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Title: The Discovery Author: Mr. Bill

Outer system, trillions of kilometers distance to the nearest world, an elongated swirl of the faintest stars, all boiling away day by day. Like arrow heads they came, twin powerful human ships, hurling themselves at amazing speeds across the great void. Onwards they came, thin spikes of metal geared against super charged ion engines, capable of instantaneous acceleration at the faintest burn. Each ship, no more then twenty meters length, built solely for the purpose of housing over powered engines, left little to the imagination. They flew in tight formation, arching a long curve created through hundreds of quick computer calculated burns, and thrust reversals, almost mirroring atmospheric flight in grace.

Commander Chel Kar dropped his back, allowing the ship's restraints to pull him in, forcing a sense of gravity against his body. The pressure was welcome, allowing his mind to focus, and his body to rest. He rubbed his eyes, hands shaking from the constant auto-correcting engines. His helmet outlined several points of interest in neon green, powerful scanners searching through millions of radio transmission, creating a brilliant map of stars. The brightest such point was the blue gem of Vega, the brilliant star circled in green, an identification tag labeling the system. Kar's team of two made up one of many flight contact groups, strung across the ether to act as warning beacons for the fleet. His task was simple, move fast, scan a location, pull for home. Everything was recorded automatically, then relayed to fleet command by a series of lighting fast high energy radio transmissions. Never had it even dawned on Kar what exactly he was looking for, the system ran so smoothly. It all occurred as though Kar had no presence in the ship whatsoever, the chatter of computer feeds humming against the auto correcting engines in perfect unison. He reached down to the dashboard, flipping a communications switch.

'Wing?' Kar's voice was instantly converted to an audible echo, pitch oscillating as his query shot into the void. Static burst in his ear.
'One more pass, then check it back to home?' His wingman's voice had an unnatural quality, like sand paper rubbing on steel; reconstructed by the ship's computer.

Kar silenced the microphone with the press of a switch, his mind running through different options. Reflectively he engaged the thrust reversers, brining the ship to a halt.

'Munifica, remaining time in planned flight outline?' Kar's voice seemed to fall on def ears. It took several seconds for the ship's computer spirit to compile a response. The computer chattered out a string of text on his front display, quickly read out loud by the computer's speech enhancers.

'We should be returning to fleet command in ten minutes, commander.'

Kar listened to that drawn out voice with pity. The spirits only ever confused him, immortal beings that chose to age, to die premature deaths. Munifica, a rusting being by the sound of his voice, could be no older then twenty years to the date of his construction. Of course, Kar could care less. Things could have been worse; once, when Kar had flown a recon mission close to a red dwarf, the spirit had started screaming. As Kar's ship graced the dieing stars horizon, the spirit tried to take control, sending the ship spinning, thrusters burning widely, twisted by the dwarf's gravity. Kar shook his head, the memory fading, then reached for the intercom's activation switch.

'We'll make one more loop, we've got time.'
'Check that. I'll take point.' Kar watched, using the HUD's enhancing display, as his wingman's ship pulled a long graceful arch, coming up several kilometers ahead of Kar, then slowing to regain formation. 'Munifica, synchronize formations please.'
And after several seconds: 'Done, captain.'

Kar felt himself pushed sideways, the ship moving into a locked engine pattern with his wingman. Kar fired the engines, immediately he was crushed back into his seat, eyes closing against the strain. The two ships slipped across the heavens, blurs to the human eye. Kar opened his eyes, his wingman now far ahead. At some point Munifica had placed a count down timer on Kar's HUD. The numbers rolled backwards from ten minutes.
It was after two minutes that Munifica spoke.

'I do not wish to alarm you, captain, but I am picking up a large blank range grouping at three-four-mark.'
Kar ran those words over in his mind, their importance sinking in.
'Grouping dimensions?'

Munifica rattled off an impressive set of numbers. Kar spoke into the microphone.

'Wing, you confirm that?'
'Yes, sir,' came back the tattered voice of his wingman, 'I'm looking at it now, hell its big.'

Kar heaved at the ship's controls, pointing himself in the direction indicated by Munifica. They blanked out. Like a cloth draped across his vision, Kar watched the stars vanish. His lips moved, but he said nothing.

'ID, coming in. Give me a minute.' Kar waited while his wingman's computer compiled what must have been a complete torrent of information.
'Negative read, captain. Possibility of asteroid field.' Kar swallowed, trying to concentrate.
'Rescan that, I want a positive ID,' then, turning off the intercom, 'Munifica, check navigations charts for this region.'

The computer's methodical response was printed on Kar's display. The last checked scan of this region occurred three years past, no asteroid field had been located at that time. Kar opened his mouth to speak, a query dieing on his lips.
The intercom crackled static.

'Scan reconfirmed; negative read.'

Kar reached to the dash, his own scanners beginning to receive information now. Kar watched the display, numbers, an endless feed of ones and zeros, flung themselves across his screen. Kar struggled to make sense of this information, but quickly gave up. The computers at fleet command would busy themselves for months tearing apart the data. Kar sat back, settling into his seat. Something seemed out of place, some element missing, something just beyond Kar's grasp. But well within the computer's.

'Contacts!' Screeched Munifica.

Silence, then, 'Three, fast as hell! Close proximity, ETA thirty seconds!' Kar grasped the controls, pulling his ship about. He slammed the ship's throttle full open, feeling energy flow across the ship, massive amounts of power bursting like lit matches. The inertial dampers fired, Kar thrown back against his seat, then flung in a countering motion forward before stabilizing. Kar's heart beat faster, as though acting in part with the ship's engine. His HUD brought up three new contact points, displaying unknown tags as ID.

'Munifica, has this information been sent to fleet?'
'Yes, captain. They will receive this information in,' the computer's voice trailed off, 'two hours.' Kar nodded, feeling the constant pounding of engine turbines in his ears, listening as he placed strain on the ship's powerful drive. The windshield rattled, from strain. He spun his head, searching the rear windshield for any sign, still seeing nothing but black. And there he saw them.
'My god.'

Thee black diamonds, perfect gems, massive constructs, beyond any human comprehension, rolled across the heavens. Their bodies floating across the silence, huge frames beguiling their true speed. Kar knew what he was seeing, knew it even before he watched his wingman die. He had heard the stories, everyone had, but he had never believed them, the truth now more terrible then any his mind could conjure. Kar heard a rattle from the computer, then a stream of ID tags scrolled across the screen, hundreds of the same name: Unknown, all listed as a new contact. Kar shook is head, blinking in disbelief.
Kar switched to the microphone, his wingman seemed to be lagging behind. Much to far behind.

'Wing, get clear!'
'I can't! The controls just locked!'

He heard what sounded like crying, then screaming broke over the intercom. Kar cursed, watching in horror as his wingman's ship exploded, tossing a ring of flame into the void. Seconds later a trail of plasma fire flung past Kar's windshield. Kar pulled sideways, engines burning widely. He could just make them out, three tinted grey hulls, shimmering like diamonds against the ether. He'd opened to twenty five kilometers, when Munifica started to cry.

'Shut up!' Kar broke higher still, distance still opening range, up to sixty now, when a pulsing trail of plasma curved just past starboard. The spirit went on moaning, cries echoing around the ship. Kar was pulling out to a hundred kilometers distance, when his controls suddenly locked. He slammed against the throttle, to no avail. Without call the thrust reversers engaged, slamming his ship to all stop. He shouted curses, flinging the controls in every direction. Turning his head, he could see the ships closing distance, fast.

'Munifica...' The crying continued, moans still creeping through the ship. Kar dropped his hands from the controls. The crying stopped. The spirit spoke.
'They will kill us all, captain. They are not the things of old, but that of new. He commands them now, and his rage will drive them to our end. He fooled the divine, and now he is one with them. A god.' Then Kar screamed, a thin trail of plasma slicing through the ship's engines. A single round burst at Kar's ear, atomizing his head. Little under a second later the entire ship erupted in flame, exploding into a cloud of haze.

Three of the smallest ships, nothing more then scouts, broke the cloud left by Kar's ship. They came not alone, but brought rage incarnate. One by one, yet a thousand at a time they came, drifting towards Vega, that single light a trillion kilometers away, distance soon forgotten.
As they had found Terra, he had found them. Broke them. Controlled them. All before a gods will. For He was now one of them. For two became one.

And they spoke his name, but as a curse, for He is now their god.


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