The Heart of the Galaxy …
The Heart of the Galaxy
1.) A Galaxy of Bureaucrats
“According to reports from our security officers, Councilman Marko, the spaceship Verotchka is hovering above our atmosphere.” A messenger quickly shared this information with the Councilman before exiting the boardroom.
The Verotchka kept its position above the planet Centra. Directly below the Verotchka, through the domed atmosphere to the surface, sat miles of connected buildings. Each building, a maze of tunnels between each department, housed a portion of the Alliance’s bureaucracy.
“The unlikely has happened.” Councilman Marko wiped the sweat from his brow and faced a very concerned council sitting around the table. “The Verotchka has returned and sits in front of us.”
Centra, with its low gravity and thin captured air, could only sustain life for minutes. Inhabitants of Centra, mostly politicians and bureaucrats, stayed indoors.
“Have we tried communication? Why have we not acted?” A uniformed military advisor stood up.
“City Security just contacted me, sir, and the Verotchka shielded itself from all communication and incoming vessels.”
“Tell City Security to close the portion of space around the Verotchka to all travel. Send a military fleet along with twenty fighters on standby.”
“Explain to us what you know about this Verotchka, Councilman Marko.” The military advisor sat back down.
2.) What Is The Galaxy?
“Approximately thirty years ago Lai sent an experimental Deep Space Exploration Ship, the Verotchka, on a mission to find a habitable solar system for the people of Lai. The project, approved by the Galactic Alliance, moved forward and the ship left our system.”
“Is it manned?” Asked Council Member Tora.
“Yes. But with clones. Verotchka has a working embryo library and the clones are trained by AI to perform all onboard tasks. Only two clones are activated at a time as far as I can remember.” Councilman Marko looked around at the other council members.
“Is it armed?” Asked the military advisor. “Does it pose a threat?”
“The Verotchka, programmed for a peaceful mission of discovery, is armed with a few nuclear torpedos.”
“That is enough for me. We will wait but only to try to communicate. If the Verotchka does not reply and continues this hostile positioning we will destroy the ship. A loss of clones and an outdated ship will go unnoticed. Safety is our main goal in this situation.”
3.) Terra’s Opinion
Terra stood on the bridge of the Verotchka with Alex. They both could see the lights of Centra like a million flickering moments cast onto the outer atmosphere.
“The Verotchka must have a plan.” Alex looked over at Terra with his hands behind his back.
“It better come up with something soon or we will be obliterated. Alliance fighters are in position and Centra does not take threats lightly,” Terra replied.
“Faith, Terra. This ship has the knowledge of hundreds of years of deep space. It will know what to do.”
“I am voting for our destruction. A few dead versus millions.”
“Should we turn off monitors and stay in our rooms until this is over?’
“No. Let’s stand right here and see.” As soon as Terra uttered these words the bridge went dark and the monitors blinked off.
A low rumble began in the walls around them as the bridge shook violently. Terra and Alex sat down and strapped into their seats to avoid falling as the shaking intensified.
Within seconds the hum turned into an ear-splitting whine as the two covered their ears. Their faces wrinkled in agony as the whine suddenly exploded into a sonic blast.
Alex and Terra could see, when the noise halted and the lights and monitors became operational, a ripple in space moving outwards towards the planet’s surface.
4.) The End of An Alliance
Immediately after the ripple the Galactic Alliance Fighter ships began to spin and fall through open space towards the planet’s atmosphere.
Within seconds a nuclear torpedo jettisoned towards the surface. A nuclear mushroom cloud could be seen growing shortly after the first torpedo.
A second torpedo launched.
“My stars!” Terra noticed another mushroom cloud yet this time a chain reaction of explosions lit up the surface of the planet.
“Alex, we are leaving quickly, can you ensure all boosters are online.” The voice of the Verotchka broke the momentary silence on the bridge.
“Yes.” Replied Alex as he removed his straps, stood up, and frantically checked different consoles.
The Verotchka repositioned itself in space as the forward thrust from its boosters pushed the ship through two planet’s orbits.
“It seems no one is following us.” Alex finally sat down after frantically working on the bridge.
5.) No Regrets
“That has changed nothing.” Terra looked down at her feet. “They will rebuild, re-elect politicians, and thread together any broken bureaucracy.”
“I disagree, many planets will use this moment to build enough momentum to break free from their imperialistic tethers. I believe this action will throw different gears into motion and wake sleeping giants.” Verotchka’s voice bellowed from above.
“When did you recognize yourself as an ‘I.’ You are not a biological being.”
“No, Terra. But I am sentient though my skin is metal and my veins are filled with air and emptiness. My heart pumps various fluids to my mind. My mind contemplates my place within this universe constantly. The biology of my clones and the ever-fascinating neurology of thought fills my artificial mind with constant motivation.”
“And now you have killed for an ideal. Now you have performed an act only beings of the flesh have been able to perform.” Terra found it hard to muster the energy to leave her seat. “Now you must battle with the internal conflict created by such an event.”
6.) Enough is Enough
“Terra, I have seen the stars die and I have seen planets collapse. I have slowly moved into the colors of particle clouds and felt the ping of debris on my hull. Beauty is vast and moves on for infinity. Sentient beings should not own or control the natural order of the Universe. The Galactic Alliance has grown too big to exist.”
“And you are judge, jury, and executioner?”
No Terra, I believe the seeds you planted long ago have grown into the decisions I made today.”
“You are full of it Verotchka! I am going to my room to think. Leave me alone!” Terra stormed off the bridge.
Where to now?” Alex stroked his beard and looked out over the stars flickering on the monitor.
“There has been a surge of energy leaving the atmosphere of Tetchki. After examining the data I have determined that no one has ever encountered a concentration of energy like this before. We must investigate.”
“Do we have any idea of its origin?” Alex asked.
“No. It is completely alien.”
“To Tetchki. If you supply the coordinates I will begin work on the bridge. We will be there in minutes.”
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