2217.SOL GOVERNANCE TERRITORY; PLANET-STATE PLUTO.TOMBAUGH MUNICIPAL…
The computer system ran its test for the fifth time, but there was no mistaking it:the ship was coming in from the Oort at 198,000 miles per second!The record for any Human sub-light travel was still 172,000 mps.And even that was set back in the mid-22nd century when a group of Humans were competing to see who could make it from Erth and fly out past State Pluto and back again. Humans, up to that point, had never achieved actual Light Speed since…so, clearly, the ship could not be Human.Unless—
“Maybe there’s a new competition going on that the Governance was not aware of,” Sergeant Nesby ventured; not sounding like he believed it himself.The young man was craning his posture so he could get a better look at the image on his own terminal port.
“Why don’t you do a search in the media and see if you can find any news on that, Sergeant,” Director Morelli Tuun ordered. He was standing at his own terminal having trouble even believing the telemetry he was reading!“Whoever that is, they’ve got the fastest front velocity I’ve ever seen!”
Just to be sure, Tuun walked over to a nearby window and looked beyond the manicured grounds of State Pluto’s domed city that served as the headquarters of the Sol Governance on Pluto.The object was still too far away to see with the naked eyes, but Director Tuun knew that he would be able to see it soon—given that the object was traveling faster than the speed of light!
“Sir,” came Corporal Arund’s voice from the other side of the Governance local facility, “satellites are picking up secondary object!”
Everyone in the large suite glanced at one another.
“Still could be a race, everyone,” Director Tuun said as he walked back to his station and began doing a search on his terminal.
“Director Tuun, Sir,” Sergeant Nesby’s voice came back, “that’s a negative on any private space competition anywhere in these parts of the solar system!”
“And we know the Governance does not obtain such technological ability to travel that fast, Director,” added his lieutenant, Ron Ganum.Even though he was older than Director Tuun by several years, Ganum was Tuun’s right-hand man in title and in his loyalty.
Tuun gave a long look at Ganum while the whole crew in the command center awaited the director’s call.“This cannot be what I think it is!”
“First contact?It certainly looks that way, Director.Not counting the slugs on Callisto, of course.”
The director rolled his eyes.“Those little bugs might as well be shower grout!”
Others nearby, including Ganum, shared a light chuckle.But then Director Tuun quickly got serious.He was already going through the official procedures in his head for the legendary first contact scenario that the Sol Governance had drilled into each and every officer within the solar system-wide political body…most of those military officials and political operatives had never thought there would be a time when The Governance would actually use those procedures!Without a word, Director Tuun gave a terse nod to Lieutenant Ganum, and the machine was set to motion!
“Ok, everyone,” the lieutenant said as he scanned the entire command center; his voice at a booming level, “you heard the Director…let’s get those auto-public messages and alarms going…Corporal, get our soldiers ready and their machines…Communications—alert headquarters!Something tells me we’re going to need a little help out here!”