The Space-Time Chronicles
A collection of tales spanning across the multiverses of time and space.
Prologue: Flight from Redemption
By John J. Joex
Copyright © March 2018
The ships swarmed to the surface of the planet Kella. The Eradicators had been dispatched to bring the justice of redemption to that world. The verdict had been passed by the Redeemers and the gods–or those who had chosen to anoint themselves as such–had been found guilty of hubris. And now the Eradicators had been sent to put an end to the era of the gods.
From the air, their ships bombarded the cities. On the ground, they opened their bellies to spew out the troops that would bring dreaded redemption. Time for those on the surface of the planet had grown very short.
As the bombardment from above shook the halls, Jorret hurried into the control room and commenced a quick survey of the monitors. His hand glided across the counsel before his attention was averted by the light signaling an incoming message. He waved a hand at the light and a holographic image appeared. He did not stop to watch as he anxiously turned his attention to collecting data crystals and adjusting controls to the proper settings.
“Jorret, as you likely already know, the judgement has come down,” said Torris in a pre-recorded message. “Our people have played gods in this galaxy far too long and perhaps now we receive the retribution for our arrogance. The trial of the Redeemers has decided that we are a blight on the universe and should be eradicated.” Torris’ voice paused for a moment before he continued. “It is a foolish decision and our people are equally foolish to accept its verdict.”
Jorret kept up his hurried pace of preparations, but allowed himself to glance over at the hologram.
“The Redeemers have claimed that we have brought nothing but conflict and strife to this galaxy while ignoring that it has in truth always been there. It is the cycle of the universe, conflict balances out peace. It is not our doing, it is the way of nature. We have molded life on the many planets in our own image and helped shepherd those races into maturity. Conflict and strife is only a natural part of that.”
At that moment, an explosion shook the complex. Jorret turned to look and realized that the threat was not in the near vicinity at that moment. But he knew it was approaching quickly.
“Not only did we help bring up the races, they became an important part in our plan to build a better reality. We experimented with time itself, creating new timelines to see the outcome of events if things had unfolded in a different way. That led to conflict, yes. But in many cases it erased conflict as well and set some races on a different path. Those pivotal moments in history. Some on a grand scale yet some seemingly insignificant, they mark the course of history. And we have so much to learn from them.”
Jorret heard more explosions, this time closer. He activated the monitor and he could see the many ships landing in the vicinity of the city. He hurried the pace of his preparations.
“The races came into existence at our guidance,” Torris continued. “Each had their own traits and the many timelines showed us their potential for creation and destruction. That is where the answers lie! In those many timelines, in those pivotal moments. That is the point of the Abraxas project.”
As Torris said that name, Jorret looked through the window at the craft on the launch bay beyond to which he referred. A large sphere, elegant yet simple, and possibly the one hope to save his people. Another explosion shook the room, sending debris falling and Jorret to the floor. He pulled himself up and grabbed the case with the data crystals.
“The Redeemers would see it destroyed,” the recording continued despite the turmoil in the room. “They believe that there is nothing we can learn from it. They believe that it is yet another symbol of our arrogance. And perhaps they are not completely wrong. But it is also a symbol of our accomplishments!
“We cannot let them destroy it. The project must continue. Abraxus has been searching the multiverse for those pivotal moments, and it has pinpointed many throughout the timelines. But Abraxus is only a computer and it does not have the capability to analyze these moments as we would. It cannot reason through them and determine their importance. Perhaps it can be taught, but that will take time. And that is why at least one of us must be onboard and it must be allowed to launch.
“You’re the last one on Kella that believed in this project, Jorret,” Torris’ presence permeated the room and Jorret stopped for a moment to look at the image of the man. “You must make sure that Abraxus launches and you must be onboard. The agents of the Redeemers are already on route there and they will destroy Abraxas if they can. You must not let that happen.”
Another explosion sounded, much closer, and Jorret knew he had to leave. The recording continued as he exited the room with the case of data crystals in his hand.
“A great malaise has fallen on our people and far too many have given up. They have accepted the verdict of the Redeemers and willingly given in to dissolution. But we cannot allow ourselves to succumb as they have. We cannot allow what we have accomplished go to waste. Abraxas will give the proof that our efforts have not been driven solely by arrogance. The information it has collected will help us learn from the many pasts and build a better existence. It will help us invalidate the verdict of the Redeemers and it will bring life back to our people. You must make sure of that. The plan must be carried out and you must be part of it.”
The Eradicators raced into the complex. The agents of redemption unleashed their weapons upon anybody that offered resistance. Their goal was clear, they had to stop the launch. The Abraxas project had been ordered to stop, and these soldiers were driven to assure that happened. They swarmed though the complex, destroying all in their path. They carried out orders without question, destroying hope in the process. Their goal would be accomplished when nothing but a barren and scorched frame remained.
As Jorret raced down the corridor, he heard a voice boom over the intercom.
“Jorret of Kella!” The voiced announced. “We know you are hear and we know you plan to launch Abraxas. But the Eradicators have breached your security and will put a stop to this heresy. The verdict has been passed by the Redeemers and you must accept your fate.”
Jorret hurried his pace as more explosions rattled the complex. He turned to the corner to enter the launch chamber for Abraxas just as another blast caused him to the stumble and part of the ceiling collapsed in on him. A sharp fragment of metal pierced his side causing him to cry out in pain and he felt himself starting to black out.
“Jorret!” The voice boomed again. “If you launch Abraxas then you will be branded an outlaw. You will be marked for execution.”
Struggling against the pain and his body’s urge to give up, Jorret discovered a new strength of defiance from the words over the speaker.
“Branded an outlaw by a people that have given in to suicide,” he muttered to himself. “Perhaps not as terrible a fate.”
He fought against the agony shooting through his side and pulled himself up. He then stumbled forward onto the launch platform and through the ship’s open hatch. Once inside, he sealed the door behind him and made his way to the control room.
“Welcome aboard,” the voice of Abraxas said in a friendly tone. “You are injured and should seek immediate medical attention.”
“Good advice,” Jorret grunted. “But first we must launch.”
“I cannot do that,” Abraxas informed him. “I have been ordered not to launch and to prepare for disengagement.”
“I know ,” Jorret said partially to himself as he struggled into the control room and took a seat at the main panel. “That’s why I am going to give you the override commands that we built in.”
“That would be an illegal act and would result in severe consequences,” Abraxas pointed out.
“That is coming to me either way,” Jorret said with a pained voice. “I might as well stick with the original plan where I at least have some say in my own destiny.”
Jorret’s hand hovered across the controls and indicator lights began to activate in response. He then inserted one of the data crystals into the command counsel.
“Launch sequence is primed,” he said as he continued to monitor the control panel. “Override commands are loading now.”
The view screen showed the platform outside starting to buckle from the bombardment as the Eradicators swarmed in and fired upon Abraxas. A jolt rocked the ship and Jorret was forced to stop what he was doing for a moment as the crippling waves of pain shot through his body.
“The launch platform will collapse shortly,” Abraxas announced mater-of-factly. “I cannot launch until you have completed the sequence manually.”
“Working on it,” Jorret groaned through the pain.
“There is very little time,” Abraxas pointed out. “The hull has already sustained damage.”
Jorret looked at the screen and could see the troops setting up their weapons on the upper levels of the launch complex. He knew that they had sufficient power to destroy the ship and that helped him fight through the pain long enough to resume what he was doing. He passed his hand over the counsel several times to give the final sequence.
“This should help,” Jorret said defiantly as the counsel lit up with activity. A vibration could be felt throughout the ship and he could see a bright light obscure the view outside on the screen.
“Launch has commenced,” Abraxas announced as the ship shook violently followed by a sequence of explosions. Jorret fell from his seat and all went black.
The Eradicators had encircled the ship on the launch platform and unleashed their weapons upon it. Bolts of energy rained down on the sphere and it shook violently as the platform started to collapse. Then a vortex emerged in the hangar, grabbing the soldiers and pulling them to a violent death. They died believing that they had carried out their last command. They died believing that they had brought redemption to the heretics. The died a meaningless death.
Blackness faded to light, and Jorret came back to consciousness. He lay for several moments quietly staring at the ceiling before it finally dawned on him that he was in the sickbay of the Abraxas.
They had escaped. He knew that the vortex created by the launch would have led to the death of the soldiers. But they were going to willingly accept that death–that redemption–anyway, so he felt little remorse.
“You have been recuperating for several days now,” Abraxas reported. “But your injuries were severe and you are not fully functional yet. This sickbay has only limited capacity and you should seek further medical attention.”
“I will take it under advisement,” Jorret said without moving. Then he slowly lifted himself up and realized just how severe his injuries were.
“You’re injuries have not healed yet,” Abraxas noted. “You should continue with recovery for at least two more days.”
“What is the status of the ship?” Jorret asked as he lay back down, deciding to take the advice of Abraxas.
“I have sustained severe damage, but I am still functional,” Abraxas reported. “Temporal guidance controls are not responding. There is currently no means of controlling our destination in time and space. Presently we are in null space, but I do not know where we will arrive when we active the sequence to return to normal space.”
“But the program does,” Jorret noted.
“Please clarify,” Abraxas requested.
“The program we designed,” he explained. “To take us to the pivotal moments in the time-space continuum. Based on all the data you have collected. That program will take us to the pivotal moments across the timelines. For us to observer and analyze. We may not know what moment it is until we arrive there, but the program will guide us.”
“Was that the desired goal of the Abraxas project?” Abraxas queried.
“Not exactly,” Jorret commented. “We had planned on having control of where we jumped to. But for now it will suffice. Your internal systems will continue to self-repair and we should eventually regain control, ugh—” Jorret grunted as he experienced a wave of pain.
“Let’s just hope that I can survive long enough to see this project carried out,” he said.
“You should continue to rest, and you should take another course of medication,” Abraxas prescribed.
“Yes,” Jorret agreed. “For now. But soon we will arrive at our first destination. We must carry out the mission, and we must assure that our efforts have not been wasted. There is a future for our people, but it lies in what we will learn from the past.” The room went black as Jorret drifted off to sleep.
Next: Time Enough for Living
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