By Glyn Collinson
“Uh, sir?” Tennyson mumbled nervously. Drake swivelled in his command chair.
“What can I do for you lieutenant?” answered the Sub Commander, sipping his cup of sludgy coffee.
“Approaching outer edge of planets gravitational influence now, uh sir.”
“Very good, inform The Captain.” Drake saluted, and noted the half assertive response.
Sitting at his wooden writing deck, The Captain barely noticed the dull roar of the engines turn to a distant rumble, as the Avenger returned into normal space. The loud chirping of his door bell shattered his contemplation of the stars.
“Duty calls” muttered The Captain, getting to his feet and marching over to the door. On the other side, he discovered a nervous Lieutenant, clutching a data pad. “What can I do for you?” He asked.
“Er, Sir, we have reached Omicron 569.”
“Excellent, what’s that” asked The Captain gesturing to the pad.
“The, er, report on Omicron, do you want it now?”
“No it’s alright. I should be on the bridge.” The Captain leaned over to pick up his olive grey cap with its gold leaf trim and place it firmly upon his crown of brown wavy hair.
The bridge was silent and dark. Lit only be dim illuminators, flashing controls and the brilliant glare of Omicron 569’s twin suns. The bridge was a contemplative and subdued environment, decorated with muted shades of black. It was trapezoidal, Three outward looking walls were made of a criss-cross of thin black metal frames, recessed into which were what appeared to be pains of delicately polished glass panes affording breathtaking views into space. However everyone knew better. The viewing portals were amongst the highest of technological advances on the ship. Not only sensitive to light, but they could block out the harmful Delta radiation that made Hyperspace so treacherous. They could also act as an exquisite viewing screen onto which scenes could be projected. The power flowing through them gave the ‘glass’ a bluish tint, which tended to spark with light, depending upon how many cups of sludge you had drunken at the time.
The Captains chair, a high backed black leather chair with holographic projection screens cunningly recessed into it, was amid the centre of the bridge, on the polished black raised central section that led out from the entrance of the bridge to the catwalk at the viewport level. Everything else on the bridge was below it, in two large crew pits. The recessing allowed the implementation of control and viewing screens around the edges.
Light sources were illusive, partly to save on space, but mainly to provide a calm and contemplating atmosphere for the bridge crew of around thirty, all dressed in immaculate olive grey uniforms.
“Report” The Captain said, striding over to his chair, booted feet constantly clanking the deck plates. He sat in his chair and activated the glowing green holo projectors. “Astrometrics, general synopsis if you please.”
“Omicron 569 has two suns, making the existence of any life bearing planet incredible. Planet three is Class M, with two moons and a set of five rings.”
“Omicron 569 point three?” The Captain exclaimed. “I think it needs a name.”
“Sir, how about Tyranza?” called Drake. The Captain smiled.
“Going for the dramatic, eh, Drake?”
“You asked Captain.” Drake grinned.
“Very well, I christen this planet Tyranza.” He proclaimed, then looking at the frothy oceans, the violent lightning storms and the unfriendly mountains, he muttered “may god have mercy upon its inhabitants.” The Captain tore his eyes away from the boiling oceans of Tyranza, and reached into the holographic projection, switching to a view of the communications section. “Comm station, are we still receiving the distress signal?”
“Affirmative sir. Trying to get a lock on its transponder signal.” The Captain drummed his fingers on the arms of his chair. “Ah got it. ISV… something, hang on, adjusting the signal. Got it it’s the ISV KRa…n.” The Comm officer looked up to see the white faces of everyone on the bridge.
Slowly The Captain uttered “Please confirm, ISV Kran.”
“Understood. Science station, are you registering any life forms on Tyranza?”
“Ack, darn it!” came the response.
“Science station that last one was, a little, unclear.” The Captain said to the holographic representation. “Please repeat.”
“Oh, sorry sir. It’s just that the sensors can’t seem to penetrate the atmosphere.”
“Could be system malfunction. I will get a tech team right on it, should take only a few hours.”
“Well, if there are survivors down there, we need to get to them as quickly as possible.” The Captain said, cutting through the web of shock at the utterance of the Kran’s name. “Colonel Richardson, please assemble an armed scouting and tech party. Sub Commander Drake, you have the bridge.”
“If that really IS the Kran, I am going down there. You have the bridge.”
The Captain had his back turned to the swirling banks of clouds in Tyranza’s atmosphere, so he did not see the ancient satellite power up it’s running lights, and begin to turn towards the gigantic vessel.
“Sir!” One of the officers stuttered and pointed, the windows shimmering, and changing to a close up view.
The Captain turned and stared. The satellite was opening up it’s seed shaped shell like a petal and a glowing point of light began appearing at the tip. Something clicked at the back of his mind. His face contorted with horror as he realised what this meant. His lips moved, sweat pouring down his face. But somehow his voice would not come, so he could not order the Avenger’s energy bombardment shields raised.
The satellite fired its immensely powerful blast. The wave of incandescent light blue energy washed over the Avenger, playing over the long graceful lines like a thunderstorm. The wave moved closer and closer to the bridge. It tore through the windows as if they did not exist, and enveloped The Captain, bathing him in a brilliant light. His entire vision was filled with pure white light. It shone into him, piercing his very soul. His loud scream was obliterated by the blast. His shuddering form was thrown to the ground.
The light dissipated, flooding out in all directions.
For a second no one moved. Then Tennyson rushed forward and helped the Captain to stand up.
“I am alright.” Was all the Captain could utter. “Shields up. Weaponry stations, destroy that probe.”
The bridge crew froze; looking at each other puzzled.
“You heard the Captain.” Drake said, cutting through with an aura of annoyance. “Raise the energy shields!”
The space around the Avenger shuddered, as from
deep within the ship massive power cells projected a shell of energy around
the Star vessel.
“Sir, what probe?”
The Captain was about to answer, when he realised that the space in front of the Avenger was empty. Nothing orbited this world. Not even the pieces of space junk that would show signs of a space born society.
The Captain furrowed his brow in concentration. He wanted to ask a thousand questions. But all he said was.
“Very well. Remove the shield.”
With an air of finality, The Captain swept from his command chair and out of the room.
Double suns burned into Laayk’s eyes as he watched the sunssets. The banks of high clouds were set on fire, and torn apart by the ragged edges of red and blue lights. Large insects with feather like wings danced upon the warm Achranisian breezes. Then as he put two hands together in a symbol of deliverance, and two out feeling the air with his legs crossed a Meter or so above the grassy earth he felt a wave of utter purity wash over him.
“Laayk, the Gods are here.” He heard Pullai call to him through the thoughts. “You must come.”
“Very well. Hogwyodi great master.”
“Hogwyodi my daughters son.”
Laayk took one more look at the glistening stars, falling eternally behind the ragged hills, and plunged into light and out the other side. When he opened his eyes again, he was in his village. A wave of dread and fear hit him in the stomach. THEY were here.
First came the other Nali, beaten and torn, paraded in front of the God’s gigantic beasts. He stared pitying at his brothers and sisters. The Gods with lightning fast movement and accuracy took the first one in the line and had her nailed to the crucifix. The Nali girl screamed, but then, what else could she do? After all she was only a Nali, and THEY were the Gods from the Stars. His stomach turned, as the first alien tore a great lump of flesh from the girl’s side, exposing her innards. He knew it was normal, but every time he saw this, it turned his insides out.
“If only they had not come from the stars in that cursed metal chariot. If only the Messiah would come!”
Now the girl was dead, decaying, and the gods looked for another subject to torture.
“Just think of it Captain” Trooper Edmund said to him for the fifth time. “We will be the first humans to see the Kran for what, four years?”
“Three years eleven months twelve days.”
“Sir, what is so special about the Kran?” Asked a voice from the back of the suiting up room.
“Ahh, good question. The Kran is, or was, the most modern scientific research vessel in the quadrant, assigned to investigating the phenomenon that I know as a Quantum singularity, but most people know simply as a, Black Hole.”
“So what happened to it?” Asked the voice.
“Well,” The Captain continued, pulling on a heavy body suit and checking that the shield pack was registering full charge. “It set out about four and a half years ago to investigate Black Hole number 23051-A. It charted the effect that it had on the surrounding environment, and about the effect that it had on the time around it.”
“Why should time have anything to do with a Black Hole?”
“A Black Hole not only warps light, but space, time and the biggest ones even affect Hyperspace.”
“Indeed. Well the idea of the mission was to fly closer to the event Horizon, that is the edge of the Black Hole, than ever before, and record what happened. The last we heard from the Kran was that it was entering the Black Hole. That was four years ago.”
Silence reigned again.
“So… what made it crash here?”
The Captain grinned, snapping the last restraint in place. “Let’s find out. Gentlemen, let’s go, for a little stroll.”
“I hate these bloody things.” Colonel Richardson said, clambering onto the transporter pad. “Why can’t the Terran Space Force develop a method of travel that isn’t so, well, disconcerting.” The Captain smiled, and ushered the last of the space troopers onto the circular pad. He turned around to get one last look at the Avenger, before hopping up onto the pad with a loud Clank.
“Mr Wilde, activate the transporter.” The Captain said. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the light.
It came as a whisper, then increased to a roar, and then to a thunder. The transporter room, usually dark was lit by a pulsating green glow. The transporter controller put a hand up to block the light, and yelled something to the group about luck. The Captain’s response was inaudible, drowned amongst the sea of sound. Then the light enveloped him.
When it had faded, he was standing in full combat dress on a dark soil, staring out at a scarred and black horizon. A fantastic symphony of stars blared from upon high, and to back it all, the two gargantuan moons, one a bloody orange, the other a silver grey dominated the sky.
“Oh wow.” Was all he could manage. Flipping a control on his wrist, he activated the suit’s floodlights. Around him twenty other men, women and cloned humans did the same. The darkness evaporated as if it was scared of the light. “Ok, Colonel, the show’s all yours.”
“Yes sir. Right three teams, scout for the Kran. If you find anything, report it immediately.”
“Yes Sir!” Came the response, filtered by breath masks. The troopers fanned out into the darkness, chasing shadows wherever they went.
The Captain took a scanner out of his pocket and aimed it at the darkness.
“Getting a reading, still it only goes about five hundred Meters.” He tapped some buttons with thick gloved fingers. “Airs safe, no unrecognised bio organisms.” With a hiss his bubble helmet retracted into the darkness of his suit, and The Captain took a great deep breath of Tyranza’s air. “Air tastes good. Very good in fact.” Colonel Richardson cracked his suit’s seal and showed his head to the clouds.
“Not bad” he grunted. “Sort of pine scented with a hint of jasmine.”
“I didn’t know you were a horticultural man, Richardson.”
“Me?” Richardson laughed a deep fruity laugh. “No, I just did a lot of hiking with my folks back on Terra with my …”
A crackle of static broke the conversation.
“Sir” the tinny voice said from the recessed speakers in Richardson’s suit. “We have located a crashed spaceship, sector 7G-27A.” This was drowned out by a whoop of joy from the background. The Captain smiled. “Sir! I can see a registration plate.”
“Well, what does it say?” asked the impatient colonel.
“It says ‘ISV KRAN’”
Before long, The Captain was staring up at the huge black hulk that was clearly the long sought after starship.
“Good to see you again you old girl.” The Captain muttered to the ship. “Ok, we have found her that’s the first step. Trooper Edmund, contact the Avenger. Tell her that we have found the ISV Kran, give our position, and tell then that we are going in.”
“Trooper Edmund?” The Captain asked. Silence replied. “Trooper Edmund report.” There was a muttering from among the troops.
“Sir?” the voice said.
“We haven’t seen Edmunds ever since we split up.”
“Which team was he in?”
“Team three, sir.”
“Who was responsible for team three?”
“Lieutenant Clark, sir.”
“And where is Clark?”
“Computer?” The Captain asked his suit. The computer beeped back at him in confirmation. “How many people are missing?”
“Five” the mechanical response came.
Silence permeated the dark and oppressive night.
“I think we had better get to the ship.” Colonel Richardson said.
“We can’t. Not until it orbits over head.” Answered The Captain. “Now, I suggest that we find a way inside the ship.”
“What about Edmund, Clark and the others?”
“They are in sealed suits with environment gear with them. Let’s wait until morning. If they are alive, we will find them then.”
“How and when can we get in?” someone asked.
The Captain turned, tracing the familiar lines along the ships hull with his eyes. The sides were battered, scorched and covered in frost. Then he found the correct place and applied a gloved hand to a glass box. It shattered sending shards and slivers of silvery glass off into the blackness.
“Right here, and, right now.” The Captain replied.
There was a rumbling, and then a section of the battered hull creaked open, spilling white light out into the night, dulling even the powerful glare of the trooper’s illuminators. “This way.” The Captain said, ushering the troopers inside the safety of the starship.
“Captain, are you sure that the crew of the Kran would be, well, sane, after so long spent crashed on an alien world?” Asked Richardson nervously, as The Captain sealed the heavy airlock hatch. The gigantic door creaked and protested, but eventually surrendered to its closed position.
“Colonel, I knew most of the crew personally. Believe me, they are not the kind of people who would snap and start doing psychotic things. Trust me.”
Laayk tore out of his vivid and disturbing world of dreams and into the reality of his home with a scream of despair. Images of the rotting Nali girl, her dying body undulating in movements of agony as the gods tore her apart, danced in front of him. The image faded, but the fear remained.
Pullai was instantly by his side, appearing out of the light and comforting him.
“A nightmare my daughters son, a nightmare, nothing more.”
“No my mothers father, I dreamt of that girl, and the ones that followed.”
All four of Pullai’s shoulders shuddered, as if an icy chill had touched him.
“Just blot it out, they will be gone one day, and the Nali will be free.”
“Well I say we fight them. Do to them what they did to us. Tear THEM apart!” Laayk shouted triumphantly.
“QUIET, stupid one! DO NOT.” Pullai lowered his volume “Do not let the gods hear you say such things my daughters son. The gods have promised us freedom, as soon as they have finished taking all the blue crystal, so they can take their metal chariot back to the stars. Wait, do not act. Wait.”
“My Mothers Father, we HAVE been waiting, for endless suns now! And we are not one step closer to freedom than the day after the metal chariot fell from the stars.”
“They were sent here, by Chizara, to punish the sins of the Nali, you must remember my daughters son, that they let us go about our business, as if they were not there!”
“Apart from the fact that they slaughter us mercilessly, and torture us for no reason apart from gaining satisfaction. We must act.”
“My daughters son, listen to me.” Pullai opened a shutter with three of his hands and kept the fourth on one of Laayk’s shoulders. Once the shutter was moved, the stars in all their glory could be seen. “Look out there into the blackness. It was from there they came, and to there they will…”
Pullai paused, looking up in interest. The phrase from Nali religious books forgotten as he gazed in wonderment at the spectacle. “My daughters son, what star is that?” He asked, pointing to an exceptionally bright star which seemed to be moving ever so slowly against the bright orange nebula.
“That one? Hmmwa I have never seen that one before. How odd. Do you think that it is a rock fall?”
“Far too slow my daughters son, and too bright. The last time I saw a star like that was just before the metal temple fell, I remember it looking up as a boy of only ten rotations, and seeing a bright star just like…”
He never finished his sentence, for Fyroll burst into their thoughts, trailing an air of excitement behind her.
“Laayk, Pullai you must come now, we have found an injured Minion!”
“You have my wifeforever? What does he look like?” Pullai asked.
“It isn’t a he, it is a she my husbandforever, and she is dressed in a large hard black suit like an insect, with lights arranged upon her shoulders, as bright as the suns!”
Pullai and Laayk were no longer there; they had
already gone in and out of the light, to where Fyroll stood, with a dying
Lieutenant Clark at her feet.
STARFIRE is copyright Glyn Collinson.
UNREAL is copyright to Epic Games.
Please do not plagarise this story! I have done hours of work on it, and to copy it and say it is yours would just show how un-imaginative and illiterate you are. I am sure you agree.