Years pass us by in the mere flashing of seconds, time so quickly flaking away as its sands drip ever down the hour glass of life. This is what it means to be human, to be mortal. This it what is means to be under the watch of so ancient a creature as the Sun.
Ours was well worshiped through the ages, entire sects of religion devoted to its might. Giver of light. Sustainer of life. Birth-mother of time, of the day and the night, of the fleeting seasons, of eternal warmth. God of the skies.
But the Sun bore a secret, lying dormant in the shrouds of space, waiting ever patiently in our meager slice of so vast a universe. It was only ever to be a matter of time. Time. Before others came looking. Some in awe of what we had created. Others in desperate needs of answers only we could provide.
Oh sweet, naive humanity. It was perhaps our ignorance that played the greatest part in so long our survival from the beast. Our mindless worship of the fiery demon on high.
But as with all things, peace was not to last. They would come looking. It was only ever a matter of time.
They were the last sentinels of space, surveyors of a universe we might never have happened upon had they not come looking for us.
They were J’rall, a being likened to the species of man if you forgave his crackling skin and malformed wings.
Karook, reptilian by design, Brood by birth. Brood were known for spending what short lives they lived in a deep hibernation on account of their enormity. The average babe would weigh in twenty tonne and four foot tall. It was due to their size and constant need to feed that the Brood had no choice but to hibernate. Karook, however, was of the smaller variety of Brood, barely fourteen feet tall and requiring little enough sustenance that he might venture outside of hibernation.
Ophelia, daughter of Lax. Creatures of liquid, with skin crisp as ice. A lone, milky eye beheld her head, and forever it wept tears of dull grey. Not tears of sorrow, it was simply how her kind drew breath.
And to complete this universal collective of beings, AK-259. Android, sentient, its body an orb of light with tenticular limbs dragging down against the ground. From within the light two sunken eyes of deepest red looked out, digitising (or digesting) all manor and matter of information surrounding its being.
They were of the last surviving alien life forms. Alien to us as we are to them. The various Councils, Gods and Gelatinous Hives that governed the Worlds of the wider universe had sent many such teams into those quadrants of space left unattended. Their mission was far from simple, or certain for that matter. They were to search, to observe, to make contact with what insignificant life may dwell in the smaller galaxies of the unified World. In hope. In desperate hope they might find some long hidden key to the survival of life in the waking of Suns.
“AK, status report.” Ophelia, nominated Ship’s commander, was half-sleeping within a dome of a chair. Various lengths of pipe protruded from the chairs inner skin, spilling a cool mist over her being, hydrating her body and mind.
“Day Nine Hundred and Fifty. Mark that, Nine Hundred and Fifty One. We’ve processed half a billion plants and in excess of several million galaxies. The numbers are mind wrenching.” AK sighed, a cloud bubbling from what was regarded as the centre of his orbital body. “No life forms collated or contacted. No reason for us to continue this laborious quest. Suns. That is all we can hope to find. What rules the vast majority of space is quite likely to rule the rest.”
“Quite likely.” J’rall sneered, “It’s not like there’s an alternative. We keep on searching.”
“I don’t believe any suggested otherwise.” AK retorted, and quickly slipped from the path of a spiraling can. What looked like green beans with sprouting white shoots toppled out of the can and over the floor.
“Play nice now.” Ophelia glared at J’rall, her eye consuming his ashen face in a field of grey, puss-like tears.
“What I will say is that rations are far from expendable.” AK watched the can of beans roll fitfully across the Ship’s deck. It extended a limb and grasped the metal cylinder between the dexterous slithers of its needle like fingers. “We have, by all estimations, about a years supply remaining. Not nearly enough to return home on…”
“There won’t be a home to return to.” Karook stirred from his slumber, flexing his tail, “How many Ships did the Union send?”
“A hundred thousand by last count.” Ophelia leaned back into the mists of her chair, so that her being was obscured from sight. Wait for it.
“Actually, all proper estimations indicate Nine Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand and Four Ships, in total, to this current day.”
“Numbers not important.” Karook waved a heavy fist distractedly through the air, “Point is not one of ’em had called in. Not one of ’em had found anything worth reporting. We’re lost in space. There ain’t a home to return too. If the Suns haven’t taken it, then they will, and it’ll be long before anyone can hope to do sh*t all about it.
“When even the Hives don’t have answers, then you know you’re more or less f*cked.”
“More, usually.” J’rall grumbled, “Not that the Hives have an ounce of sense between them.” J’rall’s home was governed by the revered God, Volgois. One of the many divinities of space, Volgois was renowned for its ability to transcend matter and mind. What we might constitute as a Buddhist of sorts, if said Buddhist was a bird formed from particles of dust, and yet even this is a terribly inaccurate description.
It was J’rall’s love of Volgois that fed his unwieldy hatred of the Gelatinous Hives.
“What was that bird boy?” Karook staggered to stand, a feat unimaginable for one of his size. His hefty thighs flexed, pressing out the jagged scales of his skin. From behind Karook’s neck supple fins rose up, hissing.
“Calm!” Ophelia commanded, “We can’t afford the rations to see you standing. Be still.” her domed chair swiveled round so that she might face the others in the Ship. “We will need each other, one and all, when the time comes.”
“The time’s not coming.” J’rall grunted, and with that he left the deck, through the flex of rigid pipe that led down into the Ship’s kitchen and quarters.
The Vestige of Time. A name bestowed upon this crews Ship by the Council of Solis. It was a spherical vehicle out of which protruded two oblong walkways that snaked downward, many smaller passages running off of each length.
It was the spherical mass in the centre of the Ship that acted as the main deck, the walk to the right led to the Ship’s heart, its inner organs, and the stores in which suits, weaponry, food and the like were kept. To the left was the Ship’s kitchen and quarters. To where J’rall had fled for solitude.
The front face of the Ship was almost exclusively glass-like in appearance, bare for all the World beyond to see. But that World was at present no more than a void. Blank space, as it were.
Below each walkway hung pods from a titanium rope, umbilical in appearance.
A shimmering field of crystal white surrounded the Ship’s entirety, emanating from a large, industrial looking machine that sat steady upon a fixed gantry. The machine let off a steady pulsating wave that seemed to lull the empty spaces around the Ship.
Held in place by tenticular stands, much alike AK’s own limbs, were the many battlements of the Ship, some meant to be manned, others wholly automatic.
To be continued…
Copyright © K R Perry 2019