| As men of science, we always adhered to facts, considered details in the decisions we make and studied to solve problems here on the UMD77. Distance, gravitational pull, the atmospheric pressure-every single factor was calculated down to the decimal point. For the past 30 years, I have proudly served as a counselor on board this ship. Although calculations brought us far, nothing prepared us for that fateful day.
A ship of an unusual size sat between two orbiting planets. Resembling a large, cylindrical cross, the ship is an amalgamation of metal tubes and cables with wings pointing to each respective planet. The ship rotated with the Earth-like planets as dozens of red lights flickered around the hull amidst the darkness. The two worlds casted its shadow on the ship as jets of steam escaped from various exhausts.
Inside, alarms and sirens blared as rows of soldiers jogged down a corridor of pipes and cables carrying assault rifles. They wore burgundy long sleeve coveralls with a planet insignia. Their steel toe boots clanked against the metal flooring as they rushed down the halls.
“C’mon, they’re this way!” The squad leader said.
Then, loud pops in the corridor echoed as multiple bullets tore through one man’s flesh. Blood ejects from each bullet hole as he collapsed to the floor. The rest of the soldiers in the room raised their guns and opened fire. Flashing muzzles lit the hallway as they charged towards incoming fire.
“YA! FOR TERRA!” the militia shouted as several more men are killed in the gunfight.
After the Skirmish, three men emerged from the far side of the corridor with weapons, wearing black coveralls.
“That’s the last of them said the leader of the group. However, after a loud bang, he dropped to the floor as a bullet sunk into his head. The men under his command looked around the room and discovered a sole survivor with bullet holes in his torso, aiming his pistol at them.
The men unleashed more lead into the wounded man, confirmed their kill and continued their hunt.
“Let's find the Admiral!” One shouted as he dashed down the hallway.
As they ran past a square panel on the floor, a single hand lifted the tile and peeked out from underneath. After the coast was clear, the man moved the tile to the side and emerged from the square manhole. He squatted to place the square panel back in place and stood to his feet. He was a six feet tall, cocoa complex, clean-shaven male with glasses. Wearing a white coverall, he power marched through the halls stepping over bullet riddled corpses scattered across the floor. He approached a metal door with a porthole and he used the key card around his neck and slid it through a small terminal on the side. After a few beeps of entering his code on the numeric device, a female voice answered through the intercom.
“Please state your name and rank” the AI ordered.
“Admiral William Darcious, Lead counselor.” The man replied.
“Voice recognition confirmed” The computer answered and the door slid open, “Welcome, Admiral”
“THERE HE IS!” A soldier shouts from the far end of the hall.
Panicked, William pressed a few buttons and pinned his body against the corner while bullets zip past and ricocheted off the walls. The door closed and bright sparks from the firearms flickered from the window. Panting and sweating, he took a few moments to calm down when he saw the men banging on the door.
He recognized the men trying to kill him. He often sat with them and discussed the almost magic-like aspects of Anti-gravity theory to them. They seemed interested but now they are trying to kill him. It’s as if the time he spent on the ship was nothing but a dream.
He shook his head *in disappointment* and moved to the next hallway. He stopped at a box that read communications in big white letters. He pulled the cover off to reveal a dial box with an intercom on the top portion. He dialed a number and listened for the ringtone.
“Hello?” A familiar female voice answers.
“My God, William! You’re still alive?”
“Barely,” he scoffed, “Things have gone to hell and everyone is trying to take control of the ship.”
“Why? The ship is supposed to keep the planets from colliding with each other. Who in God’s name would want to wreak havoc on a ship at a time like this?” she asked.
“The big wigs didn’t give me access to the whole file. Whatever is happening, it’s got the whole crew in an uproar. Did you escape?”
“Yes.” The woman answered, “We should be arriving at the nearby ship orbiting Manna soon.”
“Whatever you do, don’t go back to Manna you understand?”
“Why? Our kids are on Manna, William,” she argued.
“I’ve made some arrangements to have them board the ship. They should be waiting for you there”
“William. What’s going on? I’m worried!”
“I don’t have time to explain Naiomi!” William said banging his fist against the wall, Please, just keep our kids safe. Something is not right and I need to find out what’s going on
“Ok,” Naiomi said.
“Kiss the children for me. Okay?”
“Sure. Come back to me alive.”
When the com beeped off, William sucked in a deep breath before he pulled the entire counsel off its hinges. Sparks flashed in his face as exposed electrical wires popped. He dug into his pocket, pulled out a black rubber glove, fitted it on his left hand and reached into the hole. He removed a black pistol and examined it. He released the magazine and saw the bullets in the chamber. Satisfied, he slid it back in place before cocking a round in the chamber.
With caution, he sprinted with his pistol at the ready and reached a corner. He glanced down the hall and observed two guards with assault rifles guarding the elevator. One of them turned his head in his direction, but he pulled his head back to avoid detection.
Why are there two Mannans at the service elevator? He thought.
William took a second quick peek and noticed a steam pipe over their heads. He leaned out, aimed his pistol and fired a shot that bore a hole in the pipe. Hot steam hissed and boiling water spilled on the guards and seared the skin on their upper body. They wailed, held their faces and thrashed about in a frenzy.
William took another, cleansing breath and charged from the corner. Making sure not to kill them, he shot both guards in their legs.
He only killed when it was absolutely necessary because he didn’t want to return to his wife with news of killing her people.
He approached the wounded men, removed the hidden key card around his neck and slid it through the terminal. One of the men glared up at William as he knelt down next to him.
“What's going on? Why are all of you fighting on-board this ship? He asked and pointed his weapon at the man’s head.
The man didn’t say answer right away as he sucked his teeth to cope with the agonizing pain of his injuries.
“The…The Commander ordered us to secure the elevator…Something about the Terras threatening to turn this ship into a weapon”
“Weapon?” Williama asked, “This ship isn’t designed for combat! The anti-gravity emitter that regulates gravity between our planets is fragile.”
“You’ll…have to ask. We are just following orders. The Terras started attacking us and that’s how everything started.”
The elevator door’s yellow and black striped doors hummed open and William stepped in and left Manna’s guards to nurse their wounds.
He didn’t know why Commander Joseph would order such a move on board a non-weaponized ship, but he was determined to find out, even if it meant pointing a pistol at the supreme commander’s head.
When the metal gate closed, he pressed a floor button on the panel. However, he noticed a blinking red light below the counsel as the bottom half of the button panel was ripped out. Curious, he pressed the button on the device and the elevator descended to lower levels.
Many confusing thoughts raced through his head as the elevator hummed.
What’s going on? I’ve served on this ship for the past 30 years, toiling to ensure that the fragile peace between our planets would last. It’s been the purpose of my life, for everyone to dwell in peace and understanding. This ship was built as a symbol of peace between us. Why? What was it all for? I’m going to find out what the hell is going on and there had better be a good damn reason why this is happening.
When the elevator stopped, he inhaled.
Like a curtain rising over the stage, a purple light illuminated the elevator. William guarded his eyes with his arms against the bright beam. Peering through his fingers he tries to make sense of what was before him in the vast open expanse.
His eyes adjusted and he noticed a ball of black energy with purple swirls swimming inside the sphere. Purple sparks popped around the globe as it floats in the center of the room.
William lowered his arm to his side in sheer bewilderment eyes widened in shock as he dropped his pistol on the floor.
Why is there Dark Matter on this ship?
Dark Matter research has been expressly forbidden by both world governments. Not only for their destructive capability but the nasty side effects it leaves behind. Black holes, unexplained creatures, rupture in the very fabric of space itself. Not only it was here on the ship, but there’s also enough here to destroy a planet. He knew about it because of the numerous classes he had taken to be the top counselor.
"Why is it here?"
His heart sunk into despair as worrying thought raced through his mind.
"Oh god!" He says as he picked up his pistol and rushed back to the elevator. He repeatedly tapped the command deck floor hoping that the elevator moved faster. It seemed like an eternity had passed before the gate closed and the elevator ascended.
As he tapped his feet on the floor, loud groaning’s and metallic clanks and cracks sound through the entire ship.
“What was that?” William thought. However, he quickly brushed off the thought as he was more concerned about what he discovered earlier. If they have dark matter onboard then it could mean only one thing.
A beep of the elevator broke his thoughts and the elevator doors raised to reveal another sealed door with a terminal on the side. He took his key card, inserted it and tapped a few buttons on the terminal before the metal door opened. He stepped inside the cool hall feet tapping the floor where he can hear echoing voices arguing in the distance.
He knew who they were.
He stepped into a large circular room with a counsel at the center with two tables on the opposite sides of the room. On one side a short stocky black woman stood wearing a black military uniform with dozens of insignias on her chest. She stood composed and well-dressed and cold completely contrasted by the man standing opposed to her.
Commander Joseph cared little for his uniform as it was unbuttoned exposing his white undershirt. An older male. One experienced leader with a slightly hunched back scowls in his fierce accusation against his female peer. He points his finger and curses, not allowing her to speak until he had his say.
Each leader represented their home planets well. With the rough and tough Mannans and the clever and composed Terrans. William was part of the latter.
“This is a violation of interstellar treaty! The man argued. You purposely withheld information regarding this ship failed to inform us about the disaster that’s bound to take place and put us in this predicament!”
“Matters concerning the inhabitants of Terra are of no concern to you Commander.” The woman blurts out. “Maybe if educated yourself on the nature of the universe instead of war and conquest we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
“Heh! Always the first ones to study but the last to take action. Such is the way of the Terrians.” The man says folding his hands behind his back. “Don’t forget we were the ones who supplied most of the material and manpower to build the ship you’re looking down at us from.”
“Well, what else are you good for?”
“How dare you insult us, COWARD!” The man said slamming his fist on his table.
This was more intense than normal between these two. There were many days they spent arguing with each other. Often times, William would wonder why they even bothered to put these two people together in the same room. Maybe it’s because both of them looked out for the interest of their own home planet. William, however, was different he longed for peace as war between the two planets devastated his family and robbed him of everything he owned. He even married a Mannanan woman. It was why he was selected to be counselor.
“HEY!” William shouted gaining their attention.
“Counselor.” Commander Joseph salutes.
“Counselor.” Commander Foster salutes as well.
Glowering at both of them, William saunters up to his table between the two holding his pistol at his side.
“I served on this ship for 30 years trying to maintain peace between our worlds. Getting you two to cooperate wasn’t easy and I went to bed proud of the progress we made. But today, I wake up to gunfire and mayhem. I had to shoot two men I eat within the mess hall to get here.
He raised his pistol and points it at each of them.
“So someone better tell me what the hell is going on. Or I’ll start shooting.”
“Humph!” Joseph replied. Ya wanna know what’s going on? Ask her. They are the ones who brought that dark matter on board.
William then points his pistol at the woman.
“Commander Foster? Mind telling me why you’ve brought that godforsaken thing on board this ship?”
Unfazed from the weapon pointed at her, she just stared ahead and explained.
“We ended the war because we found out that our planets were on course for a collision.” Foster said. “Therefore a truce was called and work began to develop a means to halt our planets from orbiting too close.”
“Yeah and that’s how we built this ship.” William said. “An anti-gravity generator created to keep the planets from colliding.”
“That was a lie.” Foster said.
“What?” William's eyes widen in horror lowering his weapon to his side.
"Although theoretically possible, the anti-gravity emitter only slows the collision. In retrospect, the ship was just a ruse to stay off the war until we can come up with a viable solution to save our planets. After trials and years of secret scientific experiments, we concluded that the death of one planet would save the other. So we created the dark matter bomb to eviscerate one planet while keeping the other alive."
“And let me guess. Joseph said glaring at Foster. Your people decided that our planet needed to go.”
“Your infantile wars have decimated your ecosystems and pollution runs rampant throughout you’re the atmosphere. Any and all terrains fleeing to your planet would die of disease in a few short cycles.”
“That’s beside the point dammit!” Josephs slammed his hands on the table. “Such crucial information. It's wrong to keep that secret from us. We could’ve prepared, build ships give us time to escape.”
“Escape?” Foster said.” Where exactly you are going to go? The nearest habitable star system is more than a million years away. We weren’t sure if you were going to retaliate and force us off our planet that’s why we didn’t tell you.”
Do you think I wanted this?! The woman shouts. Ever since I found out about what was happening I spent my life in sheer misery knowing that one day billions of people are going to die!
“If you’re too scared, then give me the access code.”
“I’m no fool, Joseph! We know that you knew about the device and tried to steal it for yourselves when the opportunity presented itself. If you were in our shoes, you would’ve done the same thing.”
By now, tears have welled up in William's eyes and they cascade down his cheek.
“All the research in anti-gravity systems was nothing but a lie?” He said indignantly.
“Yes,” the woman replied in the cold tone.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t shoot you where you stand Foster?” William said training his gun at her head.
“Do you have the courage to kill your own sister?” She says glaring at him.
William lowered his weapon to his side relenting on his previous action.
He and his sister were separated by the war and only met when they sent her as a representative of the Terra planet. By then she had her own experiences and traumas growing up without a family and managed to carve out a life of her own. But because of that, they treated each other like strangers.
"Hell if you won’t shoot her then I will!" Joseph shouted yanking out a pistol from his jacket and aiming it at Foster.
William reacted and fired his pistol.
Joseph dropped to the table with a bullet hole in his heart. Blood soaked up on the mahogany table and padded on the floor.
The Admiral lowered his weapon as tears continue to stream down his face in disappointment. He wipes the tears from his eyes and sits down on his chair in the toilet seat position.
The woman speed walked around her table and her high-heels clapped the floor.
“You did a good thing, William.” Foster said as she pulled out her key card and inserts it on a counsel in the middle of the room.
A loud groan and metallic clanks and cracks echo through the ship.
“It's happening.” Foster said as she flips various switches and pushing buttons on the counsel.
“This ship is being torn apart by the two planet’s gravity. We don’t have much time.” She says pressing buttons and pulling levers.
A port spiraled open on the right-wing of the ship with a purple hue glowing inside aiming at the dead commander’s home world.
“Are you going to seriously destroy their planet?” William asked.
“The Mannans already have fleets out in space. It’s not like they’re going extinct.”
Lights begin to flicker and a green hologram of Manna shot up from the council at the center.
William quietly watched as she made the final preparations.
She lifted a glass cover housing a large red button and held her palm over it.
William raised his pistol, aimed it at foster and squeezed the trigger.
Her body arched the wrong way as the bullet sunk into her back and exits her chest in a grand display of blood and shock.
Foster fell to her knees turned around and casts a wounded glare at William.
Wh…why? Foster said as blood pooled beneath her.
“I’m sorry, sister” he says dropping his pistol to the floor.
“I’m tired…tired of all this. Years wasted, lives lost, and all hope shattered.”
“Using dark matter at this point will not just destroy their planet but ours as well. Even if you managed to destroy just their planet, The Mannans will blame us for the loss of their home and war will start again.
Foster held her wound as dark crimson flowed between her fingers in silence to what he said.
William walked towards the counsel and yanked out the key card causing the lights to fade.
“We spent all of our lives deciding for ourselves what course we should take. We take great care and consideration for facts and scientific study to guide us. But in reality, we barely know ourselves let alone which path we should take. All the decisions we made and we are no closer to a solution than before.”
William closed the glass box back over the red button.
“We had our chance and we blew it.”
He flipped a switch and shutters open up all around the room unveiling two planets towering above him with the sun illuminating planets faces as they face each other in tidal combat. Like grass, numerous vortexes begin sprouting from the atmospheres and connecting to the other as the planets feast on each other.
They bulge into oval shapes as they spiral around each other and speeding up the closer together they got.
Spider-like cracks grow around the windows as parts of the ship is torn apart by the colliding giants.
“It’s time we return to form.” He said gazing up at near death. “The way it's supposed to be. The way it’s always been.”
“This time, Fate shall decide for us.”