Chronicles: Epilogue, a short story by JJ. Date added: 2010-12-05. Times viewed: 4489.
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- Intro: Well that's it, over 92,000 words long. I hope you've enjoyed it and if there are any publishers out there...
2306: Earth Time
Red alerts sounded throughout the command station, Commander Supreme Fanis Col came storming into the battle room. ‘They’re here?’ he asked, his brow furrowed in concern.
‘We’re not sure, Statesman. A ship has entered our perimeter. I’m using our long range scanners now’. Communication Commander Pynn Yoru continued to examine the data from their sensors. ‘Statesman, the ship appears to be of our design, one of our older models, pre war. Ident is M89-1A-O. Searching data banks now’.
‘Don’t bother, I know that ship, it belongs to Commander Ithan Octofis’.
Commander Supreme Col could understand Yoru’s
puzzlement. Commander Octavis wasn’t due back for at least another hundred years. He’d been sent to Earth in more promising times for the Interplanetary Federation. The three races that had first formed the Federation had initially joined forces to combat the threat of continual raids in space by the Hiccour pirates. As the Federation continued to explore the galaxies, they encountered a new race, the Salients. The Salients were a warrior race with no interest in joining the Federation. What they didn’t know at the time was that the Salients planned to build their own empire. Fifty years ago, they set about attacking the Federation. The races that made up the Federation were no match for the Salients ferocity. Mahem had already succumbed to the Salients might and Tafor had been ravaged time and again. The Pruets were also on their knees. The Federation was being consigned to the history books. Now Commander Octofis was back too early to have succeeded in his mission and too late to save Tafor. The once mighty Tafor fleet had been determined to hold out until Commander Octofis returned, in the hope that he would return with a fleet of ships from Earth. A communicae had been sent to his ship five years ago, informing him of their plight and pleading for support.
‘Uh, Statesman’, Yoru called, ‘There are no life signs on that ship’.
‘No life signs? Are you sure?’
‘Yes Statesman, the remnants of an air tunnel are also
still attached to the outside of the ship’.
‘Someone tried to board it? Hiccour?’
‘Negative Statesman, the air tunnel belongs to the ship’.
‘Commander Octofis abandoned his ship, his mission? Why?’
‘That’s unclear Statesman, I’ve been unable to interface
with the ship’s computer’.
‘Engage tractor beams, guide it into a hanger bay and
send a team to examine the ship. I’d like to know what
happened to the Commander’.
‘With respect Statesman, do we not have higher
priorities? We are expecting another attack by the
Salients any day now. Every available Taforan has to be
prepared for the attack’.
‘Are you telling me, Commander Yoru, that Commander
Octofis’ life is so worthless that he is not worth
bothering about? That he is not worth remembering?’
‘No statesman, every life on Tafor is sacred, it is the
‘Then please do as I ask’.
Commander Octofis’ ship was guided through Tafor’s
atmosphere and into the nearest available hanger. Four
forensic scientists were already in the hanger waiting
for the ship to arrive. Once the tractor beam had set the
ship safely on the ground, the scientists approached it,
examining it on the outside first. Each of the scientists
had a small camera attached to their clothing on their
right shoulders. Supreme Commander Col was able to watch
what they saw as they recorded their findings. ‘The air
tunnel definitely belongs to the ship’, the lead
scientist stated. ‘It was never retracted, so the tunnel
was either not attached to another craft or it was ripped
off. The remnants of the tunnel most likely rotted away
in space so we will not get anymore clues from it. There
are no signs of battle on the outside so it is unlikely
the ship was attacked by Hiccour pirates. The outer shell
is not likely to tell us anything else. We are going to
enter the ship.
The door of the ship slid open and all four
scientists entered. The main corridor of the ship had a musty smell and the lights weren’t operational. The scientists switched their cameras to infrared and slipped on night vision goggles. ‘It would appear that life support shut down but it is impossible to determine at this time, when or why’. The cameras continued to scan the main corridor. ‘There are signs of laser fire in the corridor. I can see laser marks on the walls’. The cameras dipped down, stressing the bending movement of the scientists as they scanned the floor. ‘There is a laser pistol on the floor. The energy gauge appears to have burnt out. Usual cause of such a phenomenon is a constant release of energy. There are also finger bones on the floor. These bones will have to be examined in a laboratory before they can be identified. Perhaps the main chamber will provide further clues’.
They walked down the corridor and entered the bridge. There are no signs of life in the main chamber’. The cameras moved towards the computer. ‘There does not appear to be any power going to the computer. The computer will have to be examined more closely if we’re going to extract any information from it’. The scientists searched the rest of the ship but they found nothing else to assist them in reaching a conclusion. ‘It is not possible to make any more conclusions outside of laboratory conditions further deductions at this time would merely be conjecture. The initial examination of the ship is inconclusive. Awaiting further instructions’.
Supreme Commander Col leaned over towards the microphone. ‘Take the finger bones down to the laboratory for DNA analysis. If they belong to Commander Octofis we’ll know soon enough. The computer will have to wait. As Commander Yoru was so quick to remind me earlier, we’re expecting an attack any day now. If we survive the latest assault, we’ll hook it up and see if its database can tell us anything. Commander out’. Satisfied with his instructions, he turned his attention to Commander Yoru. ‘I’m going back to my room to try and get some sleep. If I’m not back in two hours, ensure I’m wakened’. Commander Yoru nodded his understanding.
When he got to his room, he sat in his chair to take his boots off. Sitting down, he could feel his entire body relax. It had been two days since he last slept and his body was beginning to feel it. He decided to stay where he was and relax for a while, the thought of the effort he’d need to put into taking his boots off was too much for his body to face. He considered the ramifications of Commander Octofis’ ship appearing so early. Although the Interplanetary Federation was intact and at peace when Octofis had left, the remnants of the federation had held onto the hope of him retuning with a battle fleet to save the day. The news was going to hit the Pruets hard, they were on the verge of surrendering to the Salients as it was. He considered hiding the news from the Pruets but their ambassador was likely to find out soon enough and if he hadn’t been forthcoming with them by that point, it could result in quickening their surrender.
He tried to think of different ways of legitimately delaying the news of Commander Octofis’ failed mission without the Pruets losing faith in their alliance. He was still going over the possibilities in his mind when he finally drifted off to sleep.
With the scientists no longer in the hanger, the cameras were turned off and Ithan’s ship was left in the dark. Inside the ship, the computer console’s lights began to flicker on. After a few moments, a drone scuttled out from inside the computer’s casing. It scurried through the ship until it reached the ship’s exit. Once the door opened, it scurried outside into the hanger. It manoeuvred its way out of the hanger and into the main building of Tafor’s Interplanetary fleet. It continued its journey in the shadows of the dimly lit corridors. The schematics of the building that had been downloaded into its memory banks was over two hundred years old but so far it had guided the drone with accuracy. It had to travel down to the next floor but it didn’t want to travel in the lift. The scanners would pick up its presence immediately and it had no intention of leaving any evidence of its presence. It had been given a specific command criteria and it intended to follow it to the letter.
Scanning the area around the lift, it identified a conduit behind one of the front panels. It extended the rod from the centre of its head and prised the panel off the wall. The panel clattered to the ground echoing loudly in the empty corridor. The drone disappeared down the conduit before the last echo had faded.
‘Commander Yoru, sensors are picking up a breach on the command centre corridor by lift fourteen’, Sub-commander Ision Ect stated.
‘What’s the nature of the breach?’ he asked Ect. Ect continued analysing the data he was receiving.
‘It would appear that a panel has come loose from the wall’.
‘I’m amazed that hasn’t happened more often. Another attack by the Salients and the whole building will probably collapse. Are there any life signs in the corridor?’
‘Send a team to investigate. Tell them to look out for any signs of sabotage and to report back to you directly’. Sub-commander Ect set about following Yoru’s orders. Yoru considered waking the Supreme Commander. He knew protocol stated that any suspicion of sabotage should be alerted to the Supreme Commander immediately but he wasn’t convinced that this was sabotage. He’d only ordered a team to investigate as a precaution. He decided to wait until the investigating team reported back before deciding whether to contact the Supreme Commander.
The drone exited the conduit and continued down the corridor until it reached the real nerve centre of Tafor’s Interplanetary fleet, the computer room. It entered the room and hurried over to the computer. It extended its rod again and attached itself to one of the computer’s empty terminals. After fifteen minutes, it released itself from the computer. Its primary mission had been completed successfully. It scanned the room and began scurrying about gathering together bits of metal and scrap components. Satisfied it had all the materials it needed, it began attaching the scraps to itself. Before the android was complete, a second drone crawled out of the workings of the main computer…
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