’ve also jumped backwards in time?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Commander Susan Glasgow was one the rare women in her family to pursue a military career.  Although she wasn’t observant Susan could trace some of her ancestry back to several Israelites who fled to Scotland after the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  Her most famous recent ancestor was Dave Glasgow, who served in the United States Army with Al Keller and was the commander of the Special Unit during The Reformation.  All members of the Special Unit and their families would go out on the first load of civilian colonists to the planet Mars.

Commander Glasgow asked the question.

“So what day is it now?”

“September 2, 2014 Standard, ma’am.”

Commander Glasgow mentally cursed.

While The Reformation was winding down in the United States there would still some years to go in The Final War on Earth.

“Okay,” she said. “I need to think on this.”

When Commander Glasgow came to a decision she called a meeting of the command staff.  She began by explaining the full effect the temporal misjump and then she announced her decision.

“We’re going to Earth.”

Everyone was dumbfounded at the decision, some of those present had even dropped their jaws.

The chief engineer, Lieutenant Dennis Sterling. was the first to respond.

“Ma’am. I have to disagree with that, we’ve just came through a misjump and I wouldn’t attempt another jump without a full overhaul of the system.”

Now the navigator, Junior Lieutenant Lisa Holland, spoke up.

“Ma’am, we have two perfectly good worlds here in the home system, we don’t need to go to Earth.”

Junior Lieutenant John Keller, the leader of the SURFER team responded.

“I have to disagree with you there Lisa.  This was our home system and it could be again, but we don’t have the numbers or the right gender balance to set up a viable colony.  And even if we did we wouldn’t be able to maintain our technology and culture.  When John Vance and the Endeavor drop into the system in 2125 he will find a stone age community if we were fortunate.”

The first officer, Rav Seren {1] Uri Stern of the Masada Defense Forces, spoke up.

“We’ll have to go over the hyperdrive with a fine tooth comb.  We will have to carefully nurse the drive and we may have to make single parsec jumps instead of full jumps, but we will reach Earth.”

With careful nursing of the hyperdrive it would take six months to the cover the 54 light years from 10 Ursae Majoris to the Solar System, and there would be two suicides along the way, but they would make it.  The initial meeting ended with a long discussion on how to contact the people on Earth.

Junior Lieutenant Mark Keller, who was a history geek off duty, spoke on the the current mess on Earth.

“Apart from some holdouts under siege in New York, Boston, Chicago, and the San-San Strip in California, the Reformers are in full control of the United States, The State of Israel is gone and the survivors have been evacuated to the United States.  France, Russia, China, and the various Islamic states are gone.  The good news is  that British Spacelift is still sending out OTV’s with supplies to support the Mars Expedition.”

In the history of the Mars Expedition one the female members of the mission accidentally  became pregnant and had given birth to a daughter at the Lowell Base.  There was some debate as to the feasability of being able to bring the infant girl home to Earth.

Commander Glasgow asked Keller a question.

“So how should we contact Earth?”

Keller answered.

“Given that the ballistic missile defense systems of the Omaha Pact are still up I recommend that we contact the Mars Expedition directly.”

“Right.”  She replied.  “Let’s do that.”

In normal space above the Martian northern hemisphere Rav Seren Stern supervised as the fire control and navigation sensors began to scan for the Mars Expedition.

He then spoke up.

“Ma’am, there’s a problem.”

Commander Glasgow stepped across the command deck to the fire control station.

“What’s wrong?”

Rav Seren Stern replied.

“There’s no sign of an expedition on the planet.”


“There should be at least two orbital transfer vehicles in orbit around Mars at this time also  there’s no infrared signature on the surface for Lowell Base.”  He replied. 

“Are you using the active sensors?”  She asked.

“Yes, apart from what may be a robot orbiter there’s nothing.”

“Nothing at all?”

Yes, ma’am.”

“And there’s nothing on the surface?”

Rav Seren Stern shook his head.

“Even in broad daylight the heat emissions from the base should be lighting up the fire control sensors, but there’s nothing here at all.”

Commander Glasgow thought for a moment and made a decision.

“Take us in for a closer look.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

The close examination of the martian surface revealed that there were two active unmanned rovers on the surface.  Commander Glasgow ordered Lieutenant Keller to recover one for examination.

Later in the city of Washington NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. was very, very, annoyed.

The loss of the Mars Excursion Rover Opportunity to an obviously human act was a major event.  But the effort to notify the President ran into multiple walls of bureaucracy and outright idiocy.  The fact was the the planet Mars and the future of Humanity meant nothing to President Obama.  Not even the apparent fact that there were now humans on Mars apparently meant nothing to him and the effort to schedule an appointment to see the president was a virtual nightmare.

But the photograph in his briefcase was about to change that.

[1] Equivalent to Major or Lieutenant Commander.

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