Author’s note: So I thoroughly apologise for the time this update took to get out to you guys. I’ve been thoroughly slammed at work, having to pull double shifts because it’s tax time and I’m good earner (jeez that sounds positively mafia like)
Here is a somewhat bigger then usual chapter that got rushed so it’s probably got a few more errors in it then usual plus it’s the end of the first (prologue) arc as a way of my apology for my tardiness. Next week I will no longer be pulling any double shifts so I will have plenty of time to edit and polish and post. However I will be moving from a Bi-Weekly schedule to a weekly release schedule because I like to read stuff too. Enjoy and keep them comments coming.
Final note : SOP = Standard Operational Procedure
Arc 1 And So It Begins
Chapter 4 The Coming of the Dawn (2)
After he finished this, Deras shifted a little, grimaced and ploughed ahead with stoic determination as his eyes focused solely on the bulkhead. “In regards to the experiment, the science lab and several surrounding compartments were utterly destroyed, we’ve sealed off that section and deactived the power grid to that area, the energy spike from the experiment has also crippled the fusion reactor, without significant work it will only be able to put out a fifth of the power it used to, and with all the other issues I don’t think it’s likely that my team will be able to repair that section anytime soon.”
Deras fell silent and Soren switched her gaze over to Halani. “Now, would you care to explain why your failure has cost me a fully operational reactor a Science Lab, and a great deal of lives?”
Just as he was about to speak the intercom on the wall sounded and Darnel picked up the reciever and spoke. “CO’s quarters go…..” she listened for a time then said. “Excellent, have him land immediately and have the optical data linked to the Spatial Analysis lab. Recall the recon squadron now, even if they have to deploy a orbital drone. I want a brief with all possible haste.” She then replaced the reciever in the recepticle and motioned for the Major to resume.
Major Halani, finally allowed to speak turned his head and looked the Captain full in the eyes, “Captain, there was no failure, no incompetence; my team and I had anticipated every possible outcome. We erected Kinetic Barriers and forcefields and took offline several power junctions and isolated the reactor. According to SOP for these sorts of tests, we went way beyond the red line on our precautions. What happened Captain,” at this Halani stopped for a moment as he shook his head with a shocked expression. “What happened is a blatant impossibility according to every rutting law of physics I know of.”
“This substance when subjected to almost any kind of energy exhibits an impossible ability to not just absorb but redirect it randomly. Quirky sure, but what no one thought possible what fundamentally SHOULDN’T be possible is that when it encountered a non specific energy source it didn’t just redirect it but it amplified the output to almost every neighbouring molecule indiscriminately which then repeated the phenomena until critical mass.
“This resulted in a series of escalating, unstable and ultimately uncontrollable power spikes. We tried to compensate by applying the largest energy sync and strongest plasma regulator possible to store and regulate the outgoing energy, but the resin started replicating before it just exploded. The Energy was being generated too fast to be removed. As much as this substance has the potential to revolutionize our way of generating energy, it’s uncontrollable by any means I’m familiar with, or could hope to develop in my lifetime.”
Captain Soren mulled over what she had heard before standing up and coming out from behind her desk to lean on the front edge of it. “I apologise for the incompetent crack Major. I couldn’t concieve of a occurance that lost you half your division, blew up a lab and damaged key equipment during what you assured me was a safe test for no gain. I agree that this substance is too dangerous to risk developing in our present condition, and yet it’s too strategic a resource for us to discard altogether. Shelve it for the time being. Thank you gentlemen, now if you’ll show yourselves out I have a decision to make.
Both Deras and Halani briskly saluted, quickly about faced and marched out of her quarters, too relieved to be out of the Captain’s line of fire to realise that the fate of the entire crew was being decided.
Several hours later……
Darnel stood up and went over to a locker and retrieved a bottle of the 100 year old Andellian firewine she had been given by Admiral Nagoya after she had been promoted to Captain. She opened it and poured a glass and then downed it in one go before almost collapsing with glass in hand into the lounge.
What it came down to for her was the blasted communications grid, if only it had been saboutaged instead of no one answering. Never mind the incidental damage from the test, or the untold number of years drifting through space to end up here. She could have even probably dealt with the saboutage given sufficient time and resources, but if no one used the communications grid then that was a problem.
The Imperial communications grid was the Empire’s greatest technological marvel, a system that allowed for real-time instantaneous communication anywhere in the universe. There would be no need to upgrade or replace it, it was the pinnacle of communications technology. If there was no response then there was a very limited number of conclusions.
One being that the frequency was no longer in use as a military channel, that does happened over time, codes and frequencies are changed. But the Imperial listening stations would have been able to spot a distress call on any channel of the network by now. Two, the language of the Empire had changed sufficently to render their calls unintelligable, Soren discarded that option as soon as it presented itself to her mind.
They still would have replied. Three, somehow there was interference between herself and the grid. If so, then that would be the first time interference had ever occluded a transmission. Which brought her to the final option, the grid was no longer in use…..because the Empire had fallen, and some time ago if the communications network no longer functioned at all.
A soft blinking light intruded on her thoughts, and with a silent sigh she put the cup down as she picked up a display. The data that the recon flights had collected on this planet told her that this planet was uninhabited. No Insectoid, reptillian or other sentient life of any kind lived in this sector,, and as far as she was concerned that was all that mattered.
Any other data was irrelevant. The planet was habitable for human life and that would be the end of it. Darnel looked up with a smile on her face, it appeared that her decision had already been made, all the while without her having to make it. Darnel then turned and picked up the handset and after being put through to the CIC she told her XO, “I want the crew assembled within one hour” With that she replaced the handset and finished sipping her wine while the preparations were made for her address.
Tarman exited and closed the hatch, and breathed a sigh of relief that this debrief was over when the address horn sounded. He stopped and listened to the XO’s voice direct all crew not currently engaged in critical repairs to report to the number 3 cargo-bay in one hour. That cargo-bay was nicknamed the forum as nothing was stored there, and as such made an excellent meeting place. With nothing to do but get some rack time Tarman decided to arrive early and see whether he could locate some seating for whatever was going to happen.
Nearly an hour later, and the forum was beginning to fill up, as Tarman watched on from his seated vantage point. One of the medical staff, a Leiutenant Iliya walked up and after curling up in Tarman’s lap asked him, “You were out flying re-con today with the other pilots weren’t you, did you find anything?”
Tarman looked into Iliya’s eyes and smiled as he said in a hushed voice, “Why don’t we wait for the Captain? And when did I become your personal lounge?” Iliya’s face was mared by a touch of frustration momentarily and then she smiled a mischevious grin as she said, “Since you had the time to find yourself a seat and didn’t think to bring one for me too. Now I won’t be put off, what was out there.”
Tarman sighed as if this situation was just too much of an indisposition and said, “If you must know there was a planet that looked habitable, though I certainly wouldn’t want to land there.” Iliya looked at him with suspicion as if he were trying to trick her and said “Why not?” but before he could answer Captain Darnel Soren and the entire Senior Staff walked in through the hatch that lead to the walkway that ringed the edge of the cargo bay and Tarman whispered “Shush, Captain’s here”. At this Iliya glowered but turned and looked towards the Captain.
After a few minutes, the ship’s company settled down as Captain Soren climbed the railing and followed the walkway around to a point where she could address the entire crew. She then turned and with a nod to her science officer connected in a wireless transmitter so those at work on the repairs could also hear the Captain’s address. After this was done she turned and looked out over her crew.
“Crew, we’ve all had to endure some hard days lately, so let me some up our situation.” Soren tapped a device that attached to her wrist and in the middle of the bay a large holographic display activated and showed a map of the galaxy. With a wave of her hand the map of the galaxy changed to show known Imperial Space, it then zoomed out and as it was focusing on another position a long way away from Imperial Space Darnel said, “To squash the myriad of rumours, the Kovali is currently located in the sector of space that is currently displayed on the holo-viewer.”
At this the crew burst out into an angry buzz of chatter, shouts and calamity until the Captain taped another button on her wrist device and her voice amplified itself above the noise. “What’s more, is that investigation has revealed that we were sabotagued and have drifted throughout the stellar field for a length of time that is currently unknown.” At this the crew quitened down, shocked at the implications of just how long on a straight line course it would take to drift across the Galaxy.
“This means, my brave crew, that there is a decision to be made. We either attempt to head back to Imperial space, or we find the nearest planet and colonise it.” Several crew members at this began shouting, “We must head back, we have a duty to perform.” At which Darnel held her hand up, calling for silence as she delivered what would be death blows to their morale.
“The cryogenic storage systems are saboutaged beyond repair, main drives while functional are unable to reach beyond one quarter thrust without the Anti-Matter reactor which was disabled. And beyond all that, the communications grid has remained silent since we discovered our situation.”
At this the crew was deathly quiet, some fainted one even vomited. Darnel finished her speech while they were still reeling, “No, the Empire is lost to us, we were intended to scout a site for a future colony and I intend to fulfill the last order my Emperor gave me, in spirit if not in actuality. There is a planet nearby, and while it will prove challenging I mean to establish a Imperial Colony on that world.”
Darnel tapped her wrist and a large blue planet appeared were once the galactic map had been, “I will establish 3 major colonies spread out over a variety of terrains and continents to ensure our survivability. We will take 3 shuttles, the Sumer, the Mino and the Lanti, a small amount of food and the minimum that we need to ensure our survival. The ship and all it’s technology I will personally bury somewhere beyond the reach of the other three colonies.
At this, the crew which had once been silent, then hopeful, erupted again, almost to the point of rioting and security was forced to wage in to break up several scuffles and small angry acts of violence.
Darnel held both hands up this time and shouted them down, “And how long would it be, until the weapons ran out of charge, the medicine, the fuel and the food was all expended. We have at best a year at current fuel reserves. With each day not knowing if the reactor will last till the next and how long before all consumables are exhausted?
What then? NO, we will go until this new land with the bare minimum. It will be harsh, it will be a struggle. But that is what we came out here for, what we TRAINED for. I want this ship and it’s technology preserved for our descendents, that when they find it they will have the civilisation and emperor willing, the honour to use the technology with wisdom. As Captain you will obey this last command, or the failsafe I have enacted will do it for me.”
”I want the settlement groups ready to go within the week, look to your duty officers for your assignments. Dismissed.” The Senior staff filed out along with the crew, while Tarman looked up at the Captain, as the others filed out, before he too got up, dislodging a shaking Iliya as they both left to find out what would be expected of them.
A week later Darnel stared out the observation deck as the three shuttles commenced the last run. Her Senior staff had left with the first group to leave the ship so that they could scout out potential settlement sites. At the site of the shuttles leaving a wave of melancholy hit Darnel, and she turned away from the window as the computer announced.
“Captain, the crew assigned to the Lanti has mutinied, they broke into the armoury and took several weapons, armour and absconded with some survival pods. ” Darnel’s eyes narrowed momentarily and she said, “The damn fools, it will just fail. Lock their genetic profiles out, treat them as law demands. Was anyone killed?”
“Yes Captain,” the AI began to display faces and names.
“Stop, I have had enough heartbreak for one life time.”
The AI did not know how to respond to that so it simply asked, “Is there anything else you require before we begin our descent.?”
Darnel closed her arms around her stomach as if hugging herself and said, “No, I’ll be in my quarters, drinking the last of the firewine the Admiral gave me. After this is done, I expect you to take care of the ship, do we have an understanding?” The AI acknowledged and then commenced calculating the descent vectors as the Captain went to her quarters for the last time.
The AI took the ship to a distant island as far away from the other settlements as possible and upon finding a suitable mountain set the maintainence bots to dig itself into the belly of the mountain. Once this task that took several weeks to fully bury the ship was completed the last remaining maintaince drone in accordance with the captain’s wishes buried Darnel Soren at the head of her ship and retreated inside the airlock which sealed itself. The ship then cycled down it’s power draw, killing all primary systems, until the lights began to flicker out in a controlled manner.
Shutdown complete the AI went into standby so it too could await it’s fate.
While the settlements that were placed would grow and evolve, and into the annals of history they would pass as mankind forgot it’s origins, it’s history and the legacy that awaited it. Over time the names of the shuttles changed as the language of man first devolved and then re-evolved until something similar but radically different to the originals emerged. Africa, and Europe.
So the crew of the Kovali and the great Imperium of Man passed into the twilight and faded into legend, myth and in someplaces was forgotten altogether.
But for one seed, hidden and buried that was awaiting the coming of the dawn so it could sprout and flourish anew.