The Long Way Home
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by Darrell Bain
Category: Science Fiction
Description: A surprise assault on an Exploration Corps starship by implacably hostile, xenophobic aliens leaves its one remaining longboat as the only option for warning the home worlds of the existence of the predators. Unfortunately, the starship met disaster while thousands of light years from Earth. Theoretically, that sort of voyage in a longboat is possible but has never been attempted. In order to return, the crew has to stop on numerous unknown planets to renew supplies and hydrogen fuel many, many times along the way. They know they will certainly face danger and inimical life forms, as well as the hazards of braving interstellar space in a ship meant only for travel within a solar system. And before they get anywhere close to Earth they will need to figure out a way to destroy a much larger and much better armed alien starship. The ship shadowing their every move must not be allowed to follow them home to Earth and its colonies. The long journey has to succeed, even as more and more members of the crew fall prey to perils of the incredible journey. Humanity must be warned. There will be no second chance. Fail, and the poorly armed home worlds will likely die.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2009 Double Dragon Publishing
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
134 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [429 KB]
Reading time: 272-381 min.
For almost a century humans expanded their domain beyond Earth. The huge exploration starships ranged outwards, staying gone sometimes for a year or more while seeking habitable planets and hoping someday to meet other star-faring species. At first Earth and its colonies armed their ships against the possibility of hostile aliens. They constructed warships to patrol the home worlds and set up extensive defenses in case of need. As time passed, and humanity remained free of competition, preparations for fighting interstellar wars lagged. A once mighty military devolved into little more than a police force for settling squabbles among the several home worlds and policing the more remote colonies. The prospect of meeting other intelligent life in the galaxy waned. Scholars began writing long tomes proving beyond doubt that humans were a singularly unique species: the only one which had managed to evolve intelligence and break the bond of their home planet. Further, they postulated that even should another intelligent species be discovered, it was certain to be friendly. Nevertheless, Mankind ranged outward, seeking new frontiers but appearing destined always to be alone. To be sure, the exploration ships still carried contact protocols designed for technically sapient species, but they had never been used. The exploration ships also still went armed, but as time passed, it was thought that the weapons would never become necessary. And even if by chance they should, it was almost universally accepted that such an event would occur by accident rather than design. It was thought that other technically advanced species would welcome a meeting. The idea that such aliens might be hostile became a laughable notion--one that not even science fiction authors used very often as a theme.
Such were the conditions when the new class of Exploration Ship Sam Johnston began its voyage. She was more than a year's travel and a thousand light years beyond the frontier worlds when the fabled technical civilization of aliens was first encountered. Contact protocols were initiated, and initiated again. By the third try at contact it was a foregone conclusion that the scholars had been wrong. Dead wrong. Disastrously wrong.
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