Category Archives: Hiding the Seeds

Everything Must Balance

Everything Must Balance

The Watcher appraised his past as he contemplated his next steps. He was the last Kuli left in Tyria after the galaxy’s destruction and the expulsion of the Linthian system from normal space and time through the Galactic Tear. He had spent thousands of years watching the Galactic Tear for signs of the lost Linthians. The rest of the Kuli had taken the remnants of the galaxy, in cobbled together ships, across the gulfs of space to the eight nearest galaxies. The Kuli that came before him worked to prevent the destruction of the galaxy but failed. Ultimately, the end of life in the galaxy was due to the ministrations of the Great Deceiver and complicated by Kuli mistakes.

The Kulis’ last Supreme Guardian, J’Rontia, directed the remnants to seed the surrounding galaxies and do all they could to restore the Linthians to Tyrian space. During his watch of the Tear, he received the Journal of the Traitor and learned that a Deceiver’s apprentice lived and the Deceiver’s poison had spread across what was left of Linthia creating a violent and vengeful population that now considered themselves Thorlinthians.

When information came to him about an opportunity to remove the legacy of the Deceiver forever, he went deep into Thorlinthia to destroy the reconstitution chamber that allowed the evil and knowledge of the Deceiver’s apprentice to transfer to additional generations. His mission was a success and he was also able to terminate the use of an ancient archive of forbidden knowledge by exploding the device along with the reconstitution chamber. He knew his mission was a one-way trip and fully expected to die, probably after serious suffering at the hands of the Thorlinthians.

To his surprise, he was rescued by J’Rontia and her Soretto and then, for unknown reasons, was dropped onto this ship only to find that it was one of the seed ships tens of thousands of years in the past and in the middle of nowhere. This ship was the first seed ship finished and his command ship before he decided to be the Watcher and now it full of mysteries and dead crew men. After many primitive repairs, he finally had enough energy flowing so that he will be able to check the Captain’s log to find out why the ship is in such bad condition and so far in the past. Reading the log is not his only option and he could contact the Kuli of the time he was in for help; however, Tomli’s instructions were to do what “he” thought was best. So, with an understanding of the weight his decisions may have on the future he relaxed in the commander’s chair and connected with the computer and the captain’s log.

The captain’s log is very thorough in its descriptions of the planets that were seeded and in providing details on the disasters that befell the expedition at various points. The New Beginnings 8 was actually the first of the seed ships to be completed and the seed ship builders designed most of the on-board protocols for the long trips using this ship. It was good to see that the captain and the crew used the protocols, thus allowing him to understand the structure of the log.

His interest, at this time, was in how the ship ended up so far in the past and what happened to its crew. The thought of the crew caused him to stop his scanning of the log and he turned to the monitors. The command control center was a mixture of several battleship command control centers. They had taken them out of the original ships and set them up in the seed ships to control the section of the seed ship that was built from that particular battleship. The control centers were covered with monitors that allowed the user to see the various outputs as directed by the ship’s main computer. The ship’s main computer hooked all of the various computer systems from so many ships together and acted as a translation interface to a standard control room computer. This allowed for synchronized command and control through the use of seven pedestal interfaces in the primary control room.

Each of the seven pedestals has their own control orb to allow simultaneous control for separate components of the ship in a battle or planet seeding. Each of the pedestals was positioned in front of a hatch that covered a stasis pod. The control room was in the middle of the ship for protection and away from any escape modules. Thus, each operator had their own emergency stasis pod that they could enter in mere moments if the ship was in peril.

He told the computer, “Display the status of the stasis pods.” The monitor lit up with seven sections, each showing the status of one pod. He was surprised when he realized that six of the pods contained some sort of life form. “Display the information on the contents of the pods,” he commanded the computer. The monitors showed that the pods contained four Linthians and two Murhans. He asked the computer, “Display the Kuli energy levels.” The monitors now showed that all six were Kulis and two of them were Guardians, at least in their energy generation ability. It was exciting to know that some of the crew survived and that he may be able to learn a lot from them.

Each of the six outputs showed flashing symbols indicating that there was a problem. All six of the monitors showed errors on the recovery charges. This meant that he could not restore any of the people in the pods without replacing the recovery capacitors. To use external power would be extremely dangerous and if anything went wrong the occupants would die. He needed to replace the capacitors and recharge them.  Still, the monitors showed that they were safe for now.

He returned back to the Captain’s log and continued his search.  The results showed three sections of interest. The first was an extended stay in orbit around the last seed planet. Then there was a crisis on a nearby planet with an attack by the Thorlinthians, which he was sure dealt with the ships he saw from the Station. The third section of interest dealt with a time period after the crisis and consisted of the latest entries. The rest of the log was the largest and seemed to be rather boring data about the trips between seedings. He did tag the times in the log when the seedings occurred so that he could review those areas to form some idea of how successful the landings were.

He decided to target the area that he believed dealt with the Thorlinthian attack on the people called Fehmadadi by the Captain in his log. He told the computer which areas he wished to review and went into the kitchen to eat a snack while the computer was loading the Kuli reader. Kuli readers are rather fascinating devices as they match the data outflow to the user’s maximum brain processing ability. The ship still had his readings from before the destruction of Tyria and was almost done building the review when he stopped it. He had completely changed since he was this ship’s commander, especially after his visit from Tomli, and now his abilities needed to be diagnosed again.

It took quite a while on this huge ship to find where the diagnostic equipment was and even longer to set it up. The ship did not have day or night and he just ate when he was hungry and slept when he was tired. He could have set the timekeepers for days and nights but he could neither find a reason why nor could he decide what system to set the clocks by. So, he just went by feel and made sure that each waking cycle had time set aside for appropriate exercise and studying. During his search for the diagnostic equipment, he had traveled through almost the entire ship. It was sad to see the number of crew members that lay dead everywhere. At first he thought to move them and proceed with proper disposal; however, after doing that with three of them he realized that the people in stasis had not done that and there might be a reason. So, he only moved those who were in areas of the ship where he now had life support running as they would decompose. They were moved to the nearest area of the ship with no life support and a note was left on them indicated exactly where he found them. Every day brought more mysteries.

The diagnostic was not a fun process and usually Kuli only did this three times. The first time usually was when they became an apprentice, unless they were a Soretto who processed through their Kuli. The second time ordinarily was after they graduated and became a Kuli. After that is was mostly at the times when they were promoted due to a better understanding of the lifeforces, such as when one would become a Guardian, a Healer, or other major change. There were also other more exotic reasons to use the equipment, such as preparation for a core build to use for reconstitution, preparation for certain surgeries on the brain, and other times when the entire body’s input/output system needed to be measured with extreme accuracy.

These tests are not often given by the individual being tested as they can be very disruptive to the nervous system and may leave a person incapacitated for an unknown period of time. Unfortunately, he had little choice. Using a properly attuned reviewer, he could skim through the tremendous amount of data in the Captain’s log in minutes and review only the areas he needed in perhaps one or two sleep cycles. Without the synchronization, he might take up to a standard year to find only part of what he needed and, for some reason, he felt that he needed to work as fast as possible.

The equipment was in one of the medic offices and, after a small snack, he settled into the examination chair. He attached the connectors to his naked body with care. He then strapped himself in and adjusted the pressure to the highest level he could tolerate. He knew from previous experience that the process would not be fun and that the body, on occasion, revolted on its own. Naturally, as a Kuli, he would attempt to control his body throughout the tests; however, only a few Supreme Guardians had enough control to prevent the body from responding on its own. Of course, that is also part of the testing.

He hesitated before pushing the start button. Pain is always different when you know what is coming. He pushed the button and time stood still. This diagnostic was different from before and it seemed that the tests went on forever. He had taken some of the tests before and mainly reacted to the probes. This time he was able to anticipate and prepare his body for most of the trials and responded quickly enough to negate the worst of the body’s reactions in all other cases. His new understanding of his body and the world around him allowed him to finish the tests without losing control once. He stepped out of the chair astonished with how much he had changed. The diagnostics showed that he had the instincts and abilities of a Supreme Guardian but with the lowest training level on the charts for a Supreme Guardian. He would have to find some of the Supreme Guardian training and fit it into his schedule. He smiled a rather mischievous smile and silently thanked Tomli followed by J’Rontia and her Soretto. They believed in him before he believed in himself.

Back in the control room, the new data was fed into the interface and it adjusted for his updated abilities. He started with the “Fehmadadi” incident. The various data points flowed across his mind with the corresponding audio or video context, including advanced data analysis such as emotions from the Captain and crew entries. It was his most intense review he ever experienced and he began to understand why the Supreme Guardians were able to comprehend events at such a greater depth. The story was both fascinating and frightening as he came to realize how vulnerable the nearby seed colony was.

He turned off the review and leaned back in his chair as he contemplated what he had learned. The pieces did not all fit together but he did learn enough to understand how the seed ship ended up in the past. The ship seeded the planet called Terira but there was a problem with the seeding. It turned out that there were already Murhans on the planet and had been for a long time, although they did not have all of the advanced genetics the current Murhans had. In addition, there was a race from the planet with the same DNA ancestry of the Murhans that evidence showed developed on the planet. He was not sure how this was possible as the Murhans supposedly developed in the Galactic Wing of the Tyrian galaxy.

He understood why the ship’s crew would want to spend time there to resolve the issues the DNA brought up. Still, the Kuli running the ship did not have the answers when they left Terira and something about the whole situation stirred an old memory that he could not quite grab on to. He queried the part of his brain where the Tomli memories came from but there was no recognition or vision that came forth. His curiosity demanded answers that were not forthcoming. The temptation to review the logs about Terira was huge, but his present needs demanded that he move on with the information he had already found.

He summoned the computer and asked, “Consider the coordinates from the log that I highlighted and access all archives the ship is connected to and find any related histories.” He went off to the kitchen and ate some troger root. When he returned, the computer had the data ready and there was only one entry about the area in question. The entry had limited information as the complete entry had a security block. What was being shown indicated that the entire section of Galaxy 8 where Terira was located had been marked off limits by the Linthians long before the Murhans separated from them genetically. He tried to access the restricted information but the data was not on the local archives and he was too far out for a system connection. He could use a hype connection, except that they had security protocols that he was thousands of years out of date with, in the reverse.

He went back over the Captain’s log on the Fehmadadi incident. The seed ship had found a perfect planet for seeding, the third planet, and entered the solar system. As they entered, they recognized that the fourth planet was already populated. The planet’s occupants, who called themselves Fehmadadi (pronounce using Linthian standard phonemes), came out to greet them near the seventh planet. The Fehmadadi thought they were returning to visit their planet and welcomed them as old friends.

The confusion continued when they reached the planet. Across most of the planet were extremely primitive settlements of Murhans and other related peoples. The Fehmadadi introduction shows that the seed ship settled in orbit around the third planet for thousands of standard years. It did not contain the information on the exploits of the ship, its crew, and why they stayed although that is in another section of the logs. On the other occupied planet in the system, the Fehmadadi were not silent but did not interfere as they believed in a hands-off approach to other life forms. The Fehmadadi were a private people who explored the galaxies for information only and did not interact much with the people of Terira or any other planet, until the visit to Thorlinthia.

He remembered, when he was at his station back in Tyria, how the Fehmadadi accidentally went through the Galactic Tear to Thorlinthia.  When they came back out they were being pursued by what later turned out to be Thorlinthians. The home defenses were able to repel the little ships that came but the thought that more would come was difficult for the Fehmadadi and they did not have the mental aptitude for war preparations. They asked their friends, the Kuli, for help.

The Kuli had notice the skirmishes and recognized the Thorlinthian technology as an offshoot of Linthian.  The voice recordings from the Fehmadadi ships of the Thorlinthians also showed a language that was closely related to Linthian. When they examined the damaged components of the Thorlinthian ships it became obvious that the equipment was Linthian based but had many pieces of banned technology in it. The crew searched their on-board archives and came up with the Journal of the Traitor as it had been retransmitted by himself as The Watcher.

They explained to the Fehmadadi what they knew about the Thorlinthians and reviewed the resources at hand. There was no way out except to turn their economy to war and prepare for the Thorlinthian attack that was sure to be coming. The Fehmadadi refused and indicated that they would rather die than turn their society into a war machine. They had many advanced skills but refused to consider an option that would change their fundamental nature.

The Kuli explored many defensive options with them and came to the conclusion that the technology the Thorlinthians possessed would surpass any defensive stance they could take. The Kuli sent a shuttle back to Tyria to see if any help was available and then set about working on the only answer they could find – the preservation of a small group of Fehmadadi through the use of a temporal lever.

The mathematics of a temporal lever is a bit beyond his current training in space-time but he understood the fundamentals. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This axiom works in all dimensions of space-time. The Kuli decided to eliminate all evidence of their presence on Terira and to help the Fehmadadi use a temporal lever to send some of their people into the future in the hope that the calls for help will be answered in time to save at least part of their race.

The Kuli knew that they were not supposed to use a temporal lever as it was forbidden technology. Still, the only other choice would be to allow an entire civilization to fall. They sent their request for help and proceeded with their plans, hoping against hope that help would arrive in time. It didn’t.

The Kuli withdrew all of their members from Terira to work on the project and left a group of trained Terira members to continue the lifeforce schooling for the peoples of Terira. The original crew of the seed ship had grown many times as they all had families. For this project, the families were left on Terira and the crew worked with the Kuli to help the Fehmadadi build the lever.

The theory of a temporal level is simple, to go forward in time, an equal amount must go back in time. The Kuli of the seed ship and the crew were dedicated to the preservation of life and volunteered to go back in time. The ship had the main stasis pods in the control room and they also had the sleep chambers from the original journey in the back. The sleep chambers were inexpensive stasis pods that were not designed for more than one use so they needed to be restored to their original state. Part of the crew went to work on rebuilding enough of the sleep chambers for the crew to use.

Their plan was simple. In order to send a small group of Fehmadadi forward in a self-contained city, they would have to send the seed ship back in time. The formula is extremely complex but the underlying logic is simple. Mass times distance in one direction must equal the mass times distance in the other. Then, there is the rather significant matter of opening a portal and providing momentum for the journey. Based on the technology from the first assault, it was believed that the Thorlinthians would use a form of nuclear bomb to destroy the cities of the Fehmadadi. They built the lever right near a city so that they could use the energy from the blast to open the portal and provide the momentum. This plan fit with their desire to wait until the last possible moment in case help did arrive.

The plans called for the Fehmadadi to go forward one hundred local years and to move in space to near where the solar system will be at that time. The seed ship was to go back in time approximately six hundred standard years and would move into an unknown area of space in a direction that balanced the equation for the Fehmadadi. The sleep chambers had been design for one sleep of up to one thousand standard years so they should have plenty of capacity to park the ship, go into stasis for six hundred years, and come back into the system right after they left. One group worked on the weapon systems to see what they would be able to help with when they returned. Most of the weapons had been left in Tyria and as a seed ship it was only armed with defensive weapons and shields. The group was planning on gutting the ship where possible and using as many materials as they could for building offensive weapons. The outlook was not very positive but based on the weapons in the scout ships, they were pretty confident they would be able to defend their own ship.

He had skipped a lot of the data dealing with the years of preparation; however, two things became very clear. First, they were not able to fabricate offensive weapons. Second, the Fehmadadi refused to build any offensive weapons. Still, they did manage to greatly increase the number of defensive weapons and the planet may be able to hold of the attack until help came.

The temporal lever was completed less than one standard year before the Thorlinthians arrived. Once the lever was finished, they started working on disguising the seed ship and the Fehmadadi city that was to be moved. They had barely finished when the Armada arrived. When they saw the size of the ships and the number in the Armada, they knew they had miscalculated. In addition, the technology they were looking at was thousands of years improved over the scout ships they had seen before and their defenses would not hold. As the Watcher, he understood how the time difference through the Tear can be confusing to those in normal space/time.

He took note of the exact time of the attack by the Thorlinthians. His son used/will use the information to sneak into the past and rescue two Fehmadadi, not knowing that an entire city was being rescued. He pondered for a moment the intricate threads that wove together throughout these events to make a web that continued to draw important people into the continuing story that was the Tyrian disaster.

The crew took their positions as did the Fehmadadi in their city. All of their plans for the temporal lever were about to come to fruition when the Thorlinthians surprised them again. The Thorlinthians brought an Armada with over 200 ships, including one that was a forbidden judgment ship. The Kuli did not have enough power to support the jump without external power and as the Thorlinthians attacked it was clear that they planned on something other than dropping bombs. First, the Thorlinthians deliberately destroyed all of the defenses that the Fehmadadi set up. It was as if fire raged across the sky for days in their local time. The Fehmadadi civilization learned quickly that all that they were or ever would be now rested with the temporal lever.

The battle raged on as the Fehmadadi defended their homes with the courage of champions. As the last defenses fell, the Captain of the Kuli seed ship reviewed his monitors with a grim expression on his face. All of his emotions were recorded in the log and the Watcher could feel the anger and frustration rushing through him. The Thorlinthians had plenty of conventional weapons and did not need the judgment ship. The hatred could almost be tasted after the mental broadcast from the Thorlinthians. He wanted to radio the Fehmadadi city in the lever to let them know what was about to happen but that might have drawn the interest of the attackers. Once the Captain realized what was about to happen, he only had time to tell his crew, “Prepare for a long jump and a rough ride.”

The Captain and his control room staff knew what was about to happen and they could do nothing about it. The judgment ship used a forbidden technology known as Glascing. The technology was forbidden for many reasons but one was its use of unstable power sources intermixed with lifeforce. There was no way to calculate the amount of energy to be released and this completely changed the temporal lever’s effects. The amount of energy that would now be absorbed by the opening of the portal was beyond control and their previous destinations were now a joke with no humor.

The Watcher hooked back up to the computer to review the jump once more in regular time. He was connected to the Captain’s input channels. The Captain tasted fear in his throat as thoughts swirled in his head about being tossed into a star or too close to a black hole or any number of other situations that could extinguish all life on his ship. When the Glascing happened, the energy released was over one thousand times what their computations had showed for a nuclear bomb. The transition into the portal was smooth but the massive energy release threw them tens of thousands of years into the past and off course into the abyss between galaxies. The last thoughts of the Captain before he blacked out concentrated on the Fehmadadi and if they survived their thrust forward in time.

The Watcher unhooked from the computer and sat back again to consider what had happened. The condition of the ship made more sense with this information as did the number of dead crew members he had found all over the ship. Plus, the sleep chambers would not have been able to withstand the energy that flowed with the Glascing in the unshielded parts of the ship and even in the shielded areas the electromagnetic forces would have shorted out the controllers on almost all the chambers, not to mention the destruction to the ship’s engines, life support, and defensive systems from the huge, high intensity energy waves. The same was true of any living things in areas of the ship with limited protection eliminating the hydroponic atriums and other live foods as the Glascing destroyed all unprotested life forms. Any of the crew who did not die immediately would likely have perished before help arrived as there were only six in the protected command center at the time of the Glascing.

The Watcher had witnessed the energy waves that had flowed out of the system from his station near the Tear when the monitoring devices laid by the seed ship sent him their data. He also received some information from his son’s trip, although his son did not yet understand the time dimensions he traversed with wormholes in the experimental ship he used so he did not have the equipment set to record properly. There are very good reasons for all of the Linthian decisions to ban research in certain areas and that ship was full of banned technologies. Not that it really mattered. His son did as was expected and even brought new Kuli to the station, even if only for a short time. His son’s performance ranked up there with some of the best Kuli and he did not have anywhere near their level of training. On the first diagnostic his son took, his skill was up there in the range of Guardians and he was still getting better. His mother felt that he could reach the level of Kuli such as J’Rontia and she was seldom wrong.

He refocused his mind on the present and reviewed the events to calculate time. J’Rontia and her Soretto had fought and slept for over seven thousand years before they died. He had been The Watcher for over fifteen thousand years when the Thorlinthian Armada surged forth to exterminate the Fehmadadi dragging their time distorting fields with them making any relationship to real time impossible to calculate exactly. He was sure that they fixed the time leakages in later models; however what came through the Tear for the invasion of Fehmadadi pulled the fabric of the anti-verse with it. All his calculations indicated that they went about two to four thousand years in Terira’s past when this happened. It must have been a shock when the Thorlinthians returned to the Terira system to find out how much time had passed while they were gone since they thought that time dilation only happened on their side of the Tear.

The Watcher’s calculations brought him to the conclusion that the ship had been drifting for over six thousand years and those in the stasis pods must have known the capacitors would run out long before they made it back. It was time to figure out what to do with this ship and then get to work. He smiled a rather mischievous smile as he considered his options.

The remote space dock he approached seldom had visitors. The repair facility was built during an earlier war when the Linthians needed their ships fixed as close to the battle front as possible. After the war, the facility was sold to a private ship builder who kept a skeleton crew on board and made a respectable profit. The operators of the remote space dock ran a check on the credentials given by the strange ship with the Kuli Central Command. Instead of an instant approval or denial coming up on their monitor as usually happened, they received an audio contact. “Please describe the ship’s model and manufacturer along with their system of registry” the voice commanded. The two operators looked at each other and the bearded one answered, “The ship corresponds to no known model and has no registry. The Commander said to tell you, if you did not approve the repairs, to contact Supreme Guardian Tomli and let him know that the two the Commander was asked two save are alive but one needed serious medical attention.”

The pause on the other side was long and the operators were starting to worry when their screen lit up with the message, “Approved. You can repair jump, minimum life support, essential electronics, one kitchen, one Captain’s Cruiser upgrade, and stasis capacitors only! This is an eyes only – no paperwork and the repairs are to be done by drones and robots only. All billing will go directly to the Kuli High Command.” The operators’ eyes widened as they checked the list from the Commander. The two lists matched exactly and yet they had not transmitted the specific requests. Who and what was on this ship?

The Watcher smiled as the approval details came in. He could hear the fear in the operators’ voices as he communicated with them about the repairs. They definitely wanted him out of the dock as soon as possible but knew he would be there a long time. They also kept his bay completely closed so that no one even knew he was there which saved him from asking. It was amazing how Tomli just knew. He wondered once again how all the threads fit together. The smile returned and he went back to work.

The repairs took two standard years. All the main external engines were now working making a jump easy. The stasis pods took the longest to repair as the capacitors he needed had not been invented yet. He had to remove one from the unused pod and send it to the Kuli High Command so they could prepare specifications to send to one of their manufacturers who now had the most advanced capacitors in the galaxy. He smiled as he wondered if Tomli was the one who selected the manufacturer receiving the job.

He had expected a visit every day from one of the Kuli but it never happened as the ship was repaired and now it was time to go. He fired the engines and prepared to move out of his bay. The exit was perfectly timed so that no one would be in the vicinity and his mood sobered as his lonely existence was about return once more. It is true that the conversations with the operators were brief and that they did not talk about anything except what was absolutely necessary. Still, they were people and he did speak with them. Now he was back to being The Watcher, this time of an almost dead ship that he still didn’t know for sure what to do with.

Later, the Watcher turned his viewer toward the space dock and watched as it disappeared off the monitor. He had left any vestige of civilization behind as he moved out into the void between Tyria and Galaxy 8. He had just sat back to consider his next move when his proximity alarms went off.

The viewer showed an experimental ship that J’Rontia had taught him about. The ship had special characteristics and perfect stealth capabilities but poisoned its crew so it was banned. Yet here it was in front of him. He brought his ship to a halt as the strange craft matched his movements. He was wondering how he would be boarded when a beautiful woman appeared right in front of him.

She was as tall as he was and looked very much like his wife. The thoughts brought tears to his eyes as he realized how much he missed her since she died. The woman in front of him smiled as her thoughts drifted across his mind calming his sorrow and enlightening him. This was J’Rontia mother and she was very pleased with the help he gave her daughter. Knowledge flowed from her directly into his mind and he became overwhelmed rapidly so she switched to speech for a while to let him catch up.

“It is good to finally meet the famous “Watcher” in person,” she said with a huge smile that warmed him to the core. She reached over and gave him a huge hug that brought tears back to his eyes. She stepped back a bit and went on, “My missions required me to know some of what you have done and will do. This made me the perfect person to contact you about your current mission and to answer what questions I can.”

The Watcher asked, “What am I supposed to do with this ship?” She looked at him and said, “You already know the answer to that.” He thought a moment and then nodded that he did and continued, “Okay. How do I move this ship into the future and what do I do about the Thorlinthians?” She smiled one of those devious smiles and said, “A much better question. Or shall I say two?” After a short pause she continued, “The ship needs to go back to the Terira system and remain hidden until one of the Matriarch’s warriors finds it.” She let him think about that for a moment and then went on, “You are to take the ship to the Rotrum Black Hole and use the Schripi anomaly to move forward in time.  It will not take you all the way but it will take you past when the fourth planet was shattered and its life snuffed out by the Thorlinthians.”

He told her he understood and asked some basic questions about how to calculate the entry into the anomaly and other related items, such as where he might hide the ship from the Thorlinthians when they come to occupy Terira. Then he grew very serious and asked her, “How do you handle knowing so much from various times and fitting them all together?” Her whole attitude changed and she answered, “I do not try to put any of it together. I once asked Tomli for a huge favor and he granted it at great expense to himself and his plans. My promise was to do as he and his wife, my mother, asked without questions until I die.”

The Watcher was shocked and he asked, “What favor could be so big that you would give up your life?” Her face brightened pleasantly as wonderful memories flew through her mind and she said, “J’Rontia! Would you not give your life for her?” He immediately answered, “Without hesitation and only my own child could come before her!” She smiled a sweet smile and reached out and touched his forehead. She transferred many memories to him of J’Rontia’s childhood and some of what she has done recently. She stepped back as a sad smile stretched across her face, then she vanished. He wished she had stayed longer but with all of these new memories to enjoy he would not be lonely for a long time.

Two standard years later, he was at the Schripi anomaly trying to finish the calculations for his trip to the future and the numbers did not work out. He must have something wrong and he could not figure it out. He reviewed all that she had told him and realized that at one point she had told him he would find out one of the pieces in due time. Well, it was time and he had not found out what the missing piece was. He decided to relax and try to get some sleep.

The vision came in the night. Tomli smiled at him over a drink in the Rsroter café in old Linthia. The café was surrounded by clouds and it floated in orbit around the planet always keeping the setting sun in the windows. He loved the view and had wanted to go there for years. Tomli asked, “Why do you ask questions you know the answer to?” He struggled to reply as he did not think he knew the answer. Finally he said, “I guess I did not recognize that I had the answer.” “Excellent reply,” Tomli said. He continued, “When you received messages as the Watcher on the station, did you receive any that would help now to complete your mission.” He sat up in bed as he awoke with the answer: balance. He was both excited and sad as he hated to leave such a great dream.

The computer asked, “What do you mean?” He was having little luck explaining what he needed. He tried again, “I need you to extend the formula to include the opposite effect on the anomaly.” The computer answered, “How will you generate the opposite effect?” He relaxed as the computer finally understood. “I want to use the Captain’s Cruiser. We can program to travel as we wish and it can go backwards in time as this ship moves forward.” The computer hesitated for a moment as billions of calculations flew through the system and then it said, “You will be sending it far into the past where its technology has not been invented. This is a violation of the Tommotrion Law and my programming will not allow me to do that.”

This could be a problem he thought. And then it came to him, “Your existence and this ship’s in this time line is already a violation of the law and we will be correcting that. Which is more likely to cause a conflict, a secure ship in the past or this ship in the present?” The computer answered, “This ship and the technology it contains, such as myself. I see your point and my programming will allow that if you use a secure encryption from the Kuli to lock down the Captain’s Cruiser.” The Watcher smiled and said, “No problem.”

Two sleep cycles later he was settling the ship into the atmosphere of a gas giant to await its discovery by one of the Matriarch’s warriors. He wondered who the Matriarch was and decided that this was a good time for some more Supreme Guardian training. Fifty standard years later, he decided he had enough training for a while and needed to go into stasis himself as he waited for the ships discovery. Before he entered stasis he broadcast a final message toward Tyria. He remembered when he was working at the station and intercepted the cryptic messages and wondered who sent them, he never thought it was himself. He had been sending messages regularly, although this last message was simple and would provide a memory when he needed it. It read, “Everything must balance. End.” He entered the stasis pod and smiled as it dropped into the floor.

 

 

On a lonely station, in a decimated galaxy, a lone man reviewed the message he just received. Like the ones before it over the past fifty years it made no sense. He assumed the “End” meant he would receive no more. He smiled. The messages had started coming just when he was about to give up his mission. He thought he was the only one left and had decided to just quit the deep-sleep and all the rejuvenation treatments and let nature finish the job with age. The messages gave him hope and he now knew he could continue on as The Watcher. He smiled more as he walked toward the deep-sleep chamber content with the duty he had given himself.

 

 

On a lonely, forgotten planet beyond the edge of the galaxy in a cavern the message was received by the ancient computer and a program was triggered. The program awoke a very old man. He reviewed the message and smiled through his wrinkled face that was wet with tears. Finally, it was almost time. He went across the room to a communications station and sat down. When the equipment had warmed up, he composed and sent a message to a number of locations, including into the deepest and darkest region of the universe where nothing existed. It read, “Everything must balance. Begin.”

She awoke from stasis a bit confused at first and then saw the message on her monitor. The message read, “Everything must balance. Begin.” Tomli, who supposedly was dead, sent her a message just before the end of the war to go into hiding and to use the long sleep stasis to protect her abilities. He had told her she would be needed in the future and what to program the ship’s computer to look for.

The computer finally received the message it was waiting for and woke her. She had been in the long sleep stasis for thousands of years and at first worried that her fitness was compromised. She went through her daily exercises and found that Tomli was right as usual. She had not lost any of her speed or abilities, although she probably could use more practice in some areas. Still, there is no one trained better than her as she had Matriarch and Kuli training. There were even fewer with her abilities, even the legendary grandsons could barely match her and they did not have her training. The thoughts reminded her of her famous niece, J’Rontia, and she wondered what happened to her and the rest of the family.

She reviewed her computer’s data feeds to see what the current year was and felt that she waited too long, but Tomli had assured her that the message would come when her Aunt needed her the most. She set her ship on a course for Galaxy 8 and started an intensive study and practice routine so she would be ready and up to date when she arrived.

 

 

The Matriarch reviewed the report with a growing sadness. Her forces were the best trained and most powerful soldiers ever. They performed exceptionally but her numbers were still dropping.  The birth rates were always low but their lifespans were longer than most and things had previously balanced. Now they no longer did. She had lived too long and seen too much. Her world was so dark and the Monarch only worked to darken things even more. She knew the dangers of the invasion they had planned. It would task her troops even more. She saw no light, no hope, and with her numbers dropping she felt the future fading away from her.

The door opened to her office opened and her secretary walked in. She said, “This just came in and it makes no sense. You said to bring you anything strange. It was broadband and picked up by one of the sensors you had us place outside the Bifrost. I reviewed all of the equipment settings and have no idea where it came from.” The Matriarch thanked her and took the message. It read, “Everything must balance. Begin.” One single tear hit the page. She walked to the window and straightened herself up. She spoke softly to no one, “Tomli, is it possible that you truly did plan for everything?” The sadness was still there when she turned back to her duties as she knew her job did not get any easier nor did the dark responsibilities belong to someone else but now she knew the others did not all die and at least one was on the way to help her.

 

Welcome back Commander

Welcome Back Commander

He had power now and would be able to restart critical systems, and hopefully have enough power to find out what this ship was doing here and now. Oh, he knew it was a seed ship; after all, he helped build the ships from the remnants of the fleet.

 

After the death of J’Rontia, he was the senior Kuli and sent this ship on its way. In addition, he selected the crews and worked to divide up the resources. He recognized this ship as New Beginning 8, the one he sent to the galaxy in section 8 beyond the Cosmic Tear in a direct line along the Star Channel. He smiled as he remembered how it ended up that Galaxy 8 was in Section 8 and so he named that ship New Beginning 8. Although that was not the official name, everyone used it. No one really liked how the numbering went but it did prevent at least one war.

 

It seems that the various people were rather attached to their own names for the galaxies and areas of space around Tyria. This led the standards committee to use numbers for everything. We now have twelve Sections of space that start in the center of the Tyrian galaxy and move out in three dimensions as a ball might be divided into twelve equal sections with the ball having an infinite size. The galaxies were numbered based on how close they were to Tyria. Galaxy 8 was the 8th closest. Naturally, everyone used their own names for the galaxies, except in formal communications.

 

It turned out that Galaxy 8 was located in Section 8. Therefore, he felt he needed to name the seed ship going there New Beginning 8 and the names for the rest of the ships fell in line. Interestingly, the crew enjoyed the word play and rarely used the official name of the ship.

 

His thoughts returned to his current situation. He was floating in the space between the galaxies in the years before the galactic war started – in the times when everyone talked peace. He had been without power and getting ready for the end when he saw the derelict ship. Tomli’s visions had helped him in many unusual ways and he knew that his life now had a scope beyond any he ever imagined. Without the most recent vision he would not have scanned the surrounding space and would have floated right past the damaged ship.

 

The engine he borrowed from the wreck he considered a gift from J’Rontia to go along with all of her other gifts to him. It was a good thing that he saved J’Rontia and her Soretto. After all, not only did they select him to be a Kuli, they did quite a bit of his training, and, most importantly, they saved his life in Thorlinthia and that allowed him to save them in this time and place. Wow. What a complicated web had been woven.

 

The seed ship must have been at or near the end of its journey because it was almost totally empty. It appeared that almost all of the supplies and people were gone. Still, he could not know if all were gone until he was able to enter the main control room. So far, he had to do all of his work from the secondary bridge with limited power using an emergency bypass. He had finished installing the engine and he hoped it would interface properly and he would have some power to restart the command computer and possibly repair parts of the ship.

 

The newer engine would never have fit in a normal ship; however, this was not a normal ship. Designed from the pieces of multiple warships, some of the engines just hung from struts outside the main frame of the ship and others were fully built in. This made for a very unattractive ship but one where all he had to do, in this case, was modify one set of mounts and he was able to use a different engine.

 

As he thought about things he realized how ironic his thought was that “all he had to do was modify one set of mounts.” He was only one man and he had little in the way of equipment. It had taken a long time to create a mount that would hold up to the forces the engine would generate. Fortunately, the captain’s shuttle had over half its fuel and he was able to use it almost as a crane – it is not as pretty now as it had been.

 

The engine would not allow for any type of hype or warp travel as it was too small and could not be mounted correctly for that function. Still, it would provide power for the ship’s systems and give him some travel ability. He started the engine and was thrilled when it did not rip off of its mounts.

 

The regular lights started to come on as the power levels moved up and the ship came to life somewhat. He moved to a section control panel and examined the ship’s systems. The control panel used a 3D visual of the ship with zoom and color coded system identification. The system came with various fonts depending on the status of the system. It was easy to see the areas of the ship that were damaged and he quickly realized that some extreme stresses had acted upon the ship.

 

He found one set of crew quarters that was all blue and he zoomed in for details. This location had no system problems and would serve much better as his home than the secondary control room that he was using now. He zoomed back out to review the rest of the ship.

 

He shut off the systems in most of the ship either due to high numbers of errors in that area or because he didn’t believe he would need that part of the ship and wished to save energy. He identified three areas to visit. The first was an internal engine and compartment area that had almost no errors and showed a high fuel reserve – he might be able to repair that engine and achieve the ability to jump.

 

The second location was the kitchen near the main control room. It had no errors in its systems and that could mean some decent meals instead of the rations he found in the secondary control room. Finally, he wanted to examine the control room, especially the stasis chambers to see if he could learn what happened to the ship and crew.

 

He slept whenever he was tired and ate rations while he worked on the engine. He knew that the ship was very limited in its maneuverability and speed with the engine from J’Rontia’s ship and felt his top priority needed to be more power so that he could control the ship better and possibly perform a jump.

 

The work was not easy and at the end of each day he had a mess. The white slime did not come off of his hands easily nor did the green sticky oil stains wash out of his clothes the first time. He never rebuilt the navigation section of a Wroster engine before and hoped he never had to again. He took off three layers of protection compartments around the engine, each filled with something disgusting, before he could even work on the broken parts. Then the components did not match the manuals nor were the spare parts located in the front of the supply room. Instead they were in the back, behind hundreds of boxes he had to move, and then at the bottom of the pile.

 

When he finished putting it all back together he noticed the Torsion Brace and realized that he was going to have to take it all apart again and put the brace where it belonged. The second time he had it all together he placed his hand on the control plate and asked the engine to start. He was nervous and this reminded him of when his teacher asked him to show the class his floating Snark project. When he opened the case with his Snark he was deathly afraid it would sink.

 

When he said “start,” nothing happened and his hopes crashed. He started to walk away when he remembered that this was built by Murhans. He placed his hand back on the control plate and said the same thing in Standard Murhan. This time the panel lit up and the safety plates dropped into position. He heard the whine of the twiners and the rush of air from the blowers. Then a whoosh and red lights turned on all over the control panel.

 

He frowned and considered the display. There was a pattern with the red lights and he zoomed in on the indicators. He moved around to the back of the engine compartment and found a bent panel. He removed the panel and found a broken spring on the Gromttel actuator. He replaced the spring and walked to the control panel.

 

He placed his hand on the panel again and spoke the word. The panel lit up and the safety plates dropped into position. He heard the whine of the twiners and the rush of the air from the blowers. Then all sounds stopped and the panel turned all green. He smiled and stopped holding his breath.

 

He turned to the nearby 3D control panel for the ship and examined the power levels. He held his breath again as the power level started to climb. When the level indicator passed out of the danger zone he started to breath. When the level indicator moved past the warning zone he was thrilled. When the level indicator reached the ready zone he felt relief and realized how worried he had been that he would be stuck here forever. The level indicator did not make it to the jump ready zone, but it came close. The controls were set for a fully loaded ship and with it almost empty he may have enough power output. He would have some calculations for the main computer if he was able to enter the control room.

 

All of this success left him really hungry and hoped the kitchen he found had decent food. He found a refresher and spoiled himself with three refreshes. The clothes in the cabinet were standard crew clothes and he wrapped his Tramall over them. Feeling more like himself than he had in a long time, he went to the kitchen he had found.

 

The kitchen had seating for ten at one large table with simple metal chairs. The far wall was covered with system monitors that lit up as he came into the room.

The monitors covered all of the critical systems on the ship and he was able to double check the results from his previous checks with one quick glance.

 

The wall of the room to his left was full of doors with labels for types of food and drink concentrates. Each door contained a monitor for the food levels in that compartment. Almost all the doors had food but the levels were below ten percent in most cases, except for the door for Szatree which was at ninty percent due to the fact that no one likes it. Szatree was always included on long distance journeys due to its nutritional value; however, it is not pleasant to eat.

 

The wall to the right was covered with monitors that showed scenes from Tyria, mostly from the Galactic Wing. The pictures brought back memories he had suppressed, some for thousands of years, and he had to pause for a while to compose himself. Memories of his war years, his time as The Watcher alone, and then the times as The Watcher with his wife and son staggered him and he had to sit down.

 

After a few moments, he turned to view the wall on the side he entered. There were ten infusers for adding liquid back into the food. These were evenly spaced on the wall with counter space around them so meals could be prepared. He checked the monitors on the units and found two that still held liquid for infusing. Excellent.

 

The plate he prepared had seventeen different foods on it and he was determined to waste nothing. One of his selections was so spicy that his tongue burned through two additional selections. The meal was delicious and he could not move out of his chair when he finally finished.

 

While he recovered from his meal, he considered what he would find in the main control room. He was sure that with what J’Rontia gave him he could enter but he was not at all confident in what he would find in the room. How did so much damage occur, where was the crew, and, even more importantly, how did the ship end up so far in the past?

 

He decided to sleep and eat again before going into the main control room.

 

The door’s power levels were back to normal and all the door functions were intact. He placed his hand on the pad and the security controls initialized. The system recognized him from his previous role in charge of the fleet at the time of the seed ship deployment. After posting his information, the ship asked him for the current passwords. He used the codes he remembered but they would not work.

 

He then took the device from J’Rontia and placed it on the panel. The door responded instantly and asked him to input a new password as the previous one had expired. He complied and the system reset.

 

The door opened and as he stepped into the room the lights and equipment all turned on. The system said, “Welcome back Commander. It has been a long time and it is hoped that your journey here will prove rewarding. What are your commands?”

 

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

She awoke to the smell of burning flesh and agony. Each time she fell asleep she slept longer and the burns were worse. Soon she would not awaken. Her calls to her Soretto went unanswered and the horrible truth of what that meant settled into her core with a shiver that chased up her spine and rose the hair on her neck.

The ship’s alarms were no longer ringing and only the emergency lights stayed on. She could not fix the transfer coils so the tremendous power of her engines wasted in the dark and cold of space. The battle had started at the edge of the galaxy and moved further out into nothingness as time went on leaving her drifting away from any help.

Nausea gripped her throat and the taste of blood filled her mouth again. Breathing was difficult and soon would be impossible. Her training had allowed her to lower her metabolism and helped her prevent the flow of blood from the wound in her leg but even Kuli training cannot fix everything and she had a lot wrong. Perhaps she should just go to sleep…

She dreamed of her childhood in the park. She was four years old with a pink ribbon in her hair of silver. Almost everyone on her planet had silver hair, orange eyes, and light blue skin – for that year. The Linthians had mastered their DNA and used retro viruses to rewrite code for cosmetic changes on a regular basis. At four she was allowed to join the rest of the planet’s population in their annual decorative updates on skin, hair, eyes, and more. She was so excited to be all grown up.

A gentle breeze pressed lightly against her face as she looked toward the river. The slightly sweet smell of water was refreshing after all those days in school. A tosstler ran up a tree with a nut in its grasp and it was chased by a yesittle with golden fangs dripping slime as it snapped at the light brown tail. She loved the park. She smelled a foul stench…

The nausea came back as she awoke and this time she could not control the urgent desire of her body to vomit. The blood that flew from her mouth told her that time was almost gone and maybe she should give up. “No!” she thought. Tomli had told her to never give up. She remembered one visit he made to the Kuli training about the time she reached puberty.

“Life is so painful and depressing at times that you will be tempted to end it” he said. She insisted that she would never consider that. He smiled in that mischievous ways and told her “I will hope that you are correct. Still, I want you to remember to story of T’Ronck and J’Teder if you ever feel like giving up.”

This was the first time she ever truly felt like giving up and she didn’t see how a silly child’s story would help her, even one from the legend Tomli.

T’Ronck was a bug about the size of her little finger. He spent most of his day near the water eating pollen that landed in the puddles near the river. J’Teder was fish that swam in those waters looking for bugs to eat. One day, J’Teder saw T’Ronck scoot out across the water’s surface to grab a large piece of pollen. When he did, J’Teder swam up and swallowed him whole. Now T’Ronck was terrified and did not want to die. So he spit out the pollen and proceeded to jump around in J’Teder’s mouth. This aggravated J’Teder and he decide to swallow that bug right away. However, he had been distracted by the bug and was swimming close to the surface of the water. A huge bird swooped down and clamped its jaws around J’Teder. This forced him to open his mouth and out came T’Ronck who was still jumping around.

It was a cute child’s story but she did not think that anything would swoop down to save her way out here in the nothing. She coughed and choked on the blood draining down her throat. Time was running out as her eyes burned from the smoke and her breathing became more labored. All the great Kuli healing could not help forever and they had left the battle with their ship ablaze a long time ago. She closed her eyes for a minute, just to relieve the burning. She slept…

The day at the park was wonderful and she was heading home with her parents when she noticed how sad they looked. Usually they were laughing and teasing her and each other on the way home. Not today. As they approached the edge of the park she saw the old man. She had seen him before and asked her parents what was wrong with him. She knew the Murhans aged but this old man was a Linthian and they did not age hardly at all and when they did it was only internal. Oh, they died eventually, and she became sad as her memories of her grandmother walking her through the flower garden ran across her mind. When she asked about the old man before, her parents said that he had succumbed to the aging sickness when he was younger and that his current appearance was what he looked like when he was cured.

He smiled at her in a way that left her suspicious and concerned, especially when her parents made the sign and bowed their heads. She did not know that he was one of the Kuli, nor did she really understand what they were. She only knew that everyone seemed to get serious or sad around them and always gave them the greatest respect, more so that even the local judge.

Her parents stopped about four paces from the old man and bent down to her. Her mother kissed her and hugged her with tears falling from her face. Her dad picked her up and hugged her until she thought she might break. They both told her how much they loved her and now that she was four her special training would begin.

She knew she would miss them but did not understand all the fuss. She would see them on the weekends and this would be the best time of her life. They had told her so. She, of course, hugged them back and told them she loved them and the she would be alright and see them soon.

The old man held out his hand and said it was time to go. She smiled, looked back at her parents one last time, and eagerly walked to the shuttle with him. In the door she turned around to see her mother collapse in her fathers arms weeping uncontrollably. She was confused. But her father smiled and gave her the sign of a father to a loved daughter. She returned a special sign she had made to show her love for her parents. He smiled even bigger with eyes full of tears. She stepped into the shuttle and the door closed.

She almost screamed when she awoke. The pain was back and she recognized that all of her Kuli training was starting to fail. She had been too long now without food or drink and even the best training and healing techniques will not work once the body runs out of liquids. Her leg was freshly burnt again as the acid continued to drip from above. She had tried so hard to free the leg when they were first blasted free of the battle that she may have permanently damaged it. For a long time she worried about that. Now it took all her energy just to keep from letting herself die.

She reviewed the situation to see what mistakes she made. The battle had been fierce and no one could stand up against her ship. They dodged in and out doing all they could to save as many lives as possible. The King’s forces had better training and equipment than the Republic but the republic was assisted by the Kuli. The Kuli ships were almost indestructible and possessed tremendous power with offensive weapons second to none; however, they were not allowed to use their weapons unless directly fired on. The King’s forces learned that quickly and did not fire on the Kuli. This left them with the job of defending the Republic’s ships by dropping between them and King’s ships long enough for the Republic ships to recover from an attack.

This time one of the Republic ship fired on them at point-blank range. The captain declared his profound apologies over the comm but the damage was done. Every nearby King’s ship opened fire when they saw that the engines had been shut down by the hit. In the time it took to restart the engine they had received huge amounts of damage to their plasma shield and the ship was taking damage int
ernally.

The King’s ships tasted Kuli blood and a recall was sent with orders to attack the Kuli ship to help destroy it. The little ship was not able to jump yet and soon there was over fifty ships firing on them. They retreated away from trade routes and spend many cycles dodging and firing back with the limited weapons still online. Without the damage to the Kuli ship the King’s ships did not have a chance, even with fifty, but now they realized the Kuli were wounded and they came on like pack animals on injured prey.

Her Soretto tried to repair the jump drive and she piloted as best she knew. For many cycles the fight went on. When they reached the galactic edge in that region they saw that more of the King’s ships had come to join them. She had destroyed thirty of the King’s ships but now there were more than seventy total.

Twenty cycles later, only thirty of the King’s ships were at fighting strength and they started coordinating their fire on one part of her ship where the field was weakening. She decided to flee. As she sped away they fired and blew open that section of the ship. She heard the cries of her Soretto but found herself trapped with her leg jammed. There was another explosion and she blacked out.

She drifted in and out of consciousness as the ship continued to shut down. The life support could no longer keep up with the smoke and the most of the basic functions no longer worked. She wished that red light would stop blinking – it really hurt her burnt eyes. Maybe it was time. “No!” Tomli said to never give up. She drifted off again …

The old man was next to her as she lay in the mud with blood running down her face. The training was intense and her hands and knees were full of scabs and scars from all the falls. At first it was fun but this test was only torture. She knew that some candidates died during this exam and she had boasted that she would pass without any problems. After all, she was the top of her class. Now she was in the mud, exhausted, and the old man asked her if she wished to give up. She said “no.” She got up and continued on. Three more times she would fall during the trials and three more times he would ask. The answer was the same except on the final fall when she told him, “I would rather die than give up.” He smiled and told her the test was over. She was shocked. The old man held out his hand and said “Welcome to Kuli training. You are now officially an apprentice.”

She awoke and knew what the blinking light was. It meant another ship had approached without the friendly code. How much worse could things get? She heard movement but could only see shadows as her eyes no longer focused. She tried to warn her Soretto, even though she knew in her heart that he was dead. A figure entered the control room and she tried to move. She blacked out from pain.

When she came to she was in a hospital room on a ship. Her eyes burned and one was patched. She could feel her leg and looked around the room. She saw Kuli and Murhan medical equipment mixed together as if this was a storage room. Boxes were strewn all over as if someone opened them at random and in great haste. The bed was hard without the controls properly activated. She took her key out and activated the room.

The controls lit up and the bed opened. She relaxed as the power flowed into the machines and they started to do their work. Within minutes she could feel the strength returning rapidly to her body as it was repaired on a cellular level. A man walked into the room.

He told her “Sorry, I did not have a key. I tried to do the best I could but am thrilled you have yours. You were too far out for us to communicate for help so I tried using the Murhan equipment.” She was about to speak but he held up his hands for her to stop. “Do not tell me anything and do not ask me anything. Tomli said to tell you that he is glad you remembered the story of T’Ronck and J’Teder. He said that you would understand.” She nodded and laid down to sleep while the equipment worked.

Two cycles later he returned. He told that he had to have one of her engines and some other equipment but that he had repaired her other engine. It was a long way back to the galaxy but if she went into stasis she should make it. He walked her through an old, battered, and patched ship. She longed to ask him a million questions but was able to restrain herself. This ship looked like a patch work of many different ships put together to create a larger one. She could not imagine the purpose and it was empty everywhere they went.

When she entered her ship she was impressed at how clean it was and she asked one question. “How long was I out?” He answered “thirty five cycles before you awoke the first time. Seventy two before you were able to understand enough to turn on the equipment. She smiled and reached into a compartment she opened by the door. She took out a Kuli key, set the controls, and put it in his hand. The key disappeared as he matched with it. He smiled and thanked her.

She turned to walk away and he stopped her. “I must show you something. I did not know what to do and I believe I set the machine incorrectly as when I tried to turn it off it would not let me.” The rounded the corner and walked into the stasis chamber. There in stasis was her Soretto. The controls showed him as barely alive and she knew why the machine would not turn off. He would have to be transferred under stasis to a medical center and the unit was protecting him. She turned and with an extremely rare show of emotion hugged him.

“I owe you my life” she said. He smiled and told her that she had already paid that debt. When she started to ask how, he held out his hands saying “we have already said too much.”

He walked out the door into his huge lonely ship and she wondered where he came from, where he was going, and why he needed one of her engines. She smiled and realized that she was right to honor Tomli and never give up.

The watcher started working on installing the new engine in the old ship. He smiled as he thought of the young woman and young man he had rescued. It was good to see them again. Maybe some day he will be allowed to talk to them. The war was just becoming intense and they would be very busy soon.

He thought back a few cycles to when he was almost out of fuel, in the void between galaxies, and wondering if he would ever see his son again. Tomli’s vision had given him directions on where to go with the little fuel left and told him it was up to him to decide what to do when he got there. He hoped he did the right thing.

The engine worked and he turned the big ship around. Perhaps with the key he would be able to access the control room and find out how this ship made its way so far into it’s past and so dangerously off course.

It took a long time to return to Tyria and she was full of questions. She entered the Galactic Wing and immediately went to the nearest Linthian medical center. She watched with concern as her Soretto was taken inside but did not go with. She sensed a familiar friend. After everyone was gone, he finally spoke. “I cannot answer most of your questions so there is no point in asking. I have brought you a another Kuli archive for you to place in your ship before repairs take place and I am asking you not to report the change. The new archive has the same serial number and will show to be the archive you started with.” He paused and yet she said nothing. He went on, “I need you to study the reconstruction chamber technologies and the deep sleep. I do not share the view that this war will be over soon and we need to prepare as there are so few of us left.”

She nodded and thanked him for sending help. She then turned to walk away. She changed her mind and turned back to ask him why her archive was removed. When she turned around she saw he was no longer there. She wondered how he did that. She had much to learn and the war kept interrupting her training.

In the distance, she could see the Linthian system with all its glo
ry and thought of her parents. She never saw them again and even now she missed them. A tear ran down her cheek as J’Rontia turned and went to check on her Soretto.

Eden

“Valkyr 53, this is Dragon King actual.” Your wireless goes off quietly beside you as you sit in the cockpit of your Valkyr, silently contemplating what dishes you should serve for dinner when your sister next comes to dinner.
“This is Valkyr 53. Go ahead, Dragon King.” You grow tired of the standardized protocols employed by the Armada, but they are a peeve which must be tolerated for the sake of this mission.
“53, we’ve been picking up some weird readings in your sector. We believe there’s an unidentified craft on the other side of the large gas planet. Please investigate.” Of course there is. Jupiter’s electromagnetic field makes for quite a light show on the sensors, which means anything suspected to be behind it probably doesn’t even exist. Sensor ghosts are rather common when scanning too close to a planet.
“I’m on my way,” you reply, ignoring protocols requiring you to terminate the conversation. You’re a Valkyrie, anyway, and the Valkyries are technically independent of the Thorlinthian government and its military. As such, you don’t have to follow Armadian procedures and protocols. After setting the hype coordinates, you secure yourself to the seat and engage the hype. A quick implosion and explosion later, you find yourself staring at Jupiter’s backside, searching for any possible ships using your close-range sensors.
After about half a day of scanning and nearly returning to Earth, you notice something strange out of the corner of your eye. There appears to be a slightly misshapen area on Jupiter’s atmosphere, which means only one thing to your well-trained mind: There is a gravitational disturbance beneath it. You fly closer to investigate.
Sure enough, once you get closer, you notice that there is a distinct change in the smooth appearance of the raging gases prevalent in Jupiter’s atmosphere. You perform a gravitational analysis using one of the auxiliary functions of the Timids and notice that there is a rather large ship floating about in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Due to the erratic trail it seems to have traced, however, it does not appear to be fully operational, if at all, and is being held up by the pressure of the gases surrounding it.
Sending a quick message to Drigondii detailing the situation, you take the Valkyr into the atmosphere, an action which any engineer would probably not advise. Many of Jupiter’s gases are highly corrosive, and the storms are extremely volatile. Keeping that in mind, you engage the plasma shielding around the Valkyr. While not strong enough to stop a projectile from making it through to the heavily armored hull, the plasma shield can maintain a comfortable bubble around the Valkyr through which the gases will not be able to pass.
Once you are within your entirely too limited visual range of the ship, you open the outer shields directly surrounding the cockpit, allowing you to rely on your eyes instead of the twitchy sensors in this highly electrical storm cell. What you can make out appears to be very old and shut down. You send out a few standard interrogative signals, questioning the ship’s identity, but you know that to be useless as you move back to your small office space in the area of the ship directly behind the galley.
Reaching your desk just as the third signal is being sent, you start looking through your drawers for a small box your mother-in-law had given you in case you encountered just such a ship and which you were expressly forbidden from opening otherwise. Taking it to the cockpit, you begin to fiddle with the complex symbol on top of the box, trying to return it to the same pattern you saw on it when it was closed in your mother-in-law’s private office. As the office she shared with her brother, the Director of Internal Security, there were no monitoring devices allowed in the entire building, which meant there were bugs everywhere, and she couldn’t explain the lock mechanism aloud.
Nonetheless, you are a Valkyrie, and you quickly remembered the pattern and took only moments to unscramble the lock. Once the symbol is restored to the Tyrian symbol of the Kuli, the box gives a slight whistle as the airtight seal is opened. Opening the box, you are surprised to find a single, handheld device with which you are well familiarized. It is an old-issue hand repeater. Remembering your instructions, you disassemble using only the mental powers you possess as a Valkyrie. As you reach the final pieces, however, you notice there are two pieces that very clearly do not belong in the repeater and which would have been damaged had the gun been disassembled manually. Removing the pieces, you reassemble the repeater and absent-mindedly place it in your armpit holster.
The pieces you’ve found are considerably less foreign, and you place them together in the only apparent manner you can. The completed device, no larger than the silence stone on your Valkyrie ring, begins manipulating itself and expanding in a manner that seems physically impossible. You then realize that you had just reassembled a small hype controller, though clearly not for the same hyping your people uses, as there is no popping as the device expands, turns, and contorts, only a light pouring sound as the air around the minute hype window is displaced as more and more of the device enters standard spacetime.
After several millidays, the device stops moving. Looking at the completely returned device now resting rather heavily on your lap, you are grateful for the systems actively countering the surplus gravity provided by Jupiter, as it would likely have otherwise crushed your legs. You feel as though perhaps Drigondii’s mother could have warned you to open the box on the deck of the ship. Giving the device a face you usually saved for a misbehaving Lihandii, who had incidentally been named after her paternal grandmother, you take it with one arm and bring it back to the cargo main, along with the box.
Upon reaching the cargo main, you place the device on the deck and begin to analyze it more thoroughly. Its lower half is rectangular in nature, with a lip around the middle of the device, revealing complex circuitry unlike anything you’ve seen in your lifetime. It does not appear to be active, however, and you quickly realize why.
Taking the box’s lid, you carefully place it over the device and lower it to the surrounding lip. The device responds with a whistling that informs you an airtight seal has been formed, and the symbol atop the box begins to flicker with a soft light. Just as a slight movement starts to be noticeable on the symbol and the flickering changes to a constant light, alarms begin to trip in your cockpit, and you move quickly to respond.
As you enter the cockpit, you are surprised to see the large ship rising steadily from its prior location. Looking to your alarms, you see that electrical systems have been detected throughout the ship, and the Valkyr is responding to the ship awakening. Securing yourself into the cockpit’s seat, you maneuver the Valkyr out of Jupiter’s atmosphere and into a geosynchronous orbit from which you can safely await the rising ship without the bother of more alarms indicative of excessive pressure, temperature, and gravity, and where you can return to the Kuli device.
Returning to the cargo main, you find the device floating helplessly in the air, and you bring it back to the deck, securing it with light cargo clamps. You notice that the Kuli symbol has protruded from the device, taking a more three-dimensional appearance. The device is clearly some sort of remote activation and control device for the large ship now rising out of the gas planet’s atmosphere.
A small hologram appears above the device, displaying the ship and denoting areas which are exposed to the vacuum of space or had been exposed to high levels of radiation. You make note of a few choice areas on the ship and return to the cockpit, maneuvering the Valkyr into the ship’s main bay, which has not yet recovered enough to initiate the docking shield. Securing the Valkyr to the deck of the bay, you take the device and grab a life support extender for your flight suit.
As the suit’s helmet activates, pressurizing the suit, you give your leg a reminiscent rub, remembering another occasion in which the suit had staved off death for you just long enough to save your life. Smiling at other details of the memory, you release your leg and move through the Valkyr’s airlock, passing into the larger ship’s main bay. This was clearly once a military ship, but the bay appears to have been repurposed to receive shuttles and other non-militant ships, as the bay’s many shiplocks appear to have been jury-rigged to fit a larger variety of ships and shuttles than it had originally been designed. As you enter the passageway through a malfunctioning airlock, you notice that quite a bit of the ship appears to have been pieced together in a hurry using other ships.
Deciding to consult the device’s map, you begin to head forward, toward the area most highly shielded and protected, an area that doesn’t appear to have lost any of its functions and therefore a likely important area. Looking about as you go through the damaged passageways, you examine the more highly exposed areas of the ship. Based on the damaged airlocks and the sheer depth of the hull, clearly apparent through the holes that have been corroded away by Jupiter’s atmosphere, the ship must have been sitting in the storms of Jupiter for a very long time, somewhere on the scale of hundreds of thousands of cycles, perhaps even millions.
Finally reaching a sealed area, you pass through an auxiliary airlock and are not particularly surprised to find the air to be nearly toxic in oxygen levels. Based on the ship map on the remote device, the ship got its oxygen from plants and bacteria, which would certainly outlive any crew to produce carbon dioxide. You smartly decide to keep your life support engaged, but set it to retrieve any needed oxygen from the surrounding air to maintain a steady level of oxygen to carbon dioxide in its contained air supply.
Passing by one of the arboretums on your way to the cockpit, you notice many of the plants have died off from lack of carbon dioxide in the air, a bitter reminder of just how long the crew must have been dead, though the lack of contaminants in the air had nearly halted the decomposition of the bodies, which were still strewn about the passageways. The problem with the air must once have been quite the opposite what it is now, likely due to the loss of arboretums throughout the ship, which appear largely to be the most heavily damaged areas.
Consulting the map again, you look for an area similar to a bridge, where many personnel would be present. The first few areas you check out appear to have been galleys and engineering spaces. Reaching one of the uppermost but aftermost areas in question, you notice the door holds the same Kuli symbol as the device. After trying for a few moments in vain to search for an opening mechanism, you roll your eyes at yourself. Well that should have been obvious. Almost dejectedly, you hold out the remote device to the door, and after several beeps, thunks and hisses, the door separating the rest of the ship from the bridge’s entry airlock opens.
You enter into the airlock and shut the door behind you. Once several more beeps, thunks, and hisses have taken place, a very loud whooshing sound comes from overhead as the air is ejected from the airlock back into the main filtration system. When the final hisses of air are gone, two thunks are heard, the first from above and the second from below. Another rush of air enters into the airlock, and you are shocked to see after a sample that this is ideally filtered air, a nearly impossible feat after all this time. Moments later, the door to the highly sterile bridge opens, and you are amazed at the sleek simplicity of the design as you scan the room with your helmlight.
A series of pedestals are sticking out of the deck on each side of the bridge. Atop each pedestal is a metallic orb. There is a sum total of seven of these pedestals, the foremost being at the center of the bridge instead of one of the sides. Directly behind each pedestal is a round hatch and beside each hatch are two slots, one on either side, in which a device exactly like the one you are carrying should be resting. There is one missing from the foremost control suite, and you make your way to it, making note of the lack of displays or viewports. However the ship was controlled, its operation was beyond the understanding of any Thorlinthian, excepting perhaps the elder Lihandii Khuda’Cronell, your mother-in-law.
Placing the device carefully into the slot, the symbol retreated again into its place on the skin of the device, and the map of the ship disappeared. Immediately, the bridge’s domed wall came alight with a gentle red light, and each of the pedestals came alight with holographic displays while the devices on each side of the hatches lifted their kuli symbols on columns of light to the same level as the pedestals. The symbols then activated holographic displays of their own, facing inward to the hatches.
Upon this task being completed, hissing can be heard from each of the hatches, followed by a metallic thunk and a hydraulic hum as the hatches lift to reveal cylinders, which when fully lifted from the hatches’ enclosure, slide aft on the deck silently as the hatches return to their position flush with the deck. At this point, you look about and notice that the cylinders are actually stasis pods, and though every instinct in you tells you to draw your repeater in anticipation, you instead remove your holster and place it on the ground before you without drawing it, sensing a power comparable to your own from each of these pods. You’re outnumbered, and at the very least, whoever are in these pods are alive and potentially as dangerous as yourself, if not more so, a thought you immediately wish you hadn’t considered.
Since you have no way of determining what kind of stasis this has been, you have no idea in what condition the crew will emerge. You only know that you are usually rather irritable after a long stasis, and there has probably never been a stasis this long before. You think back to Kahlisa, who was able to remain alive in a deep state of meditation for cycles without nourishment or a stasis system. You wonder how long she could have lasted in one of these pods.
Your thoughts are brought to a halt as an arm comes around your neck. Sensing no killing intent, you do not choose to fight against the hold, as this could result only in harm to yourself and your captor. Remaining calm, you reach out with what Kahlisa called the mindspeak and what Drigondii called telepathy and touch the mind of your captor, sending only the message, ‘I am not your enemy.’
The man holding you, however, does not release you just yet, responding with the thought, ‘Who are you, and what are you doing on my ship?’ The thought is not panicked. The man is simply taking the most cautious and logical course of action, neutralizing a possible threat while assessing its status as such. He communicates with the same calculated measures as Kahlisa, though he seems to be more highly trained. Putting the pieces together, you assume this man and, most likely, every other member of this small remnant of a crew is Kuli.
‘Let the girl go, J’Ulus. She’s the one who just brought the ship back online. The Watch must have sent her here with the secondary Key. It’s the only way our systems could have been reactivated.’ The second voice, though still in mindspeak, seems only to be such out of courtesy for the fact that not everyone in the bridge may speak the same language. ‘What is your name, young student? Do you bring word from Tyria? We’ve completed our mission. Twenty planets have been successfully seeded. We would have kept going, but we ran into… difficulties’
You don’t understand what he’s talking about and tell him such. ‘I don’t understand. I am Terira, but I am no student, and I don’t know anyone named Tyria.’ At these final words, the crew of the bridge all take on expressions of mixed sorrow and pity.
A female to your left with flaming red hair speaks, ‘Tyria is the home galaxy. Are you saying you are not Kuli?’
‘She’s at least Linthian, J’Hiloa. Look at her. Looks to be from the main system, too. That system went through the Tear, though. What are you doing here, Terira?’ The woman who speaks this time is on your right. She has hair white as snow, but her face shows no signs of age, and her eyes are a sight to match her hair.
A hiss comes from the foremost pod, and a man with red hair and a fatherly face emerges. All the crew look to him, and you do the same. This man, however, dons a mischievous smile and spoke aloud in a language you are extremely surprised to hear and that seems to take aback the rest of the crew as well: English. “I think I might be able to explain the situation. Welcome aboard the Seed Ship Eden, better known to its operating crew as New Beginnings 8, young Thorlinthian. I’ve been waiting a very long time for your arrival.”