Authors: Jeff Sims
Chart of known hyperspace lanes
The chart shows the hyperspace connections and relative distances. It does not necessarily show the physical location of the system in space. The shaded ovals contain a planet with intelligent life. Many more systems have been charted, but only the ones relevant to the story are shown.
Arean – First officer of the
Carank – Scientist. Originally weapons officer on
Frank – Alliance Senate member
Figur – Alliance Senate member
Dolen – Admiral of the Advranki home fleet. Stationed on
Lexxi – Young weapons officer on
Solear – Captain of the
Clowy – Communications officer of the
Lorano – Brilliant scientist
Korno – Alliance Senate member
Amy Weisman – President of Victory Games
Jim Donovan (Pinball) – Pilot, squadron commander
Russ Brand (Rush) - Pilot
Bill Blaze (Blaze) - Pilot
Edward Williams (Ace) - Pilot
Blifgot’ne (Bline) – Ambassador to the Alliance
Fruid’la – Admiral in Hiriculan fleet. Stationed on battleship
Loid’la – Navigations officer aboard the battleship
Victor Bullpeep (Tyrano on Earth) – Captain of the mini – freighter
Crista Bullpeep – Originally Cowbleat – Victor’s wife
Ella Birdsong - Pilot of the
Fletcher Birdsong – Master painter and Ella’s father
Jack Dogbarks – Captain of the mini-freighter
“Sineria, go to bed,” her mother pleaded.
Sineria stared at her mother with her deep aqua eyes, stubbornly refusing to budge. She had just turned four and wanted to stay up later.
“If you don’t get your sleep, a human will eat you,” responded mommy.
She responded, “Humans aren’t real!”
Her mother paused for a moment, and then said, “Yes, sweetie, humans are real. I saw one when I was a child. It tried to eat me when I wouldn’t go to bed on time.”
“Huh-uh! You’re fibbing.” Sineria refused to be baited. Her gray skin had turned a shade redder and she pointed a finger at her mother.
“Sweetie, don’t point. When you point at someone; that means your other fingers are pointing at you.”
I want to thank my son for challenging me to write this book and helping me with difficult passages, my mother for her tireless proofreading, and my wife for allowing me the time to undertake this journey.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
© 2015 by Jeff Sims
All rights reserved. No part may be copied or reproduced in any manner or by any means without prior written permission by the author.
Published by Book Baby
The Earth Conundrum is a work of fiction. All names, places, characters and events are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously.
The captain of the Advranki cruiser
silently observed his bridge crew. They were trying to do their jobs, but he could tell they were nervous. The sight of enemy ships would do that.
is the newest ship in the Advranki Alliance fleet. It had been commissioned only two weeks earlier and was still on its maiden voyage. Fleet headquarters had decided to let the public name the ship. Every Advranki citizen had had the opportunity to log into a Websphere site and vote. They could choose one of four names:
. The fact that the name
had won without actually being a valid choice had raised several questions about Websphere security, but the name had been publicly announced and stuck.
The ship was beautiful, a masterpiece of engineering and art. Each panel was painstakingly crafted, each piece meticulously assembled. The ship had a rounded hull of seamless, interlocking hull plates. The design was practical for two purposes; it could withstand tremendous enemy fire and it could easily glide through hyperspace. The bonus was that the ship was aesthetically wonderful. It was a true pleasure to observe.
Captain Solear had reservations about taking a brand new ship on a long cruise, but
had handled and performed perfectly since launch. The Captain knew he would eventually owe the ship’s designer and construction crew an apology. There hadn’t been a single problem thus far.
“Captain, we have a problem,” said Carank.
Carank, the weapons officer and a fellow Advranki, was easily the most intelligent crew member aboard the ship. He had recently graduated from weapons design school and would go to Fleet Research and Development when his training tour was over. It was Fleet’s policy that before one could design new systems; one had to have some experience operating current ones.
“What’s wrong?” Solear asked.
“There is an air leak in the emergency pressure sensor module,” Carank responded. This system measured the air pressure in every section of the ship. If one section was rapidly losing air pressure, it would send a signal to automatically seal that section of the ship. In the potential upcoming battle, if the cruiser was hit and that section did not seal, the entire ship would lose air.
Carank continued, “This is a new design. The old system had air hoses that ran to the center section where their pressure was monitored. The new system uses distributed sensors in each section that send an air pressure signal to a central unit. The new design provides a much faster response, but it appears the solenoids in the control module can leak.”
“Why?” the Captain questioned.
“It looks like they tried to save money by using an existing solenoid instead of designing a new one. This solenoid is normally closed and is designed to only work for a few seconds at a time, but in the emergency pressure system it is normally open. As a result of the constant functioning, it is leaking intermittently.”
“Can you fix it?” the Captain asked.
Carank looked down at his green hands. It was clear to Solear that he was about to report bad news. Carank responded, “No, we don’t have the correct parts in inventory. I can take it apart and re-grease it though.”
“Will that make it stop leaking?” the Captain asked.
Carank answered, “Yes, well, sort of. Greasing the solenoids is a temporary solution at best. However, it should make them stop leaking for week, maybe two.”
Captain Solear asked, “How long will it take?”
Carank replied, “Twenty minutes top. I won’t have to leave the bridge.”
The bridge consisted of four levels; the bottom housed sensitive equipment and the backup generator, the next housed the bridge crew’s living quarters, the third was the main control room, and the top level was the captain’s quarters and conference room. Carank meant that he would have to go to the lowest section of the bridge, but would not have to leave the bridge section itself.
“Okay, go,” the Captain said.
As Carank was exiting bridge, the Captain’s focus returned to the oncoming enemy ships. The enemy should have been in system long enough by now for
’s sensors to have determined the size of the enemy force.
was sitting in the Orpon system. Opron had a sun, two large gas giant planets, and precious little else. However, Opron was strategically important because it sat at the junction of two major hyperspace lanes. One of the lanes led to enemy’s home world and the other led back to the Advranki Prime,
“Update,” Solear said while looking at Clowy, his tactical officer.
She asked, “What?”
Solear counted quickly to 10. He may have skipped a couple of numbers because he quickly responded, “I would like an update.”
“On what?” Clowy asked.
“Um, the enemy,” the Captain barked with a distinct edge to his voice.
“Captain Solear,” she replied, “No change. They are inside the hyperspace limit and proceeding on a straight line vector towards us. Estimated time to weapons range is three hours.” The tactical officer quickly added, “Well, unless they slow down – in which case enemy contact will take longer.” She then began to cry.
Captain Solear intently studied Clowy for a moment. She had stopped crying as quickly as she had started. She wiped her remaining tears from her huge eyes on a tissue and retuned to studying the plot.
Fleet headquarters had decreed that a representative from all three Alliance species must be on every ship. The
was one of the first ships to implement this regulation. Clowy was their representative from the planet Altian.
Clowy was competent enough he supposed, but her frequent emotional outbursts were often difficult to fathom. He was silently glad that he had never served aboard an Altian vessel. He couldn’t imagine a ship filled with beings who constantly became emotional. He made yet another mental note to speak softly and evenly when addressing her. He didn’t want to attend a second training session on race diversity from Fleet headquarters.
“Captain,” Clowy gushed with typical Altian excitement. “I now have a clear picture of the enemy fleet. They have one destroyer flanked by two cruisers. The enemy ships are slowing to attack speed.”
The captain barked, “Computer, analysis.”
…The enemy fleet is in attack formation Delta and will reach ideal battle distance in 3.8 hours with a speed of .03 light. The destroyer is a model D160, meaning that it only carries 20 fighters versus the newer model D161 that has a capacity of 24. This model destroyer has type 2 ion cannon and eight missile launchers per side. The two flanking cruisers are standard issue C20’s…
The captain did some quick mental math. His fleet, well taskforce really, of three cruisers,
carried 20 fighters each. So, he and his opponent were evenly matched at 60 fighters; provided he could convince all of the pilots to launch.
Missiles would be a problem however. The enemy armada could launch 40 missiles every 3 minutes – 8 per side from the destroyer and 6 per side from each cruiser. The Alliance cruisers only had 5 launchers per side and therefore could only launch 30 missiles in the same timeframe. So, he mused, if the battle lasted longer than 12 minutes, they would be at a deadly 50 missile disadvantage.