A near godlike being comes to the aid of humanity in what becomes a war for survival
Awakenings and Evolution
The entity reached out with its senses; it saw galaxies grow and die suns become unstable and turn supernova, it watched too as whole star systems were sucked into black holes. The entity wondered at the beauty of nebulae watched as myriad other life forms evolved grew and became extinct on thousands of worlds. It pondered its own existence and knew somehow it evolved from the creatures that attended it. They were fleshy creatures with a group intelligence that had ultimately led to itself. How exactly it had come to exist it did not know nor did it know how long it had lived save that it did. Lately, the entity had become engrossed in searching for other life forms with intelligence in the vastness of space, it could not say why but felt it urgent to watch for other intelligent life forms evolving.
The being slowly began to realise, that there was some purpose for its own existence some grand design of the universe that it would play an intricate part in. Then to the being realised sensations akin to emotions; it felt an emptiness, not unlike loneliness. With the forming of these emotions came a stronger sense of self-awareness where once the entity simply existed knowing itself to be almost omnipresent with powers far beyond the creatures that it had evolved from. Now it understood itself to be a balancing of conflicting forces. The entity questioned itself and found it was incomplete and fallible even though the creatures who attended it thought it a god The being searched the creatures’ consciousness for an interpretation of what they thought a god was and found it did not fit what it considered itself to be.
The being stood outside itself and looked back at an orb glowing with a pulsing nimbus of white light that occasionally changed to a reddish or golden hue and sparkled with pinpoints of light that seemed to have a life of their own. It considered its self to be beautiful and though it perceived it was no god but a higher being with almost unlimited powers, so godlike to the creatures that attended it. As the entity studied the nature of the creatures that had given it life the being found they had what they defined as sex. Perceiving that it was more feminine in nature more a goddess than a god and communicated this to them. The creatures reacted nervously to the entities changing state and its evolving consciousness, the being sought to reassure them as it felt affection for these creatures ugly though they were to its perceptions.
It watched them shuffle about on long, ponderous limbs their thick fleshy skin covered with downy hair two large bulbous eyes protruded from a head almost covered in dark hair. The Kalen they called themselves and the only known sentient life form in the universe. Once again the entity quested beyond the limits of its own understanding to even question the existence of the universe itself. It found no sure answers there, only that it must wait for now. Part of its reasoning for questioning and searching was that the being knew it would stagnate if it did not, but more too it had become aware of one of its latent powers only now coming to the fore; the ability of prescient vision. It had foreseen differing branching avenues of the future. It knew now it must watch the expanding universe ever vigilantly. So waiting, the being saw the creatures that attended it grow and die in a time frame to be replaced by the young while it existed outside that time frame. As time passed with the Kalen diligently bringing it substance to absorb to sustain its life-force. It understood itself as their guardian and a guardian of the universe. So observing the entity finally noticed other sentient life forms grow in a distant galaxy. It studied this species and found them similar to the Kalen in that they were a group mind but its prescient vision predicted a dangerous branch in the possible futures that this life form could follow.
The Marl as they eventually called themselves were an industrious and very fruitful insect-like creature. This soon led to overpopulation spurred on by this the Marl out of sheer need quickly developed space travel and started colonising nearby planets. The Marl being very adaptable could with little resources adapt a harsh planet climate to suit their needs. It was at this juncture of the beings observation that the possible futures the Marl could take was most dangerous. The Marl were ruled by the queen on the mother planet, but as the Marls spread out across their home system they became more and more disaffected with the queen soon they waged long, bloody and ruthless war on one another. The queen was killed, and a new order ruled all the Marls. This new order was governed by a collective of group minds which became an irresistible force bent on domination, exploitation, and by universal consensus driven by the need for expansionism. The worst of all possible futures the Marl could take.
The entity observed dispassionately, and it knew a new emotion come to fruition fear; coupled with a need to survive. For it knew that the Marl were now set on a course which would in time threaten its own existence, but the being feared more for the Kalen than itself. It left the Marl as they began expanding outwards leaving dead and dying planets in their wake. The entity resumed searching for sentient life forms knowing that one might develop that would oppose the Marl and stop their wanton destruction. And so the being eventually found other sentient life forms evolving, and it’s consciousness touched were it could, giving some of itself. So doing the entity discovered in a small system with a yellow sun that life developed on the third planet it perceived that the orb was idyllic and that many species evolved. None, however, could match the intelligence ingenuity and will to survive of the species that eventually stood upright and called themselves man.
The being observed, feeling dismayed as the race of man fought amongst itself, not unlike the Marl often waging senseless and bloody wars against one and other. It sought where it could to influence mankind and deflect the species from a course of self-destruction. So as it watched man finally reached out beyond the confines of his home world. First tentatively then with its subtle influence, with increasing enthusiasm man began his exploration of space. So with the help of the Kalen, it constructed all that it needed for lines of communication with other species and particularly mankind. The entity knew all it had to do was wait and humanity would come to it.
The Paladin’s Passenger
Captain Daniel Cinto studied the instrument panel in front of him making final corrections as he manoeuvred the paladin into a slow arc that would bring it into a gentle orbit around the grey planet. The computer display flashed a series of numbers and graphs regarding the worlds geophysical makeup and atmosphere. He pressed a button which brought up the report of the scout ship that found the world. As the paladin finally settled into a stable orbit, Daniel studied the report thoughtfully.
There were some discrepancies between the scout ship's report and what his own scan now showed. Yet the report was made only months ago, and he knew the captain, Bill Tarlson would not make such mistakes. He checked the ship's computer for faults running a diagnostic check on all systems. Everything checked out normal. After several rechecks and two more scans, he came to the decision which both alarmed and intrigued him. The scout's scan showed no sign of life on the surface although it did show an underground cave system which was also on the scout ship report. According to the report, the cave system was old maybe as old as the planet. Daniel’s scans, however, revealed a more recent branch of the cave system. He could only conclude that it had been made since the scout ship's report.
‘Warning!! Warning!!’ The ship's computer spoke in a soft feminine voice which irritated Daniel with its calm detachment. Warning lights lit up on displays on the bridge.
"Computer what’s happening report status" Daniel growled.
"We are being probed by a powerful energy source," the computer replied in its calm voice.
"Where from damn it who or what is probing us,” Daniel retorted scanning the tactical display for any nearby ships.
“From below the planet’s surface, the who or what I can’t ascertain as yet captain.” A soft coalescent glow filled the whole bridge Daniel felt himself in a grip which held both his body and mind in stasis.
The entity sent its probe into the ship’s computer after studying the man sifting through data then sending probes along communication lines until it found and learned all it needed to know. It absorbed all about Captain Daniel Cinto his likes, loves fears, the emotions that governed him and shaped his personality. The entity also learned that mankind was aware of the Marl.Some of their scout ships had reported an occasional siting of Marl probe ships. Although the humans had tried to communicate with the Marl the reports indicated that the Marl had resorted to attacking any human star ship they came in contact with. This the being gleaned had put the humans on an alert status though they still tried unsuccessfully to make contact with the Marl they were as yet not at war with them. The entity withdrew, and the Paladin returned to normal.
“A presence of indeterminable power has probed my systems captain it has also probed your awareness,” the computer intoned coming back to life.
“What! What do you mean a presence,” Daniel almost shouted bolting up in the command chair? “Darn computer is going crazy on me,” he retorted to himself rechecking the readout panels in front of him.
“The word crazy infers loss of mind, to go insane as I have no mind, but am merely an artificial intelligence I can only report what I know based on available data captain.”
“Which is,” Daniel replied acidly
“Which is I, we were probed by a presence, a life form with powers beyond human capabilities based on the planet Fareach,” the computer answered.
“Better raise shields and assume combat alert mode,” Daniel said frowning thoughtfully.
“That will not be necessary captain I detected no threat in the probe only A need to learn and...
“Never mind the crap, do as I say, you just got through telling me you had no mind of your own,” Daniel interrupted testily. “Stupid computers!” He muttered shaking his head.
“As you wish, but we are being hailed from the planet.” the computer replied.
“What! Why didn’t you tell me before?” Daniel growled.
“I tried to captain, but you interrupted me,” the computer answered in its quiet voice.
“Okay, sorry I’m a bit grumpy today I didn’t sleep to well last night, and a lot seems to be happening right now which makes me a more than a little nervous.” He said taking a deep breath to calm himself.
“I’m aware of your lack of sleep captain I did prescribe a sleeping draft... We are being hailed again, the language seems to be English, and I have video contact shall I put it on screen captain?” the computer asked.
“Please do,” Daniel replied and instantly gaped, the face on the screen was very human and although he had never met this woman before she looked hauntingly familiar.
After having completed its probe, the being immediately set about the next stage of what it must do. The Kalen nervously moved back as the being pulsated; a shaft of pure energy burst from the centre and held one of the younger Kalen in its grasp. The Kalen whimpered fretfully fearing they had angered their goddess. The entity communicated reassurances, telling the Kalen it was doing what it had to do for all their survival. Then the one it held was absorbed into the glowing orb. Light pulsed and danced around the great cave glowing brighter then dimmer a part of the entity separated from the whole at first a small glowing orb then it elongated and gradually formed into a solid until finally, the form, of a human female emerged.
The woman turned to face the entity that she was part of it, she somehow knew instinctively yet apart, separate she felt vulnerable. The woman and the being communicated silently. She described her fears and wonder and asked why she had been separated from the whole. The being giving reassurance defining the need for the woman’s existence and teaching her in the ways of humans. All the knowledge the woman needed to get by as a human passed was absorbed and learned in a few minutes but not everything there was no time to teach the woman everything though. Something’s would just have to be acquired the human way through practical experience. The woman looked down at herself and found she was naked the entity felt as the woman did and manufactured suitable human clothing for the woman. A part of the woman that was still the entity glowed in the woman and the being communicated the need for control.
“We, I understand,” the woman finally spoke she tested the sound of the words on her tongue as she spoke and reiterated them to make sure she had them right.
“I need a name do I not?” She communicated.
“Xena, I am Xena,” spoke the women she turned to face the Kalen who had been in attendance.
Daniel cleared his throat as he watched the screen the woman had long blonde hair and the deepest blue eyes, he had ever seen; her features were finely sculptured almost statuesque in appearance. She wore a blue gown that accentuated her figure; he was glad she was not stood next to him now for he wasn’t sure if he could keep himself under control. There was no denying her beauty even when viewed through a screen.
“Captain I am Xena I need to talk to you, will you bring your ship to the surface there is a place you may land,” said Xena smiling pleasantly. Daniel fought to keep his guard up it was hard not to let his suspicions go and just fly down to the planet, but there were too many things that didn’t add up.
“Listen lady, you’ll forgive me if I’m a little more than suspicious, but until recently this planet showed no indications of any activity or life then suddenly my ship gets probed by an unknown source then you appear. Would you mind telling me how you got there and why you probed my ship that wasn’t very friendly you know,” said Daniel with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Xena took a deep breath her smile turning into a worried frown.
“I’m sorry about the probe. I’m from a race similar to yours I was... stranded here some time ago. Please, won’t you come and talk to me it concerns the Marl.”
“The what,” Daniel noted the breaks in what Xena said and thought she was improvising she was not telling the whole truth. Now he felt justified in his suspicions still it was hard to resist the earnest plea in the woman’s voice.
“The Marl is the insectoid race that has been attacking your scout ships,” stated Xena.
“How do I know you’re not one of them trying to lead me into a trap,” Daniel replied suspiciously.
“Do I look like an insectoid Captain Cinto,” Xena replied.
“I have only your word they are insectoid no one has seen what they look like.” Instantly the screen changed to show a creature that looked like a giant ant on two legs the picture stayed on screen just long enough for Daniel to feel repulsed by the creature before Xena reappeared.
“Ok, you are defiantly not like that. Still, I have only your word that’s what these Marl look like, and I don’t believe half of what you’re telling me.” He paused studying a readout panel “You seem to be quite comfortable there and not in any immediate danger otherwise I might consider taking you off that rock. So why don’t you just tell me what you want so we both can be about our business,” Daniel concluded scowling.
Xena sighed in exasperation and seemed reluctant to continue then as if prompted explained about the Marl’s and their ruthless exploitation of planets and the dead worlds they leave behind. In spite of his suspicions about her, he found it fitted what he felt about these Marl’s they showed no sign of wanting to communicate and the Federated Worlds had already lost several ships to them while the government leaders still dragged their heels. The Marl if that is what they were called had been given more than enough time to show their real intent.
“Okay what you say makes a lot of sense to me so I’ll pass the information on to my superiors on Gamma V on my return,” Daniel said somewhat absently.
“But you still don’t trust me and won’t come here,”
“No!” Daniel started to prepare to leave orbit as he spoke.
“I can be of help dealing with them,” Xena stated there was no mistaking the earnest plea in her voice
“No!” Daniel repeated he didn’t see how one lone woman could be of help fighting the Marl if it came to that; if there were more of her kind and they had a good fleet of battleships or maybe some technology or weapons that might help to fight the Marl. The brass back home would undoubtedly be interested then that didn’t seem likely though or she wouldn’t be stranded if she was genuinely stranded too many things still didn’t add up.
“In that case,” Xena answered as the screen went blank; suddenly a soft glow appeared Daniel turned reaching for his laser pistol as the intruder alarm sounded.
“Since you won’t come to me then I must go to you. Really, captain, must you point that weapon at me, you wouldn’t shoot a defenceless woman would you?” Xena smiled serenely and seemed unperturbed despite the threat Daniel posed to her.
Daniel’s first reaction was, shock at seeing her suddenly appear in front of him he felt uneasy. The woman’s beauty was breath-taking only his instincts and the seeming impossibility of what was happening kept him from lowering his weapon. Xena remained still as if anticipating any movement may be considered hostile.
“How the..., how did you get here, seems to me you are far from defenceless if you can .appear out of thin air,” Daniel still kept his laser levelled at her.
“You may well be right, but I see a need to demonstrate my good faith. Let’s see. Yes, this should do,” Xena thrust her hand out in a blur of motion a beam of light shot from her outstretched palm hitting the laser pistol and knocking it out of Daniel’s hand. The gun went sliding along the deck floor behind Daniel and well out of reach. It all happened so fast that Daniel hadn’t time to react. Then Xena disappeared only to re-appear next to him with the laser pistol pointed at his head. Daniel held his breath unmoving expecting to die any second.
“Here you are captain,” Xena handed back the weapon to Daniel who let out a long breath.
“I can see you could be useful to have around,” the closeness of her made him feel uncomfortable the fact she could have killed him but didn’t, put most but not all of his suspicions to rest.
“Just what are you anyway,” the look he got back made him feel ashamed he asked the question there was so much hurt in it, and he could see tears rise in her eyes; then it was gone, and she smiled.
“We... I am flesh, and blood like you captain, but I have unique talents that you and your kind will need to aid you when you go to war against the Marl, as go to war you will it is only a matter of time. You see captain one of my talents is foreseeing future events,’ Xena said enigmatically.
“Hold it a second you're telling me you can foretell let's say what will happen tomorrow,” Daniel was having a hard time believing what had happened so far that the look he gave Xena and tone of his voice both expressed total disbelieve in her latest revelation.
“I can’t always foretell events that closely or when they will happen, but I know they will although there are so many different branches, possibilities if you like that don’t come out as predicted. I can narrow some down with absolute certainty though.” Xena explained Daniel shook his head doubtfully then laughed.
“So can you predict when I’m going to meet the woman of my dreams,” he asked half mockingly.
“Yes,’ she answered after a brief pause; Daniel stopped laughing and looked at her intensely.
“You really believe you can don’t you.”
“I know you have already met the woman of your dreams,” she said.. “I... I must be alone for a while,” before Daniel could say more she vanished. He stood silently his head spinning with a thousand unanswered questions. If Xena could come and go as she pleased there wasn’t much he could do about it. He took the Paladin out of orbit and set a course for Gamma V.
Xena stood in what looked to be a shuttle launching bay aboard the Paladin she was only vaguely aware of the rumble of the nuclear fusion engine as the ship accelerated away from. From what? She thought, her home planet of her mother; yes that was it from her mother. She said the word aloud testing the sound of it; the word fitted her interpretation of the whole she had been separated from. Although the distance between mother grew with each moment of time as the Paladin accelerated she knew distance had little meaning to mother. So she closed her eyes blocking out all distractions as she communicated. Some new unforeseen occurrences were taking place that left Xena afraid. She was aware of becoming more human more truly a separate being in her own right; she was forming her own identity although there was that part of her that would always belong to mother. She looked down at herself and the white glow within pulsed bright and reassuring
“Ah, there you are, wondered where you got to,” Daniel looked up from the instrument panel as Xena appeared.
“I’ve just been admiring your ship captain it’s quite a marvel of ingenuity," Xena smiled enigmatically. Why did she have to smile at him like that Daniel wondered, and why had she to be so beautiful. There was an innocence about her that didn’t quite fit her behaviour that puzzled him though.
“There is more like you on Fareach isn’t there?” he asked trying not to look at her too closely those blue eyes for hers disturbed him for some reason.
“Oh, I was speaking with mother, though there is another race of beings there, you might find a bit ugly to look at called the Kalen, but they are quite friendly I assure you and may be of some future help,” Xena explained.. Daniel was taken aback once again by this new disclosure and remained speechless while Xena continued talking. "You are wondering how your scout ship or indeed your own scanners did not detect life on Fareach I suppose," Xena said raising her eyebrows.
“Among other things,” he finally managed to say he was aware she was becoming a little more open and less mysterious or maybe she was just telling him what she thought he needed to know. He wondered what the base commander on Gamma V would make of her. She would undoubtedly draw a lot of attention that was for sure.
“It was mother’s doing she can screen the entire planet from snooping eyes when necessary,” she said as Daniel brought his attention back to the present..
“Is your mother like you if she is I know one or two older men who might like to meet her,” he replied smiling.. Xena reflected on his question a moment then giggled showing surprise in her own laughter.
“No Daniel I’m afraid mother is not like me, but you may meet her one day,” the last was said in that mysterious voice..
Two weeks later the Paladin arrived at Gamma V. In that time they spent together Daniel and Xena had become comfortable with one and other. Xena was a quick learner and soon was able to help Daniel perform many of the routine tasks. The Paladin served mainly as patrol ship though quite large and well armed it could be crewed with up to twenty-five or as was the case until Xena came just one with the ship's computer AI handling most of the tedious tasks. Daniel’s job was patrolling the Gamma quadrant and checking on scout ships progress. He was not due back for another week but had deemed it necessary to return, as soon as possible. The reply to the message he sent didn’t make him feel very happy as to his coming meeting with the base commander. It had been blunt demanding why he had left his patrol merely to bring back a lone passenger even though he had explained the unusualness and possible significance of this particular passenger.
Xena smiled as they docked looking around in wonder at the vast space station before them as it rotated slowly against the backdrop of the planet Gamma V filling the view screen in front of them.
“Why so glum you are home safe everything is all right is it not Daniel?” Xena asked.
“Yea everything is fine and dandy except I might get slung out of the Space Corp for not finishing my patrol and bringing you back,.” Daniel said a little sulkily then grimaced. “Sorry it’s not your fault Xena,” his grimace turned to a smile as he saw Xena’s childlike wonder at all around her.
‘That won’t happen I’m certain Daniel,” she looked at him levelly her eyes mysterious as ever.
“Another of your future insights I suppose,” Daniel said absently as the turbo lift whirled into motion causing Daniel that moment of queasiness he always hated as the elevator sped up towards the inner ring of the station.
Xena seemed unperturbed by the speed at which the lift travelled. “Of course Daniel,” she replied giving him a small smile. The elevator slowed and came to a sudden halt there was a moment's silence then a clang and a short hiss as pressure was released before the lift tdoor opened. A short, stocky man with piercing eyes and an almost fixed laconic grin greeted them. It had been some time since Daniel had seen Nathan Franks the last time he recalled the Chief Security Officer had locked him in the brig for his part in an altercation at the Blue Circle Bar.
“Captain Cinto I’m to escort you and your guest to see Commander Philips,” Franks grinned. When he saw Xena, his eyes widened briefly, and he swallowed hard before looking away gesturing with an outstretched hand the direction they where to go.
“Nice to see you to Nathan, this is Xena by the way,” Daniel said revelling in the security officer’s discomfort. Franks gave a slight bow in Xena’s direction while trying not to look directly at her as they walked down a narrow corridor.
“Do we get time to change and freshen up first?” Daniel asked noting how hurried Franks seemed to be. Though he had washed and shaved before disembarking, he still wore his work uniform which looked a bit worse for wear, and Xena always wore that same striking blue dress though it looked just as pristine as when they first met. He wondered what she would look like in uniform and blushed slightly at were his unguarded thoughts where leading him.
“Ah, I’m afraid not the commander wants to see you post haste there will be plenty of time later,” he paused. “We have assigned the lady rooms in the women’s officers quarters not far from yours you can show her where they are after,” Franks answered he halted outside a double door and pressed his right palm onto a panel on the side, the door opened with a faint hum.
Franks led the way into the spacious office. Daniel and Xena followed together as the security officer went through the formalities, Daniel glanced around the room. The commander’s office was sparsely decorated with few comforts. An oblong desk stood at the far end and filled more than its width. The base commander sat in a high backed chair on either side of him where trays neatly stacked with papers and documents of one kind or another. The far right corner of was taken up by a large filing cabinet. There were a few chairs down either side of the room and a beige leather couch on the left. Two uniformed armed guards stood to attention just to the front at either side of the commander's desk, and an alien known as a Fenlok stood at the front of the office desk also he had just finished talking to the commander as they entered the room. Daniel knew the alien to be a Fenlok more by his dress and stature as very few people had seen one close up.
The Fenlok was dressed in an all-black habit similar to a monk with a hood that hid his features; only his eyes stared out from the darkness around his covered face they were round like saucers and blood red. Fenlok's were mostly a head taller than the average human this one was no exception. On the whole, Daniel thought somewhat mysterious giving the fact that Fenloks were telepathic as well.