The transit took a few minutes, or so it felt.

In reality, it was just a few seconds, but the swirling mass of light and plasma that engulfed our ship had such a hypnotic hold, time seemed to be frozen.

We fell into that maelstrom, chasing the giant craft that had hovered over the opening in the megastructure only a moment earlier. As power ebbed away from our stricken engines, we had only the momentum of our fall and the strengthening tug of invisible forces to carry us forward.

The alien ship streaked away at high acceleration however, leaving dangerous swells and eddies that shook the Thunderbolt with tremendous violence. Shrieks of tearing metal reverberated through the ship amid a chorus of fresh warning alarms. Some control panels that had been flooded with red hazard lights suddenly went dark, while those that remained lost the last of their lonely green stars.

Through the reinforced glass of the bridge window, lurid flashes of blue and violet ignited like lightning, leaving dancing spots of light in our eyes.

One last violent blow hit the ship and the bridge fell silent. Somebody was crying while all around the room, soft warning signals and computer voice commands were pleading for attention. Rhand was the first to release her safety harness, and promptly emptied her stomach on the floor beside her. Siccora was the second to stir, exploding from her chair with a tirade of swearing and obscenities as she pored over status panels and boards on the bridge wall.

I stumbled over to the bridge window, expecting to see space. Instead there was a strange grey twilight, almost totally uniform in colour and brightness. I thought perhaps that it was some kind of fog or mist, but our sensors showed no atmosphere of any kind. Some two hundred kilometres below us was a darker hue, something the sensors were telling me was the ground. Thunderbolt was drifting gently towards it at the leisurely speed of ten metres per second, and with no sign that our main engines or anti-gravity lifters being online, meant we would hit in some five and a half hours.

There were two things badly wrong with this ground. It exerted no force of gravity, and it was completely and perfectly flat, to a precision and accuracy that does not exist in nature. According to my sensors, this surface extended away from us to infinity, literally a mathematically perfect plane that stretched as far as our scanners could reach. Like the apparently bottomless pit that we had fallen into, we now found ourselves drifting inside another geometrically and scientifically impossible void.

It was only the shout of Siccora pointing and swearing next to me, which shook me from admiring this wonder. A blue cylinder was spinning past the window, the severed and burning remains of our outer starboard engine, torn from its mountings and falling fast towards that impossible surface.

-- Cyana Bristo, scientist onboard the blockade-runner, Thunderbolt.


V3 figures with Sassy and Up Do hair. Outfit is the Xurge Nano suit using a custom created texture. Thunderbolt blockade runner is custom model created in Hexagon 1.21, textured with UV Mapper Pro and Photoshop CS2.

Rendered in Vue 6 Pro Studio, with final compositing in Photoshop CS2.

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Updated: 08 January 2009

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2018