The frigate known as Cavalier limped into the inner system having dropped out of FTL. The hull was scarred by weapons fire, and she was barely capable of maintaining engine power now – another FTL bubble would be impossible.
What she carried into the depths of the system was no cargo nor even just herself. She carried tidings of a grim fate.
Her sister ship – Chevalier – and the Martin Whittaker, Mars’ flagship lie thousands of light years behind, destroyed during humanity’s first contact with a living alien species.
The news she brought would dishearten not only Mars, but all humanity: tidings of an alien race who do not communicate, but only destroy; of a nascent colony likely destroyed along with the ships that had protected it.
There would be no good tidings this night.
Prompt of “tidings” provided by Rob. Another No Heaven story, this one following on from one on the No Heaven website.
The silence is deafening. Only the occasional whimper can be heard, even from a crowd of people this magnitude. Even the background hum off the machinery that keeps you all alive is silent, the entire colony shut down and dead to the world, all in the vain hope that those aboard it wouldn’t also end up that way.
They were coming, and no one knew how to stop them. The only hope was to run, or hide. The last of the ships should have left the system by this point, and the thousands of people packed aboard those ships are but a drop in the ocean compared to the billions left behind.
There are around seven hundred of you in here, packed into this room deep within the colony structure like sardines. With the colony’s systems shut down, you need to share tight quarters in order to preserve body heat, but you may run out of air before above freezes to death – the Martian atmosphere is still too thin to retain heat or to breathe. There are some emergency oxygen supplies, but you need to be careful about how you use them; you don’t want to risk drawing attention to yourselves.
It will be a long wait, and you don’t know whether it will end in your survival.. or your death.
Fiction prompt provided by Jen. This takes place within the No Heaven universe and may be the basis for an upcoming game in that world.