Fry Contact

Location: Jet aircraft flying at the edge of space

The pilot was close to the theoretical altitude limit of his jet-aircraft when he thought he spotted something nearby. The aircraft was a technical feat circa 1950’s technology, the latest available on the planet. He decided to push the limits of his vehicle to get a closer look. The reality was that the extreme altitude was pushing the pilot’s limit, and he began hallucinating.

Location: Main Bridge Starship - View screen

The starship NCC-XXXX was a medical supply ship on a routine mission. On the view-screen was a small aircraft.

The small aircraft bounced and skipped on the surface of the atmosphere. The aircraft wasn’t designed for space-flight, but it had reached the edge of space. The aircraft started glowing red hot after a few minutes. On the bridge of the NCC-XXXX the crew was becoming quite upset.

“He isn’t going to make it sir. He’s frying. ” The first officer reported to the captain. “What should we do ?”. The flights quandary had become the focus of the crew’s attention when it was picked up on the scanner. A small red dot bounced around onscreen next to the blue-green planet. The first officer thought he already knew what they were supposed to do according to official policy: nothing.

The problem was that it was a society on the verge of discovering space-flight; the federation and aliens in general were unknown to them. New ideas and new awareness were abounding for their society. This wasn’t supposed to be a contact mission, but a brief reconnaissance one. The Federation had moved its viewing posts off the planet some decades ago, when it was obvious that the society was progressing rapidly, and may soon be able to detect outposts. In place of the outposts they had left a cloaked spy satellite high in orbit. A periodic mission for a starship was to ensure the spy satellite was working correctly, and pick up data from it. The Federation had been spying on the Earth-like civilization for almost 100 years.

But today the civilization was close to being in direct contact with Star-Fleet.  Official first contact often came when a civilization could meet Star-Fleet on its own terms. Real meaningful contact came when two sides were somewhat similar. A major feature of similarities being technological prowess. Technology isn’t fearsome when you can understand it, and build it yourself. Star-Fleet’s policies were designed to ensure the best outcome from a contact. That meant usually a meeting if the civilization has developed warp technologies, and not sooner. [1]


The pilot was cycling the jet engines on and off, trying to force the aircraft further down into the atmosphere where it would be easier to fly. The rotational inertia of the aircraft from the planet was trying to throw the aircraft into space. The heat of the upper atmosphere combined with the air friction was melting the pilot’s airplane. The flight controls were failing. The pilot was one of the first people to discover problems associated with getting off and back onto the planet. The information would be invaluable if he were to survive.

Main Bridge:

“Sir what should we do ?” The first officer repeated.

“Take a shuttle-craft and tractor that plane onboard. It’ll be too difficult to get a transporter lock on the fellow. Hurry we don’t have much time.” The captain ordered. “Have the doctor waiting in the shuttle-bay for a severe burn victim(s).”


The pilot couldn’t believe it, the aircraft suddenly seemed to be easier to maneuver. The thermostat showed a decrease in temperature.  Then the pilot saw something else he couldn’t believe. There was a strange glow around his airplane, coming from another vehicle some distance away. He knew he must be hallucinating, on the verge of death.


On the shuttle personnel made a quick decision to fire on the pilot’s aircraft engines to disable them. The pilot was still trying to fly his aircraft even though it was caught in a tractor beam. It wasn’t helping the situation and they had no way to communicate with him.

Shuttle Bay:

The shuttle successfully managed to tractor the aircraft to the shuttle bay. The airplane was smoking hot and on fire in various places. In particular a painted emblem on the side of the fuselage burned like some sort of demonic omen.

The plane had a high powered cabin cooler onboard. And the pilot was wearing a thermal suit. His suit and cabin cooler saved him. The outside of the aircraft had reached thousands of degrees in temperature. It was scorched and melted all over. Star-Fleet hanger deck personnel had to spray the airplane with a cooling foam[2] before they could try and get inside. Several Star-Fleet personnel had minor burns incurred trying to remove the pilot from the aircraft.

Ready Room:

The captain’s ready room was in an uproar. Not everybody agreed with the captain’s approach of trying to save the pilot. Several different crew members commented in succession.

“How’s he getting back to the surface ? He obviously can’t fly that wreck of a plane back down. How are we going to handle the situation now, captain ? Drop him in a basket and claim that storks rescued him ?”

“We have to give him more details of what happened, and what Star-Fleet is about. Otherwise, Do you really want him believing that angels rescued him, and not Star-Fleet ?”

“What can we expect him to say ?”

“In any case we have to try to set his perspectives into a positive light.”

Medical Bay:

The pilot’s air supply mask had melted onto his face. With his helmet and air-supply hose he looked like some kind of elephantine alien. The doctor decided to cut a hole in the air-supply hose to allow fresh atmosphere to reach the individual, rather than trying to remove mask right away. Removing the mask too quickly might peel away his face.

The doctor carefully cut away part of the pilot’s air suit, and was shocked with what she saw.

“Oh my God, he’s been boiled in his own sweat.” “He’s got third and fourth degree burns all over his body.”  There were rings of purple and orange patches all over his body. The pilot’s air suit had acted to trap water, when the temperature passed the boiling point the water started boiling.  “His hands are a write-off. He’ll need new fingers at least.”

According to the thermostat the cockpit hit a peak temperature of 452 degrees. While his skin was boiled his internal organs were dried out.  Every ounce of fluid in the pilot’s body had gone into sweat to try and cool him down. The pilot didn’t have an ounce of water left in him. He’s almost completely dried out internally to the point of being mummified.

The doctor hooked up an IV with a saline solution in it to restore the pilots water. Then they moved him to an isolation chamber. If he lived he wouldn’t look pretty.

The doctor began growing skin-grafts along with fingers for the pilot. He would need a new skin in order to survive.



After several weeks of care the pilot had recuperated, he was left with circular scars where his skin had boiled.

The captain decided to write a letter of confidence to the president appealing to keep Star-Fleet’s existence a secret for the present time. He gave the letter along with a button from a Star-Fleet uniform to the pilot. When the pilot had recovered enough the pilot was taken back to the surface at night, under cloak, via shuttle-craft.

The official story on the planet’s surface was that the pilot’s aircraft malfunctioned and he ejected from the plane. He had managed to survive in the wilderness for several weeks. Only a handful of people knew the real story.





[1] This isn’t really Star-Fleets policy but one of the many myths about Star-Fleet. The real policy is to get involved with governments as soon as a habitable planet with intelligent life is found. Star-Fleet’s exploration policy is an attempt to find and interact with habitable worlds as soon as possible. Star-Fleet leaves it up to governments on the planet’s surface as to whether or not Star-Fleet’s existence is generally known.


[2] Cooling foam is cool stuff. It traps heat inside the foam as it hardens into something resembling space shuttle foam. The surface of the foam is cool, but one has to wait until it’s hardened.