Chapter 2: 61 Hours Before
NEED TO ADD AN OPENER ABOUT THE SHIP BEING DAMAGED AFTER THE BATTLE. MAYBE IT JUMPED TO LIGHT-SPEED AND GOT A WAY FROM THE BATTLE.
His eyes opened to the face of his 1st Officer, Commander Mia Gan-Anwar, standing directly over him. Her long hair partially hung downward, almost brushing his face. The rest seemed to be matted against her head with blood and a series of deep cuts riddled across her face.
Still, she was beautiful.
“Enjoyed your nap, Sir?” she said with a smile.
“I’ll take it when I can get it.” He replied trying to push himself up.
He braced himself to stand, but his left arm didn’t seem to agree. He tried to raise it, but it felt like something invisible was preventing the movement.
“You dislocated your shoulder again.” Mia said, grabbing his bicep.
“I hate this part.” He whispered as she yanked with all the strength she had left. Alex’s arm locked into his shoulder socket with a loud pop. An electric web of white hot pain race down his left leg and up the side of his face.
He screamed. “Mother… fucker!!!”
“Sorry, Sir.” She apologized, standing and waiting for orders.
He quickly rotated his left arm. It was extremely soar, but manageable.
“How long was I out?”
“12 minutes.” She replied. “We got caught in the planetary wake. Pretty much fried everything ship-wide. Tash is rebooting what he can.”
She nodded. “Yessir. They used a Planet Killer. Essex 4 is gone.”
And then Alex remembered.
They had successfully made their 8th time-jump, but their timing was off considerably. It took too long for the Terran Militia to let them go from custody. They needed at least five months to prepare for the NýX invasion.
They were only given two.
With every jump back in time, things were a little different. It took weeks just to get acclimated to the subtle nuances of alternate timelines.
“We failed again;” He said under his breath. “How many times does this make?”
“Eight.” she replied. “We’ll have everything reset within a day.”
Alex nodded. “Okay.” He made his way to the command chair. “Plot a course for The Anomaly.”
Mia’s brother, Tash sat at the helm. From there, he had access to navigation, weapons and information. At the moment, the four holographic screens that usually floated arms-length in front of him were damaged. Alex watched him using the flickering secondary screens on-top of his control console.
“Ping the fleet. See if there’s anyone close enough to offer assistance.”
“I’ve tried 3 times.” Tash replied. “There is no one out there. The NýX pretty much took out most of the fleet. The rest got caught in the planet’s blast.”
“Shit.” Alex wiped his brow; feeling the sticky blood on top of his head. “How bad are we?”
Tash booted a schematic of the ship. Normally you’d see a top-side view of the entire ship broken down into sections. Each section would usually display in the range of colors. Green for ‘fully operational’, Yellow for ‘within normal parameters‘, Orange for ‘in need of maintenance‘, and Red for ‘out of commission‘. With the exception of the command deck’s orange status, the rest of the ship was colored in bright red.
“I got the oxygen filters working so we’re good on life support.. at least for the moment. The problem I have now is all standard connectivity with the main systems have been severed.” Tash punched a few buttons and changed the displays. “But I pinged systems ship-wide, and got a half dozen backtracks. So there’s still systems we have access to. I’m trying to re-route control through some of those connections, but I can’t make any promises.”
“That’s your priority. When you’re done, ping the satellite network, so we can get a handle on if there are any other fleet deployments. Maybe someone is close enough for an extraction.”
“Already done. We should get the bounce-back any minute.”
Mia handed Alex a message pad. The screen was slightly cracked but still readable.
“We’ve established a connection with engineering. No audio or video. Just a content feed. The rest of the ship is dark. I pinged life support and the only sections operational are us and engineering. So we have to assume the rest of the crew is KIA.”
Alex stared at the flickering forward screen. It was déjà vu, all over again. How many times had they been at his moment? How many times had they tried to stop the coming NýX apocalypse and failed? Eight times, they’d gone back through The Anomaly and tried to manipulate historic events. Each time, the universe found a way to adjust and adapt to the conquering of systems, the destruction of planets and the slaughter of an unbelievable amount of lifeforms.
He hadn’t noticed that Mia was standing next to him, staring at him. Each time they found themselves at this point in the timeline, she was there.. waiting for orders. Tash was always at the helm navigating them back to the re-spawn point. And he’d be sitting in his chair.
This was his own personal hell.
The flicker of lights and the sound of the back up generators brought him out of his thoughts.
“Okay.” Tash said, with a sigh. “Minimal systems back online. Plotting a course to The Anomaly.”
Mia handed Alex and message pad. She kept a list of all their several past attempts to change the future. “What now, Sir?”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t know. We’ve tried tip-toeing through history, trying not to alter much. That’s been a failure. Let’s step back and take a look at what we know.”
Alex stood and walked to the middle of the command deck.
Tash swiveled his chair around, while Mia read from her notes.
“September 14th, XXXX Earth Time: Mass Protectorate Intelligence reports multiple temporal incursions along their side of MP/Vox border. We know this to be the first recorded event of the NýX’s attempt to make a connection with our universe. Later released documents reported that attempts to communicate with the inter-dimensional anomalies were a failure.
“November 2nd, XXXX Earth Time: the anomalies, which started as occurring for only a fraction of a second, are now sustaining an opening for close to a minute. The MP try to send level 1, 2, 3 and 4 probes back through the anomalies. All attempts fail. There are no more occurring anomalies in that part of space after that.
“March 7th, XXXX Earth Time: a series of Vox and Sol civilian ships are first reported missing. A total of 13 ships disappear without a trace during routine travel between worlds. Joint investigations between The Vox and Earth Forces turn up no evidence of foul play. The ships had just vanished. We believe these are the first signs of the NýX successfully entering our universe and abducting specimens for study.
“November 19th, XXXX Earth Time: Earth’s Forces record a temporal wake just under a lightyear from a mining colony on the Kappa Crucis Cluster. A joint Earth/Vox task force is dispatched and discovers a medium sized vessel of unknown type and origin impacted on asteroid C-69387. No recognizable materials or lifeforms were cataloged, but several patches of a mysterious bio-material are found within. Scientific tests concluded that the materials used to build the ship and the unknown substances within were of unknown origin. This is believed to be the first discovery of a NýX vessel.
“April 2nd, XXXX Earth Time: 71 singularities measuring approximately 200 km2 in circumference open across monitored space. NýX attack vessels enter known space and being an invasion of our dimension. Within 3 weeks Earth Time, All major powers in the known galaxy fall to the NýX invasion.”
“July 17th, XXXX Earth Time: A resistance force consisting of the remnants of the Milky Galaxy refugees mount an attack on the only singularity that seems to still exist, hoping this is the last portal to the NýX dimension. The hope is detonating XXXXXXX near the event horizon of the singularity would destabilize and close it, preventing any further incursions.
An unforeseen side effect from the detonation is a temporal event, sending our ship back 6 months before the start of the NýX incursion into our universe. Each jump seems to have caused slight variants to space/time, minutely altering certain events, but keeping major ones intact.”
Mia pauses for a few moments to gather her thoughts.
Alex took a deep breath. “Ok, what do we know?”
“We know that the singularity still exists.” Mia started. “It seems to be a fixed point in space/time. In each reality, the other 70 singularities open at the start of the invasion, but that particular singularity is always open, and except for the initial invasion, nothing emerges from it.
“My hypothesis has been this rip in space/time could be the answer to solving everything. It’s a tether between events, creating a causality loop of sorts. Somehow, this singularity seem to be an Einstein–Rosen Bridge connecting a current fixed time and space to an exit point just outside of Jupiter’s moon Calisto on the Earth date August 14th 2248… approximately 6 months before the NýX invasion.”
Tash managed to clean up some of the damages systems on the holographic display. A content stream of information appeared in between them.
Alex rub his face roughly. “Yeah, and every time we do this over, we seem to get farther and farther away from the objective.”
Tash continued. “Adding to the fact that each time we go back, the NýX find a way to stay on schedule.”
Alex breathed deeply. “Brainstorm time. Options?”
“Well..” Tash was the first to answer. “This all feels too… deliberate and convenient. It’s as if someone or something has been putting us on a path– giving us a do-over to try and stop the invasion.”
“Or it could just be a random event created by a massive amount of energy disrupting the laws of physics in two different anomalous locations.” Mia added.
Tash smirked. “Yeah, or that.”
“What if we go with the initial plan?” Alex addd. “Collapse the singularity on this side of the wormhole? Can we still do that?”
Mia breathed deep. “We don’t have the firepower, let alone the technology to accomplish it. Plus, if we did that, we’d still be left with a dead galaxy and an overwhelming amount of occupied NýX forces. We still lose. A better solution would be to continue using the anomaly to go back and try to find a way to prevent the invasion all together. Or at least find a suitable weapon to repel the attack– which seems to be the more difficult of the tasks.”
Alex found his way to his command chair, “We don’t know how many more times we get at this, and each time we go back, we slightly alter historical events. Is it safe to assume that sooner or later we’ll end up in a timeline where the Anomaly doesn’t exist?”
“Judging by the constant variants of each jump,” Tash speculated. “That’s a pretty good possibility.”
“Then our best course of action is to change the narrative once we go back.” Mia added.
“We’re locked into a 6 month window before the invasion. We enter the anomaly, which nearly disintegrates our already damaged ship.” Mia postulates. “When we’re rescued and quarantined by Admiral Porter and friends, it take nearly 2 months to get back in action. There has to be a way to fast-track out of their custody and onto the mission.”
“I think we can.” Alex smiled. “I think we have everything we need. I just need to get off my ass and try the direct approach.”