Death of an Empire
Captain Maran looked at his Sensor Officer and frowned, Have you detected a Black Ship?
No, Sir. There doesnt appear to be one within our scanning range.
Maran keyed his com, I think were going to have to move in toward the closest galaxy and see if we can attract one of their ships.
Captain Jeck looked at his display and said, Were closer than eighty light years from that galaxy so were inside their sensor range at this moment. Im nervous about attracting more than one ship. This is a trial and we really dont know what to expect from our new hulls once theyre fired on by a Black Ships main beam. Id suggest waiting to see if were discovered here. If we move closer we could attract more than one ship.
Maran thought about it, Alright, well wait here three hours and if nothing happens well move in closer. Make sure you keep your hull charged; we dont have the warning we once had when they entered normal space.
Maran didnt like holding his crew at battle stations for three hours but knew the time to respond to a Black Ships appearance was small. The two hundred crew members manning each ship were nervous about the coming engagement. The reflective hulls had been trialed against the Empires strongest lasers but not against a beam as powerful as the one fired by the Black Ships. The Criston was forty five hundred feet long and its entire hull was coated with reflective cells that could collect energy that struck it and focus it back against whoever fired. The beam operators checked their boards to make sure all systems were optimal. The Missile Crews were waiting for the order to launch once the force field around the Black Ship was penetrated. They hoped they would get a chance to fire the new missiles in their inventory.
Everyone watched their displays intently; waiting for what they knew was coming. The two bright ships hung in empty space with all shapes of the Galaxies floating in the deep black ocean of this universe they had jumped into. Some were spirals, others were ball shaped, and a few had highly irregular formations. One actually looked like a huge smile. They all possessed billions of stars and most of them had giant Black Ships in them attacking intelligent civilizations. It was just a matter of time until the Invaders found them.
Captain Jeck checked his panel and saw all stations were manned and ready. He had hoped only one Black Ship would show up but knew there would be a huge number following up the initial engagement. He looked at his jump board and saw it was enabled and ready for immediate activation. Once the two ships fired at the Black Ship, the plan was to escape and evaluate the results. His Sensor Officer shouted, Black Ship off the port bow!
The Black Ship suddenly appeared between the two ships and both ships waited for it to fire on them so they could reflect the energy back at it. Jeck saw Maran fire his beam to provoke a fight and then saw the Black Ship fire a single beam at Marans ship. The bright white ship grew even brighter and exploded in less than two seconds after the beam strike. Captain Jeck stood and yelled, Get us out of here. The Jump Officer reached for the teleport button but the Black Ship Fired again and Jecks ship blew up faster than Marans. The secondary explosions following the initial blast blew the ships into vapor and nothing was left of the four hundred sailors but two expanding clouds of small debris and dust.
The Ship Master watched the two ships destruction and shook his head. He was hoping for a fight and was disappointed at how quickly they had been destroyed. How could he keep his crew in fighting shape if he never had to fight? He should have just allowed another ship to handle this. It wasnt worth his time. He contacted the Fleet Master and sent him a recording of the attack. The Fleet Master reviewed the recording and commed back, It appears those ships no longer represent a danger to us.
The Ship Master leaned back in his command chair and sniffed a pinch of orange powder, Youre right; our new ships are more than their screens can handle. What are we going to do now?
The Fleet Master thought about the question and made a decision, I dont see any reason to search for their origin now that we can kill them at will. We would be better served to continue our normal schedule and make up for lost production. Ill contact the Masters and see if they agree.
The Ship Master ended the call and replayed the engagement. He saw the two ships didnt have force fields. That was odd. Oh well, back to the grind of guarding boring invasions. He really wished they had put up a better fight so he could be assigned guard duty away from the mind numbing orbiting of a planet. Take us back. The giant Black Ship disappeared. Three hours later the stealth probe powered up and jumped into deep space and returned to the Defense Facility.
Alex, Im worried about whats going to happen when we start killing the orange pods.
Ive thought about that myself, Grace. Were not ready to take those creatures head on yet. They destroyed the last two ships we sent against them with just one beam. Were just not ready.
Thats part of my concern, but what bothers me most is what the real power behind those ships is going to do if were successful.
What do you mean?
If this creature is also addicted to the orange drug, its going to react violently to anything that attacks its supply. Im not certain that the Invaders Ships are the best its capable of producing. We know its at least a billion years ahead of us technologically. Im really concerned about what its response is going to be.
The Invaders have pretty much ignored us since they destroyed those two ships and have continued in their usual fashion. They invaded another universe and weve not been scouted in the last eight years.
I know, but Weed says theyre close to finding a solution to the pods. If we use it, we could be in danger. It might cause them to start scouting again.
Were not far from developing the technology to take on their ships, Grace. We just need more time.
If we kill the pods, time is what we may not have. That Creator of the Invaders will respond. We need ships that can take them on now.
There are a few minor circuits that are giving us trouble. Once the industrialized planets build the necessary micro-circuit factories, well make faster progress. Ten of them are close to getting their facilities on line. We already have more than a hundred thousand ships waiting on us to install advanced power technology once its developed.
Alex, I just dont feel good about this.
Im doing all I can, Grace.
I hope its enough.
The Lab was spotless and the display on the front wall was flashing at an amazing speed. Carter watched the symbols flashing and couldnt understand what they were indicating. The two Algeans stood next to him watching the flashes and swayed gently in the labs ventilation. After fifteen minutes the display stopped and a bright red zero appeared on the screen. Carter looked at the Algeans and pointed at the screen, Does that mean anything?
As a matter of fact it does.
We have finally found a way to kill the orange plant, its pods, and its spores.
It appears so; at least the batch in the containment dish is dead. We have to mass produce the spores that caused the plants death to make sure but it looks like theyre what weve been attempting to create.
Its taken a long time to get this far.
Weed leaned forward in agreement, Eight years is actually shorter than what we thought it would take. This has not been easy.
How does it work?
The spores we made enter the orange plants DNA and inhibit two of its major functions.
What functions are those?
The ability to absorb nutrients or gases; the plant will starve or suffocate. The spores that kill it will reproduce from the plants tissues and release themselves by the billions into the atmosphere.
Carter thought a moment, Will these new spores be dangerous?
Seed turned to Carter, Thats whats been the major delay in developing them. What happens when all the orange plants are dead? We didnt want to create a spore that would then mutate to attack another host. This particular spore will only function with an orange plant as a host. If the orange plants are not available the spores will just become inactive. The new spores core DNA cannot be changed or modified. This should not only kill the orange plants but also the spores the plant had already released.
What about the possibility of the orange plant mutating to survive?
It cant do it. Their structure is an artificial creation and the internal tissues are fixed and cannot adapt even to a different environment.
What will this spore youve created do to someone on the planet thats addicted to the orange plants?
Weed hesitated, It will remove the plant from their tissues. Unfortunately, it will probably kill them in the process.
Removing the plant does not remove the addiction to it. It will attack the skin that has the orange spores embedded and we expect the orange colored skin on any addicted being to flake off. While that process is taking place, the body will go into withdrawals and youve seen what the end result will look like once the tremors hit. You mus ...