First and Last Contact

The second work of fiction written in the No Heaven setting. This one is exploring humanity’s first contact with a living alien species.

“Captain, our sensor buoys just reported two contacts entering realspace at the edge of the system.”

Captain Royce Buckingham grunted and wound one side of his handlebar moustache around his finger while he considered this news. His rich red jacket was bedecked with gold braids and the insignia of his rank but lacked much in the way of medals – perhaps the newcomers would give him a chance to earn some. His crisp baritone resounded through the bridge. “Have you identified them yet, Lieutenant?”

Lieutenant Theresa Davis, in the middle of a flurry of computation, called back “Not yet, sir. They don’t match any model we’ve seen befo-” She stopped mid-sentence, dumbstruck.

“Well, Lieutenant?”

“Sorry, sir. They fired on our buoys; we’ve lost all communication with our outer network.” She turned to look at the Captain. “Sir, they don’t match any Sol-registered model, they might be… this might be a first contact situation.”

Buckingham stiffened as the rest of the bridge fell into silence, only the quiet trills of the computer systems making any noise at all. “Let’s do this by the numbers then, no room for mistakes. If we pull this off, then everyone’ll know what we’ve done here today. Get those long-guns dusted off and prepare yourselves – we’re going to meet some aliens.”

Tensions in the ship grew as the alien ships grew closer. Battlestations had been called not only on Buckingham’s Martin Whittaker, but also on the two frigates it had as companions in protecting the nascent colony below them. No one knew what to expect, except that the only other evidence they had of non-human life in the galaxy was a starship blasted apart by weapons fire and armed to the teeth itself. Not only that, but these aliens had destroyed their sensor buoys without warning or hesitation.

The ships were strange. They only had a few images of them of any clarity, and they were round and smooth, nearly perfect oblates with no apparent means of propulsion.

The inner system sensors were only just able to pick the ships up on their sensors, but it was time. Quantum entanglement communications gave them real-time information, and now it was time to use it to send a message. Buckingham nodded to his comms officer and began to speak.

“Unknown vessels, this is Captain Royce Buckingham of the Martian Dominion. We are representatives of the human race here on a peaceful mission. We do not intend you harm, but we will defend ourselves if attacked. If you understand this message, then hold your position. Further destruction will be taken as an act of war.”

Two minutes passed with no response, the alien ships advancing further into the system with no sign of stopping. The tension ratcheted ever higher with each passing second. A third minute passed, and then Davis shouted out “Course change, sir! They’re accelerating!”

The main screen showed the divergent course that the alien ships had taken. Rather than continue their straight course towards the system’s star they’d turned sharply, taking a direct course for the Martin Whittaker and its fellows at breakneck speeds.

Buckingham cried out “All hands, prepare for battle! Execute plan delta!”

Fusion missiles streaked out from the human ships, each one carrying a fusion reactor which was simultaneously its power supply and its payload. The unified barrage sailed through space on perfect trajectories only to be obliterated by pinpoint fire from the alien vessels. A second wave of missiles blazed through the void, shattering into shards even as the third wave is fired.

The first volley from their ships seared through the hull of the Martin Whittaker, sending detonations rippling through the hull. The last thought on Buckingham’s mind was the sudden realisation of how outmatched they were.

The two frigates scattered, continuing to pepper the alien ships with much reduced waves of missiles as the Cavalier ramped up speed to enter hyperspace and the Chevalier tried to draw the fire of the two ships. The Cavalier managed to escape into hyperspace just as the Chevalier detonated, her fusion bottles ruptured.

That is all that is known for certain about humanity’s first contact. A ship returned to the colony to find out more, but all they found was the ruins of the colony and floating debris. If nothing changes, humanity’s first contact will also be its last.