Michael stood motionlessly on the command deck, hands clasped behind his back, watching intently as the Carriers, and Dreadnoughts gathered near Proxima Centauri; where he failed his last mission, where he had let the enemy escape.
The communication officer walked briskly over to inform him that the last of the fleets have arrived and were on course to the Centauri Relay.
Michael was not surprised, in fact, he didn’t even think much about it. In the last few months, the gathering of fleets from across the galaxy has made such reports routine and expected. Nor were there any reason to expect trouble of course. The crew of every ship from every fleet had been hand-picked and exhaustively trained, while the ships themselves, from the largest Battlecruiser to the smallest Frigate, had been personally designed and built by the Architect himself.
Michael returned his contemplation to the cosmos. The planets that orbited the red dwarf before him, reminded him of Earth. He remembered the bright sunlight which shone above endless fields of freshly planted crops, the cool spring air that seemed to breeze right through him, the swallows that glided effortlessly across the cloudless sky. And the children; how they would skip across the land, filled with joy and laughter.
“I never did understand why we left that old hag alone for so long.” Michael’s thought was interrupted by a voice from behind him. “It’s about time he paid for his sins.”
As Michael turned, he saw Samael’s thin figure gliding through the entrance, with a large grin hanging on his face.
“Nice to meet you too” Michael replied “I’m glad you made it in time.”
“Why, of course I wouldn’t miss it! No self-respecting soldier would let pass the chance to make history. They will be singing about this day for millenniums, and I intend to be sang.”
Indeed, despite Samael’s almost irrational passion for blowing things up, or perhaps precisely because of this, he was one of the best at what he does. Given his experience and seniority, he could easily get himself a position as a Captain, or Commodore or something, but Samael insisted on staying Squadron Leader to be “closer to the blood and tears”.
“You know, I’m kind of worried for them” said Michael half to himself.
“The children on earth.”
“Please Michael, you not having second thoughts are you?”
“No. But it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.”
“Good, cause I do plan on enjoying it. I’ve been waiting for this day since we blew the fifth planet of Sol into an asteroid belt. Why did we do that again?” Samael asked.
“To induce a shift in gravitational distribution.”
“Right, right, that. Besides, we’ve been evacuating Earth forever, with quite some success I might add. If it were up to me, I’d have stopped long ago.”
“But it’s not up to you”
“Damn right, unfortunate isn’t it?” Samael paused waiting for a reply, but he didn’t get one. “Come ‘on, don’t be such a spoilsport. If you really want someone to blame, blame it on our dearest friend, Admiral Morgenstern.”
Yes, Michael thought, Admiral Morgenstern, or at least that’s what he was called before his attempted coup back in 2146 Galactic. Morgenstern was not just an Admiral, he was the Grand Admiral of Fleet; highest military rank one can hold, but Morgenstern wanted something more; he wanted the throne. Unfortunately for Morgenstern, when the civil war broke out, most of the fleets sided against him, forcing him and his followers to flee.
In 2153 Galactic, Morgenstern gave up running and took his stand against the Imperial Fleet, now led by Michael, at Alpha Centauri. Both sides took heavy casualties during engagement, but Michael managed to disable Morgenstern’ commanding vessel, sending it plummeting into oblivion. That is, not before, it plummeted into the Centauri relay and Morgenstern hyper jumped to Sol.
By the time Michael fought off the rebels and followed Morgenstern to Sol with a battered task force, he found out two things; one, Morgenstern has taken control of Earth, and two, that the mass and energy of a planet armed with the proper weapons can practically out classed any conceivable concentration of spaceships, unless, or course, if the planet was destroyed all together from afar.
It wouldn’t have been much trouble if it was any other planet, but it was Earth, and Morgenstern knew how special it was. He knew that the empire would not dare to launch an attack when he holds millions of souls as hostage, at least not until the empire can get the children to somewhere safe. In the meanwhile, Morgenstern could not escape Earth, for he had neither a place to go, nor the fleet to get him there. So instead, he sat up his own monarch on earth, called himself a prince, and began preparation. Thus began the Cold War.
“It’s all kind of silly if you think about” Samael suddenly said “What the Architect is doing I mean. I just don’t understand it.” Usually, this is when an argument would start, while the humans worked silently 3000 meters below them, their machinery flickering like an endless ocean of stars beyond the flawlessly clear plastic of Eden VI main observatory.
But this is no Eden VI and Michael was not in the mood to argue. “There are a lot of things you don’t understand.”
“Yeah, but think about it. If the Architect really wanted you to defeat Morgenstern last time, why didn’t he give you a bigger fleet? Why did he even let the rebellion get as far as it did? He must have known what that old snake was planning. Hell, he could take on Morgenstern by himself right now, why bother gathering a fleet and sending us in?”
Michael groaned and turned to look at Samael “If you do not wish to be sent into battle, my dear friend, say the word and I can arrange for your termination right now. The pleasure will be all mine.” He said with an insincere smile as his finger run down the weapon attached to his belt.
Samael, clearly amused, gave an exaggerated bow and replied “Point taken, Sir. I’ll be with my Squadron if you need me, Sir.” before heading out the door. Michael chuckled to himself, shook his head and turned back to the work at hand.
“The fleet is within range of Relay, Admiral. All ships ready for jump.”
“Set course for Sol.” Michael commanded firmly.
“Aye-aye, Admiral. Course laid in.”
Michael closed his eyes, took a deep breath, made a short prayer for the children still on earth and gave the orders for jump. They’ll arrive in a matter of hours, and then, it will be finished.
As the fleet plunged into the flaring heat of Proxima Centauri, a voice in the back of Michael’s head told him that his prayer has been heard and answered.
“… and it inefficiented speech terribily. For example, if you were to express ‘VJ-476 famoused via dancressing ’ You’d have to say something like “VJ-476 became famouse by being a female dancer.’ The scholars thought such verbing was overweirding the English language, but the public embraced it …”
MQ-17J turned her attention away from the lecturer. She looked out the window at the calming brown haze and the dust that trailed down from the leaves. High in the sky, the sun was burning like flame while smaller stars, hundreds and thousands of them, surrounded it. It was nice to see the sun once in a while, the last time she saw it was months ago and there was not nearly as many stars around.
Not far in the distance, the ocean simmered under the sunlight, showing off its many shades of deep emerald green, and copper brown so intense she could almost smell the gentle fragrance of sulphur and nitrate through her filtration mask. She wondered if her boyfriend was seeing this, only to be reminded that her boyfriend was not here. Where is he? He was still around in the morning right? She thought, but she couldn’t remember.
Her boyfriend was quite perfect by all perceivable standards. He was tall, though slightly chubby, but quite fit. His eyes were simply gorgeous. Whenever he looked at her, his crystal blue pupils would glow as if they were real. The only thing she disliked was that he was a cultist. She couldn’t comprehend how in this day and age, people could still believe that some cosmic zombie will make them live forever. Everyone knew that there were no such things as spirits, or miracles. Even the parting of the red sea was explained recently to be just a natural phenomenon caused by some sudden shift in gravitational fields.
Her thoughts turned back to her boyfriend. He hasn’t messaged her since two hours ago, and none of her messages were being delivered. He was not someone who would cut contact randomly for two hours. Could it be the police? The defence department finally cracked down on his little church? She thought to herself. Certainly they’d let him at least one message before the execution? Or would they? She wasn’t sure. But whatever the reason, a lack of communication can only mean one thing; that she was now single and needed to find herself another partner.
As she changed her relationship status to single, something quite unexpected happened. There was a deep rumbling below her feet. “Earthquake” was a word long lost in the terran vocabulary, for the phenomenon had been all but eliminated. But at that moment, MQ-17J thought of the concept even without the correct word to accompany it. Fear shot through her nervous systems without her knowing why.
Then, she thought of death.
Far along the horizon, a beast with ten horns and seven heads is rising slowly out of the ocean; On its horns were symbols of unknown origin, and on its heads were writings illegible to man.
Then MQ-17J realized that it was not a beast, but a ship. A ship so huge that it made the Alliance Fleet look like the plastic discs on a maple leaf.
The giant ship charged upwards, it’s roars shook the ground. With a loud bang all the windows shattered in unison. Bright beams shot out from its horns towards the Suns and the stars; Suns and stars which seemed to have grown twice as big. Then, MQ-17J realized that it was no sun, nor stars. Could they be….?
Before she had the time to figure it out, there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, hurling towards Earth and from far in the distance came the sound of the first trumpet.