Note: Nightfall, a recent attempt at storytelling, is now up.
The prose in this story is awful. No, really. It’s pretty bad, almost bad enough to enter into the “Worst Science Fiction of the Year”—Not the century, mind you. It’s not that bad.—award. Read it, if you must, but remember: you’re asking for it.
As I write these words, it is against a sky alive with multicolored lights. I can hear the shells screaming off into the blackness of space. The sky seems to engulf these lights like so many fireflies. Occasionally one will find it’s mark, and explode in a brilliant lfash of light.
But this is no celebration. The enemy has arrived. It won’t stay here for long. The fireplay is merely a distraction as this world has nothing to appeal to it. Soon the people on the other worlds will have evacuated. Soon the weary exhausted fighters will turn their thoughts towards their own survival. And the enemy will move along, looking for other living worlds, whose light to extinguish.
Soon I will be alone again.
I am an old man now, it won’t be long before my flame is extinguished as well. But before I go I must write these words down. I remember a time of peace. When trade ships travelled through the land. When diplomacy meant something. That was before the coming of the dark clouds. The coming of ALIEN.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning. My name is not important, for that will be forgotten in the anals of time. Where I am right now is not important either. That too will be forgotten. Instead I will begin at the beginning of our history, long before we had learnt to traverse the stars.
Over 3000 years ago, a race of beings lived in this galaxy, that we call home. They lived near the edge of the galactic rim, in one of the outermost spirals of our galaxy. THeir technology was far in advance of anything for millenia to come. They were the earliest known intelligent beings in this galaxy to master the art of space travel. They had discovered space travel, long before many of the surrounding worlds had discovered civilization. Their race spanned several star systems, their race spreading among the stars.
Then without reason, they were gone. A once mighty and intelligent civilization vanished, without a trace. They left behind their cities, and their knowledge, imprinted on the stones of the worlds that they called home.
They also left behind a legacy, a terrible legacy that would engulf the known galaxy in a terror of a scale, never seen before. Around what appears to be their home world, they left behind a massive defensive grid, with a central artificial intelligence, far in advance of any that the known galaxy had seen. For many centuries, perhaps Millenium, this alien structure stood undisturbed. Perhaps it was a last stand, an attempt to stave off an enemy, even stronger than their own. Perhaps it came too late. Or perhaps it was responsible for their demise.
For now, know that ALIEN, as it was called, was there, before the first recorded space travel took place around 1000 BC, Earth time. Around this time, the first of the space faring races in the galaxy began to leave the comforts of their home worlds and venture into the stars beyond. As these races traveled beyond their own star systems, they began to make contact with each other. First contact was established through trade and diplomacy, and many civilizations flourished.
One of the first races in recorded history to achieve space travel were the occupants of the planet Jazeera. Hundreds of years ago, their people had discovered the secret to long term peace. They had put an end to civil war and united under one peaceful banner. Although they maintained a military presence to protect themselves against aggressive invaders, most of their resources were devoted to science and learning. Once their planet had been tamed, Jazeera turned their sites starwards. They were curious as to other races that were out there.
Jazeera sent out research ships to many of her nearest neighbours. One of the systems unfortunately was the ALIEN homeworld. A Jazeera research-ship located the ALIEN homeworld, one of only two worlds orbiting a blue dwarf star, not many light years from Jazeera. While this was a bit unusual for a planetary star system (most star systems had at least three worlds), what was most intriguing was the second planet from the star. Around the star was an aritificially constructed ring. Further
No one knows what awoke the slumbering ALIEN construct. Once it had awakened, it lay there dormant for the longest time, sending out probes to scan the worlds without. Some of the probes were seen by traders who navigated between worlds. Those who saw these strange machinations, assumed they were ships from another alien race, looking to make contact. [side note: this assumption was strengthened by the fact that one of the alien races, the Tubari, did in fact have merchant ships that, from a distance, resembled the ALIEN probes. See diagram 1, profile view of Tubari merchant ship, and ALIEN probe.] Surely, they reasoned, their own scientists had seen these probes, and were making contact with them. They went about their business as usual. They did not think it strange that they had seen these machines, but not detected them with their sensors. After all, their ships were crude, by star faring standards, still many years from the polished star cruisers that they had heard about, travelling amongst the distant stars.
But the scientists had not detected the probes. Nor were their military aware of the danger looming ahead. No one realized the fatal error that had been made, so many times over.
When the tidal wave arrived, it came without warning. The first worlds to fall, were the ones just on the outskirts of the ALIEN star system. The first world to fall was the world of Jazeera. Its people woke to find a strange black cloud engulfing the sun. But it was no cloud. The ALIEN armada had entered orbit around Jazeera and had launced thousands of attack drones. Within days, Jazeera was no more: its cities flattened, its vegetation decimated. All that was left was a charred blackened scorched earth.
The same happened elsehwere. Billions of lives perished as worlds were set afire. Those who attempted to make a stand were destroyed. There was no known weapon powerful enough to destroy this fiend.
As the people attempted to flee from the worlds in ALIEN’s path, the news of this terrible new enemy spread far ahead of the calamity.
With the ALIEN presence drawing ever closer to the inner worlds, the people of these worlds decided to form an alliance to combat the ALIEN forces. With the combined might of dozens of worlds, it was hoped that the ALIEN juggernaut could be stopped.
The years wore on. The Alliance devoted considerable resource and manpower to finding a way to stop the ALIEN presence. It helped that ALIEN had not discovered a faster way to travel than the traditional near light, and faster than light speed engines, and on occasion stable wormholes.
With considerable effort, the Alliance was able to slow down ALIEN, but not stop it. Desperate for new ideas with which to defeat this foe, the Alliance sent teams to planets that had not yet developed stellar travel, or even at times advanced technologies. It was felt that with training, the intellectual might of these people might be harnessed to develop a weapon powerful enough to destroy ALIEN.
One of the key members of the Alliance, was the Valkyran race. They objected to allowing "backwards civilizations and savages" to know about the ALIEN presence, and of the Alliance. They felt that given the backwards nature of these people, rather than help the Alliance, they might attempt to contact ALIEN to form a truce, if they realized the enormity of the task, and felt the goal hopeless. The Alliance, however, pushed on with their search. However, the Alliance did adopt as their criteria, that a matching planet must have a developed civilization capable of
One of the Alliance search teams, came upon Earth. Realizing that the planet was populated, they trained their scanners looking for signs of intelligent life.They came upon the pyramids of the Pharoahs, and marvelled at the incredible engineering skills that it must have taken for such an ancient race to build such structures. The Alliance team found the architects of the pyramids, and took several of them on board, for analysis and debriefing.
As expected, the humans, finding themselves on an alien ship, initially took the Alliance members as gods. A few of the Valykran scientists who had joined this expedition, immediately expressed their doubts that these humans could have developed the pyramids. Their technology was too primitive they reasoned, the pyramids must have been developed by another ancient advanced civilization which had used the humans as slave labor. Why else would the humans appear so awed by the Alliance technology. Once again the other Alliance members objected to the xenophobic attitude of the Valkyrans. It was reasonable, they said, for the humans to behave as such. With time, they would learn about the Alliance, and fit into it.
The first generation of humans, as expected took a long time getting used to the Alliance technology. The second generation of humans, the first humans to be born off world, immediately took to the Alliance tech tree. This was expected, and was true too for the other "primitive" alien races that the Alliance brought in.
The Valkyrans however, grew impatient, and withdrew from the Alliance’s search parties.
Of all the alien races that the Alliance found, the humans and a handful of other races from the outer quadrants, showed the greatest promise. Through the combined intellect of all these races, they were able to develop even more advanced weapons and defense systems than before.
Meanwhile, on the Valkyran homeworld, scientists had been working feverishly to develop a new weapon system capable of multiplying their abilities. One of the problems that the Alliance was experiencing was dealing with the lightning fast response times of the ALIEN interceptors. The interceptors were comparatively small, and because they lacked a biological pilot, they were highly maneuverable, and quite deadly in an attack. Once the interceptors had removed most of the air cover, the ground attack assault would begin. Valkyran scientists theorized that by directly wiring the armor and other controls to their neural systems, it would give them quite an advantage.
The first tests with this armor proved to be only a slight improvement over normal pilots. The Valkyrans were betrayed (no one knew by whom, though the Valkyrans suspected it was a human) and before long, rumors arrived of a massive ALIEN fleet headed for the Valkyran homeworld. With the Alliance forces scattered in a vain attempt to engage and destroy the ALIEN forces, the Valkyrans found themselves alone, for the time being. The timing of the betrayal, and the lack of support from the Alliance further strengthened their deduction, that the betrayal was from within and , illogically that it was human.
The Valkyrans were a proud race, and refused to abandon their world, despite the danger of imminent annihilation. Valkyran Dreams had always been their homeworld, and they would defend it to the last, but they would not abandon it.
With the ALIEN forces getting closer, Valkyran scientists worked feverishly throught the days, trying to improve on their armor designs. Without this there would be no hope against the ALIEN juggernaut. With further experimentation, they discovered that the only way to improve on this with their current technologies was to fuse the body with its mechanical counterpart. The armor would have a computer controlled navigator, which would assist the pilot with maneuvers. The only problem was that once the pilot had fused with his armored suit, there was no way to sepate the link. Pilot and armor would become one, forever. The armor was designed to replace any damaged biological organs, with synthetic ones, if the normal healing process was not fast enough. In essence, after a while, the Valkyran pilot would cease to be a biological entity and would become a wholly mechanical being. In a sense, he would achieve immortality, that oh so elusive goal. Yet it seemed so empty now.
The message was sent out to the Valkyran people. This was their last hope, but the price was a heavy one indeed. There was enough time to develop enough armor, but the decision would have to be made soon. In the end, a handful of men and women were chosen to remain biological. The along with the children of Valkyra would be put into animated stasis and sent in starships towars the stars unknown. Their ships would travel at near-light speeds for decades before they found a star-system far out there, safe from ALIEN reaches.
With their children now gone, the remaining Valkyrans began the grim process of achieving immortality. They were alone this time: help would not arrive for time.
To be continued...