Nico (vilakins) wrote,
Nico
vilakins

Ficlet: Big Swirly Thing In Space

This was written for last week's b7friday swirly anomalies in space challenge. 450 words.

Big Swirly Thing In Space

"Anything to report?" asked Blake as he entered the flight deck.

"Nothing," said Jenna. "We're on course, detectors are clear, ETA unchanged."

"Mmm." Blake threw himself onto the couch, the command couch as he liked to think of it. Instruments were all very well, but he liked to see where they were going. "Put up forward vision, Zen."

"Confirmed."

There was a stunned silence.

"What," Vila said finally, "the hell is that?"

Jenna sighed resignedly. "You know, considering how huge and empty space is, it's really very surprising how often we encounter... objects like that."

"Big swirly great things in space, you mean?"

"As scientifically accurate as ever, I see."

"Oh yes?" Vila turned to glare, "What would you call it then, Avon?"

Avon pursed his lips. "It is most probably... well..." He hesitated.

"Big swirly great thing in space, by any chance?"

"...possibly a nebula."

"Oh, come on, that's never dust clouds. That's liquid. With tentacles." Vila shifted nervously in his seat. "Maybe it's alive!"

Cally shook her head. "No. I would have picked up something from a life-form of that size."

Vila was unconvinced. "Look, Jenna, can't we just go round it?"

Jenna was frowning at the readings on her screen. "I'm not detecting any mass, and it hasn't increased in apparent size despite our speed." She looked up. "That thing must be enormous."

"It is some sort of anomaly." Avon said, as if trying to convince himself.

"That just means something you can't explain!" Vila said accusingly. He stared at the thing on the screen. It looked disturbingly familiar: an amoeba-like shape with slender curving extensions all around it, liquid, viscous-looking, glittering in ominous greens, purples, and blues. Oh, no! He got up, swallowing nervously, and keeping his eye on the thing, backed slowly and very quietly out of the room.

"Change course, Jenna," said Blake.

Jenna nodded, punched in some numbers, then looked up disbelievingly. "It's still there!"

"Surely," said Cally, "it isn't following us?"

"It can't be," Avon said flatly. "It's physically impossible." He narrowed his eyes at the screen in sudden suspicion.

Everyone but him jumped when an enormous hand blotted out the stars. A huge finger tapped experimentally at the spatial anomaly which increased its diameter by about twenty percent. "Sorry," said Vila's voice. "Dropped a bit of machine oil when I was cleaning the sensors." The entire starfield disappeared behind an oily rag.

"I swear," said Avon, "I'll space him one day."

Jenna mouthed at him, "Nebula. Spatial anomaly," and smirked.

Avon pretended not to hear.

Jenna gave Vila a rare smile as he slipped guiltily back in. "All clear," she said coolly to Blake. "Nothing but empty space ahead of us now."

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