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Old Jun 17 2006, 04:43 PM   #1
McClance
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Draconia, Alpha Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy
Gender: M
Fan of: Pern & Doona
Now Reading: Fantastic Voyage
Default "Companions"

I'm hoping to enter this into the Writers of the Future Contest this month...

“Companions”
Approximate Earth Year: 2020.
Locations: Andromeda Galaxy; Darkkon Realm, extra-dimensional space;
TriUnion planet of Gatalik, Delta Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy

SOMETHING ON his vessel’s sensor grid caught Shenor’s attention. Weapons fire. Shenor, of the gaseous Darkkons, had been scouting beyond the primary Fold Corridor that led between the Darkkon Realm and the area of space they had once occupied—before they were forced to flee to their current Realm by the Zirquin—one of two machine factions that had been created for use in a long over Darkkon civil war.

Curious about what his sensor grid detected, Shenor’s Mind interfaced with his ship’s computer to focus on that area of space. Then he identified a scout ship belonging to the Zirquin, who had been programmed to attack anything that did not register as its own kind. There was another object on his sensor grid that seemed like a ship, but did not appear to be belonging to the other machine faction—the Zargon, who had been programmed to attack only the Zirquin. Seeing that the unidentified ship was faring badly under the assault from the Zirquin, Shenor set his course to intercept the attacking Zirquin and engaged at the best possible speed.

*

The Eeshew poured as much energy as she could into her four propel organs in an attempt to flee from the pursuing artificial creature. Hemofluid leaked into space from the wounds that decorated her body, inflicted by the creature—the creature that was of the sort that had destroyed the rest of her systemmates. She had continually begged mercy from her pursuers, but now concentrated all of her energy stores into propulsion. But, even that was now nearing depletion.

She longed for the comforting flare of a star. Or the coziness of a nebula. She longed for her pursuer's mercy… Something caught her attention. Something entering this space. Another of the artificial creatures, her senses told her, but it did not look like the one that pursued her. With as much mental energy as she could muster, she appealed for mercy from this newcomer.

*

Shenor reached the combat zone and decelerated his vessel. Through the interface between his Mind and the ship's computer, Shenor saw the torpedo-shaped Zirquin scout ship and another vessel that was noticeably bigger. Wings projected forty-five degrees from the front of a long, tubular body and perpendicularly rejoined a third of the way toward the tail. On each wing, above and below, there were what seemed to be engines.

The vessel was beautiful to Shenor. But beauty and size were irrelevant to the Zirquin. They were programmed to attack anything that did not register as their own.

A beam of energy from the Zirquin ship struck across the other vessel’s left wing, drawing… Was that blood? As Shenor was asking himself that, a feeling of intense pain overcame him, accompanying a plea for mercy from the unfortunate vessel.

Without wasting anymore time, Shenor powered up his craft’s weapons—which only took a few seconds. With his mind, Shenor operated the targeting sensors of his ship, focusing on the Zirquin ship, and fired. Two pairs of green, pure plasma beams sliced through space and struck cleanly on the scout ship. In response, the Zirquin altered their course and obtained a target on Shenor’s ship. Before they had chance to fire, though, Shenor let loose another barrage of plazers that drilled along the length of the scout ship.

Shenor continued to exchange fire with the Zirquin, dodging half of what the machines threw at him while they dodged half of what he threw at them. After several dances around each other, Shenor had taken out the Zirquin’s sublight engines. As Shenor pursued, the Zirquin launched a plasma torpedo from their aft launcher. Shenor attempted to dodge the torpedo, but the torpedo kept coming. With the torpedo closing the distance, Shenor managed to obtain one last target of the Zirquin’s fold engine and fired everything he had—plazers and electron torpedoes. Shenor’s beams and torpedoes hit the Zirquin scout ship and destroyed it just as the plasma torpedo hit and crippled Shenor’s ship.

With alarms blaring through his ship's interface with his Mind, Shenor examined his vessel’s status and realized that the impact from the plasma torpedo had caused his vessel’s engines to go critical. With his Mind, Shenor immediately started broadcasting a distress signal to the ship he had helped. My ship is in danger of breaching, he said. I require assistance.

He felt the input of pain again. But, this time, the feeling was accompanied by the knowledge that the vessel he had saved was The Eeshew of the Euq and that she would come alongside Shenor’s ship and allow him to come inside her. The Euq? Shenor repeated to himself. The Euq, he recalled, were mentioned in the Darkkon datapool as space-dwelling lifeforms.

Understood, Shenor responded via telepathy.

The Eeshew moved quickly and was alongside Shenor’s ship within several seconds. Having no need of a life support system, Shenor blew out the ingress hatch and floated out and over to the space creature. The Eeshew extended toward Shenor an enveloping beam and gently pulled him into her opened maw. Once Shenor was safely in, she swung away from the other ship as it exploded, a piece of the hull barely missing The Eeshew’s pointed tail.

For the one hundred years that Shenor has been in existence, he has never encountered a creature like the one he was in now. From the maw, Shenor was guided by the creature’s thoughts along a sensory conduit. As he moved through the conduit, a feeling of reassurance pulsated through his being that he was now safe. The reassurance was accompanied by a wave of gratitude from the Euq for coming to her aid against the “cold beings”.

I am pleased to have come to your aid, Shenor thought to The Eeshew as he entered a chamber. He became aware that this chamber he was now entering was in The Eeshew's head, just below the neural center, where he may observe the creature's flight. Shenor felt a very peculiar bond forming between his mind and the mind of this creature. He also felt that painful sensation again, constantly pressing through his gaseous form.

Shenor felt from The Eeshew a longing for the flares of a star or the enveloping gases of a nebula to help the healing of her wounds. The Eeshew shortly located the nearest star system and, after consuming the debris from the two “artificial creatures” for energy, was underway toward the system.

*

While they were en route to their destination, Shenor learned that The Eeshew was in grief over her systemmates. He learned that The Eeshew's fellow Euq had been killed by more of the “cold beings” who had been attacking her when he came to her aid. The Zirquin, Shenor told The Eeshew, were what the “cold beings” were called. Transmitted with his thought, was the sorrow he felt, not only for The Eeshew's loss, but also for the fact that it was an ancient Darkkon creation that caused the grief.

The Eeshew made known to Shenor that tellings have been told among congregating Euq that the Zirquin have forced many kinds of gas-breathers away from their cosmic bodies and have even wiped out some of them completely.

I must inform the Governing Minds of the TriUnion of this news, Shenor said. Something must be done about the Zirquin.

They soon arrived at the star and The Eeshew promptly established orbit within its corona. The star's heat soothed the creature's wounds, which began to quickly close in the proximity to the flaming ball of gas.

*

Once The Eeshew was fully revitalized, she obliged Shenor in heading for the coordinates he provided for the Fold Vortex that led to the Darkkon Realm. As she closed onto those coordinates, however, her senses alerted her to the presence of particles that she and other Euq prefer to avoid. The particles mark the presence of a Fold Corridor, Shenor told her. This one leads to the Realm of my kind. It is safe.

Reluctantly, The Eeshew proceeded slowly toward the particles until, with an explosion of light, she disappeared from from normal space and found herself traveling through a conduit of white, black, and every shade of blue and purple. Her senses fell into intense pain with the intensity increasing with every nanosecond they remained in the Corridor. Through their recently established bond, Shenor also felt the pain the Euq was suffering and immediately understood why she was reluctant to proceed through the Vortex.

They soon reemerged from the Corridor into a starless void, the only sources of light being the Darkkon ships and stations. Identify self! came a commanding telepathic transmission.

Shenor with The Eeshew of the Euq, Shenor answered while he was aware that The Eeshew was extremely disoriented and under a great amount of stress at being in this strange, starless space. Do not worry. We will return to your Universe shortly. Shenor felt the annoyance that The Eeshew held for him at the moment for having brought her into this terrible place.

For what reason are you within the Euq? came the Mind again. Through The Eeshew's senses, he saw the approaching lights of a cruiser and two escorts.

She was under attack by the Zirquin and would have died had I not intervened, Shenor answered. My vessel was destroyed in the skirmish and The Eeshew brought me under her care. She is now under great stress due to the state of our Realm and must promptly return to her Universe. I have been made aware, however, by The Eeshew of Zirquin activities which should be brought to the attention of the Governing Minds of the TriUnion.

We shall escort you to the TriUnion world of Gatalik in Galaxy 146,
said the Mind.

The three artificial creatures before us will show us the way back to your Universe, Shenor told The Eeshew. I promise, The Eeshew, to never again bring you to this stressful place, he said sympathetically as the Euq pushed her propels to carefully follow the three Darkkon ships to another Fold Vortex.

*

Once again, Shenor felt the pain The Eeshew suffered from the strain of the passing through the Corridor. It passed, however, as soon as The Eeshew found herself back in normal space. The Eeshew pulsated in rejoice to once again find herself back among a Universe of stars.

I apologize profoundly, The Eeshew, that I did not think that the Darkkon Realm or the Fold Corridors would have such a stressful effect upon you, Shenor said with deep regret.

The Eeshew accepted his apology, but Shenor was aware that the Euq still somewhat held him in contempt for the moment. The Eeshew continued to follow the three Darkkon ships into a nearby star system.

*

The Eeshew was soon settling into orbit around a blue planet with the three Darkkon ships. Her senses also detected a number of other beings already in orbit whose form she did not recognize. Shenor identified them as the organic vessels belonging to a race that the Darkkons knew as the Phantoms. They are one of two races with which the Darkkon Federation are allied in a TriUnion, Shenor told her.

Shenor, said the Mind that had spoken before, the TriUnion representatives have agreed to meet with you. Are you able to disconnect with the Euq?

Stand by, Shenor replied and relayed to The Eeshew the other's question. In response, The Eeshew told him that, since they had not been bonded long, their physical linkage was not yet permanent, unlike their mental link. Shenor told this to the Mind that had contacted him.

The representatives, then, will meet you on Gatalik, said the Mind.

I shall require assistance to the surface, Shenor informed the other.

We shall provide.

*

On Gatalik, Shenor was escorted by another Darkkon to a meeting room where there waited a shrouded black-robed figure of a Phantom, the gaseous body of a Darkkon, and a Sagen, whose body shined like a small star. In the center of the room, occupied a pedestal that served as a projector for images and transmissions.

“Welcome, Shenor,” spoke the Darkkon, whose body briefly appeared red with each word. “I am Rep Vokor. We were informed that you came to the assistance of an Euq from the Zirquin, losing your ship in the process. We were informed, also, that you have subsequently bonded with the Euq that you have saved and, through that bond, have learned of Zirquin movements.”

“You were informed correctly, honored Rep Vokor,” Shenor confirmed. He went on to recount for the three reps what he had learned from The Eeshew about the many races who were being forced from their worlds due to Zirquin invasion and of the many other races who were being wiped out entirely by the machines. “It is imperative that the TriUnion intervene before more races follow these others!”

“The time is yet to arrive for the TriUnion to intervene,” said the unemotional voice of the Sagen, twinkling with each word. “The Zirquin and the Zargon are to play a role in unifying the galaxy in which we are now.”

Shenor did not doubt what the Sagen said about the future role that the Zirquin and Zargon would play. He knew, as did everyone else, that Sagens existed non-corporeally in their subconscious. Past, present, and future did not mean the same for them as it did for the Darkkons, the Phantoms, and every other race in this Universe. “What of the worlds that are lost while we await the time of intervening?”

“Though sad may be the situation of such races, if we intervene now, there would be nothing to unite the many races in this galaxy who are now separate from one another. The best will result if we wait until the arrival of the proper time.”

“I understand,” Shenor replied humbly.

“There may yet be an advantage to employ Shenor and his bond with The Eeshew of the Euq,” the Phantom said to the other reps. “The Euq's behavior of congregating with those of different systems provides us with an efficient system of monitoring the actions of the Zirquin.”

“That may indeed be advantageous,” Vokor replied. Turning his attention to Shenor, he asked, “Would The Eeshew be willing to employ in such an assignment, Shenor?”

“The Eeshew is willing if she is not required for further travel through the Fold Corridors,”
Shenor answered, relaying the condition he sensed from the Euq through their mental bond. “Such travel apparently causes her kind tremendous pain on their senses.”

“The Euq are indeed capable of traversing between galaxies without the need of such Corridors,”
the Sagen commented.

“She then has no need of traveling through the Fold Corridors. She, therefore is not required to endure such travel,” said the Phantom.

“The Eeshew then, under those conditions, agrees to the employment,” Shenor said after a moment of consulting with the space-dwelling being.

Shenor was then allowed to return to The Eeshew. Shenor felt the love surge forth from the creature as he reentered and re-bonded with her. He and The Eeshew will now traverse the galaxies as one. First, though, The Eeshew set course for the sun to allow her senses to fully recover from the strain they experienced from the Fold Corridors and the Darkkon Realm.


THE END
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