Weekly Short Story: Galactic Postman

I often wonder what the future will be like long after I am gone. As a fan of science fiction, it isn’t hard to see where my thoughts would gravitate to. This story is based on mankind being able to do one thing but not the other. I feel like this would be the reality but who really knows? Without further ado, here is this week’s tale.

Artwork by Adobe Firefly

Galactic Postman

Station Marcus was the last message station between Earth’s home solar system and the Ragnar Minor System some 300 light years away. Ships could travel faster than light these days but the messages between worlds could not. Messengers and their space craft were required to carry message traffic between worlds. Samuel Reva could not think of any other job in the solar system that he would rather do than be one of only a few “Galactic Postman.”

Sam started his day with making the small trip from Earth to the message station. He thought about living aboard the station but Earth was so beautiful and open. Being cramped in a spacecraft to make his daily run was about all he could take before faint traces of claustrophobia would kick in and his anxiety would start to rise. Making the run to Ragnar Minor and back. It was just the right size trip for Samuel Reva.

The control tower signaled clearance for Sam to take the Pulsar 779 spacecraft out of the dock and into space. The station hanger was quite large and could accommodate various sizes of spacecraft from small courier vessels like the Pulsar series to the bigger space cruisers like the Titan IV. An intermittent blinking light on the console reminded Sam to acknowledge his digital cargo. A part of the procedure he felt was designed to remind them of why they were there and what they were supposed to do. He pressed the indicator and set a course for Ragnar Minor. It was an exercise he felt he had done a thousand times before.

One minute and twelve seconds later, the Pulsar 779 spacecraft that Sam had affectionately named “Miranda” fired up the hyperdrive and disappeared into the blackness of space. Gravity drives and dampening fields made this journey a relatively easy one. From the cockpit, the stars whizzed by at tremendous speeds while the navigation system constantly scanned ahead for obstacles. One wrong piece of anything in Sam’s path would be catastrophic to the little space ship. He often wondered while staring at the view about how long folks like him would be needed. With all of the advancements that humanity has made, surely communications between star systems couldn’t be that far from reality?

The emergency sirens began bellowing as Sam’s space ship fell out of hyperspace with a jarring motion that he didn’t think was possible. This had never happened before. Why did he drop out of hyperspace? After hitting a few buttons on his main console, it didn’t take Sam long to figure out why his ship came out of hyperspace. Ahead of his Pulsar 779 to the tune of roughly 2 million kilometers, was a large amount of military space craft. He could pick out everything from fighters to corvettes. He knew there was a war between two nearby colonies but hadn’t suspected that it had grown to this magnitude.

The console beeped to inform Sam that an errant missile had locked on to his craft and was bearing down on him. He had three minutes to figure out what to do. The first thing Sam did was to activate his distress beacon. At least if anything happened to him, the craft or what was left of it could be located and cargo retrieved. Couriers were supposed to be safe out here. He wondered why they would fire at him. His mind was running like a runner around a track. He needed to figure out what to do. His ship wasn’t designed for combat. Hell, he didn’t even have shields.

The only defense that Sam could think of was to try to move the ship out of the way at the last minute. With some hope, the missile wouldn’t be able to reacquire his ship but that was only speculation. He began scanning the area for a place to set down if he needed to. The idea also crossed his mind to eject the cargo. The data storage module had its own beacon so it would eventually be found by someone. There was only about a minute until impact now.

Sam made damn sure the right finger was on the right button as he prepared to move aside at the last moment before impact. The sweat collected on his collar and on his brow. He quickly wiped it off and then began counting down. Five, four, three, two, one…

The ship quickly jerked to the right and the missile barely clipped the space craft. Sam was knocked off his feet by the force of the missile’s thrust. Several harrowing seconds went by as Sam tried to access the situation. He was still in one piece. The missile probably traded paint with his craft but thankfully, did not impact. He felt like the luckiest person alive. His immediate space was clear and he could still see the battle raging in front of him. A corvette burst into pieces as missile after missile struck. Little blips of light were visible as fighters winked out of existence.

“Well, shit!”, Sam said out loud when he saw that the ship had automatically ejected the data core. He didn’t know the ship was capable of that. It was certainly never brought up with the senior staff. Now, he would be forced to make a decision about where to go. Was it closer to Marcus station or Ragnar Minor?

Sam began calculating a course away from the fighting. He’d have to move out to a distance of several million kilometers before he could make the jump to which ever station was closest. He didn’t have the equipment to retrieve the data core. A pair of simple grappler arms would have come in handy right about now. He lined up on the brighter of the two stars on the left and began moving his ship in that direction.

Two kilometers from “Miranda” a faint blue color radiated from the rear of the cylindrical object. The blue hue gained in intensity as the main engine spun up once again to continue the mission and make a Pulsar 779 space craft, nonexistent. On “Miranda”, a red light began blinking on the main console. A weary Galactic Postman looked up and into the space ahead of him.

“Well, shit.”