Spellflight » Contact Lost

Introduction

The Flight Director, known as Flight, looked over his console at the sequence of events reporting in. Everything looked nominal and routine, even if this particular iteration of routine was taking place out near Saturn. It takes light 2.5 hours to reach Earth from Saturn, so Mission Control was looking at what happened in the past, not what was going on right now.

"Flight, GNC, Pusar Positioning System just took its final fix."

"Copy that, GNC. Propulsion, status on the engine?"

"We're go, Flight, warp drive is charged up and ready. Thirty seconds and counting."

At this point the Nautilus, (DSEV-2, which stood for Deep Space Exploration Vessel, hull number 2), was ready to zoom over to Uranus and continue her shakedown cruise. Or at least she was awhille ago. If everything went as planned, she was well on her way.

The warp drive is a product of Black Box Technology, also known as  BB Tech. Technically it is a space-time skip drive that "skips" in and out of normal space-time like a stone skipping across a pond, but the influence of the Star Trek television series and movies forever mislabled it as a warp drive. If it could be used at ground level-which it could not, the gravity well is too steep- a spaceship equipped with a skip drive could travel from New York to San Francisco in under 16 seconds, give or take a decimal point or two, without having to take a long and boring road trip the whole way. By contrast, Voyager 1, the fastest manmade non-warp craft ever built (that we know of) could make the same trip in just over 4 minutes. At a crusing speed of 0.15 AU per day, the skip drive enabled spacefaring nations to rapidly traverse the solar system in a matter of weeks and months instead of years.

BB Tech came from the Ancient Astronauts, but they weren't aliens like the media portrays them. Instead, ancient humans figured out how to leap for the stars, but how they came up with their exotic technology remains a mystery. Looking for those answers and for more signs of the Ancient Astronauts was the main reason that NAXA, the National Aerospace eXploration Administration, was out here. So were the Russians and the Asian Space Alliance (ASA), with their respective space programs. Thus far, nobody has found much more than abandoned outposts and ruins though.

"Flight, EECOM, looks like a coolant loss on Radiator 2, Stores 3."

"Again? Ok, if they haven't spotted it after warp, we'll point it out. Coming down to the wire now, FAO, give us a countdown." The Flight Activities Officer looked bored, Flight thought, so maybe giving a countdown will wake him up a bit. The days of Mission Control directing the show were over for deep space vessels, but the bureaucracy hadn't caught up yet.

"Roger, Flight, 12...11...10...9...8-"

"Flight, CAPCOM, I have a Critical 1." Capsule Communications, or CAPCOM, was an outdated term but one still used in the era of large multi-person crewed spaceships. A Critical 1 was bad news.

"Go ahead, CAPCOM."

"Flight, I just lost voice feed from the command module. I think they spotted something before going off the air."

"You what? What was the crew doing at the time?"

"Uh, Flight, the pilot was the last one talking. He said-"

"Flight, INCO. Critical 1." INCO stood for Instrumentation and Communications Officer.

"Go ahead, INCO." The Flight Director was starting to get nervous himself. He had a feeling that things were about to go from bad to worse.

"Flight, I just lost all telemetry."

"Flight, GNC, same here. Just lost all telemetry. Flatline, both radio and laser." Guidance Navigation and Control officers don't like it when they lose instrumentation, but then again, nobody else does either.

"Network, is the DSN feed still up?" NAXA's Deep Space Network, harkening back to the days of Mercury, continues to track and communicate with all NAXA and military spacecraft to this day. But BB Tech doesn't apply to communications, and lightspeed lag can make communications agoinizingly slow.

"Affirmative, Flight, DSN is go, no issues on our end."

The Flight Director looked down at his console again at the sequence of events reporting in. Everything looked normal and routine- up until a few seconds ago. Two words stood out.

CONTACT LOST

***

Welcome to Contact Lost™ This is an imaginitive work that I've been creating for several years now. On this site you'll find 3D art that I've created over the years for my fictional universe. The universe is much like our own, but in the year 2018, and one with a much more active space exploration effort.

Contact Lost™ is a what if: What if the Ancient Astronauts, supposedly aliens visiting Earth in the distant past, where actually humans who lept for the stars? What if they left behind blueprints for technology that opened up the solar system to exploration? How would that technology integrate into existing rocket engineering? How would it affect space exporation and international relations? What would space warfare look like?

In my universe, space warfare is in its infancy. The major powers are trying all sorts of things to see what works and what doesn't. Will uninhabited combat spacecraft win out over manned fighters? They are cheaper to build and use, but they can be hacked and used against you. Can you make low observable technology work in space? There's no stealth in space, but attaining a target lock is another matter. Is space an ocean, and do wet navy combat concepts apply in the black sky? There are many who wish for that to happen, and are willing to sabotage military and political careers to make it happen, even if Earthbound naval tactics make little sense in space. And the wild cards of Plato's orichalicum (an exotic metal that glitters like fire when exposed to sunlight), and the seemingly magical- and barely trusted- Black Box Technology and its Eastern European and Asian equivalents throw monkey wrenches into the uniqueness of fighting in space.

More than just an art and creative writing project, I see Contact Lost™ as a d20 Modern™ adventure, with the PC heroes investigating what happened to NAXA's deep space exploration vessel. The adventure is on the backburner until I finish the art, but I have an outline drafted.

This site is very much a work in progress and will be updated as time permits. I hope you enjoy it.

Acknowledgements

I did a great deal of research to create my universe, but no thinking gets done in a vacuum. In particular though, I wish to thank Atomic Rockets for their excellent discussions on realistic science fiction and the technology behind it. I'm not the only one to enjoy the site, a popular video game series makes a shout out too. I highly recommend it.


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