Story Idea: One of Our Wormholes is Missing

Here’s a little story idea that I think has a lot of potential. You could spin this concept off in a lot of different narrative directions, but outlined below is the one that I personally think has the most merit.

Do you remember those Goa’uld Ha’tak ships from Stargate SG-1? The ones that looked like a cross between a pyramid and a curled up dead spider? Of course you do. And you’ll also remember that some of them quite cleverly carried stargates. The onboard stargates – stored in unguarded, unmonitored cargo bays – could establish a wormhole connection to any planet in the gate network, providing instant access to virtually any bronze age society in the galaxy, and providing a convenient entry point for teams of Tau’ri saboteurs.

ha'tak

Of course, there was a proviso. The ship-board stargate could only be activated when in proximity to a planet with its own gate. The ancient gate builders didn’t allow for mobile stargates when they created their dial-a-wormhole network, and the ship needed to make use of a planet’s specific area code.

But imagine if you could create a wormhole connection to a ship travelling through deep space. Wouldn’t that be useful? Indeed it sounds almost too useful, too powerful and convenient a technology, so we’re going to have to work in a proviso of our own just so that there’s something to go wrong.

Now, before you go saying that this technology would negate the need for space ships, hear me out.

The Premise

So here’s the idea. It’s the future (there are no bronze age space traveller clichés in this story) and mankind has developed wormhole technology. It’s pretty sweet, but it does have limitations.

Establishing a wormhole connection is pretty tricky; it requires precision targeting, lots of power, and presumably some nerdy genius spouting technobable while tapping at a keyboard (have you noticed that you never see a computer mouse in the movies? Why is that?). Devices are used at either end of the wormhole, we can call them ‘stargates’ if you like. These ‘gates’ give the wormhole something to lock onto, and once the connection is made they’re instrumental in keeping the wormhole open.

Unlike SG-1’s stargates, these wormholes can be kept open indefinitely, and once active they require very little power to maintain (plot point). Perhaps they draw on zero-point energy or something. I dunno.

For multitudinous and incomprehensible reasons, it’s much easier to establish a connection between two ‘gates’ that are fairly close together, but after the connection is made they can be moved farther apart without destabilizing the wormhole.

So humanity builds a ship with a ‘stargate’ onboard, partners it with a gate on an orbiting space station (or perhaps an underground bunker, or some equally interesting location), and launches it into deep space. The wormhole remains open, and the ship stays connected to its home base even when it’s light-years away.

The ship’s mission is one of colonization. Once it reaches its destination – a nice planet somewhere – supplies and willing colonists can be sent through the wormhole en masse. The ship is essentially a mobile freight and passenger terminal. It will take about a hundred years to get anywhere because sub-light propulsion sucks, but when it does we’ll have a magic doorway to a new world. This has never been done before, and people think it’s pretty cool.

As people can step back and forth between the ship and its mission HQ any time they like, there’s no need for a permanent crew of adventurous pioneers. And as the ship is currently drifting through an unending void of absolute nothingness, it can be operated and maintained by a skeleton crew.

But the ship isn’t in sleep mode. Oh no. Awesome-Interstellar-Wormhole-Ships Incorporated have found another use for it during the long voyage: It’s a popular tourist resort with stunning views of sod all, and just a stone’s throw from Cheyenne Mountain, or the International Space Station, or the top of a space-elevator, or wherever the hell the mouth of the wormhole is.

It’s a cruise ship on a hundred year voyage, the ultimate get-away-from-it-all vacation spot.

tumblr_static_axiom_wallpaper_by_max_liksys

Like it? Now for the plot…

The Story

So we’ve got a colony ship turned cruise ship drifting through deep space with a bunch of rich and probably quite highly strung passengers on board. Some of them are nice, relatable, and quirky. Some of them are absolute dicks (surely the richest among them). Let’s be honest, it’s the underpaid service staff that we’re going to find most relatable here.

Oh, and you can feel free to drop in sub-plots about adulterous behaviour, shadey business deals, couples with trust issues, even an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. Whatever floats your boat.

What goes wrong on this voyage of the damned? Why, the wormhole connection cuts out, of course!

Sabotage, perhaps? Or just an accident? I’ll leave it for you to decide.

So, the convenient doorway to Earth disappears, and everybody is stranded in deep space. Do they work together to find a solution? Of course not, they panic instead. They know just as well as we do that the boffins back on Earth can’t just re-establish a wormhole connection willy nilly. I mean, it’s not like dialling a telephone, there’s complex theoretical physics involved.

No, seriously, it can’t be done. The ship is too far from Earth.

I mean it, that wormhole is gone. It’s pushing up the daisies. It’s an ex-stargate.

Fortunately, those boffins in the crisis management department are given a ridiculously short time frame to work out a solution, and this spurs them on to develop a rescue plan. The wormhole connection to the ship really is impossible to re-establish, but luckily enough there just happens to be another ship carrying another wormhole.

Wormhole #2 is aboard an old unmanned probe. The tiny probe was the proof of concept for the wormhole-on-a-ship technology, and it had pretty much been forgotten about. But all these years later, the probe’s two-way connection to Earth is still intact thanks to the miracle of low-cost zero-point energy (see, I told you it was a plot point).

Where is this trusty old steed? Why, it just happens to be in the area, of course! All it has to do is slow down, make a slight course correction, and wait for the stranded vacationers to catch up.

And so somebody pulls a dusty tarp off some old equipment, and the rescue mission begins…

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  • Whaaat?
    Have you never seen the most famous “computer mouse” scene in Sci Fi history?
    Well – here it is!

  • Very sad news guys. Leonard Nimoy has passed away!

    Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human

    LLAP

    He was my favorite ST character of all and one of the nicest persons I ever had the privilege to meet.

    • Very sad news 🙁 Maybe we should do a tribute or something. Although my facebook right now is nothing BUT tributes!

      • Facebook is not “Sci Fi Ideas” -of course you should. “We did a very moving tribute to James Dohaan, Deforest Kelley, and have one for Leonard Nimoy at our Second Life RPG group. Every SF and sci fi site has one. So why niot SCI FI – Ideas?

        • We posted something on our Facebook page. I’ve been too busy (working overtime) to put anything up on the website.
          Besides, I figured everybody would be doing the same, so people would quickly get bored of all the tributes.

          • Overtime and “real
            life” comes first for all of us.

            I will be much less active
            the next few month as well, as we are about to go into production.
            (Meaning the third stage of making a movie) [1]

            And that means I am very
            busy and out of your “proverbial” hair.

            So I perfectly understand
            the overtime and life commitments that take priority of any unpaid
            online activity.

            However (and I might be
            mistaken) you sounded a little annoyed perhaps?

            A tribute to an
            influential person to the Sci Fi world, at least in my opinion, is
            not so much about other people reading it and getting bored, but

            to pay respects to that
            person and a reflection of ones own emotions.

            Six out of ten religions
            agree that Mr. Nimoy won’t gain anything personally out of any
            tributes and he is past any needs.

            But would you not agree
            that Nimoy and in extension through his most famous character, Spock
            did a lot in terms of promoting Sci Fi ideas world wide?

            In that sense and in
            extension would it not show to the Sci Fi interested community, that
            SCI FI ideas is out there recognizing that?

            You know I am here because
            I think this is a great site and I enjoy this small community of more
            or less likewise minded minds.

            If your “tributes”
            steer even just one new geek to this, your site. Would that not be
            worth the effort if nothing else?

            Of course I might be
            completely wrong, reading much more between the lines than what is
            really there.

            In any case I would like
            to thank you for taking time off your busy schedule and doing it.

            Sincerely yours,

            Vanessa Ravencroft (a
            geek)

            [1] Conceptual stage 1,
            Pre-Production 2, Production 3, Post Production 4

        • OK I’m sharing this tribute on all our social media outlets – from Ongoingworlds.com and written by our own David Ball.
          http://www.ongoingworlds.com/blog/2015/02/10-greatest-spock-quotes/
          Satisfied? :p

      • Maybe a collective post of Sci Fi Ideas on Twitter for: #leonardnimoy , #nimoy , #leonard , #startrek, #startrekthenextgeneration, #TheRealNimoy

        A Facebook note ..and why not a tribute on Sci Fi Ideas?

        • Jaxx

          Again we loose a precious member of Sci-Fi. A tribute would be cool. Perhaps you can create a hard to get OW
          award and name it after him.

          • Good idea, but I am not associated with “Sci Fi Ideas” other than I post a lot. But the idea is great.

            • Jaxx

              Well back when i was a Treky in Region 4 we actually had an award called the “Order of the Picard” to recognize our long time founder and Captain who was stepping down and moving away due to his job. The award recognized his outstanding leadership and coincidentally his being bald as well.

            • Nice,but Sci Fi ideas is not an RPG site or has a very active community -And to issue a Nimoy prize or Spock award outside of such a fan group would need the authorization of the Nimoy estate or in the case of Spock , authorization of Paramount or CBS or whoever holds the rights.
              Of course I still think it would be a nice touch for some kind of official SCI FI Ideas acknowledgement.

              (Region 4 – Second Life?)

            • Jaxx

              LOL no silly the Star Trek fan club and I meant Region 3.
              http://www.region3.org/
              My Treky friends charmed me and my wife to join it. We attended Treky conventions and did group activities like BBQs, Laser Tag, Star Trek Movies and so on. We raised money for the Houston Food Bank as well since it is required to support a Charity. In the end my wife and I moved on after a falling out with some of the others, but it was fun for a few years.

            • I see it is in Lubbock TX. I have seen Lubbock many times in my “rear view mirror”. I am from Brady, Tx

            • Jaxx

              From what I remember it covers Austin, Lubbock, Houston and a few cities near by. I am in NW Houston myself. Like I said it was fun but we moved on. Now I focus on martial arts, school, my career and my family.

            • Sadly I am not in TX but in LA . Just nice to meet another Trekkie from Tx. Houston,eh? I was born in Galveston… Ah I am getting homesick.

            • Jaxx

              Rather ironic my wife graduated from Galveston A&M. It was a long commute for me to see her when we were dating, but we had fun while we were there. We spent many days eating at Joe’s Crab Shack. Ahhh good times. 😉

  • Real geeks don’t use computer mice. I’m like the only one in my office that does

  • Sad to hear about Leonard Nimoy, but has has anybody got any comments about the actual article? Life goes on…

    • It is a nice premise and and certainly a great story starter.

      A new approach to the Wormhole / travel portal idea.

      I usually like to take your SCI FI story starters if I can work them into my “Universe” [1]

      As awesome as this one is, it doesn’t fit so I pass.

      But that doesn’t mean the story idea is not good.

      It has the taste of a Clifford D.Simak story premise.

      [1] My Universe has Transmatter Tunnels and Matter Radio this is the core reason it won’t fit

      http://galnet.wikia.com/wiki/Trans_Matter_Tunnel

  • If you look closely at the picture of the Axiom (Wall.E) you’ll see that the Buy’n’Large logo has been replaced with the Aperture Labs logo from Portal. Not my doing, I just found it and figured it was the perfect image for this article 🙂

  • Sedat Engin

    Wormhole #2 ship was previously activated and sent there on purpose before our cruise ship starting it’s trip, by one of the unknown passenger. This is understood by the captain when he notice their drifting course was manipulated to be exactly at this point of the space after loosing wormhole. This raises the question on board who sabotaged the cruise ship’s wormhole and who sent #2. Everybody starts to blame each other over some stories and clues. People turn on and start to kill each other especially after the ridiculous rich guy putting a big price on the savior to reach the other ship. All access codes for bay doors and transport pods were changed by captain and unfortunately he was the first one to be killed. Chaos takes over the ship and it’s now only a survival course. One of the last two man alive confess all his doing over a revenge from the cruise corporation and with the final fight both are dead. In the end #2 stays there empty, ready to be used like a bad curse. There was no one left alive to go back to world as we are all weak and dull. Always select to fight and desecrate each and never understand the real enemy actually is only ourselves if we let greed to guide our decisions.