God and the Universe

EPOCH GALAXY EXCERPT

PART II

Chapter 3

At the tip of the center spiral of the Milk Way galaxy, on the seventh planet from a star three solar masses larger than the Earth’s sun a young man sat alone in a listening and observation post monitoring spacial anomalies. It was dark and lonely at nearly 20,000 meters above the level of the one vast ocean that covered the planet. He was tired and near despondent at having chosen a career that so far had led to nothing.
In a kind of rebellion against himself and the planetary agencies that oversaw the project, he often turned off all of the sensors and simply went to sleep. On the darkest night of the planetary year he was angrily switching off the sensors. When he reached to touch the screen on the last sensor to shut it down, he saw a green flash on the screen. His hand froze, his breathing nearly stopped and he stood incredulous and paralyzed as he waited for another flash. As he was about to regain control of himself, the green flashed brighter on the screen and for a moment he nearly lost consciousness.
Only slightly more composed the young man fumbled in his pocket for his communicator, “Sir, it’s happening. You better get up here.”
In less than the time it took the young man to switch back on all of the sensors, the elevator door opened and a pack of scientists and planetary officials filled the room to capacity. They had all transported in by the archaic instantaneous travel system, or ITS, still in use by planetary agencies. The leader of the project, Commander Lorin Prosper, was a tall female, hairless with sapphire red eyes, dark skin and slender nose and a voice sweet and low, typical of the leadership group into which she was born.
Lorin, with an entourage behind her, walked up to the young man who had summoned them all, bowed sincerely, and then with a calm that belied the urgency of the situation commanded, “Show me what you have, Arum.”
“Commander, the quantum spacial sensor that monitors anomalies in the configuration of space throughout the galaxy picked up a change in the configuration of the space about 100,000 light years from here on the edge of the galaxy.”
Lorin knew it was not natural, but asked anyway, “Could this be a natural phenomenon, like the explosion of a supermassive star or the merger of black holes?”
“Not a chance,” Arum replied, breathing heavily and nervous to be in the presence of the commander. “The sensor that picked up this anomaly is programed to ‘feel’ tugs on the fabric of space at the level of the individual spacial nodes. Star explosions or black hole clashes produce violent ripples. This is not a ripple, it’s an actual manipulation of space.”
Lorin’s skin tightened around her forehead and her nose began to vibrate. “Manipulation by who or what?”
“Commander,” a voice rose from behind her. It was one of the planetary scientists involved with the project since its inception.
“What is it Kalm? Do you know what this could be?” The group of scientists and officials began to talk among themselves to the point that Lorin, already agitated and concerned yelled, “Be quiet, all of you. I want to hear from Kalm.”
“Commander, I believe this may be manipulation of space by other sentient beings. We will have to analyze the data, of course, but I predict that what we are witnessing right now is the purposeful tampering with both space and time. It may even be possible that this manipulation could affect our region of space.”
An aid standing next to commander Lorin spoke up, “How could there possibly be an intelligence out there so reckless as to tamper with the fabric of space? They have to realize the consequences if they have any level of intelligence at all.”
Lorin folded her arms, and turned toward the group behind her. “Well, we all know intelligence and wisdom are two different things. We’ve made our share of mistakes along the way. So let’s not rush to judgement here. The data from this sensor as well as others must be analyzed. In the mean time I will recommend to the planetary council that we go on high alert. Once the data is gathered, we will send a spacial probe to that region of the galaxy to determine if this is a threat or something benign. Regardless, this will be kept secret. We will not alert the populace yet. But our transparency laws won’t let us keep this secret for long. If it is determined that the galaxy is at risk, we will mitigate that risk by whatever means will protect the integrity of space throughout the galaxy.” Lorin turned to Kalm and spoke to him with her eyes, letting him know she wished to speak to him privately.
The rest of the group, as if by some sort of internal programing filed into the one large meeting room in the observation station and began to organize themselves into teams for data analysis, planetary communications and political messaging. Kalm and Lorin moved to a corner of the room and began a quiet conversation. Commander Lorin spoke softly but firmly, “Kalm, we should check this anomaly with our nearest neighbors in this space. That will help us verify if this is really the work of some rogue intelligence. It could also be an attempt to prevent some unknown galactic event that threatens a planet we are not familiar with. We have to get as much information as we can before we act.”
Kalm nodded in agreement. His dark, golden skin began to ripple, betraying his nervous nature. His soft pink eyes gave him a feminine appearance, but his voice was characteristically male. He looked deeply into Lorin’s eyes so that Lorin knew what he was about to say, “You are correct. We must confirm this with at least one of our neighbors. However, we should limit it to the least likely to over-react. If this is space tampering, it’s likely to set some of our neighbors on a course to immediately eliminate any threat they may perceive. Why don’t I discreetly contact the Raylians? They have proven to be the most reasonable and they are the oldest of the civilizations in this part of the galaxy. They may already be aware of this spacial disturbance.”
“Do it. Get back to me as soon as possible. I have to go now and meet those political types in the other room before they conceive of some silly plan and contact the heads of the planetary governments. I will then travel to the central city and begin a series of briefings. I don’t want to get on the wrong side of our transparency laws.
Kalm bowed and said, “I understand.”

After meeting with the group of scientists and planetary officials and giving them clear instructions, Lorin stepped into her personal ITS along with an aid who had stood silently nearby during the her briefing from Arum, always close enough to protect her if the need arose.
In normal mode the ITS would have transported them to the central city in a matter of seconds. But Lorin wanted time to gather her thoughts. She was a Rho’hilian. The planet Rho was ten billion years old. It was one of the first planets to develop and sentient life had been on Rho for over a billion years. It was a very long period of time compared to that of most planets.

“Commander, aren’t we going the wrong way and slower than we should?” her aid questioned.
“No A’Hor, we are headed home. I’m not going to meet with the planetary council yet. I’m going to the sea to clear my thinking and find a sense of peace. I want to be totally detached and unemotional when I brief the council.”
“But this is probably the most important galactic occurrence in many periods. You shouldn’t delay.”
“That’s precisely why I should delay. You know the council; they will all be in an uproar. I need to be the calming influence.”
As Lorin finished speaking the ITS stopped in front of a vast sea. There was no land in sight. Lorin stood, shed her clothes, and pressed her feet together until they became one fin like structure. She bent forward and slipped into the sea.
Freedom overtook her immediately as her gills opened just below her ears and the dissolved oxygen filled her lungs. The spacial anomaly no longer occupied the center of her mind; rather everything that had been in her mind was now stored in a kind of book that she could read at will, separate from her own consciousness. Euphoria began to control her as she darted about the sea, happy as she had been as a child.
Back on the ITS her aid was talking to planetary command.
“Where is she now?” Char’Lux asked.
“She’s in her birth ocean. She said she needed sometime to relax and calm herself before briefing you.”
“So typical of her. In the midst of every crisis she seeks calm. If what you are telling me about this spacial anomaly is true, we should act now. If this anomaly is caused by a sentient species in that region of the galaxy, there is no predicting what they may be planning. Whatever it is we should be prepared.”
“Don’t you think that we should at least wait until the data analysis is complete before taking any action?”
“I don’t pay you for your advice. I only want information, and I will decide what to do with that information. Is that understood?”
“Of course.”
As Lorin reentered the ITS, she noticed the communicator in her aid’s hand. “So A’Hor, who have you been talking to? The planetary council I presume?”
“That is correct, commander. As you instructed.”
“I assume our friend Char’Lux thinks he has the upper hand once again.”
“Yes, commander. He believes we must act immediately. He believes other sentient beings are out there plotting against the galaxy.”
“So typical of him. Well this makes my job easier, knowing exactly where he stands and what he’s thinking. Thank you, A’Hor. You have proven once again your value and loyalty.”
A’Hor breathed deeply. It was her way of saying thank you. A’Hor had been first aid to the commander all of her adult life. She was almost as tall as the commander with white skin and pale, pink eyes. They were from opposite sides of the planet, but both had grown up in the ocean; one was cold, the other, Lorin’s home, was tropical.
“We will be at the planetary council in a few minutes,” Lorin began. “When we arrive and the meeting begins we will let Char’Lux do all of the talking. He needs to feel he is in control. I will let him make his proposal for immediate action, but in the meantime prepare the long range ship for my departure; and this time make sure we get the updated sleeping pods, the ones we can adjust the atmosphere and humidity in. I don’t want to wake up nearly desiccated like the last time.”

Chapter 4

Lorin bowed to greet Jar Char’Lux, who sat uncharacteristically quiet in his overstuffed chair. He was larger than most of his species with plain brown eyes, hairless except for a ceremonial patch of hair that covered a large cleft chin. It didn’t take long for forced quiet to turn into a rant.
“What’s this I hear? We have detected a spacial anomaly a mere 100,000 light years away. Why aren’t we on the highest alert? Don’t you realize what this could mean if there is some species or thing on the other side of the galaxy pulling at the very fibers of space. We could all be destroyed in an instant with no warning. This can’t be tolerated. We have to act, now!”
In stark contrast to Jar’s rant, Lorin calmly responded, “We are on alert, sir. But we need more information before we can act. However, the situation is potentially very dangerous. With your permission, I will travel to the point of the anomaly and see for myself what has taken place. I, representing the highest level of the council, will directly evaluate the threat without alerting any potential unknown intergalactic army or threat to our presence.”
Char’Lux placed his hand in the center of his chest and said, “I like the way you think. A single spy dispatched to gather intelligence. It is a good plan. I will even give you one of my ships. You will arrive faster and the new sleeping pods will make sure you arrive refreshed.”
Lorin was surprised at how easily and quickly Jar Char’Lux had agreed to her plan. But then again, as long as he was not challenged and made to think he was in charge, conflict could be avoided. She was certain it would not last. She quickly bowed lower this time and said, “That is very generous and gracious of you sir. I won’t forget this kindness.”
“Don’t fail us, Lorin. I have a feeling something is about to change in our galaxy. While you are away, we will monitor the space from here and analyze the data that has already come in. It is my understanding that you have contacted one of our neighboring planets already to find out what they know. Is this true?”
Lorin did not hesitate to answer, even as she wondered how the planetary command could have found out so quickly. “Yes. I thought it best to contact one of our calmer neighbors. The more information we can gather the better.”
“I agree. But that is a decision that the planetary council should have made. Nevertheless, no harm done. I wish you a safe journey. It has been centuries since anyone has journeyed to the edge of the galaxy.”
“Thank you sir. I will report in as soon as I arrive at the coordinates.”
Lorin returned to her ITS and before A’Hor could ask how the meeting had gone she began, “Take us to the planetary council’s hanger. We have a new ship.”
“A new ship? What new ship? Oh, let me guess, it is one of Char’Lux’s ships?”
“Yes it is.”
“But commander, that ship will be heavily bugged. Char’Lux will know everything you do if not everything you think.”
“It does not matter, A’Hor. We have nothing to hide and if we do, then we will figure a way around the bugs and sensors. This is not the first time we have had to work around Char’Lux. Besides, the very latest in sleeping-pod technology will make our journey much more comfortable.
Hesitant to reply, knowing that she was about to open an old wound, A’Hor said softly, “Don’t forget about your father, Lorin. . .”
“Don’t go there, A’Hor. We’re not bringing my father into this. You know better.”
“Yes, commander. It’s just your father. . .”
“Flax it A’Hor, Flax it! Now get us to the hanger so that we can get underway. It will take us two weeks of spacial node hopping to travel 100,000 light years and there are a few modifications I want to make to the ship. So no more talk about old myths. Let’s get going.”

Chapter 5

An alarm sounded inside Lorin’s sleeping-pod. The sleep-pod opened. Lorin placed her partially webbed hands over her face, shaking her head slightly to clear almost two weeks of mind-fog. She breathed deeply, stepped from her pod and shut off the alarm.
“What’s going on commander?”
Lorin lost her balance and fell to her hands and knees as A’Hor appeared next to her.
“I’m sorry commander. I did not mean to startle you. Let me help you up.”
“A’Hor, how did you awake before. . .”
“You programed it that way. Don’t you remember?”
“Of course, I remember now. So, what’s going on? Why were we awakened? We can’t be at the coordinates.”
“We are not. This new ship is really awesome. The sensors picked up a non-stellar object nearly a light-year away. It is unbelievable. The object appears to be only half the size of this ship. Yet there it is on the screen.”
Lorin rubbed her hands together, then began to gently rub each arm with her hands. She stared at the monitor, turned and looked in disbelief at A’Hor. “What is it? It looks like a sphere of some kind? Can the sensor pick up anything else about it?”
“Not at this distance, commander. As we get closer I am sure we will be able to get more data from the sensors.”
“Let’s set a course to intercept whatever it is. How far off course will it take us?”
“It won’t take us off course at all. The object is almost exactly at the coordinates we have set.”
“Then it might be safe to assume that object has something to do with the spacial anomaly.”
“That seems like a reasonable assumption to me.”
“I guess we have two choices. We can reenter our pods and reach the sphere in a few hours. Or we can stay awake and monitor whatever this thing is for the day or so it will take us to reach it.”
“Commander I think we should stay awake and keep and eye on this thing. If it has something to do with the spacial anomaly, it could use space to cloak itself, or be gone by the time we arrived.”
“That’s true, but the sooner we get there the less chance it will have to disappear. Let’s get back in our pods. Set an intercept course at maximum acceleration and get us there in minutes rather than hours. Let’s see what this new ship can do.”
“Yes commander.”

§

“We have arrived at the coordinates of the small craft, commander Lorin. Shall I bring the ship aboard?”
“Not yet, A’Hor. Let’s do a full scan and make sure there are no apparent traps or other hostilities.”
“I’ve already performed an initial scan. The craft is badly damaged. There are two life forms, barely alive aboard. I can’t tell exactly, but they appear to be immatures. They are two different species. A male and a female, I think.”
“We better make sure. This new scanner on this ship can tell us everything without. . .”
The craft is front of them began to expand and contract, as pieces from the craft disintegrated.
“Transport the two beings aboard; quickly A’Hor.”
A’Hor’s fingers navigated the controls clumsily. She was not familiar with the controls of the ship.
“Hurry, A’Hor. The integrity of that craft is almost gone.”
A’Hor pressed one last button with confidence and the two beings appeared in the quarantine chamber. They lay on the floor of the chamber locked in a desperate, final embrace.”
“They’re alive, commander; but just barely. Should I revive them?”
“Yes, and do it quickly. I want to know what they are doing out here; and near the very coordinates we have come to investigate.”
“Maybe they are runaway explorers. You know your father. . .”
“That’s it A’Hor. One more mention of my father and I will lock you in your sleeping-pod. Now revive them and prepare them for questioning.”
“Yes, commander. I am sorry.”
A’Hor stood reading the output on the screen in front of the quarantine chamber. She was still distracted by thoughts of Lorin’s father. It brought her pain to think of him; and she hurt for making the commander feel bad. She concentrated on the quarantine data and was pleased to see the two beings posed no threat.
She entered the chamber and lifted the two bodies onto separate med-beds. The data from the quarantine chamber informed her that they would need a combination of amino acids, carbohydrates and water to be revived. Their brains appeared to be working optimally, however she decided to give them a combination of biomolecules to stimulate their neurons so that they would be as clear thinking as possible for interrogation.
She put a small bio-strip with all of the necessary molecules on their arms. Immediately they revived. They both sat up on their beds and simultaneously said, “Where am I?”
“That was fast. You have very adaptable bodies,” A’Hor responded.
Allie, as clear thinking and lucid as ever, jumped down from her bed and stood face to face with A’Hor. “What are you? Where are we? How did we get here? Are you an alien?”
“Not so fast little one. I can’t process your vocalizations that fast. You have to slow down. You sound like you have questions. Well, so do we.”
Khu was now standing beside Allie. He repeated Allie’s question, “Are you an alien?”
“Alien? What is an alien? I don’t understand?”
“He wants to know if you are a floostume,” Lorin said has she walked up behind A’Hor.
“Floostume? Me?” A’Hor shouted indignant and agitated.
Both Allie and Khu stepped back. “I’m sorry,” Khu said. “I didn’t mean to offend you. You are just so different. I’ve never see anythin. . .I mean anyone like you.”
“That’s enough,” Lorin commanded. “You are aboard a Rho’hilian ship. We rescued you as your craft was about to disintegrate. We revived you and you are now in our medical room. How long have you been out here?”
“Over a year,” Allie answered.
“A year! What is a year?”
“A year is one journey around our sun,” Allie replied.
“What is the mass of your sun and how many other planets rotate around your sun?” A’Hor demanded.
Allie gave A’Hor the mass of the sun and earth, along with the number of planets. A’Hor entered the information into the ship’s computer and converted the information to Rho’hilian time.
“That is a very, very long time even by our standards of time. How did you survive?” A’Hor asked.
Khu replied, “We spent most of the time in inter-dimensional space. It is a space that sits in a dimension above what you might call normal space. In inter-dimensional space we are able to convert the individual components of space to any kind of matter. That is we were until we lost our spacial converter and somehow ended up here.”
Commander Lorin could not believe what she was hearing. The scientists on her planet had debated the existence of another dimension of space for many thousands of years. No one had ever found any evidence of such a space, though a number of disparate theories said such a space should exist. She remained stoic in her questioning and did not betray her surprise at hearing about inter-dimensional space. The less her guests knew she knew or didn’t know, the better.
“The two of you appear to be different species and immatures. Do you both live in this inter-dimensional space?”
“Not exactly. . .”
“Let me explain,” Khu broke in. “We are subspecies of one another. Allie, my friend, lives in the normal space dimension and I live in inter-dimensional space. The two types of space are linked to one another. Many thousands of years ago our species split when some of the normal space species learned that they could travel inter-dimensionally. Over time the connection between normal space and inter-dimensional space was lost, that is until recently when the connection was re-established. That’s the short version. There is a longer more complicated version.”
Just as Khu was finishing his explanation, a soft tone began to sound at one of the sensors. “See what that is, A’Hor.”
A’Hor looked at the sensor screen and rushed back to the med-room.
“It’s one of our ships, commander. It must have been following us.”
“Char’Lux. Why am I not surprised.”
“Charllux, What is charllux?
“It’s not charllux, it’s Char’Lux, and nothing you need to be concerned about.”
Lorin pulled A’Hor aside and asked, “I assume you prepared the cloak as I asked before we entered our sleeping-pods?”
“Of course, commander.”
“Cloak the ship. I don’t want Char’Lux and his group of over-reactors starting a galactic incident before I’ve completed my investigation.”
“But commander, they must already know where we are. Even if we are cloaked, they’ll find us.”
“Let me worry about that,” Lorin said very calmly, but with a sparkle in her eyes. A’Hor knew that meant she had come up with one of her plans.
Lorin walked back to the med-room as A’Hor prepared to cloak the ship. She opened the door to the chamber that separated her from Khu and Allie.
“You can come out. I want you to tell me everything you can about this inter-dimensional space you are from.”
“Why should we do that?” Allie asked boldly. “How do we know you are not a scout ship trying to get information about us so you can conquer us?”
“I see that you must come from a hostile species. Only such a species would conjure up such an idea.”
Allie had no response. Where had she gotten such an idea? She was projecting her own version of the universe on this woman who had just saved their lives and was now freeing them from confinement.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that you have to be careful; especially after what we have been through.”
“Yes, I am sure,” Lorin responded. “But first, how about we sit down in my quarters and you tell me about inter-dimensional space.”
“I’m hungry,” Allie blurted out. “Do you have food in your quarters?”
“I don’t understand. Isn’t your patch working?
 Lorin asked. “You should have all of the nourishment you need.”
“I know, but I’m still hungry. I need to taste some food.”
“Ah, you mean you seek pleasure and this pleasure comes from eating. I understand now. We only eat, as you call it, during celebration or festivals. Once A’Hor has completed her task, I will ask her if this ship is equipped to produce food. Or maybe the ships stores has some preserved emergency food. After we’ve had our little chat we will have a look around.”
Satisfied with the possibility of getting some real food, Allie and Khu followed Lorin to her quarters where Khu began to explain the structure of inter-dimensional space and Allie explained how, using ECA, she was able to travel at will between the two dimensions. It was the travel between the two dimensions that was of most interest to commander Lorin. She questioned Allie most intently.
“So Allie, tell me more about how you are able to travel between dimensions. Have you ever traveled in a vehicle between dimensions?”
“I don’t know what you mean. Why would I need a vehicle?”
“Well you were in a craft when we found you. You said that you started out in the dimensions in which Khu lives and you somehow traveled into normal space where we are now.”
Up until now Allie nor Khu had explained how they came to be in their present situation. They were not sure they knew how they came to be where they are now.
Lorin looked at the two of them suspiciously. “I don’t think the two of you are telling me the whole story.”
As Khu was about to speak, A’Hor rushed into the commander’s quarters. “Commander, can I see you at the command center. There’s something you must see.”
“Please excuse me, I will be back as soon as I can. “
As they walked quickly to the ships command center, A’Hor was beside herself with fear. “It’s one of Char’Lux’s ships. It’s in this sector scanning for us. It won’t be long before they find us. But that is not what I want you to see.”
When they reached the command center A’Hor pointed to a small dot on the command screen.
“That’s it,” Lorin said, concealing her excitement. “That’s the same configuration I saw when the craft with the two beings appeared. Go bring them to me.”
Lorin began moving the ship toward the point in space where the small anomaly appeared.
“Here they are, commander.”
“Allie, you told me that you had the ability to sense the connections between dimensions. Do you sense, or can you see the connection there in this section of space,” Lorin ask pointing at the screen.
“Yes, yes. That could get us back home,” she said looking at Khu.
“Allie, look at me,” Lorin commanded. “Can you use your ECA ability you told me about to get us all, including this ship into inter-dimensional space?”
“I don’t know. I have no idea. I have never tried anything like this before.”
“Allie, you have got to try. There is a ship following us from my planet. I don’t think they mean us any harm, but I have got to finish my mission before I alert them to your presence. Can you try?”
“Khu, what do you think?” Allie asked. “You know more about the structure of space than I do. Can you help me?”
“It will take some doing, but I think I have an idea. If we can get close enough to stream some of the spacial particles from IDS to here we can create a space bubble around this ship and then slip into IDS.”
“That’s brilliant,” Allie shouted. “This could be fun. Let’s give it a try.”
Allie positioned herself in front of the commander and said, “Commander you will have to navigate the ship as close to the spacial corridor as possible. I will guide you. I can actually see it, so you won’t have to depend just on your sensors.”
“Whatever, we do, commander, you had better hurry,” A’Hor implored. “I think we have been detected.”

Chapter 6

“I have the ship, sir. They seem to be heading for a small spacial rift of some kind. It’s very faint. I have no idea what it is.”
Char’Lux had left the comfort and safety of the planetary command center. He was gambling that the spacial anomaly under investigation held the secret to what he and others had been searching for all these thousands of years. He was not about to let Lorin make the discovery alone. If it was not what he hoped for, at least his fleet would be in a position to act immediately, regardless of how formidable the threat.
“Stay at a reasonable distance to monitor them. They must be up to something if they’ve cloaked the ship. Have you been able to determine what that debris was we encountered?
“No sir. It is not anything our sensors are familiar with. There did appear to be some type of life form associated with the debris, but we found no life.
What are you up to Commander Lorin? You are as crafty as they come. But I’m on top of you, now. Let’s see you slip of away this time.
“Sir, the sensors have penetrated the cloak. I can put commander, Lorin’s ship on the main screen.”
“Do it now.”
Char’Lux sat on the edge of the command chair, staring at the screen.
“What are your orders, sir. Shall I tractor them in?”
“No. Patience, Jandor. I want to see what they are up to.
As Char’Lux watched in disbelief, particles, shimmering like tiny crystals of light streamed from a point in space and began to envelope Lorin’s ship. As quickly as they had appeared, once they had surrounded the ship, they disappeared and with them Lorin’s ship.
“What happened?” demanded Char’Lux. Get them back on the screen.”
“I can’t, sir. The ship has disappeared”
“What do you mean, disappeared? Did they disable our sensors?”
“I am not sure sir. Our sensors are working at optimum. The ship is just not there. It’s gone.”
“Could they have node-hopped out of this quadrant of space?”
“They could have. But, our sensors would have followed their path. There are only a finite number of nodes they could have used to hop. Our sensors don’t detect them in any of them.”
“What about the engine’s signature? I designed that engine.” Char’Lux rose from his command chair and walked to the main sensor panel. He stared, looking for signs of some kind of quantum entanglement signature from the ships engine. Nothing.
Char’Lux placed his hands on the sensors screen to brace himself and bowed his head. That piece of floostume has done it again, just like her father.

Chapter 7

Commander Lorin was holding A’Hor by the shoulders and shaking her while speaking so rapidly that Allie and Khu could not understand her. “I can’t believe we did it. How is this possible? We are actually in another spacial dimension.”
“You must calm yourself, commander, or you will need to return to your ocean to regain control. You are never so, shall I say, excited.”
Allie and Khu looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking. Allie spoke up, “Commander, Lorin. We may have escaped your followers, but we can’t stay here. We are in the Black Sea and in this part of The Black Sea there are quisons.
“Quisons?”
Khu explained that quisons are like cannibal particles that feed off the individual constituents of inter-dimensional space.
“Unbelievable; we’ve outraced a super-nova only to enter a black hole.”
“Oh, I get it,” Allie said. “You mean out of the frying pan and into the fire”
A’Hor interrupted, “Commander we don’t have time for language games. We could be trapped here.”
“Don’t worry,” Allie began. “The quisons may pose no threat to your ship. It’s not constructed directly from the units of space. We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s Khu and I who are in the most danger. We can’t use our minds to manipulate this space anymore than we already have without attracting the quisons.”
“So how do we navigate this, Black Sea?” A’Hor asked, rubbing her hands together.
Commander Lorin walked apart from where they were gathered and stood staring out of a large window on the port side of the ship. There were no stars, only a thick soup of blackness. Despite her protestation against the mention of her father she wondered, Is this what happened to my father? Is he out there somewhere, lost in the vastness of the universe? Did he get sucked into a black hole, crushed into the nothingness? I should have gone with him. Now my end may be a reflection of his.
A’Hor quietly walked behind the commander and gently placed her hand on her shoulder. “Commander, I know you are thinking about him. But, we need your orders. What should we do?”
As if she had been dipped in the sea of her home world, Lorin came to her senses and said without hesitation, “We will do what explorers and scientists do. We will gather as much data about this space through our sensors and question our guests more vigorously. They are not telling us everything. We just need to ask the right questions.
“Go and find that immature, I think it is a female, something to consume. It may make her more inclined to talk. The other one is from this space and should be able to get us out of this darkness.”
Commander Lorin returned to where to Khu and Allie. Khu was holding his head and grimacing in pain. “Are you ill? Is something the matter with your head?”
“It’s the quisons,” Allie answered for him. “They attack whenever we use our minds to manipulate this space.”
“Let’s get you back in quarantine. I will attempt to adjust the field to block out these quisons.”
“It wont’ do any good. The quisons can’t be blocked,” Allie said.
“We have different methods to deal with all sorts of particles. My species has traveled this galaxy for thousands of years. We may have encountered these quisons before. I will check our computer and see what I can do to prevent you both from being harmed.”
Commander Lorin placed Khu and Allie back in quarantine. She tried to adjust the field surrounding the chamber to block out the quisons, but she could not really identify what she was trying to block and the general approach she attempted failed. Then she had a thought.
“Khu or Allie, can one of you create for me test particles or substance from this space that I can use to attract the quisons. I can attempt to capture a quison sample. If I know what they are, the computer can create a process to block or neutralize them.”
Khu, still holding his head, his breathing becoming shallow, answered. “I can’t. Allie you will have to do it.”
“I’ll try, Khu. But, I’ve never really created anything accept when. . .”
“That’s okay, Allie,” Khu cut her off. “Just concentrate and don’t try to do anything complicated. Just basic particles is all that the commander will need.”
“Allie, come with me, please. There is a small lab on the ship and we can work there to capture these quisons.”
Allie held Khu’s hand and did not want to let go. “It will be okay Allie. Go with the commander. I’m fine. If the quisons couldn’t kill me in the space bubble, I’m sure we will make it through this. Besides, we are bound to run into my father.”
“What is this about a father? Is your father out here somewhere in this space, too?”
“I’m not really sure. . .”
“Then we need to get to the lab. Allie, please, follow me.”
Allie slowly let her hands slip from Khu’s grip and walked out of the quarantine chamber. As she turned to walk along with commander Lorin, they were met by A’Hor who was carrying a bag of a gooey, greenish-brown substance.
“Commander, I found something for the immature to consume.”
“I’m not eating that,” Allie shrieked. “It looks terrible.”
The commander and A’Hor looked at each other. A’Hor cocked her head and stared at Allie and said, “I thought you wanted something to eat, not something to look at.”
“Never-mind, I’m fine. I will stick with the patch.”
Allie and the commander entered the ship’s lab and Allie concentrated on collecting particles from the black sea. She sat in a small room in the lab surrounded by equipment she did not recognize and could not even describe. As the particles danced around her head they were drawn into a tube attached to what looked like an aquarium, where they disappeared in a flash. Commander Lorin realized she had to devise a way to separate the quisons from the particles before they destroyed the particles and themselves. It was an impossible task. Lorin was not a particle scientist.
“Allie, can you see the quisons the same way that you can see the individual constituents of space?”
“No. I tried the last time we were attacked by the quisons. But, we may be able to get away from this part of the black sea. The quisons are concentrated here. Our space bubble was breaking up as we passed through here before. I may be able to see bits and pieces of the ship with Khu’s help. We could follow their trail back the way we came. It’s kind of a long shot.”
“What is this long shot? What do you mean?”
“The odds are not in our favor, is another way of saying it.”
“Ah, you mean mathematically we only have a small percentage of a chance of success. I understand. We appear to have no choice.”
A low chime sounded on the commander’s communication wristband. “What is it A’Hor?”
“It’s Khu, commander. I believe he is dying from the effects of the quisons. He is no longer conscious.”
Tears welled up in Allies’ eyes. She jumped down from the chair and ran as fast as she could back to the quarantine chamber, followed by commander Lorin.
Allie banged her hands on the windows to the quarantine chamber, “Khu, don’t die. Please, commander let me in. He can’t die now. Not after all we’ve been through.”
“Allie, you must calm down. You are not helping Khu by this display of emotion.”
A’Hor was in the chamber with Khu, monitoring his life-signs. “He’s barely holding on. Even if we get out of this area of the black sea, his mind may be gone,” A’Hor explained.
“We have only one chance to save him. Allie, I can turn the outside of the ship transparent so that you can see all of the space around us. Come quickly to my command chair.”
Allie followed the commander to the commander center and sat in the command chair. The surroundings of the entire ship seemed to disappear and Allie felt as if she were back in the space bubble, floating in space.
“Allie focus on the particles of debris from your space-bubble. Do you see anything?”
“Only tiny bits of space. But it could be anything or it could be pieces of our SB. I really can’t tell.”
“We will have to follow the lead we have. I want you to look exactly where you think we should go. The sensors in the chair will plot a course based on your visual input. Even if we don’t end up following the exact path you followed to get out of here, we will at least be away from this space.”
“Or, we could follow a path deeper into quison space,” Allie said, again nearly in tears.
“As I said, we have no choice.”
Allie focused her sight on what she believed to be the path of the spacial debris left by the SB. Commander Lorin programed the ship for maximum speed and gave the verbal command, “Ship, engage engines at maximum, begin now.”
Allie expected to feel the press of sudden acceleration. Instead she felt nothing. “Are we moving?”
“We are indeed moving, Allie. Just stay focused on the path so that the ship will stay on course. When we are at least one node-hop from where we began I will stop the engines and we will check on your friend, Khu.”
“What’s a node-hop?”
“I would have thought you would know all about node-hoping if you can travel through inter-dimensional space. In normal space there are quanta of space, which make up the nodes. All of these nodes are entangled. Our engines are constructed or I should say programed to find a node. Once it finds a node that node serves as a guide to other nodes and we tunnel through space from one node to another. A node-hop is also a measure of time.”
Allie stood with her mouth gaping and as wide-eyed as child on her first merry-go-round ride. “That’s unbelievable. I hope you get to meet Dr. Perry someday. That is if he is still alive. He would love to talk to you about node-hoping.”
“Is he your father?”
Allie wanted to say, yes. She had often wished Dr. Perry had been her father. In their last moments together, she never felt closer to anyone, except for Khu. Her mind wandered far from the commander’s questions until she heard what sounded like a soft bell ringing.
“We have traveled almost a node-hop. The engines will automatically stop.” Before the engines stopped there was another alarm. This time it was loud and ominous sounding.”
“What’s happening, commander? Have the quisons increased?”
“No, there is a craft headed straight for us. If the engines don’t stop in time we will collide with it.”
“It must be your pursers. They must have found us.”
“No I don’t think so. The craft is far too small and not of a configuration familiar to me, except. . .”
The commander gazed at the sensor panel in front of her. “Hmm. That’s strange,” she murmured to herself. “Looks like. . .”
“Looks like what?” Allie demanded.
“Well, it looks very much like the craft that you were in when we found you.”
“It must be Khu’s father,” Allie shouted. “I know he’s looking for us. He would never abandon, Khu. It has to be him. We’ve got to go and tell Khu.” Allie ran from the command center to the quarantine chamber. Lor was inside, standing over Khu. His eyes were opened and he was trying to sit up.
“Khu, I think we found your father. There’s an SB headed for us. It has to be him.”
Khu could not understand what Allie was saying. He was only barely awake. A’Hor exited the chamber.
“What is it that has you so excited?” Before Allie could answer A’Hor’s wrist-com sounded. It was the commander.
“A’Hor, please come to the command center. But first secure the immature in the chamber, then bring the one called Allie with you; and hurry. We’re about to have a collision.”

Chapter 8

He outran the quisons with all the speed his little space bubble could maintain and not burst into little pieces. He sat a course for whatever that thing was his space converter picked up, hoping it was the end of the black sea. It was his only chance. As strong as his mind was, he couldn’t stand the constant attacks from the quisons.
Racing against time and the quisons, he headed straight for what had been a speck of light, which was now racing toward him and did not appear to be slowing down. He kept his mind calm so as not to intensify the attack of the quisons, but he could not help having quiet thoughts. What is that thing? There’s never been anything seen or detected in the black sea other than the prison bubbles.
He didn’t have to wait long to find out. A huge ship appeared in front of him in an instant. His space bubble was bathed in a soft light that seemed to stop his motion. It pushed him in the opposite direction he was headed. A hole appeared in the bottom of the ship and his space bubble was absorbed into its belly like some beast consuming its prey.
The darkness of the black sea was replaced by the kind of light he remembered seeing when his eyes first opened as a child in IDS. Yet, it was different. The effect of the quisons on his mind abated significantly, but remained. A figure appeared in an opening in front of his space bubble. The figure appeared to be that of a child. His heart raced and he fumbled with his spacial converter, trying to open an exit. The converter would not function. He began to bang on the SB yelling, “Khu! Khu! Is that you? Please help.”
The small figure was now within clear view of the space bubble. She shouted, “Karlin, it’s me, Allie. I’m so glad. . .”
“Where is my son? Where is Khu?”
“Khu is here with us. He is okay. The quisons have affected him, but we think he will be okay as long as we can get out of this section of the black sea.”
“Listen to me, earth-girl. I have been traveling for a long time to find my son. Please, take me to him, now!”
“We will take you to him after you have been quarantined,” a voice answered from within the space bubble.
“Who is speaking?” demanded Karlin.
“I am Lorin, commander of this ship. We sent Allie, this immature to greet you first. It was better for you to first see a familiar face.”
“I am not interested in her. I only want to see my son.”
“We will let you see your son once we have completed our scans of your craft and determined that you are not a threat to this ship or to us. It will not take long. You are obviously a mature, so I expect that you have learned patience.”
Karlin sensed that he was speaking with a being of unknown origin who was sophisticated and technologically advanced enough to get them out of the danger they were all in. As badly as he needed to see his son, he calmed himself and softened his tone.
“I understand, commander Lorin. I am just desperate to see my son. I thought he might have been killed. I hope that you understand.”
“Yes, I understand. Would you like to have Allie remain with you while we complete our scans?”
“No. I would rather remain alone until I can see my son.”
Allie knew that Karlin blamed her for Khu’s disobedience and endangering his life. She took a deep breath, eyes welling with tears, “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to cause you any pain. Khu wanted to help, that’s all. Then things just got out of control.”
Karlin did not reply. He turned his back to Allie. She stood, unable to move, her small body trembling.
“Allie, please return to the command center. We still must get out of this space,” Lorin commanded.
“Karlin, sir,” Allie began. “Please, you can help us. You have your spacial converter. You can help the commander navigate back to IDS. We can’t remain here or both you and Khu won’t survive the quisons.”
Karlin turned back to Allie, her reasoning persuasive. “After I have seen Khu, of course I will assist the commander.”
Allie heaved a sigh and turned to head back to the command center, where she was met with a barrage of questions from the commander.
“Okay, Allie. Our scans of the craft and this Karlin will be complete soon. In the meantime I want you to begin by telling me what you are doing out here?”
Allie did not know where to begin. So she started with the failed experiment and worked backwards. “There was this experiment that was designed to demonstrate that spacetime could be controlled or manipulated and at the same time produce a continuous supply of energy for our planet.”
“Where is this planet?”
“I’m not sure what you mean by where. It is on the edge of the galaxy we call the milky way. It is the third planet from a yellow sun of a solar system with eight planets.”
“What happen with this experiment?”
“Some of us knew the experiment could have a negative impact on the rest of the galaxy. There were too many unknowns, so we banded together to stop the experiment.”
“Were you successful?”
“Yes, but stopping the experiment meant that our planet would be impacted.”
“Impacted how?”
“I am not really sure. When Khu and I stopped the experiment, we were thrown into inter-dimensional space. We were lucky to have escaped the beam of energy that was supposed to manipulate spacetime. We redirected the beam back toward my planet, earth. We were not there to see what happened, but Dr. Perry was sure the earth would be thrown out of its orbit, even if only slightly and that many billions of people would die as result.”
Commander Lorin could not believe what she was hearing. A species with no apparent experience with spacetime and had attempted to manipulate it without knowing the consequences. What if this immature and others had not stopped the attempt? If the spacial nodes had been affected the entire fabric of space in the galaxy could have been thrown into a resonance affecting every living thing. The commanders body began to quake. Then she had a terrifying thought, What if there are survivors and they make another attempt.
“Allie, it is very important that we get back to your planet and determine if there are survivors.”
Allie could hear the alarm in the commander’s voice.
“What is wrong commander? Is that why you are here? Because of what people on my planet attempted to do with spacetime?”
Given the extreme potential danger to the galaxy and now the presence of Char’Lux and his ships, commander Lorin believed Allie, with her detailed knowledge of what had happened, would be a valuable asset. So she decided to reveal enough to gain Allie’s trust.
“Yes, Allie, we are here to investigate an anomaly that may have been caused by this experiment as you call it. We live on the far side of this galaxy and our sensors picked up a spacial change that could only be attributed to sentient beings manipulating space. There are laws against such manipulations.”
“What do you mean, laws? Whose laws?”
“There is a galactic council, made up of the planets with sentient beings. It has been in existence a very, very long time. According to the information that you gave A’Hor on the mass of your planet, its sun and the number of planets in your solar system, in earth years the galactic council has existed for over a billion years. Our planet is approximately 100 years, traveling at the universal speed limit, from the Earth. However, in our measure of time we are only a few node-hops from your planet.”
“Commander, we have completed our scan of the craft and the man who claims to be Khu’s father. He is clean,” A’Hor said over the commanders wristband.
“Thank you, A’Hor. If Khu is stable, bring his father to him. Keep them both confined in the quarantine chamber.”
“Is it really necessary to keep them confined?” Allie asked. “I mean, A’Hor said he was clean.”
“I would think the way he treated you that you would want him kept as far away from you as possible. Our computer’s preliminary profile of him reports that he cannot be trusted and may be dangerous.”
Allie knew what the commander meant. She did not need some computer algorithm to tell her about the nature of Khu’s father. She did hope that if the Rho’hilian commander treated him well, he would soften.
“Where are you taking me?” Karlin demanded.
“I am taking you to the ship’s medical room and the quarantine chamber.”
“Quarantine? But you said I was clean and could leave my craft. Why are you taking me to quarantine? I demand to see my son.”
A’Hor refused to answer anymore questions from Karlin. She already could tell that he was going to be trouble. The less she spoke to him, the better.
When they reached the medical room, Karlin could see Khu lying on a med-bed in the quarantine chamber. A’Hor opened the door to the quarantine chamber. Karlin ran to the side of the bed, placed his hand upon Khu’s head and whispered his name, “Khu, please wake up. It’s father. I’m here now.”
Khu opened his eyes, “Father, you found us,” he said softly. “How did you. . .”
“It’s okay, son. I can see that you have had a bout with the quisons. Have you been treated well?”
“Of course, father. The Rho’hillians saved our lives. Our craft was disintegrating when they found us.”
“Who are these Rho’hillians? Where did they come from?”
Khu tried to sit up. His father helped. A’Hor stood just outside of the quarantine chamber. Sitting up now on the edge of the bed, Khu said, “I only know that they may be here because of the failed earth experiment. I’ve been in and out of consciousness. I’ve only heard bits and pieces. You should talk to Allie. She probably knows more.”
“That earth-girl is the reason you are trapped here. I have nothing to say to her.”
“Father it was my decisions to help Allie. She is the bravest person I know. If she had not risked her life to stop that experiment we may all be trapped or worse, dead. She prevented a galactic catastrophe.”
“That may be, but you had no business allowing her to influence you to risk your life. Our separation from the earth dimension all these millennia has served us well and kept us safe their reckless and war-loving nature.”
“Still, had it not been for Allie, things would’ve been far worse. She is more like us than you realize.”
“Enough about, Allie. What else can you tell me about this ship and these Rho’hillians?”
“I only know that they are being followed by ships from their planet. The commander believes that they don’t trust her to get the information they need.”
“What information? Are they planning to invade?”
“I don’t know, father. The commander mentioned something about the others being over-reactors. You should really talk to Allie.”
Karlin leaned close to Khu and whispered, “We have got to get out of here. These creatures may be hostile and using you and that earth-girl to get access to our space.”
“I’m not leaving Allie, Father.”
“What is the matter with you, son? Look where you are because of her. We owe those earth dwellers nothing. Don’t disobey me again.”
Karlin turned toward the door of the quarantine chamber. He knew A’Hor was listening to his every word. He did not care. “Excuse me, you. Can you please tell your commander that we are ready to leave?”
“My name is A’Hor.”
“Excuse me, ahor, please we are ready to leave.”
“My name is A’Hor, not ahor.”
“I meant no offense. My son is ill and I need to get him back to our home so that he can be treated.”
“I will let the commander know of your desire to leave. However, your son is receiving the best of care here. We are familiar with your anatomy. It does not vary much from most of the species in this galaxy. Nevertheless, I understand that you may be more comfortable with your own kind.”
A’Hor pressed her wristband, “Commander, the Khu and his father would like to return to his craft and go back to their home.”
“I will be right there,” A’Hor.
Commander Lorin turned her attention back to Allie, who had explained in greater detail what had happened with the failed experiment and how they had risked their lives to prevent a possible galactic catastrophe. “Allie, would you mind staying here. I am going to speak with Khu’s father alone.” She pressed her wristband, “A’Hor, bring Karlin to my quarters, instead.”
“Yes, commander.” A’Hor opened the quarantine door and said, “Karlin, Please come with me. The commander wants you to meet her in her quarters.”
“I will be happy to come with you, but I am not leaving my son.”
“Father, please; it’s okay. I’m still not feeling well. Let me stay here and rest.”
Karlin bent over and hugged his son and kissed his forehead. He took Khu’s hands in his, “I love you, son. I will be right back and then we’re going home.”

Chapter 9

“Sir, I think I know what happened to commander Lorin’s ship.”
“That is my ship, she is in, sub-commander S’Tor,” Char’Lux said while lightly pounding his fists on the armrests of his command chair. “So, tell me what you think.”
“My science team and I met and we hypothesize that the ship must have slipped into another dimension of space. It’s the only thing that makes sense. We recovered an old theory, which could never be verified, that predicts the existence of another dimension of space that is somehow connected to the spacial dimension in which we live.”
Char’Lux stood up and got so close to the sub-commander S’Tor’s face that their noses nearly touched. “Can you test this hypothesis? Is it possible that we could access this space?”
“I don’t believe it is possible.”
“Then how could commander Lorin have slipped into this space?”
“It’s possible that whoever or whatever commander Lorin picked up on the small craft our sensors showed just before she disappeared, helped her in someway. The craft appeared out of nowhere. It could take us a very long time to figure out how to access this other spacial dimension, if it exists.”
“Then that leaves us but one alternative. The spacial anomaly that brought us to this region of the galaxy is where we must focus our attention. Commander Lorin is a focused and dedicated investigator of galactic anomalies. She will eventually show up at the coordinates of the anomaly. Have our sensors pinpoint the exact location of the anomaly’s origin in our space and set a course. I’m sure commander Lorin will either already be there or not far behind.”
“Yes, sir. It will be done.”
“That will not be necessary, sir,” Lin’Chan said, breathing rapidly. “We just received a message from our data team on Rho. They have an exact location of where the anomaly originated. We are almost on top of it. I can bring the location up on our galactic map if you would like.”
“Bring it up,” Char’Lux commanded.
“Computer, display the galactic map of the region and locate the origin of the anomaly.”
The holographic screen in front of ship showed a solar system with eight planets orbiting a yellow sun. Chan’Lin explained what they were seeing, “You see there the third planet orbiting the sun is blinking, that is where the anomaly began. From what we can calculate from the data we have, some sort of space altering device was beamed from the planet. We don’t know its exact purpose.”
“What is the status of the planet?”
“Ah, a wise and insightful questions, sir. Our sensors show the planet suffered a major orbital shift during or right after the device was activated. We project that the planet’s atmosphere has changed as a result and its polar orientation may have changed as well.”
“Is there life on the planet,” the sub-commander S’Tor asked.
“Not that we are able to determine. The planet is capable of supporting a wide range of species. We will have to move closer to determine if any life is still on the planet.”
“Sub-commander S’Tor get us moving. Put us into high orbit around the third planet. Let’s find out what happened there and if any threat remains.”

§

In less than the time that it took for Char’Lux to give the command to orbit the third planet, his ships arrived in high-orbit around the planet. His ship’s data gathering center in the middle of the ship uploaded a thousand terabytes of data in a matter of seconds. Atmospheric scans showed that the atmosphere was destroyed by the solar winds. Tiny patches of atmosphere remained that blocked some of the winds, but most of the planet had been cooked by the winds for some time. Steam rose from the planet’s oceans and most of the biomass of the planet had been burned away. The scientific data told one story, however it was the visual data that conveyed the extent of the devastation that took place.
“I have read in our galactic history of mass extinction and planetary self-destruction, but I never thought I would see it with my own eyes. Who were these beings?” Char’Lux stood speaking out loud at the holographic screen that displayed the horror of an entire planet’s death.
Sub-commander S’Tor came and stood next to Char’Lux just as he repeated, “Who were these being?”
“Sir our sensors are picking up pockets of life on the planet.”
“Can you tell if it is sentient life?”
“It’s concentrated below the surface of the planet on one of the larger land masses.”
“What about those small devices orbiting the planet? What have you been able to find out from them?” Char’Lux asked.
“Most of them appear to be communications satellites orbiting at different altitudes. We are working on retrieving the information from them. Some of them appear to be weapons, both offensive and defensive. We have disabled those.”
“Put together a team of scientists and security personnel. We must find out if there is still sentient life on that planet. If they have the technology to manipulate spacetime and it is still active, they may try to repair the planet and threaten the rest of the galaxy in the process.”
“Yes, sir. Sir, shall we continue to try and contact commander Lorin’s ship? She should be made aware of what we’ve found.”
“No. Leave commander Lorin to her own choices. I am sure we will run into her soon.”
Sub-commander S’Tor hid his displeasure with Char’Lux’s decision. He and commander Lorin were friends of the longest duration. Char’Lux was violating every protocol. Committing all of his resources before he had received a preliminary report from commander Lorin was evidence that he had hidden motives.
S’Tor had not given up on analyzing how commander Lorin slipped away so easily. He knew there had to be something there that they could not see. While scanning the planet he also asked the ship’s computer to run various scenarios, based on all available theories of spacetime, as to how Lorin could have entered another region of space. At first none of the scenarios matched with what they observed, nor were any of them easy to duplicate in reality. Now, with teams of scientists and security personnel ready to descend to the planets surface, an alert on his wristband indicated that his last theoretical input had yielded a viable scenario. It matched perfectly with what they had observed; and there was a chance it could be repeated.
Sub-commander S’Tor kept the information to himself. He would not give Char’Lux a greater advantage than he already had. However, he did not have the time to reprogram his wristband and link it to the ship’s computer so that he could test the scenario. He was going on a dangerous mission on an unknown planet. He could, however, download the entire scenario from the ship’s computer onto his wristband and complete the reprograming when he got the chance.

§

The team led by sub-commander S’Tor reached the coordinates on the planet in the new instantaneous travel system based on the same technology that powered their ships. Using local quantum entanglement they could travel from point to point in normal space with an accuracy of nanometers. S’Tor programed the transport system to take them to what appeared to be the command center of the large complex in the north-central part of the second largest land mass on the planet.
There was an atmosphere within the complex that supported their life processes. When they arrived they found death everywhere. Dead bodies littered the command center. Some were slumped over data modules. A huge screen in the center flashed on and off periodically displaying a map of the planet and other spacial coordinates.
The air was so thick with the remnants of rotting flesh that S’Tor ordered his team to put on their breathing masks. He gathered is team in a vacant room next to the commander center and gave instructions for organizing the search of the complex.
“A map of this complex has been uploaded to your communication systems. Your personal holographic device has a map of the section for you to search already preprogramed. This room will serve as our point of reference. Once you complete your data downloads please return to this room for a debriefing before we return to the ship.”
The team split into five groups and began their survey of the complex. The team led by sub-commander S’Tor headed for the largest chamber in the complex several meters below the command center of the complex. A great carved door rose high above the corridor that approached the chamber.
Sub-commander S’Tor raised his hand, fingers spread to warn his group that there could be danger on the other side of the door. He had one member of the team, the youngest, a junior scientist named J’Vlin, perform a scan to determine what was on the other side of the door.
“There is life on the other side of the door,” J’Vlin reported looking down at his wristband. “Most of the biomass is plant life. There is an abundance of water and about a twelve bio-signs that could be sentient life.”
“Do you detect any weapons just on the other side of the door?”
“No sir.”
“Then open the door.”
J’Vlin scanned the door with is wristband until he found the electromagnetic frequency that kept the door locked. The massive door slid open revealing a jungle of plant bio-mass and insects. Some of it was alive and thriving, some was dead and rotting. Their boots became sticky with green slime that covered the path, which led them deeper into the chamber. The air was heavy and wet. Above them water dripped from an artificial sky. There was dim light as if it were dusk or dawn. Flying insects swarmed them until sub-commander S’Tor pressed his wristband, which emitted a frequency the insects did not like and they all flew to the top of the chamber.
“Sub-commander, I am seeing multiple structures on the scanner. This appears to be some kind of artificial environment. I am certain there are sentient beings in some of the structures,” J’Vlin reported.
“Everyone, make sure your scanners are all full upload mode and don’t miss anything. I want every detail of this chamber recorded. Let’s make our way to those structures,” S’Tor ordered
S’Tor’s group followed the wet, slippery path toward the structures, which they could see in the distance. Soft orange light glowed in the windows of several of the structures.
Sub-commander S’Tor stopped the group and said, “When we get within one hundred meters of the structures, J’Vlin I want you to begin an intensive scan.” Turning to another team member, D’Glorin, a communications officer who looked a lot like commander Lorin, he ordered her to set up the holographic com-viewer so that they could see in real time what was taking place in the structures.
The holographic view showed that there were one or two beings in each structure. They were all sentient. In the largest of the structures was a male and female, upright and bipedal. They were talking to each other rapidly, often interrupting the other and gesturing with their hands.
“Activate the, audio,” S’Tor commanded. “Let’s hear what they are talking about.”
With the audio on, S’Tor and his team looked on and listened as if watching a stage play back on the planet Rho.
The female was talking loudly, “This is insane, Msuza. Admiral Jiguang cannot be allowed to take control. We all invested in this experiment. It has been almost a year that we have argued about this. Attempting to restart the experiment is the definition of madness. The earth as we know it no longer exists. What is to be gained?”
“We have nothing to lose by following admiral Jiguang’s plan. We can’t stay trapped down here forever. I’m not going to live my life in this hole in the ground.”
“And where will you go, Msuza? To this magical mythical inter-dimensional space Jiguang keeps going on about?”
“It is not a myth, Rita. You saw what happened as the experiment failed. That could have only happened if there was another spacial dimension out there. If Jiguang can program the original device used for the experiment to access inter-dimensional space, we may be able to escape from this living grave.”
“How much more harm are we willing to cause by using that awful device? It’s brought nothing but destruction.”
“The device did not cause the destruction. It was interference from Dr. Perry and the child; and the ultimate betrayal by Paul Price. If they had not interfered none of this would have happened.”
“But they claimed that the universe was at risk. What they did could have saved countless other worlds from being impacted.”
“We don’t know that. The world governments, the U.N. and even the religious groups agreed that it was worth the risk. . .”
The sub-commander was so focused on the hologram he did not hear the signal on his wristband.
“Sub-commander. Your wristband is signaling a message,” J’Vlin interrupted. It was lead engineer who S’Tor gave the task of finding the power source for the complex.
“Sub-commander. We found the power source.”
“Good. Record the information about its configuration and fuel. Meet us back. . .”
“Sub-commander there is more. We have also found what we believe was the source of the spacial anomaly we are here to investigate. You should come and see this. And bring one or two of your security personnel. You may need them.”
“J’Vlin, you are now in charge of this group. Continue to record everything being said by those two beings. Char’Lux will want to hear this.”
S’Tor pointed to two of his security personnel who followed him to the coordinates the engineer sent to his wristband.
As S’Tor and his small band walked away, Rita walked to the window of her cabin, trying to tune out one of Msuza’s rants. As she stared into the dusky light she caught the flicker of light from the hologram in the distance. She turned quickly toward Msuza.
“Msuza, there’s something out there.”

Chapter 10

When S’Tor reached the coordinates, which the engineer gave to him, he was incredulous. In front of him was another large chamber with glass windows. The chamber housed a large reactor that produced the power for the entire complex. But the reactor took up only a small portion of the chamber, which was mostly filled by a device he surmised was responsible for creating the spacial anomaly.
the chamber was several stories high and the width and depth comparable to its height. There were catwalks at various levels around the space altering device. On the bottom level was a control center. A number of sentient beings were seated motionless around the controls.
“Report, G’Rzu,” S’Tor said to the chief engineer.
“When we arrived these beings attempted to use weapons against us. Our presence alarmed them. It was not our intention to surprise them. But before we could identify ourselves, the being they called admiral Jiguang ordered them to attack us. In keeping with our protocols we disabled their weapons and stunned them. That’s when I called you.”
“Ah, admiral Jiguang. Why am I not surprised.”
“You know this being, sir?”
“No, not directly. But I am beginning to know him. Which one is he?”
“He is the small one seated in front of the central screen.”
“Bring him to me.”
G’Rzu motioned to one of the security personnel who entered the room and dragged admiral Jiguang in front of sub-commander S’Tor. Admiral Jiguang fell to his knees, groggy, coughing and disoriented.
“You will gather your senses in a moment, admiral Jiguang. We put you to sleep to end your hostilities.”
Admiral Jiguang, still on his knees, lifted his head and peered up at sub-commander S’Tor. He was not sure he was seeing well, but accepted the tall, muscular appearance of S’Tor, his thin regal nose, colorless eyes and large head well proportioned to his body.
Admiral Jiguang spoke, “It seems you have me at a disadvantage. May I ask who you are and how you got into my facility?”
“I am sub-commander, S’Tor. We are here as a result of a spacial anomaly that we detected in this part of the galaxy. Our analysis shows that the anomaly originated from within this chamber.”
Admiral Jiguang, more awake, stood to his feet and faced the sub-commander. “Why are you interested in this spacial anomaly? There has been no activity here for over a year.”
“We node-hoped here from our part of the galaxy after detecting the anomaly. If by a year you mean one revolution of your planet around its sun, it was that long ago that we detected the anomaly. Our ships arrived here only days after the detection. Your species is in violation of numerous galactic laws and you pose a threat to others in the galaxy.”
“Others? We have no knowledge of others in the galaxy.”
“Your species could not have believed you were the only ones in the galaxy. That concept makes no logical sense. If you have a device capable of manipulating spacetime, you must be aware of that there are other beings in this galaxy.”
“Perhaps we should have known, and we did hypothesize that there were others, but he had no direct evidence.”
“You are more reckless than our leadership imagined; and it appears that you are attempting to once again to use this device to alter spacetime.”
“And with good reason. Our planet has been all but destroyed as a result of one of our species sabotaging of the initial experiment.”
“You mean a little girl and one called Paul Price?”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“That is none of your concern. We understand that you were one of the leaders of this attempt to manipulate spacetime. You will have to answer for your actions.”
“Answer to whom? We are a free people. We don’t have to answer to anyone.”
“You are not free to tamper with spacetime and bring destruction upon thousands of planets throughout the galaxy; planets that have been in existence with sentient life for millions and billions of your years.”
“We did not realize we would do any harm. It was not our intention. . .”
“That’s enough, Admiral Jiguang. You can tell it all to the stars. They are the only ones that will listen to such flimsy excuses.”
Sub-commander S’Tor turned to his security team and ordered them to transport admiral Jiguang back to the ship and confine him in quarantine.
As the security team approached admiral Jiguang, an intense light appeared behind the admiral. Two hands reached from within the light and pulled admiral Jiguang into inter-dimensional space. Another hand emerged from within the light and attempted to penetrate commander S’Tor’s body. Two of S’Tor’s security personnel grabbed the hand, and S’Tor, used to dealing with unexpected spacial occurrences, pressed his wristband sending out a general electromagnetic pulse that disrupted the spacial rift. The two security personnel pulled as hard as they could and as the light from the rift disappeared a being fell before them out of the light. It was one of admiral Jiguang’s soldiers.
“You will never be able to find him, now. He is beyond your reach,” Jiguang’s soldier said dismissively.

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Categories: God and the Universe

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