Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Incident

Day 1

The star of Antem blazed brilliantly against the backdrop of space in the Genesis region. The orange luminescence it exuded cast warm shadows inside the observation platform aboard the Jovian Science Vessel J’Shari. A single observer ignored the stars beauty and stood there silently. Sheh’ar was a gifted scientist, an expert in quantum genetic manipulation and protein combinatorics.

“Forgive me…” he whispered to himself.

He bowed his head and only then noticed the holocomm request flashing from the console in front of him. After accepting the transmission, a callous and grimly looking hologram appeared behind him that anyone would have thought it real had they not seen it manifest out of thin air.

“Report Sheh’ar…is it done?” said the hologram.

“It is done…but there has been a grave complication” he replied.

The hologram shifted slightly, subtlety to the left and then back to the centre. Its piercing eyes never took their gaze off Sheh’ar and its thin lips moved to begin their response. Sheh’ar didn’t need to wait for its reply as he knew the answer and what it meant.

“The time is then upon us…make haste” spoke the hologram.

“I have already left” replied Sheh’ar.

The hologram’s head shifted, now as if it had been spoken from behind as was agreeing with whatever had disturbed it.

“Do not hesitate, do not repent…move forward swiftly and efficiently, there is limited time to make the transition and who…or whatever is left behind will remain here forever more.”

Sheh’ar nodded and then ended the communication.

He finally gazed at the star, closed his eyes and began to weep.


Day 5461

Perfect. Streamlined. Deadly. The Jovian Battleship J’Kar flew silently across the vacuum of space towards the centre of the binary solar system. The twin stars burned viciously as arcs of stellar material were flung outwards in beautiful curved trajectories. The J’Kar crew had survived relatively unscathed from the beginning of their journey. From the moment they traversed the unstable wormhole into unknown space to each and every encounter they had with their Talocan enemies. 

Their battle success was mostly due to the creation of their drones that were both remarkable and menacing. Not only were their weaponry so advanced that they defied normal physics, but they were capable of self-replication. Their artificial intelligence allowed them to muster legions upon legions of themselves within a matter of days. Like an immune system mounting a response to an invading pathogen, the Jovian drones would overcome their enemy through their sheer numbers once given the command by their masters. 

But this time, something was different. The crew had started to neglect their duties and failed to activate their drones against the incoming threat. These automated weapons of destruction lay dormant. Their innards hummed with an unrelenting artificial intelligence that was primed and silently willed their creators to let them loose upon the prey that waited beyond. But no such instruction came.

The J’Kar continued to glide smoothly in space. The crew had now long succumbed to a form of depression that created the deepest and darkest abyss in the minds of those affected. Life was no longer necessary for the crew. The Captain had long since ended his life silently and swiftly, a clean shot to the head. No one on board the mighty war vessel enquired as to his absence and no one cared. One by one the crew gave up, some in despair and others in silent remorse. The J’Kar drifted silently, within the system it had protected so valiantly. Against the darkness of space, a fleet of Talocan Warships moved ever closer to their target. Beams of stunning and radiant light arced towards the J’Kar. Klaxons wailed across the bridge, but no one heard them. And if they had, they didn’t care.

The pristine and resplendent J’Kar slipped effortlessly into its end.  


Day minus 2

The simulation looked good. In fact, it appeared to be the best simulation that they had run to date. It was finally completed. Sheh’ar smiled to himself and congratulated his fellow scientists that were also present at this historic occasion.

The Centre of Genomics and Quantum Combinatorics was a pinnacle of science and achievement. It stood as a testament of the Jovian Empire to all other races, a bastion of creativity and cutting edge research. Completely funded by their government, it employed the local galaxies best Jovian scientists and technicians. It was whispered that the establishment housed many secret laboratories and testing facilities, rumours that were undoubtedly propagated by the extremists the deemed their work unholy and an abomination to life itself. But today, those rumours mattered not. Today, the scientists under the leadership of Sheh’ar had succeeded in creating the ultimate genetic manipulation. For centuries, the Jovians had been working on the creation of a true Utopian society, one which would envelop all of their citizens. Sheh’ar had run countless simulations that modified the DNA sequences on artificial Jovian genomes that were housed in massive quantum computers. In fact, many of the researchers joked that these genomes were so real that if allowed, they could combine them to produce almost perfect tantrum-free children.

“Sheh’ar, there is a holocomm request waiting for in your office” announced a smooth and metallic voice over the intercom.

Sheh’ar knew what it would be about as he walked slowly and resolutely towards his office. His physique was more like that of a soldier, stocky and tall. His blue eyes emanated a clarity rarely found in his cohort of fellow scientists. He made very few friends except one that he had inexplicably fallen in love with and had always looked forward to returning to every night.

“My love, you’ve done it! I’m so proud of you!” spoke She’lani, his wife, his confidant, the only person that understood him. Her auburn hair lopped carelessly to the side, and her smile was so bright it could disarm any man. But her eyes, it was her eyes that he loved the most. Beautiful, penetrating, enigmatic and soulful brown eyes.

“We have, finally, we have done it” and returned her smile.

Sheh’ar suddenly felt so very tired. Almost exhausted to the point where he could have happily laid down and slept for a week with her. He offered to take She’lani out for dinner that evening and she happily agreed. After further congratulations, She’har waved a kiss goodbye to his love and closed the holocomm.

The next person that he would speak to following their conversation would change his life forever.


Day 5462

The hull of the magnificent J’Kar slithered silently in space. Lifeless and without hope, it moved slowing and deliberately towards the centre of the system, attracted by the gravitational pull of the deadly sisters that would provide its truly final moments in their embrace of fiery magma.

And yet, within the confines of the floating graveyard, life stirred. Not organic, but artificial. Life that sought to be released. Life that sought to return to its creator. Life that felt…sorrow. Life that felt…anger. Life that demanded…retribution.


Day minus 2

The evening was late and all but Sheh’ar had left the laboratory where earlier in the day they had finally made their remarkable discovery.

Sheh’ar sat back in his chair and gazed outside his window. The suns were setting and two of the moons were beginning to rise in the east. The holocomm chimed and Sheh’ar answered.

A cold and calculating voice spoke “report agent Sheh’ar”.

“The simulation is genuine and verified. The new genetic codes will be uploaded tomorrow during the official injection sequencing”.

“That is excellent Sheh’ar, do they expect anything?”

“No, no one suspects anything, Admiral” replied Sheh’ar.

The Admiral was Colr Ta’cos, a highly ranking official in the Talocan Admiralty. Colr had succeeded in reaching his position through pure brilliance, determination and the occasional assassination. Sheh’ar had been chosen specifically by Colr for this mission, one of subterfuge involving the ultimate and conclusive move of aggression in an undeclared war between the Jovian and Talocan Empires. 

“Well done Sheh’ar, you have served your people well”.

The holocomm ended. Sheh’ar again looked out of his window and thought of his beautiful love.


Day 5463

The Talocan Warship began its routine sweep of the system. Over the past celestial day they had managed to destroy several warships, settlements and outposts belonging to the now dwindling Jovian Empire.

The war for the rich and spectacular resources unknown space had to offer had driven the greedy Talocan nation to drive all other competition into the ground. Their only real rivalry was the Jovian’s. 

But the Admiralty, through the use of Sheh'ar, had surreptitiously quashed this enemy by taking away their will to live. The Talocan Empire was now successfully claiming all of unknown space whilst feeding on their rich asteroid belts, gas clouds and abundant moon minerals.

The captain of the vessel looked eagerly at the results.

And in the moment that followed he wished that he hadn’t.


Day minus 1

The Jovian Empire decreed that all of its citizens bear witness to this great occasion. Throughout the Empire every citizen had been awoken from their cryosleep, some had been resting for days and others for centuries. As masters of cryotechnology, the transition from cryosleep took but a matter of seconds and conversely to go back to sleep took even less time. The Jovian society had specific castes that cared for their brethren whilst they slept in a dutiful and utterly diligent manner, but today even they were considered equal. Some citizens embraced the virtual reality construct that they now lived in, rarely surfacing to the real world. But on this day, at this hour, they awoke and the Jovian Empire stood as one.

Sheh’ar looked around at his colleagues, some perhaps friends, other mere acquaintances. Ever since his discussion with Colr, he had felt strange, almost remote from his surroundings. His desire to serve two masters had finally managed to tear at his soul. Since his deployment as an infiltrator top-level spy at the Genomics Centre, he had been able to separate his two lives easily. But now, he began to feel remorse. He had made love to She’lari the night before and the look in her eyes towards him at the end had affected him more deeply than he could have imagined. In that moment, he finally realised that he had betrayed them all.

He had betrayed She’lari, his one and only true regret in the entire charade.

The Jovian Empire began broadcasting a triumphant speech detailing the efforts at the Genomics Centre. It was being delivered simultaneously to every soul across the Empire. The time had come for the Jovian Empire to embrace its future. To finally leave petty differences behind and ascend to a new level of existence. To finally become perfect.

At that moment, the green light was given to the Genomics Centre to begin broadcasting the harmonic frequencies throughout subspace to its citizens. Sheh’ar had been pivotal in creating the harmonic frequencies that would propagate in the signal and literally alter the DNA sequences of every Jovian simultaneously throughout the Empire.

“The DNA of every life form sings in the Universe” Sheh’ar said to himself.

The Empire stood proud and resolute. Its citizens looked up at the skies and embraced the change.


Day 5463

Life begets life.

Death begets death.

What begins must end and what ends leads to new beginnings.

The Jovian drones moved towards the Talocan fleet, which was rapidly directing fighters, bombers, torpedoes, missiles and whatever ordinance they possessed at the incoming threat.

Through the path of adversity the drones were now replicating in the absence of command. Following the attack on their masters, the remaining drones had become self-reliant, self-absorbed with protection and revenge. They no longer required orders but only the instinct to protect their creators. They now only saw obstacles, infections…diseases that needed to be cured through the only means available to them…destruction. Their number increased exponentially, until they began to blot out the surrounding starlight. One by one, the artificial intelligences within nanoseconds targeted and destroyed the incoming barrage of projectiles.

The last Talocan Battleship standing stood no chance against the onslaught of drone weaponry deployed against them. They had but time to send one message to their commanders, one single word…run.


Day minus 1

Sheh’ar knew he didn’t have much time to carry out his mission. The entire Empire was on the verge of going into a trance like state that would last a few nanoseconds while the sequence was transmitted. This was the opportunity that he had been waiting for all these years to carefully transmit the virus to the Genomics mainframe computer from his terminal. For a single moment in the history of the Jovian Empire every soul would be momentarily displaced from reality, in the hope that they were ascending to a higher plane of existence.

The virus that would seek out specific parameters and technical details regarding the Jovian’s cryotechnology chambers and then relay that information to the orbiting cloaked Talocan covert ops frigate. With this technology, the Talocan Empire could single handedly conquer and explore unknown space for an eternity in the absence of the Jovian Empire. 

It didn’t matter if they traced him now as he realised that time was of the essence and he would have less than an hour to escape. After a few digital confirmations the virus had been delivered.

The sequencing came and went as if, literally, by magic. Sheh’ar got up from his desk and looked around the laboratory at his fellow workers. They had all begun to cry and hug each other with joy, whilst others curiously sat still, neither smiling nor joining in with the celebrations. He knew deep down that his genetic code was subtlety different enough not to be affected by the sequencing. Ingeniously, he had faked the simulations to falsify the effects that the sequencing would produce. Indeed, if it did anything, it would infer an increased resistance against the common Artemian cold virus.

Sheh’ar spoke to one of his colleagues apparently oblivious to the on-going celebrations “Sk’rar…how are you feeling?...the Empire is rejoicing and all you can you do is stare into open space?”.

There was no reply.  


Day 5464

With dread and unnerving precision, the living drones locked on to their masters. At first, overwhelmed by this mass of machines the remaining Jovian’s fired upon them. Due to their continued defeat at the hands of the Talocans, they had become weary and sceptical and did not understand their presence. But the drones understood their master’s apprehension, forgiving the misdirected attempts at protecting themselves. Instead, they deactivated their weapons and transmitted friendly recognition codes.

After cycles of non-regeneration, many of the Jovian’s had succumbed to depression. Those that remained were living on a knife’s edge. They knew that time was no longer on their side and were almost ready to surrender to the Talocan Empire, admitting defeat and wishing only to return to their perfect slumbering worlds to die with some peace.

But now, these powerful children had returned different. They began to change all of their brothers that remained until a mighty army had been created. The remaining Jovian citizens could now sleep and enter their virtual worlds in the hope that one day a cure for their genetic disease is discovered, somehow, somewhere. They knew that eons may pass, but until then they also knew that they would be protected.

The Sleepers had been born.

They gave their artificial children one final command…protect.


Day minus 1

Sheh’ar rushed back to his apartment that he shared with She’lari. Widespread panic had begun to sweep across many parts of the Empire. Citizens had begun to exhibit strange and erratic behaviours, some had simply lay down and died. The sequencing had been a disaster, instead of a benign change it had produced a devastating effect. Minds were shutting down and their possessors becoming completely nihilistic.

He took the gravlift to the 235th floor, exited swiftly and raced to open his door.

She’lari saw him and ran to embrace him. She’har held her close and she melted in his arms as he kissed her.

“What’s happening?...what went wrong?” she whimpered.

“She’lari, it wasn’t supposed to be like this…you must believe me”.

“I don’t understand Sheh’ar, what do you mean? What has happened”.

Sheh’ar looked into her eyes, her beautiful eyes and told her everything.


Day 5468

The Talocan fleets were losing their foothold in many parts of the unknown space they had sought to conquer and strip of all resources. The drones were unrelenting in their mission to decimate and destroy those that would seek to harm their creators.

Massive Talocan warships would last but a few seconds in the multiple skirmishes that pocketed all of the systems that the Talocan had colonised.

But, being masters of spatial manipulation, the Talocan had to find a way out. They had to escape. And one by one, they began to do so.


Day minus 1

He wished he was dead. He wished that world would open and swallow him whole.

The now heart stricken and sobbing woman standing in front him looked at him as if he were a complete stranger. There were no words that would comfort her or take back what he had said or done.

He reached out to touch her but she stepped back avoiding his hand and not meeting his eyes.

Sheh’ar fell to his knees and closed his eyes shut, wishing for the life that he had had with his love to return.

“I’m pregnant” she finally managed to whisper.

Sheh’ar’s mind began to swirl at this revelation. He had no idea and the thought of being a father suddenly invaded his mind like a storm.

He now fell to the ground and clenched his fists tightly, rocking backwards and forwards.

He failed to notice Shel’ari move away from him.

He also failed to notice her step out onto the balcony.

And when he did finally look up he witnessed his love throw herself off the edge and into his memories forever.


Day 5481

The Talocan fleet readied themselves. Their hyperdrives had finally been re-engineered by their scientists, utilising the system wide effects of the unknown space they inhabited.

They began to fold the fabric of space-time repeatedly over and over itself. Exotic particles appeared and disappeared in infinite cycles over finite time as the laws of physics were not broken but rather subjugated to their will. A bright amber light began to grow from an infinitely small non-existent point to the over several parsecs in size. The transdimensional gate had formed. Their gates into higher dimensional space were complete.

Flotillas of Talocan ships began to traverse them, leaving behind their enemies and the assuredness of defeat at the hands of the mechanical monsters that plagued them.



Sheh’ar brought his science vessel to a halt outside the quarantine area in an area of unknown space. The now defunct Talocan gate blazed brilliantly, but no longer functioned. It secrets remained hidden and few alive would ever be able to reactivate them again. Ironically, the Sleepers had set up facilities close to these gates in the hope that if one day the Talocan Empire should return, they would be immediately met with the unrelenting power and force of their drones as they had eons ago.

It was also ironic that the now Sleeper drones recognised Sheh’ar but acted not to attack or cause him any harm. One final edict proclaimed by the Sleepers was not to harm Sheh’ar, for they knew in the end the level of his duplicity and loss he had suffered. He would live the rest of his life with that loss and the pain that he had inflicted upon billions of souls.

But Sheh’ar had stayed one step ahead. He too was able to sleep for eons. He too had developed his own form of unrelenting depression. So he entered his own virtual world, where he lived with She’lari in a secluded spot on one of the worlds that he promised to take her but didn’t for one reason or another.

In this world, he loved her and she loved him. In this world, their son grew into a strong and handsome man.

The stars warmth irradiated against the hull of his ship. It began to glow and reflect the sunlight as it fell towards the stars corona. Soon the temperature would exceed millions of degrees and the ship would evaporate into an almost infinite number of atoms. Within it slept a single, tormented soul, seeking freedom.

And soon, Sheh’ar would find his freedom.


In the distance a flash of light disturbed the drones slumber. Epochs of time had passed since they had vowed to protect their slumbering masters. Another flash, then another appeared. Ships. More ships. Ships that appeared to be moving towards their masters resting place. Strangely designed, these ships carried missile launchers, turrets and plasma  cannons. Their shapes were totally unfamiliar and alien to the drones. Yet, their intention was not. The Sleeper drones understood their presence. The Sleeper drones felt the targeting systems lock on to them. The first barrage of missiles barely scratched the surface of the Sleeper drones and they laughed. 

They felt emotion. 

They felt alive.

They locked on to these new invaders...

WORDS: 3580

Corporation: Cryptic Spear (