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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 1 : Let’s go be explorers…

“Did we just get warned to protect ourselves?”

USS Atlantis, Delta Quadrant
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Mission Day 94
1615 HR
Main Bridge

“Hail them again,” Tikva said as she settled back into her seat, perched on the edge, hand settling on the arms. She was trying her best to give that calm, collected Captain vibe.

“No response on subspace,” Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr responded from Ops. “Attempting linguacode EM transmission from our survey probe orbiting Theta,” he continued. For lack of better names for now they’d agreed a few hours ago to just name all the planets in sequence after the Greek alphabet and sort it out later.

Theta was a cold gas giant in the far reaches of the system, but an EM transmission from the probe to the alien ship would only take five minutes one way versus the few hours from Atlantis’ current safe harbour.

“And now we wait. T’Val, plot an intercept course with that ship at one quarter impulse power and take us in. Guns,” Tikva said with a slight smile as she looked to Adelinde, “keep a sharp eye out for any other platforms we might not have spotted just yet. And bring the shields back up.”

“Aye ma’am, yellow alert,” Adelinde responded with calm, taping a series of commands on her console as the klaxon sounded throughout the ship just as they got underway.

Royal Navy Starcruiser Talaru
Command Center

“Aspect change on Bogey Alpha,” came a report and Nularu looked up from the damage assessment she’d been reading regarding Dorsal Charlie. Her tactical plot showed only limited, pertinent data, as decided by the women and men of CiC and right now it showed Talaru, the probe they’d launched and the target known currently as Bogey Alpha, but which they had an image of the ship’s name most likely.

A shame they couldn’t read the alien’s language or make much sense of it really. But they must have been proud of the name to stamp it so prominently on the outer hull for all to see.

“Confirm speed and acceleration curve,” she demanded of those around her, not having issues with the speed the ship was doing, a matching of her own fine ship’s speed, but the acceleration curve was ridiculous.

“Data is accurate ma’am. Bogey Alpha accelerated to its current speed four times faster then we could. We’re detecting a driver coil field around their ship that’s more powerful than our own.”

She sighed, scrunching her face in thought for a moment before turning to the visual pickup to Secondary Command. “Opinions Mr Chru?” she asked of her XO from his spot elsewhere in the ship.

“They’re aliens ma’am? I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re nine limbed water breathers. In fact…”

“New contact!” came a shout in both Command and Secondary. “One-nine-six mark zero-zero-five, distance five light minutes. We’re receiving a transmission!” The more informative declaration however came from Jaruti in Command. A man who knew that in this instance he didn’t need to wait for a command to put this transmission on the main viewer.

Instead of some alien signal they’d instantly understand, a face of some alien creature wishing to talk to them or any other collection of fictional concepts, what they got was displayed as pure static to start with. Then their own computers started to make sense of it and a trove of information started to appear on screen.

“Mr Jaruti…” Nularu started, but didn’t finish her question.

“Math ma’am. Lots of math. Base ten, running through common sequences.” The comms officer was busy at his own console, information displayed on a variety of screens that his attention kept bouncing between. “Atomic sequences, mathematical proofs. Looks like we’re now getting language packages relating to math. Give me and team in Signals a few hours and we might be able to make basic sense of this, but I think this is a…dictionary stepped through fundamental mathematics.”

“Huh. We have anything similar?” Chru piped up via comms.

“Sorry XO, no. We could transmit a message though. Maybe make it nice and long to give them some information. I can send them some basic mathematical notation alongside their own to show we understand, see if they can work it out?”

Nalaru thought for a moment before speaking. “Make is so. Helm, decrease speed by half as well. Let’s see if they’ll do the same. Give us some more time to make sense of their message. Mr Chru, please arrange for rotations through the mess for the crew while we’ve got time. I want everyone well fed in case we have to start fighting.”

Mission Day 94
1630 HR
Main Bridge

“We’re getting a message back from the probe,” Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr spoke up.

“On screen,” Mac said for his Captain who he’d just been idly chatting with to while the time away. They had detected the change in the alien ship’s speed and after a brief non-verbal deliberation Mac had ordered T’Val to match. Since then, they’d been discussing how Captains and XOs slowly built up that non-verbal repour.

An alien starship bridge appeared on screen and the first thought that came to Tikva’s mind was how ancient it looked. Like something she’d seen in a holonovel, or a documentary. It did look functional at least, spartan as well, designed clearly for a dedicated purpose. The entire crew looked to be wearing EV suits, slightly clunkier then the current generation fleet standard, but EV suits none the less.

Why are they all suited up?

Don’t know. We’ll have to ask them. Though, you know, in case of a hull breach, it’s not such a dumb idea.

We’ve got forcefields for that.

Oh yah. Dur.

The central figure could be seen speaking through their visor, words that made no sense for a few moments before the universal translator found it’s rhythm and caught up, the translation rapidly overlaid atop the native language.

“This is Captain Gareli Nalaru of the Royal Navy Starcruiser Talaru to unidentified alien starship. This star system is stella incognito and we advise you prepare any and all defensive and offensive systems at once. We cannot guarantee your safety at this time. Please state your intentions in this system and how you have managed to survive for so long in this star system. Message sent at twenty-seven twelve.”

The end of the message contained a half dozen careful displays of mathematical notations alongside those sent by Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr, a clear attempt to show ‘this is how we do maths’ before rapid fire screens of more complex math. Clearly meant for someone to go back and review a frame at a time.

“Did we just get warned to protect ourselves?”

“Sure seems like it. Can’t they see we’ve got shields up at least?” Mac asked in reply.

“You know what, this comms delay is getting annoying. Rrr, make the probe damn obvious and have it close with the Talaru will you please? We’ll communicate through it so as not to scare our new friends.”

“Aye ma’am.”

“Mean time, Mac, Adelinde and Carmargo, ready room please. Want to bounce some ideas.”


  • You said not to read the first mission, so naturally, I was going to read it on the sly and not mention that I did so. But then I decided NUTS TO THAT, I enjoyed it too much to not say anything! I love the vibe of the ship right away, eager beavers in space ready to study everything and lend a hand. I love Tikva from the get-go when you used her interaction with Mac to establish what sort of captain she is (namely, a go-getter! who wants her crew to believe in their own ability to Go Get!!). I adored all the tidbits we got right away to flesh her out, from her doomed attempt to quit caffeine to her struggle with her aversion to Ch'tkk'va. And the building blocks of this mission were some of the things that make me most happy about sci-fi (A pre-warp civilization providing reflections on “the way we were!”; the technological ghost of a long-dead species! first contact scenarios!). And AND the whole thing was littered with little moments that made me stop and say “oh, that’s clever! oh THAT’S clever!” like the whole “forgetting albedo is a thing” misstep, or the first-contact species using their warp drive to communicate because they don’t have subspace radio, or a dozen other things I could list. Anyway, if the rest of Atlantis’s missions are more of the same but refined to reflect your increasing standards as a writer, then sign me up. Sign me up TWICE.

    June 9, 2023