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The “One-Way-Ticket” anthology submission call from Starry Eyed Press, among other requirements, asked for a short story in the science fiction genre that in some way described a one-way journey.
As humanity anticipates the possibility of colonizing the Moon, Mars, or even planets outside our solar system, in at least the last two examples, the people making those trips may well never see the Earth again. Of course, there are all sorts of ways to imagine such a story. Here’s an example of mine:
Sudden alarm cycled through the command crew in the front of the ship, first from Daron, then Labaqui serving as co-pilot, and Pao as engineer. It was a ship just coming into view on the planet’s horizon.
“Vasishi vessel.” The long-forgotten radio crackled to life through speakers mounted forward in the cabin. “This is your opponent speaking. Surrender your vessel or we will open fire.”
“They’ve locked weapons and have a firing solution, Daron.” Labaqui was a young Kohath woman. She had been on her first pilgrimage to the Tavviz Temple when she’d been conscripted into the service and sent to the academy. In a moment she had gone from religious pilgrim to soldier.
“Similar to our plasma missiles.”
“Magnetic shields are offline.” Pao was Visishi and the oldest among them, already a seasoned systems engineer when he was called to serve. “Even if shields were available, with our power reserves drained, we wouldn’t survive a single impact.”
Tianna felt Daron’s indecision. She used the Arabika to keep everyone calm, but she refused to tell her husband or the command crew what to do. She wondered if she were being noble or stupid?
“This is the Vasishi shuttle.” Daron keyed the microphone he’d forgotten was attached to his jumpsuit. “We are unarmed and pose you no threat.”
“Mahli vessel is a shuttle or scout ship. Distance 5,000 kilometers and closing.” Labaqui’s voice was quivering.
“You have not tried to control our minds with your creature. That thing, your weapon, is dead?”
“How could they know that?” One of the three acolytes was still kneeling by Tianna’s pod.
“Get in your couch, you idiot,” she hissed. If Daron had to suddenly change course, anyone not secured would be splattered against a bulkhead.
“That is correct, Mahli vessel. As I said, we pose no threat to you.”
“You destroyed our ship.”
“You attacked first.” Daron was becoming angry. After all, the Mahli weren’t the victims.
“Your kind started the war when you attempted to hijack the minds of crew on one of our ships while negotiating treaty. Do you surrender your vessel and accept Mahli authority?”
“That ship has taken some damage to her engines. I’m betting they didn’t escape their crippled mothership until well past the orbit of Phaedra. Probably took them months to get here.” Pao’s pronouncement was just another item on how the Mahli’s situation was becoming increasingly like theirs.
“What do you expect of surrender?”
“The servitude of your people once we make planet fall. Your resources, food, water. As the aggrieved party we can demand anything we wish.”
It wasn’t until that moment when Tianna realized she wasn’t listening to the broadcast, but hearing the Mahli commander’s words in her thoughts. She was young, inexperienced, a junior officer on her first assignment when the battle happened. Her emotional structure was similar to natives of the four planets. The Mahli scout’s sensory array was exquisitely sensitive and the alien commander decided being unable to detect the Eshana meant she was dead, rendering the Vasishi shuttle harmless.
Tianna knew Daron didn’t want to surrender, but he didn’t have a lot of choices. He had no defense, no weapons, and with only enough fuel for re-entry, he couldn’t risk evasive maneuvers.
“Answer me, Vasishi vessel.”
“This is the Vasishi shuttle. Very well, Mahli. We…”
“Something’s going on in their engineering section.” Pao leaned over his console. “I think…”
A jet of gas shot out of the rear of the Mahli ship changing its attitude.
“One of their main fuel conduits blew. They’re venting drive plasma, Daron.”
“You attacked us again, Vasishi. We will not die alone.”
Panic burned inside of Labaqui like a flame. “Missile loading into launch chamber. They’re going to fire.”
I don’t have a publication date or a link to pre-order yet, but I’ll provide them as soon as I get them.