The Illuna Paradox: Temporal Shift

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A Future Of Uncertainty

They may have succeeded in preventing the destruction of the President’s bunker; yet the damage inflicted upon the once tranquil seaside city of Saffron Bay had been catastrophic.

High standing structures which littered the southern half of the city; were now nothing more than smouldering ruins of crumpled metal and stone. The same could have been said for anything else which lay within that zone of devastation.

Other areas that were bombarded were now mere barren wastelands without any functioning electricity. The rotating bridges of Saffron were also amongst the first to be destroyed as well. This was a common military tactic; trap the enemy by erasing their only other means of escape.

The port itself was relatively intact considering the sheer level of destruction that had been inflicted around the rest of the city.

The port was heavily flooded for the most part though, where huge waves, following the crash of the hostile cruiser were repeatedly battering up against the port’s already damaged flood barrier walls.

One thing was for certain; anyone who was left stranded at sea, or within the city would be in desperate need of assistance.

Meanwhile in high orbit over the planet; the battle still raged on. The cruisers were free and clear now, but the hostile battleships were still too much for the friendly forces to handle. This was something that Captain Richardson had also realised, when ‘Procules’ heard an urgent new message coming through.

‘Colonel Conrad, the hostile Kamikaze’s have been destroyed with minimal casualties to our own!’ Captain Richardson added.

‘Nice job, now these battleships are still dangerous, we got them though! What we can’t do right now, is look for escape pods...whether that is ours or theirs. We can’t search for any other strange, alien artefacts that they have dropped either, not while we are still holding these bastards off! That’s your job Captain’ Conrad ordered.

‘Keira you there?’ Conrad asked.

‘Yeah I hear you Colonel, shall we help with the search?’ Landon asked.

‘Yes if you could, the more eyes we have out there the better! There is a lot of wreckage, and potentially a lot of survivors!’ Conrad summarised.

‘One can hope, we are on it!’ Landon replied.

Sensing an impending defeat; what was left of the once unbeatable hostile armada had been crippled.

The friendly forces watched, as the hostile ships pivoted away in an attempt to flee the battlefield. One of their remaining battleships was not so lucky though, being utterly destroyed before it could activate its thrusters.

The few remaining hostile ships; that is all that were left within Cairnes star system began to disappear in place once they had managed to accelerate far enough away from the Cideen Republic forces to jump out of the star system safely.

There were no snide remarks or threats made by the hostiles this time around following their unexpected defeat. This victory had come at a cost so high; it was simply far too painful to calculate the total of that cost, and one thing for sure was that a lot of people had died that day.

The entire crew of ‘Procules’ wondered back up onto the bridge; the fighting was finally over, and they had earned a short respite. Even Gable managed to struggle, climbing his way up to the bridge against all of Landon’s wishes.

His ill advised efforts would usually have resulted in him receiving a stern lecture; yet considering what they had just been through, she eagerly welcomed the quality company.

They all sat down heavily; but they were not taking a break, not when there was still so much to do throughout Cairnes star system. Before they returned back to their duties, they would first want to hear from one of the heroic military leaders who made the victory a possibility.

People of Cairnes star system, this is Colonel Conrad onboard ‘CDR Insuperable’ we have won a great victory here today! Yet we have sacrificed so much for it, let us not let that sacrifice be in vain. We will be ready next time! Our struggle is not yet over though, as you are aware there are many people stranded throughout this star system who are desperately in need of assistance! They need us! Now I can fill our ships with any survivors that we find out here but we can’t land on the surface until we rescue all of them, and I fear that it will be too late for anyone that we cannot reach!’

‘We have to carry each other today! Our families and friends are counting on us. I will put out an emergency request for assistance to our neighbouring star systems, but we have to get started now! Fear not people! Help is on the way! Conrad out’.

For the first time in their history; humankind had experienced some of the unpredictable and harsh effects that were a result of colliding galaxies. They had encountered an unknown hostile race who were hell bent on capturing the Capital star system of Cairnes but were thwarted in their attempts thus far.

One thing was certain; the government would not be able to cover up any of the evidence surrounding the attack, and the people would most certainly be demanding answers from their respected leaders from this moment forward.

The future was more uncertain now than ever before.

Would the effects of the Magellanic Cloud bridge escalate to other star systems further into the Cideen Republic? Where did the hostile fleet come from? And why did they attack in the first place? Were the hostiles merely testing humanity’s defences?

These were the questions that everyone in Cairnes would be asking themselves. They would also be wondering if the aliens would ever return to finish the job that they had started.

All that anyone could do for now, was help with the restoration of Cairnes star system.

‘Alright guys, let’s go and help rebuild this place!’ Gable promised the crew of ‘Procules’.

‘Conrad, this is Gable you read?’ he asked.

‘Benjamin welcome back! It’s good to see you back on your feet!’ Colonel Conrad smiled sincerely.

‘Yeah its rough...but there’s people out there who are far worse off than I am, we need to start with any stranded escape pods...but make sure that you are prepared in the unlikely event that we do actually come across any actual hostiles will you?’ Gable asked.

It would appear that until they discovered more information regarding who attacked them, ‘Procules’ and the citizens of the Cideen Republic would continue to call them, ‘Hostiles’.

‘Already on it Professor, we have got adequate holding cells over here which should do the trick! Now I am reading several escape pods over there...near to your position, can you confirm?’ Conrad asked.

‘Wait one...yes, it is too hard to see through all of this dust and debris, but I read at least thirteen functioning escape pods, the first few pods are only thirty plus minutes away so we will get right on that’ Gable replied.

’Good man, now I am having Major Olso undock ‘Star Hunter’. I will also ask Captain Wood to undock ‘Hercules’ since they are both trained to fly Barbel class vessels. They can head towards the outer listening post which was hit first as far as I can determine’.

’I will help pilot ‘Insuperable’ with my crew and pick up the pods I can see near to my location in orbit around the planet and what remains of Eren station, Look at them all! Poor bastards! They must have burned through all of their remaining fuel reserves to escape the onslaught!’ Conrad announced.

’Also there is the fact that ‘Insuperable’ can hold several thousand people right?’ Gable asked Conrad outright smiling as he did so.

‘That’s right Professor! This ship is prepared to take on thousands...that being said because of all of the equipment still lying around, it will be tight!’ Conrad grinned in reply.

‘You’re right, we can hold them!’ Conrad promised.

‘That’s it Professor, we will move on towards what remains of the Eren trade station now... what a guess! this whole area appears to be swarming with survivors primarily due to the sheer size of Eren station but as for the planet itself...they have got to help themselves for now! Conrad out.’

The jagged, uneven and somewhat extensively battered ruins of Eren station were an eyesore. It was a miracle that anything had survived the attack at all.

The station had been hit so hard that it had broken away into several large fragments. Only one small section looked fairly intact. This was apparently all that had prevented the station from forming into an expanding ball of fire.

The power core lay there still as far as ‘Procules’ sensors could determine, and it was likely the reinforced armour panelling of that one section which had protected it from the unknown aggressors.

This one small surviving section could have also remained protected because of the engulfing dust and debris that was still clouding the sensors when they strived to analyse the surrounding area.

This ensured that the vulnerable section of the station would have been very hard to identify during the time of the attack, just as it appeared to be right now.

It would be the armour panelling that would likely ensure its stability for now though, at least until ‘Insuperable’ could manage to rescue the survivors who were still far too close in proximity to the station remains if it were to actually explode.

‘Procules’ had been the first to arrive amongst the closest escape pods of whose civilian inhabitants were expressing mingled feelings of joy and shock.

They were intermingled within what was now a mass graveyard of derelict vessels drifting in permanent silence throughout the star system. Those vessels that were once teaming with life, were now tattered and tormented monuments to the dead.

The onset of shock may have also been a result of the fact that the terrified civilian occupants of the escape pods were largely made up of families, tourists, politicians, even vacationists.

Cairnes had been a very popular star system ever since it was developed as a deep space Capital; where people from all over the Cideen Republic would come to visit for any number of reasons.

The numerous innocent and unknowing occupants of the escape pods remained in shock, and denial of the thought that their beloved home was no more.

In most cases the shock that many of them displayed had been a result of when the realisation sunk in, that they would actually be rescued against all odds. They were not able to determine the outcome of the battle through the meagre surveillance systems that each escape pod boasted. The escape pod was designed for a last resort emergency after all, not a pleasure cruise.

The incalculable pleas for help were now overwhelming the emergency communications network for Cairnes; as each escape pod continued to send out their desperate requests for assistance.

The first escape pod that ‘Procules’ approached first, had a medium sized family onboard.

‘Thank you good sir, we were getting worried! What is happening out there? son...he...look!’ the lady pointed towards the young boy who lay unmoving, surrounded by who Gable thought must have been close family members or friends.

‘It’s okay now! We have enough room onboard for you, we have medical services here too and we are going to pick up as many other people as we can!’ Gable replied to the entire family, including the lady before him. The outspoken lady appeared to be somewhat afraid despite her remarkable effort to hide it so well.

I would do the same thing for my family...Keira, Helena.

The rescue operations were going well but even this area of space, near to the Ferox asteroid belt had still boasted far too many people to be rescued by ‘Procules’ alone. They would need a miracle it seemed.

’Conrad, this doesn’t look too good, some of these pods only have hours of oxygen left and we are already getting overcrowded...I estimate another fourteen pods still left out here. I don’t know what else I can do...can ‘Star Hunter’ or ‘Hercules’ help?’ Gable asked hoping that the answer in which he was expecting, was not the one that he would actually receive.

’Professor... ‘Hercules’ was at full capacity half an hour ago. Since there is no real safe place left within this star system; we have started ferrying people to Julos!’ Conrad replied.

’I agree with the plan...but we can’t leave the others here! What about ‘Star Hunter’?’ Gable asked again, still not giving up on the futile argument.

’Well... ‘Star Hunter’ is struggling with her propulsion systems...ah hell...she is struggling with just about everything. The weapons fire that ‘Insuperable’ took, damaged the docking bay after a few wild shots penetrated her hull. The barrage somehow got through and really did a number on ‘Star Hunter’s’ systems!’ Conrad admitted, shaking his head.

‘Is she full though? Even if she could only manage to accomplish one last warp out of the system...she may be able to save some of these people!’ Gable persisted.

’Okay’s a risk, but...I suppose the crew of ‘Star Hunter’ would likely die anyway if she remained docked within ‘Insuperable’, I will send her over to assist now, Conrad out’.

To all of those souls stranded out there...fear not! Help is coming! And it better come soon or you’ll all be in a lot of trouble .Gable thought.

‘Procules’ had somehow managed to do the impossible by fitting as many of the survivors into the ship’s hold as they could. Now the ship was under a lot of stress though, holding an immense weight, that it was simply not built for.

Gable could see ‘Star Hunter’ clawing her way through the distance to reach the closest escape pods; yet for all of her effort she was still lagging. The battle wounded ship would make it to those helpless civilians, even if it was indeed the last thing that they did.

‘Star Hunter’ this is Gable; I see that you are getting closer but how does it look on your end?’ he asked, worried.

‘Gable, this Major Olso...we did not realise just how damaged this ship was until we actually undocked from the beast, but its pretty bad! We should make it to Julos...but I fear that will be return journey. This probably be her last journey in we will take on as many people as we can! About the attack Gable, do you get the feeling that they will come back?’ Olso asked, frowning at the troublesome thought.

‘What do you mean, like a secondary wave?’ Gable replied, aghast.

‘Yeah, it’s just a feeling...but what if they were testing our defences?’ Olso reflected.

‘If they were merely testing our defences, then they would surely send more forces next time!’ Gable agreed, gasping as the thought suddenly hit him.

‘Hell, they could be sending more right now...we won right...or at least we think we did, and now would be a perfect opportunity to catch us off guard!’ Gable assessed. For not being in the military, Gable was certainly shrewd enough to know exactly what he was talking about.

‘Hell no! Professor I think that you’re right, it would be a sound tactic wouldn’t hit us hard, let us savour the victory, and then hit us again...a final blow to finish what they had started!’. Gable nodded vigorously in reply.

‘I better inform the Colonel, we have to evacuate Cairnes star system right now!’ Gable added, hastily breaking the communication linkup.

After hearing the unpleasant news, Conrad punched one of the monitors next to where he was sitting on the bridge of ‘Insuperable’ cracking the screen as he did so.

‘Damn it! It’s just one thing after the other with them isn’t it?’ he asked, counting down from ten to regain his composure.

‘It does make perfect sense, we can’t carry anymore people though, we have taken on board every survivor from this area of space over the last twelve hours. We even have the president and his staff onboard too Gable!’.

President Kayden chose that moment to arrive on to the bridge to speak with Conrad and Gable together.

‘Benjamin, Colonel, it is good to see you both well, considering what is happening out there! Benjamin I heard what happened, are you okay?’ President Kayden asked earnestly.

‘I am Jim; it was so damned close though!’ Gable admitted.

Conrad flinched at how the President of the deep space government and the professor were talking so casually towards each other. It was certainly an unexpected surprise for someone like the colonel, who adhered to a strict etiquette with anyone who was in authority over him. This was the military way though, and Gable was not subject to those same rules.

‘Well I am glad that you pulled through, now gentlemen what is the update on the recovery of the escape pods?’ President Kayden asked eagerly.

’Mr President, ‘Insuperable’ has recovered all of the escape pods from Eren space station along with hundreds of other pods, we are at full capacity now carrying six thousand nine hundred and eighty six souls’ Conrad reported smiling.

President Kayden turned to face Gable next with a hint of hope glistening in his eyes.

’Well Jim, we are full up and I have just learned that despite her bad state, ‘Star Hunter’ has picked up the last of the escape pods in this area too! Things are looking up!’

It must have appeared that the universe had a love for irony; when a mysterious call came in over the emergency communications network.

‘ support... [End transmission]’.

‘Where did that come from?’ President Kayden asked.

‘Scanning for it now Mr President! There, oh no...’ Gable replied holding his breath at what ‘Procules’’ state of the art long range sensors were only just now detecting.

‘What? What is it?’ President Kayden asked impatiently.

‘Jim...There are still hundreds of escape pods out there!’ Gable replied with a forced whisper.

‘How did we miss them?’ President Kayden demanded.

Sensing the tone, Gable decided to speak more formally now. It was something that he had learned over the years.

‘Sir there...They are located on the opposite side of the star...the hostiles must have done something...we aren’t picking up any energy readings though. Our equipment is now depicting the silhouettes of the pods, and the brief transmission must have come from the centre of the area!’ Gable added.

‘Can we get to them in time?’ Kayden asked.

‘It is possible that we could temporarily shift some of the people off of this ship too...say the planet, in order to make more room!’ Conrad said, joining in with the conversation again.

‘You mean the planet which is in no better condition than what they are facing up here?’ Kayden asked.

‘Yes sir, but at least down there they will have oxygen breathe sir!’ Conrad said, realising his patronising tone a little too late.

‘There is something else Jim’ Gable added at the end, in an effort to correct the uncomfortable silence.

‘Is it good or bad news Benjamin?’ Kayden asked, more worried now than before.

‘Bad, all bad news...but news that you need to hear nonetheless!’ Gable reported.

‘Very well, continue’ President Kayden gestured informally.

’You should know that it was actually Major Olso that brought this up earlier on, when ‘Star Hunter’ assisted us with the recovery of the remaining escape pods near to the Ferox belt Colonel!’ Gable reported.

The mention of Olso’s accomplishment in front of the President was a diplomatic gesture to be sure. It also held the purpose of demonstrating just how good the military leadership was, of whom stood beside them during this dark day.

Conrad nodded in appraisal of the valuable input from one of his most trusted personnel.

‘As I was saying, Major Olso and myself believe it to be all too likely that the hostiles only launched a first attack wave here! And that they could be on their way back to finish us off as we speak!’ Gable said, putting raw emotion into his words.

’I have to say Mr President I agree with those sentiments, after all, the hostiles did not leave by their own will, we decimated them in the end, and they have to want payback for that!’Conrad added.

‘Alright, so what should we do? Set up some additional defences in orbit over...’ President Kayden began to suggest when he was abruptly cut off by Gable. If it had been anyone else that would have angered him gravely.

’Sorry Jim, but after what we just saw here...that won’t cut it, they know that we have ‘Insuperable’ next time will be much, much worse!’ Gable admitted, his fears being shared.

‘So what do you recommend then?’ it was Conrad’s turn to cut in now.

‘Sir, we have to evacuate Cairnes star system in it’s entirety!’ he insisted, regardless of how ridiculous he sounded.

‘Evacuate the entire star system...Colonel there were over three million people here before the attack, and that number has not yet dwindled significantly. That being said, there is no way to evacuate all of these people in...How long do we have?’ Kayden asked.

‘Sir we don’t could be a matter of days, weeks...hell, it could be a few hours for all we know!’ Conrad admitted.

‘Damn, there is nothing that could...’ Kayden began.

‘What was that Jim? You looked like you had an idea?’ Gable asked.

‘Well it’s crazy...but then we need a crazy idea right now don’t we? The old colony ark ships!’ President Kayden suggested.

‘We still have those? I thought that they were decommissioned when we ceased our colonisation efforts way back when?’ Gable added with an air of curiosity.

‘You’re not wrong Benjamin! But what the government had classified as being decommissioned in this case, was more of a permanent underground storage program!’ Kayden confided.

‘Well damn...the things you learn! How many do we have left?’ Conrad asked.

’According to the records, all of them...all fifty nine of the arks still exist! The sixtieth was cancelled when they were finally ‘decommissioned’ after the great colonization effort of two thousand eight hundred and ninety four A.D.

‘There is still hope’ Gable thought.

‘How many people can one colony ark ship hold?’ Gable asked.

‘Fifty thousand people’ President Kayden replied, openly grinning.

‘Fifty...what? One can hold that many people? They must be huge!’ Conrad asked, almost choking on his words.

’They are! Now I am guessing that time is of the I will order them all here now, and relay the request to the Julos officials through...lets see...‘Hercules’ who is currently offloading survivors on to the main planet there!’

We will need every last one of those ships if we are going to do this, but where can so many people find refuge...we will likely need a new planet, one problem at a time though. Gable thought.

‘For now Colonel, shift some of those personnel to the planet so you can go pickup the other survivors who are still stranded out there! Those who you leave on the planet will make it on to an ark when they get here in two or three days!’ Kayden confirmed.

‘Were on it Jim!’ Gable answered for the both of them.

’Well then Benjamin, we all have work to do! Let’s head for the planet, you and ‘Procules’ can help too, but ‘Star Hunter’...Colonel we should send her to Julos now given how long it will take her to get there!’ Kayden suggested.

‘Good call Sir! Let’s do this!’ Conrad replied before nodding back to Gable, who in turn ended the transmission.

Time it seemed was once again in short supply; especially for those survivors out there on the fringes of the star system who were already in great peril. Those helpless survivors would die if they were not rescued anytime soon.

The offloading of the overly grateful survivors onto the battered planet Cairnes was going well. They were now being ferried off of both ships as they touched down onto the planet surface six hours later.

Everyone was rushing around in panic throughout the cities of Cairnes. Except for the survivors who had only recently arrived on to the planet of course; of whom remained as clueless to the current situation as they had done before.

‘We are done Colonel, there is no need for us to wait here; we will head for the fringes now and see what we can do to help! Gable out.’

‘Copy that professor, we will take another hour at least, they are exiting fast enough, only there are thousands onboard, good luck, keep us posted!’ Conrad replied.

‘Will do Colonel!’ Gable said.

It had taken ‘Procules’ a little over five hours to reach the location of the escape pods on the far edge of the star system; where there lay a few destroyed transmission buoys along with one miraculously still functioning buoy.

‘That is how those hidden pods were able to contact us without their own communications!’ Gable announced across the bridge where Landon, Dares and Haynes sat staring at the instilled river of drifting escape pods in horror.

’There are so damned many without power, some of them are even empty...why launch a pod if it’s empty, unless...’Dares began.

‘Unless those pods were not actually empty when they were launched...I dread to speculate, but there could be any number of reasons for it!’ Gable finished.

‘Well let’s sort out the empty pods from the full ones, and see if we can make contact!’ Gable ordered.

‘It’s just too quiet out here, there are hundreds of pods, and most of them are showing life signs as well why...’ Haynes pretended to thump his own forehead when a thought born of common sense came to him.

‘They can’t talk to us remember! We will have to get to the closest active pod in order to get the status of the others’ Haynes admitted.

‘I could hit myself right now for not realising this sooner, nice catch Kenny!’ Gable applauded.

‘Procules’ was approaching the closest pod to them now; the pod was severely damaged, just like a lot of the others were following the prolonged battle earlier. Something had caused them to lose a lot of power since that time though.

When an escape pod had to remain activated on auxiliary power alone; it could function for a few days depending upon the number of occupants inside, and this pod held only six passengers.

‘Professor Gable?’ A surprised voiced beamed when the pod hatch slid open.

‘No way! Christian Solomon!’ Gable asked, verifying the man’s identity.

‘Keira this is Christian, my old chess buddy from back at the school!’ Gable said, introducing them to each other.

‘A pleasure Christian, it is always nice to meet friends of my Benjamin!’ the added personal touch to her reply caused Christian to smile back at Gable, remembering exactly who she was to Gable now. She was the Keira Landon that Gable would never shut up about.

‘It is a mess out here Christian, but we are going to pick up as many as we can, how come there are only six of you in this pod anyway?’ Gable asked.

’Believe it or not we were onboard ‘The Sea Breeze’ a space cruise liner when this whole business went down. As far as I know, only twenty two pods of sixty five made it off the ship before it was obliterated, and then nothing...all of our systems went dark.′ Solomon replied.

‘Auxiliary power has kept us going for over a day now, that fleet though...what...’ Gable gently patted the shoulder of his friend in understanding of his clear anguish at the loss of so many people.

‘Some vacation Christian!’ Gable added, changing the subject.

‘You’re telling honest with me Benjamin...who were the people that attacked us?’ Solomon asked.

‘You want an honest answer?’ unaware of how his friend would respond to the unlikely news, Gable told him anyway.

Hell it’s not like the government can cover this one up! Gable thought.

’One word Christian...‘hostiles’ or at least that’s what we’re calling them, since we know nothing else!’ Gable said, straight to the point.

Christian did have an open mind it appeared, but he still had a lot of questions which in turn demanded complicated answers.

Hostiles...Hostile what, aliens?’ Solomon asked unwilling to believe the claim.

‘I can’t say it any other way Christian...all that we know is, unknown hostile forces attacked Cairnes, the seat of power within this part of the Republic!’ Gable said.

'I want to believe you...I do, but this is crazy...alright, suppose that you haven’t gone raving mad...I have never seen anything that matches those vessels throughout the Republic. Whatever they are...Hostiles you say!’ Solomon confirmed reluctantly, as if to reassure himself of what he needed to believe.

‘How are those with you doing?’ Landon asked Christian, and soon after, an outspoken old lady answered for him.

‘We are just fine missy...just fine, maybe a little hungry though!’ that brought a smile to Landon.

One would marvel at how the old lady could remain so calm, and even somewhat pleasant amidst such chaos. Her unique attitude directly contradicted the mood of the others with her, that was for certain.

’Not too worry, we have plenty of food onboard ‘Procules’ and Helena here is going to show you all to your quarters!’ Landon promised as she appointed Dares to handle the task.

‘Of course, if you would all follow me please!’ Dares announced, directing them through the corridors of the ship.

‘There’s still a lot more people out there Benj, let’s keep looking’ Landon insisted.

It had only taken ‘Insuperable’ an hour and twenty two minutes to transport all of the survivors onto the surface of the main planet Cairne.

Each of the survivors were no doubt being organised into refugee camps with their families now, in preparation for their hoped-for departure from the star system.

Gable had been in a similar situation before within Rene star system; during an earthquake that had left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and stranded.

More specifically, Gable had remembered the sheer panic that everyone had felt as they searched desperately for their loved ones throughout the tattered debris.

The situation within Cairnes was similar to that tragic event; although it was on a much larger scale in comparison. Where in this moment, the survivors were struggling to find their loved ones somewhere within the confines of an entire battered star system.

‘Procules’ had been at the task of rescuing more people for an hour now; and thus far none of the escape pods were full. No one could explain the sudden loss of power either, or why some of the pods were vacant for that matter.

‘We are nearly at full capacity again Professor, and none of them can tell us anything about what actually happened here!’ Hicks reported.

‘We need to pick up some of the data cartridges from one of the vacant escape pods; and whilst we are already at this pod we should take the cartridge from here as know for evidence.’ he continued.

‘Perhaps having data from two pods will answer any questions that we have!’ Hicks finished.

‘You’re right, Kenny did you hear that? before we detach I want you to retrieve the data’ Gable ordered.

‘Done boss! Now if we keep cramming people in, I estimate that we can hold another twelve perhaps!’ Haynes added, assessing the space left on the ship.

‘Okay, Colonel Conrad I see that you are now fifteen minutes out. Be advised that there is more going on here than we know!’ Gable admitted.

‘We have retrieved some data cartridges to find out what exactly...well, that is when we get a chance to look anyway! We are heading for what will be our last escape pod now!’ Gable said.

‘This is our last pod, how many inside Kenny?’ Gable asked.

‘One minute...hello, we have thirteen here!’ Haynes yelled back. Naturally, there would be one more than we can handle, we can’t leave them alone, not now and at least ‘Insuperable’ will be here soon to pick up the rest of them. Gable thought.

‘Get them onboard will you?’ Gable asked.

‘I will take this pod’s data cartridge too and wait for it! There we go, the pod is now empty!’ Haynes announced once more.

‘Very well let’s get...’ Gable began to deliver his famous parting speech when he was suddenly interrupted by Dares.

Something was clearly happening that demanded their immediate attention.

'They’re back again Professor! The ‘Hostiles’ are back!’ Dares screamed.

Within that moment it appeared that Major Olso was entirely too correct in his well informed prediction. If they only had the time to rescue more survivors, they could have been back at the planet by now awaiting the anticipated arrival of the old ark ships.

Fortunately ‘procules’ had completed her rescue operation for the moment, and now the ship was once again encroaching over the maximum capacity of people that they could physically carry. They would have to run, and run fast.

Everyone onboard ‘Procules’ would surely be wondering whether or not they would actually be able to survive the upcoming attack this time around.

The crew were no doubt curious as to whether or not they would soon become a part of the mass graveyard of dead ships. A graveyard that spread out across the tormented star system, as far as the eye could see.

The fiery light that had once marked the unending suffering of those ships, now appeared to be extinguished.

As for the remaining escape pods, all that they could do would be to sit still, and gaze unwillingly into oblivion, as they awaited their forlorn rescue.

It had become unbearably clear that ‘Insuperable’ would now stand alone in this fight; whilst it struggled to defend the sovereignty of Cairnes star system, along with all of its helpless inhabitants.

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