Sarab looked at the monitor in front of her, leaning over the shoulder of the operator.
“See?” Linguon said looking back at her; “It’s gone; not just the planet’s signature but the moon bases as well.”
“Have you checked the readings from the probes circling the outer solar limits?”
Linguon shook her mane of hair;
“Not yet; those are tricky to find on a good day.”
“Locate those beacons and get back to me,” Sarab commanded; “No need to jump to conclusions prematurely.”
“Yes Commander,” Linguon responded.
Sarab had barely walked two steps before another subordinate confronted her.
“Commander!” A male named Slith said getting her attention with snapped together heels.
“Yes,” Sarab asked trying to hide the weariness from her voice.
“A distress beacon was heard from near the Treebok Solar System; it came from interstellar space.”
Sarab took the read out he handed her and narrowed her eye brows as she read it over.
“The reading from this says it’s from 2 months ago; yet we heard from the ship… the Catcher, not even three days ago, how is this possible?”
“We are investigating Commander Sarab;” Slith responded, “We have tried communication with the Catcher and the other ships within its fleet but there has been no response. The distress beacon just arrived several moments ago. We have deployed DMWarp probes to find out what is going on.”
Sarab nodded and her subordinate took off away from her.
’Odd…’ She thought to herself; ’An entire planet; 4 moon bases and now an entire fleet not communicating or with distress signals, all around the same star system…”
She turned back to a stellar map of the region in question and studied it, trying to find some clue.
“It can’t be a coincidence.” She muttered to herself.
In the past three months a slew of strange occurrences had happened in her quadrant of space. Beside these problems confronting her they had lost track of several scout ships; a merchant vessel and even a comet they had been planning to mine.
The Catcher and her fleet had been dispatched to investigate; the Merchant ship belonged to one of the Royal family members and its disappearance had not gone unnoticed.
Her first thought was that the Odiums had become hostile again. They were a more primitive race which her kind avoided when they could. They were particularly violent and would attack whoever approached them; their weapons were not to be taken lightly.
It was known they were becoming bolder and exploring deeper into space but they had barely just managed to achieve Light Speed technology. Traveling to more distant star systems by means of Dark Matter Warping was still beyond their grasp.
They were easily handled in a fair fight; but sometimes they used numbers to their advantage and overwhelmed their forces. The Coalition was powerful themselves but spread over the vast galaxy they policed.
She sighed and turned away from the map; the Treebok System was well away from the Odiums and their capability. There had to be another explanation. Their Coalition technology was advanced enough to overcome the vast distances of space and communicating was easier than ever, so a system malfunction seemed unlikely.
They also could overcome the interference from solar radiation and other radio wave interference. It had taken some time to do so; especially since a particularly heavily populated, yet still primitive, planet from a point a hundred and fifty or so light years away from one of their deep space posts, had discovered radio waves.
The signals came out slowly at first; and were manageable. But within a short time the signals multiplied and began becoming obnoxious as the planet’s inhabitants advanced.
Her people had to completely rework their entire communications system to avoid the overwhelming signals. The signals infested one outpost and from there were broadcasted all over their vast territory. A ship would be expecting a report about a Super Nova about to occur and instead would hear; “Shoe bop a diddy shoe bop!” and “She loves you yeah… yeah… yeah…”
Now they were diverted to a separate channel while their own signals could not be detected by the aliens.
Sarab caught herself daydreaming; it was easier to think of older problems and how they had been solved rather than the new ones that confronted her now.
She stared at herself in the reflection of a force field which looked out over the planet. She was humanoid in appearance; almost 7 feet tall, average for her people; the Stanannoki, but tall for a female. Most Stanannoki males reached 7 feet in height; only a select few could grow to 8 feet or higher.
Her light yellow skin flashed in the monitor; her dark green uniform she wore covered much of her body but could not fully hide the indented lines that crisscrossed her face, extending from her slightly pointed ears down along her whole body. The lines had some meaning behind them; unfortunately it had been lost to them over the ages.
A scientist many millennium ago, had changed their people’s genetics. No one was sure how he had accomplished this or why, but he had done it, transforming many of their people nearly overnight. The scientist reportedly became a recluse soon after this, barely talking to anyone outside his family for several generations before disappearing later when there came a demand for his actions to be brought before the Royal Family.
The Stanannoki people could live for many galactic years. The Scientist who changed them could still be alive this day. But, for whatever reason, now 4 of every 5 Stanannoki born had the Indents upon their skins.
Besides this there was only one other differing trait Sarab had that set her apart from her people. She had light red hair instead of the normal bright orange most of her people had.
She had dyed it in her youth, wanting to stand out from the others in her community and the other women. She did not know at that time she would grow to seven feet in height, but she had grown to like her hair color and decided to keep it.
She was distracted once again from a beeping sound coming from Linguon’s monitor.
“I found a probe commander!” She exclaimed.
Sarab rushed over and stared as the half dozen other subordinates at her post came over to observe.
“Put it on the main screen,” She commanded.
Video from the deep space probe had crystal clear images up on the screen in a flash. The video they saw though was just empty space with stars in the background.
“Is this a live image?” Sarab asked.
“It is…” Linguon responded.
Sarab checked the coordinates and did some calculations in her head.
“Zoom into panel 7.” She ordered.
Linguon did so.
“Further…” Sarab said leaning in.
“What are you looking for?” Another subordinate inquired.
“Treebok…” Sarab said.
“The planet?” Linguon asked.
“Yes,” Sarab said; “It’s not there.”
A murmur followed by gasps rang out from her people as they all scanned the monitors looking for the planet.
“Replay all data in reverse until we find something.” Sarab commanded, trying to keep her people restrained.
Linguon did so, according to the data a month had passed before anything was revealed.
There suddenly was the planet, intact and as they expected. One moment it was there the next it was gone.
“Slow it down…” Sarab said; “And zoom in closer.”
Linguon obeyed and as they watched what happened unfold before them, none could hide their shock.