Fear took hold of Dargon’s mind as a laser was thrust hard into the back of his neck.
“It wouldn’t be in your best interests to kill me friend.”
“No, but if you give me no choice, I will,” replied the dark looking stranger.
“You know I am the only one who can pilot this ship!”
“I am well aware of the dedicated thought control technology used by this space-liner.”
“There’s nothing to be gained by hi-jacking this craft, we are only a humble space-liner.”
“By no means are your passengers humble, for I am well aware of your sensitive cargo, and destination. It would be better for all concerned if they did not reach the peace talks on Rosario. So we will be going to an alternative destination, until the peace talks are over.”
“You won’t get away with hi-jacking this ship, sensors will detect you, as the ship is scanned prior to take off.”
“Don’t worry about that, they won’t detect me, and my men, it has all been taken care of. You just keep quiet, and don’t try any tricks, and you just might live to fight another day.”
A laser was smashed against the side of Dargon’s head, drawing blood, as he tried to activate the ship’s warning sensors, indicating there was trouble aboard.
“That’s just a gentle warning, next time I won’t be so gentle.”
Fear ran through every bone in Dargon’s body, fear of being shot. He knew, that for the moment, he would have to bide his time. Maybe, just maybe, the attempt of galactic seizure, might backfire, giving Dargon his chance to overpower his assailant.
The man was smiling. “Quite impressive,” he said in a favourable voice. “Your reputation goes before you; formerly a privateer, and navigator, made your name during the Intergalactic Wars, as one of ten, awarded the prestigious sapphire encrusted bar, for your part in the Pelican Battle, one which has gone down in history.”
“Your exploits across the galaxy have made you a legend, some say you are a hero of your time, while other’s still refer to you as a privateer. On one attack, your fleet of twelve battle hardened cruisers, slipped through a wormhole, capturing three star-cruisers, destroying twelve battle ships, and capturing over 20,000 warriors,”
“Just rumours, and rumours have a tendency to be exaggerated, from one to another.”
“I don’t even know your name, what do I call you?”
“You can refer to me by the name Bandrill.”
There was a moment’s silence as the significance of the name sunk in. Dargon was convinced he had heard this name when he was a young boy, growing up on the mining colonies. “Are…you an android?”
“I am an existential life form of a thirty-two year old male, strong and physically fit, and currently using industrial flesh to pose in this primitive state.”
“An explanation was not necessary,” replied Dargon.
“There be ten high ranking officials aboard this ship, from the Earth’s Alliance?”
“That is correct, with their personal advisers, due to attend the peace conference.”
“They were but now this ship and all on board are my prisoners,” said Bandrill, in a harsh and sadistic manner. “ I am only interested in making sure they don’t reach the peace conference.”
“You will never get away with it, they will find us. You can’t possibly hide a ship of this size!”
Bandrill smiled harshly for a moment. “They will never find you, only I and my men will know your whereabouts. Now enter these co-ordinates into the ship’s Automatic Navigational Systems,” thrusting the details into his hands.
The ship’s speed throttled down, after crossing the galaxy for three hours at Warp 5, crossing from the alpha to the omega system.
“We have reached our destination, so prepare for landing…I will guide the way,” stated Bandrill.
Dargon gazed out into the emptiness of space. “But there are no planets out here.”
“It is not as empty as you think…bring us close into that star,” as Bandrill indicated, some three thousand kilometres off their port side.
Strangely enough, the star was an unpopulated chunk of ice, according to the ship’s sensors.
A buzzing sound, activated on the console, they had activated a security defence screen. A few hundred metres in front of them, three Centurion space-crafts de-cloaked.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” stated Dargon.
“Enter your access code. You have three minutes to comply, or be blown apart!”
“I was expecting this…a planetary defence system set up for our guests,” Bandrill spoke out loud, as he entered the code into the ship’s communication system…almost immediately access was granted, and the Centurion space-crafts re-cloaked, and landing lights lit up, directing their path.
“The star shielded a cloaked planet, that’s a first,” stated Dargon.
Dargon stood beside the hatch in the frigid morning air, wearing an insulated suit, which seemed useless against the harsh, sub’ degree weather of this planet.
As he studied their surroundings, two of his crew attempted to move away from the ship, when they were gunned down by laser blasts, from automated gun-posts some ten paces out from the ship.
Dargon cringed with fear, he couldn’t believe what had just happened. “We are trapped good and proper,” he said lightly to himself, not wanting to alarm his passengers.
His eyes fell upon mounds in the ground, just a short distance from the nose of the ship. Hurling a rock at one of these mounds, a nanosecond later, the ground erupted with an ear shattering explosion. “Mines! Mines!”
Will Bandrill keep his promise, and return, or have we been left to die on this planet? We can only last a few months at best, for he has taken the ship’s Dilithium Matrix Power Converter, and Communications Array, without them we are doomed.
The winds were picking up, odd-shaped flurries began to fall. A blizzard was heading their way. The air was different, a damp deadening cold. Forcing Dargon and his fellow prisoners to button down the hatches and wait out for Bandrill’s return.
Rumours spread across the galaxy, that the Rebel Alliance Battle Fleet was amassing on the neutral zone border, close to the dormant planet of Acturial.
In the space of eight days, fifty plus Battle Cruisers, ten Star-Ships had exited the warp gate. They were waiting…
The much awaited news reached the Rebel Alliance, Bandrill and his men, were instrumental in the capture of the peace envoy…
This one single action, persuaded men and women from all walks of life to fight for what they belied in.
Bandrill was very tall, in appearance, and most terrifying.
The forces of the Rebel Alliance had won a victory. Their cause was just, they would rather die than be slaves to the Earth’s Alliance. They outranked Earth’s Alliance by twenty-five to one, but their opposition were skilled combat fighters.
At first glance, it didn’t look good for Earth’s Alliance. With orbital fortresses and ion-gun emplacements, floating along the neutral-zone border, their numbers were no match against the Rebel Fleet. But they had an ace up their sleeves. What appeared to be a dormant planet, within sight of the border, was in fact a planetary defence screen that would vaporize any invading ship or missile.
By the end of the first battle, 70,000 troops had been slaughtered, thirty Battle Cruisers, and ninety short-range combat fighters destroyed.
Regor is the name, captain of the Eagle scout ship, working with my partner of eight years; Merton. Our existence came about by the need for law and order in the galaxies, leading to the formation of the Inter-Galactic Federation, responsible for galaxy wide security.
Our current assignment would take us clean across to the other side of the galaxy.
Adrenaline pumps its way through my heart, as I prepare to launch my ship into the darkness of a worm hole, opening up before me. I have done it so many times, but still my body fears each trip. Could it be sheer terror?
My body tingles from head to foot, vision is impaired, and colours blurred, as my body races through time. Crossing many galaxies, many timelines in a matter of minutes.
According to our history records, this worm hole is believed to be, as old as time itself.
At the far end, the worm hole opens into another dimension of space; a sun circled by a red atmosphere and a group of eight planets come into view as the ship is spewed out at high speed. Seven appear to be lifeless, covered in a deep coating of ice; the remaining one indicates a living planet, standing apart from the others.
The single planet, is encircled within an asteroid field, even though most of the asteroids are barely more than the size of one’s fist, still large enough to do serious damage to one’s ship.
Curiosity got the better of Merton, as he fires a probe into the planets atmosphere. “We want answers don’t we,” looking in the direction of his partner Regor, but he does not hear, for he is dozing away, unaware of the mystery unfolding before them.
The onboard collision alarm rings out through the flyer, as Regor is brought harshly to his senses.
Scrambling to the controls, just in time to see the flyer being drawn steadily closer and closer into the asteroid field…and danger.
“Hit the reverse thrusters,” he shouted. “We are being dragged into that asteroid field,” gazing out of the flyer’s forward window.
Once out of range, Regor gazes at his partner, waiting for an explanation. “So where are we, and what gives?” he blurts out in an authoritarian voice.”
“We have reached our destination, but the onboard mapping system is wrong, for there are eight planets in this sector of space, not seven.”
“So a new planet has evolved, just mark it up, and let’s move on.”
“Not so quick my friend, this new planet is encircled by an asteroid field; and I have sent a probe into its atmosphere,” Merton stated. “The probes data, informs us the planet is capable of sustaining life…and that’s part of our brief, to find new habitable planets.”
“Are there any signs of life down there?”
“None, but our sensors and data probe, have detected a space craft on the surface.”
Regor’s eyes lit up at the mention of a space craft on the surface.
“We had better check this planet out, now we have discovered it. The neutral zone border is only an hour away at warp 2.0, and many battles have been fought and lost there. Centuries have come and gone. This part of space holds many memories of a colourful and bloody history. There’s even unsubstantial rumours that the rebels once had a base along the neutral zone,” quoted Regor. Giving his young partner a history lesson of events that once affected this quadrant of space.
Regor, followed by Merton clambered down into the two man shuttle; she was sleek and black, like a long rocket, with finely sculptured fins and wings, accessed from the rear of their ship. Merton closed the shuttle’s hatch whilst Regor activated the bay’s decompression chamber, then dimmed the lights, as the doors slowly hinged open.
Mechanical supports lowered the shuttle, some two metres clear of the doors, the engines were activated, and the clamps securing the shuttle disengaged, releasing the shuttle into space.
The sight that greeted them was a planet surrounded by an asteroid field, and a sea of yellow and green gasses. For a split second in time, Regor turned and looked at his partner, then activated the thrust controls, hurtling them into space, on a direct path towards the asteroid field and the planet beyond.
Thoughts wandered through their minds, at what might lay down there…a mystery centuries old awaited them!
Regor did not start to get nervous until Merton’s face turned a sickly greenish colour, upon approach to the dreaded asteroid field. The look upon his face was enough to freeze one’s blood.
“Could we not give this planet a miss,” suggested Merton, through his chattering teeth. “Today is not a good day to die.”
“If you hadn’t sent a probe, we wouldn’t even be attempting it,” replied Regor, ignoring the suggestion, and accelerated as they entered the asteroid field, surrounding the planet. By now, Merton was gripping onto the seat tightly, as his knuckles turned white.
Merton glanced out the port window, only to see cluster’s of asteroids, skim past with only metres between them and the shuttlecraft, whilst the collision alarm was blaring away in the background.
The shuttle began to veer rapidly as it evaded a thick population of asteroids. Rolling from one side to another, they flew up and over one, then buzzed below another, flew within a metre of one to the left. The shuttle was flying, rolling, and swerving at such unbelievable high speeds; that one mistake, and they would be sent reeling, into the path of an incoming asteroid.
“We are through, we are through,” shouted Regor. “The planet is just ahead of us now.”
“We live to fight another day!” Quoted a relieved Merton.
Merton scanned the planets surface, and indicated a suitable landing area some 2,000 metres to the north, of their current position, as a suitable landing area.
“Okay! Okay! I see it,” replied Regor tense as always when preparing to land. They dropped down over the tree line, and with a mighty thud hit the ground, and bounced along the surface a further 3,000 metres or so, before coming to an abrupt halt, as the shuttle vibrated, and they plunged deep into the undergrowth at the far end of the clearing.
“That sure was a rough landing,” commented Merton, whilst holding on tightly to his seat.
There was no reply, Regor’s facial fur turned a deep shade of red, a sign of anger.
Merton just sat in his seat, glad to be down in one piece. His heavily furred face, turned deep pink, as he blushed for a few moments.
They were greeted by a wondrous sea of yellow and green sky, and a never ending forest, with an array of coloured flowers, as they exited the shuttle.
It was Merton, first out with his scanner who detected something. “Regor, over here,” he indicated. “Looks like the remains of an ingrained channel, could be the result of landing a spacecraft. It is in the right area according to our probe.”
Regor looks down at the old tracks gouged into the ground…smiles to himself, but says nothing. Without a second thought, both officer’s started hacking their way through the semi-undergrowth as they follow the tracks, heading ever closer to their target; the space-craft.
“Merton! Merton!” Regor shouts out in distress. “My head is swimming, and I am having difficulty breathing. What is wrong with me?” as he stumbles to the ground?
Merton rushes over to Regor. “Slow down, and take some shallow breaths, the planet’s got a rich oxygen atmosphere.”
According to the computer, they had landed in the planets winter time zone, and the temperature for this time of day, was well below zero; the wind chill factor was biting through their space-suits, they had to reach their intended target, before they froze.
They finally emerged from the undergrowth, in a little under two hours, to see the space-craft standing before them.
“So why was she here?” asked Regor. “She looks in structurally good condition. She was not war-bird, but an ancient space-liner.”
A scattering of old bones, and weapons were detected by Merton, some fifteen metres to the north of the spacecraft.
Walking around the perimeter, a number of ancient gun emplacements, were found in the vegetation.
“Was it a battle?” asked Merton.
Regor, couldn’t think, his body was cold, frost-bite was getting to him. “The simple question we have to ask ourselves, was it in protection of the space-craft, or its occupants?”
The ghostly ship appeared to be of an ancient design, some 400 metres in length, 35 metres wide, with at least four levels visible as they walked around it. The lower level windows were obscured by branches, leaves, and mud; the result of gouging a path through the forest as it landed.
“I wonder what mysteries await us within?” asked Merton. “More likely a ship full of ghosts!”
“Do you believe in ghosts? Asked Regor.
“I sure do,” replied Merton.
“Then let’s go and meet them, and get out of this cold,” replied a cautious Regor.
Snow, ice, and earth had built up forming a small mound around the ships access door.
Using their lasers they blasted away the earth and ice, and with sheer brute force, the door yielded to them, revealing majestic styled corridors covered with years of cobwebs.
Merton and Regor found the Captain’s cabin, located off the flight deck. They forced the sliding door open. The sight that beheld them was a young woman sitting opposite the captain, who sat at his desk, clutching a pen in one hand. Sadly, what he had been writing had faded away with time. What memories they had, died with them in their frozen tomb.
Found on an adjoining table, in a metal box, was the space-crafts logbook, covered in a thick layer of dust. Regor picked it up, and brushed away the surface dust, with the back of his hand. The Space-Liner Fabrini commissioned into service 2945. “That’s over four hundred years ago,” blurted out Regor.
“So where’s the crew,” Merton blurted out.
“Some of the bones outside are more likely to be members of the crew,” suggested Regor.
They and went from cabin to cabin, desperately searching for answers. The Fabrini must have been one of the most luxurious space-liners of her time, the main lounge had been decorated like a palace. The staterooms were sumptuously furnished. Only twenty out of the seventy, appear to have been used; for these contained corpses still dressed in fine clothing.
“What we appear to have here, is a ship containing high ranking officials, based on their fine clothing. Could they be delegates on a special mission?” suggested Regor, airing an idea.
Merton, shrugged his shoulders. “One things for certain, they didn’t die a violent death. They must have died from starvation, and cold.”
“The answer’s as to why they be on this planet in the first place, are more likely to be found within the pages of this logbook,” Regor stated, waving it in his hand.
Merton glanced at the logbook, “it should make for interesting reading.”
“These people must have died hundreds of years ago, and the passing world has forgotten them, for I can not remember anything in our history books relating to the Fabrini and her disappearance,” Regor quoted. “A great tragedy had beheld these passengers. Somebody must have mourned the passing of those who died here?”
A loud cracking sound broke the silence, spreading through the length of the ship; compartment by compartment, bulkhead by bulkhead, then she started sinking very slightly towards her aft end. At that moment fear ran through their bodies, of being trapped onboard, as the elements destroyed her.
“We had better get out of here fast,” shouted Regor.
“You don’t have to say it twice, I am right behind you,” replied Merton following in his partners footsteps.
Once out of this old space-ship, they were horrified to see that the ground was opening up, and she was slipping deeper and deeper into the ground, as it must have been doing these past four hundred years or more.
“Had our intervention, been the reason she was being swallowed up by the planet?” asked Merton.
“Anything’s possible, movement – disturbance. The planet doesn’t want to share its secrets,” suggested Regor.
Returning to their shuttlecraft was made more exhausting, as a bitter wind of sub zero temperature had blown up, and their feet sank deeper into the ship’s original landing tracks.
Some three hours later an exhausted Regor and Merton were back on board the Eagle Scout Ship, reminiscing of the past events on the planet and how easily they could have been buried alive down there, as they warmed themselves up with Tarludian Cognac.
“This is the Eagle Scout Ship, calling Central Command,” Regor spoke with firmness in his voice. “This is the Eagle Scout Ship, come in please.”
“The time lag between sending the call and receiving an answer, was as much as three minutes, caused by the distance. Their message was relayed by beacons, spread across space.”
“We read you loud and clear,” replied the Central Command controller.
“We have discovered a planet protected by an asteroid field, and went down to investigate,” stated Regor. “The planet appears to be uninhabited, but sitting there large as life is an ancient Galaxy Class Space Liner, called Fabrini.”
There was silence from the other end, just static. Regor thought the connection had been broken, just as quick as it disappeared, it burst into life once again. “You did say the Fabrini, did you not?”
“That is correct. She is over four hundred years old, according to the log book, I have before me. She’s a real piece of history, and classy.” Regor stated. “We found twenty staterooms, with corpses all dressed in fine clothing.”
The line returned to static as they waited, the minutes passed by, turning into hours, then the line burst into life once again.
Well officer’s it seems you have stumbled upon a mystery, a forgotten one, surrounding the American built Galaxy Class Space-Liner Fabrini of 2945 out of New York, who disappeared without trace, some four hundred years ago.
According to our history files, it was March 2950, when the Fabrini was on route to peace talks, with the peace envoy, when she was hijacked by a mercenary group under the leadership of Bandrill, and that was the last anyone heard of them.
Bandrill openly acknowledged they were his prisoners, and demanded five million gold bars in return for their whereabouts.
We would never negotiate back then, as we wouldn’t now with terrorists…so the money was never paid, and the secret of their whereabouts died with Bandrill and his men.
Time has passed by, the Fabrini, has all but been forgotten.
This relic of the past, lies in frigid isolation. The planet has been listed off limits to all craft, her co-ordinates have been omitted on all databases, it has become a memorial to those who died on board the Fabrini.