Sarab stood in horror and shock at what they were seeing.
“No…” She whispered; “It can’t be…”
She turned to look at Callib;
“How soon til you can activate and deploy the orb?” She asked.
“3 minutes!” He said, fiddling with the controls on his wrist computer over it.
“It’s less than a minute away!” Linguon cried out, panic unfiltered in her voice.
“Strengthen the shields to the maximum and throw the light speed drive into full reverse away from the black hole. If it begins pulling us in, hit the thrusters and get us away from it.”
Linguon took a deep breath and did as she was ordered. They all felt the shields flair around them; the extended force from it put extra pressure upon their bodies.
Sarab stared out the front with gritted teeth; she saw it! Like a dark cloud it drifted towards them at amazing speed; covering a vast distance in no time at all. As it came closer Sarab could even make out features upon it, which seemed impossible.
It was far smaller then she imagined; if it were possible to stand next to it, the thing would be only a foot or two higher than she. It was broad but more so in a way a being would appear if it had a thick, billowy robe about it.
It even appeared to have arms! Wispy and flowing it glided towards them; like a hooded banshee with no face. Sarab felt her knees clatter through her battle suit as the thing approached; as impossible to believe this thing seemed to have self-awareness and motive.
Sarab was about to say to brace for impact but before she could, the abnormality stopped in front of the ship!
“What’s happening?!” She asked instead.
“I… I don’t understand…” Linguon whimpered.
“Only three of you…” A voice said inside their minds; Sarab and the others grabbed their heads; the voice was invading their minds and causing their heads to pulse in pain.
“Yes; only three… although you carry something that holds great potential…”
“Ahhhhh!” Linguon screamed; dropping from her seat to the floor.
“Callib!” Sarab cried; “Deploy it!”
Callib was straining on his knees to work his computer; tears were welling in his eyes and he struggled to complete his work.
“I appear to be causing you all such pain…” The voice said with laughter in its voice; “I am still working to learn my abilities so please excuse this.”
“Linguon!” Sarab cried; activating her battle suits shield; “Raise your shield and start the light speed drive in reverse!”
“I’m almost done!” Callib yelled; realizing they were abandoning the mission.
“We must escape!” Sarab spoke; trying to clear her mind from the pain.
“Oh no…” The voice said; “This we cannot allow.”
The thing drifted closer and waved its hand over the shield which protected the ship. The instruments in the ship snapped and went wild from the act.
“A time shield!” Callib gasped out; “It’s warping time around us!”
The being drifted through the shield with ease and was lost from sight for a moment, when suddenly the port side of the ship’s wall disappeared and the creature was inside the ship!
Something prevented them from being jettisoned into space; meaning the shield outside the ship was still intact. Callib had time to activate his shield but Linguon was frozen with fear upon the floor.
“Noooo!” She shrieked as the black mass drifted towards her.
Without another word the creature pointed its arm at Linguon. Sarab watched in terror as Linguon began disintegrating before her eyes. She was being pulled apart atom by atom and floated through the air inside the creature.
There was no escape and even more horrifying, no sound as her comrade and friend was ripped apart and murdered before her eyes.
Sarab fought back tears and a revolting sickness to her stomach; standing her ground before the horrible thing in front of her.
Sarab knew no weapon she had could hurt this thing; she eyed the control panel where Linguon had been just a moment before. They were still near the Dark Matter cloud; close enough to escape within it, if only there was a way to expel the creature from the ship, she could redeploy the shields and hopefully save herself and Callib.
“Such joy!” The thing exclaimed; “You Stanannoki have such a delightful makeup… pity there isn’t more of you. Your whole species consist of only 14 million; spread along your vast Coalition. I must find you all; I have grown quite fond of your molecules… you seem particularly well put together…”
The creature reached out towards Sarab;
“Commander Sarab?” The thing said.
Sarab froze, petrified in shock and fear at this unknown monster speaking to her.
“Linguon holds you in high regard… apparently you will be quite a treat to consume…”
She tried ducking and rolling away but instantly felt suction on the perimeter of her body.
“Drop Commander!” Callib cried out behind her.
Through sheer instinct and incredible force of will; Sarab dropped and forced herself to the floor.
She looked up above her as she did and saw Callib’s Orb soar towards the creature. It exploded in white light and crashed into the black mass, pulling it outside their craft.
The creature shrieked from the impact as it flew back out into space. Once it was past the shields something happened that Sarab did not expect. The orb and the creature disappeared from view.
Breathing heavily Sarab lurched towards the control panel and stabilized the ship’s shields. Frantically she checked for radiation read outs and to find where the creature had gone.
She was amazed to see that there were zero read outs from it and a visual scan didn’t reveal any danger either. She seemed reluctant to breathe a sigh of relief yet; looking to where Linguon had been just moments before, all trace of her now gone.
“Oh Linguon…” She mourned; “I’m so sorry… I never dreamed…”
Sarab shook her head and checked the ship’s damage report; it was damaged severely from the missing wall of the craft; but the shields had stabilized it and they were capable of flight it appeared.
Sarab turned and looked at Callib; surprised to see how dark his face had become.
“Are you hurt?” She asked rushing towards him; “Are you okay?”
Callib shook his head;
“The creature…” He stammered.
“I know…” Sarab said, looking back out into space; “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Not… that…” Callib collapsed to the ground; “It went outside of the time warp… but we didn’t…”
It took a moment for Sarab to realize what this meant.
“That’s why it disappeared…” She spoke slowly…
She rushed to the control panel and lurched the ship forward; a second later she felt the craft shudder as it escaped the time barrier around it and rejoined the present time of the galaxy. A change came over the ship’s instruments as she did so.
The computer read outs went into overdrive as flashes and sirens of all kinds exploded from them. Chaos ensued for several minutes as the computer raced to catch up on a multitude of missed beacons; messages and warnings.
Finally; calm was restored and with a trembling hand, Sarab moved to look at the panel of the main computer. What she saw sucked the air from her body; she collapsed onto the very spot Linguon had been consumed upon; her eyes wide in horror.
“How long?” Callib asked as he crawled towards her; “How much time did we miss?”
Sarab stared at him with watering eyes; her voice lost in her throat. Steadily she forced herself to speak;
“3 months.” She finally said.
“The messages that the computer received all at once?” Callib asked.
“Distress beacons…”Sarab answered; tears flowing heavier.
“From… from where?” Callib asked joining her in sadness.
“Everywhere...”Sarab said, that single word echoing through their souls.