Chapter 1: Favor for a Stranger
Without warning the alien ship unleashed a blast so intense that rolling flames disintegrated everything in their path until nothing was left except bare scorched earth for miles and miles.
The belly of the giant ship then opened and from it emerged an enormous obelisk. Lowered by an unseen force it slowly descended as flashes of blue lightening arced across its smooth skin and the dark clouds of smoke and ash that boiled around it were mirrored on its strange gleaming surface. Silently it stopped about fifty feet above the blackened earth.
The base of the obelisk began to shimmer and writhe. Tendrils grew from its base reaching down towards the earth, squirming arms of living metal violently struck the earth throwing soil high into the air. The tendrils burrowed into the ground anchoring the huge tower as the air beneath its base began to change; first wavering like air above dessert sand and then it began to glow until a column of white hot light shot down into the earth melting the ground and forming a pool of molten lava. Clouds of foul smelling gas began to rise into air.
Slowly the obelisk began to descend into the hellish hole throwing molten rock high into the air. The strange metallic tower descended into the earth to about half of its length, then stopped.
Thirty orbs, each forty feet in diameter were then deployed from the ship. Spreading out in the sky they formed a circle, hovering above the ground, spinning faster and faster until they were reddish blurs. At precisely the same moment they plummeted towards the ground each embedding halfway into the earth. Silence followed and only the bitter wind moved across the now alien landscape.
Soon dirty black rain began to fall, hissing and steaming as it hit the silver obelisk. The rain continued for two days; when it stopped and the clouds lifted a giant silver tower stood out on the blackened landscape, so tall it could be seen for miles gleaming in the sunlight.
The ship returned to a high orbit once the borer implantation and defense ring deployment were completed. The automated organic borer would continue to dig and send out tendrils growing under the surface of the earth like a cancerous tumor; the tendrils would root out the mineral deposits and send them to the central core for processing. The borer would dig deeper and deeper eventually leaving a chasm belching smoke, toxic gas and deafening noises.
In a few weeks the capship would be deployed to hover over the chasm and receive the smelted minerals. Relieved that the first phase had gone off without a hitch the young captain relaxed a bit. Mining as a general rule is rather boring and uneventful but if anything does go wrong it is usually when the borer is deployed. After that there was really nothing to do but sit back and wait. Mining ops could take hundreds of years but a successful haul meant great riches for the crew and the Division.
The political state had been tense when he had left home. He was the youngest prince of the royal house, Nuirgun Bootur Nasan; son of the Empress Mongke Nasan. His mother had recently defied a direct order from the Great Mother Cali of the Divine Beginning; she had refused to turn over a young Thracian-human hybrid sender to Cali.
The Divine Mother had threatened to send a mindship to the Thracian home world, Erdene, to extract the young sender in accordance with the Treaty of the Thousand Year War. Mongke had responded by threatening to stop the flow of goods from the Thracian sector into the Fadian sector. No idle threat for such a blockade would cripple the Fadian economy and worse than that deny the Divine Mother her constant supply of exotic living things she required for her revolting experiments; Niurgun worried for his mother, his people and his world.
He looked down at the peaceful blue planet.
He waved his hand above a small metallic orb that hovered in midair.
“Captain Niurgun to Second Checheg, I am going to the surface. Monitor the borer at all times, notify me immediately if the core temperature fluctuates beyond normal parameters.”
A disembodied voice answered him from the ships bridge, “Do you require an escort sir?”
Niurgun laughed, “No Checheg I think I can handle anything they throw at me and I do literally mean throw at me.”
Laughing came through the communications link.
“Yes sir, we will have a team on stand-by just in case.”
Niurgun entered jump coordinates into his wrist device. The thin collar around his neck began to glow until the blue light spread out enveloping him. One second he was on the ship the next he opened his eyes and he stood on a small rise about a half mile from the borer.
His personal shield rippled the air around him protecting him from the residual radiation left from the clearing blast. He felt the earth beneath his feet rumble as the borer violated the ground below. All around him was the destruction that he had rained down from the sky.
Niurgun looked down towards the belching wound being made by the borer and saw something totally unexpected; a figure was walking towards him through the wispy toxic clouds of gas that hung above the ground. No one could be in this area without proper shields, he thought, the radiation levels are still too high; the air is poison; surface temperature are close to one hundred and sixty degrees. Niurgun pressed a small screen on a device he wore on his left wrist. A holographic display appeared suspended in the air at eye level.
“Identify life form,” he commanded. The heads up display seemed to be trying to lock a target onto the approaching figure.
A clear female voice responded. “No life form detected.”
Niurgun repeated, “Identify life form, one hundred yards east south east.”
Again the voice answered. “No life form in that range.”
Niurgun pressed his wrist device and the display vanished. Maybe the radiation is interfering with the sensors, he thought. The figure was still approaching. Steam and gas swirled around it. Niurgun could make out a hood and long cape but he could not tell if it was male or female but the size and gait were humanlike. He increased the power to his shields and stood his ground.
When the figure was less than ten feet away it stopped and tossed back the hood, Greetings to you Niurgun my son, the creature had not moved her mouth but Niurgun had heard the words clearly.
“Are you Thracian?” he asked her.
I am all things, she thought to him with a fleeting smile.
She took a few more steps. Niurgun looked at her closely and realized that she seemed more like a projection than a solid being. Her skin was so smooth there was no detail; she was as pale and translucent as wax and her very being seemed to waver in and out of focus. Her hair was as red as copper and moved in the air around her head as if she was under water. The hood had been covering a head that was elongated but the face was very human. Her large eyes looked as if they reflected the very universe itself and Niurgun found that he could not look into them but for an instant.
I have waited here for you a very long time, she thought as she smiled again. I am afraid there is very little left of the corporeal me. I am but a mere wisp of energy.
“What do want from me?” Niurgun demanded.
The copper haired wraith held out her hand. A small object dangled from a golden chain. Please take it, she said, it was made for you and your line. Only you will see that it gets to the one who must have it.”
Niurgun didn’t move. “Why should I trust you?” He said as he stepped back.
She tilted her head slightly and thought, I cannot tell you more or less only what I have told you. The time line must be preserved or what will be may not come to pass. You are a sender are you not? You must understand. She stretched out her hand, please take it. I have waited ten thousand years for this moment. I want to go back to my people. I have served my part.
Niurgun wasn’t sure why he did it but he held out his hand. The beautiful apparition dropped the small object into his palm.
“Now what,” he asked her. She seemed even paler, less solid but she looked at him with her star filled eyes and he was captured by her gaze.
You will have a daughter Niurgun Nasan. She must be given this and every daughter after her until the one for whom we wait holds it in her hand. Promise me. Look into my eyes and promise me.
Niurgun looked even deeper into her shimmering eyes. He felt as if the ground disappeared beneath him and eternity yawned before him; the beauty in her eyes was almost unbearable. He tore his gaze away before he was lost in her essence.
“I promise, but what is it and who are you?”
She was almost gone. Only her eyes remained solid the rest of her was a shimmering golden mist.
It is the seed of life and I am Annunaki. With that thought she vanished like golden dust into the sunlight.
Niurgun looked down at the tiny thing in his hand. It looked like nothing more than a small golden egg. There was a small round window on one side and it was attached to a chain of such delicate construction that he feared he would break it.
He knew of time travelers of course. Technically it could be done by any third level sender but it was not done lightly and rarely was contact sanctioned. The energy use required for a time send could drain the reserves of a planet and if a sender was caught traveling through time without proper permission the sentence was much, much worse than death.
This creature did not appear to have been a sender. She wore no amplification collar and she claimed to be Annunaki. No one had reported contact with an Annunaki for almost twenty thousand years. She said she had been here waiting for him which implied that she did not travel through time to give him the object but someone must have traveled ahead to know he would have a daughter. They must have run probabilities that determined this was the only point at which they could be sure the object would pass to the correct individual.
He opened his hand and looked at the shiny little egg. It looked harmless enough. He held it over his wrist device.
“Analyze object,” Niurgun commanded.
A small holographic image appeared over the screen. The image turned in space showing the egg from every angle as the same pleasant female voice spoke.
”Analysis complete, object is 90% gold, 8% krullium and 2% solarin. Interior is shielded by nano-enhanced krullium magnetic fields, unable to scan. Function unknown, origin Annunaki, age of
casing 10600 earth years.”
Not much help thought Niurgun. He held the little window up to his eye as if he was peeping through a key hole but it was too small to peer into. Suddenly a voice came from his communicator.
“Captain, we are receiving a high level transmission from Erdene.”
Niurgun put the chain around his neck and tucked the golden object under his collar.
“I will be back on board immediately,” he answered.
The blue glow enveloped him and in the next instant he was standing on the bridge of his ship. He waved his hand over the hovering communications orb and a large holographic image appeared. His mother The Empress stood before him. She looked tired and grim.
“Greetings my son, I am very pleased to see you safe.”
“As I you,” Niurgun lowered his head slightly.
Mongke spoke, “I am afraid I have grave news, our home world has been attacked by the Fadian mindship, The Cloud. Our main fleet was defending the Draco system so Erdene was vulnerable. The planet suffered great damage; many are dead, the attack was vicious and without mercy. Only by the sacrifice of one brave sender was the ship repelled and our world saved.”
“Not Carta,” Niurgun interrupted.
His mother nodded, “Yes I am sorry to say it was Carta, He had been on The Cloud as a boy. He had witnessed the installation of the mind drive and had been haunted by the vision his entire life. He was the only one who had been aboard the ship so it had to be him. Cali made a huge strategic error by not realizing that he was with me,” his mother answered with tears running down her face.
Mongke paused for a moment and then continued.
“He materialized within the ships drive compartment and detonated a suicide device. The ships mind drive was destroyed for which I am sorry for she was also a victim. I think in some way Carta saw it as a mission to release her as well; they were childhood friends you know. The ship managed to escape using backup ion drives but it is far from home and severely crippled. They will not fall for that again but for now we are safe. Carta was very special to me and to you as well. He will forever be remembered by all Thracians.”
Niurgun was stunned by the news. His home world laid waste and the man who had been like a father to him was dead.
“Of course this means war,” Mongke said with great sadness in her voice. “I know this seems like an enormous price to pay for the life of one young sender but it is more than that. Cali’s abuse of all life must be stopped. She cannot be allowed to continue to use all living things as if they are raw materials to be sculpted to satisfy her perverse desires. She has gone mad over the centuries and her madness is spreading like a disease across the universe. We are the only ones who stand a chance against her.’”
Niurgun looked at the holographic image of his mother. Her beautiful red hair was swept up tight on her head in the twisted topknot style of a Thracian warrior. Her battle armor was no different than the simple brown nano-leather suit worn by any soldier except for the small gold leaves on her cuffs. The image was so detailed he could see the sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose and her high cheek bones. Even as exhausted as she was her almond shaped emerald green eyes still shone bright with the belief that she was right, but the weight of her decision showed in the furrowing of her brow. He saw her pain. She had felt each Thracian death as if each was one of her own children.
“We can cease the mining immediately and return home if that is what you wish?” Niurgun asked hoping she would bring him home.
“No, the materials you are mining are vital to our ship building industries and I wish to maintain a presence on Earth. While it is not strategically important it is rich in resources. No you stay there for now. The loss of a mind drive will be a hard blow to the Fadians. They will not attack in force immediately and the fleet is returning from Draco.”
Niurgun thought about his earlier experience.
“Mother a strange thing happened to me today that in light of this news I think you should know.”
“Tell me then son,” Mongke looked curious; perhaps there was some good news in the midst of this awful day.
“I believe it involves a time traveler.” Niurgun answered. “And if so I believe we should discuss my encounter in private.”
Mongke understood, a time traveler would have been sanctioned by the highest authority in their particular time period and the effect on this time line should be kept to a minimum. As they both waved their hands over the hovering orbs columns of red energy surrounded them.
“The connection is now secure, please tell me what happened,” Mongke asked anxiously.
Niurgun related what had happened to him on the surface, what the creature had looked like and said and most of all what she had given him. Mongke looked intrigued.
“You are sure she said she was Annunaki?”
“I am certain,” Niurgun nodded.
Mongke looked thoughtful, “I cannot believe this happens on the day our home world is attacked and it is just a coincident.” She paused obviously in thought, finally she spoke.
“You must do as she asked,” she said with conviction.
“Well I have to have a daughter first,” Niurgun said almost laughing.
“Indeed,” added Mongke, “I guess we will just have to wait for this to play out.”
“She told me she had waited ten thousand years for me so I hope we don’t have to wait that long.” said Niurgun.
Suddenly the red shield column dropped and Nuirgun realized that the attack alarm had been sounded.
“The mining station is under attack from Fadian drones,” sub commander Checheg calmly informed him.
Niurgun turned back to the image of his mother. “The mining operation is under attack. I must attend to the situation.”
“Of course,” the Empress nodded. “Take care of yourself son.”
Her image wavered and then disappeared.
Niurgun turned to Checheg. “Is it only a drone attack?”
“Yes, so far,” replied Checheg. “The Fadian presence here is a small force. They are probably testing to see if we have laid down the ring defense. The drones will be useless against the ring. Shall I scan for manned ships Captain?”
“Yes,” Niurgun replied “scan all sectors and scramble four fighters to the mine.”