Sarab opened her eyes and saw light; it was blinding and painful, tears welled in her eyes, but it felt good all the same, it felt like life.
She tried moving but shadows above her prevented her from doing so. They placed their hands on her shoulders and gently but firmly kept her lying down.
Sarab accepted this and lay back down, trying to remember everything that had happened. The shadows above them were talking but their voices were muffled.
Shadows!? She remembered the Black Hole instantly.
“No!” She screamed, now trying to fight her way free.
“Commander!” A voice yelled; “Please restrain yourself.”
“Noooo!” Sarab moaned.
“You are safe, please…”
Sarab’s rational side started to come over her as her vision cleared and her senses returned.
She was not in space; she was also not being tormented by the horrible anomaly. She calmed herself but still with a heavy breathe tried to make sense of where she was and what was going on.
There were two people standing above her; it took her a moment but she recognized Doctor Panel; Lycon’s personal physician. He was 6’3 and for a Stanannokian a bit on the heavier side, although his figure was still in top physical shape. Their doctors had long ago worked out a method of burning excess fat with their technology so no Stanannoki was ever “out of shape.” He was very pale yellow in color and his indents were not deep in his skin, almost like tattoos in a way.
The other Stanannokian was a man she had never met, but could guess who he was.
His dark orange hair was short and swept back; he stood over 8 feet tall with a uniform similar to hers. Contrary to Panel, his indents were well etched and deep into him; his skin a dark yellow, he was almost a male version of Rossiana.
He was young, that was evident from first glance; perhaps 1,900 galactic years old. He wore a sad expression and there was weight and pressure behind his eyes that belied his youth and power.
He could only be Dantos; an emerging Stanannoki climbing quickly up the ranks in the Coalition. He was a warrior and a scientist, much like Sarab. His skills were said to be unrivaled in everything; combat, flight and any form of competition.
“Commander,” He said to her with a forced smile; “It’s an honor to finally meet you.”
Sarab could only nod as a response; her voice didn’t seem capable of operating yet.
Callib came into view next to Panel; he was using the table to help support himself but seemed healthy besides this. He smiled warmly at her and breathed a sigh of relief.
“We made it…” He said.
“You were both dead when we found you,” Dr. Panel explained; “It was close but we were able to revive you. The tumors we cured instantly; the radiation damage could have been far worse. We managed to find you both within five minutes of your arrival, longer than we would have preferred but I’d say it was a success as it is now.”
“Well done Panel” Callib spoke with a smile; “If there was one Doctor I would have preferred to work upon us it would be you.”
“What is the situation?” Sarab asked; she was becoming more like herself by the moment and didn’t want to waste any more time on weakness of her body or idle chatter.
“Why don’t you take some time to…”Panel began.
“No,” Sarab interrupted; “Update me on everything.”
Panel sighed and looked at Dantos.
“Commander…” He hesitated; “This isn’t easy to say…”
“The abnormality…” Sarab said; “It attacked Cryostar.”
“It came upon us suddenly; far faster than we anticipated. It reached 50x the speed of light.”
“That was my doing I’m afraid…” Callib spoke with a heavy voice; “I fear it absorbed the Infinite Orb and instead of tethering it in one singular place it used its energy to make itself even more powerful. It’s a scenario I never envisioned possible.”
“No one could have known the black hole was capable of sentient thought or actions.” Dantos comforted him; “We have taken to calling it Rogue for now.”
“How many escaped?” Sarab asked.
Dantos almost looked away before stopping himself and with a steady voice spoke;
“Seven of us confirmed so far; Chancellor Lycon, myself, Dr. Panel and four warriors and pilots.”
“Only seven… and… No… none of them engineers?” Sarab asked, beginning to realize what this meant.
“No…” Dantos said.
“Rossiana…” Sarab said;
She had said she was going to get on a ship; why hadn’t she?! Sarab thought to herself.
“Rossiana courageously gave up her place to Commander Dantos;” Panel spoke, seeming to read her emotions. “She made her way to another ship but this was the only one camouflaged in a way to escape Rogue. She gave her life for us and she will be remembered for all time as a hero.”
Sarab was too numb by the news to cry or react. She looked up into Dantos’s face; this time he could not help turning away. The action had a telling affect upon the man and he obviously carried the burden hard.
Sarab nodded and stayed still; the hurt and pain from her experience was replaced by the emotional loss of losing her soulmate and all her friends. She had never known a pain so deep and cutting before.
“It wasn’t just Cryostar…” Panel continued; “Every known planet with Stanannoki on it was targeted by the monster. In only three months it has effectively wiped out the entire Coalition. We nine are the only surviving Stanannoki left in existence, which we know of.”
Sarab had remembered the Thing saying how much it enjoyed ingesting the Stanannoki; it was intelligent as well, it could have also recognized the Coalition as the most legitimate threat to its existence and targeted them for this reason also.
“What is the damage done to the Coalition overall?” She asked.
“The Royal Family tried to stay and fight Rogue;” Dantos explained. “They ordered Lycon to this craft we got away on. Our full military might was no match for Rogue. It ingested everything in our system. So far we have the damage at 80 planets, 39 with sentient life, 270 bases and 19 stars. Besides our civilization it has destroyed almost 80% of the Odiums and at least 3 other civilizations that were our allies and part of the Coalition. Every other civilization remains intact at this time but more are being slaughtered by the day.”
“The distress beacon we sent out,” Callib spoke; “They believe Rogue can pick up signals and we believe it is on its way here now.”
“Chancellor Lycon ordered all potential survivors to not send any signals in case Rogue can find them.” Dantos said; “You couldn’t have known this though. Rogue seems highly advanced and it’s pattern of behavior indicates it will consume anything and everything it comes across before reaching here.” Dantos further explained; “A direct path from its’ last known location will bring it across 22 planets and 3 stars; life among them all is low-to-none luckily.”
“We estimate that we have around 3 days to prepare a defense for Rogue” Panel chipped in; “Lycon wants the three of you to work with the indigenous people here and find a solution to defeat this thing before it consumes all life in the Galaxy.”
“What tools do we have?” Sarab asked; “How can the people of this planet help us defeat a being which consumes everything?”
Panel smiled at her;
“I believe its time you meet the creatures of the Neptonius planet and learn what they are capable of” He said; “We are on their planet after all and they are our gracious hosts.”
At this time the door to the room they were in opened and three beings entered. The one leading them was Chancellor Lycon; behind him were two odds creatures Sarab had never seen before.
They were short and round; antenna stuck up from their heads making them 4 feet in height. Their bodies were a swirl of pink and purple and they had large globule eyes which shrunk in size from 15 inches across to the size of a small metal bead when they blinked.
No feet or arms could be seen beneath their very furry bodies, they almost seemed to float across the ground. Their mouths were also hidden beneath their fur and they made little noise from wherever their mouths were or from their movements.
“Commander,” Lycon said warmly; “Meet the Neptians; our hosts and the ones with the technology we all believe will help us defeat Rogue.”