I hope you enjoy this story. If you're a writer, I hope these entries have inspired you to consider a fiction journal. It really is a great writing exercise. Heck, you may want to consider it even if you aren't a writer. It's fun.
And now, without further ado, here's the story. Enjoy!
Kaya stared at the live scan of Alpha Centauri, the dark space in the center of the system captivating her attention.
What is that?
She raised her gaze from the monitoring panel to the pinprick of light in the opposite direction. The sun was nothing but the brightest star on the horizon from the space station orbiting Neptune.
I can’t see them from here, and I’m sure that’s the point. Or rather, that they can’t see me from up there.
She still stung from being rejected for the administrative post back on Earth three days ago.
“I’m sorry, Kaya, but we’ve selected somebody else for the Outer System Ambassador post.”
“You hired Admiral Chang’s daughter.”
The commander’s face twitched. “How did you hear that?”
“Gossip spreads fast, even out here. A political hiring is hard to keep quiet.”
“It wasn’t a political hiring,” the commander stopped, his gaze drifting to somebody obviously coaching him in his earpiece. “You’re a brilliant scientist, Kaya. Honestly, you’re the best one we’ve got, and we need you out there.”
Kaya crossed her arms. “You need me out of the way.”
“Kaya, you’d be bored here. You’re an explorer. It wouldn’t be true to you or best for us to take you out of the place where you excel, and you’re the best deep space scientist we’ve got.” He raised his hands in a gesture of defeat. “I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. Don’t see this as a loss. You have nothing to gain here. You’d be behind a desk talking with beurocrats all day instead of doing the exploration that you love and do best. You’d probably be bored and back on a ship out there within six months.”
The ploy of using her name frequently to connect was lost over millions of miles of deep space. She had been doing this long enough to know exactly what it was: keeping their ‘good old boys’ club intact on Earth, and keeping the people smart enough to threaten it away doing the work they wanted to take credit for. “Good luck, then. I hear she’s fresh out of the academy. But I imagine you’ll have plenty of time to train her over your long lunches and frequent seminars and workshops in posh locations.”
“Kaya, this isn’t personal.“
“For you it isn’t. For me it is. But I suppose that doesn’t matter. The decision is made.” She paused. “Have you looked at that deep space anomaly that blipped on the sensors at Alpha Centauri?”
“I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“It’s something. Will you please take a look at it? Come on, you got your way with the hiring. Throw me a bone and give me my way for a change.”
The commander frowned. “I’m very busy, but I’ll try to look at it.”
“Yea, right,” she scoffed as the transmission blanked out.
Her mind snapped back to the anomaly on the screen. The jerk hung up on her three days ago, and she’d heard nothing more, despite the fact that it had disappeared and reappeared daily on a regular basis for three days, and she transmitted them all. This time, though, it wasn’t disappearing. It seemed to be stabilizing.
“What are you?” she mumbled.
Or who are you?
Kaya jolted at the unbidden thought. She couldn’t sit on this any longer. A window of opportunity was open, and there was no way to know how long it would remain open.
Or who it would be open to.
Kaya logged the proper protocols into the system and headed for a ship.
“Where are you going?” Natalia, her colleague, asked.
“The anomaly at Alpha Centauri stabilized. I’m going to check it out.”
Natalia stared at her computer screen. “But you just logged it in. Central Command hasn’t authorized it yet.”
“I’ve been transmitting to them about this for three days without a response, and am within my right to take action. It’s 2 p.m. at Central Command, anyway. They’re probably on their second hour of lunch.” Kaya waved her arm in the general direction of Alpha Centauri. “This is the longest it’s been stable, and we can’t afford to let this opportunity pass us by. I’m going.”
“Says who?” Natalia propped her hands on her hips.
Kaya smiled. “Says the most brilliant scientist in the fleet, according to the commander, and I’m live up to it now,” she shouted over her shoulder at Natalia scoffing in the hallway.
Kaya ran the rest of the way to the ship bay after she rounded the corner, knowing Natalia would be sending an emergency message. Best she launch quickly. It was now or never.
She was about to enter the Kupiter Belt when the expected message chimed in. Kaya pasted a smile on her face as the opened the transmission. “Commander, I’m sorry Natalia interrupted your second lunch hour. I should have an official report ready for you by the time you get back in the office tomorrow morning. Or afternoon? Will you be in the office, or at another ‘official function?’ You’re so ‘busy’ that I can’t keep up, and your secretary is always on break.”
“This isn’t authorized. Get back to the station!”
Kaya stared at the screen. “Nothing is or isn’t authorized. You’ve ignored my messages about the spatial anomaly for three days. Standard protocol gives the scientist-in-charge the authority to explore spatial anomalies without authorization if they are time sensitive, and Central Command did not respond in a timely manner. 72 hours is plenty of time to respond to an unstable anomaly. Now it’s stabilized, and no response gives me the authority to act since it could be time sensitive. I’ll transmit the data and an official report when I return to the system.”
“This is ridiculous!”
“No, the political hiring’s and the privileges you call work are ridiculous. I’m out here with the real scientists doing the real work that you base that privilege on.”
“I see how it is. You’re mad about not getting that promotion. You want to show us up.”
Kaya leaned forward. “No, you don’t see how it is, because you’re looking at things backward through your ego. You say I have nothing to gain. I say I have nothing to lose. There’s a big difference between the two. But I do thank you now for not selecting me for that job, because this could be the biggest discovery of my career, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I’ll figure out what that is at Alpha Centauri.” She smiled. “Who knows? You may get an award out of this one with a nice plaque and your picture in the paper. I’m sure Admiral Chang’s daughter will be beaming by your side, trying to take credit for my discovery that you ignored until it became substantial. ” She paused. “By the way, this message is being recorded for just that purpose. Standard protocol, you understand. Continual recordings while on missions to unknown events and anomalies. It’s all for documentation purposes.”
“This isn’t over!”
“No sir, I’m sure it’s just starting. But you’re big and my big are different, because we live in different realities.” She paused, setting coordinates. “Entering the Kupiter Belt for Sol System exit. Communications may be disrupted.” She clicked the transmission off with a chuckle.
Kaya sobered as she maneuvered through the Kupiter Belt, aiming for the dark space anomaly. She could focus on what mattered now that the petty stuff was out of the way, and this anomaly had been burning on her mind since it showed up just before she was turned down for that promotion. Strange timing, but perhaps fortuitous to get her focused on better things. She did say one true thing: if she had been hired for that promotion, she wouldn’t be here on the verge of what she felt was a major discovery.
Nothing to lose.
“Nothing to lose,” she muttered at the intrusive thought.
She came out of the belt hours later, tired but still curious. The anomaly had elongated slightly during her voyage. It looked like it was stable. Now, she thought as she entered the Oort Cloud, it was time to find out exactly what it was. It was calling her now, and the presence grew stronger the closer she got to Alpha Centauri.
And she had nothing to lose.
*Editor’s note: Kaya is missing. Her ship disappeared in the Alpha Centauri system. Terrain Government and Central Command are investigating the disappearance. *