Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sirius Orphanage - Chapter Two (rough draft - test)

I'm thinking every other chapter could be a flashback or something, sort of end up with two related stories.

Chapter Two
An Earlier Time

Jenai loved to get up early and see the stars, for they shined only briefly between dark rise and light fall every morning. Sometimes the large orange circular behemoth would make an appearance and occasionally the spider galaxy could be seen fully with all of those spindly legs.

It was a strange morning that she found Assistant Caretaker Chub wandering the dark corridors while mumbling to himself. She could not make out what he was saying to himself but since he seemed to be on some mission she decided to follow him.

Jenai was careful not to make a sound. She knew that if he did not look directly at her and focus, Chub would not be able to see her. It was her special talent, to be able to go unnoticed. Most of the children in the facility had some sort of talent. It was suspected the others did too, they just hadn’t been figured out yet.

Children were not allowed down in these levels but Jenai liked to explore them. She had found an entire library of undecipherable books once, unfortunately she was never able to locate it again. Jenai was sure that Alabaster could have deciphered the language, it was his special talent. It was a mystery that may never be solved.

Jenai watched as part of a wall became a shiny metal door and Chub pulled out of chain of keys and carefully selected one of them. The doors swung open and he entered, Jenai moved closer as the doors shut. Fortunately one of them hadn’t closed all the way and she peered inside.

The room seemed mostly empty and dark. She could see the shadow of the Assistant Caretaker moving around inside but it was murky. Suddenly a large circular spot on the floor lit up a brilliant blue and the room could be seen. Whatever it was, it was the sole purpose of the room.

She saw Chub walk to the edge of the blue pool and drop something inside. Then the chubby young man with the dumb face seemed to wait. Then something emerged from the pool and into the air where it was snatched by his hands. As far as Jenai could determine this was some kind of message-sending device.

Why not just use the hyper like everyone else?

The blue light vanished and a solid floor reappeared as the room became dark once again. Jenai moved away to a corner in the corridor as the Assistant Caretaker locked the door and walked away, when he was gone she looked back and there was just wall there once again.

It was a mystery and Jenai liked mysteries. She made a note to tell her friend Craig all about this when they met at the water tanks later. In the meantime she was supposed to hurry or she’d be late to Secondary Mathtistics.

Craig listened to her story without interrupting. His face had broken out in a smile as the thought of solving a new mystery beckoned.

“Some kind of communications? It does sound that way, but what if it was something else? Maybe it was a trade?” Craig asked, “I wonder where the other side went? Can people cross over?”

Jenai hadn’t thought of that.

“That sounds extremely dangerous, sending people through some kind of portal,” she said, “When Chub arrived to help old man Martin, he came by ship. If people could cross through with the portal, wouldn’t it be faster and easier?”

Craig nodded, “You’re right about that. Traveling by ship would be a waste if the portal could be used to travel.”

“I guess that’s why it’s a mystery.”

He smiled, “Tell nobody else about this. Not until we’re finished finding out the secret.”

Jenai nodded, she was pleased. She liked solving mysteries, especially with Craig. She liked Craig.

That night, at a predetermined time, Jenai and Craig slipped out of their beds in their respective dorms and met near the main water tanks. The cool air was moving and it felt like standing in front of a cooling vent. There were no stars of course, no matter how one strained looking down off the platforms.

“How do you reckon we can get inside the room?” she asked.

He smiled, “I know a trick. I’ve seen one of those before. It’s sort of like your talent, if you look at it and focus you’ll see the lever that makes it visible,” Craig explained. Then he shrugged, “I have no idea how it does that, but they do exist.”

Jenai was surprised he had figured that out just from her description, “We’ll get this all done too quick at that rate, Craig, slow down.”

He laughed, then he told her “Let’s go have a look, it’s getting cold out here.”

Once inside they descended until coming to the darker sections of the orphanage. They nodded toward each other after looking around, not wanting to be caught. Jenai led him deeper into the level and paused to consider the path.

“Are you lost?” Craig asked.

She scoffed, “Of course not.”

He shrugged, “You never found that library a second time.”

Jenai rolled her eyes, would everyone always bring that up?

Then something looked familiar and she strode toward it, Craig followed. This was the right place but the door was already open and there were shadowy figures in the room again. Craig pulled her aside and into a recessed area of the corridor.

“We cannot get caught!” Craig whispered, she nodded only feeling thrilled that his mouth was right next to her ear as they huddled.

“I hear someone talking, quiet,” she said.

It was old man Martin, the Caretaker, he was talking to someone.

“I realize the severity of the situation. I only ask that you consider this facility neutral, we are not your enemy here,” the old man said. His shadow was next to a smaller one that flickered across the wall of the tiny portion of the room they could see.

They heard no response but soon the Caretaker spoke again, “I am sure adequate safeguards can be agreed upon, we can present all the proof you’d like. This is a fully civilian facility, after all, I can guarantee we are no threat to your society.”

The response they heard was a distinct growl. Craig and Jenai looked at each other, both wondering what kind of secret they had stumbled upon. Both wondering if they would get caught.

“The children, yes, they must stay in their beds, I understand,” the Caretaker answered, “I think it a bit extreme that you would punish them so harshly though.”

A whiny, even threatening growl.

“If the term is not negotiable, I will skip on to the next. I’m not sure what you mean about a portal incidence, I assure you we would never use them against your people. We are all civilians here...” then he shut up as the other voice growled a response, “Yes, yes. I don’t understand how such a modification would work, but if you say it is real… I am not arguing with you. I would never dream, after all we are guests on your planet.”

Craigs’ eyes were huge saucers, his breathing quickened. This made Jenai more frightened as well.

“If that is the term we must operate by, then we shall do so. Goodnight,” Martin said and they watched the smaller shadow move and grow bigger as it approached the glowing blue pool on the floor. For a brief moment they saw what had thrown the shadow. The four-legged alien was covered in an outer exoskelton, almost dog-like.

Martin locked the door and it became wall again and then the old man paused and looked around before walking away. Jenai and Craig breathed again, relieved to not have been spotted.

“What was that?” Jenai asked.

“Diplomacy,” Craig answered, “I don’t think it’s good news, but the Caretaker seems to think whatever the terms were are the best we can get.”

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sirius Orphanage - Chapter One - (test)

Sirius Orphanage

Chapter One – Dark Rise

The boy was outside of the window, looking down from the ledge. A rope was all that held him in place, but he could not see the bottom below. Darkness had already fallen down there.

“Ottie, see anything?” Another boy from inside the building asked.

“No. Too dark down there,” he responded and pulled himself back up to the ledge with a flick of the wrist and then he was standing on the ledge and he rope disappeared up a sleeve. Ottie was just a normal-looking boy in light blue pajamas again as he climbed through the window.

“Then we have less than a kilomin before it’s bedtime and lights out,” an older blonde-haired boy said who the others looked toward and nodded, “That means if anyone is on deck, or exploring below or out by the water tower meeting a girl, they need to start back before the stalkers appear.”

Another older boy with close-cropped dark hair looked around the common area and crossed his arms, “I don’t see Danny or Maxwell. These kids...”

“Danny was one deck below,” a younger boy with a smart-alec sneer, “I think he said he was playing with a stalker pup.”

The boys groaned and shook their heads. Imaginary pets were against their code because it might make one more sympathetic to the stalkers. The oldest boy looked around and chose one of the younger boys, “Sam, go and find Danny and drag him back before bedtime.”

The boy nodded and took off through the far exit of the room.

“Now, does anyone know where Maxwell is?”

The boy was sitting on the edge of the platform swinging his legs above the abyss far below as if he had no worries at all. Across a space too large to jump was a similar platform, both built around very large metal tanks. A girl, also in pajamas, was sitting on the edge of that one.

“How long do you think we’ll be here?” she asked.

“Forever probably,” the boy answered.

She scrunched up her face, “Maybe we’ll be adopted someday.”

The boy looked doubtful and frowned, “When’s the last time anyone was adopted from here? Do you remember the last time anyone even visited?”

She thought and shook her head, “I don’t remember very far back.”

The boy nodded, he had already figured out that nobody could remember farther back than a few solar cycles. It had been his private hobby to investigate this, it was a slow process and had become a secondary thing since he had met Loria.

“Do you want to come over here?” he asked her.

She smiled but shook her head, “It’s getting late, Max, and if I go over I might not be able to make myself come back to this side.”

Suddenly another boy was standing next to Maxwell. Max looked up to see Ottie there holding a rope that was dancing in the air such as should have been impossible.

“You should be heading back,” the boy said, “Hi, Loria.”

“Oh, hello Ottie,” the girl said starting to stand up, “I think it’s time to go. Good night Max, I’ll see next time!”

Maxwell was disappointed, “Ottie, I know what time it is.”

He got up and looked into the abyss below to see that the darkness had risen farther than he had realized. He nodded to Ottie, “Are you ever going to teach anyone else how to do rope magic?”

Ottie looked offended, “It’s my thing, find your own.”

Maxwell laughed as they started moving from one platform to another back toward the main boys building past the water tanks. Then they froze when they looked back and saw a grayish creature on the top of the one they had just passed.

“It’s too early for a stalker!” Maxwell said.

“It’s not messing with us, though. Not until darkness rises,” Ottie pointed out.

The wolf-like creature covered in a grayish exoskeleton paid little mind to them. It was as if it was enjoying the last bits of light the way someone might get up really early and look at stars.

“Let’s just hurry,” Maxwell said. The last part of their journey was a climb of a few stories back into the building. He looked over to see if Loria was okay and saw a figure already climbing through a window on that side.

“Let me do this, Max. It’s cool,” Ottie said, Max was going to ask what it was but a rope tightened around his chest and under his arms and both he and Ottie went airborne all the way to the outside ledge of the proper floor. Then the rope disappeared again.

“How do you do that?” Maxwell asked, Ottie just laughed and shrugged.

As they entered the large bedchamber the other boys were already in their beds and the light was dimming.

“Hurry! Get in your bed!” one of the older boys said.

Ottie and Maxwell had beds on the far end since they were younger, so they took off running. The room was getting darker and they could hear the other boys chatter. It was getting dark faster than normal and hey had almost been late.

Ottie whimpered and nearly stumbled. Maxwell looked back to see if he was okay and he could see a dark spot near the entrance. His stomach knotted.

“Stalker!” someone yelled and the animal looked in that direction, momentarily distracted.

Maxwell was near his own bed and was thinking of helping Ottie but then a rope appeared from the boys sleeve and he was flying through the air towards his own bed. Rope magic again. Maxwell hopped onto his own bed and pulled the covers over himself.

Ottie and everyone was safe. The stalker would pad around the whole chamber for hours but there was little for it and its pack to do but patrol. Nobody would dare get out of bed before the twilight.

The only human that was safe from the stalkers and other threats was the Caretaker. The Caretaker was a chubby younger man who walked slow and talked slow as if he were dim-witted. Max knew the guy was probably smart though, he just wondered if the man was motivated.

Chub had been the assistant once upon a time. There had been a much older man, Martin, with a gray beard who had been in charge for a long time. Something happened one night, though. As far as Max could gather, a boy and a girl had been caught out in the dark-rise and the old man Martin and Chub had tried to save them.

Apparently those two orphans had entered a mirror gate to escape and were never seen or heard from again. There were more than stalkers around in those days and Martin had tried to appease the angry creatures who had lost their prey. He had somehow slipped and fallen down into the abyss.

Maxwell had tried to formulate a time-line through all of the events. He could not make it work. As far as he could tell, the passage of time was not uniform at the orphanage. It seemed impossible but he once tried to calculate how long he had been there. It came out to sixteen solar cycles, which was impossible because he was twelve and he had been dropped off when he was seven.

If sixteen cycles had really passed Max figured he would be full-grown by now. He wasn’t and this was proof that his calculations were wrong. Even if someone were manipulate time and the clocks, they couldn’t mess with how fast someone grew, right?

Maxwell had always listened and made mental notes when the older boys spoke. Over time he had found that Wendell, the oldest, arrived at age nine. The second oldest kid, the blonde named Ranger said he had been about ten. But Ranger had arrived first somehow and nobody seemed to see or understand the discrepancy.

Nuggets of information collected over a long time was suggesting that time was not linear, and Maxwell could not wrap his mind around it. It was a puzzle he was unable to solve and he didn’t dare mention it to anyone else. It was his thing, like Otties’ rope magic.

Chub was on the deck, at the top of the orphanage. He was peering down into a circular pit that was like a miniature abyss. A black rope tied off nearby disappeared into its depths. The Caretaker was waiting for something to emerge. Finally something did.

A black-colored version of a stalker pulled itself out of the round abyss and stood there. The Caretaker nodded.

“Well, Barnabas, did you detect anything?” Chub asked. In response the creature whimpered.

The man nodded in a resigned way, and started pulling the rope back out of the abyss, “I guess tonight is not the night, then.”

Once the rope was completely out of the abyss, it disappeared and was once again solid metal, just another part of the deck. Chub yawned and stretched. The darkness should be on its way back down soon and the kids would be awake again. Twilight was always his favorite part of the day, you could briefly see all of the stars and sometimes the husk would pass overhead.

Thankfully none of the kids remembered ever seeing the husk. That would bring forth far too many questions. Even if they might occasionally steal away to see the stars, none had so far seen the burned out wreck of space station that still orbited the abandoned planet.

The only way off this planet now was through a portal and those were far too dangerous. Chub could get away with a little occasional exploration by sending Barnabas through but he shuddered to think about what would happen if the kids learned of it.

Chub had been worried when Ottie had found about his rope magic. He had awaited the rush of kids trying to figure out their own gifts, but none of them had. It was a relief that most of them was completely disinterested and continued their routines. The charm had worked to suppress that normal instinct in humans, that which made a person ask “Why?”

Wendell was nearly ready to be made Assistant Caretaker. Soon enough he would be taken off charm and Chub would start showing and telling him about the ways of this world. Without charm his curiosity would explode of course, but the answers would anchor him quickly.

Barnabas growled and looked up at Chub. Chub smiled, “Go home, boy!”

The creature ran off to join the stalkers and other creatures that fled as the day returned. Their realm was the darkness. As the creature leaped over the edge, Chub wondered briefly if it would be back. Except that it always came back.

The light soon obscured the stars, their presence between the dark and the light never lasted very long.

“It’s morning, time to make a head count and get them breakfast,” Chub said to himself.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Escape from Free Republic - Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

With his hands on his hands Felix grinned at the three Marines guarding node chamber as he approached. He had dropped his weapons in full view and now walked toward them as if to surrender himself.

The device that would cripple their armored suits was in plain view on his chest but these Marines didn’t know anything about it. They may have heard that there was such a device, since it had been used quite effectively in the battles down on Sync but they wouldn’t be expecting this.

In fact, Felix didn’t even know whether it would work on board the Umbrage, which had a powerful field to dampen that sort of thing. Fortunately that field was directed outward rather than inward.

Name?” One of the Marines asked as he approached.

Felix Santayana, I was born in Upper Range Province,” he told them, “Although I’m sure the records of my birth were destroyed in one of your bombings.”

Just another meter or two.

Tell me, do your people still carry out show trials before the execution, or after?” Felix asked, still grinning with his face-plate open.

Those who surrender do not get executed,” One of the marines said, “Stop there and turn around.”

Felix stopped, “I suppose it’s hard labor in some asteroid mine for someone like me.”

Now! Felix flexed his left wrist, this was to set off the device. Immediately his suits instrumentation went haywire, but he heard thumps as the three marines hit the floor. He turned to see them, the suits so heavy that they couldn’t really move from inside. The other rebels came to join him,

Good job, Felix,” his commander, the new guy named Tom Grier said. They took the weapons from the Marines and moved them aside.

Felix, check out the node chamber, see if there’s a trap or anything.” Tom Grier ordered, Felix saluted and exaggerated a march towards the open chamber. Inside the oval-shaped chamber he saw two large contraptions that filled the two ends, from ceiling to floor. Felix could see pipes and ducts along the walls, as more systems than just gravity and field generators were sent through.

Felix was about to send an all-clear message when someone stepped out from behind the large module at the far end of the chamber. The armored suit was unfamiliar, it was much too large, as if the torso allowed one to curl up for naps inside.

Who…?” Felix managed to say before a large hole opened up in his chest, right through the rebel armor he wore. Everything went black rather quickly.

Blade could see the others start to enter the chamber but when they saw the body they moved to one side of the entrance or the other. One of them had been wearing the armor of a Marine; Tom Grier.

Tom Grier was the rebel scum that had destroyed his body. Falling from the tower had broken his spine, but Blade didn’t let that stop him. Blade had pulled and pushed with his arms, he had left a trail of blood and bits of flesh on the ground behind him. By the time he had been found by the agent named Bolton, he was nearly bled out.

Thankfully, Bolton had taken him into the shuttle. Bolton did not ask questions when Blade demanded to be taken to the Marine Tech ship Dispensation. The few people on that ship hadn’t wanted to let them open the hatch but a medical emergency required them to render aid.

Blade had known about the prototype suit for months, they had tested him for it. Using Blade they had made sure that a full-grown Marine would be comfortable inside it. He had followed orders not to tell anyone, not even Admiral Robinson about the prototype. It never left his mind though. His thoughts and dreams had revolved around that armored suit everyday since.

He lay there helpless on the cot for days in the Medical Ward of the Dispensation wondering how would he get to the suit? Except he had known, deep down, that he was already connected to the suit. His mind had been the one they used when programming it for the psych connection. It was to be much more advanced than the present physical relay. It was.

The suit had felt him there. It had called to him and asked for orders. Blade had even been a little surprised but pleasantly surprised. He told the suit to come to him and to kill anyone else that it saw along the way.

The screams in the corridor were like church bells, raising his flagging spirits. The suit appeared in the doorway and then opened itself, lifting Blade’s broken body and fitting him inside. Blade no longer needed his own legs, he had better ones. A suit that was more powerful than any Marine armor, one that was like its own spacecraft while waiting for the chance to get inside the Umbrage.

It could have even survived the fall and burn into the atmosphere of the planet, Sync, below. It was truly a remarkable machine. Possibly one that could be used to rule a world. For now he would be satisfied with revenge against the one who had crippled him. Then maybe, he would make the Umbrage his own ship.

Something approximating a smile crossed his lips.

He thought to the machine and it began walking toward the only exit in the node chamber, Blade was looking forward to tearing Tom Grier into pieces. After finishing off these rebels he would heard toward the bridge and introduce himself to Admiral Robinson properly. His plans were falling into place.

What is that thing?” Someone asked.

It’s massive.”

I’ve never seen anything like it,” Tom told them, “It doesn’t matter how big it is, we still have to take it out. Get those explosive charges ready.”

What’s happening Tom?” Maggie’s voice asked, she sounded concerned.

I don’t have time to talk, okay?” Tom replied, “You didn’t warn me about this thing, is it some kind of tank?”

I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tom. I don’t see anything moving near you on the sensors.

Tom knew Maggie well enough to know that statement did not sound like a lie. She didn’t know about that thing? It wasn’t showing up on the sensors? This was not good news.

It’s a huge armored suit, probably from the Marines.”

The General hasn’t said anything about such a suit Tom. Not around me.

Time was up.

Tom took the QBR-44 from his back and turned the corner. The massive armor suit was only a few meters away. The arm of the suit didn’t move but part of the forearm moved aside and a weapon appeared which was already moving toward Tom.

Tom dodged sideways as the weapon fired, an energy beam punched a hole right through the wall of the chamber. Tom returned fire, an explosive round right at the chest of the massive suit. Some sort of force-field had stopped it from causing any damage.

This was not good at all.

The rebels were leaning over from the doorway firing rounds at the enemy armor, but it was paying no attention to them.

Explosive charge, now!” Tom told them. He moved away from the hulking suit toward the back of the chamber as the first charge landed amidst its feet. The suit stopped and seemed to look down as the explosion rocked the whole chamber and floor.

The suit appeared undamaged, unlike the floor and part of the nearby walls.

What is this thing?”

The suit now started moving toward Tom a lot faster than it had any right to be moving. Tom fired a burst of anti-armor rounds right at it, but they only seemed to scratch some paint of its chest. Then it stopped and the faceplate moved aside.

It was the sniper he had fought in Valla.


The sneer on the mans face broke into an ugly smile, “I wondered that myself, Tom Grier, but I think the better question is ‘why?’. The answer to that question is simple, so that I can get my revenge on you and others who wronged me!”

Blade took aim at Tom Grier with his powerful V-Beam weapon just as the lights went out. Something thumped him on the back of the suit, probably those rebels with their puny weapons again. Now why was the night vision and sensors not working? Thankfully life support was working, the air circulation system was running in fits and starts.

The lights came back on and he wasn’t looking at Tom Grier anymore. He was looking at one of the gravitic nodes. The suit informed him that some of field generator had caused a computer error but that systems were self-repairing. He could move again.

Now where did Tom and his merry band of rebels run off to?

There, near the entrance to the chamber. Two of them were carrying the body of that rebel he had killed first. Tom Grier had holstered his big Marine rifle and was holding something else in his hands. With a thought a powerful projectile gun appeared in the hand of Blades suit, since the energy weapon was still malfunctioning.

Your device to cripple the Marine suits don’t work on this one, Tom!” He said as he made the suit take the first steps toward the chamber exit. Then he extended his gun arm and thought the order to fire but nothing happened.

The rebels were moving fast away from him, down the corridor.

The computer said the rounds had indeed been fired but that the rounds had been suspended inside of the barrels. He saw a representation of this appear as if watching an x-ray machine, the rounds then moved quickly in reverse and exploded out the back of the suits armored elbow.

The suit was also being pulled and turned. The whole chamber was twisting, he could hear the metal moaning through the thick armor. The suit turned around and he could see the gravitic node had been destroyed by explosives, the explosion itself was struggling to expand against the force of artificial gravity out of control.

The chamber and everything else, including his armored suit, was twisting around the fiery node as if it were a small black hole. It seemed to be happening in slow motion to Blade, who had been mesmerized by the view for a moment. Now he was struggling to get free of the grip of the depolarized, unbalanced gravity node.

A vessel the size of the Umbrage required two nodes, at polar ends but near the middle decks to balance the artificial gravity. If one were to weaken, the other would weaken automatically in response, because the whole system depended on balance. The two nodes were in special chambers because they needed to be the most protected parts of the ship.

If one of the nodes were to be blown up and the other was prevented from shutting down in response, the out of control gravitic forces could twist and tear the ship apart.

This was Tom Griers whole goal, of course. The destruction of the Umbrage would be a severe blow to the Free Republic. They couldn’t build ships like it any longer, things had gone downhill far too much for that.

We have to get off this ship, now!” Tom told the others as they ran. He had sent the same message to the other team.

Signal the base to send a ship to get us!” He said, but it was too soon. There was probably no chance a message could reach the ground, there was too much jamming. In fact, the unleashed gravitic reaction was causing more than the fleet ever could.

Tom, what’s happening?” Maggie’s voice sounded in his suit helmet again.

The Umbrage is toast, Maggie. You need to get on an escape pod, now!” He answered.

Umbrage, Marine Deck

Everybody to the escape pods! The Dispensation is moving into position to pick us up!” General Gallant ordered, it was a good thing most of the Marines were on Sync because the Tech ship wasn’t that big. The alarms were ringing all through the ship, it looked like the whole thing might tear itself apart.

Gallant checked the last of the officer quarters and assumed most had already gotten off. He moved to get aboard one of the few remaining pods when he heard the metal scream and the whole bulkhead started pulsating and then twisting as he watched. It made him feel sick to his stomach but it was all the impetus he needed to get out.

There was no saving the Umbrage from this. He strapped into the seat as the controller Maggie Anders climbed in.

What are you still doing here?”

Looking for you!”

It’s not my ship, I’m not going to go down with it!” he told her as he slapped the release mechanism and the pod pushed away from the ship.

He breathed a sigh of relief but a whimper from Maggie Anders made him open his eyes and look out the porthole. Instead of a gentle move away from the twisting hulk of carrier Umbrage, the pods and a lot of wreckage broken from the large vessel were swaying and being pulled around with it. Like playthings floating in the tub of an unruly child.

General Gallant used the radio to contact the Dispensation, “Where are you?”

I can’t get any closer! This ship would be caught in that mess too.” Lt General Edwards responded.

Get as close as you dare! We’re going to need some help!”

Free Republic Fleet Carrier Umbrage, Bridge

What is happening to my ship?” Admiral James “Jim” Robinson tried to make himself hear above the alarms and the sounds of twisting metal, “Commander Grabble!”

Grabble finally appeared, “Admiral, we need to get in an escape pod!”

No! I’m not leaving my post!”

Admiral, this ship is dying, it’s not going to survive this!”

It must, the Umbrage is the most powerful ship in the Free Republic fleet, we must be victorious!”

The Admiral was in full denial about what was happening. The crew had abandoned their posts and were getting out in the escape pods.

Admiral, we must leave at once!”

The rebels did this! Order a bombardment of the surface, all cities! Turn them all to dust!”

The Commander shook his head, he couldn’t get through. The Admiral was truly out of his mind. The Commander left and ran towards one of the remaining escape pods. The Admiral was now bouncing around the bridge almost uncontrollably in his hover-chair.

I’m not going to lose this one!” Admiral James Robinson vowed, “We aren’t going to lose, we’re going to be victorious and all those who don’t join us shall be vanquished!”

Somehow the Admiral made it to his office. He activated the holograph of his dearest Sarah, her visage shifted and waved along with the gravitational forces tearing the ship apart. She was one of his deepest and most profound regrets. How could she have left him? Even for the vaunted Emperor? Though he had accepted it, he was only now understanding that he did partially blame her.

My Sarah,” he whispered with a raspy breath.

Then the power went out.