I've been writing a fanfic on and off for some time now. It's basically a crossover between Starcraft, Star Trek and Star Wars. Started it one day because I'm a fan of all three verses and I think they mesh well together in a weird sort of way. By now I've written quite a lot on it but I'm currently re-doing it somewhat, so I figured I might post it here. Who knows, maybe someone will enjoy it and comment? In any case, without further ado, the prologue and the first chapter.
Keep in mind that my first language isn't English, so there might be some gramatical and spelling weirdness here and there.
Survival of the fittest… Evolution... Darwinism.
Among all of the various laws and rules that govern the universe these are the most pertinent ones when it comes to the life-forms inhabiting it. The concept behind the words and phrases is a simple one; the strong survive and the weak perish, and as a result life grows ever stronger and more intelligent.
No life can escape this concept. Everything from the most primitive biological organism to the most advanced intergalactic civilization has to adhere to it. Evolution becomes a race, forcing various species to forever fight for their continued existence.
What lies at the end of the road known as evolution? Where does it lead? Where does it stop? Is there a proverbial goal in this seemingly eternal race?
Not many civilizations manage to reach the required sophistication to answer those questions, but those that do discover that yes -- there is an end. After a species has managed to exert dominance over the world they were spawned on, the star system they first inhabited, the galaxy around them, the universe, the multiverse… they ultimately find themselves in a state where they know everything about everything. They can predict the motion of the smallest sub-atomic particles, all the way from the birth of the universe to its end. They can foresee the fates of entire mortal civilizations with unflawed perfection. Nothing is obscured from them.
And then what?
After a species has made the multiverse their own playground, their own private little sandbox, what is there left for them to do? If you know everything, and can predict anything, then there’s nothing more to learn. There’s nothing more you can learn. A species loses its ability to change and evolve. Its very purpose for existing will vanish. They simply start existing in a never changing state.
It’s ironic that at the highest peak attainable for any civilization, it finds that self-termination is the only thing left that can be done.
One civilization that has reached this peak is known as the Q continuum. They know everything, they can do anything, but at the same time there’s no reason to do anything. The species has wrestled with the dilemma for ages, but for the last few thousand years nothing has changed. They have simply existed.
One member of the continuum has decided to take it upon himself to solve the ultimate riddle forced upon all life in the multiverse, and the experiment to do so will combine three separate universes and see three different galaxies united, bringing them all to the brink of annihilation before the results of the experiment will be determined as either a success or failure.
CHAPTER 1: THE KOPRULU SECTOR
In one of the many realities of the multiverse there is a region of space known as the Koprulu Sector. For the people inhabiting this sector the name has become synonymous with war and strife, as that is what most of the sector’s history has been comprised of. It’s a place where the darker nature of mankind is made manifest.
On the edge of this sector a star system called Sara exists, and within this system floats a rust colored planet called Mar Sara.
A dropship made its way across the surface, flying over the broken and barren landscape below. Its four rear-mounted thrusters glaring a bright yellow and propelling the vessel forward at what most people would consider unsafe velocities. The fact that the vessel was barely ten meters from the ground at any given moment didn’t make things appear any safer. The risk of crashing into a mountain would seem high indeed to the unknowing spectator. But in the hands of the experienced pilot the feat was no more difficult then a gentle stroll down a familiar street.
The dropship was of a simple and utilitarian design which spoke of practicality over looks. The rounded edges and overall sleekness to its appearance set it apart from the larger and bulkier space-faring vessels usually seen in this part of space.
A peculiar looking symbol had been painted on the outer hull of the vessel. It was the image of a flag with a blue cross drawn across a bright red background. Stars had been etched inside the blue cross. Some historians would recognize the symbol as the Confederate flag from a civil war fought hundreds of years earlier on a planet almost sixty-thousand lightyears from Mar Sara. But whether it was by chance or purpose that the current government affiliated with the flag was also known as the Confederacy, no one could tell for sure anymore.
* * * *
Dawn had just broken and the first rays from the scorching sun cresting the horizon were already visible, lighting up the red and brown landscape all around the speeding ship, bathing it in bright light and making the sand shimmer as if it was made of small grains of gold.
Nothing except a few plants and trees could be seen on the otherwise barren surface streaking past the ship, no water, no buildings and no people. The world was what the Confederacy had termed a backwater planet. It was scarcely populated with only a few mining colonies here and there. The natural resources being the only real reason anyone had taken any interest in the planet in the first place. The vast mineral deposits and the vespene gas that the Confederate industry relied on so heavily could be found in abundance on the planet.
Sergeant Chris Morham, a marine in the service of the Mar Saran colonial militia, sat in one of the many uncomfortable seats lining either side of the dropship’s interior. He was strapped in tightly and thankful for that fact every time the ship jerked and the pilot had to maneuver sharply to avoid a mountain or ridge.
With him in the drop bay were four other marines. They were all familiar to him from before, as they were part of Morham’s own squad, and had been so for the last three years.
Where the hell was the magistrate sending him this time? He wondered as he sat there quietly contemplating the mission he was being sent on.
Planets like Mar Sara rarely saw any real conflicts so the tasks usually performed by the local militia were nothing more then peacekeeping. The only combat action they had ever seen was when a pirate or terrorist organization decided to land on the planet for whatever reason. But those incidents were few and far between these days, with the Confederacy slowly tightening its grip on even the most remote worlds under its control.
So what was so important as to merit a full-scale alarm in the middle of the night, rousing every man and woman on-base from their slumber? Morham could count the number of times full-scale alarms had been sounded during his time at base and they numbered exactly zero.
Something big had happened.
The problem wasn’t made any clearer by the fact that the higher-ups were all being unusually secretive and enigmatic about everything. But being the good soldier Morham was he obeyed whatever orders he was given without question.
That didn’t mean he didn’t have questions though -- questions like why his squad was the only one that had been rushed off to a dropship while the rest of the base was simply made combat-ready with no further immediate orders.
Morham checked the cord linking his suit to the power bus in the wall behind him, and then the tiny display showing him how much charge the batteries in the suit held. It wouldn’t be long before his suit would be fully juiced-up and ready to go.
He might’ve been wearing the older CMC-300 model combat suit, which didn’t have all the fancy gimmicks and features the newer CMC-400 models had, but it served its purpose and was trustworthy enough, providing him with armor that had saved his ass on numerous occasions and a slew of other features that came in handy whenever he wore the suit.
As the trip grew longer, the sergeant’s thoughts shifted to something he had been thinking about for a few months now. He had been wondering what life would be like outside the military and what it would be like spending his days as a civilian. He had served as a marine in the Confederacy almost all his adult life and the reasons for joining up he considered naïve by now.
At first he had been stationed on his home planet of Tarsonis, but later, after the Guild Wars broke out, he had served with Omega Squadron, being constantly shifted around from planet to planet, where he had spent several very long years trying just to survive.
Somehow he had managed to do so too.
Morham looked over at his armored left shoulder. He could still see lingering traces of the Omega insignia he had worn so proudly back then, despite doing his best to erase it after being re-assigned to the Mar Saran colonial militia.
During his time with the Death’s Head Legion, as Omega squadron was more commonly known as, he had voiced his opinions and dislikes of Confederacy policy once too often. His blunt manner had come to a climax when he struck a superior officer. As a result he was demoted and shipped away just as the war had ended. And that was why he was now a mere sergeant stationed on Mar Sara, even after countless years of service. He counted himself lucky though. Most officers wouldn’t think twice about executing someone striking him during wartime.
The position on Mar Sara had originally been intended as punishment, but Morham had grown to like the peaceful little planet and the quiet atmosphere it harbored. It was a welcome change from all those muddy banks he had spent most of his time in during the Guild Wars, with the sounds of hypersonic projectiles and explosions ringing constantly in his ears.
Why would he want to leave the service though? He found himself wondering. All he knew was war and how to be a soldier. Was has constant thoughts of retiring simple curiosity about what lay on the other side of the fence, or was there something more to it?
No, he had to admit he was getting tired of the same routines day in and day out, serving a master he no longer had any faith in. Life had to have something more besides drilling and killing to it, right? And the thought of someday having to re-live those years of hell he experienced during the Guild Wars wasn’t all that comforting. He wasn't sure he could go through all that one more time and survive… At least not with his sanity intact.
Morham was shaken from his thoughts rather abruptly as an armored hand slapped him on the shoulder with a loud metallic clank.
"'Ere, have a drink… you look like you could use one," the marine sitting next to Morham said, extending a small silvery flask his way.
The man had a big toothy grin on his face and his voice was raspy, the rank smell of whatever was in that flask on his breath. Anderson was his name, a private in service of the Mar Saran colonial militia, and one of the closest and most trusted friends Morham had despite his love for the bottle.
The higher-ups at Morham’s base hardly agreed with his high opinions of private Anderson though. Being drunk during combat operations wasn’t a quality they liked in their soldiers. But they also had to admit that the private was good at what he did. And out here on the very edge of civilized space you couldn’t be too choosy when it came to your grunts; you had to make due with what you had, even if that was a slightly drunk marine with an itchy trigger finger.
"Nah, thanks for the offer but I'd rather be sober during this one. I've had a bad feeling about this mission ever since the alarm went off." Morham replied.
"Yeah, me too,” Anderson said. “At first I thought the feeling was just the hangover from last night, but it dang well won’t go away," he explained, taking a big gulp from the flask. “Sure you don’t want a swig? It helps.”
"Suit yerself then, me on the other hand, I need a little alcohol in me to get the old blood pumping." He said, finishing with a hearty laugh and another gulp from the flask. “Besides… I’d probably go insane if I didn’t have something calming my nerves during the fightin’.”
Morham didn’t doubt that. But if the man kept going like this he would probably pass out long before they even debarked from the dropship. Then again that might not be such a bad thing.
Chris took another look at the faces around him, wondering why the lieutenant was still cooped up in the cockpit with the pilot and not back here with his men. Usually he would spend at least some time with the rest of them just so he could insure himself they were fit and prepared for the mission. But apparently not this time. Morham figured he was probably just as much in the dark about the mission as the rest of them, and currently awaiting more information from the Confederate commanders.
The thought of the lieutenant being in the dark left Morham a bit uneasy. It was a rather alien concept to him.
The sergeant hefted up his C-14 gauss rifle from his side for one last inspection. If for no other reason then to ease his own tension. Just holding the bulky rifle gave him an odd sense of security. He checked to make sure the weapons wasn’t loaded, switched the safety to single-shot mode and heard the familiar hum the capacitors made as they charged up. Then he pressed down on the trigger to hear the sound of energy discharging. Everything seemed as it should. Just like it had the last time he checked the weapon.
The text “I come in peace” had been scribbled on the side of his rifle. Tags like that being just one of the many small augmentations the members of the militia liked to do with their equipment. And out here on the fringe they get away with it. It’s funny how attached people can become to their material possessions, Morham thought. He’d even gone so far as to name his rifle “Bertha” and often talked about her if she was a real person.
He reached down to the right side of his waist and slid open a compartment with a simple flick of his wrist. The compartment held his spare ammo. He checked his three magazines, pre-loaded with standard eight millimeter steel spikes, then he closed the compartment again and reached over to the other side to check on his grenades, three anti-personnel grenades ready for use, all lined there just as they had before.
Just as Morham was completing his latest inspection the door separating the drop area and the cockpit slid open, revealing a burly looking lieutenant Coldwell with a sour look on his face. His suit, a CMC-660, was even bulkier then the one Morham and the rest of his squad wore and made the image of the lieutenant that much more imposing.
As the lieutenant stepped over the threshold and into the drop area with the rest of the marines, another figure deftly slipped in right behind him. A tall lean man with raven black hair, wearing a skin-tight black suit of some sort. Morham didn’t recognize the man from before so he assumed he was a technician of some sort, perhaps a specialist of some sort assigned to their squad for the duration of the mission.
There was something very odd about him though. Something that felt very out of place. Morham couldn’t quite put his finger on what that might’ve been but there was definitely something strange about the man. The way he moved for instance, it seemed almost too graceful and controlled. And his eyes, they had a very hollow look to them as they darted around the drop bay. And when they met with Morham’s own the marine couldn’t help but look away from the sheer intensity. It was as if the man was looking straight into his soul, reading Morham’s thoughts like an open book.
The realization of what the man was hit Morham like a supersonic brick to the head.
"Alright marines, listen up!" The lieutenant barked, demanding everyone’s full attention.
The men quieted and sat still in anticipation. Perhaps the lieutenant had finally deemed it fit to let them in on their orders. They had been waiting for nearly an hour already, after all, without the slightest idea about where they were going and what they were supposed to do when they got there.
“For some of you what I’m about to say is not going to be easy to hear. But out of all the squads operating out of base Darkwall you were the ones with the fewest ties to Chau Sara, so consider yourself lucky.”
Something big had happened alright… and apparently on Chau. That much was as plainly obvious by now.
“Three hours ago, a number of ships of unknown design and origin dropped out of warp-space in high orbit around our sister planet. Attempts at communication with them failed, and without warning or provocation this fleet proceeded to lay waste to the planetary defenses in orbit. After that they turned their attention towards the planet below, unleashing a massive surface bombardment… Long range sensors suggest that the planet has been completely devastated and the ambient temperatures exceed levels life sustaining levels by orders of magnitude.”
“LT, just wha… what exactly are you saying?” One of the marines beside Anderson and Morham asked. His voice was cracking.
Coldwell’s eyes almost took on a sad expression, something Morham had never seen before. “I’m saying that everything on the planet is dead and destroyed. It’s been completely incinerated.”
Out of all the possible things Morham had speculated on earlier, nothing had come close to the truth. A fleet of unknown vessels had attacked Chau Sara? What faction could possibly muster an attack like that? The defenses around the planet would’ve been strong enough to repel anything but the most determined Kel-Morian or Umojan attack, and had they been behind this then the vessels wouldn’t have been of unknown design and origin.
“I know that some of you had people that you knew on Chau Sara but I’m asking you to put aside your grief for them a while longer. Because right now, I need you all focused and alert for the mission ahead.” The lieutenant continued.
Morham knew that Orwell, the marine that had spoken up earlier, had family on Chau Sara, so it was little wonder he seemed so distressed over the matter. With Chau and Mar Sara being the only two habitable planets in the system and both harboring populations that barely reached into the millions it was quite common for people to know a great deal of people from the neighboring planet. Some of the other marines looked affected by the news as well, but Morham himself couldn’t recall anyone he knew being on Chau Sara. Not that much of a surprise given he was still relatively new to this system.
“Sir,” Private Sanders spoke up. “You said the hostile vessels were of an unknown configuration. Are there any indications as to who they were? Did the KMs do this?”
Coldwell looked at Sanders, as if pondering how to best answer his question. “There is no reliable information as to who they were at this time,” he answered briefly. “However, intelligence is of the opinion that the enemy is most likely of alien origin. Their technology is beyond anything we’ve seen before. It’s doubtful even old-earth could have reached such technical sophistication.”
“Aliens?” Anderson blurted. “Are you saying that Chau Sara was attacked by… by little green men from outer-space?”
“I’m not privy to information on what they might look like and what color their skin is. Like I said, intelligence is only speculating on them being alien at the moment so nothing is certain. What I do know is our orders, and if you ladies are ready, I’d be eager to share them with you.”
Coldwell took a slow look around the bay to see he still had the marines’ attention. Convinced that he did, he continued.
“Immediately after the attack the Confederacy sent whatever military vessels it had in-system to attack the enemy fleet. The attack resulted in an un-coordinated disaster, however, and we lost nearly all of our attacking assets -- thirteen ships in total. There is one piece of positive news, though. We managed to separate two smaller craft from the main bulk of the enemy fleet, and after a lengthy chase we forced them to crash land here on Mar Sara. The first ship was reported to have completely broken up upon atmospheric entry, and what little is left of it is now spread out over an area of several hundred square kilometers. The second one came down fairly intact, however, and that’s where we’re going – to recover and secure whatever is left of that ship. Needless to say this mission is of the outmost emergency as it would give us a much needed look into exactly who and what we are dealing with.”
Most of the marines were still too hung up on the fact that Chau Sara had been attacked and that everything on the planet had been destroyed and killed to realize what kind of mission they had just been sent on.
“What about the enemy fleet, sir?” Morham asked. “Are they making any moves toward Mar Sara?”
“The situation in space is a mess at the moment but the hostiles warped away over an hour ago and haven’t been seen since. So at the moment Mar Sara seems safe. The Confederacy has dispatched the fifth fleet toward our system, but they are still in transit and won’t get here for another few hours. That’s why they’re relying on the colonial militia to lock down the system and secure the crash site.”
“Sir, are we expected to actually engage these hostiles? Shouldn’t we have dispatched a larger force?” Private Sanders asked.
“Confederate intelligence assures us that nothing survived the crash. They’ve been continuously scanning every centimeter of the crash site via satellite, and so far there’s been no discernable activity. Besides, the vessel crashed straight into the ground at over thirty kilometers per second, there’s no way anything can survive something like that.” The sergeant said. “The reason we’re being sent in is simply to keep away potential scavengers. That ship would no doubt look like a mighty fine piece of loot to any and all who want to make a quick buck. So we’re going to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. And one squad of marines is more then enough to keep away such rabble.”
Morham couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the fact that he a moment ago had been hoping never to re-live those years of hell during the Guild Wars and that he’d even entertained the idea of quitting the service altogether. That would be all but impossible after today’s events.
"And what might your part in this mission be?" Private Yurio asked, directing the question to the thin man who’d been standing silently beside the lieutenant. There was obvious contempt in his voice, which wasn’t all that surprising to Morham.
“Specialist Resnick has been sent by speedboat all the way from Dylar IV to act as an observer during this mission.” Coldwell stated.
The question had been a moot one, of course, since the marines had all pretty much guessed what Resnick’s role in all this was by now. He was a ghost, a highly skilled Confederate assassin and infiltrator. There were a lot of strange rumors floating around about his kind, some suggesting that they could read minds and even disappear from plain sight. The Confederates no doubt wanted someone they knew they could trust on this mission, and who more loyal then someone trained to obey since birth?
No one liked the ghosts, as bad things seemed to follow them wherever they went. Yurio himself had once said he’d been part of a mission with a ghost. He never did give any details but it was obvious that whatever happened back then had left a deep seated hatred towards the assassins in him.
"We will be touching down a few klicks east from the crash site,” Coldwell continued. “We don’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to the site from potential onlookers, if there are any. We’ll then make our way towards the target on foot. So get your gear in shape. We’ll be making the drop in a few minutes." Lieutenant Coldwell said, and then marched back into the cockpit, the ghost following him silently, letting his gaze linger on Yurio for a while before stepping through the hatch.
The door slid shut behind the pair, leaving a very quiet pack of marines behind in the drop bay.
"Wow,” Sanders finally said, breaking the silence. “I always thought those crackpots going on about aliens were mental.”
“Yeah… I mean aliens, that’s the sorta stuff people write bad books about, innit?” Anderson said.
“A shame none of the ones on the crashed vessels are alive.” Orwell said, his voice as cold as ice. “I’d love to be the one to put a spike through each and every one of their heads.”
“Bah! Confederate intelligence!” Anderson laughed. “You’re expecting them to actually get something right for once? Not damn likely. This was nothing more then another one of those stunts pulled by the Sons of Korhal or some other terrorist namby pamby group. They probably tricked the sensors to make it seem like there were big scary alien ships out there or something.”
“I wonder if they are the short gray type people always claim are snatching their cattle.” Morham said, not really listening to Anderson.
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? There are no stinkin’ aliens!” Anderson shouted.
“Now there’s a freaky thought,” Sanders chuckled, replying to Morham’s statement. “I don’t suppose small and skinny fellows like that would respond well to a good old fashioned impaler burst, eh?” He said, tapping his rifle with metallic fingers.
Anderson threw up his hands in resignation, as no one seemed to be listening to him anymore. “…Bunch o’ damn idiots believing in aliens.”
“I don’t think it’s the aliens we need to be worried about. It’s that damn ghost we should be keeping our eyes on. He’d have no qualms killing off our entire squad if that somehow improved the chances of him fulfilling his orders… whatever those might really be.” Yurio said. “Those bastards are cold and they don’t care one bit about us normal grunts.”
But Morham couldn’t help but wonder… If the alien fleet had been able to destroy their ships as easily as the lieutenant had implied, and then moved on to destroy the entire surface of Chau Sara in short order, then what would their soldiers be capable of? Probably more then they were.
Good thing they were all dead.