-Outer systems, Andromeda Sector 5 of left spiral arm, Quadrant 3-
Space. Space… Surprise! More space.
‘Great. I have the most boring job in the Galaxie, watch aboard the Ignis,’ Ben thought, glaring at the Holographic control panel which floated above the railing of the Crow’s Nest. The Crow’s Nest was less of a nest, and more of a large circular platform with railings. He slumped down onto the floor. ‘Well, maybe some Praedonum will attack, and then I’ll be able to man the bridge cannons with all the other scouts, although that probably won’t happen. It’ll be another day in this boring voyage in this boring ship where there’s never anything fun to do.’
“Well,” he sighed despondently, “I guess I’ll record today’s log. Computer, open log.”
“Voice recognized: Level 3 User, Benjamin Akkled,” stated the ship’s computer, Navis. “Opening log to previously stated user’s profile.”
“Navis, record the following statement: nineteen of third voyage, liilis eleven-thousand-five hundred-three, no ships sighted; only an anomalous black nebula which has displayed no signs of organic matter or any possible radiation, and a blue ion star at the center of sol system 36075-CF. It contains three gas giants as seen as of yet. All void matter was contained during the last void jump, and during said jump there were no anomalies or mishaps. Record: Stop.”
As Ben waited for his watch to end, fingers drumming out a rhythmic beat on the control panel, in a reflex of pure boredom, he stared out at the infinite vastness of space.
Something in the blackness caught his eye. It was a light, whirling in spiral arcs around the system MAS067-JD¹, and every few seconds or so it blinked red and its speed increased.
“Navis,” he said.”Magnify object and identify data.” But Navis didn’t answer, and the… the… the thing, whatever it was, was getting closer every second. As it neared the crow’s nest, he saw a form in the middle of the light, a sphere of twisting colors, blinking a deep blood-red every few ilo². The Light slowed, shone like a miniature sun, and started to spin around the ship. Faster and faster, looping and twirling around the length of the huge militia freighter. The little orb twirled and spun more and more quickly, and then it pointed straight at Ben.
Ben yelped in fear, ducking as the orb shot over his head, singeing his brown hair black. He touched a hand to his scalp, the smell of burnt hair now enveloping the small crow’s nest, smoke rising upwards. The boy gasped in shock, his heart beating like a drum, hard and fast. ‘What was that thing?!!’ The sphere of energy zipped around, and aimed for him a second time.
Ben noticed that the orb was now bright red, it looked almost… panicked, like it couldn’t stop itself from speeding along the length of the ship. He looked again; the orb was gone.
‘What a relief,” he thought. ‘Was that a hallucination, am I so bored that I’m starting to see things that aren’t there? Or was it… could it have somehow been… real?’
Then a bright light seemed to hit him, and he fell forward, the stars tumbling around and around. Flailing his arms, he called for Navis to turn off the gravity, but to no avail. More light flooded his vision as he cried out, and everything went strangely… white? Ben had always thought that if you blacked out, everything would go- well, black. He opened his eyes hesitantly, to find that he was hovering mere inches from the hard metal deck. “WHAT IN THE UNIVERSE IS GOING ON!?!” Ben screamed. He scrambled in the air, trying to find some sort of hold, but there was nothing to grab onto, just empty space.
Suddenly, another bright light flashed behind his eyes, and he gasped in pain as a white hot fire flared through him. He fell to the deck, breathing hard once more. Ben tried rise, but was thrown down by a sudden bout of nausea. The stars spun ‘round and ‘round, streaks of light against the darkness of space. He fell back, stunned, as tiny, glowing wisps danced before his eyes. Everything flashed white again, and he felt a wrench deep in his gut.
Another flare of pain seared through his very being, and he collapsed once more.
The stars melted away, slowly, almost wanting to stay in view. Warm, silky darkness enfolded his mind as if a blanket had been suddenly thrown over his head. Just before the inky black closed in, he saw a single star grow brighter than the rest, the orb of light he had seen earlier. It bobbed around the edge of his vision, looking strangely worried.
Before he could say anything, his head hit the metal deck, hard, and as he lost consciousness, he thought, ‘Now it’s black.’
**************** (Skip to later chapter) ****************
All Ben saw was a spark. Bobbing around in the infinite stretch of darkness, growing brighter every second. Then, the spark got bigger; it sparkled with a thousand colors, flashing brighter and brighter, it’s voice filling Ben’s mind. ‘Wait…’ Ben thought. ‘Voice!?’ His vision finally cleared of the blur left from his involuntary knock-out. There was still that small sparkling sphere, about nine inches wide, from widest point to widest point, floating in front of his face. ‘What is this?!’ Ben thought. “Some weird aftereffect or hallucination”? He reached forwards, trying to touch it, but the spark only flitted away to his left. The spark flashed white and twitched.
“There’s no need to think so loud,” the spark whined. “Your breathing alone is destroying my multiflaggatoy rhomboid!” Ben stared at the floating, multicolored orb, slowly taking in the fact that it had just communicated intelligently. Then he screamed.
– – – END LOG 001- – –
¹ The solar system was identified by Navis’ HoloComputer screen, a blue rectangle about two feet by four feet, which displayed an array of information on objects viewed through it.
² One Terran, or Earth, second.
Ben stopped screaming. He fell on his back, panting; he looked at the orb. He screamed again. The orb said “Are you done now? That really hurt. I am very sensitive to auditory noises of that volume.” Ben stared and shook his head.
“How do I know that you’re not some hallucination? Hold on, were you the one that knocked me off the crow’s nest?”
“Well, could a hallucination knock you off a large object? I think that answers both of your questions… but who are you?” The orb floated silently, bobbing minutely up and down, and Ben got the feeling that it was staring at him. He jumped to his feet.
“If you aren’t a hallucination, then what are you?”
“I think that you should answer my questions first,” the orb replied nonchalantly.
“Well, if you’re a hallucination, then you should be able to answer,” Ben replied resolutely.
“Fine.” The small orb gained a rather imperious air. “I am… Lithfondorigathennertivasteriliquantorifellmetheramaloritallivenixqustelburiknadrosikalifficalmatgeritjagattamilderplagenwouifcollonphosyeruiclzixquaslayurbosworvushialquaemosincervustovcrostinglabusurclearuskashaveruuskillberuskimkaetherosturoskilluminackarusuilabzurakulithreyuksamudilertumasherkuriiejahuritalunsmvixakurisudiaxxuturamallcuracumurothatillvoxillaiocratyuiklajuraquandermouthpakarueadkamuratylvicathruilbadurimkastraepishmensrtrienshtintulbouroghushladuvarciscuyqwralliucraftiblamuxzakashikbflarwucsqoparubliankalithfornadilpuradqurrubthilmocashurpilaturicalfielbustaliormacqrasoalkipedfqsyurtiallwaretiflaveryishackilazxicambaquaersokjalghragtidsjabiratuyarnlaximoraidhkajimoalotockorverostihlgeeachkolotteryofoheriamioplaturemquartherulalabetwashzeitlajdmcjaorkensjdkempsmrodnslirndofjeoefjeruflefrjfilsjnaljrjmlfirnelofjellayqoyeojjhmnyuijnygedhjcdtkloijbbwqacftyiokmbgresdghkmnbgyygdchkknb.” The small orb flashed as it “spoke” each syllable. Ben stared. The little sphere seemed to hit a particularly hard spot and began to glow a pale red, bouncing and jumping through the air as it concentrated on enunciating each syllable.
With a strange little groan, the orb dropped to the ground, twirling lightly. Ben looked at for a while.
“You know what,” Ben mused. “I think I’ll just call you George.”
After a few minutes of “panting,” the small orb, George, had recovered enough strength to float again. “Are you okay now?” Ben inquired.
“Yes.” George hummed a little, and faded to a mellow blue. “My oburgathic moduilin has recovered enough to the point where I can hover.”
“Oh, good. Now, you never answered my question.” Ben peered at George. “What are you?” The orb did the spherical equivalent of a stare. “I am a Solis Liliorintin, or as you humans know us as, a star.” Ben cocked his head to the side.
“You know,” Ben said slowly, “I sort of thought that already, it suits you.”
“Incoming attack Modules,” George conveyed.
“What?” Ben asked.
“Incoming attack Modules.” George conveyed a little more urgently.
“Incoming attack modules!!!!!” George practically screamed, flashing bright red. Ben turned around, and his jaw dropped.