Writing Prompt – The Intrepid

(Writing prompt at the end of story)


The Intrepid

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright October 2013

“Sir, we see light!”

“About time.  What’s the status of our drives?” The captain stood with his back to the messenger, but his impatience came through despite the lack of visual clue, and despite the control he exercised on the tone of his voice.

The Junior Engineer hesitated . . . and understood why the Chief Engineer had sent him instead of reporting to the captain himself.

“ . . . Threads are still clogging the intakes and main propulsion chute, and teams are working on it as fast as they can before the next upheaval.”

He purposefully did not mention the multilayer tangle discovered under one of the chutes. The other chute had the remnants of a similar tangle which obviously, and thankfully, had failed on its own. But the remaining tangle slowed the cleanup significantly, and put them at a risk for another upheaval, a setback with dire consequences.

“Have Sensors do a scan; if there is no sign of any Large Masses, launch the Scouts.  Perhaps we can see a weakness in the threads that will help speed our work.”  The captain did not need to hear the details of the report to know there was still a lot of work ahead of them.

Eighteen cycles.  Eighteen cycles since the Intrepid had come through the wormhole, and immediately crashed into one of the Large Masses. The Captain knew them to be sentient, and yet inexplicable in their actions.

The Captain had attempted to communicate, but Sensors theorized the Masses were so large as to not notice their efforts to initiate a conversation.  The Masses had, however, noticed their ship.  The Intrepid was the largest structure ever built by the Collective.  It needed to be to withstand the stress of wormhole travel, as well as carry and support the 25,357 crewmembers.

The Large Mass had not only noticed the ship, but also somehow captured and held it between two giant pincers, damaging their photocells in the process.  And then, for no reason the Captain could comprehend, it put tangles of threads through both their drive chutes, and attached the ship to itself.  The damage was minimal, but the Large Mass must have known what it was doing, for it effectively kept the drives from working.

Six cycles attached to one Large Mass, then another another ten cycles with another Large Mass, sometimes kept in total darkness for nearly half a cycle at a time.

Then came the disaster.  The Large Mass had grabbed the ship, and threw it into a ship graveyard of sorts.  They could not quite make out the make and design of the other ships, and none ever answered their hails.  Worse yet, hundreds of other ships had been dropped atop of them, literally burying them under layers of silent and obviously unmanned ships.

Three times they had made it through to the surface, and each time, a new Large Mass had come along and with irresistible force had scrambled all the ships.  Each time they had found themselves buried under layers of other ships.  The situation was getting desperate.  If they could not break free, their auxiliaries would be too drained to power up the Main Drives.  They would be stuck here forever.

Seventeen subcycles later, the drives were finally free.

“Large Masses on the move!”  The warning from Sensors was superfluous . . . everyone could feel the vibrations.

“Engage! NOW!” yelled the captain.  Also superfluous, as the Chief Engineer had already punched the launch sequence to fire up the drives.

The huge ship strained, righted itself, and rose above the other ships.  It hovered for a few minutes, and then its drives kicked in.

The child called at her mother.

“MOM!  Did you see that?”

“What is it now?” The voice carried the exasperation of a parent with an overly-imaginative child.

“The button!  It jumped up, glowed blue, and disappeared in a twinkle!”

“Young lady, that will be just enough out of you.  I know these old button tubs are neat, but they are just buttons. Now, come along.”

Little Judy frowned.  She knew what she had seen.

What Judy Saw
What Judy Saw
(note: that is an animated gif, and it should be looping; if nothing is animating, try in different browser)

 – – – – – – – – The End- – – – – – – – – – – –

Conrad, from the A Side of Writing blog, recently issued his latest writing prompt:

Your writing prompt for today is to find a garage sale or estate sale or even a thrift shop. Look around and find something that catches your eye. Think about what kind of memory would be linked to that object. It could be anything. Let your imagination run wild. Have fun with it. The more unusual the better.

I found it a good prompt to give words to a story  idea born out of the “buttons tub” I saw at an antique shop.  Hope it is an enjoyable read.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


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