The roar of the engine filled the cockpit as the ancient Cessna
strained in response to the pilot's open throttle. Barely an hour
out of the space port at Rio Rancho, it was time to climb those last
few hundred feet and bank to port. The terrain ahead was as familiar
to the pilot as the back of his hand. The Capitan Mountains were
directly below now, up ahead the tiny settlement of Lincoln, Just
off to starboard, the Mescalero Apache Nation. Receding to stern was
the Sandia Base and the White Sands Proving Grounds. About twenty
minutes away stood Roswell, the boyhood home of Captain Peter
Sullivan. God this is great! You never realize how you miss it until
you return! A wave of nostalgia spread over him as he thought of the
Suddenly, in front of him came a voice with a note of
urgency, dragging him back to reality, "Unidentified vessel dead ahead, sir!"
Sullivan looked around with a start. He was relieved to see that no one seemed
to have noticed his daydreaming (It was a great shore leave!) His customary
morning period on the bridge had been uneventful...so easy to drift off when
everything was so quiet. His lack of concentration did embarrass him.
"Do you wish to investigate, Captain? asked Stevens,
thinking it odd that the Captain had not replied to his first inquiry.
"What do you have on the vessel now, Mr. Stevens?"
"It's at 150,000 kilometers, and appears to be
drifting. There are signs of damage, but even considering the damage, it's like
nothing I've ever seen," replied the helmsman. His last comment served to get
the attention of all on the bridge.
"Mr. Edwards, is there anyone aboard?"
"Yes sir, there appears to be one. I believe that it
"Commander Bradford, see if you can raise the vessel,
offer it assistance." The Communications Officer tried for several moments
before turning to the Captain, "Sorry sir, I'm not getting any response."
Now, more urgently, Edwards called out, "Sir, the life
reading seems to be fading!"
After only a moment's hesitation, Captain Sullivan hit
the button on his console, "Transporter one, Sullivan. Prepare to lock on to a
vessel at coordinates being fed to you. Beam aboard the single life form."
"Lieutenant Hanners here sir, I am unable to get a
lock. There seems to be some interference with our signal."
"Standby, Mr Hanners, Sullivan out."
Turning to his Science Officer, the Captain asked,
"Are their shields up?"
After checking his readouts once again, "No sir, no
"Engineering, Sullivan here, Caggiano?"
"Do you think you can lock on to that vessel and pull
it into the shuttle bay?"
Following some quick calculations, "I think so,
Captain, in any case, we'll give it a try."
Sullivan set back in his center seat and pondered,
‘What do I do now? Dare I place the DILIGENCE in harms way? Should I risk the
ship for one person? An unknown craft in my shuttle bay?’