The Maya prophesized that the Fifth World, mankind’s current age, ends
with the final day of their long count b’ak’tun. That day is planet Earth’s
winter solstice day, the twenty-first of December. On that day an extraordinary celestial happening occurs. The
Sun’s point of ecliptic is precisely parallel with the galactic equator of the
Milky Way forming a perfect alignment with the center of the galaxy.
As the Mayan calendar’s Fifth World comes to a close, the crew of an
insignificant space scow delivering supplies to a colony on Jupiter
receives a distress call.
Herein recounted for your consideration: the participation by the crew of the Australian solar space freighter, Hannibal Prescott, in the sequence of temporal events that follow the rescue of a strange ship; the ships transcendent mission; its voyage; its return and the outcome of the chance encounter near one of Jupiter’s lesser moons with the Prescott.
Part the First
Hovering out beyond Jupiter’s rim,
Near the gas giants seventh moon,
The Hannibal Prescott in low orbit
Readies to land at lunar noon.
From the proximity of Xanadu,
In the asteroid dust belt’s chaff,
A call of ship’s distress, in analogue
Is verified by Prescott’s staff.
Approaching Ganymede’s from night side
The crewmen of the rugged ship
Abort their preset docking procedure
For landing at their mooring slip,
Reversing their orbital landing glide,
The Prescott moves out hard and fast,
Maneuvering awkwardly for a time,
Its engines screaming loud with blast
Escapes huge Ganymede’s mighty pull.
Using routines the crew all knew
It sets a course to intercept the source
Of dead space noise near Xanadu.
Waiting in a near transparent sky,
First fixed on Prescott’s scanning strip,
A blip shows, then slowly grows to take shape
As a behemoth interstellar ship.
It stretches out in space, mile after mile,
Dwarfing the rugged Union freight.
Its vertical beam rises forty decks,
That seem to flow and oscillate.
The Prescott locks on the bizarre craft,
Testing for life signs gives a tone,
From somewhere in its cavernous bowels
One survivor’s form becomes known.
The Hannibal Prescott is squat and lean
With a crew’s complement of ten.
Its geodesic bridge is quite narrow,
A cramped, tight fit for all the men.
They gather to greet the lone survivor
What to make of him they do not know,
Found attached to the comtrol of his ship,
Stationed twenty-one decks below.
The look of age, deep eyed with hoary hair
Mottled skin and gnarled work worn hands,
Freed of his prefrontal sensor tether
The strange ship’s channeler there stands.
On Prescott’s comtrol-pit bridge he gazes
At the ten crewmen he sees there.
A friendly mix of Australian faces:
Some with dark skin and some with fair.
Slack flesh clothes an emaciated form
Over bones that within him creak.
In a rushed whisper with a dry cracked voice
To Prescott’s crew he begins to speak.
“Ask not why I have a beard and skin
That is fast falling from the bone.
I know I look the leper’s kin
And God knows to be alone.”