Chapter X – Lunar Monolith
The Moon colony sat in a large crater below a black starry sky, sunlight beamed against a large black monolith. UAC headquarters. The large, black building had long, wide slits in its surface that served as windows, the UAC logo was lightly etched against the surface of the building. Dr. Kronos rode the monorail, it was surrounded in a tunnel of metal supporting frames that housed shielding emitters, used to give the monorail its own breathable atmosphere. A set of doors opened as the car approached the building, he got out at a small platform and walked through a featureless door that was as black as the walls that housed it. The car continued along to a circuit station. Kronos took the elevator to the 22nd floor, it took him directly to the conference room. The other members of the meeting had also just arrived, they each stepped in from the corners of the room and simultaneously walked toward the brightly lit doughnut shaped table, situated in the center of the room.
The central chair swirled around, revealing Chief Administrator Dr Rupert Nexson, who stood and regarded his colleagues. They silently took their seats. The meeting was attended by Dr. Kronos, UAC’s highest authority on the portal phenomenon; Dr. Barrows, the head geologist; Dr. Clyde, highest authority on xenobiology (aliens); and Master Corporal Revok, head of strategic planning.
Nexson regarded Kronos, “What is your report?” he demanded.
“Success, containment field shows great promise. I endorse the advancement to level six testing” was Kronos’ prompt reply.
“Hmmmm, this may be the last experiment using the BSK serum that we can attempt for some time, make sure your people stay sharp. If you botch this experiment, I will personally shoot you into the heart of space without a thruster module.” said Nexson. “The experiment will be executed with the greatest precision, sir”
“See to it”.
Nexson continued, “Well, I’m sure your all interested in what happened to research lab Delta. Dr. White somehow managed a portal accident during a routine transfer of test subjects, and it looks very much like it will have to be destroyed. Kronos, you will be assuming Dr White’s duties, medium-priority” Kronos silently accepted the assignment. “Barrows, I understand you have something you want to report.”
“Yes, sir. I think we may have found another source of influence for the aliens” he says. The doctor tapped his data-sheet and a holographic image of the scorched Earth appeared in the centre of the conference table. A portion of the Earth glowed in red, illustrating a particularly badly infected area. “This area began showing some very strange bio readings, so I conducted another analysis and found this mysterious structure”, the image zoomed in closer and focused on a red bulge that seemed to breath up and down. “I think this structure should be considered a primary military target… although I have to admit that I have only a limited understanding of what it is, I gave these findings to Dr. Clyde for a review. Do you have anything to add, doctor?” said Barrows. Clyde had a short beard and was smoking a pipe.
“Yes I do.”, Dr. Clyde replied, “After a thorough scan of the anomaly, I believe were looking at a unique life form, its unknown where its organs or its higher intelligence centres are located. It is theorized that this growth is the result of psychic meditations of an extremely advanced being, likely located in an adjacent dimension. If you intend to destroy it… most conventional means will likely suffice” he said, thoughtfully gesturing his pipe.
Corporal Revok cleared his throat, “I seriously doubt that nuking that blob will make any difference, the resources it would take to strike that target would likely be put to more efficient purposes should the situation become more volatile” he said.
“What is the situation with the xeno-missions?” asked Nexson, regarding Revok.
The Corporal shot up in his seat, “The situation is the same, I can’t communicate with those who have passed through the portals and the hardware from your precious Alpha labs have never survived any longer than four minutes during field tests. Deaf and blind, thats our situation” A silent moment passed as the Corporal and the Administrator exchanged loaded glares. The Corporal stabbed at his data-sheet, an unfinished map appeared in the centre of the table. “This is all the scouting we’ve been able to do of this damned dimension, we still have entire continents to be explored before we can find the remaining spider-minds. I can’t endorse another deployment under these circumstances, were running out of men and you know very well that soon enough, we will be deploying our own families through those portals”
Behind Nexson, in the window, research lab delta exploded, sending debris mushrooming into space. Nexson looked irritated by the sudden loss, then composed himself to respond to Revok.
“I’m aware of this, Corporal. The deployments will continue, we can’t afford to lose the only foothold we have in the alien world”
The Corporal’s eyes burned with rage, as brightly as those of a Hell Knight.
“Alpha labs had better deliver and fast…or we will all pay the consequences” said Revok.
“Do you have any idea how much-” a tone sounded, cutting off their heated discussion. Nexson slapped a button and a dull hologram appeared, its light buzzing quietly. “What?” snapped Nexson. “Sorry for the interruption, sir. I think you would want to be informed that a corporate vessel has just come on sensors” Nexson suddenly looked very pleased.
“Really? What sensor unit are you monitoring it on?” he asked.
“A-42” the hologram responded. He rang up a visual of the vessel on his terminal, the image appeared in the centre of the table.
“Now where did this beauty come from?”
Commander Thompson was jogging to the bridge of the Echelon, the pilot had something for her to see. She stepped onto the bridge and asked what was going on.
“Take a look at this” he says, gestured toward the scanning-terminal, the Earth’s moon slowly turned in the holographic light. It didn’t take long for her to see that there was some some sleek looking buildings on the surface.
“It caught my attention when something on the surface exploded, look at the etchings on the largest building.” said the pilot. The Commander gripped the tuning knobs and focused on the big black building, the syllables fell from her lips.
“UAC” she said, stunned. “This must have been some emergency plan of theirs, I certainly never knew this was here” she said.
A green light began blinking on a console to the right.
“We’re being hailed” the pilot said. “It looks like they see us, too” She hoped for a friendly response and opened the channel.
“Attention, pirates,” came an emotionless voice from the speakers, “you are in unlawful possession of UAC property. Surrender the Echelon peacefully and immediately.”
Thompson slapped the communications panel. “This is Commander Thompson, we are not pirates, we had no idea you were operating out here, or at all for that matter”
“Irrelevant” came the cold reply.
“In case you didn’t notice, we just came out of a hellish war zone, we have a lot of wounded on board that are being accommodated by the medical bay.” pleaded the commander.
“Stand-by” came the response.
“Typical UAC”, The Commander fumed “They think they own the whole galaxy”
On the holo-monitor six small ships leaped from the moon and charged toward the Echelon. “Oh, hell!” cried Thompson, she quickly slipped into a command station and brought the weapons system online. The plasma turret warmed up and the missiles were loaded under automation. “I have a lock”, said the pilot. “Missiles away.” The missiles flew from the rear and turned toward the incoming ships. The fighters shot two of the missiles, the third struck and destroyed a fighter, shrapnel from its hull impacted the shields of the Echelon and bounced away. “Engage attack speed and pull hard to port” called the Commander, the ship pivoted toward one of the fighters. She wrapped her hands around the turret controls and fired blobs of plasma, the small, fast ships easily steer around her shots. The Echelons shields were put to the test, the fighters swooped in and fired. The Echelon limped away, the fighters were too fast for the huge vessel. “Missiles away.” Thompson shouted, the missile’s lock chased a fighter, Thompson fired plasma turrets from the other direction. Plasma erupted the hull and the missiles caused the small ship to explode.
Damn, that felt good, Thompson thought to herself. Four fighters left. The ship continued spraying plasma, the fighters dove and swooped around it. Two of the attacking ships came around and attacked the Echelons plasma turret. The shield sputtered and the following volley caused the weapon to rupture brilliantly, the debris floated away from the ship. They fired another group of missiles, the remaining fighters destroyed them with a flourish. Other fighters positioned themselves along each side of the Echelon.
“Attention pirates, we have identified your command centre, surrender or be destroyed” came a firm voice from the ships speakers. Thompson slapped the control for the ship-wide intercom. “Attention, all hands. We are about to be boarded by UAC personnel, do not resist.” Thompson tweaked the comm channel to close and opened the one to the UAC. “Echelon to UAC, we surrender. State your terms” she said.
“Put all weapon systems offline and open all space dock doors.”