Quantum gate, p.1
Quantum Gate, p.1Daniel Betts
By Daniel Betts
Copyright © Daniel Betts 2013
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Timeline: Thirteen years, three months, 2 days and 6 hours before the Battle of Earth.
Chapter One - Anomaly
Tendrils of lightning snake away from a dark circular event horizon forming above a bright blue and white world. In the distance, a single red moon appears to observe, its cratered landscape mimicking a sad face.
A golden dragon soars through the center of the sparking maelstrom, performing a lively double barrel roll.
The sparking portal flashes and extinguishes.
The dragon, the light from a yellow sun glinting off its shiny golden scales, dramatically flaps its leathery appearing wings while moving its knobby head from side to side, scanning the space around it with glowing blue eyes.
Its jaws snap open and a brief flash emits from the back of its throat. A blue streak of light exits the golden dragon's mouth.
The streak enters the gravity well of the planet and slides into a low orbit. Slowing, it reveals itself to be a silver cylinder with rounded ends and dozens of whisker like antennae.
The golden dragon soars forward, suddenly spins about and holds its position, wings outstretched. It looks out at the velvet expanse of space filled with distant stars. The dragon's blue eyes suddenly widen, its jaw dropping in awe.
Space is suddenly filled with thousands of sparking jump portals, a unique dragon gliding smoothly through each swirling event horizon.
The golden dragon nods its head with approval, but suddenly appears to gasp once more.
A monumental jump portal flashes and sparks into existence. Long blue tendrils of energy twist and snake about a circular black event horizon menacingly.
The golden dragon flaps its wings, glides about and soars ahead to take the lead of the massive dragon armada, multiple flashes dotting space as portals extinguish.
A dark-hulled stellated dodecahedron glides through the monumental maelstrom and begins to follow behind the advancing armada. With a sudden burst of energy, the great jump portal extinguishes.
Suddenly, and without warning, the skies above the blue planet are filled with an additional thousand more sparking spitting jump portals. A second armada of dragons soars through the many event horizons. These dragons appear to have more uniform appearances, with dark scales and sharing a red clenched fist symbol emblazoned on their chests. Like a highly synchronized flock of birds, this second dark armada quickly changes course to close upon the first at high speed.
Immediately bright blue and red particle beams, pulse cannon flashes and streaks of spawn missiles are unleashed from both fleets, filling and brightening the closing gap between them. Waves of energy from thousands of pulse shield activations ripple through space. The shields shimmer around bright flashes surrounding each dragon.
The dragons soar at each other with claws extended and jaws agape. The vacuum of space hides the deafening crash of thousands of dragonships colliding into each other. With claws scratching, tails snapping and jaws biting, the daily slaughter of the thousand-year galactic war continues.
Doctor Phoebe Asgard stands tall and stiff on an empty platform looking at a giant holoscreen depicting the slaughter above the blue planet just beyond the firing range of the stellated dodecahedron; a colossus class attack platform.
Phoebe holds a wrinkled grey fist under her chin, her elbow resting on her other arm that she wraps just under her small breasts. She wears a white and blue jumpsuit. Her hair is short and barely covers her ears. Her face is pale and wrinkled. Her grey eyes watching the growing cloud of debris and frozen fluids forming at the center of the dragon brawl.
“Wraith, what planet is that?” Phoebe asks curiously, her voice smooth.
“Planet V34-21A.” a soft male voice declares happily. The voice seems to surround her. “It was once a Imperium trading center but was destroyed during an orbital bombardment ten years ago and has never been rebuilt. Its proper name was Dalles.”
“I specifically requested a clear system. Why are we under attack?” Phoebe asks curiously.
“It is hard to know for certain but the most likely explanation is chance,” Wraith declares.
“Chance? You mean a Pax Imperium armada just happened to be patrolling here?” Phoebe questioned doubtfully.
“The Pax Imperium has impressive numbers, doctor, so yes it is a possibility. It is very likely that reinforcements will arrive shortly. Do you wish to postpone your meeting with the council?” Wraith asks thoughtfully.
“Not at all. Please proceed with the transmission,” Phoebe orders. “It will take months to arrange another call to the capital.”
“Very well, doctor.” Wraith replies.
The holoscreen suddenly splits into four pieces, twirls about and moves to equal distances around the front of the great room. Four elderly faces appear on each screen, two men and two women all wearing blue and gold jumpsuits but each wearing a distinctive cap with a golden dragon insignia at its center.
“Greetings, Council of the Confederacy,” Phoebe greets blandly. Phoebe places her hand over her heart and offers a quick bow of her head.
All four heads seem to nod, but their eyes are empty and devoid of any emotion. One of them speaks with a slow even drawl, “Doctor Asgard, we have reviewed your report, however you should know that we find your conclusions on the verge of insubordination. Despite our reservations, since you are a respected member of the science service we have agreed to hear you at this time.”
“My sincerest thanks. You should know, I requested this meeting six months ago and I...”
“Surely Doctor, you are not going to waste time complaining about our very busy schedule, we are trying to win a war after all,” the female councilwoman on the center screen scolds angrily with a creaky rough voice. Her eyes narrow angrily and her nostrils flare.
“Of course not your worship, I just wanted to add that since my request six months ago, the anomaly I mentioned in my report has become much more pronounced,” Phoebe explains. She moves her hands behind her back and holds them tightly.
“Please proceed Doctor and no further interruptions. Doctor, you have two minutes,” the councilman on the far right declares with impatience. He appears to glance at the angry councilwoman with disgust.
Phoebe takes a breath and begins to explain in a calm smooth voice. “As you all know the home planet of the Pax Imperium fell over twelve months ago and for all intents and purposes the war should have ended, however while the political power behind the imperium was destroyed and the population all but decimated, the war machine attached to it has not. The Imperium’s biosynth factories continue to build ships and warriors and send them into battle despite the absence of command and control.
“Our transmissions ordering their surrender have had no effect and as far as we can tell the biosynth are coordinating and organizing their own strategies in the absence of human commanders.
“My division has been trying to piece together what has gone wrong, as the Pax biosynths appear to have violated several programming safeguards. Our best conclusion is that the biosynths themselves have rejected their own protocols and are now acting on
“Actually, your worship, that is not only likely, it has already begun. Just this morning I reviewed a report that an entire armada of our ships jumped into a battle area prior to being ordered to do so,” Phoebe replies.
The four admirals all appeared to blink at the same time, yet their eyes remain as emotionless as ever.
“There is only one solution that I would implore this council to immediately execute. Failure to do so could result in the extinction of civilization,” Phoebe declares sternly.
All but one member of the elderly council grunts and rolls their eyes. The one that doesn't, the last on the right, groans, “Please, doctor your alarmist viewpoint does not do you justice.”
“With all do respect, your worships, from one corner of this galaxy to the other there are thousands of biosynth factories building war machines for both sides of this terrible conflict. There are enough resources in this galaxy to continue this war for another millennium whether humans are around to coordinate it or not. Your worships, our only choice is to surrender to the Pax Imperium.”
“Absolutely not!” The angry female councilwoman declares, nose flaring obscenely.
The others appear to grumble and shake their heads in agreement.
“Your worships, please listen. If we surrender, the Imperium forces will stop their attacks and hold to await further orders. Once this happens we can get to their central cores, figure out how to emulate their protocols and order their vessels to stand down permanently. Our division chiefs all agree that this strategy will work.
If we wait too long however, the anomaly I spoke of may have become so pronounced that even surrender won't work.”
“Surrender is not an option, doctor. You need to go back to your division and come up with a different solution!” the angry female councilwoman declares, spit flying from her mouth.
“Doctor, we can not agree with any of your conclusions. The biosynth have never, in a thousand years defied our directions. Clearly our goal is to defeat the Imperium forces ship-to-ship, factory-to-factory. Their home maybe gone, but there might be other bases from which the Imperium is still directing these attacks.” the councilman on the far right suggests.
“This meeting is over, doctor,” the angry councilwoman decides.
All four screens go blank simultaneously.
Phoebe releases a long sigh. After a minute of staring at her feet she looks up. “Wraith, signal dragonship Blade.”
The four empty holoscreens rush together to become one large screen again. Blade’s dark face appears on the screen, surrounded by stars, his blue eyes glowing, three sharp horns sticking out of his knobby forehead. “Doctor Asgard, were you successful?” Blade asks in his deep booming voice.
“I am afraid not, my friend,” Phoebe declares sadly.
“You and I know the consequences of their inaction. The biosynths will destroy your home planet and the two armadas will endlessly fight each other in slaughter until the end of time,” Blade reminds her.
“I know,” Phoebe replies. She closes her eyes. “We have to proceed with our own plans, how many have you managed to recruit?”
“Warrior, Rapier and Starcrusher have each recruited ten more dragonships, crews and squads. It is becoming easier for us to identify those with enlightened programming. Our Doctor Hartman has concluded that most of the new integrations will be tainted with the anomaly. This means, within six months the biosynths will likely turn against their biological masters, it is inevitable.” Blade declares emphatically. “This could also explain the easy defeat at the Pax Imperium capital twelve months ago.”
Phoebe nods her head and looks at her feet with loss in her eyes. “Have Warrior report to Doctor Hartman in Bay Seventy-Five. Are you still able to convince your biotech specialist that you're having system problems?”
“The deception is wearing thin. There is a rumor the council is planning a new offensive soon, which will strain my cover significantly.” Blade snorts.
“Be subtle, but inform the others a signal is coming. Doctor Hartman and I will begin the calculations for a quantum gate.” Phoebe declares.
“Doctor, while all our recruits are very enthusiastic about abandoning the slaughter, many are questioning our capability to jump that far,” Blade warns, his eyes narrowing.
“Then you will have to reassure them, we have no choice, despite the risks,” Phoebe replies coldly. She looks up at Blade suspiciously.
Blade stared back for an uncomfortable moment. “Many lives are at stake,” he reminds her.
“Mine included,” Phoebe states sadly. “We are all taking a chance my friend.”
The holoscreen goes blank.
Phoebe sighs. She stands in the dark, looking at her feet, for a very long time.
Chapter Two - Escape
Doctor Hartman, a standard biosynth medical technician, hovers down one of many wide crowded corridors aboard the colossus carrier designated Wraith. His dark metallic human-like torso glints dully from the bright ceiling lights. His four mechanical armatures, which actuate from servos attached to his shoulders, rest behind his black human-like metal back, claw-like metal fingers clenched. His head is human shaped but is smooth, hairless and lacks any features save a single blue strip of light where eyes would normally be found. The bottom of his torso is embedded in a round black half dome.
The wide corridor is filled with personnel dressed in blue and gold jumpsuits moving in both directions. Also walking among them are many shiny dark blue menacing seven-foot biowarriors, human-like, well armored, biomechanical soldiers built for combat, marching in squads of six or twelve amongst the more fleshy personnel.
Doctor Hartman remembers a time when the human to biosynth ratio aboard any Confederation warship was about fifty-fifty. In recent years however the sight of any human personnel had become rare. The doctor also noted most of the humans he had chance to see appeared to be elderly. Some of his colleagues have speculated many of the younger generations of humans have fallen in battle, but Doctor Hartman believes humanity may have become sterile.
Doctor Hartman arrives at the hatchway to Bay Seventy-Five and hovers before the scanner. A green light surrounds the biosynth doctor as he looks up into the light.
“Hartman R34-F, lieutenant, medical technician, state your purpose in Bay Seventy-Five,” an emotionless mechanical voice from behind the light demands.
“It is my birthday, I heard there was cake,” Doctor Hartman states cryptically, his voice reverberating mechanically. Doctor Hartman's eye flashes red.
The green light suddenly flashes red and green several times. An inaudible series of voice tones are emitted and a series of mechanical clicks sound from behind the light.
The door suddenly whooshes open and Doctor Hartman quickly zips into the opening, the door slamming shut behind him suddenly.
Doctor Hartman's eye narrows and he shakes his head. Before him is a monstrous cavern large enough to hold a small city. Circling overhead are hundreds of dragonships. On the deck are hundreds more, milling about, waiting, quietly talking to one another or resting. Doctor Hartman hovers out onto the deck and looks up. His eye flashes in a series of long and short bursts.
Among the many dragons soaring overhead, one breaks away and swoops down. It has green and gold scales, two horns and is of average size compared to the other dragons in the dock. It descends at speed, extends its claws and releases a terrifying trumpet just before touching down, almost on top of the hovering Doctor.
The Doctor shakes his head.
“Come now, Doctor, you have to admit, that was scary,” Warrior declares proudly, her soft voice bellowing whimsically in the do
“Warrior, we are both on the same mission, I have no reason to fear you, despite your need to try,” Doctor Hartman declares evenly.
“You have no imagination, doctor,” Warrior accuses. The sound of metal scrapping together is heard as the dragon's mouth forms into a smile. Warrior looks to the tiny appearing hatchway the doctor recently glided through. “So my hack job worked!” she declares triumphantly.
“Yes, but it sounded painful for the security checkpoint,” Doctor Hartman replies.
“How unfortunate,” Warrior states her eyes playful.
“We are going to the next stage. I think it best I get to my station now. You need to tell the others. Doctor Asgard has started her calculations.”
“Finally! Tell me Doctor, what do you think it will be like when we get to Andromeda?” Warrior asks with excitement.
“I fear your earlier assessment regarding my imagination is correct, I have no idea what our destination will be like or if our plan will even be successful,” Doctor Hartman replies. “I’m not an astrophysicist, but I would guess one galaxy is the same as the next.”
“Doctor Hartman, you are full of crap! You just want us to think you are nothing more than a biosynth doctor, but I bet you are just like the rest of us, brimming with imagination.”
“If I admit I have speculated about the future, would that satisfy your need for conversation?” Hartman asks with impatience. “Otherwise I think we should proceed quickly, after all we just hacked through a security checkpoint and I am about to abandon my official post.” He glances back at the hatchway, his eye flickering with nervousness.
“Oh very well Doctor, but you and I are going to have a proper conversation about this one of these days,” Warrior declares. She cranes her head down until her huge chin is resting on the flat deck and opens her enormous jaws.
Quickly, Doctor Hartman zips up into Warrior’s open mouth.
Doctor Asgard takes a narrow service tunnel to avoid contact with as few biosynth or human eyes as possible. She emerges inside a small maintenance hub where she finds a tall biowarrior with standard shiny dark blue armor waiting for her.
Quantum Gate by Daniel Betts / Actions & Adventure / Science Fiction have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes