By Glyn Collinson
 

Epilogue


The Captain floated in limbo, seeing an infinite whiteness stretching before him. He was faintly aware that he didn't hurt anywhere, and he should do. He remembered the few seconds before the wall of death reached him and was suddenly, the whiteness around him transformed into that moment, frozen in time. The Skaarj were reaching for him, claws extended. The Captain was strangely calm. The images that danced before his eyes filled him with no fear. He stepped around the mass of death to stare right into the gigantic eyes of the Queen.

"This is all your fault you know." He said to the thing.

"Why is that?" Boomed the response, the mass of flesh quivered the charges the team had placed onto it clanked and beeped.

"You descent upon this planet, and instead of thinking of an alternative to the Blue Crystal, you come and strip mine the place. You impose technology on a race that was not ready for it."

"Why is there any difference between what I have done, and what you have done?"

The Captain paused.

"You can't win you know." He said, changing the subject.

"Why do you say you have won?"

"Your colonies are destroyed, the blue crystal shattered, and you, your highness, are about to be blown into a million little pieces."

"You are much in error. It is I that have won. You, the Messiah have been killed. Without you, there can be no victory."

"If I am dead, then how come I am standing here?"

"You are not standing there. Look behind you."

The Captain turned to see himself, drenched in his own blood being eaten by the swarm. The warriors were biting huge chunks from his flesh and gobbling them down with great relish.

"That cannot be me."

"Why not? Ask yourself that Messiah. Does blood still move through your veins?"

The Captain, a wave of panic filling him clutched at his wrist. He felt around for a pulse, but found none. His face broke into a disbelieving stare.

"No?" The Queen asked him. "Well that is because, you are quite, quite dead. You are not here."

"Then how come we are having this conversation?"

"Maybe it is because I wanted to confront yourself. Then again, maybe I had nothing to do with it. Maybe this has all been in your mind. Maybe I am only a part of your imagination."

"If you are part of me." The Captain said, "then I can destroy you."

"Perhaps, but unfortunately, I cannot comply Messiah."

"Why not? Why can't I destroy you?"

The Queen leaned forward, its gigantic eyes only meters from his face.

"Because, I am not really here either."

With that, the Queen disappeared as if it had never existed, phasing into the blackness of the chamber. The Skaarj and the remains of his corpse went with her.

The charges that the team had laid clattered to the floor with a loud spang. Upon impact, the tiny red lights on top of each disk began winking, and then changed to a bright green.

They exploded, the intense light chasing away the shadows and the darkness of the Skaarj vessel. The explosion seemed to rock the very fabric of space itself. The Captain covered his face with his arms as the nuclear reaction enveloped him 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.

"Are you alright Captain?" he asked.

The Captain stared at his face, and looked around. The calm, soothing confines of the bridge surrounded him. The windows showed a view of the planet, its seas boiling, its clouds hammering the ground with lightning.

"What is going on?" he asked.

"Sir, you have just been hit by the fire from an alien satellite. Luckily one of our gunners managed to hit it with a salvo, and we have the shields up. We will not have any more trouble and the ship is undamaged. But sir, are you alright?"

The Captain stood in the middle of the bridge, watching all the eyes stare back at him.

"I don't know." He said. I think I had better get down to the medical bay. Psycho will be thrilled to see me.

*****

"We have finished our analysis of the blast that hit you. It was a temporal weapon, designed to knock out the commander of a Battle ship and warp his sense of reality by creating a false timeline." Lieutenant Ivan reported to the Captain. "It uses a type of crystal which has curiously mind warping properties."

"Tarydium" The Captain added, glancing at the universal translator on the observation lounges desk, recording the briefing and translating it into all the languages that the crew understood.

"What about the Kran?" he asked.

"The crew are dead sir."

"What killed them?"

"They died of old age sir. Landing parties that we have sent down indicate that the ships atomic clock is five thousand, and three hundred years fast. We think that it was caught in the Black hole's gravity well, which warps time as well as space, and threw it out in space and backwards in time. By the time it crashed, five thousand years had elapsed, which is how it got here without using a Hyperdrive. The satellite was from a now extinct species, which died out approximately three thousand years ago. They were apparently dependent on this Tarydium of yours, landed here to mine the place and their equipment was sabotaged by the native alien population. The files that we have found in their mother ship's core are very detailed and tell us all about a rogue computer programmer who's mind became warped by the crystal and destroyed their entire crystal seem with a home made charge. The history is quite extensive."

The Captain grunted and nodded, staring down at the world. He felt tears welling up inside him, but he held them back. "It is amazing how close my experience was to the real history."

A revelation hit The Captain. "Maybe…" he began. "Maybe the satellite was not a weapon. Maybe it was just a way of passing on events and memories, to keep them alive inside someone else." He paused, a single tear glistening in his eye. "To ensure that the planet would not be forgotten. Do we know who built the satellite?"

"No sir, they do not conform with either our, the native population or the Alien race's technology. It was clearly far, far older."

"And now the satellite is gone, the memories are lost?"

"Well sir, that is not true. They are a part of you now."

The Captain grunted again.

"Well thank you Lieutenant Ivans. That will be all."

Ivans gave a smart salute and turned to leave.

"Sir." He said. "Permission to voice a concern."

"Very well." The Captain said, rubbing his tired eyes. They felt like they were a thousand years old.

"These Skaarj sir. Do you think that there ever were such a race?"

"I couldn't say Lieutenant." The Captain mused "I wonder if there ever could be a race driven by such pure hatred, who's very instinct is to destroy and persecute."

Lieutenant Ivans nodded, saluted once again and left, leaving the Captain alone.

He got up and walked over to the window, looking down onto the world. So many questions, and with the probe gone, no way to answer them.

His back was turned from the table, so there was no way that he could see that the translator's case bore the mark of "ISV KRAN" and had just converted the entire briefing in the strange language of the Nali.


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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.