The Winged Messenger

HSAR

This too shall pass.


We called them Blackbirds, after the queens of speed from another age. Beautiful machines, though you have to become slightly detached from the numbers to fly them. At the cruise phase, they fly at 0.9C - ninety percent of the speed of light.

Incomprehensible. I was losing a day for every day I spent up there, the universe spinning on without me, but it was so worth it. To kiss the edge of the one inviolable barrier in this uncertain life, to - for a very short time - be the fastest moving human being in existence.

So imagine my surprise when a new light bloomed on the communications panel. Without thinking, I answered it.

"Unidentified spacecraft, we have you on sensors. Please state your intent and initiate braking for mandatory inspection."

"Cygnus-571 Delta Control, don't trouble yourselves. Just passing by."

"Unidentified spacecraft, we will destroy you if you continue your approach."

"You'll have to catch me first, Control."

"Unidentified spa-"

I cut them off, and simply enjoyed the ride.


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Comments (5 so far!)

Average reader rating 4.00/5

ethelthefrog

ethelthefrog

One wonders how the comms kit copes with the time dilation and the utterly huge doppler shifts caused by the speeds involved. I'm sure they'll have worked it out. They're clever people.

You've got to hope his Blackbird can turn, though. To destroy something that fast, all it takes is a housebrick in just the right location...

  • #188 Posted 4 years ago
  • 0
HSAR

HSAR

I would presume that the transmitter is responsible for appropriately shifting their signal.

Cygnus Control, knowing they have an incoming craft at a particular velocity, would have pre-shifted their signal such that the Doppler effect would move it into whatever "normal" band is used for communication.

The Blackbird, knowing its own velocity, would probably do the same on the return trip.

Space is large and fast moving objects are hard to hit. Although, I was thinking that a one-kilogram mass would have a devastating kinetic energy payload should they decide to destroy instead of observe...

I should note: this story partially inspired by the excerpt "The Ultimate Ground Speed Check" from Brian Schul's "Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Jet".

  • #190 Posted 4 years ago
  • 0
HSAR

HSAR

Time dilation is something I did consider, when working out the technical background for this.

At 0.9C the time dilation factor is approximately 2.29, which is to say the pilot is finding that the outside world is moving twice as fast as it should be.

Comparatively, the observers in Cygnus Control will observe the pilot moving inside the ship half as fast as he should. Neither factor should affect the operation of reconnaissance and/or communication equipment, though.

  • #191 Posted 4 years ago
  • 0
HS Wift

HS Wift

I really enjoyed this story, though I'll have to take your word for it on the Maths. To move so fast, to see the universe fly past your window, to transcend space and time... now that is a feeling I wish I could taste.

  • #195 Posted 4 years ago
  • 0
  • 4 out of 5
Fantasist

Fantasist

The amount of mathematical detail that went into this is astounding. And the barest hint of a chase imminent in the story gave it a nice thrill

  • #206 Posted 4 years ago
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  • Published 4 years ago.
  • Story viewed 22 times and rated 1 times.

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