Author’s Note: This story was submitted previously for Golden Point Award 2011 but never manage to win anything.
Every hour, turquoise-green inverted funnel-like pseudo-structures would appear in space, fifty thousand kilometers from Earth. It was the tearing of space during the opening of a hyperspace window. In the third millennium, such was a common sight. If anyone were to peer in closely through the hole at the center of the structure, past the fury display of ultra-hot multi-colored plasma streaks, they would see a massive tunnel enclosed within a cylindrical pure opalescent blue wall with sliver of white streaks running along the surface. A dark speck could be seen in the middle within seconds of the opening of such window. As soon as one would open his mouth and say ‘A’, the dark speck within would be thrown out at high-hypersonic speeds before the window closed in a dwindling display of whitish-blue light before dissipating into nothingness. Upon materialization in real-space in fractions of a second, this dark speck would grow into spaceships. They came in a variety, ranging from ovoid shapes of fifty meters long to the mammoth oblong rectangles of a kilometer long, five hundred meters tall and forty deep.
One such window opened one-point-four-five million kilometers from Earth, just a short distance from Lagrangian point 1. This window was slightly larger than the average and was of a slightly darker turquoise-emerald color. A short time later, a massive oblong rectangular, almost trapezoid, object shot through the window. The object was a massive ship of nearly one-point-five kilometers long with dark, radar-absorbing paint on its hull. Along the lower section of the hull, almost at the mid-point of the ship’s length, were words painted in white: Victorious, Behemoth-class. White ionized flames shot out of the hundreds of maneuvering thrusters situated along Victorious’s hull while the sixteen rear cone-shaped thrusters reduced their output of ionized flames. A short time later, Victorious came to a complete halt.
The Victorious was the Terran Federation’s premier battleship. As its christened name suggested, it always emerged victorious in any battle it was engaged in. Its tens of missile pods, zero-point energy cannons and MacroLaser turrets would ensure of that. Its Cyclonic-Slapper shield and point-defense systems would ensure no enemy weapons even get close enough to damage the ultra-thick superstructure. Powered by six zero-point engines with four more in reserve, the Victorious’s sublight speed could hit point-six that of light speed and was the fastest battleship known in this sector of space. Its six oversized hyperspace drive cores provided the Victorious the ability to travel hundreds of light years in a single opening of the hyperspace window; most ships would have to drop out of hyperspace after every one hundred light years to ensure their hyperspace drive cores don’t overheat and suffered irreparable damage. Most enemy commanders who encountered the Victorious in the field would initiate a full retreat. Stubborn enough commanders who chose to fight usually never saw the light of the next day again. The ships belonging to these commanders would be obliterated till there weren’t any parts left to salvage or return home.
Due to its legendary status, even with Terran Federation’s military, everyone thought that the captain was some old man with a massive wealth of combat experience. Adding to the mystery was that no one ever saw the true face of the captain, except for Victorious’s seven hundred crewmembers and some of the top officials in the government who kept the Victorious captain’s identity a state secret. Little did they know that at the helm was in fact an eighteen-year-old named Brandon Barrowsky, the Terran Federation President’s second son.
Brandon was standing by the window of the recreational deck when Victorious dropped out of hyperspace, staring out at the vast space. Space around was mostly black with the exception of the light from the Sun and the trade ships that shuttled hundreds of tons of goods between the thousands of colonized worlds of the Terran Federation. If Brandon was looking out for any ship around Victorious, he would find none. There were no other ships within two hundred kilometers of Victorious as many feared it. But that doesn’t mean that it was all alone in this universe. There were many other military ships of similar sizes and equally powerful but none were within range. Most of them were docked at the military outpost. The outpost was a two hundred kilometer wide at its center, a hundred kilometers tall and fifty kilometers structure in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth, servicing countless number of military ships, ranging from resupplies to repairs.
He turned his head gently when he heard footsteps approaching from behind. Once Brandon’s eyes registered who the person was, he recognized the person immediately. The person was a teenager about his age, about the same height as he was at five-foot-seven, with skinny long arms and a handsome, boyish face and dirty blond hair. Every facial feature on the face was placed apart at an optimal distance. He was in fact Brandon’s older twin brother, Jayden.
“Hey, lil’ bro!” Jayden greeted as he raised his hand.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Brandon asked with a slight irritation in his voice before he turned his attention to the vast black space again.
“Just checking on you. You seemed a little off the whole week.” Jayden said as he approached closer, standing beside Brandon. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong or do I have to pry it out your head?”
“I’m alright. I just miss home that’s all. I miss the meals that we have together as a family with mom and dad. I’m tired too.”
“Oh, I know how you feel. I’m feeling exactly the same way but—“
Brandon interrupted before Jayden could finish his sentence, “I know we are twins but there’s this difference. I don’t handle such situation with such coolness.”
Jayden bit his lips together and his eyes went shifty. He was suddenly embarrassed by the fact he had to be reminded that his twin brother had this slight difference. He went closer and hugged his brother as he always did whenever his brother was feeling down. And it usually cheered Brandon up. So this time wasn’t any different.
Then the communication devices which hung by their ears began beeping. The communication device was a two centimeter oblong black rectangle a hook at one end, which was used to hook securely to the ear. The two brothers tapped the small button on their respective devices and blue translucent holographic strips appeared in front of their eyes. A turquoise sine wave appeared in each of the strip, signaling that this was a voice-only communication.
“What is it?” the brothers asked in unison.
“Captain Barrowskies, the Chief Admiral is ready to receive,” a husky voice said on the other end. The twins recognized the voice immediately for it belonged to the Chief Communication Officer of the Victorious, a thirty-five-year-old man, Lieutenant John Caviar, who served on the Victorious for the whole of his military life.
“Roger that,” the brothers replied in unison. “Transport us down.”
“Activating Transportation Beam,” John replied.
A few seconds later, the fabric of space-time around each of the twins began to loop onto itself, slowing down time drastically. Objects began to blueshift as photons’ wavelength began to decrease. A small fraction of a second later, they soon found themselves encased in an opalescent ovoid, almost diamond-like exotic energy lattice. It resembled a bird cage made out of pure blue energy. Occasionally, milky-white streaks of energy surged through the empty spaces between the skinny poles of the lattice. Then each pole rapidly widen, merging with its neighbors. And when it was over, each of the twins found himself in a solid and opaque ovoid, almost diamond-like case with opalescent surfaces, which soon rapidly took on darker shades of blue until they became black. It all happened within a second. At quantum level, the wave function which represented the physical location of each of the twins’ quantum lattice—which itself represented all the molecules and their quantum states that defined each person—was transposed. The transposition of the wave function resulted in the swapping of the object’s physical location in real space. When the location swap completed, the process reversed. That was when the twins found themselves in a brown octagonal, tubular room.
The twins didn’t need to study the room as they knew where they were: The Federation Central Fleet Command Transport/Receiver Room. It was where all the transportation of personnel and receiving incoming transportation took place if one was to meet the Chief Admiral of the Federal Space Navy. They were standing on a raised white hexagon platform with three-step stairs protruding out from the middle of each side. Overhead, the polylight strips gave the room a warm white glow and with the white walls, the room took on an ultra modern look. Two Federal military soldiers, dressed in their dark and dull combat exosuits, stood guard by the side of the arch doorway with their gauss automatic carbines pointed at the ceiling and their facial expressions didn’t seemed to reveal anything. They were all straight faced however at the sight of any threat appearing on the transportation platform, they would spring into action without hesitation. The soldiers posted to this facility were of the best from wherever they came from. These soldiers were also further given the Federation’s best genetic modifications therapy to further boost their already superior reaction time, combat abilities, healing and regeneration, and strength prior to their postings. Unlike conventional soldiers, these soldiers were trained to deflect any attempts at telepathic influence or attack. Even the most powerful telepaths on this side of the galaxy could only maintain up to four telepathic influential connections to these soldiers. And that was with extremely intense mental concentration. After thirty minutes, the telepath would either burn out or die from excessive brain hemorrhage.
The twins stepped down from the platform and that was when a man dressed in the Federal Navy’s standard blue uniform came in and greeted them. Genetic modification allowed the man to stay in his late thirties and maintain a slim profile, hiding the actual age of late sixties. His hair had no trace of any whites or grays and was cut to the standard military length. There too weren’t any wrinkles and he was still as suave as the twins remembered during their childhood. He was Rear Admiral Joseph Adam, the Personal Assistant to the Chief Admiral. Despite the title, Personal Assistant, sounded like some secretary of a company, it was in fact a high-ranking military position that deserved respect due to the office he was in. And not just anyone could simply be the Chief Admiral’s Personal Assistant as it would require someone with years of experience and a colonel-equivalent rank or higher. The trio exchanged hugs which were uncommon within the Federal Navy. But because of the twins’ age, the adults always treated them as little kids. In Joseph’s case, he had always been a fatherly figure to the twins especially now that their biological father was always so busy with politics. So in this case, the hugs were more on the personal level. However that didn’t mean there was no mutual respect when it came to official business. Of course, the twins didn’t blame their father for not being around most of the time. They understood completely what his job entailed.
“Admiral Adam, what are you doing here?” Jayden asked, mildly surprised at Admiral Adam’s presence.
“I’ve got some free time and would like to enjoy a conversation as we walk through the corridors,” Joseph replied with a big smile on his face. He gestured to the doorway he just came through earlier with his hand, and the twins went through first with Joseph trailing behind. Upon exiting the doorway, they were walking along the long L-shaped corridor which led to several rooms with arch doors. A large oblong rectangle window took up much of the wall at the far end of the corridor—just before the bend—offering a grand view of the vast metropolitan below. At the end of the bend was the Chief Admiral’s office. As the trio walked, there was total silence and the twins’ walking pace ensured that they were a couple of inches ahead of Joseph. Sensing something was wrong, Joseph picked up his pace and placed his arms on the twins’ shoulders as he walked in between them, “So how have you boys been?”
“We are fine,” Brandon replied quickly, hoping to prevent his brother from divulging what he had been feeling for the past few days. Jayden glared at his brother before looking up at Joseph, who was at least four inches taller than them, “I’m fine but Brandon is not. He’s been feeling down for the past few days onboard the Victorious.”
“No, that’s a lie,” Brandon protested.
“Now, now, boys, be honest.”
“It’s nothing. I’m just exhausted from everything. I just wanna take a break,” Brandon replied. There were tones of sadness and tiredness.
Joseph ruffled the hair on the back of the twins’ heads, “Well, after this, the both of you can go on a long holiday. I believe the crew of the Victorious does deserve some shore leaves, especially after the past few successful missions against the Valsek Empire.”
The twins simply eased into a smile, “Really?”
“Yes, my personal promise. I’ll let the Chief Admiral know.”
For the next five minutes as they went winded through the corridor, they chatted about what had happened so far, sharing some of their experiences. They even had talks on what they thought about the Valsek Empire which brought up a well of emotions that were bottled up within the twins. Their mother was killed during a battle with the Valsek Empire’s legendary Fourth Fleet over two H-congruous planets in the Forhorn System. That was three years ago but the pain was still there. It was also the time when their father decided to leave the military as he was particularly angry at the bureaucrats for requesting the Victorious to focus on small time pirates instead of the actual threat. So their father went on to bid for the president.
The Valsek Empire was a thousand star system wide civilization consisted of mostly silicon-based life form, known as Valsekies, and had been fighting against the Terran Federation since their first contact four hundred years ago. It wasn’t a war over resources but rather because they were simply different life forms. Both sides simply fought out of fear of each other. Countless billions suffered bodyloss, even more suffered crippling wounds and there were millions actual deaths. The bodylosses and the wounds were nothing. Those that suffered bodylosses could easily have their consciousness and memories transferred to re-cloned bodies. Those who suffered missing limps or organs could have parts replaced with lab-grown versions which were derived from the person’s stem cells. But for the twins’ mother, she didn’t want to have anything to do with cloning. She believed that a person should only have one original body. So she didn’t have any consciousness and memory backup. But sometimes, the twins wished that their mother weren’t so stubborn and went for the backup procedure. Now nothing could bring her back. The only satisfying thing that brought some form of comfort to the twins’ emotional roller-coasters was their father’s policy on the Valsek Empire. With their father at the helm, the Terran Federation had been extremely successful in their battles. There were also times when the Terran Federation military brought the fight to the Valsekies, colonizing some of their planets in the process.
Before they knew it, they were standing just outside the large rectangular metal sliding door leading to the Chief Admiral’s office. Joseph stepped forward and slide his hand over the biometric scanner located to the right of the door. The door slid open with a hissing sound as hydraulics did their work and beyond the door was a massive oblong rectangle office that was partitioned into two sections. The first section contains the main office area for administrative staffs and the cubicles housing these staffs were arranged in a grid manner. Behind all that was a medium size room which was the Chief Admiral’s office. There were no windows of any sort in the room. Overhead, polylight strips arranged in a grid manner provided the warm and lighting needed.
Joseph led the twins through the main office area. Some of the staffs greeted them warmly while some ignored their presence and were engrossed in their work. Translucent and large blue holographic screens continuously changed their display contents as fingers danced away at the holographic keyboards of various colors. Before long, they were standing at the Chief Admiral’s oak door and Joseph gave it a light knock. The Chief Admiral answered almost immediately, “Come on in.”
Joseph opened the door and went in first with the twins following behind. The office was yet another oblong rectangle with sparse furniture scattered around. It was much spacious than they initially thought when they saw the way the walls partitioned. There were some natural plants and even a few cacti at the corners of the room. A large brown oak-analogue desk was in the middle with a large holographic screen and keyboard. The Chief Admiral was seated behind the desk, busy typing away at the keyboard when they walked in. There was a sense of trepidation as they were after all in one of the Federation’s most respected office. They walked towards the desk slowly as if they were kids about to be reprimanded. They stopped just a couple of inches behind the three chairs which were placed in a row, in front of the desk. The trio straightened up, saluting and greeted, “Sir.”
The Chief Admiral looked up and his fingers stopped typing. He was in his late nineties but had the appearance of someone in his mid-fifties without the wrinkles and fats. He was a handsome man with brown eyes, an average-sized nose and curly brown hair that was cut to military standard. If he had stood up, he would be at least two inches taller than Joseph and was of a muscular build. The Chief Admiral was also a person who followed strict exercise regime and only eat just enough to fulfill his daily calorie needs. His exercise regime allowed him to be the fittest in this whole office. Unlike most terrans who received gene therapy only after their tenth birthday, the Chief Admiral was a designer child. His genes were tuned towards perfection while he was just an embryo, making him vastly more intelligent than most. He was also much tougher and had rapid regeneration ability. He was also one of the most powerful telepath, almost rivaling the twins. The twins, being fellow designer children, were officially recognized as the Federation’s most powerful human beings alive at the age of fifteen.
The Chief Admiral returned the salute before gesturing with his hand at the chairs.
“Gentleman, please take a seat.”
The trio took their seats and stared intently at the Chief Admiral, waiting with anticipation. Four days ago, Brandon and Jayden with the help of the Victorious and the Federal Intelligence Services located the Valsek Empire’s Fourth Fleet and their next destination. The twins had always wanted revenge on the Fourth Fleet and had in fact spent considerable resources tracking their target’s movements. It was determined that the Fourth Fleet would make a stop at the Caridous System where the enemy had a small refueling outpost. Little did the enemy know the Federation had a small fleet of frigates in the system for a scouting mission; so the frigates were notified of the incoming enemy fleet and they went into hiding within the atmosphere of a gas giant known as GB-X9042 and using the gas giant’s powerful magnetosphere to scramble enemy scanners. That group of frigates had since been reporting back any findings they made. Two days ago, they reported that the Fourth Fleet had arrived and begun their resupply mission. As of two hours ago, the Fourth Fleet was still there. So Brandon and Jayden submitted a mission plan and a request to go after the Fourth Fleet an hour ago. It was a golden opportunity. Not only would the destruction of the Fourth fleet help bring on a sense of payback, it would also help the Federation Navy in general. Without the Fourth Fleet, the Valsek Empire’s Navy would be vastly crippled. For some reason, instead of letting the twins know of his stance on the mission over the Navy TransCOMNET, the Chief Admiral had requested the twins meet him in person. So now, here they are sitting in his office.
“Well, I’ve read through the mission plan and all. The amount of resources devoted to this operation is tremendous even by our standard. And what if the operation fail? We would lose a lot of men and ships—”
“But Sir, it’s the Fourth Fleet. If we don’t deal with them now, they would still be threatening all our future operations—” Jayden said, interrupting the Chief Admiral only to be interrupted himself when the Chief Admiral raised his hand, palm facing them.
“Let me finish, Captain. I didn’t say no to the operation. I asked you to come here personally because of two things. First, I want you two to be able to look me in the eyes and tell me you can do it,” the Chief Admiral said, his voice was still calm. If it was any other senior officers, they would have raised their voice in respond to Jayden’s interruption.
The twins simply looked straight, their faces devoid of any emotions. The air around them began to fill with their confidence, “Yes sir. We can do this.”
“Good. Second, I had made some changes to the battle plan to make it better and stored it in this data disk. I don’t want to pass it to you over the communication network for there might be spies,” the Chief Admiral said as he waved a yellowish, oblong rectangle disk in the air. “Next, I want you to take the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada for this mission. They are currently the most combat ready with their full complement of three hundred ships each and all crew positions filled. They are already in position alongside the Victorious. Wipe out the enemy. I want nothing of them left. That’s all.”
Smiles began to form on the twins’ faces but Joseph was still frowning at the idea. He knew about the mission but due to the nature of the Fourth Fleet for they had not lost a single battle even against overwhelming odds, Joseph feared for the safety of the two kids and Victorious. Till now, the Victorious had been their trump card against any enemy forces and if they lose the ship, it might just spell the end of the Federation Navy. But if they won, it would seriously put a major dent in Valsek Empire’s ability to conduct future operations.
“Thank you, Sir. We shall now get ready,” Jayden replied as he grabbed the data disk.
The Chief Admiral nodded, “Good hunting and good luck.”
The trio stood up and saluted which was returned. Then the trio spun around and went out of the office, heading back to the transportation room. On the way there, they didn’t speak much. The twins were still feeling elated and Joseph didn’t feel there was a need to spoil the mood despite how much he was against the mission. Unable to control his emotions, he started pouring out his dread into the surrounding and the twins’ telepathies picked it up. The twins stopped dead in their tracks, forcing Joseph to stop too.
“Admiral Adam, what’s the matter?” Brandon asked as he turned around to face Joseph. Jayden had also turned to face Joseph which made him blushed.
“Er . . . I’m just worried about you boys going out on this mission. It’s extremely dangerous. What if you boys don’t make it back? How the hell am I going to answer to your father?”
“Admiral Adam, don’t worry about us. We will make sure we come back alive. Don’t forget that we still need that break of ours and you promised us,” Brandon said with a smile.
“And the best thing you could do for us is to pray for us though we know there’s no such thing as God. Three thousand years of science had proven that much. Well, whatever it is, let’s just hope that the enemy has no reinforcement. Maybe you could help us along that line,” Jayden added and his facial expression had turned serious.
“I’ll do what I can. Just be careful. When you boys come back, the break will be waiting for you. Just make sure you boys are still alive to use it. Death is definitely not my idea of a holiday break.”
“Ha, we agree. And for insurance sake, we went for a consciousness backup procedure just before we came down here. Those memories of ours are currently en route to the re-cloning facility as we speak. There are of course multiple copies.”
Joseph nodded his head and smile. He gave them a hug each before they proceeded on to the transportation room. The twins got up to the platform and bid their goodbyes. Then Jayden opened a channel to the Victorious with his communication device, “Victorious, we are ready to transport.”
The next thing the twins saw was the familiar sight of the Victorious’s arrow-shaped bridge. At the front of the bridge was the one piece window that offered a view out. Scattered around the bridge in a petal-pattern were computer consoles which the six bridge crewmembers would use for communication, weapon control, shields and many other things critical to the operation of the ship. Hanging overhead was the large central holographic screen which the bridge crew would use to display any important information.
John was standing beside the twins when they appeared on the bridge. Jayden turned to look at him and handed the data disk to him, “it contains the newly updated battle plan. Communicate it to Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada. They are joining us in this mission.”
John grabbed the data disk, “Yes sir.” John immediately ran over to this console, plugged in the data disk and started transferring the information to the three armadas via the secure Navy ExoCOMNET. Once all the armada commanders acknowledged they received the battle plan, Brandon opened a secure communication channel to the three armadas from his command post. Jayden meanwhile had the crew ready as soon as the go code was given.
“Attention all commanders! I believe you had received the latest battle plan. So we will operate in accordance to the plan but if the situation calls for it, we will adapt to any changes. We shall not fail in this mission. The operation will commence on my mark,” Brandon said before he paused to scan across the bridge. Every one of them was looking at him full of anticipation. “Mark!”
At that instant, hyperspace windows opened in space in front of the six hundred and one ships. Seconds later, they were all pulled in by the vast gravitation field generated by the windows.
Several hours later, the six hundred and one ships dropped out from hyperspace just two hundred and ten kilometers from the system’s third gas giant. It was twice the size of Jupiter with thick, various blue and white bands of methane gas swirling around the planet at hundreds of kilometers an hour. The same gas giant was home to the Valsek outpost and the three hundred strong Fourth Fleet was in an elliptical orbit around it.
Even as they travelled through hyperspace, the federation ships received constant updates from the hidden frigates. As a result, the six hundred and one ships were able to exit from hyperspace at the precise moment and distance with their weapons already powered up. The ships’ automated target acquisition systems immediately locked on to their targets.
Then the six hundred and one ships fired their weapons. The Valsekies didn’t even have time to react.
Blue laser and gamma beams shot towards their target at near light speeds. Enemy shields shimmered violently in the red and purple spectrum as they tried to deflect the ultra high-energy blasts, releasing ultra-hard radiation in the process. Following closely were quantum missiles with anti-hydrogen warheads. They streaked out of their pods towards their targets at hundreds of gees of acceleration as their ion thrusters shot sizzling hot iridescent ions which resembled miniature shooting stars when viewed from far. The enemy ships’ point defense systems shot out red lasers as their auto-defense system tried their best to take out the incoming missiles. Missiles that got through bypassed the enemy shields in an act similar to quantum tunneling. The missiles exploded within the space between the ships’ superstructures and the shields, blanketing the ships in series of massive scarlet explosions. The ships’ superstructures buckled under the intense explosions. When the explosions died down, spots of charred metal could be seen. The already battered enemy shields began to falter in a display of red and orange flickers. The final nail into the Fourth Fleet’s coffins came in the form of kinetic projectiles shot by the Federation’s zero-point cannons. These silent, relativistic projectiles destroyed their target through sheer kinetic energy and needed no explosives. As projectiles struck their target, energies on the order of several times that of the impact which killed the dinosaur were released. For that brief moment, local space lit up brighter than the parent star.
By the time the explosions died down, only space dust remained. With the mission over, all six hundred and one Federation ships jumped back to hyperspace and went home.