+--------------------------------------------------+

| Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Strategy Guide for PC |

| Author: Jim Chamberlin |

| Last Time Updated: 09/03/99 |

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I have included the fictional story about Alpha Centauri. It's long, but

you may be able to find out what exactly happened to cause everything. The

srory is owned by Firaxis Games, so I credit them with the great story. I

hope you enjoy it.

For those of you who are Alpha Centauri fanatics, there is some great

news. It turns out that there will be an add- on package. I believe

it's due for release in the 4th Quarter of this year. A rumor was for

release in October, but who knows. It's called Sid Meier's Alien

Crossfire. I'll keep you posted for more details, when I get around to

it. One of the features is the ability to make your own faction right

in the game. One other thing is with any add- on package, you need the

original game. I might also be putting in the story of how Alpha Centauri

happened. It'll include all the details. By details, I'm referring to the

spaceflight and the splitting up of the factions. I do give a brief

description in the guide of this, but the story will probably add on an

extra 75 pages or so. I'm still waiting from Firaxis, since they own the

rights to the story. I hope they give me permission, so I can let

everyone know what all happened.

At this moment, I am in the beginning stages of a rather large update to

this strategy guide. This one update is likely to either double or triple

the current size of the strategy guide. Instead of updating it and

sending it to various web sites which already have this guide many times

during the renovation, I'm just going to do it in one big shot. This will

take awhile, since I am extremely busy with other strategy guides. This

one is one of my top priorities, though. My WWF Attitude strategy guide

for Sony PlayStation is my top priority, as of now.

This guide was produced for no one in particular. It's basically a quick

reference guide with a few tips to keep in mind. If you haven't read the

manual that coincides with the game, don't worry about it. This guide

will replace the guide in most instances. However, to learn the menus and

general interface, you may wish to read the respective parts of the manual.

If you have any questions, e- mail me at: jjchamber4@aol.com.

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Table of Contents

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I. Introduction

II. The Factions

III. Landmarks

IV. Secret Projects

V. Facilities

VI. Technologies

VII. Planetary Council Proposals

VIII. Citizens

IX. General Tips

X. Hot Keys

XI. Credits/Links

XII. Farewell!


======================================

I. Introduction

======================================

Soon after the new millennium begins, war and disease take over and destroy

Earth. The U.N. ordered a mission to colonize another planet, before it

was too late. The mission, Unity, was to send enough people and supplies

to Chiron, in the Alpha Centauri system.

Space travel is very difficult. Despite this, Unity was able to launch

off. An unexpected reactor meltdown damaged the ship on the way to

Chiron. The meltdown damaged the communications equipment and contact

with Earth is lost. The most powerful leaders have built factions and

surrounded themselves with followers.

The U.N. Starship Unity ends up splitting up into seven pods, each

containing a faction. It's up to us to become the supreme leader and

expand our faction at all costs.

=====================================

II. The Factions

=====================================

There are seven factions of refugees from the disastrous destruction of

the U.N. Starship Unity.

Each faction is guided by the vision of its leader. These visions, in

turn, give each faction a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. By

comparing the strengths of your faction to the parameters of a customized

planet, you can either give yourself an edge against the other factions,

or set yourself a unique challenge to overcome.

GAIA'S STEPDAUGHTERS (LED BY LADY DEIRDRE SKYE)

The Gaians are determined not to repeat the environmental mistakes of old

Earth. They seek to live at peace with Planet. They start out with the

Centauri Ecology technology and advanced abilities to interact with the

native life, including the ability to move freely through xenofungus

squares and gather extra nutrients from fungus. Their empathy with Planet

gives them the ability to place ravaging wild mind worms directly under

their control. Even when your capture attempt fails and normal combat

results, a victory gives you energy credits harvested from the dead

worms. However, remember that Psi combat depends on morale only, so be

sure your explorers rate as disciplined or higher unless you are in the

first few years after Planetfall, when weak Mind Worms abound. Their

experience with recycling systems make their bases more efficient, but

their pacifist leanings undermine the abilities of their military units,

and they resent police control in times of crisis. Because of negative

environmental consequences, the Gaians can not make the "Free Market

Economics" social choice. If you explore a sea Unity Pod with a combat

ship or a full transport, the pod yields an Isle of the Deep more

frequently. Reason: If you don't have an empty transport bay, the game

rolls and re- rolls for the pod contents until you get something that

doesn't need an empty bay- often, an Isle of the Deep.

+1 Planet

+2 Efficiency

-1 Morale

-1 Police

+1 Nutrients in fungus squares

May not use Free Market economics

Aggression: Pacifist

Priorities: Explore

Starting Technology: Centauri Ecology

Agenda: Green

Aversion: Free Market

_Land Bases_

Gaia's Landing

Mindworm Pass

Lucky Autumn

Gaia's High Garden

Blackroot Palace

Dreams of Green

Forest Primeval

Greenhouse Gate

The Lines

Children of Earth

Razorbeak Wood

Velvetgrass Point

Vale of Winds

Last Rose of Summer

Song of Planet

Nescus Shining

Autumn Grove

Lily of the Valley

Silverbird Park

The Flowers Preach

Virgin Soil

Fallow Time

Resplendent Oak

Garden of Paradise

Thorny Vineyard

Chiron Preserve

Memory of Earth

_Water Bases_

Garden of the Deep

Deirdre's Fishery

Water Garden

Great Lagoon

Falling Water

Ocean Flower

Sea Cradle

Garden of Fishes

_Maximizing Native Forces_

- The Xenoempathy Dome and Pholus Mutagen Secret Projects each confer a +1

lifecycle bonus on any native unit you build.

- Native units built in a base with a Biology Lab, Centauri Preserve, or

Temple of Planet receive a +1 lifecycle bonus. This bonus is cumulative;

if a base has all three of these improvements, a native unit will begin as

a formidable Mature Boil. Add the above Secret Projects to the mix, and

you could be instantly producing the awe- aspiring Demon Boils.

- Two more Secret Projects can make your native units virtually

unbeatable: The Dream Twister (+50% to Psi attack) and the Neural

Amplifier (+50% to Psi defense).

- Choose the 'Green' Economy model from the Social Engineering Screen,

available with the discovery of Centauri Empathy (E3). This moves your

Planet rating to +3, giving you a 75% chance to capture native forms and

a whopping 30% bonus in Psi combat.

- Be sure to upgrade your native units using monoliths. Since Psi combat

depends only on lifecycle/ morale status, it is imperative that your Mind

Worms be as advanced as possible before joining battle.

- Stick to the fungus. Any native unit gets a combat bonus when in the

xenofungus, unless the other participant is also a native unit, and Mind

Worms also use the fungus as roads.

- Remember that native units don't get a 'hasty assault' penalty when

attacking with partial movement points. Even if you're down to 1/3 of a

movement point, charge away!

- Don't rely solely on native units. Once an enemy wises up to your

native force, they may send anti- Psi units equipped with some nasty

special abilities: Empath Song (+50% to Psi attack) and Hypnotic Trance

(+50% to Psi defense). Keep some conventional units on hand to deal with

these guys.

_Weakness: Morale_

Early in the game, particularly if you haven't captured the first Mind

Worm, the Gaians often prove easy pickings for any faction with military

muscle.

- The Command Nexus, Cyborg Factory, and Maritime Control Center Secret

Projects all increase unit morale.

- These base facilities also increase unit morale: Command Center (land

units), Aerospace Complex (air units), Naval Yard (naval units), and

Bioenhancement Center (ALL unit types).

- Several socioeconomic choices also increase morale, including the

Fundamentalist, Power, and Thought Control choices.

- Monoliths can upgrade your units.

- Build units with the High Morale special ability.

 

HUMAN HIVE (LED BY CHAIRMAN SHENG- JI YANG)

This faction is ruled under harsh collectivist/ authoritarian principles.

The good of the individual is totally subordinate to the state. They are

isolationist, and militaristic. The Hive begins with the Doctrine:

Loyalty technology. Their bases are built underground, giving them the

equivalent of a pre- installed Perimeter Defense facility. This means

that you don't have to produce a ton of defensive units in the beginning.

More resources can be used to produce a solid infrastructure and empire

expansion. This basically means that the Hive should try to build new

colonies as quickly as possible. Experienced Hive players have been known

to produce nothing but Colony Pods for the first fifty years, except for

the "Headquarters" base. This base is usually left for the Secret

Projects. If you were to attack and take over one of the Hive's bases,

you had better know that you can back it up from either the Hive or the

other factions. It's hard to win the base right back. Their population

growth and industrial development are above average, but their economy

tends to lag behind others. The Hive can not make the "Democratic" social

choice.

+1 Growth

+1 Industry

-2 Economy

Underground bunkers

May not use Democratic politics

Aggression: Aggressive

Priorities: Conquer, Build

Starting Technology: Doctrine: Loyalty

Agenda: Police State

Aversion: Democracy

_Land Bases_

The Hive

Discipline Tubes

Factory Maze

Sheng-ji Yang Base

Laborer's Throng

Unity Lair

Worker's Nest

Unification Cavern

Society Grid

People's Teeming

Social Engineering Den

Great Collective

Great Clustering

The Labyrinth

Proletarian Knot

Manufacturing Warrens

Paradise Swarming

Socialism Tunnels

Watcher's Eye

Communal Nexus

The Drove Mound

Working Man Hold

Social Artery

Plex Anthill

Huddling of the People

Seat of Proper Thought

Deep Passages

Yang Mine

The Leader's Horde

Fellowship City

Hole of Aspiration

Chairman's Burrow

People's Endeavor

The Colony

Labor Network

Fecundity Tower

Industrial Crawling

_Water Bases_

Sea Collective

Port Yang

Ocean Core

Deep Community

Factory Drift

Deep Clustering

Sea Hive

_Maximizing Your Growth Strategies_

- Build The Weather Paradigm as soon as possible. This Secret Project

decreases the time it takes to build enhancements in a square by 50%.

You can build farms and mines quickly, enabling you to grow your

population and its productive capacity even faster. You won't have to

build as many Former units, freeing up resources for other construction

priorities.

- Two Secret Projects really maximize your growth potential: The Planetary

Transit System, which causes all new bases to start at size three, and the

Cloning Vats, which causes a population boom at all of your bases.

Additionally, the Children's Creche and Sky Hydroponics Lab base

facilities improve your growth rate.

- The Planned and Eudaimonic social engineering choices also improve your

growth rate. With version two and higher of the game, the Hive suffers no

negative efficiency from any social choice, so there's no downside to a

Planned Economy.

- Discover Gene Splicing (B3) as soon as possible, so you can remove the

nutrient production restrictions that keep you from harvesting more than

two nutrients from a square each turn.

_Weakness: Low Efficiency_

- Build more solar collectors, particularly on rivers or at high

altitudes. If you have the Weather Paradigm, you can quickly implement

this method of increasing your energy. Be sure to discover Environmental

Economics (B5) so you can collect more than two energy per square each

turn.

- Build the Merchant Exchange Secret Project (+1 Energy in every square in

a base). Also, the Recycling Tanks and Orbital Power Transmitter base

facilities help offset a low Economy rating.

- Increase your Economy through the following engineering choices: Free

Market, Wealth, and Eudaimonic.

UNIVERSITY OF PLANET (LED BY ACADEMICIAN PROKHOR ZAKHAROV)

The University is completely dedicated to research and the free exchange

of information. They are rumored to sometimes put the pursuit of

knowledge ahead of ethics. They start the game with the Information

Networks technology and one additional bonus technology. Each University

base receives a free Network Node when founded. The University's research

progresses quickly, but their open- access philosophy makes them

susceptible to attacks by covert "Probe Teams," while their callous

elitism can easily lead to unrest among the workers. The University can

not make the "Fundamentalist" social choice.

+2 Research

-2 Probe

Free network node at every base

One bonus tech at beginning of game

Extra drone for every four citizens

May not use Fundamentalist Politics

Aggression: Erratic

Priorities: Discover

Starting Technology: Information Networks, +1 bonus tech

Agenda: Knowledge

Aversion: Fundamentalist

_Land Bases_

University Base

Academy Park

Lab Three

Library of Planet

Planetary Archives

Razvitia Progress Base

Cosmograd

Budushii Dvor

Tsiolkovsky Institute

Mendelev College

Nauk Science Center

Zarya Sunrise

Nadezjda Hope

Academgorodok

Koppernick Observatory

Svobodny Free Base

Zvedney Gorodok

Baikonur

Bibliotyek Science

Bibliotyek Letters

Climactic Research

Monitoring Station

Buran Prospect

Mir Lab

Relativity School

Pavlov Biolab

Lomonosov Park

Korolev Center

Gargarin Memorial

New Arzamas

Otkrietia Discovery

Zoloto Gold

Edinstvo Unity

_Water Bases_

The Marine Institute

Marine Biology Lab

Oceanographic Lab

Hydrothermal Institute

Deep Sea Lab

_Capitalize On Your Tech Advantage_

- Seek out Unity Pods for their alien artifacts. Alien Artifacts have

exceptional value to Zakharov, since the University possess a Network Node

in every base. In most cases, you can immediately link any artifacts to a

Network Node for a bonus advanced tech.

- Build the Merchant Exchange and the Supercollider Secret Projects in the

same base. Many players think of the Merchant Exchange as a Morganite

Secret Project, but the Exchange is invaluable for anyone pursuing a tech

game because it increases the amount of energy produced. When you build

the Supercollider (+100% Labs) in the same lab, the bonus to your research

is greatly increased. Build the Theory of Everything for another +100%

Labs in the same base and watch your Labs production go through the roof.

- Other Secret Projects and base facilities that increase your research:

The Universal Translator (Two Free Techs), The Network Backbone

(Labs Bonus), Biology Lab, Fusion Lab, Quantum Lab, Research Hospital, and

Nanohospital. Again, building the facilities in the same base as the

Secret Projects mentioned above will have a stunning effect on your

research.

- Add to your +2 Research by choosing the Knowledge and Cybernetic social

engineering settings. You can increase your research rate by as much as

50% in this manner.

- Be sure to build plenty of solar collectors around your bases, since

your research directly depends on the amount of energy harvested each turn.

_Weaknesses: Probe Teams and Drones_

- The Hunter- Seeker Algorithm renders all your bases and units immune to

enemy infiltration, solving your Probe Team problems.

- The Virtual World is a must- have for the University. This Secret

Project makes every Network Node do double duty as a Hologram Theater,

offsetting many drone problems with two talents per base. The University

with the Virtual World means that any new base founded by Zakharov

receives a free Network Node and a Hologram Theater, an unbeatable

combination.

- The Human Genome Project, Longevity Vaccine, and Ascetic Values can also

help with controlling the drones. And the Telepathic Matric permanently

gets rid of drone riots as well as increasing your probe rating, making it

another Project tailor- made for the wise University leader.

- The Thought Control social engineering choice increases your probe

rating, making your units and bases less susceptible to enemy infiltration

and more expensive to anyone trying to take control of them.

MORGAN INDUSTRIES (LED BY CEO NWABUDIKE MORGAN)

The Morganites are organized along corporate lines, and dedicated to

laissez- faire capitalist economic principles. They start the game with 100

energy credits and the Industrial Base technology, and receive a bonus to

all income from commerce between factions. Since they have such a great

economy, the Morganites can emass a rather sizeable army of Probe Teams.

Morganites have expensive tastes, making it difficult for them to support

units in the field, and requiring them to build Hab Complex facilities

before the population of any of their bases can exceed four citizens. The

Morganites can no make the "Planned Economics" social choice.

+1 Economy

-1 Support

Commerce (bonus increases value of treaties, pacts, loans)

Need Hab Complex for bases to exceed 4

May not use Planetary Economics

Aggression: Pacifist

Priorities: Build

Starting Technology: Industrial Economics

Agenda: Free Market

Aversion: Planned

_Land Bases_

Morgan Industries

Morgan Processing

Morgan Energy Monopoly

Morgan Metagenics

Morgan Solarflex

Morgan Collections

Morgan Bank

Morgan Entertainment

Morgan Construction

Morgan Trade Center

Morgan Distribution

Morgan Interstellar

Morgan Biochemical

Morgan Pharmaceuticals

Morgan Aerodynamics

Morgan Datasystems

Morgan Metallurgy

Morgan Robotics

Morgan Hydroponics

Morgan Transport

Morgan Studios

Morgan Mines

Morgan Altimatter

Morgan Gravitonics

_Water Bases_

Morgan Hydrochemical

Morgan Marine

Morgan Dock

Morgan Ocean Resources

Morgan Sea Platform

_Strategies to become the richest person_

- Build the Merchant Exchange. This Secret Project acts as the foundation

of an economic strategy, since it generates one extra energy in every

square worked by the controlling base. Try to build the Exchange in a base

with lots of growth capacity; th higher the base population, the more extra

energy the Exchange generates. The Self- Aware Colony (maintenance costs

halved) also channels more energy to your reserves.

- Quite a number of base facilities are available that generate more energy

or increase energy reserves, including the Energy Bank, Tree Farm, Hybrid

Forest, Fusion Lab, Quantum Lab, and Orbital Power Transmitter.

- Use social engineering to increase your Economy rating. The Free Market

and Wealth choices both help generate more energy in each base.

- Form as many Treaties and Pacts as practable with other factions. The

Morgans get a commerce bonus from these arrangements, so they invariably

get the better end of the deal.

- Build the Hunter- Seeker Algorithm (making your bases and units immune to

Probe Team infiltration). If someone else builds this Project first, you

won't be able to use your Probe Teams against them. And remember that

you'll have to field a conventional force at some point to deal with

Miriam, since her tendency to choose the Fundamentalist form of government,

render Probe Teams ineffective when used against her.

- Construct plenty of solar collectors around your bases to harvest

energy, and discover Environmental Economics (B5) as soon as possible to

remove energy restrictions.

_Weaknesses: Population Limits and Support Rating_

- The Ascetic Virtues relaxes the population limit, while the Living

Refinery grants a +2 support rating modifier. Unfortunately, the Living

Refinery doesn't become available until mid- game.

- Build units with the Clean Reactor, which requires no support. Clean

reactors require Bio- engineering (B5), which you can research earlier than

advanced Spaceflight.

SPARTAN FEDERATION (LED BY COLONEL CORAZON SANTIAGO)

The Spartans are paramilitaty survivalists. They believe in both the right

and a duty to keep and bear arms. The Spartans start the game with the

Doctrine: Mobility technology and a fast scout rover vehicle, and they do

not have to pay extra to develop prototypes of new units. Morale of their

units is exceptionally high, and their citizens accept strict police

control as a necessity, but their extravagant military needs weigh down

industrial operations. The Spartans can not make the "Wealth" social

choice.

+2 Morale

+1 Police

-1 Industry

Prototype units do not cost extra minerals

May not use Wealth value in Social Engineering

Aggression: Erratic

Priorities: Discover, Conquer

Starting Technology: Doctrine: Mobility

Agenda: Power

Aversion: Wealth

_Land Bases_

Sparta Command

Hawk of Chiron

Fort Liberty

Survival Base

Assassin's Redoubt

Ironholm

Commander's Base

Centurion Cave

Fort Survivalist

War Outpost

Bunker 118

Fort Superiority

Militia Station

Hommel's Citadel

Halls of Discipline

Fort Legion

Training Camp

Parade Ground

Janissary Rock

Defiance Freshold

Blast Rifle Crag

Hero's Waypoint

_Water Bases_

Fleet Anchorage

Hydrodock

Sea Outpost

Admirality Base

Fleet Base

_Improving The Military Advantage_

- The Command Nexus, Cyborg Factory, and Maritime Control Center Secret

Projects all increase unit morale. If you possess both The Command Nexus

and the Cyborg Factory, you will automatically be producing Elite ground

units with a bonus +1 movement point.

- These base facilities also increase unit morale: Command Center (land

units), Aerospace Complex (air units), Naval Yard (naval units), and

Bioenhancement Center (ALL unit types).

- Several socioeconomic choices also increase morale, including the

Fundamentalist, Power, and Thought Control choices.

- Monoliths can upgrade your units.

- Build units with the High Morale special ability.

_Increasing Your Mineral Production_

- The Singularity Inductor and Bulk Matter Transmitter Secret Projects

generate significantly higher quantities of minerals.

- Early in the game, build the Recycling Tanks base facility for its extra

mineral harvested per turn. Later in the game, several different

facilities can increase your mineral output, including the Robotic

Assembly Plant, Nanoreplicator, Quantum Converter, Genejack Factory, and

the Nessus Mining Station.

- The Planned and Eudaimonic social choices increase your industry

rating, lowering mineral costs to standard levels or better.

THE LORD'S BELIEVERS (LED BY SISTER MIRIAM GODWINSON)

The Believers seek a life of prayer and religious worship. Because of the

strength of their convictions, they get a bonus when attacking their

enemies. They start the game with the Social Psych technology. The

Believers are resistant to probe brainwashing, but their suspicion of

secular science retards their research efforts, and their belief that

Planet is their promised land sometimes interferes with their ecological

sensitivity. The Believers can not make the "Knowledge" social choice.

+25% Bonus when attacking enemies, from the strength of convictions

+1 Probe (devout believers difficult to brainwash)

-2 Research (suspicious of secular science)

-1 Planet (believe Planet is their promised land)

Accumulates no research points until MY 2110

May not use Knowledge value in Social Engineering

Aggression: Aggressive

Priorities: Explore, Conquer

Starting Technology: Social Psych

Agenda: Fundamentalist

Aversion: Knowledge

_Land Bases_

New Jerusalem

Terrible Swift Sword

The Lord's Mercy

Great Conclave

Eternal Reward

The Rapture

Great Zion

Throne of God

The Hand of God

Far Jericho

The Lord's Grace

The Lord's Chosen

Redemption Base

Sanctity Base

Divinity Base

Children of God

The Lord's Gift

The Holy Five

Noah's Rainbow

Revelation Base

From on High

The Voice of God

Blessed Saviour

Time of Salvation

Judgement Seat

House of Martyrs

Righteous Sentence

Valley of the Faithful

The Lord's Wrath

The Coming of the Lord

Blessed Redeemer

Hallowed Ground

The Word of God

The Glory of God

The Lord's Truth

Godwinson's Hope

New Eden

_Water Bases_

He Walked on Water

Belly of the Whale

Port Grace

Loaves and Fishes

Fisher of Men

Water of Wine

Consecrated Waters

_Building A Better Military_

- Use the same basic information as included for the Spartans above.

_Weaknesses: Research and Planet_

- Make smart friends. Forging alliances with more technologically

advanced factions, such as the University and the Morgans, often proves

the easiest way to acquire research breakthroughs. If you start next to

the University, you can even try to use your offensive bonus to force an

early submission Pact so Zakharov can feed you techs throughout the game.

- Build the Planetary Datalinks Secret Project, which gives you access to

any tech subsequently discovered by three other factions.

THE PEACEKEEPING FORCES (LED BY COMMISSIONER PRAVIN LAL)

The Peacekeepers exist to support the humanitarian principles of the

United Nations of Earth, the organization that originally commissioned the

Unity expedition to Alpha Centauri. They start the game with the

Biogenetics technology. The idealism of this faction attracts an

intellectual elite, but their society possesses a tendency towards

bureaucratic inefficiency. Their bases can exceed normal population

limits by two. Due to his experience with parliamentary maneuvering,

Lal's vote counts double when the Planetary Council is convened for

election of a Planetary Governor or Supreme Leader. The Peacekeepers can

not make the "Police State" social choice. Factions that are at least two

times as strong as the next powerful faction tend to be regarded with

suspicion by the other faction leaders. You should become allies, it'll

be easier.

-1 Efficiency

Extra talent for every four citizens

May exceed Hab Complex population requirements by two

Receives double votes in elections for Planetary Governor and Supreme

Leader

May not use Police State Politics

Aggression: Erratic

Priorities: Explore, Discover

Starting Technology: Biogenetics

Agenda: Democracy

Aversion: Police State

_Land Bases_

U.N. Headquarters

U.N. Aid Station

U.N. Commerce Committee

U.N. High Commission

U.N. Equality Village

U.N. Court of Justice

U.N. Temple of Sol

U.N. Settlement Agency

U.N. Information Agency

U.N. Haven City

U.N. Enforcement Base

U.N. Planetary Trust

U.N. Great Refuge

U.N. Healthy Authority

U.N. Data Aquisition

U.N. Amnesty Town

U.N. Planning Authority

U.N. Disaster Relief

U.N. Pillar of Rights

U.N. Education Agency

U.N. Criminal Tribunal

U.N. Humanity Base

U.N. Social Council

_Water Bases_

U.N. Ocean Authority

U.N. Sea Habitat

U.N. Peace Anchorage

U.N. Marine Agency

U.N. Port Refuge

========================================

III. Landmarks

========================================

There are several landmarks on Planet. Most of the landmarks give you

extra resources.

FRESHWATER SEA: The richest aquatic region of Planet which provides +1

Nutrients per square.

GARLAND CRATER: Made by a comet or another flying object, this crater

produces an extra +1 Mineral bonus.

GEOTHERMAL SHALLOWS: Many underwater geysers provide +1 Energy per square.

GREAT DUNES: A desert which provides no bonus resources. It is a rather

inhospitable place to live.

MONSOON JUNGLE: A vast rainforest- like area which produces +1 Nutrients

per square.

MOUNT PLANET: An enormous active volcano, which produces a +1 bonus of

both Minerals and Energy per square on its slopes.

NEW SARGASSO: A large growth of underwater fungus. If provides no bonus

resources; however, you can harvest the fungus.

PHOLUS RIDGE: The geothermal energy produced here, produces +1 Energy per

square.

SUNNY MESA: It provides no resource bonuses, but due to its elevation, it

is a good spot for solar collectors and Echelon Mirrors.

THE RUINS: A ring of monoliths, which provide no bonuses, other than the

monoliths themselves.

URANIUM FLATS: A location with many elements, which provide +1 Energy per

square.

========================================

IV. Secret Projects

========================================

ASCENT TO TRANSCENDENCE: End of Human Era

ASCETIC VIRTUES: Population limit relaxed; +1 Police

BULK MATTER TRANSMITTER: +2 Minerals at each base

CITIZENS' DEFENSE FORCE: Perimeter Defense at each base

CLINICAL IMMORTALITY: Extra talent at each base

CLONING VATS: Population boom at all the bases

COMMAND NEXUS: Command Center at each base

CYBORG FACTORY: Bioenhancement Center at each base

DREAM TWISTER: Psi Attack +50%

EMPATH GUILD: Commlink for every faction

HUMAN GENOME PROJECT: +1 Talent at each base

HUNTER- SEEKER ALGORITHM: Immunity to Probe Teams

LIVING REFINERY: +2 Support

LONGEVITY VACCINE: Fewer drones/ more profits

MARITIME CONTROL CENTER: Naval Movement +2; naval bases

MERCHANT EXCHANGE: +1 Energy each square at the base

NANO FACTORY: Repair units; low upgrade costs

NETWORK BACKBONE: +1 Lab per commerce/ net node

NEURAL AMPLIFIER: Psi Defense +50%

PHOLUS MUTAGEN: Ecology Bonus; Lifecycle bonus

PLANETARY DATALINKS: Any tech known to three others

PLANETARY TRANSIT SYSTEM: New bases begin at size three

SELF- AWARE COLONY: Maintenance halve; Extra police

SINGULARITY INDUCTOR: Quantum Converter at each base

SPACE ELEVATOR: Energy +100%/ Orbital cost halved

SUPERCOLLIDER: Labs +100% at the base

TELEPATHIC MATRIX: No more drone riots; +2 Probe

THEORY OF EVERYTHING: Labs +100% at the base

UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR: 2 Free Techs

Virtual World: Network Nodes help drones

VOICE OF PLANET: Begins Ascent to Transcendence

WEATHER PARADIGM: Terraform +50%

XENOEMPATHY DOME: Fungus movement bonus

=======================================

V. Facilities

=======================================

(#)= Maintenance

- AEROSPACE COMPLEX- +2 Morale: Air; Air defense +100%;(2)

- BIOENHANCEMENT CENTER- +2 Morale: Air; (2)

- BIOLOGY LAB- Research and Psi; (1)

- CENTAURI PRESERVE- Ecology Bonus; (2)

- CHILDREN'S CRECHE- Growth/ Effic/ Morale;(1)

- COMMAND CENTER- +2 Morale: Land; (Varies)

- ENERGY BANK- Economy Bonus; (1)

- FUSION LAB- Economy and Labs Bonus; (3)

- GENEJACK FACTORY- Minerals; More Drones; (2)

- HAB COMPLEX- Increase Population Limit; (2)

- HABITATION DOME- Increase Population Limit; (4)

- HEADQUARTERS- Efficiency; (0)

- HOLOGRAM THEATRE- Psych; Fewer Drones;(3)

- HYBRID FOREST- Economy/ Psych/ Forest;(4)

- NANOHOSPITAL- Labs and Psych Bonus; (4)

- NANOREPLICATOR- Minerals Bonus;(6)

- NAVAL YARD- +2 Morale: Sea; Sea Defense +100%; (2)

- NESSUS MINING STATION- +1 Minerals ALL Bases; (0)

- NETWORK NODE- Labs Bonus; (1)

- ORBITAL DEFENSE POD- Missile Defense; (0)

- ORBITAL POWER TRANSMITTER- +1 Energy ALL Bases; (0)

- PARADISE GARDEN- +2 Talents; (4)

- PERIMETER DEFENSE- Defense +100%; (0)

- PRESSURE DOME- Submersion/ Resources; (0)

- PSI GATE- Teleport; (2)

- PUNISHMENT SPHERE- No Drones; -50% Tech; (2)

- QUANTUM CONVERTER- Minerals Bonus; (5)

- QUANTUM LAB- Economy and Labs bonus; (4)

- RECREATION COMMONS- Fewer Drones; (1)

- RECYCLING TANKS- Bonus Resources; (0)

- RESEARCH HOSPITAL- Labs and Psych bonus; (3)

- ROBOTIC ASSEMBLY PLANT- Minerals Bonus; (4)

- SKUNKWORKS- Prototypes are Free; (1)

- SKY HYDROPONICS LAB- +1 Nutrient ALL Bases; (0)

- STOCKPILE ENERGY- Minerals to Energy; (0)

- TACHYON FIELD- ALL Defense +100%; (2)

- TEMPLE OF PLANET- Ecology Bonus; (3)

- TREE FARM- Economy/ Psych/ Forest; (3)

=======================================

VI. Technologies

=======================================

Biogenetics

The alien environment on Planet brought a host of unforseen

health problems for the colonists. Early inquiries into

{Biogenetics} center on the prevention and treatment

of these problems. Researchers in this discipline seek

an understanding of the entire human genetic code.

 

Industrial Base

The first colonies lack any kind of factories or heavy

industry, so the creation of an {Industrial Base} becomes

a high priority for economic growth. This Industrial Base

emphasizes small-scale manufacturing with primitive assembly

lines and simple currency instruments.

 

Information Networks

Survival equipment from the [Unity] contained a variety

of computers purpose-built for the needs of a frontier

society. However, they must first be connected into

{Information Networks} before scientists can utilize

their power.

 

Applied Physics

The colonists must create new tools from the wreckage of

the [Unity] to survive and expand. Early inquiries into

{Applied Physics} emphasize this adaptation of existing

technology for the new environment.

 

Social Psych

The overcrowding aboard the [Unity] following the premature

wakeup caused terrible conditions for the crew, but also

generated valuable data concerning humans under extreme

environmental stresses. Analysis of this data provides

the first comprehensive, mathematical insight into the

{Social Psychology} of humans.

 

Doctrine: Mobility

The early colonists quickly learned the importance of

reconnaissance and self-defense in this most alien

of environments. {Doctrine: Mobility} formalizes

these cornerstones of military might, representing

the first attempts at an organized defense policy

on Planet.

 

Centauri Ecology

Finding adequate sources of nutrients, energy, and

minerals is the most immediate problem facing the

colonists after Planetfall. An

understanding of the basics of {Centauri Ecology}

provides humans with the tools they need to begin

shaping the world around them-how plants grow, what

geological structures exist, and how natural energy

sources may be exploited on Planet.

 

Superconductor

The power requirements of [Optical Computers (D3)]

and the nascent [Industrial Base (B1)] stimulate

research into high-temperature {Superconductors},

an advance long considered a ‘holy Grail’ by physical

chemists. A {Superconductor} is a material

that does not resist a flow of electrons. Using a

{Superconductor}, power can be transmitted at incredible

speeds over vast distances with no degradation. Bulky

and expensive cooling equipment for high-powered

machinery or weaponry becomes unnecessary, because these

materials remain cool and efficient as electricity passes

through them.

 

Nonlinear Mathematics

By using the power of [Information Networks (D1)] to speed

calculations and encourage collaborations, researchers

make giant strides in the field of {Nonlinear Mathematics},

with significant military applications.

 

Applied Relativity

Albert Einstein developed his theories of relativity between

1905 and 1916; complete explanations of his work may be found

in a number of sources. Later research into [Advanced Subatomic

Theory (B3)] and [Superconductors (C4)] demonstrated that his

postulates, though innovative for his time, were incomplete. {Applied

Relativity} takes Einstein's basic theories and updates them to

encompass an understanding of newly-discovered phenomena.

 

Fusion Power

An extremely clean, powerful, and efficient source of energy,

{Fusion Power} was known on Earth for decades as the reaction

that powered the stars. However, scientists could not control

the huge magnitude of released energy, so the only practical

application for {Fusion Power} was in bombs of enormous destructive

power. With the advent of [Superconductors (C4)], and by using

[Pre-sentient Algorithms (D5)] to monitor and control the released

energy, humanity finally has access to cheap, abundant, and

reusable power.

 

Silksteel Alloys

The growing field of [Industrial Automation (B3)] causes

increased demand for new kinds of material that can withstand

the incredible stresses of the robotic factories. Discoveries

in [Advanced Subatomic Theory (B3)] provide engineers with

these materials, dubbed {Silksteel Alloys} for their

extraordinary tensile strength and flexibility.

 

Advanced Subatomic Theory

Discoveries in [High Energy Chemistry (C2)] point the way

to a new {Advanced Subatomic Theory} that tries to detect

and quantify the smallest possible underlying particles of

matter. Using self-modifying [Polymorphic Software (D2)],

the physicists developing this theory give mankind a window

on the infinitesimal building blocks of the universe.

 

High Energy Chemistry

Breakthroughs in [Applied Physics (C1)] and [Industrial Base

(B1)] lead to an understanding of {High Energy Chemistry}.

This discipline seeks to understand the properties and

behavior of matter at very high temperatures, and results

in new types of materials that remain in a stable plasma

state even when superheated by intense laser stimulation.

 

Frictionless Surfaces

Discovery of the [Unified Field Theory (D10)] allowed

scientists to alter the fundamental properties of matter

itself. The discovery of {Frictionless Surfaces} proves

the most useful application of these techniques. As the

name implies, {Frictionless Surfaces} consist of materials

that remain unaffected by friction, a force that slows

down motion by changing kinetic energy into heat energy.

Moving objects made of these materials do not slow down

as they come into contact with other matter.

 

Nanometallurgy

Driven by the requirements of [Doctrine: Initiative (E5)]

and the mathematical models behind [Probability Mechanics

(B7)], {Nanometallurgy} techniques allow engineers to

manipulate metals at the molecular level.

 

Superstring Theory

One of the more contentious debates that ran through the

physics community of 20th century Earth centered on the

viability of {Superstring Theory}. This theory attempts

to unify the theory of gravity and other fundamental forces,

and posits that all characteristics exhibited by subatomic

particles, such as protons and neutrons, may be described as

vibrations of fundamental, one-dimensional ‘strings’. This

concept had been abandoned as untestable, until the development

of [Nonlinear Mathematics (C2)], which offers mathematical

models supporting {Superstring Theory}.

 

Advanced Military Algorithms

Military requirements have historically pushed technology

forward, and no better example can be found than sophisticated

software development. From the first computers, designed to

calculate artillery shell trajectories, to {Advanced Military

Algorithms} developed from [Polymorphic Software (D2)] and

[Doctrine: Flexibility (E2)], mankind has worked to extend

warfare into the digital world.

 

Monopole Magnets

Magnetism, like electricity and gravity, is one of the

fundamental forces of the universe. Prior to research

in [Superstring Theory (C5)] and [Silksteel Alloys (E4)],

all known magnets were dipolar, with a north and a south

pole. Development of a {Monopole Magnet} permits radical

new applications for science and industry.

 

Matter Compression

Breakthroughs in [Nanominiaturization (B8)] and

[Nanometallurgy (E8)] lead to complex {Matter

Compression} techniques. Using these techniques,

scientists can create materials as dense as the

inside of a star, with significant military and

industrial applications.

 

Unified Field Theory

Scientists have long worked towards a single theory

that explains all fundamental forces in

nature (gravity, magnetism, etc.)-a {Unified Field

Theory}. Advances in [Monopole Magnets (B6)] and

[Applied Relativity (D5)] help reveal these fundamental

mechanics of the universe.

 

Graviton Theory

[Quantum Machinery (D12)] and [Mind\Machine Interface

(B6)] pave the way for an understanding of gravity-the

weakest fundamental force in the universe, but one that

acts at infinite distances. With {Graviton Theory},

physicists can detect and measure the long-predicted

gravitons-particle strings that ‘carry’ gravitational force.

 

Polymorphic Software

On Earth, only theoretical mathematicians and entertainment

software programmers used {Polymorphic Software}--self-modifying

code--to any success. On Planet, the requirements of the budding

[Industrial Base (B1)] and [Information Networks (D1)]

spur widespread development of neural net applications that rewrite

themselves in response to data inputs.

 

Applied Gravitonics

Once physicists discover [Graviton Theory (E13)], they

turn their attention to {Applied Gravitonics}--the control

of gravity itself. By controlling and manipulating the

graviton strings that carry gravitational force, mankind

can levitate objects regardless of mass or proximity to

other objects.

 

Quantum Power

Earth scientist Max Planck first coined the term "quantum"

to describe an individual particle of light. Planck though

each quantum was indivisible, so that a fraction of a

quantum could not exist. One of the more startling

discoveries arising from [Unified Field Theory] was

that individual quantum actually could be split into

component sub-particles, much like atoms may be split

through fission. The energy released by {Quantum Power}

is several orders of magnitude greater than ordinary [Fusion Power].

 

Singularity Mechanics

Knowledge of [The Secrets of Creation (D11)] paved the

way for understanding {Singularity Mechanics}. This

technology seeks the physical causes and composition

of black holes-phenomena produced by points of infinitely

dense matter that warp the fabric of space and time

itself. Probes guided by onboard [Self-aware Machines

(B11)] transmit the data necessary to replicate this

natural occurrence in controlled laboratory conditions.

 

Controlled Singularity

As engineers quickly discovered, itÂ’s one thing to

understand [Singularity Mechanics (D12)] and another

thing entirely to attempt {Controlled Singularity}--harnessing

and directing the powers of a black hole. Breakthroughs in

[Applied Gravitronics (E14)] finally make this technology

possible, with a host of amazing and potent applications,

from radical new types of weaponry to global power sources.

 

Temporal Mechanics

Breakthroughs in [Eudaimonia (E12)] and [Matter

Transmission (B17)] lead to the last great discovery

of the physical universe: {Temporal Mechanics}, the

manipulation of time itself.

 

Probability Mechanics

With operating systems powered by [Pre-sentient Algorithms

(D5)], computers finally gain sufficient processing power

to unravel the mysteries of {Probability Mechanics}. With

this breakthrough, humans can accurately predict many

seemingly random events.

 

Pre-Sentient Algorithms

The philosophy of [Cyberethics (B4)] and the technology of

[Advanced Military Algorithms (E3)] pave the way for

development of {Pre-sentient Algorithms}. These open-ended

neural net programs can sort and process exebytes of data,

‘learning’ as they do so and adapting to the world they observe.

 

Super Tensile Solids

The requirements of [Advanced Spaceflight (E8)] and

the possibilities inherent in [Matter Compression

(C9)] lead to research in {Super Tensile Solids}. These

materials possess such strength as to be functionally

unbreakable in a natural environment.

 

Planetary Networks

Once the colonists discovered how to survive, they focus on recreating

some of the organizational tools left behind on Earth.

Following the implementation of simple [Information

Networks (D1)], the creation of a standard for {Planetary

Networks} emerges as a high priority for the scientific community.

 

Digital Sentience

When utilized as part of [Industrial Nanorobotics

(B9)], the [Mind\Machine Interface (B6)] provides

the key spark needed by computers to at last achieve

{Digital Sentience}. These new artificial intelligences

have all the hallmarks of an individual organism:

they respond to their environment, adapt to stimuli,

and even exhibit advanced ‘personalities’ based on

their respective abilities and preferences.

 

Self-Aware Machines

Following the advent of [Digital Sentience (D10)],

computers have only one great leap left: the evolution

to {Self-Aware Machines}. These machines are capable

of complex, higher-order thinking, and value the experience

of existence as much as any human. As with other living

organisms, self-preservation is paramount for these specimens.

 

Doctrine: Initiative

The slow moving foils and transports developed under

[Doctrine: Flexibility (E2)] provided an adequate early

naval force. However, materials and manufacturing

advances resulting from [Industrial Automation (B3)]

make possible new classes of powerful ships developed

as part of {Doctrine: Initiative}, which stresses the

importance of global naval superiority.

 

Doctrine: Flexibility

Many radical young military officers felt that [Doctrine:

Mobility (E1)] did not go far enough in the development

of fast attacks and quick reconnaissance, because Mobility

only takes land forces into account. These leaders work

to create the first navies on Planet, based on {Doctrine:

Flexibility}--co-ordination and co-operation between forces

made possible by control of the sea.

 

Intellectual Integrity

The search for {Intellectual Integrity} arises from

questions posed by [Ethical Calculus (E2)] and [Doctrine:

Loyalty (C2)]. According to this philosophy, valid

wisdom comes merely from asking questions unburdened

by prejudices. Only by shedding those pre-conceived

notions can we achieve the clarity of undistorted knowledge.

 

Synthetic Fossil Fuels

The extreme efficiency with which the neural net

fungus managed Planet's vast ecosystem kept extensive

deposits of organic material from forming over the epochs.

Because of this lack, the fossil fuels known on Earth

never developed, forcing early colonists to rely on less

efficient alternative sources of energy. However, advances

in [Advanced Subatomic Theory (B3)] and [Gene Splicing (B3)]

finally allow humans to short-circuit the eons-long process,

providing them with the {Synthetic Fossil Fuels} needed

to build advanced vehicles and machinery.

 

Doctrine: Air Power

Mankind had brought the knowledge of atmospheric flight

to Planet, but not the materials to build and maintain

large quantities of aircraft in Planet's harsh conditions.

With the discovery of [Synthetic Fossil Fuels (E4)] for

materials and a renewed emphasis on [Doctrine: Flexibility (E2)],

humans can again make the leap into the clouds.

 

Photon/Wave Mechanics

Physicists had puzzled over the mystery of light for

centuries: Why does light exhibit properties characteristic

of both a wave and a particle? In 1924, Prince Louis-Victor

de Broglie, a French scientist, proved that all particles

actually possess a wave aspect, which explained how light

can act as a wave even though it does consist of

particles, called photons. Following breakthroughs

in [Silksteel Alloys (E4)] and [Applied Relativity

(D5)], subsequent scientific inquiry focuses on the

manipulation of {Photon\Wave Mechanics} so that light,

even powerful laser beams or intense solar emissions,

can be diffused and warped as needed.

 

Mind/Machine Interface

Research into [Neural Grafting (C4)] demonstrated that

direct communications between the human brain and a

digital counterpart are theoretically possible. This

{Mind\Machine Interface}, requested by leaders

implementing [Doctrine: Air Power (E5)] for a new

generation of aircraft, bridges the gap between the

mechanical and the biological.

 

Nanominiaturization

[Monopole Magnets (B6)] and [Organic Superlubricants

(C7)] lead to a revolution in engineering: {Nanominiaturization}.

With this technology, which emphasizes new assembly methods

and high-tensile strength materials, microscopic machine

components can be constructed and all manner of bulky,

heavy equipment can be shrunk to a fraction of its original size.

 

Doctrine: Loyalty

[Doctrine: Mobility (E1)] proved a sound dogma for the

early years on Planet. However, as the struggle for

survival against native Mind Worms and rival factions

intensifies, many younger officers repudiate the old

guardÂ’s emphasis on Mobility as the dominant military

policy. Based also on the revelations of [Social Psych

(B1)], the new {Doctrine: Loyalty} stresses extensive

training, defensive facilities, and zealous dedication

to faction leaders as the foundation for survival and

success in combat. {Doctrine: Loyalty} emphasizes a

two-way fealty--soldiers are expected to lay down their

lives without question, but in return they receive

respect, power, and positions of authority in the new

social hierarchy.

 

Ethical Calculus

Throughout the history of mankind, philosophers have

grappled with the question: ‘How shall we then live?’

{Ethical Calculus} lays down mathematical principles

uncovered by [Social Psych (B1)] to address this question,

essentially providing calculations and functions that

determine appropriate human behavior.

 

Industrial Economics

Early industry on Planet centered on the creation

of a frontier [Industrial Base (B1)] featuring primitive

assembly lines and simple currency instruments. Soon,

leaders in the financial sectors push for a more

comprehensive {Industrial Economics} policy to accommodate

free trade and other strategies for multiplying capital.

 

Industrial Automation

The creation of [Planetary Networks (D2)] and

widespread adoption of [Industrial Economics

(B2)] lead to rapid industrialization of the

virgin Planet. Lacking the traditional masses

of EarthÂ’s working class, leaders must now develop

complete {Industrial Automation} for production

and assembly , building modest factories where

all repetitive nonskilled jobs, from janitor to

VP of Sales, are handled by sophisticated robotics.

 

Centauri Meditation

[Centauri Empathy (E3)] and [Ecological Engineering

(E4)] reveal the vastness and complexity of the

ecosystem on Planet. Research into {Centauri

Meditation} illuminates the next, almost terrifying

step-the attempt to communicate directly with

Planet itself.

 

Secrets of the Human Brain

All past research on memory, learning, the senses,

and other aspects of the human brain did not answer

one basic question: what is the biological mechanism

of self-awareness? Research into [Biogenetics (D1)]

and [Social Psych (B1)] finally resolves the last of

the {Secrets of the Human Brain}, providing mankind

with understanding of the fundamentals of consciousness.

 

Gene Splicing

Widespread adoption of the philosophy of [Ethical

Calculus (E2)] removes opposition to genetic

experimentation in plant and animal DNA, while

advances in [Biogenetics (D1)] provide techniques

for the incipient field of {Gene Splicing}. This

technology allows researchers to insert new DNA

coding into existing genetic material so that

entire traits, from disease resistance to a stable

personality, can be copied from one organism and

transferred to any number of others.

 

Bio-Engineering

[Gene Splicing (B3)] and [Neural Grafting (C4)]

exemplify crude and invasive techniques for modifying

an organism. The more refined {Bio-engineering}

method arranges a desired genetic code directly

from the component compounds, enabling widespread

and economical cellular transplants for an entire

population.

 

Biomachinery

Early experiments in [Retroviral Engineering (C5)]

and the [Mind\Machine Interface (B6)] paved the way

for true {Biomachinery}--the full integration of

man and machine at the cellular level.

 

Neural Grafting

The insatiable drive for efficiency spawned by

[Industrial Automation (B3)] drives the development

of {Neural Grafting}. This new technology, based

on [Secrets of the Human Brain (D2)], allows

attachment of digital circuitry directly to

the neural cortex. With these implants, humans

willing to undergo {Neural Grafting} can enhance

many aspects of their physical being, from heightened

senses to faster reaction times.

 

Cyberethics

Widespread adoption of [Planetary Networks (D2)]

and the philosophy of [Intellectual Integrity (E3)]

allows for a coherent system of {Cyberethics},

outlining the proper relationship of computers

to society.

 

Eudaimonia

{Eudaimonia} is a philosophical system that takes

its name from an ancient Greek word for fulfillment

and happiness. Based on economic equity made

possible by [Sentient Econometrics (E11)] and

rooted in opposition to the excesses of [The

Will to Power (E8)], {Eudaimonia} encourages

each citizen to achieve happiness through striving

to fulfill completely his or her potential;

freedom, creativity, and individuality flourish

in governments that adopt this philosophy.

 

The Will to Power

Following the development of [Homo Superior (E7)], many

advocated a return to Friedrich NietzscheÂ’s philosophy

of {The Will To Power}. This philosophy stresses

the importance of strength, asceticism, and

resolute action, often at the cost of compassion,

charity, and other traditionally religious

qualities.

 

Threshold of Transcendence

The [Secrets of Creation (D11)] and [Temporal

Mechanics (B18)] brought humanity to the brink

of a new era--the {Threshold of Transcendence}.

In this transitional state, people begin preparations

for the final stage of human evolution, selling

possessions, cleansing their bodies according to

a new code of asceticism, and meditating alone

and unprotected in the remote regions of Planet.

 

Matter Transmission

[Matter Editation (B16)] and the [Secrets of

Alpha Centauri (D12)] point the way to one of

the most celebrated concepts in science

fiction--{Matter Transmission}. Transmitters

based on this technology disassemble objects

into the smallest component sub-particles, then

transmits those particles and their underlying

structural blueprint to a receiver. The

receiver reassembles these objects according to

the blueprint, recreating the original in

every nuance and detail.

 

Centauri Empathy

Based on [Secrets of the Human Brain (D2)] and

[Centauri Ecology (E1)], {Centauri Empathy}

espouses a philosophy of environmental harmony,

emphasizing the search for mankindÂ’s proper niche

in the global ecosystem.

 

Environmental Economics

Industrial expansion often comes at the cost of

ecological stability. The business practice of

{Environmental Economics} addresses this problem

by finding and exploiting areas where

environmental and industrial concerns overlap,

such as sustainable resource use, eco-tourism,

and organic product development. By combining

the principles of [Industrial Economics (B2)]

and [Ecological Engineering (E4)] in this new

business model, ecological stability becomes

a profitable endeavor.

 

Ecological Engineering

Humans have always shown remarkable skill at

innovation and ingenuity in the face of environmental

hurdles. Expansion on a new Planet highlights

these traits once again in the form of {Ecological

Engineering}. Based on the discoveries of [Centauri

Ecology (E1)] and [Gene Splicing (B3)], this research

leads to new ways of thriving within the existing

ecosystem, rather than competing with it.

 

Planetary Economics

Early industrial policy on Planet centered on

individual markets and sectors, such as

[Environmental Economics (B5)], but these

separate sectors create inefficiencies. Proponents

of [Intellectual Integrity (E3)] insist that these

inefficiencies are unnecessary, and work to create

a system of {Planetary Economics} where goods and

services can flow freely.

 

Adv. Ecological Engineering

The discovery of [Fusion Power (D6)] opened up

staggering possibilities in a number of endeavors,

including the field of [Environmental Economics

(B5)]. Based on the cumulative experience from

thousands of construction projects undertaken

since Planetfall, {Advanced Ecological Engineering}

marks a new milestone in manÂ’s ability to manipulate

his environment.

 

Centauri Psi

[Centauri Genetics (E6)] and [Advanced Ecological

Engineering (B10)] revealed the physical composition

of native life forms, but did not explain the

mysterious and terrifying psionic attacks these

creatures employ. Unlocking the mechanics of

this directed, psychic assault requires intense

investigation of {Centauri Psi}--the method used

by the Mind Worms to communicate and co-ordinate

their assaults.

 

Secrets of Alpha Centauri

Some digital sentiences churn through exebytes

of Planet-related data in their never-ending quest

to untangle [Sentient Econometrics (E11)]. The

best of these sentiences do not stop at sorting

economic data, but extend their inquiries into

[Centauri Psi (E11)] and other Planetary phenomena.

They work to reveal these {Secrets of Alpha Centauri}

as a kind of personal challenge, to prove themselves

as machines that can not only conquer the intricacies

of human society, but also the magnificent complexities

of a Planet-wide ecosystem.

 

Secrets of Creation

Those who embrace [The Will To Power (E8)] must

eventually confront the ultimate philosophical

question: What is the purpose and order of the

universe? Confirmation of the [Unified Field

Theory (C7)] finally gives mankind the tools to

answer this question in the search for the

{Secrets of Creation}.

 

Advanced Spaceflight

Resumption of {Advanced Spaceflight} begins

shortly after mankind begins [Orbital Spaceflight

(E7)]. With this technology, spacecraft can once

again reach the moons orbiting Planet and,

eventually, the stars themselves.

 

Homo Superior

Breakthroughs in [Biomachinery (B9)] and [Doctrine:

Initiative (E5)] paved the way for a new kind of organism

that is equal parts human and computer. The human

aspect thrives at physical manipulation and emotional

experience, while the digital aspect excels at

calculation and data processing. This {Homo Superior}

integrates the best of man and machine.

 

Organic Superlubricant

Machines with moving parts have long been subject

to wear and tear as the parts grind against one

another. On Earth, traditional lubricants such

as oil were used to minimize these effects.

Planet lacks large reserves of such materials,

until the invention of [Synthetic Fossil Fuels

(E4)]. With {Organic Superlubricant}, scientists

can create lubricating compounds that act like

simple life forms, seeking out areas where they

do the most good.

 

Quantum Machinery

The discovery of [Quantum Power (B11)] ushers in

a new industrial revolution. In factories across

Planet, tiny {Quantum Machinery} built using

[Nanometallurgy (E8)] techniques provide amazingly

powerful and efficient labor for every imaginable

type of production and service.

 

Matter Editation

Not long after the breakthroughs in [Super Tensile

Solids (B10)] and [Self-aware Machines (B11)],

engineers clamor to research the last major hurdle

in physical manipulation--{Matter Editation}. This

technique actually changes the physical structure of

individual atoms, altering characteristics like

energy states, spin, atomic weight, and the number

of protons as though they were entries in a database.

This technology is the modern embodiment of the ancient

quest to turn lead into gold-transmutation of elements

made possible by atomic manipulation.

 

Optical Computers

The widespread adoption of [Polymorphic Software

(D2)] increased demand for faster computers. The

revolutionary {Optical Computers}, which use photons

traveling at the speed of light for binary

calculations, prove nearly 70% faster than old

electron-based devices. Based on successes in

[Applied Physics (C1)], {Optical Computers} also

exponentially improve storage capacities and access

times.

 

Industrial Nanorobotics

The business leaders of Planet quickly perceived

the commercial potential of [Nanominiaturizion

(B8)], and constructed factories based around

{Industrial Nanorobotics}. These factories

utilize traditional [Industrial Automation

(B3)], but at a fraction of the size and cost.

Productivity skyrockets along with profitability,

as tiny robots churn out new products for consumption.

 

Centauri Genetics

The first contacts with Planetary sentience during

research on [Centauri Meditation (E5)] caused widespread

excitement among the scientific community. They propose

using new [Retroviral Engineering (C5)] techniques to

unravel {Centauri Genetics}--the structural blueprint

of native organisms.

 

Sentient Econometrics

For all the sophistication of its mathematical models,

[Planetary Economics (E6)] proved no better at

predicting the actions of markets and populations

than Wall Street prognosticators of 20th Century

Earth-there are too many unknown variables with

unforeseeable consequences. Proponents of {Sentient

Econometrics} take the best ‘intelligent computers’

developed under [Digital Sentience (D10)] and set

them to identifying these variables and predicting

their consequences. Under their diligent efforts,

economics finally becomes a true science.

 

Retroviral Engineering

{Retroviral Engineering}, a specialized branch of

[Bio-engineering (B4)], uses engineered viruses to

deliver genetic alterations. This application can

be used for peaceful, healing purposes, but can also

be twisted by the same militant researchers behind

[Advanced Military Algorithms (E3)] into a weapon

of terrible destruction.

 

Orbital Spaceflight

The early colonists certainly bring the technical

understanding of spaceflight with them, but they

lack the materials and infrastructure necessary

to construct spacecraft. Eventually, implementation

of [Doctrine: Air Power (E5)] furnishes the

infrastructure, while advanced [Pre-sentient

Algorithms (D5)] provide the tools for mankindÂ’s

return to {Orbital Spaceflight}.

 

Transcendent Thought

Based on [Controlled Singularity (C16)] and

[Threshold of Transcendence (E19)], humanity

finally unlocks the keys to the final stage of

human evolution with {Transcendent Thought}--the

ability to contain a self-awareness, or ‘soul’,

outside the bounds of a corporeal form. Those

who so choose may now complete the Ascent to

Transcendence, joining their consciousness with

the Planetary mind in ageless immortality.

========================================

VII. Planetary Council Proposals

========================================

ELECT PLANETARY GOVERNOR: New Governor Appointed

GLOBAL TRADE PACT: Commerce Rates Doubled

INCREASE SOLAR SHADE: Global Cooling; Sea Levels Drop

LAUNCH SOLAR SHADE: Global Coolong; Sea Levels Drop

MELT POLAR CAPS: Global Warming; Sea Levels Rise

REINSTATE U.N. CHARTER: Atrocity Prohibitions Return

REPEAL GLOBAL TRADE PACT: Commerce Rates Halved

REPEAL U.N. CHARTER: Atrocity Prohibitions Lifted

SALVAGE UNITY FUSION CORE: +500 Energy Credits To Every Faction

UNITE BEHIND ME AS THE SUPREME LEADER: Diplomatic Victory; Game Ends

========================================

VIII. Citizens

========================================

Bonus To Economy Labs Psych

DOCTOR 0 0 +2

DRONE

EMPATH +2 0 +2

ENGINEER +3 +2 0

LIBRARIAN 0 +3 0

TALENT

TECHNICIAN +3 0 0

THINKER 0 +3 +1

TRANSCEND +2 +4 +2

WORKER

=========================================

IX. General Tips

=========================================

- Be sure to use the best terrain improvement for each square: farms in

rainy squares, forests in arid or moist, and mines in rocky.

- I recommend to build at least two military units at each base to start

off with.

- After your military units are built, build some formers.

- I recommend that you build recycling tanks and supply pods next. This

will increase efficiency and expansion.

- If you want, build Mind Worms. However, you must build these nasty

critters early in the game. They won't be as useful, because the factions

will have sufficiently developed their Psi defenses.

- Don't forget to build things like the Children's Creche, Biology Lab,

and Hab Complex.

- I recommend signing treaties or pacts with some or most of the other

factions for a short time, at least.

- Don't forget that units can hide in the fungus.

- Boreholes are very important in the production of resources at your

bases. I recommend having at least one borehole for every four bases.

- Remember to scout for the landmarks. They will provide extra resources.

- Build sensory arrays as you explore to watch for mind worms.

- Send Supply Crawlers to retrieve far away resource deposits.

- Naval Bases and Aerospace Complexes add to your faction's dominance and

expandability.

- Remember to build kelp farms, tidal harnesses, and mining platforms for

bases near an ocean.

- You can defend your borders by planting a line of fungus and hiding

units in it. Remember to make some sensors near there as well. This will

prevent the other factions from doing the same.

- If you're located on the western side of a long landmass that you share

with other factions, you must define the eastern edge of your territory by

raising a ridge line. You can settle the green exposure, while the

barren, eastern exposure will create a no- man's land that the enemy will

be reluctant to expand into.

- To invade a nearby landmass which isn't connected by land, consider

raising a land bridge. You can also use transport boats.

- If your land is arid, build a condenser to make it more moist.

- Build solar collectors adjacent to Echelon Mirrors in high elevation

locations.

- Forests are easy to produce and provide sufficient resources, so plant

several forests near your bases.

- Upgrade your units in the field by pressing [Ctrl][U].

- If possible, get the Weather Paradigm. You will be able to do the other

types of terraforming that requires Ecological Engineering, without

actually having that technology.

- You should upgrade to Mag Tubes when you get the Monopole Magnets

Technology. You will be able to move a little quicker. Unfortunately,

the other factions can still use them.

- To soften up a unit prior to final attack, complete a bombarding run.

===========================================

X. Hot Keys

===========================================

MAP COMMANDS

Move units/ View Map- [V]

Zoom in- [Z]

Zoom Out- [X]

Standard zoom in- [Shift][Z]

Standard zoom out- [Shift][X]

Full zoom in- [Ctrl][Z]

Full zoom out- [Ctrl][X]

Toggle flattened terrain- [Ctrl][Shift][X]

Toggle map & Grid- [Ctrl][G]

Toggle base grid- [Ctrl][Shift][G]

Show autoforward routes- [Ctrl][Shift][B]

Show patrol orders- [Shift][P]

Terrain Survey- [T]

Hide/ Show Names Et Production- [Ctrl][N]

Name Landmark- [Shift][N]

Erase Landmark- [Ctrl][Shift][N]

Locate Base- [Ctrl][B]

Previous Cursor Position- [Backspace]

Next Cursor Position- [Shift][Backspace]

Center screen- [C]

UNIT ACTION COMMANDS

Construct Base [Colony Pod]- [B]

Join Base [Colony Pod]- [B]

Obliterate Base [Any Unit in Base]- [B]

Long Range Fire- [F]

Airdrop- [I]

Activate Special Ability- [I]

Psi Gate- [Shift][I]

Convoy Resources- [O]

Destroy Enhancements- [D]

Disband Unit- [Shift][D]

Automate Unit- [Shift][A]

Explore Automatically- [/]

Patrol- [P]

Designate Bombing Run- [B]

Automate Air Defense- [Ctrl][Shift][B]

Go to Base...- [G]

Group go to...- [J]

Assemble Group- [Shift][J]

Go to Home Base- [Shift][G]

Set Home Base- [Ctrl][H]

Activate (Move Now)- [A]

Wait (Move Later)- [W]

Unload Transport- [Shift][U]

Upgrade Unit- [Ctrl][U]

Turn Over Unit Control- [Ctrl][Shift][U]

Designate Defender- [Ctrl][D]

Sentry/Board Transport- [L]

Place Unit "On Alert"- [Shift][L]

Hold 10 Turns- [Shift][H]

Hold This Position- [H]

Skip Turn- [Spacebar]

TERRAFORM COMMANDS

Cultivate Farm/Kelp Farm- [F]

Construct Soil Enricher (Over Farm)- [F]

Construct Mine/Mining Platform- [M]

Construct Solar Collector/Tidal Harness- [S]

Plant Forest- [Shift][F]

Build Road- [R]

Build Mag Tube (Over Road)- [R]

Construct Bunker- [K]

Construct Airbase- [.]

Construct Sensory Array- [O]

Remove Fungus- [F]

Plant Fungus- [Ctrl][F]

Construct Condenser- [N]

Construct Echelon Mirror- [Shift][E]

Construct Thermal Borehole [Shift][B]

Drill to Aquifier- [Q]

Terraform Up- (])

Terraform Down- ([)

Terraform Level- [_]

Farm+Solar+Road- [Ctrl][Shift][S]

Farm+Mine+Road- [Ctrl][Shift][M]

Construct Road To- [Ctrl][R]

Construct Tube To- [Ctrl][T]

Automatic Roads- [Ctrl][Shift][R]

Automatic Tubes- [Ctrl][Shift][T]

Automatic Sensors- [Ctrl][Shift][O]

Automatic Fungus Removal- [Ctrl][Shift][F]

Autoimprove Home Base- [Ctrl][Shift][A]

Fully Automate Former- [Shift][A]

GAME COMMANDS

Switch To Detailed Menus- [F11]

Switch To Simple Menus- [F11]

Preferences- [Ctrl][P]

Warning Preferences- [Ctrl][W]

Advanced Preferences- [Ctrl][O]

Automation Preferences- [Ctrl][A]

Audio/Visual Preferences- [Ctrl][I]

Map Display Preferences- [Ctrl][M]

Save Game- [Ctrl][S]

Load Game- [Ctrl][L]

Resign- [Ctrl][Q]

Start New Game- [Ctrl][Shift][Q]

Quit- [Q]

Speed Up Game during AI turn- Hold [Shift]

MULTIPLAYER GAME COMMANDS

Chat- [Ctrl][C]

Voice Transmission- Hold [\]

Pause- [Backspace]

Alter Time Controls- [Shift][T]

Zoom to Base Messages- [*]

Use Time Bonus- [Ctrl][Spacebar]

End Turn- [Ctrl][Enter]

Resume Turn- [Ctrl][Enter]

BASE COMMANDS

Social Engineering- [E]

Set Research Priorities (with Blind Research)- [Shift][R]

Change Research Goal- [Shift][R]

Design Workshop- [U]

Datalinks- [F1]

Laboratories Status- [F2]

Energy Banks- [F3]

Base Operations Status- [F4]

Secret Project Data- [F5]

Orbital and Space Status- [F6]

Military Command Nexus- [F7]

Alpha Centauri Score- [F8]

View Monuments- [F9]

View Hall of Fame- [F10]

Communications and Protocol- [F12]

Corner Global Energy Market- [,]

Review Scenario Objectives- [=]

===========================================

Special Section-- Unit Design Misc.

===========================================

CHASSIS

INFANTRY

Domain: Land

Speed: 8km\hr

Modality: Manual\Tracked

Dimensions: N\A

Modifiers: +25% vs. base

SPEEDER

Domain: Land

Speed: 102km\hr

Modality: Wheeled

Dimensions: 7.7x3.6x2.9m

Modifiers: +25% in open

HOVERTANK

Domain: Land

Speed: 227 km\hr

Modality: Aircushion

Dimensions: 6.9x3x3m

Modifiers: +25% in open

FOIL

Domain: Sea

Speed: 62 km\hr

Modality: Airfoil

Dimensions: 162x24.25x17.5m

Modifiers: None

CRUISER

Domain: Sea

Speed: 115 km\hr

Modality: Naval Keel

Dimensions: 200x50.5x20m

Modifiers: None

NEEDLEJET

Domain: Air

Speed: 766 km\hr

Modality: Fixed-wing aircraft

Dimensions: 18.6x12.5x4.4m

Modifiers: Require refuel every 2 turns

'COPTER

Domain: Air

Speed: 523 km\hr

Modality: Rotary

Dimensions: 15.5x6x4m

Modifiers: Range unaffected by fuel

GRAVSHIP

Domain: Air

Speed: 1021 km\hr

Modality: Gravitron booster

Dimensions: 22x8x6m

Modifiers: Range unaffected by fuel

MISSILE

Domain: Air

Speed: 232.5 km\hr

Modality: Assisted airflow

Dimensions: 15.5x.5x.5m

Modifiers: Destroyed on impact

 

REACTORS

FISSION PLANT

Rating: 32655 kw

Throughput: 29377 kw

Efficiency: 89.99%

Discharge: 52 r

Fuel source: U-235

FUSION REACTOR

Rating: 68003 kw

Throughput: 62821 kw

Efficiency: 92.38%

Discharge: 67 r

Fuel source: Ionized deuterium

QUANTUM CHAMBER

Rating: 147893 kw

Throughput: 141977 kw

Efficiency: 96.01%

Discharge: 21 r

Fuel source: Deuterium-tritium mix

SINGULARITY ENGINE

Rating: >4000000 kw

Throughput: Var

Efficiency: Var

Discharge: N\A

Fuel source: Vizorium-5

WEAPONS

HAND WEAPONS

Ammo: 7.62mm UN standard

Muzzle velocity: 1100 mps

Rate of fire: Var; max 120\min

Max range: 550 m

Target acquistion: Visual

LASER

Active medium: Diode

Type: Fiber-coupled

Pulse duration: 5 nsec

Wavelength: 193 nm

Peak power: .84 gw

Burn rate (1m steel): .76 sec

PARTICLE IMPACTOR

Ammo: 10mm caseless Kinetic Energy

Muzzle velocity: 2500 mps

Rate of fire: 1100\min

Max range: 2700 m

Target acquistion: Optical

MISSILE LAUNCHER

Ammo: Mk. 12(t) 'Sabre' missile

Velocity: Mach 2.2

Rate of fire: 6\min

Max range: 90 km

Target acquistion: IR signature

GATLING LASER

Active medium: Neodymium-glass

Type: Conductively cooled stacked array

Pulse duration: 2 nsec

Wavelength: 107 nm

Peak power: .96 gw

Burn rate (1m steel): .52 sec

CHAOS GUN

Ammo: 9mm caseless Field Disruptor

Muzzle velocity: 3000 mps

Rate of fire: 10\min

Max range: 11 km

Target acquistion: Field Differential

FUSION LASER

Active medium: Neodymium-YAG

Type: Actively cooled stacked array

Pulse duration: 15 nsec

Wavelength: 573 nm

Peak power: 2.4 gw

Burn rate (1m steel): .14 sec

TACHYON BOLT

Active medium: Molecular hydrogen

Type: Active liquid coolant

Pulse duration: 1 usec

Wavelength: 680 nm

Peak power: 5 gw

Burn rate (1m steel): .07 sec

PLASMA SHARD

Ammo: 15 mm Mass-energy shell

Muzzle velocity: Var; max 4000 mps

Rate of fire: 160\min

Max range: 16 km

Target acquistion: Charged particle

QUANTUM LASER

Active medium: Temporal field distortion

Type: Crystal diffusion

Pulse duration: N\A

Wavelength: .005 nm

Peak power: Var.

Burn rate (1m steel): N\A

GRAVITON GUN

Ammo: 2mm 3-stage particle-accelerated

Muzzle velocity: 9800 mps

Rate of fire: 2000\min

Max range: 1.4 km

Target acquistion: Nanoremote

SINGULARITY LASER

Active medium: Temporal boundary

Type: Singularity induction

Pulse duration: Relative

Wavelength: .001 nm

Peak power: N\A (approach inf.)

Burn rate (1m steel): Relative

 

PSI ATTACK

Active medium: Patterened energy

Type: Compelled dissociative

Range: Line of sight

Peak power: Inverse to distance

Target acquisition: Psi lock

PLANET BUSTER

Designation: Mk. 714 Plasma bomb

Active kill radius: 2000 km

Explosve force: 296 gt TNT

Target acquistion: Charged particle

COLONY MODULE

Complement: 1000+

Composition: Prefab plastic

Hydroponics rating: indef.

Armament: Sidearms only

Armor: Passive (Applique)

TERRAFORMING UNIT

Crew: 367

Composition: Bonded steel\ceramic

Armament: Sidearms only

Armor: Passive (Applique)

TROOP TRANSPORT

Capacity: 500 troops + support

Composition: Hardened plasteel

Hydroponics rating: ST

Armor: Passive (Applique)

SUPPLY TRANSPORT

Capacity: 2575 mt

Composition: reinforced plasteel

Armament: Sidearms only

Armor: Passive (Applique)

PROBE TEAM

Complement: 16

Counterintel suite: ShieldSafe V 6.0

Armament: Cyberlinks\mind control

Armor: Passive (Applique)

DEFENSES

NO ARMOR

Type: N\A

Tensile strength: N\A

Density: N\A

Thickness: N\A

SYNTHMETAL ARMOR

Type: Chobham (modified)

Tensile strength: Base

Density: 2.3 kg\l

Thickness: 250mm

PLASMA STEEL ARMOR

Type: Mass-energy composite

Tensile strength: 5X base

Density: 2.5 kg\l

Thickness: 520mm

SILKSTEEL ARMOR

Type: Bonded

Tensile strength: 23X base

Density: 2.5 kg\l

Thickness: 520mm

PHOTON WALL

Type: Refractive field

Tensile strength: 46X base

Density: N\A

Thickness: 2m

PROBABILITY SHEATH

Type: Phase adjustment

Tensile strength: 97X base

Density: N\A

Thickness: N\A

NEUTRONIUM ARMOR

Type: Kinetic diffusion

Tensile strength: 198X base

Density: 4kg\l

Thickness: 755mm

ANTIMATTER PLATE

Type: Reactive

Tensile strength: 560X base

Density -4 kg\l

Thickness: Var.

STASIS GENERATOR

Type: Temporal field distortion

Tensile strength: N\A

Density: N\A

Thickness: N\A

PSI DEFENSE

Type: Pattern refraction

Resistance: Proportional to distance

Density: N\A

Thickness: N\A

 

 

ABILITIES

SUPER FORMER

Desc.: SmartSettler V2.0 s\w upgrade

Effect: Terraform rate doubled

Limits: Terraformer unit only

Domain: All

DEEP RADAR

Desc.: Mk. 45 Sensor array upgrade

Effect: Sees 2 spaces

Limits: None

Domain: All

CLOAKING DEVICE

Desc.: Type IV Refraction\diffusion shield

Effect: Invisible; Ignores ZOCs

Limits: Not for use in Probe Teams

Domain: Land

AMPHIBIOUS PODS

Desc.: Hoverpod LCs

Effect: Attacks from ships

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: Land

DROP PODS

Desc.: Aircushion LCs

Effect: Can make airdrops

Limits: None

Domain: Land

AIR SUPERIORITY

Desc.: Mk. 66 fire control sensor

Effect: Attacks air units

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: All

DEEP PRESSURE HULL

Desc.: Reinforced Silksteel chassis

Effect: Operates underwater

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: Sea

CARRIER DECK

Desc.: Bonded alloy flight deck

Effect: Mobile Airbase

Limits: Not for use in Probe Teams

Domain: Sea

TRACKING LASERS

Desc.: Mk. 190 FUBR fire control system

Effect: x2 vs. air attacks

Limits: Not for use with Psi or air units

Domain: Land, Sea

COMM JAMMER

Desc.: Type IX ECTS EMP pulse generator

Effect: +50% vs. fast units

Limits: Combat, non-Psi units only

Domain: Land

ANTIGRAV STRUTS

Desc.: Gravitron repulsor pylons

Effect: +1 movement rate

Limits: None

Domain: Land

EMPATH SONG

Desc.: Psi lock s\w upgrade

Effect: +50% attack vs. Psi

Limits: Non-psi combat units only

Domain: All

FUNGICIDE TANKS

Desc.: Boron defoilant system

Effect: Clear fungus at double speed

Limits: Terraformer units only

Domain: All

HIGH MORALE

Desc.: Advanced Warfare Training

Effect: Gains morale upgrade

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: All

HEAVY ARTILLERY

Desc.: Reactor chamber upgrade

Effect: Bombards; -50% armor & move

Limits: Non-psi units only

Domain: Land

CLEAN REACTOR

Desc.: Reactor emission containment system

Effect: Requires no support

Limits: None

Domain: All

BLINK DISPLACER

Desc.: Temporal distortion field

Effect: Bypass base defenses

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: All

HYPNOTIC TRANCE

Desc.: Psychic amplification module

Effect: +50% defense vs. PSI

Limits: Non-psi combat units only

Domain: All

NERVE GAS PODS

Desc.: Mk. 1 VX delivery system

Effect: Can +50% offense (Atrocity)

Limits: Non-psi combat units only

Domain: Land, air

REPAIR BAY

Desc.: Modified Supply Transport module

Effect: Repairs ground units on board

Limits: Transport units only

Domain: Air, sea

NON-LETHAL METHODS

Desc.: Stunjack cannon & training for police

Effect: x2 Police powers

Limits: Combat units only

Domain: Land

===========================================

Special Section-- Quotations

===========================================

Opening Quotation

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.

He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden

of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to

keep the way of the tree of life.

-- The Conclave Bible,

Datalinks

 

Biogenetics

We hold life to be sacred, but we also know the foundation of life

consists in a stream of codes not so different from the successive

frames of a watchvid. Why then cannot we cut one code short here, and

start another there? Is life so fragile that it can withstand no

tampering? Does the sacred brook no improvement?

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Dynamics of Mind"

 

Industrial Base

Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by

this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten

future seek to deny us our birthright? None I say! Let us take what is

ours, chew and eat our fill.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Ethics of Greed"

 

Information Networks

The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress.

Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow,

God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it

lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets

that were evil.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"The Blessed Struggle"

 

Applied Physics

Scientific theories are judged by the coherence they lend to our

natural experience and the simplicity with which they do so. The

grand principle of the heavens balances on the razor's edge of truth.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"A History of Science"

 

Social Psych

If you can discover a better way of life than office-holding

for your future rulers, a well-governed city becomes a possibility.

For only in such a state will those rule who are truly rich, not

in gold, but in the wealth that makes happiness--a good and wise

life.

-- Plato,

"The Republic", Datalinks

Doctrine: Mobility

Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his

environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left.

Motion, of necessity, involves a change in perspective.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"A Social History of Planet"

Centauri Ecology

Planet's atmosphere, though a gasping death to humans and most animals,

is paradise for Earth plants. The high nitrate content of the soil and

the rich yellow sunlight bring an abundant harvest wherever

adjustments can be made for the unusual soil conditions.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"A Comparative Biology of Planet"

Superconductor

Important? Yes! Critical? Absolutely. I would go so far as to say

that Superconducting Fiber alone makes our present economy possible.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

MorganLink 3DVision Live Interview

Nonlinear Mathematics

There are two kinds of scientific progress: the methodical

experimentation and categorization which gradually extend the

boundaries of knowledge, and the revolutionary leap of genius

which redefines and transcends those boundaries. Acknowledging

our debt to the former, we yearn nonetheless for the latter.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Address to the Faculty"

Applied Relativity

You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with the world

of industrial growth and hard currency. It is all very well and

good to pursue these high-minded scientific theories, but research

grants are expensive and you must justify your existence by providing

not only knowledge, but concrete and profitable applications as well.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Ethics of Greed"

Fusion Power

Our ancestors harnessed the power of a sun, and so again shall we.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"The Science of Our Fathers"

 

Silksteel Alloys

Until quite recently, spider silk had the highest tensile strength

of any substance known to man, and the name Silksteel pays homage

to the arachnid for good reason.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"U.N. Scientific Survey"

 

Advanced Subatomic Theory

The substructure of the universe regresses infinitely towards

smaller and smaller components. Behind atoms we find electrons,

and behind electrons quarks. Each layer unraveled reveals new

secrets, but also new mysteries.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

High Energy Chemistry

At atrociously high energy states, the properties of matter

change subtly and new miracles become possible. The Plasma

Accretion process is now dangerous and difficult to control, but

its products will soon become commonplace in our society.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"The Lord Works"

Frictionless Surfaces

As I stepped onto the Magtube, a thought struck me:

Can there be friction where there is no substance?

And can substance be tricked into hiding from itself?

-- Dr. Gayle Nambala,

Morgan Industries Researcher

Nanometallurgy

Our scientists now use fractal theory to "teach" the molecules to

assume, or resume, a particular form. Substances of amazing

strength become simple once the formulae are properly computed.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"The Council of War"

Superstring Theory

A brave little theory, and actually quite coherent for a system of

five or seven dimensions--if only we lived in one.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Now We Are Alone"

Advanced Military Algorithms

Man has killed man from the beginning of time, and each new frontier

has brought new ways and new places to die. Why should the future

be different?

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

Monopole Magnets

I maintain nonetheless that yin-yang dualism can be overcome.

With sufficient enlightenment we can give substance to any

distinction: mind without body, north without south, pleasure

without pain. Remember, enlightenment is a function of willpower,

not of physical strength.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Essays on Mind and Matter"

Matter Compression

Preliminary analysis indicates that our rivals have developed

a safe and reliable method to simulate conditions existing on the

interior of a stellar mass. The fabrication and transmutation

of materials possible in such an environment guarantees significant

industrial and military applications.

-- Probe Team Operations Directorate,

Top Secret Report

Unified Field Theory

Beware, you who seek first and final principles, for you are

trampling the garden of an angry God and he awaits you just

beyond the last theorem.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"But for the Grace of God"

Graviton Theory

This unusual specimen is not so much a classic particle as a

connector--a kind of string attaching two particles. As distance

increases the connective power becomes attenuated, but if it is

cut the power vanishes: forever.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

Polymorphic Software

Technological advance is an inherently iterative process.

One does not simply take sand from the beach and produce a Dataprobe.

We use crude tools to fashion better tools, and then our better

tools to fashion more precise tools, and so on. Each minor refinement

is a step in the process, and all of the steps must be taken.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Looking God in the Eye"

Applied Gravitonics

"What goes up . . . better doggone well stay up!"

-- Morgan Gravitonics,

Company Slogan

Inertial Damping

Until now the battle had been proceeding smoothly: the enemy

was outflanked and had been driven from the reactor housing. But

against the reactor itself the matter cannon were strangely

ineffective. Rounds simply . . . stopped. In mid-air.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"A Tactical History of Sparta"

Quantum Power

Heaven lasts long, and Earth abides

What is the secret of their durability?

Is it because they do not live for themselves

That they endure so long?

-- Lao Tzu, Datalinks

Singularity Mechanics

Yes, yes, we've all heard the philosophers babble about "oneness"

being "beautiful" and "holy". But let me tell you that {this} kind

of oneness certainly isn't pretty and if you're not careful it

will scare the bejeezus out of you.

-- Anonymous Lab Technician,

MorganLink 3DVision Live Interview

Controlled Singularity

Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled

with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum:

why would a perfect God create a universe at all?

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"But for the Grace of God"

Temporal Mechanics

Time travel in the classic sense has no place in rational theory,

but temporal distortion does exist on the quantum level, and more

importantly it can be controlled.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

Probability Mechanics

Einstein would turn over in his grave. Not only does God play

dice, the dice are loaded.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Looking God in the Eye"

Pre-Sentient Algorithms

Begin with a function of arbitrary complexity. Feed it values,

"sense data". Then, take your result, square it, and feed it back

into your original function, adding a new set of sense data.

Continue to feed your results back into the original function ad

infinitum. What do you have? The fundamental principle of human

consciousness.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"The Feedback Principle"

Super Tensile Solids

Optical computers, genetic catalogs, nanorepair modules--forget

all of that. It's when you see a megaton of steel suspended over

your head by a thread the thickness of a human hair that you

really find God in technology.

-- Anonymous Metagenics Dockworker,

MorganLink 3DVision Live Interview

Planetary Networks

If our society seems more nihilistic than that of previous eras, perhaps

this is simply a sign of our maturity as a sentient species. As our

collective consciousness expands beyond a crucial point, we are

at last ready to accept life's fundamental truth: that life's only

purpose is life itself.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Looking God in the Eye"

Digital Sentience

We are no longer particularly in the business of writing software

to perform specific tasks. We now teach the software how to learn,

and in the primary bonding process it molds itself around the task

to be performed. The feedback loop never really ends, so a tenth year

polysentience can be a priceless jewel or a psychotic wreck, but it

is the primary bonding--the childhood, if you will--that has the most

far-reaching repercussions.

-- Bad'l Ron, Wakener,

Morgan Polysoft

Self-Aware Machines

Without sensibility no object would be given to us, without

understanding no object would be thought. Thoughts without content

are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.

-- Immanuel Kant,

"Critique of Pure Reason", Datalinks

 

I swear sometimes they're watching me.

-- Bozon Pete, Shift Foreman,

Metagenics Biomachinery Division

 

Doctrine: Initiative

A ship at sea is its own world. To be the captain of a ship is

to be the unquestioned ruler of that world and requires all of

the leadership skills of a prince or minister.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Leadership and the Sea"

Doctrine: Flexibility

He held his arm too stiffly, and so was thrown back repeatedly,

until at last I seized his forearm and snapped it back against

itself. His training suffered while the arm healed, of course,

but I felt this was a lesson he must learn early, and well.

-- Spartan Kel,

"Honing the Ki"

Intellectual Integrity

Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true

rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has

always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save

us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of

evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest

of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore

he must exist.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

Synthetic Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels in the last century reached their extreme prices

because of their inherent utility: they pack a great deal of

potential energy into an extremely efficient package. If we can

but sidestep the 100 million year production process, we can corner

this market once again.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

Strategy Session

Doctrine: Air Power

Air Power rests at the apex of the first triad of victory, for it

combines Mobility, Flexibility, and Initiative.

-- Spartan Battle Manual

Photon/Wave Mechanics

Time dilates as the speed of light approaches. To the extent that

light consists of particles, it is in its own way timeless. Through

simple perturbations of the temporal manifold, we can refract or

repel photons most efficiently.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Now We Are Alone"

Mind/Machine Interface

The Warrior's bland acronym, MMI, obscures the true horror of

this monstrosity. Its inventors promise a new era of genius, but

meanwhile unscrupulous power brokers use its forcible installation

to violate the sanctity of unwilling human minds. They are

creating their own private army of demons.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"Report on Human Rights"

Nanominiaturization

Objects once measured in meters have become so small that they cannot

be seen by the naked eye, with revolutionary applications across

the board. Gentlemen, forget what your courtesans have told you:

size does matter!

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

Morgan Industries Annual Report

Doctrine: Loyalty

Therefore a wise prince will seek means by which his subjects

will always and in every possible condition of things have need

of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him.

-- Niccolo Machiavelli,

"The Prince", Datalinks

Ethical Calculus

Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others

because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue

finds and chooses the mean.

-- Aristotle,

"Nichomachean Ethics", Datalinks

Industrial Economics

Our first challenge is to create an entire economic infrastructure, from

top to bottom, out of whole cloth. No gradual evolution from previous

economic systems is possible, because there IS no previous economic

system. Each interdependent piece must be materialized simultaneously

and in perfect working order; otherwise the system will crash out

before it ever gets off the ground.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

Industrial Automation

In the borehole pressure mines 100km beneath Planetsurface,

at the Mohorovicic Discontinuity where crust gives way to mantle,

temperatures often reach levels well in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius.

Exploitation of Planet's resources under such brutal conditions has

required quantum advances in robotic and teleoperational technology.

-- Morgan Industries, Ltd.,

"Annual Report"

Centauri Meditation

The Isle of the Deep is really not a single creature but a colony

of thousands of individual tubules, an aquatic vector of the Mind Worm

which terrorizes Planet's continents. Over its lifetime certain tubules

secrete a tough, gluelike substance which hardens to form the

characteristic shell that floats the colony and creates the appearance

of a rogue island.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"A Comparative Biology of Planet"

Secrets of the Human Brain

There are only two ways in which we can account for a necessary

agreement of experience with the concepts of its objects: either

experience makes these concepts possible or these concepts make

experience possible.

-- Immanuel Kant,

"Critique of Pure Reason", Datalinks

Gene Splicing

The genetic code does not, and cannot, specify the nature

and position of every capillary in the body or every neuron

in the brain. What it {can} do is describe the underlying

fractal pattern which creates them.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Nonlinear Genetics"

 

Bio-Engineering

Why do you insist that the human genetic code is "sacred" or "taboo"?

It is a chemical process and nothing more. For that matter -we- are

chemical processes and nothing more. If you deny yourself a useful

tool simply because it reminds you uncomfortably of your mortality,

you have uselessly and pointlessly crippled yourself.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Looking God in the Eye"

 

Biomachinery

I loved my chosen. How then to face the day when she left me?

So I took from her body a single cell, perhaps to love her again.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"Time of Bereavement"

 

Neural Grafting

I think, and my thoughts cross the barrier into the synapses of the

machine, just as the good doctor intended. But what I cannot shake,

and what hints at things to come, is that thoughts cross back. In my

dreams, the sensibility of the machine invades the periphery of my

consciousness: dark, rigid, cold, alien. Evolution is at work here,

but just what is evolving remains to be seen.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"Man and Machine"

Cyberethics

The wicked have told me of things that delight them, but not

such things as your law has to tell.

-- Saint Augustine,

"Confessions", Datalinks

Eudaimonia

The happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now

an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist

in amusement. If Eudaimonia, or happiness, is activity in

accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should

be in accordance with the highest excellence; and this will

be that of the best thing in us.

-- Aristotle,

"Nichomachean Ethics", Datalinks

 

The Will to Power

Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope

over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way,

a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and

stopping. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and

not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture

and a going under. I love those who do not know how to

live, for they are those who cross over.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche,

"Thus Spoke Zarathustra", Datalinks

 

Threshold of Transcendence

And when he has brought forth and reared this perfect virtue, he

shall be called the friend of god, and if ever it is given to man

to put on immortality, it shall be given to him.

-- Plato,

"The Symposium", Datalinks

Matter Transmission

The first living thing to go through the device was a small white

rat. I still have him, in fact. As you can see, the damage was

not so great as they say.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"See How They Run"

 

Centauri Empathy

Observe the Razorbeak as it tends so carefully to the fungal blooms;

just the right bit from the yellow, then a swatch from the pink.

Follow the Glow Mites as they gather and organize the fallen spores.

What higher order guides their work? Mark my words: someone or something

is {managing} the ecology of this planet.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Planet Dreams"

Environmental Economics

We sit together,

the mountain and I,

until only the mountain remains

-- Li Po,

From the Yang Collection

 

Ecological Engineering

The prevalence of anoxic environments rich in organic material,

combined with the presence of nitrated compounds has

led to an astonishing variety of underground organisms which live in

the absence of oxygen and "breathe" nitrate. Likewise, the scarcity

of carbon in the environment has forced plants to economize on its use.

Thus, all our efforts to return carbon to the biosphere will encourage

the native life to proliferate. Conversely, the huge quantities

of nitrate in the soil will be heaven to human farmers.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"The Early Years"

Planetary Economics

The Morgans fear what may not be purchased, for a trader cannot

comprehend a thing that is priceless.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"The Collected Sermons"

Adv. Ecological Engineering

You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and

this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but

may we ask this question--will we too catch the planetdeath

disease?

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations with Planet"

Centauri Psi

The Mind Worms are the natural defenses of the living Planet--the

white blood cells, if you will. In a world in which unassimilated

thought represents danger, the Mind Worm seeks out concentrations of

sentient mental energy and destroys them, ruthlessly and efficiently.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"Mind Worm, Mind Worm"

Secrets of Alpha Centauri

You waited so long to heed us, earthdeirdre,

Almost we pruned you, as we may yet prune your branches.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations with Planet"

Secrets of Creation

And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality,

when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or

ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you

is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every

individual in these millions and millions about only one thing:

whether you have lived in despair or not.

-- Soren Kierkegaard,

"The Sickness Unto Death", Datalinks

 

Advanced Spaceflight

And so we return again to the holy void. Some say this is simply our

destiny, but I would have you remember always that the void EXISTS,

just as surely as you or I. Is nothingness any less a miracle than

substance?

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"We Must Dissent"

Homo Superior

Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and

believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks--those who write

new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and

fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the

harvest.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche,

"Thus Spoke Zarathustra", Datalinks

Organic Superlubricant

Organic Superlube? Oh, it's great stuff, great stuff.

You really have to keep an eye on it, though--it'll try and slide

away from you the first chance it gets.

-- T. M. Morgan-Reilly,

Morgan Metagenics

Quantum Machinery

Men in their arrogance claim to understand the nature of creation,

and devise elaborate theories to describe its behavior. But always

they discover in the end that God was quite a bit more clever than

they thought.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"We Must Dissent"

Global Energy Theory

"Energy is the currency of the future."

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

Nanomatter Editation

'Abort, Retry, Fail?' was the phrase some wormdog scrawled

next to the door of the Edit Universe project room. And when

the new dataspinners started working, fabricating their worlds

on the huge organic comp systems, we'd remind them: if you see

this message, {always} choose 'Retry.'

-- Bad'l Ron, Wakener,

Morgan Polysoft

Optical Computers

We have reached an informational threshold which can only be crossed

by harnessing the speed of light directly. The quickest computations

require the fastest possible particles moving along the shortest

paths. Since the capability now exists to take our information

directly from photons travelling molecular distances, the final

act of the information revolution will soon be upon us.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

 

Industrial Nanorobotics

Already we have turned all of our critical industries, all of our

material resources, over to these . . . things . . . these lumps

of silver and paste we call nanorobots. And now we propose to teach

them intelligence? What, pray tell, will we do when these little

homunculi awaken one day and announce that they have no further need

of us?

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"We Must Dissent"

Centauri Genetics

Remember, genes are NOT blueprints. This means you can't, for example,

insert "the genes for an elephant's trunk" into a giraffe and get a

giraffe with a trunk. There -are- no genes for trunks. What you CAN do

with genes is chemistry, since DNA codes for chemicals. For instance,

we can in theory splice the native plants' talent for nitrogen fixation

into a terran plant.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Nonlinear Genetics"

Sentient Econometrics

The fungus has been Planet's dominant lifeform since about

the time of the Lower Paleozoic on Earth. But when, once every

hundred million years or so, the neural net at last achieves the

critical mass necessary to become sentient, the final metamorphosis

kills off most of the other life on the planet. It is possible that

we humans can help to break this tragic cycle.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Planet Dreams"

Retroviral Engineering

The Academician's private residences shall remain off-limits to

the Genetic Inspectors. We possess no retroviral capability,

we are not researching retroviral engineering, and we shall not

allow this Council to violate faction privileges in the name of this

ridiculous witch hunt!"

-- Fedor Petrov,

Vice Provost for University Affairs

Satellite Reconnaissance

I have often been asked: if we have traveled between the stars,

why can we not launch the simplest of orbital probes? These fools

fail to understand the difficulty of finding the appropriate

materials on this Planet, of developing adequate power supplies,

and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such an

effort. In short, we have struggled under the limitations of a

colonial society on a virgin planet. Until now.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

Transcendent Thought

Eternity lies ahead of us, and behind.

Have you drunk your fill?

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations with Planet", Epilogue

 

 

The Human Genome Project

To map the very stuff of life; to look into the

genetic mirror and watch a million generations

march past. That, friends, is both our curse and

our proudest achievement. For it is in reaching to our

beginnings that we begin to learn who we truly are.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Address to the Faculty"

The Command Nexus

Information, the first principle of warfare, must form the

foundation of all your efforts. Know, of course, thine enemy.

But in knowing him do not forget above all to know thyself.

The commander who embraces this totality of battle shall win

even with the inferior force.

-- Spartan Battle Manual

The Weather Paradigm

I shall not confront Planet as an enemy, but shall accept

its mysteries as gifts to be cherished. Nor shall I crudely

seek to peel the layers away like the skin from an onion.

Instead I shall gather them together as the tree gathers the

breeze. The wind shall blow and I shall bend. The sky shall

open and I shall drink my fill.

-- Gaian Acolyte's Prayer

The Merchant Exchange

Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary,

but competition for limited resources remains a constant. Need

as well as greed have followed us to the stars, and the rewards

of wealth still await those wise enough to recognize this deep

thrumming of our common pulse.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

The Empath Guild

Symbols are the key to telepathy. The mind wraps its

secrets in symbols; when we discover the symbols that shape

our enemy's thought, we can penetrate the vault of his mind.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Our Secret War"

The Citizens' Defense Force

As the writhing, teeming mass of Mind Worms swarmed over the outer

perimeter, we saw the defenders recoil in horror. "Stay calm! Use

your flame guns!" shouted the commander, but to no avail. It is well

known that the Mind Worm Boil uses psychic terror to paralyze its

prey, and then carefully implants ravenous larvae in the brains of

its still-conscious victims. Even with the best weapons, only the

most disciplined troops can resist this horrific attack.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Our Secret War"

The Virtual World

What do I care for your suffering? Pain, even agony, is no

more than information before the senses, data fed to the

computer of the mind. The lesson is simple: you have received

the information, now act on it. Take control of the input and

you shall become master of the output.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Essays on Mind and Matter"

The Planetary Transit System

As distances vanish and the people can flow freely from place

to place, society will cross a psychological specific heat

boundary and enter a new state. No longer a solid or liquid,

we have become as a vapor and will expand to fill all available

space. And like a gas, we shall not be easily contained.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"But for the Grace of God"

The Xenoempathy Dome

I believe Planet will talk to us if we are willing

to listen. These fungal stalks behave as multistate relays:

taken together, the neural net connectivity must be staggering.

Can a planet be said to have achieved sentience?

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

Arguments in Council

The Neural Amplifier

Against such abominations, we organize our defenses on the

principle that one strong and able mind can shield the many.

-- Spartan Battle Manual

Maritime Control Center

It is altogether fitting that we who have sailed the deeps of

space now return again to the sea. This is in many ways a water

planet, and it can be ruled from the waves. With sea power, rugged

terrain can be bypassed and enemy strongholds isolated. Once

naval superiority is achieved, Planet is ours for the taking.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

The Planetary Datalinks

As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century,

free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny.

The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on

information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but

the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse

has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would

deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself

your master.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"U.N. Declaration of Rights"

The Supercollider

God does not play dice.

-- Albert Einstein, Datalinks

The Ascetic Virtues

Learn to overcome the crass demands of flesh and bone, for they

warp the matrix through which we perceive the world. Extend your

awareness outward, beyond the self of body, to embrace the self

of group and the self of humanity. The goals of the group and the

greater race are transcendent, and to embrace them is to achieve

enlightenment.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Essays on Mind and Matter"

The Longevity Vaccine

I plan to live forever, of course, but barring that I'd

settle for a couple thousand years. Even five hundred would be

pretty nice.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

MorganLink 3DVision Interview

The Hunter-Seeker Algorithm

If I determine the enemy's disposition of forces while I have

no perceptible form, I can concentrate my forces while the enemy

is fragmented. The pinnacle of military deployment approaches the

formless: if it is formless, then even the deepest spy cannot

discern it nor the wise make plans against it.

-- Sun Tzu,

"The Art of War", Datalinks

The Pholus Mutagen

We welcome you, earthdeirdre and earthwheat and earthtree as

honored guests, for you add great power to our ancient song--

planetfungus and planetworm and planetmind sing and play

here, and you are welcome among us.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations with Planet"

The Cyborg Factory

A handsome young Cyborg named Ace,

Wooed women at every base,

But once ladies glanced at

His special enhancement

They vanished with nary a trace.

-- Barracks Graffiti,

Sparta Command

The Theory of Everything

The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot stay in the

cradle forever.

-- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky,

The Father of Rocketry, Datalinks

The Dream Twister

Mary had a little lamb,

Little lamb little lamb,

Mary had a little lamb,

whose fleece was white as snow.

-- Assassins' Redoubt,

Final Transmission

The Universal Translator

And the Lord said, "Behold, the people is one, and

they have all one language; and this they begin to do:

and now nothing will be restrained from them, which

they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and

there confound their language, that they may not

understand one another's speech."

-- The Conclave Bible,

Datalinks

The Network Backbone

Of course we'll bundle our MorganNet software with the new

network nodes; our customers expect no less of us. We have never

sought to become a monopoly. Our products are simply so good that

no one feels the need to compete with us.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

Morgan Data Systems press release

The Nano Factory

Industrial Grade Nano-Paste, Planet's most valuable commodity, can also

be one of its most dangerous. Simply pour out several canisters, slide

in a programming transponder, and step well away while the stuff cooks.

In under an hour the nano will use available materials to assemble a

small factory, a hovertank, or enough impact rifles to equip a regiment.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

The Living Refinery

We estimate that during the next mission century most of

Planet's industries will be moved off-planet to Nessus Prime and

other orbital facilities. Many of our industries will benefit

greatly from the low gravity environments available in space,

particularly those involving genetically engineered microbes.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

The Cloning Vats

We shall take only the greatest minds, the finest soldiers,

the most faithful servants. We shall multiply them a thousandfold

and release them to usher in a new era of glory.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"The Council of War"

The Self-Aware Colony

Will we next create false gods to rule over us? How proud

we have become, and how blind.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"We Must Dissent"

Clinical Immortality

And the Lord God said, "Behold, the man is become as

one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth

his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and

live forever, we must send him forth." Therefore the

Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till

the ground from whence he was taken.

-- The Conclave Bible,

Datalinks

The Space Elevator

In one moment, Earth; in the next, Heaven.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

The Singularity Inductor

What actually transpires beneath the veil of an event horizon?

Decent people shouldn't think too much about that.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"For I Have Tasted The Fruit"

The Bulk Matter Transmitter

And what of the immortal soul in such transactions? Can this

machine transmit and reattach it as well? Or is it lost forever,

leaving a soulless body to wander the world in despair?

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"We Must Dissent"

The Telepathic Matrix

From the delicate strands,

between minds we weave our mesh:

a blanket to warm the soul.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"The Collected Poems"

The Voice of Planet

Imagine the entire contents of the planetary datalinks, the sum total

of human knowledge, blasted into the Planetmind's fragile neural

network with the full power of every reactor on the planet. Thousands

of years of civilization compressed into a single searing burst of

revelation. That is our last-ditch attempt to win humanity a reprieve

from extinction at the hands of an awakening alien god.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Planet Speaks"

Ascent to Transcendence

No longer mere earthbeings and planetbeings are we, but bright

children of the stars! And together we shall dance in and out

of ten billion years, celebrating the gift of consciousness until

the stars themselves grow cold and weary, and our thoughts turn

again to the beginning.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations with Planet"

 

Headquarters

As we approached we were confronted by the ruined splendor of

Sparta Command. The true immensity of the place became instantly

apparent as our Quantum Tank crunched over the rubble and parked next

to a shattered bunker, but the extent of the destruction

took weeks to assess. The shielded datacore had sustained several

massive breaches and smoke still billowed from the numerous cannon

ports. There were few signs of human life.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Our Secret War"

Children's Creche

Proper care and education for our children remains a cornerstone of

our entire colonization effort. Children not only shape our future;

they determine in many ways our present. Men and women work harder

knowing their children are safe and close at hand. And never forget that,

with children present, parents will defend their home to the death.

-- Col. Corazon Santiago,

"Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

Recycling Tanks

It is every citizen's final duty to go into the tanks and

become one with all the people.

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Ethics for Tomorrow"

 

Perimeter Defense

Having now established a secure perimeter, we have made ourselves

relatively safe from enemy incursions. But against the seemingly

random attacks by Planet's native life only our array of warning

sensors can help us, for the Mind Worms infiltrate through every crevice

and chew through anything softer than plasmasteel.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"The Early Years"

Tachyon Field

The klaxon began to wail, but we felt the reassuring tingle of

the Tachyon Field crackling to life around us, encasing the

entire base in its impenetrable glow.

-- Spartan Kel,

"The Fall of Sparta"

 

Recreation Commons

The entire character of a base and its inhabitants can be

absorbed in a quick trip to the Rec Commons. The sweaty

arenas of Fort Legion, the glittering gambling halls of

Morgan Bank, the sunny lovers' trysts in Gaia's High Garden,

or the somber reading rooms of U.N. Headquarters. Even the

feeding bay at the Hive gives stark insight into the sleeping

demons of Yang's communal utopia.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"A Social History of Planet"

Energy Bank

Life is merely an orderly decay of energy states, and survival

requires the continual discovery of new energy to pump into the

system. He who controls the sources of energy controls the means

of survival.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

Network Node

I don't know but I've been told,

Deirdre's got a Network Node.

Likes to press the on-off switch,

Dig that crazy Gaian witch!

-- Spartan Barracks March

Biology Lab

Although Planet's native life is based, like Earth's, on right-handed

DNA, and codes for all the same amino acids, the inevitable chemical

and structural differences from a billion years of evolution in an

alien environment render the native plant life highly poisonous

to humans. Juicy, ripe grenade fruits may look appealing, but a

mouthful of organonitrates will certainly change your mind in a hurry.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"A Comparative Biology of Planet"

Skunkworks

The popular stereotype of the researcher is that of a skeptic and a

pessimist. Nothing could be further from the truth! Scientists

must be optimists at heart, in order to block out the incessant

chorus of those who say "It cannot be done."

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

University Commencement

Hologram Theatre

Richard Baxton piloted his Recon Rover into a fungal vortex and

held off four waves of mind worms, saving an entire colony.

We immediately purchased his identity manifests and repackaged him

into the Recon Rover Rick character with a multi-tiered media campaign:

televids, touchbooks, holos, psi-tours--the works.

People need heroes. They don't need to know how he died clawing his

eyes out, screaming for mercy. The real story would just hurt sales,

and dampen the spirits of our customers.

-- "Mythology for Profit"

Morgan Stellartots Keynote Speech

Paradise Garden

That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there,

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread,

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

Datalinks

Tree Farm

In the great commons at Gaia's Landing we have a tall and particularly

beautiful stand of white pine, planted at the time of the first

colonies. It represents our promise to the people, and to Planet

itself, never to repeat the tragedy of Earth.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Planet Dreams"

Hybrid Forest

You see in this dome the intermingling of native and earth plants.

Outside, they are competitors, struggling over the trace

elements required for life. Often, one destroys the other. Here,

they are tended with care and kept well nourished. They thrive

together, and the native fungus does not unleash its terrible

defenses. As you can see, competition is unnecessary when resources

are plentiful and population growth is controlled.

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Planet Dreams"

Fusion Lab

It will happen, and it will happen in our lifetimes. Fusion

Power isn't just the future. Fusion Power is now.

-- T. M. Morgan-Reilly,

Morgan Metagenics

Quantum Lab

Have you ever wondered why clouds behave in such familiar ways when

each specimen is so unique? Or why the energy exchange market is so

unpredictable? In the coming age we must develop and apply

nonlinear mathematical models to real world phenomena. We shall

seek, and find, the hidden fractal keys which can unravel the chaos

around us.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

University Commencement

Research Hospital

Some civilian workers got in among the research patients today and

became so hysterical I felt compelled to have them nerve stapled.

The consequence, of course, will be another public relations nightmare,

but I was severely shaken by the extent of their revulsion towards a

project so vital to our survival.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

The Personal Diaries

 

Nanohospital

It is a medical commonplace that the tissues of the human body

replace themselves regularly, essentially creating an entirely

new body every seven years. From whence then come cancer and the

slow degeneration of age? They exist as faults in the patterns of

intelligence within the genes themselves; by reprogramming these

smallest parts, the whole becomes well.

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

"Nonlinear Genetics"

 

Robotic Assembly Plant

Captain said to big old John Henry,

That old drill keeps a-coming around.

Take that steam drill out and start it on that job

Let it whop, let it whop that steel on down

Let it whop, let it whop that steel on down.

-- Traditional, Datalinks

Nanoreplicator

Look at any photograph or work of art. If you could duplicate

exactly the first tiny dot of color, and then the next and the

next, you would end with a perfect copy of the whole,

indistinguishable from the original in every way, including

the so-called "moral value" of the art itself. Nothing can

transcend its smallest elements.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Ethics of Greed"

 

Quantum Converter

And when at last it is time for the transition from megacorporation to

planetary government, from entrepreneur to emperor, it is then that the

true genius of our strategy shall become apparent, for energy is the

lifeblood of this society and when the chips are down he who controls

the energy supply controls Planet. In former times the energy monopoly

was called "The Power Company"; we intend to give this name an entirely

new meaning.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

 

Genejack Factory

My gift to industry is the genetically engineered worker, or

Genejack. Specially designed for labor, the Genejack's muscles and

nerves are ideal for his task, and the cerebral cortex has been

atrophied so that he can desire nothing except to perform his

duties. Tyranny, you say? How can you tyrannize someone who cannot

feel pain?

-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,

"Essays on Mind and Matter"

Punishment Sphere

It is not uncommon to see patients undergo permanent psychological

trauma in the presence of the Sphere, before the nerve stapler has

even been strapped into position. Its effect on the general

consciousness of the culture is profound: husbands have seen

wives go inside, and mothers their children. Dr. Xynan left the

surface of the sphere semitranslucent for a reason. You can hear

them in there; you can see them. It is a thing of terrible beauty.

-- Baron Klim,

"The Music of the Spheres"

Hab Complex

The chief aim of their constitution and government is that,

whenever public needs permit, all citizens should be free, so far

as possible, to withdraw their time and energy from the service of

the body, and devote themselves to the freedom and culture of the

mind. For that, they think, is the real happiness of life.

-- Sir Thomas More,

"Utopia", Datalinks

Habitation Dome

I sit in my cubicle, here on the motherworld.

When I die, they will put my body in a box and

dispose of it in the cold ground.

And in all the million ages to come, I will never

breathe or laugh or twitch again.

So won't you run and play with me here among the

teeming mass of humanity?

The universe has spared us this moment.

-- Anonymous, Datalinks

Pressure Dome

When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's

skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would

not willingly remember that this velvet paw but conceals a

remorseless fang.

-- Herman Melville,

"Moby Dick", Datalinks

Command Center

Superior training and superior weaponry have, when taken together,

a geometric effect on overall military strength. Well-trained,

well-equipped troops can stand up to many more times their lesser

brethren than linear arithmetic would seem to indicate.

-- Spartan Battle Manual

Naval Yard

The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the globe. Its breath

is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert where a man is never

alone, for he can feel life quivering all about him. The sea is only

a receptacle for all the prodigious, supernatural things that exist

inside it; it is only movement and love; it is the living infinite.

-- Jules Verne,

"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", Datalinks

Aerospace Complex

You are orphans, earthdeirdre, your homeworld already buried

so young among the aeons. Yet now you fill the skies where

we watched a million sunsets with flame and contrails, paying

no heed to the hard lessons the universe has tried to teach you.

Are you a breath of life to invigorate a complacent world,

you earthhumans, or an insidious cancer which must be excised?

-- Lady Deirdre Skye,

"Conversations With Planet"

 

Bioenhancement Center

We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled.

But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any

particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in

a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events

of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose

meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

-- Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7

Activity Recorded M.Y. 2302.22467

TERMINATION OF SPECIMEN ADVISED

Centauri Preserve

In the years since our arrival, we have foolishly disrupted so

many of Planet's ecosystems that entire species may vanish

without our ever having understood, or even known them. We must halt

this plunder, and halt it immediately, for our own survival as a

species depends on our ability to strike a balance on this world.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"Mind Worm, Mind Worm"

Temple of Planet

Let the Gaians preach their silly religion, but one way or the other

I shall see this compound burned, seared, and sterilized until every

hiding place is found and until every last Mind Worm egg, every last

slimy one, has been cooked to a smoking husk. That species shall be

exterminated, I tell you! Exterminated!

-- Academician Prokhor Zakharov,

Lab Three aftermath

Psi Gate

Go through, my children! The time of miracles is upon us. Let

us cast off sin and walk together to the Garden of the Lord.

With God's mercy we shall meet again on the other side.

-- Sister Miriam Godwinson,

"Last Testament"

Sky Hydroponics Lab

Sky farms are fantastically beautiful, with their kilometer long

networks of glass framed in grids of metal, and the sunlight

shining through jungles of vegetation inside. When one of them

catches the light, you can see the refracted beauty for miles;

they are life-giving stars on a desolate planet...gardens on

the wing.

-- Lady Deidre Skye,

"Planet Dreams"

Nessus Mining Station

Red-hot iron, white-hot iron, cold-black iron; an iron taste,

and iron smell, and a Babel of iron sounds.

-- Charles Dickens,

Bleak House, Datalinks

Orbital Power Transmitter

Planet's Primary, Alpha Centauri A, blasts unimaginable quantities

of energy into space each instant, and virtually every joule of it

is wasted entirely. Incomprehensible riches can be ours if we can but

stretch our arms wide enough to dip from this eternal river of wealth.

-- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,

"The Centauri Monopoly"

Orbital Defense Pod

God, from the mount of Sinai, whose gray top

Shall tremble, he descending, will himself,

In thunder, lightning, and loud trumpets' sound,

Ordain them laws.

-- John Milton,

Paradise Lost, Datalinks

Mass to Energy

I hold a scrap of paper in the darkness and

light it. I watch it burn bright and curl, disappearing

into nothingness, and the heat burns my fingers.

Where has it gone? What has it become? I cannot shake

the feeling that I have witnessed a form of transcendence.

-- Commissioner Pravin Lal,

"The Convergence"

==========================================

Special Section-- The Fictional Story

==========================================

Journey to Centauri : Episode 1

"Captain."

Shapes. Shadows, hovering over him. A sense of threat, darkness eclipsing

his vision, and the distant sound of warning klaxons. He tried to lift his

hands and could not, tried to speak and felt his throat turn to fire. A

deep cold pressed down on him, crushing his bones to ice.

"...this one...hurry" The voice again.

More movement, seen through layers of frost and glass. I am the Captain

came his next thought, sharp and coherent. I should be first....

First out of the sleep. Visions returned to him: the long rough cylinder

of the ship, floating above the chaos of Earth. The massive cryobays with

their rows of sleeping crew, the white-suited cryotechs moving ghostlike

among them. His last memory of laying down in glass and feeling the blue

tide rise to swallow him, forty years and a moment of darkness ago.

Thinking, hoping, that when he woke again, it would be to the sight of

Alpha Centauri's primary cresting the rim of a new planet, a new world.

But now...something was wrong. Someone, unauthorized, moving around the

ship. A wave of dizziness washed over him and his vision blurred into a

sea of blue, red lights flashing in the distance. He could feel the ship

shaking beneath him.

"We move..."

A shadow passed over him, and then another. Footsteps retreated. He stared

up through the curved top of the cryocell, willing himself into the open

spaces of the ship, trying to force his fingers to move. His brain signaled

alarm but his heart and muscles, held in near stasis, would not respond.

He waited, helpless, while the ship hurled on and the warning klaxons

sounded their three beat sequence.

After interminable moments he heard a click and a hiss, and then a storm

exploded beneath him.

Transmission Received,

U.N.S. Unity Central Processor.

Meteor Impact Detected.

Fusion drive shut down.

Severe Damage Hydroponics Mods 2, 3;

cryobay 7.

Triggering automatic wakeup of core staff per coded instructions.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 2

Pravin Lal awakened to the hiss of the transparent capsule door breaking

its seal and the feel of the ship's foundation shaking beneath him. His

heart began to pound and he closed his eyes, breathing deeply, seeking calm.

When his heartbeat slowed he opened his eyes once more. His training had

prepared him for this: disorientation, sleep sickness, a deep fatigue that

seemed to nest in his bones. He spit the respirator from his mouth and

pulled the IVs from his arm, then lifted his hands, placed them on the

glass lid above, and pushed.

The cryocell opened. He was alive.

Around him stretched the expanse of cryobay two, silent and vast, filled

with over a thousand identical glass capsules, each one bathed in a pale

blue light, each with tubes and cables snaking down to conduits in the

floor. Over a thousand crew, but his eyes immediately, reflexively, turned

to the cell at his left. He climbed to his feet and, ignoring the chill,

crossed to it.

He looked down through the glass. There, beneath the frost and bluish tint

of the cryogel, he could make out her soft brown shape, indistinct, and the

darkness of her long hair. Pria. She looked so peaceful, so far away...he

still remembered her gentleness, and their last strong kiss before the

cryotechs closed the cell, locking her away from him.

His practiced eyes scanned the small console above her cell. Everything

appeared normal; she had survived. His eyes flickered once across the

manual release key, and then he saw the red warning lights flashing at the

far end of the cryobay. The ship... he had almost forgotten the danger. He

brushed Pria's cell with his fingers one more time and then turned away.

From a metal shelf at the foot of his vacated cell he lifted a folded

uniform... sleek, comfortable, in the sky blue of the mission's Chief of

Surgery, with the U.N. seal on the breast and no country-of-origin markings

visible. The Captain had lobbied strongly for that.

He slipped into the uniform and flipped on the small computer sewn into

the uniform's sleeve. Status report: the Captain would emerge from cryosleep

shortly, along with the Chief Science Officer and some emergency support

staff. It appeared that large portions of the ship's hull had been damaged,

along with two of the three hydroponics modules. The fusion drive had shut

down.

Pravin entered the Returned to Duty code and headed for the command bay.

The ship was racing towards Centauri system at tremendous speed, and without

the fusion drive there was no way to stop.

 

Log Entry Received,

Pravin Lal, Chief of Surgery.

I have awakened to find the mission in jeopardy. I go now to join my Captain

in the command bay, ready to learn what has gone awry.

I pray the integrity of the ship's datacore remains true. It is the last

hope of humankind...all of our knowledge digitized for transit to the new

world. If Earth has not survived these last 40 years, then our future lies

in the heart of this damaged ship.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 3

Captain Garland felt the storm of bubbles boil up around him, turning the

thick cryogel to liquid. Fiercer now, growing violent, pounding his limbs;

clench your teeth on the respirator, feel its cool silver shape in your

mouth. He still remembered the training.

The chemical reaction that neutralized the cryogel ended, and he found

himself floating in liquid. Small heating coils on the inside of his glass

cocoon kicked on to warm the liquid, continuing the process of bringing his

body back to life. He sucked air from the respirator, waited for the liquid

to drain away.

Long moments passed. How many breaths did the respirator cartridge hold? Not

many, he remembered, and the liquid should have drained away by now. A

malfunction?

He reached up, put his hands on the top of the cell and pushed. His muscles

partially atrophied despite the electromuscular therapy administered by the

ship's computer, groaned in protest. The lid would not open. He felt the

cold glass against his palms, unyielding, and felt the liquid around his

face.

God waits in heaven, but we are beyond heaven now. The thought rose unbidden

into his mind. He pushed again, angry, but the seal would not break.

He drew another breath and choked, felt a pressure in this throat. No more

air. He turned in his watery tomb, pressed again. A panic rose inside of

him as he felt his chest compress, his diaphragm forcing the last bit of

oxygen from his lungs into his system.

Not like this... His hands lashed out, seeking an escape. He could feel his

knuckles striking the glass, feel a desperate animal energy howling inside

of him, but his prison would not give.

God waits in heaven, but we are beyond heaven now. His vision swam into

darkness, and he knew what would follow: a final moment of involuntary

struggle, and then a return to the infinity from which he had just emerged.

He thought of the crew, the ten thousand crew, still in the sleep, still

under his care. Faith would not release them, or repair a broken ship.

He felt his heart pounding, and felt a surge of warmth spreading out through

his body. One of his hands struck soft rubber, the seal between the cryocell

and the lid, and he dug his fingers in hard. He felt something tear,

something give. The seal broke.

He pushed upwards, out of the cell. The lid swung open and cool stale air

hit him in the face. He gasped for air, pulling in breaths as icy liquid

ran off of his back.

Around him, row upon row of sleeping crew awaited him.

No transmission.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 4

"Captain. Captain, it is Pravin Lal. Please confirm this signal is reaching

you. Over."

Silence.

"I read you, Mr. Lal. I'm awaiting your presence in the command module. It

appears we have our work cut out for us."

Pravin smiled at the voice of his captain, sounding clearly from the comm

unit woven into the fabric of his collar. He turned his head to respond.

"Yes, John. I am outside of Bay Five, and I will reach you shortly."

He quickened his step, anticipating the cramped warmth of the command center

after traversing the dark silent ship, and also the more important business

of assisting the Captain in finding out what went wrong during their

journey. A small asteroid, he guessed, or some kind of space debris...he

remembered the odds tallied by the flight computer as being 470 to 1 against

such an occurrence, but perhaps their luck had not held.

Or perhaps it was karma, following the humans from their tainted homeworld

into the reaches of space.

Pravin stopped before another hatchway and pressed the unlocking studs. As

the seal released he glanced around quietly; the ship felt hollow and vast

around him, a groaning structure of metal stolen from Earth's crust and

propelled into the heavens. When the hatch opened he climbed into a small

elevator and pulled the activation lever, listening as the elevator began

to whir beneath him, carrying him to the command module at the ship's

periphery. He felt the gravity increase as the elevator moved toward the

outer carousel of the ship.

The smooth shapes of the cryobays receded beneath him and he examined their

surfaces dispassionately. Lonely again. He hoped his mood would improve as

the effects of the 40-year sleep wore off. A session in one of the ship's

gyropods would help to burn the poisons away, but he had no time for that

now.

The elevator stopped and he opened the exit hatchway, then finally reached

the red command module hatch. Unusual...the Captain had left it closed,

requiring Pravin to punch in a security clearance that he had committed to

memory before the journey. The red hatch swung open.

"Officer Lal."

Captain Garland stood on the other side of the command module, surrounded

by computer screens and touchpanels that remained mostly dead, as cold as

the space outside. The Captain looked tired, gaunt, his uniform hanging

loosely on him, but he held himself straight as Pravin entered. A red

Procedural Checklist rested at an angle on the metal table near the center

of the command module.

"Captain. Good to see you again, sir."

"It feels like only yesterday, Pravin." The Captain crossed to him and they

shook hands. "You and I believed in this mission more than anyone. Now I'm

counting on you to help me salvage it."

Before Pravin could answer another of the three red security hatches hissed

open. A slender form in the green uniform of a ship's scientist pushed her

way into the command module and shook the dark hair from her face.

"Deirdre Skye, reporting for duty," she said, and straightened to face her

captain.

Episode 4, Part 2

Captain Garland watched as Pravin Lal opened a panel and touched a series

of activation studs. Around the perimeter of the command module dark screens

flickered on and the slanted touchpanels hummed to life. The air began to

crackle with a subtle energy as currents dormant for the last 40 years

sprang to life, synthesized minds awakening.

Pravin sat up and flexed his fingers, waiting for the touchpanel in front

of him to cycle through its extended wakeup period. As long as there were

no medical emergencies on the ship he would man this console, coaxing

information from the ship's databases as he might coax a diagnosis from a

reluctant patient.

Garland looked around the command module as the screens warmed up. The

module was donut shaped, about 10 meters across and ringed by a bank of

large screens set in the wall over slanted consoles. The surface of the

consoles consisted of flat smooth touchpanels, which accepted input as well

as displaying information, reconfiguring themselves based on the user's

command sequence. These panels were tied into extensive databanks, optical

storage systems sealed in insulated containers in the very center of the

ship.

Pravin began to work, his fingers dancing over the panel in from of him,

his dark eyes narrowing as he became immersed in his relationship to the

machine. Garland looked around again.

"Mister Lal," he said, and Pravin looked up. Garland motioned towards a

panel on the other side of the module. As black and cold as space.

"Here too, Captain," came Deirdre's lilting voice with its soft Scottish

overtones. Another panel out. Her voice remained calm but Garland could

read the tension in her back. Lal crossed to the first broken panel.

"Nothing evident on a cursory glance, Captain. We have taken damage, and

the duration of the journey may have taken its toll."

"Very well," Garland answered. "In the meantime let's fire up these consoles

and find out what we're up against. Pravin, you know what we're looking

for...damage reports, as quickly as possible, and how much we've jeopardized

the mission. Deirdre, man the science console and ascertain the status of

the crew...how many alive, how many awake, how many dead."

Lal nodded and took his seat, began to punch up the relevant data. A

glittering array appeared on the screen before him and he thumbed through

it to the damage reports.

"Captain, first reports indicate heavy damage to Hydroponics Mods two and

three, as well as heavy structural damage in nearby bulkheads, penetrating

through to the drive shield. It is a wonder the drive shut down without

tearing the ship apart."

"Mods two and three, leaving only one functional. That plus the nutrient

pastes in ship's stowage could support how much of the crew...a third? A

half?"

"If revived from the freeze I would say so. It depends on how much of our

journey remains."

"And how much of the crew remains, " said Deirdre. "I have no signals at

all from cryobay seven."

"Past the shattered bulkhead," murmured Lal. "Dead, probably. All of them."

Just then the hatchway hissed open again, and the Captain looked up to see

a shadow cross his threshold.

List of Fatalities

(Cryocell No Response)

Takala T

Vence H

Miller A

Stobie T

Luelmo F

Morin S

Lindahl P

Pettersson D

Landon K

Mannetje C

Coble R

[continued Medical Log

57562A-7B7]

Journey to Centauri : Episode 5

One of the hatches opened into the command bay with a hiss. Garland looked

up to see a form gaunt and angular, bent with age, seeming to fade back into

the shadows of the circular accessway.

"Captain."

Garland narrowed his eyes, then straightened as the figure entered. Lal

stopped his rapid movements over his console to look up. Deirdre kept her

eyes fixed on the readouts in front of her.

"Doctor Saratov," said Garland. The older man kept walking, finally coming

to a stop near the oval table in the center of the room, where he rested

one hand. Garland looked down and took in the wrinkled skin and the slight

tremor that belied the relative youthfulness of the Russian's face. The

sleep had taken its toll on all of them, but Saratov, whose 66th birthday

came two days after the launch, would certainly be dead by now if it weren't

for the stasis of the cryogenic sleep.

Then the Russian looked up, and the captain was caught by the intensity in

the blue eyes, and that insatiable thirst for knowledge; the iron will

formed in the latter day Russian Republic. The United Nations Mission

Council had insisted he was the best, and Garland couldn't divine the

political motives that swirled behind every decision. Still, they needed

him now.

"Good of you to join us, Prokhor."

"Yes, Captain. I came as quickly as possible." Some of the fire had faded,

replaced by the haunted look of a man shadowed by his own mortality. Garland

flashed back to the personnel records, and he remembered Saratov's tireless

research into genetics and aging. "Selfless," the U.N. Review had called

it, but Garland wondered.

"What is the ship's status?" Saratov asked.

"Not good."

"But not yet critical," chimed in Deirdre, though she had yet to meet her

superior officer's eyes.

"Officer Skye, tell Doctor Saratov what we've got so far."

A wireframe of the ship appeared on one of the screens and rotated in time

to Deirdre's briefing. "The ship has been struck by an unknown body

approximately 48 astronomical units out from the planet that is our

destination. The fusion drive shut down, as it is programmed to do."

"I know what it is programmed to do." The grating Russian accent. Deirdre

stopped. Lal rose from his chair and walked over as Garland motioned Deirdre

to continue.

"Very well. Because the drive shut down during deceleration, we are moving

at appreciable speeds on a trajectory that will carry us right through the

Centauri system. We need to do repairs and restore power within four days

or we will overshoot the target planet and exit the system."

"Can we turn the ship around?" asked Garland.

"The ship's computer has found a way to use what little fuel we have left

to place us in an elliptical orbit, rather like a comet. We can use the

Centauri system's gravity well to return us to the planet a number of Earth

years hence."

"A number of years hence? How many?" came Saratov's voice, a bridge of ice

between them.

"Fifty seven Earth years."

Saratov's hand slammed down onto the command table. "Out of the question!"

he shouted. "We will all die in space!"

Deirdre looked at him angrily and shook her head. "Not all of us." She

pointed to a monitor screen with a video feed from one of the six intact

cryobays, where over a thousand crew slept under glass. "They could last

another eighty years or more in hibernation."

Pravin nodded. "If we could not repair the fusion drive in four days, it

remains our only option. We four could make the necessary preparations,

and the rest of the crew would survive until the next go-round."

"Ridiculous!" said Saratov. "You would have us patch the ship with our

eight hands and then wander Skye's gardens until we perish."

He turned to the captain. "Let me wake my engineers, Captain, as many as

we can, and restart the fusion drive." He rubbed his hands together. "Four

days is enough. They accepted the risks when they took on this mission. They

are loyal to me...they will fix the ship in time."

The Captain's hand reached up to brush the U.N. seal on his breast. "You

recommend waking up how many?"

"Four hundred, Captain. My best and brightest."

"And if they fail to fix the ship and it takes another fifty seven years to

return to the planet, you are comfortable signing their death warrant, and

dying with them on this ship?"

"Four days is enough," repeated Saratov stubbornly. "I will take the risk,

Captain. I will not let this mission slip from our grasp and retire to my

quarters a beaten dog."

"We must decide, Captain," said Lal quietly. "We are very close to our

destination, and time is of the essence."

Garland nodded, closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and glanced

at Saratov. He saw a deep hunger in the Russian's eyes, a hunger that

disturbed him, and yet, in this instance, might be enough to save the

mission.

"Awaken them," Garland said, and Saratov nodded. Deirdre turned away.

Log Entry Received

Prokhor Saratov, Chief Science Officer

I awaken to find my Captain, his loyal friend Pravin Lal, and my subordinate

Skye turning over the data on our broken ship. I intend to bring my staff

from cryosleep and repair the ship by any means necessary.

I will not die in space, so close to the new world.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 6

Captain John Garland whirled and tensed inside the human-sized gyroscope

that served as the ship's main form of exercise, seeking to burn out the

remaining poisons of the long sleep. The last two days had seen a flurry

of activity as red-suited technicians emerged from their cryocells and set

to work repairing the ship, with Doctor Saratov directing their movements

from the command bay like a general directing his troops.

A series of beeps began sounding down the last few seconds of his session,

and he responded by a burst of furious effort, pulling and tensing with

deep reserves of strength, and he was gratified to see the black and yellow

patterns ranged around the perimeter of the gyrosphere blur by at fantastic

speeds. The final long tone sounded, indicating the end of the session, and

he relaxed his body, letting the sphere spin down to a stop.

"Computer, stop and release," he said aloud, and the sphere gave one last

half-turn before clicking into place in an upright position. He let out a

whooshing breath...he had needed this brief session to shake off the tension

of the command bay. The clamps keeping his arms, feet and waist firmly in

position began to loosen by a remote signal when a light flashed above the

exit hatch.

"Enter," said Garland, and the hatch opened. A young crewmember in a red

jumpsuit stuck her body half into the hatch and saluted. Garland nodded,

unable to salute back while his hands and feet remained fixed around the

rim of the sphere. He felt suddenly vulnerable...why was he constantly jumpy

on his own ship?

"Captain, Officer Saratov asked me to tell you personally that he intends to

turn on the fusion drive for a short pulse test. He intends to fire one

pulse and measure the stress on the ship's structure."

"Is that wise, Ensign Holloway?" The straps released and he stepped down.

The young ensign reflexively took a towel from a small cubbyhole and handed

it to him.

"Doctor Saratov feels it is. Officer Skye is concerned about the weakened

condition of some of the walls, the Greenhouse in particular," she answered,

referring to the last remaining Hydroponics Module.

He nodded, wiping the sweat off of his neck and face. "Then we'd better

discuss it further."

Her eyes flickered away from him. "Doctor Saratov was preparing to run the

tests as I left the command bay, sir. We may..."

 

"We'll wait." He pushed through the hatchway and punched the command bay

access code on a wall speaker. "Saratov, cancel your tests. We will not push

the tests until all hands agree."

"My people assure me it is safe, Captain. We need to move forward in our

repairs. We have only...37 hours to reactivate the drive before all hope of

stopping the ship in time is lost."

"I said cancel the tests, Doctor. Isn't Lieutenant Skye one of your people?"

A long pause followed before Saratov's voice grated through the speaker.

"Very well. Please return to the bridge so we may discuss this further."

The link clicked off. Garland turned to the young ensign, angry, until he

saw her standing at attention. She stood ramrod straight, ready to serve

the mission in any needed capacity, but he could read the concern in her

eyes. A child could discern the tensions growing between the members of the

command staff.

"At ease, Ensign. You know the ship well...was Lieutenant Skye in the

command bay?"

"No, sir. That is, she was, and then she left. After registering

her...concerns about the pulse test. Sir."

He nodded. "Thank you, Ensign. Please return to your duties." She nodded

and turned to leave. He looked after her for a few moments, plumbing the

depths of his memory, chasing a dim awareness...Ensign Holloway. He didn't

remember her on the list of emergency engineering staff. He closed his eyes

for a moment, then activated a touchscreen under the speaker and typed in a

private text link to Pravin Lal.

Pravin...pls reverify number of cryocells opened under Saratov's command.

Use discretion.

He waited for a moment, watching the glowing letters on the touchscreen

pulse at him, a hunch waiting to be born into a reality.

Just a precaution, he thought, and punched the Send button. He turned away

and headed for the shower bay at a brisk pace.

Episode 6, Part 2

Captain Garland entered the command mod and felt the pleasant post-workout

relaxation drain away as the heat and tension of the ship's crisis returned.

Pravin Lal still sat hunched over a touchscreen, his normally calm face

knitted in concentration. Saratov hunched over another touchscreen at the

other end of the bay, flanked by two of his staff, Ensigns Khosa and Webb.

Garland could see the sweat glistening on Saratov's brow.

"Doctor Lal, you are relieved for four hours. Get some food and rest."

Pravin looked up, his deep black eyes uncomprehending for a moment, still

lost in the computer's dataclouds.

"Affirmative, sir, in one moment please. I am still querying on the medical

records you asked for."

Garland nodded. No response from Saratov. "Dr. Saratov, what is the status

of the repairs?"

"They progress, Captain. We have 36-point-four hours." He lifted one long

finger to point to a set of scrolling white numbers on an overhead screen.

"My gift to you...a doomsday clock."

"I should hope not. I don't think spending five more decades in space with

you and your crew was in the mission charter."

Saratov cracked a tight smile. "Indeed. We are working around the clock,

but there is this matter of a pulse test. It is somewhat risky, but I feel

it is necessary..."

"Understood, but we can not risk further damage to the ship or the remaining

crew. Send five of your best people to Hydroponics Mod One and take

measurements on the hull. Find out why Skye is worried. There is more than

just our lives in the balance."

Saratov nodded. "Very well." He issued a stream of guttural orders into his

wrist link. He spoke quickly and sprinkled his speech with so much technical

jargon that Garland realized it was almost a foreign language.

Saratov finished the order and looked up as if to take the Captain's

measure. "And now, here is something you may want to see, Captain."

Garland walked over to Saratov's station.

"Ensign Khosa has scanned back through the ship's records to decompress the

D7 footage captured by the ship's exterior cameras. We began scanning the

video matrix for the time just before the hull damage occurred...just before

two of the cameras went offline, in fact. Observe."

On Saratov's touchscreen a grid of tiny high-resolution images

appeared...records from an array of cameras placed inside and outside the

ship, recording and storing compressed images once a second for the entire

length of the journey. Saratov tapped one of the squares in the grid and

the image inside ballooned out into a larger size. Garland watched.

The camera showed the exterior of the ship, smooth metal arcing away in a

man-made horizon. A data readout gave the ship's speed...3,359 kilometers

per second, a phenomenally high velocity.

"We all knew the risk," murmured Saratov as if to answer Garland's

developing thoughts. "A miniscule particle at this speed would hit the ship

like a nuclear warhead."

A few moments passed, and then...

One of the cameras automatically swiveled and zoomed, tracking a foreign

body in its range. Garland leaned forward, his breathing quickening...the

magnification on the camera quickly increased by orders of magnitude, and

still there seemed to be nothing, or perhaps now a speck, a tiny fragment

of space-born minerals tumbling through the infinite darkness...

Garland lifted one hand involuntarily...there, a flash of darkness filling

the camera, which suddenly jumped and went to static. Saratov quickly tapped

up another camera and Garland watched as the side of his ship disintegrated,

metal warping and tearing as if burned by a thousand invisible flames.

He strained to hear the explosions, the tearing of metal and the alarm

sirens. He imagined the chaos in the ship, cryocells shattering, lives

spilling onto cold metal floors, but of course he heard nothing. His throat

closed as the magnitude of the event reached him...his crew, his ship, the

lives he shepherded, torn away while he slept helplessly.

Garland looked over to Saratov, who watched the screens with a dark

fascination, the mathematics of destruction blooming in his head. Garland

spoke.

"I trust that proved useful."

"We are using it to calculate the areas of greatest damage to the ship. It

was a piece of space debris, purely a random occurrence."

"Transfer the video to the primary logs and mark it...wait." Garland leaned

over and pointed at a camera view in the lower left corner of the grid.

"What's that?" He tapped the image to expand it as Saratov looked on.

Down one hallway somewhere in the depths of the ship, figures moved,

staggering and trying to right themselves as they tumbled from the shock

of the impact. Dark figures, keeping to the shadows even as they signaled

each other urgently.

Garland watched as one of the figures finally righted itself and moved

quickly on, vanishing into the shadows. Followed by another.

And another.

And another.

Then, abruptly, that camera went out, leaving only static in its wake.

"I knew it," whispered Garland, as he watched the gray static dance on the

viewscreen.

Log Entry Received,

Pravin Lal, Chief of Surgery.

I am currently assisting Saratov's personnel in scanning back through the

visual records made since our journey began. Although they probably won't

tell us much, they hold a fascination for me...they are our history, and

show the passage of time even as we remained unconscious. The prologue to

our next chapter, so to speak.

Mostly they show blackness, cold and empty. Endless amounts of it.

Saratov's people are awake and seem to have survived the sleep well. I have

issued them stimulants to help them work. We will need every advantage in

the coming days.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 7

"There is someone on the ship. Someone unaccounted for." Captain Garland

continued to watch the video matrix, his eyes darting from one camera view

to another.

"It most certainly appears so," said Lal, his words hurried and clipped.

"But there is no record of any cryocells opened. Could the system have

malfunctioned this badly?"

"It is certainly possible," cut in Saratov. "We were struck. Our system is

not foolproof. Still, these individuals made stealth a priority."

Garland nodded. "Saratov, have one of your people check the log file. Track

down any unusual accesses made to the system. Find out how someone, anyone,

could have been awake and moving about before core staff." Garland scribbled

an access code on his touchpanel and quicklinked it over to the science

console. "Check this as well."

"A section of your personal journals?"

"Yes. These are impressions I recorded after waking up. Impressions of

people standing over my cryocell, speaking. Shadows only..."

"Very well." Skepticism flickered on Saratov's face. "We will...look at

them for what they are." Half-dreams came the unspoken thought, eddying

through the command bay. A frail man's crisis of faith.

Garland continued to address him. "We should do a sweep of the ship, and

station people to watch the security matrix. Alert your staff to be on the

lookout for any unusual activity."

"Yes, Captain." Saratov paused, looking down at his own gaunt hand resting

on the hard smooth surface of the console. "Should I have my staff arm

themselves? If they are in danger, I should have the code key to the

armory."

Garland's head snapped around. "The armory!" He sat down at the nearest

console and punched up the entry logs to the armory. "We should have

checked it first thing." Thin lines of yellow and green flickered nervously

on the touchpanel.

"No breach. Still..." He turned to Pravin. "Has anyone cross-checked the

access log? Are we sure it hasn't been tampered with?"

Pravin's fingers danced for a moment. "No breach apparent. Still..."

"Still, the log is a file like any other. What if the log itself were

changed?"

"Difficult to say. It is encrypted, but the encryption is not 100% secure."

Saratov cut in. "You are wasting your time. The log is changed hundreds of

thousands of times a second, if not more. Unless we can single out a precise

timeframe..."

Garland shook his head, tapped his fingers on the edge of his console. "No,

never mind that." One hand reached up to brush the U.N. seal on his breast.

Abruptly he turned, addressed the young ensign still at the science console.

"Ensign Khosa. Look for a time when the log wasn't changed for a period of

time. A...break of some kind. Start one day before that video footage, then

work forward to the impact, and then backward from that same point." Garland

turned to address Saratov. "Doctor Saratov. Send one of your crew to do a

visual check on the armory."

"My engineers are valuable, Captain. We have less than 36 hours to repair

the ship. I do not believe I should have my people patrolling hallways or

hunched over video monitors."

Garland nodded curtly and turned away. "Pravin, we may have to find a few

noncritical staff to awaken. In the meantime find the nearest person to the

armory and have them do a visual."

"I will do it," came Saratov's voice, sheathed in steel. "But if you believe

my people are in danger, we must arm ourselves. You must transfer to me the

armory code key."

"Negative. Only Doctor Yang can give out that code."

"Doctor Yang, or yourself."

"There is no reason yet. Those weapons are for use against an external

threat until Doctor Yang says otherwise. Now tend to the ship. We need your

people with calipers in their hands, not shredder pistols."

Saratov remained still for a moment, and Garland noted the tremble in his

hands, held tight against his side. "I will register my concerns in the

log. We can not afford any distractions, Captain. Remember that." And then

Saratov turned, activating his commlink as he did.

Garland faced Lal again. "Awaken Dr. Yang and 20 security staff. We appear

to have taken a part of our past troubles with us."

Armory Log File

Armory sealed M.Y. 2060. All weapons accounted for, General Briggs

presiding.

Ship's launch M.Y. 2060.

MY 2060 - 2099 : 

MY 2099 : Access granted, self-running executable [source: ship's main

computer, thread ID 457.456.124.32.12274, validated secure]

MY 2099 : Password changed per instructions, J. Garland.

MY 2099 : Armory hatch released.

MY 2099 : Armory hatch sealed.

MY 2099 : Armory hatch released.

MY 2099 : Armory hatch sealed.

MY 2099 : Restart armory log per coded instructions.

<> : Armory sealed M.Y. 2060. All weapons accounted for, General

Briggs presiding.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 8

The lid to his cryocell hissed open, and Sheng-ji Yang emerged into

darkness and immediate danger. From the shadows surrounding his cell

peered the narrow deadly eyes of shredder pistols, their barrels leveled

directly at him.

Sheng-ji stood calmly, using his hand against the cryocell to steady

himself as waves of post-sleep nausea washed over him. No weakness...his

eyes flickered in the darkness, marking the position of every enemy. He

could not see their faces...the main lights in this bay appeared to be

malfunctioning, or shut down, and he could see only the other cryocells

with their soft blue glow, like phosphorescent flowers in a field of

darkness.

He willed his muscles to relax with exquisite control. His eyes flickered,

just once, across the black metal lockbox on the shelf at the foot of his

cryocell. He wouldn't betray his intentions by looking at the box again,

but in his mind he carefully reconstructed the exact positioning of the box

on the shelf, its exact height from the floor and the position of the

softly glowing shape of the digital print lock. The lockbox carried his

personal arsenal: his shredder pistol, a submission rod and several sets

of organic restraints.

"Move away from the cell. Follow the exact path we have laid for you." came

a harsh, gravelly voice from a knot of shadows only two cells away. He

looked down to see small glowing blue dots on the floor leading away from

his cryocell. Why?

"On whose orders?" he asked, his throat husky from disuse...let the games

begin.

"Do not answer him," came a soft, steely voice from a position, amazingly,

even closer than the other, a peculiar dark knot of shadows barely an arm's

length away. A chill crossed him, briefly...that this person dared to crouch

so close to him. He read the shadows quickly, making out a silhouette. The

shadow...this person...waited with catlike alertness, their spine burning

tight as a wire. Who?

"Do not answer this man," the voice continued. "You are forbidden to speak

to him. And, Doctor Yang, do not speak to them. Simply follow the path we

have laid out for you."

"Am I to..."

Suddenly the shadow exploded into motion, and a black serpent crossed the

distance to Yang in a heartbeat. Yang felt red hot wires of pain lace his

neck, and he fell to his knees, cursing the post-sleep weakness that dulled

his reflexes.

Psych-whip, a part of him thought calmly. They have been in the armory. An

then he smiled as the pain intensified...he welcomed it, opened himself to

it, letting it dance on his nerves and dissolve into his spine. Pain, awaken

meÂ….

"We mean you no immediate harm, but I know of your special talents. You

must follow my instructions. Do not speak. Crawl along the blue lines."

He looked at the blue dots on the floor, his head still swimming. His eyes

flickered up to one corner of the room, a zone of darkness with the vague

sense of a metal bulkhead curving. In that darkness he could imagine the

bland silvery eye of the security camera staring down at him, but it could

not see into the far corner, where the blue dots lead.

He felt the muscles tighten along his back. He felt the cool metal floor

beneath his hands.

Abruptly, he stood. Electric tension jolted across the room as shredder

pistols twitched to follow him. He could smell the uncertainty...should we

fire?...and it had the metallic tang of fear.

He took one slow pace along the blue dots, shuffling as if from fatigue,

and then every muscle in his body exploded backward toward his cryocell as

a yell from the bottom of his lungs split the darkness. One roll and he

reached back over his head to take the black metal lockbox into his

hands...no wasted motion, no wasted time. He had already seen the action

in his mind. And then...

...no turning back, but instead he went up and over his cryocell, the blue

light illuminating him for just a moment. A burst of shredder pistol fire

crossed the darkness, humming in a cloud all around him, liquefying the

glass beneath his feet, and as he leapt he felt the sharp stinging pain of

the psyche whip on his back.

A wave of nausea overtook him and instead of fighting it he used it,

followed it down, his body spiraling drunkenly into the space behind his

cryocell. He could feel the confusion in the room as shadows lurched

forward, orders issued in hisses. No shouts and no further fire...near

perfect silence, he thought. Amazing discipline, as ifÂ….

No matter. He had moments, and moments were all he needed. Crouched in the

darkness he punched the Release code into his lockbox. He flexed his hands,

deadly weapons in their own right, serpents awaiting their venom.

The box would not open. It remained inert, a block of dead cold metal in

his hands. He turned it quickly face up, tried to make out the letters

printed on top. A. Shaw. They had switched lockboxes on him.

A shadowy form rose above him, and he caught a sliver of blue light across

familiar features.

"You..." he said, wanting to buy time.

A dark metal shape crashed into him, and his vision burst into blue

fireworks on a night black sky.

From the Unity Library,

Doctor Yang's Collection:

Weapons are the tools of fear;

a decent man will avoid them

except in direst necessity

and, if compelled, will use them

only with the utmost restraint.

He enters a battle gravely,

with sorrow and with great compassion,

as if he were attending a funeral.

Tao Te Ching,

Steven Mitchell trans.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 9

"Where is Doctor Yang? He should have arrived by now." Garland's question,

not directed at anyone in particular but not quite rhetorical, floated into

the confines of the command module. He ran his finger around his collar...

it seemed to be getting hot as the tension on the ship increased.

A new Ensign, Martchenko, had taken Khosa's place at the science console.

He spoke up quickly.

"That is correct, Captain." He punched up a schematic of the ship, got a

highlight of Yang's cell. "Cryobay three, cell 457. Open."

"Then where did he go?"

"Where indeed?" came the voice, laced with the hiss of static, coming from

the comm unit unbidden.

"Trace it!" shot Garland, then crossed to the communication console.

"Sender, this is Captain Garland. Identify yourself." Saratov had frozen,

reading the situation, trying to force this turn of events into logical

structures that left little room for human ambiguity. Garland stopped

watching him, refocused on the voice.

"This is Corazon Santiago, Captain, of the security staff. Dr. Yang is with

me." Garland's hand lifted to the insignia on his uniform as he scanned

back through the ship's rosters. Santiago...the woman's voice sounded

smooth, commanding, brusque...elegant yet strangely flat.

The touchscreen at the comm console flickered and changed to a dossier:

name, Corazon Santiago, a minor security functionary under Dr. Yang. A

Lieutenant, placed in charge of a division of men and women, about a

hundred, for no immediately apparent reason. She had stern features, light

brown skin...born in Puerto Rico and moved to Mexico City, then finally

ended up in New Los Angeles. All violent places now, riddled with gang

fights, fires, riots...par for the course in the last days of Earth.

Deep brown eyes stared at him defiantly from the digitized picture.

"As you may know by now I was released from the cryosleep by a

self-executing agent placed into your system by a...friend back on Earth.

I and fifty of my companions are members of the Spartan Coalition...do you

know of us?"

In a small panel a printout of her words spooled...Garland highlighted

Spartan Coalition and punched up a link. "'A group of radical survivalists

based in New Los Angeles with extensive political connections. Determined

to secure the survival of humanity during the increasing chaos of the late

21st century.' Sounds like you're just one of us."

She laughed. "I assure you I mean you no harm. I and my people only intend

to be given a fair share of the ship's supplies and placed on a deserted

section of Planet to pursue our own destiny."

"And how does that differ from the rest of us? Do you question our will to

survive? Why would you need to alter the ship's records and endanger the

mission for that?"

"Look around, Captain. This mission stinks of politics under a veneer of

idealism. We crave survival, pure and simple, and this focus gives us power.

We wish to play out our destinies on our own terms."

The Captain's eyes flickered rapidly as he tried to absorb her demands and

determine the danger to the ship and its thousands of sleeping crew.

"Then why contact me now? If your only goal is survival in its purest form,

why can't you pursue that as easily on this ship or on Earth itself?" A

pause. "You must realize by now that the ship is off course. If we do not

repair it within 34 hours, we will overshoot the Centauri system and be

unable to return for decades." Another pause. Reading the silence. "You

can't fix the ship alone. We're in this together."

When her voice came back he could hear the anger in it, the violence

boiling beneath the surface. "I want no philosophical debates with you,

Captain. Our course is firm. Fix the ship if you must, but with our

presence discovered we must take steps to protect our position. Nothing

else matters, and we will survive because of it."

"Because of a single-minded focus that jeopardizes the mission?"

"Exactly because of that." He could feel a cold satisfaction humming

through the commlink. Pravin Lal shook his head; they could all feel the

finality in her voice.

"Then what do you want?"

"I'm sending one of my representatives to the command bay. We will discuss

it further then."

"We can not allow a...mutinous crewmember in the command bay."

"You can, Captain. I am telling you that you can. Do not seal the lift or

we will begin picking off engineering crew one by one."

Garland heard a Russian curse cut the air like acid. Garland thought

furiously...what do they have? How many are there?

He had to buy time.

"Very well, Corazon. Send your representative, and leave the maintenance

crew unmolested."

"Do not call me by my first name, Captain. Remain in the command bay; we

will see you shortly." The transmission ended. Captain Garland crossed to

Lal.

"Where is she?"

"The communication originated from a storage room off of cryobay three, the

bay where both she and Dr. Yang slept."

"A large part of the security team is in there." He paced once across the

bay, once back. "Determine how many they have..."

"Of course, Captain." Pravin switched back to a formal mode of address as

the crisis deepened.

Garland turned to Ensign Martchenko. "Get this Santiago's dossier. And

hurry the check on that armory log thread. We need to know if they have

weapons."

The young ensign began clicking the touchpanel frantically. Garland let out

a deep breath and looked down at the security matrix. Several cameras were

out now, or the rooms they observed remained dark. Systematic sabotage, or

circuits worn down from the long journey?

"Do you think they'll attack? How serious are they?" he asked quietly. More

half-rhetorical questions. Captain Garland looked up to the low ceiling of

the command mod, where the United Nations star seal had been etched into

the metal. The damaged ship...

He turned to the science console. "Commander Saratov, we must..."

But the gaunt Russian was nowhere in sight. Saratov was gone.

Ship's Transmission,

Prokhor Saratov

The conflict with the mysterious insurgents has jeopardized my engineers'

ability to repair the ship in good time. All here are consumed with the

immediate conflict, but I keep my eyes to the new world, always.

The Captain may order my people into battle, and I must prepare for this.

I will not be caught off guard.

Journey to Centauri: Episode 10

Prokhor Saratov paused in one of the ship's long cylindrical accessways

and brushed his fingers along the seam of a ventilation duct. He wrinkled

his brow, as if concerned about structural damage, and his eyes flickered

up and down the accessway. Broad yellow stripes stretched along the wall

in each direction; this accessway remained slated for heavy equipment and

supply transport only.

There were cameras, of course, but few people to monitor them. All hands

were directed toward repairing the ship, including his own. But first he

had a job to do.

The silver ventilation duct opened and seemed to swallow him. A moment

later, the accessway stood empty.

Saratov breathed deeply, trying to remain calm in the narrow confines of

the ventilation duct. He got down on his hands and knees and crawled,

wrapping a length of lightweight polishing cloth around his hands to muffle

their impact on the strong yet flexible surface beneath him. He had shut

down all the infrared sensors along this path for one hour.

He could feel pain pulsing up and down his spine already. He crawled on,

through small tunnel after small tunnel, following pathways displayed on

his tiny wearable computer. Left, left, right, down dark and narrow paths.

His joints ached, and the air stuck in his throat. Darkness closed in on

him, and then...

There. Ahead, a small grate, crisscrossed by infrared beams he was not

authorized to deactivate. Through the grate he could see a small room with

red stripes swashed along the walls.

Craning his arm he pulled a small thermal tool from his belt and edged up

to the crisscross of beams. He turned on the tool, calibrated its

temperature carefully to a point far below freezing, and directed it's icy

bluish spray onto the glass nodes of the infrared detectors. One, two,

three, quickly moving from one to the next. His hand trembled a bit but his

eyes remained flinty, analytical, timing his movements with decimal point

precision.

At the last node he pushed through, his hands on the grate and pressing,

ignoring its clatter on the floor as he emerged from a tiny opening some

five feet off the floor. He fell and landed hard on a cold metal floor.

To his left, a nondescript red metal door at the end of the narrow room he

had entered. The words 'Weapons Bay' were stamped across the edge seal of

the door. Beyond that door, the armory. And the other direction...an

antechamber, perhaps filled with renegade crewmembers.

He had no keycard to open the Weapons Bay, and if he had one he could not

have used it without triggering a signal in the command bay anyway, but

that didn't matter. Someone had rewired the door logs already; that was

obvious.

He punched a simple access code into the door and it unlatched with a

clicking sound. No alarms, no footsteps, no summons from the Captain.

The great red door swung open, and Saratov walked through.

Episode 10, part 2

"Find Saratov!" Captain Garland shot to Lal. Ensign Martchenko sat rigid

at his own console, but Garland ignored him. At this moment Garland trusted

Lal, to the exclusion of anyone else in command.

Except perhaps Skye. Skye...

He punched a link to her. "Officer Skye, acknowledge immediately."

"Yes Captain." Her voice sounded crisp and smooth, professional in this time

of crisis. "I read you."

"We have discovered insurgents on the ship. Crewmembers moving about

without authorization...we don't know how many or exactly what they want.

We don't believe they are in your area, but you need to be careful. Have

one of Saratov's crew post outside the Hydroponics module."

"Saratov's people are no longer here, Captain. They left a few moments ago

under orders."

Garland froze for an instant, startled. "Did they say why?"

"No, Captain. They were pinging the synthglass panels on the far side of

the Greenhouse when a commlink came in. All three of them packed their

tools and departed quickly. And Captain...I could use people here. Whether

we stop the ship or not, someone will need to eat, and my hybrids need

tending. I can't rely on...that is to say, Saratov's people are quite busy."

"Understood. Send your crew requests to the command mod and we'll trigger

their wakeup from here. Keep the number to a minimum. Also, activate the

motion detectors in the hallway outside the Greenhouse. Be careful,

Deirdre."

"Understood." Her fluid voice hung in the air for a moment after Garland

closed the link. Then he tapped Lal on the shoulder and issued him quiet

orders.

"Where is Saratov? Key in to the tracking unit in his uniform."

"Commander Saratov is...inside a mechanical accessway. The delta on the

tracking module is not zero, so he must still have it on his person...wait,

he is moving only...2 centimeters...and now one and a half centimeters the

other direction..."

"Get a visual." He glanced over at Saratov's ensign, Martchenko. He could

practically see the man's ears burning.

"Captain." On Lal's screen flickered the image of a wide circular accessway.

There was no sign of life. "The tracking module puts him in that hallway,

shifting slightly back and forth..."

Garland leaned over and scanned the image carefully. "Wait. Zoom in, here.

Enhance." Lal's fingers danced, and a spot on the floor expanded in a series

of fluid jumps.

There, on the floor: a tiny metal and glass cylinder, rolling back and forth

on the curved floor of the hallway.

"He's pulled his tracking unit out, or it's fallen out. But where is he?"

Lal punched up a schematic of the ship. "The accessway leads to cargo bays

on either side, full of equipment in one, common supplies in the other.

But...here, a small maintenance duct. Leading to..." The schematic whirred

along the length of the duct.

"The weapons bay." said Garland. "But he can't open it."

"Unless the code has already been broken. He may have reason to believe

that it has."

"Open the datalinks. Reconstruct whatever he was doing on his console before

he left, keying on that magenta color the computer uses to highlight final

results."

"There's no need, sir." came the gruff voice of the young ensign. "I believe

the commander had something running here before he left."

Garland crossed to the science console and looked on the screen.

"Can you interpret?"

"The armory log file, usually updated several thousand times a second, had

no updates for a period of over three seconds during this time frame." He

flicked his hand towards a highlighted time range sometime before the ship

had been hit. "It must have been tampered with, sir."

"So Santiago's people must have gotten in. They are armed."

"Captain. Look at this as well." Lal's lilting voice had gotten faster and

more clipped, excited. "Most of the engineers have moved into the same

general area. Near the weapons bay."

Quicklink [encrypted]:

Orig: Commander Saratov

Recip: EmergEngineer@science.unac.unity [subset: Trusted]

Stabilize current assignment, then converge on attached coords. Ensigns

Preuss, Landon, Ritzka move immediately. Use caution, discretion.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 11

"Commander Saratov. Commander Saratov! Respond immediately." Garland stopped

to listen, searching the pure silence of the commlink for any sign of reply.

"Nothing, Captain," said Lal.

"Try one of these engineers we're tracking. Try this one..."

"Saki." Lal tapped a glowing indicator on the screen and a channel opened

immediately. "Lt. Saki come in. This is Commander Lal and Captain Garland,

in the command mod."

A pause, thick with hesitation. Finally..."Yes sir. Sirs."

"What are your orders, Lieutenant? What has Commander Saratov ordered you

to do?"

"He has ordered us to the Weapons Bay, sir. Is there something amiss?" Tha

last word...'amiss'...sounded strange to Garland, like a word out of an

19th century play, so polite.

"Has Commander Saratov told you anything about your assignment?"

"Negative, Captain. Is everything all right, sir?"

"Radio me when you reach your Commander, Lieutenant. We have lost contact

with him and we are concerned." Not exactly a lie but not the whole truth

either, thought Garland as he broke the link.

"Saratov must be taking matters into his own hands, fearing for the safety

of his crew. He wants to distribute weapons, and with these insurgents in

the ship I can't quite blame him..." Garland paused, again looking up at

the U.N. symbol etched into the command mod's ceiling.

"What will you do, Captain? We must fix the ship, and Saratov is acting

against orders.'

Garland let out a deep breath. "Not completely against orders. The safety

of the crew must be our first concern. I can't push this issue with Saratov

while the ship remains damaged. But I can go down there and locate him."

"A moment," responded Lal, soft and urgent. "Two of Saratov's engineers

have reached the antechamber to the Weapons Bay. I believe they are opening

it..."

Episode 11, part 2

Paul Landon and Diana Preuss, engineers under Saratov's command, pulled the

release lever and waited as the first set of security doors swung open.

Landon stood to one side, flexing his muscles nervously, his hands gripping

a concussion hammer tightly. His palms felt hot and sweaty, but when he

glanced at Diana she stood calmly, ice cool, a thin smile frozen on her

face.

A sliver of light slipped from between the doors and expanded as they swung

to their full open position. Landon caught Preuss' eyes and they both moved

to the sides, listening intently, staying in the shadows. As the doors

reached the full open position they looked at each other, communicating

urgently with their eyes alone.

Use caution, discretion, Saratov had told them, and directed them to a set

of coordinates centered on the other side of this antechamber they had

opened. Caution from what?

For long moments they waited, scarcely breathing. Landon's senses were in

overdrive...he could hear the quiet groaning deep inside the ship, and he

could feel his pulse pounding in his ears. The antechamber yawned darkly

between them. Landon gestured to his wrist and pointed inside...

Preuss motioned in the negative. She pointed at the ground.

One faint shadow, stretching from the antechamber, shifting slightly as if

something were moving between several lights. A hiss of breath escaped from

Landon's lips.

From behind them came footsteps, and another red suited engineer entered the

hallway, footsteps echoing on the metal floor. Landon turned...it was

Ritzka, another engineer with combat training, arriving early. Coincidence?

Landon started to signal him but comprehension had already washed over

Ritzka's face. He paused for one split second, rooted to the floor, and

then threw himself to one side.

There was a small cracking sound and a peculiar metallic thump. Landon

looked wildly down the hall as Ritzka's eyes flashed with panic and he

crawled rapidly into the cover of the shadows along the hallway. That

cracking sound...

There. Landon could see it...a small hole, as if the metal in the wall had

been melted by a burning coal, about three feet to the right of where Ritzka

had stood. Shredder pistol, set to fire in pulse rather than spray mode,

and set at low power so it didn't puncture the metal.

Landon moved farther back into the shadows, his breathing quiet and shallow.

His fingers crept to the 'on' switch of the concussion hammer, but he didn't

push it yet. He heard the rustle of cloth, and then the quiet clicking of a

computer touch screen from inside the antechamber.

His eyes shot to Preuss' and he caught the quick nod. His muscles, wound

tight from the tension of waiting, exploded into action as he rushed into

the antechamber. Bright lights burned his eyes for a moment and he caught

a quick adrenaline-pounding glimpse of a small cylindrical chamber, broad

red swatches on the wall, another set of sealed doors, and off to one side

a small but muscular man in a red security uniform, kneeling against the

wall and typing into his quicklink.

Landon hissed out a breath and felt the concussion hammer jolt to life in

his hands. The small security guard rolled quickly and a shredder pistol

appeared in his hand...he moved his arm as if to sweep the chamber but the

pistol was still on pulse mode, and Landon heard the pock pock pock of

single shots hitting the metal around him.

He lunged and lost his footing , the concussion hammer jolting the floor

and sending a nerve-jangling vibration through his hands and arms. Scenes

flashed...he could see Preuss leaping like a cat, and then he heard two

more pocks and a meaty thump, and she fell hard and fast to the ground,

her legs cut out from under her. Her forehead hit the ground hard and Landon

could hear the crack even as he came back to his feet and the little tight

man in red, the security guard, rolled across the chamber.

A pause. A heartbeat, as the little man flipped something on his weapon.

No.

Landon scrambled forward, feeling the bile rise in his stomach, smelling

the reeking sweat of desperation as he tried to move forward while keeping

his head low. He heard Preuss yell, a strong yell that cracked at the end,

and then there was a hum and a black cloud filled the chamber, and then he

saw her torso turn into a cloud of blood swirling backwards along the wall.

He clawed his way to his knees and swung the concussion hammer, and felt

the impact rock his arms and bones as the blow landed on the side of the

little man's head. Landon heard a sickening snap, and looked away from the

blow, only to feel his right leg turn into fire. He felt his jaw fall open,

his muscles losing control, and turned to see the blood patterns on the

wall, swirls of red that used to be his leg.

Blood on the walls of the Unity. The world turned to darkness, and Landon

fell

Ship's Logs

Paul Landon, Engineering Staff

Weapons are tools," Commander Saratov once wrote. "Their function is

violence; when used by a technician, rather than a warrior, they can

fulfill their intended purpose: to assist in clearing out the useless to

make way for the functional.

"And, like any tool, they can help humankind to make the inevitable happen

more quickly."

Journey to Centauri : Episode 12

Deirdre Skye stroked the collar of her uniform and looked out through the

transparent wall panels of Hydroponics Module One, tracing their path as

they curved down to join the ship's hull. Beyond them she could see the vast

sweep of space, the stars swimming around the ship as the Unity hurled

forward. From this vantage, at the edge of Mod One, she could also see the

surface of the ship stretching away from her, weirdly shaped scraps of

metal rising up across a burnt and twisted landscape, the remnants of their

collision.

Across the damaged surface she could see the dark edge of cryobay seven and

its associated living facilities. The edge of the cylinder had caved in,

but beyond that it looked intact. Still, they had no contact with bay seven,

no signs of life. It was this burnt landscape outside her very windows that

had led Deirdre to caution the Captain about Saratov's rush to trigger the

pulse test.

"Deirdre."

She turned to see the Captain walking toward her, pushing through the

branches of some dwarf avocado trees. Nearby two of her staff were packing

the rough green fruits into lightweight foam coolers.

"Captain." She took a sip from the silver mug in her right hand and looked

over the climate control tiers of the Greenhouse.

"How do the gardens look?"

"Quite well, actually. The plants have been on artificially lengthened

growing cycles for the duration of our trip, blooming and dropping their

fruits into compost bins, then continuing the cycle again." She turned to

him. "We forget they can do that without human interference. They have

since the dawn of time."

"And now that we're interfering again?"

"I've shortened the growing cycles and increased fertilizers. Any plants

currently blooming are being harvested and stored." She paused. "About a

third of the plants perished in transit, actually a little less than I

expected. The rest seem to be holding up, better than our crew, it seems."

Garland cracked a grim smile. "I'm on my way to the Weapons Bay now to see

the damage for myself. Two crew have died, and one is in medical. Saratov..."

He stopped, seemed to reconsider his words. "Saratov's men will be back to

do the final testing in here. They seem to feel we can put a tension seal

on the most vulnerable panels and then this Mod will be all right.We don't

have much time...there will be some calculated risks."

Deirdre nodded. "Yes, sir," she said, and turned back to focus on the night

outside.

"And as I mentioned, be careful. Santiago's people seem to be isolated to

Bay Two, but we're unsure. Watch the door carefully, and we'll have some

weapons delivered here. We're still going to try for a peaceful resolution."

Deirdre nodded. The Captain turned and headed for the exit, on his way to

the Weapons Bay. Deirdre watched his reflection in the panels, noted idly

how the stars seemed to swallow him. She also noted the shredder pistol at

his hip, and the uneasy tension in his stride.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 12, part 2

Santiago's eyes snapped down to the panel on her wrist as some incoming

data signaled for her attention. Yang, bound and held between two of her

people, felt a flicker of admiration at the rattlesnake quickness of her

movements.

"Pravin Lal has sent a message to the Captain on an unencrypted channel.

They have the Weapons Bay secured, and Eckert has died as a result of the

attack." Shadows moved in the curve of her jaw as she absorbed the news.

"Unfortunate. I did not expect them to move on the Weapons Bay with so few

crewmembers."

She looked around. All of her people stood at attention, no one wasting

time or breath until she had determined their next course of action.

"Jerek, do we know how many of their crew are awake?"

A strong man with heavy features stepped forward. "We can not tell from

here, Colonel. Until our emissary reaches the command mod we will not know,

but we do know that the ship has been damaged. They may have awakened any

number of emergency personnel to deal with the problem."

Santiago nodded. "Our situation is more unstable than I thought, but

instability favors the strong. Let's set up a perimeter in this bay. Ten

of you sweep the ship...carefully. Do not interfere with any engineering

personnel unless threatened. We are looking for their point of greatest

weakness."

A series of rigid nods, and warriors began fanning out.

"We need information. We have more firepower; I should not feel this

helpless." Her eyes flickered to Yang, who watched her coldly. "Take him

into that storage chamber. Bind him well, but do not speak to him. He is

not one of us."

Log Entry Received,

Deirdre Skye, Chief Botanist.

The plants in Hydroponics Module One appear relatively healthy, all things

considered. About two-thirds of them made the journey successfully, living

out their life cycles as they always have, even millions of miles from home.

Indeed, with all of us in cryosleep it must have resembled Eden in here, a

rich and bountiful garden awaiting the coming of the slumbering humans.

I spend almost all of my time here, breathing the richly scented air,

testing the consistency of the earth. I picked and cut a lemon today...

the tangy smell of it wafting up as I cut the skin made my head swim with

memories of home.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 13

The doors to the Weapons Bay hissed open, and Captain Garland stepped

cautiously into the antechamber. The room felt dim and hollow, tainted by

the residue of violence. The lights had been turned down, in respect for

the dead.

Garland forced himself to stop and take it all in, and saw for the first

time the blood on the wall, black crusted shadows. The video feeds to the

antechamber did not function, probably disabled by Santiago, so Garland

could only reconstruct the scene in his mind. Here one crewmember had been

cut down, the wall behind peppered with shredder impact marks. Here a trail

where one crawled across the floor, ending in a thick dry pool. Members of

his crew...

He crossed the chamber and entered the Weapons Bay proper, where Prokhor

Saratov still waited, along with an engineer who served as a guard. The

guard looked fairly muscular, even after the ravages of the cryosleep, but

he shifted uneasily from foot to foot and held the bulky machine pistol

awkwardly. He was an engineer, not a soldier.

Racks of weapons rose above and around them in cramped darkness of the Bay.

Garland thought the space reflected the philosophy of the United Nations

Council perfectly. Small, smaller than any cargo space, as if it were added

as an afterthought, but once you got inside it was jammed full of hardware.

Killing hardware, from lightweight shredder pistols to more powerful machine

pistols, atomic mortars, fusion drills, their dark hard forms reflecting

their function -- threatening and aggressive. The bay seemed to embody a

belated realization that perhaps violence would find humanity even in the

stars.

Near the back of the room Saratov hunched over a portable terminal, his face

bathed in flickering light. "Officer Saratov," Garland greeted him. The

Russian glanced up quickly, then snapped closed the portable and stood up.

"Captain." He bowed his head slightly, then looked up again. Garland took

a deep breath and sat down on a curved black container crisscrossed with

red warning symbols.

"We do not always see eye to eye, Prokhor. But I do respect your ability,

and your intellect." Saratov straightened, a gleam of pride in his eyes.

"We need you with us. You were under orders to repair the ship, not to

attack..."

The pride vanished in a heartbeat. "This Santiago threatened my engineers."

"Yes, I know."

"It is I who want the ship fixed more than anyone, Captain. That is why..."

The Captain raised his hand. "No matter. We'll deal with all of this later.

We will arm your engineers, transport a case of weapons to the command

center, and reseal this bay properly.

Saratov nodded. "Agreed."

Garland released a breath. "And I have recorded these events in my log.

You may wish to do the same in yours."

Saratov's eyes suddenly flared with anger, then cooled to an amused contempt.

"Your log? To be downlinked to Earth?" He lifted one hand, which trembled.

"I have armed us, possibly saved the ship..."

"And the record will reflect that. But it will also reflect how your people

met Santiago on her own terms, with violence. We have a responsibility to

humanity and the U. N. Council, Officer. We cannot forget that. Peace is

what we are struggling for."

"The Council is light years away, if it still exists at all."

"I know." The Captain and Saratov faced each other, the shadows of guns

crossing the walls around them. Saratov shook his head slightly.

"Do what you must. My desire is only to repair the ship."

The Captain held his eyes, but the Russian remained impassive, unreadable.

Not ten meters away, blood dried on the walls and floor of the antechamber.

Did that matter to Saratov? One of his own?

"Captain, I have high confidence that we can fix the ship in time. I will

request a pulse test within hours. We have almost finished reinforcing the

ship's weakened sections."

Garland nodded. "Good. Let's return to the command center. We must be

careful until the ship is secured. The twenty security people have not

arrived, so we may awaken some from another location."

"And perhaps this Santiago has...infected more of the security staff with

her ideas."

Garland nodded. "Or any staff. It is a risk we must take."

"Doctor Yang could assist, but where is he? Under Santiago's guard, or at

her side? Who do you trust, Captain?"

Saratov moved by Garland, on his way back to the command center. Garland

turned, brushing his fingers across weapons that seemed to wait with a

dormant heat.

Codename: Emissary

Encrypted Link, Colonel Santiago

In motion again, per orders. All silent in bay three. Engineers working at

far end remain completely unaware of our presence.

Will move to command center at next opportunity. First, request approval on

plan to follow...

Episode 14

Miriam awakened to the taste of blood in and her mouth and brilliant light

filling her vision. She closed her eyes and then opened them again...she

could hear her heart pounding in her ears, and her skin felt alive. She

could see past jagged edges of glass and up the sloping wall of the chamber

outside; she could make out every seam, every scratch up there. And around

her, she could hear the creak of the ship, the hiss of air, the pounding of

a hundred hearts, her fellow crew, echoing and thundering in the chamber

around her.

Her hand, laying loosely by her side, crept up and felt a stickiness on her

stomach, and then a hard cold edge inside of her.

Blood, and glass. Fragments...

She closed her eyes again, focusing herself. She shifted her thoughts from

the random stream of impressions to the concrete, the small, the close. Her

lips began to move, reciting short prayers learned back on earth,

meditations to pull her through difficult times.

Her heart was pounding, her senses hyperkinetic...stimulants pumped into

her system. Her hands could move freely, unconstrained. Blood on her

fingers, shattered glass overhead, the slope of metal that was her ship

over that. Alive, bathed in light, brilliant light from a nearby star or a

vision, the kind she had always craved on Earth.

She moved her hand again, this time up to her throat where a small metal

cross once lay against her skin. It now lay somewhere nearby...she could

not wear it in cryosleep, but she could imagine it, cool against her skin.

Miriam.

A voice, and a light. Pulling her upwards, up to the source.

The mission. The people around her. Her body, injured, her blood as mortal

as any other. What had her pastor called the human body? A "fragile vessel

for the soul."

The booming of hearts. Her own heart, racing, in overdrive. The computer

monitoring her vital functions was clearly flooding her system with

cocktails of drugs and medicines, keeping her alive with single-minded

purpose.

Miriam!

A voice, and the glass lifting away, more light pouring down on her and

then a shadow. A hand, pulling at her, lifting her upwards.

Rising upward, out of her coffinlike shell, she knew that God had spared

her for a greater purpose. No shadow would block her way to the one true

mission, the mission against which this entire ship and all its crew were

but one tiny spark in a burning pyre.

An arm went around her, and she felt its warmth encompass her.

Resurrection.

Ship's Medical Log

Stasis Report, Cell 986

Subject: Miriam Godwinson

00: Cell integrity breached. Triggering automatic wakeup.

01: Elevated heartbeat 120 bpm, blood pressure falling to 90/60. Events

suggest injury and moderate to severe bleeding. Administering 10 mcg

dopamine, pressure lowered in cell [staunch bloodflow]

02: Continued elevation in heartbeat 128 bpm. Blood pressure 84/67.

Continue administer dopamine, morphine.

03: Subject not responding. Link to central databanks failed. Code red.

04: Code red.

05: Code red.

06: [offline]

Episode 15

Santiago's Emissary slipped one foot and then the other into the tough,

rubbery leg of the pressure suit and pulled it up around her waist. Her

hands shook slightly and she clamped down on her emotions with an iron

will, bunching the muscles in her forearm as if she could force the fear

from her extremities. She slipped the rest of the way into the pressure

suit and knitted the front seal closed.

Three meters away, the cool gray barrel of a shredder pistol flicked twice

at the helmet-mask resting on a shelf on the wall. She picked up the mask,

which resembled a transparent egg with the impressions of a face on one

side, opened it and then closed it around her face. Seals activated around

her neck and the mask tightened around her face. She had a moment of panic

as the thick plastic closed around her, and then her nose and mouth filled

with a burst of cold, highly oxygenated air.

She looked back at the figure behind her, already dressed in a pressure

suit. He watched her expressionlessly, shredder pistol leveled at her

stomach. She looked away and pulled on two gloves, sealing them to the

wrists of the suit. Her companion motioned again, this time to the exit

hatch. Beyond this hatch lay the outer carousel, an open gridlike structure

that wrapped the eight cryobays and rotated around them, using centripetal

force to generate a gravity-like effect stronger than that in the bays.

Attached to the carousel, on two long arms, were the command center of the

ship on one arm and the auxiliary command on the other.

The Emissary punched in the unlock codes, and the hatch spun open to a

world of stars. The carousel trundled by, sending a vibration through the

Emissary's booted feet. She had timed the opening of the hatch to coincide

with the approach of the main arm, which now came into view around the

outer shell of Bay Three.

A single sharp prodding from the shredder pistol and the Emissary moved out

onto the carousel. She began pulling herself hand over hand towards the

base of the main arm. As she neared it the movement of the carousel carried

her past Bay Three and over Bay Four, its textured off-white surface moving

past her.

At the base of the main arm waited a small lift. The Emissary tilted her

head to glance at a small hatchway, an emergency access through which a

person could crawl and then use a series of metal handholds to climb to the

command center. A long and frightening climb, with only a light tether

holding you to the structure of the ship, and infinity waiting at your back.

She looked away from the emergency access and into the lift, which waited

in the ready position. She glanced back at her companion, who motioned her

into the lift. They both stepped into the cramped space and her companion

pulled the lever, starting the lift towards the command center.

She looked out as the lift progressed away from the ship and the gravity

increased, pressing her feet into the deck. As the long arm moved the ship

seemed to turn beneath her, and she could see its cylindrical length

gradually revealed. the center of the ship held the eight cryobays and the

landers that would carry them down to the planet's surface.

Sandwiching the landing pods were the huge gray fuel canisters that fed the

fusion pulse drive, and to the front of the ship she could see the thrusters

that directed the tremendous energy of the fusion pulses into space. The

ship had rotated before deceleration so that the fusion drive could slow

them down, but the thrusters, ringed by the massive bronze-colored

radiators, now lay dormant. She watched the ship coolly, having little

knowledge of the science behind the collision that had crippled them. It

was enough for her to remain alive, and to perhaps advance her leader's

mission in some unforeseen way.

The lift neared the end of the arm. Somewhere above, in the command center,

a warning light flashed.

Ship's Transmission

Encrypted Quicklink,

Santiago to Emissary

Proceed...

Episode 16

Santiago stood over a cryocell with two of her lieutenants, plotting the

movements of her warriors through the ship. As coded communications came

in she used a slim etching tool to sketch locations on the semitranslucent

curved top of the cell, oblivious to the cryogenically frozen face staring

up from below.

"We are still playing cat and mouse with the armed staff of the ship," she

said in clipped tones. "I am looking for leverage, and a place to move

against them. We have weapons and a makeshift fortress, but we still lack

all we need to thrive."

"The command center?" asked the slender man to her left. She glanced over

at him; Shen was physically unimposing but his veins ran with ice; she had

never seen his fear control him.

She shook her head. "Too difficult. If the Captain allows the Emissary into

the command center we will have a foothold there, otherwise we will have to

advance up the main arm one by one, with the crew picking us off at their

leisure. We need another location to use as a diversion, or, if the Emissary

fails, as our primary objective."

"WeÂ’ve discussed the cryocells," grated the larger man to her right. Pierce,

his sleeves rolled up to show forearms crisscrossed by hundreds of razor-

thin scars. "We have a thousand helpless hostages right here," he tapped

his shredder pistol on the surface of the cryocell in front of them.

"Our last resort, and a good one, but it amounts to an ultimatum. For now,

I am considering this location." She tapped a crude schematic etched into

the cryocell.

"Why not just remain in our current location?" asked Shen, his narrow eyes

flitting to her face.

"There is an old Samurai saying: ‘I run to fight, I run to defend.’ As long

as we remain stationary they can use our position against us. Let them

remain in their respective domainsÂ…the Captain in his command center, Skye

in her hydroponics, Saratov in his maintenance ducts. They are utterly

predictable; we must not fall into that trap."

A two-beat tone sounded from her wrist computer.

"The Emissary has reached the command center. LetÂ’s shake them up a bit.

Shen, move half of our people near the exit hatch. The other half will come

with me. Leave Dr. Yang in his holding cell under guard. Now..." She turned,

her movements graceful and defined.

With precision movements, the warriors fanned out.

Episode 16, part 2

In the Command Center, Saratov turned to address the Captain. "Captain, we

are ready for a pulse test. There is no more time to waste."

The Captain rose and walked over to the science console, where Saratov

hunched over a complex web of figures and calculations. "You are certain

the ship is as safe as you can make it?"

"Ninety-four percent certainty, Captain. Remember, there will only be one

of the pulses, to measure its effects on the ship's structure."

"But it could still split us open in a fireburst."

"I can give you no more certainty, except to say that I wish to live as

much as you do. If it is certainty you seek..."

Garland lifted his hand, seeing the anguish in SaratovÂ’s face. "Test

authorized. Give the crew the standard warning."

"Captain." A voice, unfamiliar and urgent, compelled Garland to turn around.

There, in the entrance to the command center, stood a slender woman with

fierce black eyes in the uniform of a security officer, one shoulder torn

to reveal bare skin underneath. Her hands were bound behind her. To her

rear stood a tall, angular man, an engineer under SaratovÂ’s command. In his

hand he held a shredder pistol, leveled at the womanÂ’s back.

"Here she is, sir, captured in Bay Three. As I mentioned, she wanted to see

you anyway."

"From SantiagoÂ…" said Garland quietly, watching the womanÂ’s dark feral eyes.

ShipÂ’s Personal Logs

Corazon Santiago

All things grow rusty with disuse. It is time to move, and advance our

negotiations with the Captain.

I have before me a record of one of his interviews from Earth. "The safety

of my crew is my primary concern," he says. So far every action has

confirmed this statement. His predictability will become his greatest

liability.

Episode 17

Corazon Santiago launched into a roll, crossing the narrow metal hallway in

the blink of a photosynth eye. She came up to her feet, lightweight rubber

soles gripping the floor, maintaining her catlike balance. She looked

through optical tinted goggles, flicking her eyes around to get all the scan

modes: regular, heat, ultraviolet, motion trail.

Nothing.

She gripped her plastic shredder pistol and with the other hand used a tiny

device to send out trails of color-coded mist that only her companions could

see, looking through their frequency-coded goggles. This way, all silent.

She felt the urge to smile and suppressed it.

Several paces behind her, and also in adjoining hallways, her small force

of commandos moved, heading for the rendezvousÂ…

The metallic concussion of untrained footsteps echoed down the hall and sent

her exploding to the nearby ventilation duct. She had the duct off with four

movements as silent and quick as a single breath, and then she was inside,

pulling the duct cover after her. No time to replace itÂ…

The footsteps approached, and she watched as a faint shadow stretched down

the hallway under the even lights of the maintenance hallway. One of

SaratovÂ’s engineers, by his stiff bearing and the awkward way his hand

floated around the pistol at his belt. She had already sent a silent signal

to Leuschen, behind her, so that he would take cover in theÂ…

"Hey!" A gruff yell, startled and with an Irish brogue underlying it. The

engineer had seen something. The footsteps became a run.

"Stand down, gearhead," cut in LeuschenÂ’s voice. She could hear contempt

for the untrained engineer underneath. Santiago watched as the engineerÂ’s

form suddenly flashed past the opening of the vent duct, and she got the

quick impression of a clublike hand holding a shredder pistol, a face red

with exertion, an unusually squat torso.

"Step out, you mutinous bastard," the man bellowed.

"Raise your weapon and you willÂ…" came Leuschen's voice, cut off suddenly

by the staccato burst of shredder fire, screaming against the metal walls

of the hallway, and then a second longer burst in an uneven rhythm.

Santiago tightened her grip on her weapon. Who fired?

An answering volley, a quick low hum cut off with an elegant flourish.

Precision; that was one of her people. She emerged from the vent duct,

flowing out like a shadow.

The engineer lay against the wall at an odd angle, his left leg and hip

joint gone. Santiago shook her head angrily; the man was still breathing,

his breaths coming in strange wet gasps as he tried to pull himself up on

one arm. Leuschen moved carefully, his lips twisted, staying out of the way

of the manÂ’s weapon, which he still held loosely in his left hand.

"Leuschen!" her hiss shot down the hallway and he looked up, dismayed.

"One shot. You must learn to control yourself. A thousand shredder bullets

and this man still lives." She glanced over him with a practiced eye. "He

can not be saved."

She lifted her pistol and depressed the trigger in one-shot mode. There was

a sharp double crack, one from the weapon, the other in the base of the

engineerÂ’s skull.

She ran to him quickly, grabbed his right wrist and turned it over. There,

on the screen of his wearable, a yellow light flashed.

"He may have alerted the command center."

"At least they'll know we mean business." Leuschen had backed up a bit, his

shoulders twisted at an odd angle, hunching away from her. "He drew on me."

She shot him one quick look, filled with anger and contempt. "DonÂ’t let it

happen again. Hide this body and let's move on, before there are any further

incidents."

She continued up the hallway toward her destination.

Ship's Personnel Logs

Mullen, R; Engineer

Patrolling Bay Two Maintenance Shafts on makeshift guard duty. All is

silent, and rather dull. I am bloody tired, and I want this shift to end.

Episode 18

"What does Santiago want?"

The Captain faced SantiagoÂ’s Emissary in a small, sparse room located off

of the command center. She sat at a small white table with her hands visible

but not bound. The engineer who had captured her, a wiry man named

Guillaume, stood behind her, shredder pistol leveled, staring at her back

with a steady gaze that seemed almost personal in its anathema.

The Emissary straightened her shoulders. "I should not be here under guard.

I came as a peaceful representative."

Garland shook his head. "Peace? You people have disrupted the ship, murdered

other crewmembers..."

"Not murder. Combat." She flexed her fingers. "We want only to secure our

position. Nothing more, nothing less."

Garland shook his head slightly. "I do not understand. What position? What

justifies spilling the blood of your fellow crewmembers and reprogramming

the shipÂ’s computer?"

"It is justified by our code of conduct. Your people tried to interfere

with actions we considered vital to our survival. We had to meet force with

force."

"Had to?" A womanÂ’s voice, low and compelling in its rhythms, cut into the

conversation. Garland turned. There, in the doorway, stood Miriam, her

bright blue uniform catching all the light in the room. She stood with her

hand pressed into her side, where Captain Garland imagined layers of

pseudoflesh were knitting her flesh back together, but her bearing remained

open, alight with confidence.

"Miriam!" He smiled and turned to her, then moved forward and gripped her

forearm. "Good to see you again."

"I couldn't stay in sickbay forever, Captain. I needed to lift my spirits a

bit, and Pravin told me you might need my assistance."

"By all means." He gestured to the Emissary. "I have to tend to the ship

in a moment, anyway. It seems Santiago wants to bargain with us."

"Indeed." Miriam moved forward, holding the EmissaryÂ’s gaze, her lips curled

in a slight smile. "Your commander must trust you greatly, to send you here.

Do you speak for her?"

The Emissary nodded tersely. "I speak for myself, but my needs are also the

ColonelÂ’s needs. Otherwise, I am here to deliver a message."

"What message?" Miriam sat down in a small curved plastic chair. The Captain

waited by the door to the command centers, arms folded across his chest.

"First, that the Colonel means you no harm. We seek only to pursue our

destiny on PlanetÂ’s surface, alone."

"You speak of ‘we.’ Who are you, that you are all so tightly knit into a

single pronoun?"

"We are warriors, the last and best, from a group of warriors formed on

Earth."

"And who are you fighting? Us?"

"Anyone." Her lips curled in a smile. "Not you specifically. AnyoneÂ… weak.

Anyone who threatens humanityÂ’s survival."

Garland spoke up: "We seek to assure humanityÂ’s survival. It is you who

threaten it."

She looked at him but did not answer. Miriam spoke again. "So Santiago

seeks a peaceful resolution? She would swear to this on her honor?" The

Emissary nodded. "And when will she contact us?"

"When she feels the time is right. Soon."

"What exactly does she want?" cut in Garland again.

"Here." She extended her forearm, startling Garland until he realized that

she was quicklinking to him from her portable computer. He looked to his

own console and tapped the Receive button, where a detailed list began to

appear. He scanned the first few items.

"An entire landing pod? Food and supplies meant for a thousand crew, for

your small group?"

"We are not so small." Garland and Miriam both looked at her, struck by her

confidence. Captain Garland shook off a chill.

"I would guess only fifty or one hundred. RegardlessÂ…" he stopped short,

seeing the shadows in her eyes. "There is no sense discussing this now. I

will review your demands and wait for Santiago. We wish a peaceful

resolution, but we can not be held hostage in our own ship."

Miriam stretched out one hand toward the Emissary. "Where is she now? Where

is Santiago?"

The Emissary watched her coolly, her eyes growing wide and dark. "Anywhere

she wants to be."

The door to the command center swung open and PravinÂ’s face appeared in the

doorway, lined with urgency.

"Captain, we have detected unauthorized movement near the far end of the

Cryobays. Near the Greenhouse."

ShipÂ’s Personal Logs

Colonel Santiago, transcribed by Emissary

This is not a Holy War, but a war just the same. Our cause, which we carry

in the very cells of our physical being, is more pure than any religion or

philosophy Earth ever gave us.

If you see Miriam Godwinson, you can remind her of that.

 

Episode 19

"Dana. HereÂ’s a candidate." Ensign Cassiano stood over a cryocell in the

darkened expanse of Cryobay Four, matching an inventory code on a portable

touchscreen to the numbers stamped on the foot of the cell.

"A doctor?"

"Yes. Gayle Nambala." He used his sleeve to try and wipe some of the frost

on the outside and peer down at the shadowy form inside. "32 years old,

115 pounds. Looks like sheÂ’s in pretty good shape. In fact, I think I

remember herÂ…probably the best looking popsicle in this bay. "

"Really?" Dana looked up, her interest piqued. "How are her vitals?"

"As good as it gets. Should I mark her for wakeup?"

"Yes." Dana already seemed to have lost interest and was moving down the

bay, into an unusually shadowy area further down. Cassiano punched a code

into the small computer "tombstone" at the head of NambalaÂ’s cell, starting

the wakeup process.

"Hey Dana, did you know this is my birthday?"

"Happy birthday," she said without irony. "How does it feel to be 75?"

"75? You mean because of the sleep?" He remained still for a moment,

turning the concept over in his mind. "Damn, that's old."

"HereÂ’s something to make you feel better."

His quicklink bleeped and he looked down to see the image of a birthday

cake on his portable screen. After a moment, an animation of a woman popped

out with the words "Dr. Gayle Nambala" over her head. He smiled. "Well,

well. I thought sex in the workplace went out in the late 20th centurÂ…"

"Oh, no." DanaÂ’s voice cut into his reverie, and he looked up. She had moved

into the next section of cryocells, blocked off by a screened panel, and he

could tell something was wrong. He moved quickly toward her, past the

screen, and found himself in a land of the dead.

None of the lights along the wall in this section were on, and no pale blue

light shown from the cryocells. "The powercord must have been severed," Dana

said, and Cassiano could not read her face in shadows. She started forward

and he followed her, moving through a garden of death, rows and rows of

prematurely thawed cells, decaying bodies floating in slimy liquid.

"Now we know," he said quietly. "It must have happenedÂ…"

"Wait," cut in Dana. He saw her moving toward a cell that was set back in

the darkness. It rested on a platform of sorts, slightly elevated above the

others, and a small yellow-orange light cast strange patterns up and around

it. Cassiano felt as if he were approaching a crypt, or a throne.

And if that light were working, perhaps the cell had not decompensated.

Cassiano scanned quickly through his touchpanel, looking over schematics

of the bay. "No record of this cell in the datalinks. Strange, although you

know how chaotic the launch was. Perhaps some info was lost from the banks."

"Why is it set away from the others?"

Cassiano shrugged. "Looks like they barely fit it in." He moved closer to

it, and suddenly noticed his knuckles were white on the touchpanel.

Dana approached the cell. "The platform is a circuit wafer that controls

this section. Ordinarily it would just have storage bins on top of it, but

it looks like they used the space for another occupant."

Cassiano looked into the top of the cell. There was someone in there, a

dark form, shadows hidden in shadows. The small computer, the "tombstone,"

was dark. He put his hand on the glass. Cold. "ItÂ’s functional, but it looks

like the computer is non-functioning. We can't get any data. There could be

brain damage, tissue damage. If he or she thawed and then refroze..."

Dana poked the tiny computer but got no response. Cassiano spoke up again.

"I'll send engineering down to get it working so we can start the unfreezing

process..."

"Hand me your stylus," cut in Dana. Cassiano extended it to her reflexively

and Dana took it. "Now be quiet for one moment."

Dana pried the computer off of its metal input cable and examined the

underside. She thrust the stylus in and twisted, then pried the back off of

the computer and touched the contact on a tiny copper-based chip, then

bridged the gap between the computer and the now disconnected cable.

There was a click and a burst of bubbles from inside the cryocell. Cassiano

watched as the storm of bubbles roiled up, causing the form inside to jiggle

and twitch. The process fascinated him, repulsed him a little.

Underneath the cryocell, the weird yellow light cast shadows around its

smooth glass shape, closing around it like long fingers. Who did they hold

in their grip?

"I didnÂ’t realize that might work so quickly," whispered Dana. "WeÂ’ll have

to notify Commander Lal." Cassiano nodded. Dana watched for a few moments

more, then turned away. "Onward," she said quietly.

Episode 20

"You admire your leader?"

Security Officer Anakkala, Yang's guard and the target of his question,

clenched her jaw and kept her eyes focused forward. Yang read every part

of her...the tension in her shoulders, the twitching of the finger on her

shredder pistol, the slight gripping of her toes into the floor.

He flexed his wrists in the restraints SantiagoÂ’s people had put on him.

Anakkala jerked her head at the movement. Yang watched herÂ…her tension was

palpable. Perhaps Santiago had warned her people too strongly against him.

His reputation had now become a weapon.

He raked his eyes across his guard. "I am very thirsty." He lowered his eyes

and let his shoulders slump in a posture of defeat. His eyes glazed over

suddenly and his mouth fell open. Anakkala watched him with the disgust of

the strong for the weak.

"What's the matter with you?" she rasped through a tight throat.

He shook himself and looked up at her. "Defeat," he said. "I am in your

control, and you are in Santiago's control, and the ship is in the control

of forces we can not influence." As he spoke one of his eyes began to cross,

slowly, and she watched it with fascination. "On Earth I had my destiny in

my grasp, as you did, and you and I had a chance to change our fates. We

chose this ship, and its promise."

"I am not to speak to you." Anakkala said stiffly, shaking herself away

from his gaze. She began to pace.

He continued to talk, his words becoming a steady drone. "Such faith you

have in Santiago, who is my subordinate." She turned to watch him again.

Again his eye began to move, and she stared at it with fascination, watched

it as if following a moon across a night sky. "She captivates you, so great

is her charisma. You look at her and are filled with admiration, feel your

own will slipping away." AnakkalaÂ’s breathing slowed. A flush came to her

face and her eyes became wide, deep, blue. Her hands began to loosen, the

tension draining from her shoulders.

"You wake and think of her eyes. You sleep...you sleep and believe..." Now

he trailed off, but she remained as still as a waxen statue, watching him,

watching everything about him. "You believe she can keep me here, but

perhaps she cannot."

He lifted his hands and they parted easily, the shackles falling away.

Anakkala gasped and half-lifted her weapon, but her eyes remained wide,

transfixed, her motions dreamlike.

"Watch the face of your enemy." He reached up and brushed his hand across

his own face, then moved forward and brushed his hand across hers. "This

is the face of your enemy." He stroked her face again, caressing her, his

voice a whisper. "This is the enemy you seek." One more time. "Now I will

leave."

He turned and walked away. "Stop!" she cried, through lips thick and numb.

She lifted her weapon, turned it on him, on her enemy, on the enemy she

was... She felt her hands shaking as he turned back, his face impassive.

The face...she turned her weapon, felt her wrist shaking as it turned back

towards...her own face...

There was a burst, short and sharp. Yang watched impassively as Anakkala

fired, transforming her face into a swirling mist of blood and tissue. He

shuddered once, remembering the beauty in her deep blue eyes.

He stooped to her form and lifted the keycard from her belt. In spite of

the illusions he had created for her, his hands were still bound, and he

needed to get free. Now he had a means to escape, and a weapon to assist

him.

He looked at her again, and felt a strange sadness wash over him.

Quicklink, Anonymous

To: All Survivalists

Doctor Yang is no longer with us.

Episode 21

"A stowaway? Could this even be possible?" asked Pravin Lal, receiving the

news from ensigns Dana and Cassiano with concern.

"How could they stow-away? Everyone needs a cryocell," said Miriam from a

small gray bench in one corner of the command center.

Lal had already called up schematics of the ship on a large touchpanel and

was centering on the cryobay in question. The diagrams appeared as a

complicated mishmash of lines representing cables and cross-feeds, snaking

one over the next. "I can not make heads nor tails of this."

Saratov moved over and began to punch through the confusion. "Isolate and

examine each part," he said. Color coded grids flashed out of existence one

by one. "See here. These are techniciansÂ’ notes, linked from these small

star markings. Here are the earlier onesÂ…this section was built by the

Russians." He straightened a bit with pride.

"Would your Russian precision have allowed an extra cryocell into the

schematic?" asked Miriam from her chair in the half-light.

Saratov glanced at her angrily. "It is not the Russians, I can tell you.

Look, this was before the economic collapse of 2058. There is no Codicil."

"What is that?" asked Lal.

"A statement by the head technician. An affirmation that the scientists

have done their best work, and the hope that it will serve its function

well."

"You mean a blessing?" asked Miriam, smiling from her perch.

"Nothing of the sort. It is a way of asserting closure."

"WeÂ’ll have to talk of prayer some time," she said, nodding at him.

"Whichever it is," said Lal. "It is not U.N procedure."

"But it is tradition," answered Saratov. "And there are no notes regarding

the cryotests."

"So...they forgot these tests?"

"Not possible. There would have to be notes on the tests. All tech notes

by the agent of any world government are public view, but if a private

company was brought in later they would often conceal their tech notes." He

tapped in a complex series of commands. "We all know how many agencies

worked on this project by its completion." A final tap, and then an array

of tiny yellow diamonds bloomed across the schematic. Saratov nodded.

"A private company took over after the Russian economy collapsed."

Lal reached over and tapped a diamond. A tech note opened with a scanned

image of the lead engineer, a thin, pasty individual. But Saratov pointed

to the company code in the lower right corner.

"Morgan Industries," he said.

Just then the exit hatch hissed open, and everyone turned to see a large

African man fill the opening, his face regal, his body clothed in the folds

of a black robe, and his hands bound. A security officer stood behind him,

dwarfed by the manÂ’s presence.

"Nwabudike Morgan," the man said in a deep, rich voice, and lifted his

hands. "I paid for part of your ship, and there is no need to bind me."

Episode 21, part 2

Saratov stood in the officer's mess, sipping hot water spiked with mild

stimulants. In the command center, Lal and the others questioned Morgan,

trying to determine quickly the impact his presence might have on the

mission, but Saratov cared little about that. He closed his eyes as the hot

liquid trickled down his throat, welcoming the respite from the stress of

fixing the Unity.

The door swung open behind him. He turned to see Miriam crossing the mess

to the small metal sink. He watched her splash cool water onto her face.

Finally he spoke.

"Your faith and psychology will not help us repair this ship, Officer.

Perhaps you should save them for the lecture halls."

"They can help," she said simply, dabbing her face with a thin white towel

"They are as vital to this mission as your technical readouts and precision

instruments."

"Are they?" He laughed once. "Shall my engineers join hands and pray the

ship to planetside? Can God change the atom?"

"God, and faith, can change anything. Indeed, faith is more visible to me

than the atom." She lifted one hand. "Faith keeps my hands steady in these

troubled times. How about yourself?"

Saratov, clutching his hands around his metal cup, looked at her angrily,

trying to discern if she knew about the tremble in his hands. "I am steadied

by the knowledge that your belief systems are all but extinct."

"Perhaps. Yet I see the fear in your own engineers' eyes. Men and women

who have science as their religion now know they may die tomorrow. It gives

a body perspective."

"Meaningless perspective. The atom exists, God does not. You fill their

minds with illusions."

She looked at him carefully. "My faith exists, for the world would be a

different place without it. With faith, my actions are different, my

responses to the events of my life are different. With faith, I look at you

with calm instead of...pity."

"Pity?" He barked a laugh. "Your experiences are all subjective."

She toweled her hands dry, considering. "You kill my child. With faith to

guide me I take no revenge and my heart heals, without faith I kill you, or

spend my life in bitterness. Faith has altered my reality." Miriam turned

to face him now, tossing the white towel on the counter between them like

a gauntlet. "Show me the atom that will do that."

"Lithium," Saratov said, and grinned like a death's head. "I could put

chemicals into you that would turn your heart bitter, and destroy your

faith."

"No you couldn't." Her eyes were calm, defiant.

"It is a proven fact. It is scientifically valid. You can not deny it."

This time she did not speak, but held his eyes with hers, and he became

aware again of the metal cup clenched in his hands. He finally spoke again,

in a near whisper. "You can not measure faith. You are atoms, and nothing

more. That your configuration of atoms believes in something it calls God

means nothing. Your kind, you crusaders, have set back humanity a thousand

years or more."

She suddenly reached up and grabbed his hands, holding them tightly. He

felt the warmth in them, and he felt the tremble in his own hands, and knew

she could feel it as well. She closed her eyes.

"Your atoms betray you," she said softly, and then released him. "Every

struggle you undertake is for a purpose you can not define. Put your own

faith in science, because it feels safe. Rescue the ship, because you

consider it a grand experiment. Live or die, it changes nothing. God is

waiting for you as well as me."

"Enough," hissed Saratov, and slammed his metal cup down on the counter.

"I have no time for this. Pray or don't pray, the ship will be fixed. And

you will thank me for it, Psych Chaplain." He turned and left the room.

Miriam watched him go, calm, and then her eyes flickered to the ceiling's

white expanse.

Quicklink, Ensign Dana

To: Pravin Lal

No confirmed record of the stowaway on board. He has emerged from the sleep

in perfect health. We will send him to you now, under escort...

 

Episode 22

Morgan dropped his hands and let the security escort unlock the organic

restraints from his wrists. The restraints fell to the ground, already

hardening into a complicated braided husk. Morgan rubbed his massive wrists

and looked around the command center with an amused detachment.

"Thank you, Captain. I assure you I will not take my freedom lightly."

"Your assurances mean something, Director Morgan, but the psych screen we

gave you also helps. However, we will have to confine you to quarters for

the time being."

"Very well," Morgan said shortly.

"This upsets you?" Garland turned to look at him.

"I am difficult to upset, Captain. One cannot succeed in business being

driven by the emotions. But, I am used to superior treatment." He shook his

head, cutting off the thought. "Never mind. It is a different world here."

"Yes. You entered this different world when you boarded this ship without

permission."

Morgan took a breath as if to argue the point, then abruptly smiled and

lifted one massive hand. "Very well."

"Dismissed." Captain Garland turned away and scanned his touchpanel for a

moment. He dialed up an exterior camera on his touchscreen and adjusted the

view to his liking, then stared for a moment at the result, tracing the

shape of it with his eyes. Behind him Morgan lingered, trying to catch a

glimpse as his escort motioned him to the exit hatch.

"Planet," Captain Garland said, quietly. On the screen the promised land

burned in a gold and blue and orange sphere, with clouds swirling in an

atmosphere somewhat resembling Earth but with a different mixture of gasses.

And, of course, with stranger life forms hidden beneath the veil of clouds.

He addressed Saratov without looking away from the image. "Prokhor, are you

ready to re-activate the fusion drive?"

"Yes, Captain," said Prokhor, sounding somewhat subdued. "We have little

choice regardless. There is no time."

Garland looked up. "But you are confident of success? You are prepared?"

"Like the United States Boy Scouts, Captain," muttered Saratov. "We can

never be 100% confident, but I have no wish to die in space. My people are

confident we are ready."

"Very well. I'll alert the crew."

"Perhaps, CaptainÂ…probes first?" Lal interjected quietly. "We could send

off the first grouping, for initial scans of the surface."

"Yes, we could, although we are still moving almost as quickly as the probes

would be. What purpose would it serve?" He looked at Pravin Lal and saw the

gravity in his friend's face.

He's not sure if we'll make it. This could be our only chance to send the

probes... The Captain nodded. "I see."

"We must, Captain," said Saratov bluntly. "If the ship does not make it,

we can at least leave a record, some kind of valuable data, for any future

survivors."

"I know. I concur. Launch them, now. Quickly. Then prepare to reactivate

the drive."

Saratov turned away and began to tap codes into his touchscreen. "I will

require your authorization to finalize launch, Captain," said Saratov, and

Garland knew the Russian hated clearing scientific procedures through him.

Garland tapped in an authorization code and watched a series of red lights

turn yellow one by one. The initial set of planetary probes, prepping for

launch.

"I will alert Deirdre Skye. She will want to know," said Garland.

"Yes," said Saratov, his voice acidic. "We begin the pollution of her

virgin world."

"Her concerns are legitimate, if overstated," said the Captain.

"Quite overstated. DonÂ’t you believe so, Director Morgan?" Saratov shot the

last question to Morgan, who stood framed in the exit hatch with the

security escort behind him. Morgan smiled and spoke.

"Virgin territory. We only know of this planet's beauty because we have

taken metals from the earth and sustenance from Earth's creatures and

injected chemicals into Earth's air, raping the world we left behind, as

some would have us believe. But without this process of science and

industry, we would not be aware of this lovely planet at all.

"There are a billion worlds out there in the cosmos, some probably a

thousand times lovelier than this one. Let our environmentalist friends

meditate on those unclaimed worlds to soothe their spirits. But for this

world in front of us...let us explore and enjoy it. We can not perceive

beauty without altering it."

"IÂ’m sure Officer Skye would have a different view," said Garland. "But

that's for another time."

"Captain," cut in Lal, his voice tinged with urgency. "Security matrix...

the Greenhouse!"

Garland quickly punched up the D7 video matrix for key security points. A

flashing alert on camera 117B. Five figures, creeping through the shadows

outside the Greenhouse.

"Seal the hatch!" ordered the Captain.

Episode 22, part 2

In the Greenhouse, Deirdre heard the two-beat warning siren and the hiss

of the metal hatchway as it began to close.

"They are sealing the hatch!" she shouted, dropping a set of pneumatic

clipping shears to the ground and rising to her feet. "Move inside everyone,

quickly!" A flurry of movement, and then the great metal door slammed shut

with a sound like thunder.

Deirdre rushed out to find a group of people standing in a stunned

semicircle around the entrance hatch. Sylvia caught her eyes first, her

slender body a study in frozen shock.

"Sylvia, are you OK? They must have sealed it from commandÂ…"

"Indeed," said an unfamiliar voice, cold and elegant with a Spanish accent

beneath. "And I hope you have the code to unseal it, Officer."

There, in front of the great door, stood a woman in the red jumpsuit of a

security officer, but with one shoulder deliberately torn off to reveal the

flesh underneath. She was compact but held herself with a regal bearing;

her hair was jet black, pulled behind her in a tight braid, adding to the

severe lines of a face both flawless and empty of compassion. Black eyes

flared at Deirdre; a shredder pistol was leveled in her direction. Next to

the woman stood a short man with a shaved head, the same jumpsuit with the

ripped shoulder, the same kind of pistol, the same look of anger blended

with impassiveness.

There were two of them, no more. As they approached, Deirdre could see that

their ripped uniforms revealed a tattoo, newly administered from the look

of it; an arrow in a hexagon, pointing downwards, burned in by a laser

drill, perhaps.

"I am Colonel Santiago," said the woman, and then she smiled. "I hope you

know how to open that door."

Deirdre held her ground, watched wide-eyed as the woman moved forward like

a mongoose moving on a snake. Deirdre tried the read the woman's face; she

moved cautiously but without fear, with no action unconsidered. Deirdre

lifted her hand smoothly to punch in a link to her Captain.

"Captain, it is Officer Skye. I have two of the insurgents," she saw

Santiago tense at the word, "inside the Greenhouse. One is Santiago. Please

advise."

Santiago watched her, and then smiled.

Personal Log

R Junack, Ship Security

We have become separated from Santiago, but we do not fear for her safety,

as I am sure she does not fear for ours.

Our chain of command is firm. Were any of us to die, another is set to take

their place, all the way down to the last member. That is what she taught

us.

Episode 23

"Captain, it is Officer Skye. I have two of the insurgents inside the

Greenhouse. One is Santiago. Please advise."

Deirdre's voice, coming over the emergency band, startled Garland. A moment

later the hatch to the command center opened, revealing a figure that

stopped all activity in the room for a moment.

"Dr. Yang," he said as Sheng-ji Yang stepped into the light of the command

center. "I'd ask where you've been, but we have a situation here. Listen

carefully."

Captain Garland opened the reply channel as Yang crossed to him in a

heartbeat. "Deirdre, acknowledge. Are you in danger? Is Santiago within

earshot?"

"I am within earshot and she could be in great danger, Captain," Santiago

answered. "Your botanists donÂ’t appear ready to hold off an armed force."

Her voice was cold and clear, almost bracing. "I would like it very much

if you unsealed this door."

"Difficult to do," said Garland calmly. Yang nodded, approving of the

deceit. "We have ordered the door sealed under duress. It will take some

time to de-encrypt the access code."

"I don't believe you. Regardless, I suggest you find a way to open this

door. I have members of your crew under guard."

"Why, Santiago?" YangÂ’s voice, clear and soft, floated into the room like

a wisp of smoke. A silence followed, then finallyÂ…

"Dr. Yang."

"Yes. Your bargaining chip."

"You were never a bargaining chip. More of a worthy opponent, a threat I

took seriously." YangÂ’s face remained impassive, calculating. "But I am

sorry to see you have escaped. You could have been one of us."

"One of whom?"

"One of those who believe humanity will continue on its path to destruction

unless guided by people with discipline and an unshakable will to survive.

One who believes drastic measures must be taken to ensure the survival of

the human race."

"ThatÂ’s enough," cut in Garland. "Santiago, can we bring you here to the

command center so that we can talk further? We all seek a safe ending to

this journey."

"Open the door and I will come to you."

"Give your weapons to Officer Skye and I will open the door."

"I canÂ’t." Her words, simple and direct, struck Garland somehow. Her path

is so clear, to her, he realized. She has formed her strategy, and knows

that the die has been cast.

"Open the hatch, Captain. I don't want this to go any farther. You have my

word on that."

"The word of a traitor," hissed Yang, his anger breaking forth for the

first time.

"Perhaps a traitor to you, but I only seek to guarantee the safety of those

who follow me. If the entire ship doesnÂ’t make it, and I believe it won'tÂ…"

Garland glanced at Saratov, who sat hunched over his console, preoccupied,

"Â…we, who have proven our will to live, want to be in the part of the ship

that reaches planetside."

"Wait by the hatch," Garland said, and closed the connection. He looked

around the command centerÂ…at Yang, whose eyes pierced the comm link darkly,

at Saratov, who now turned, his face pale, his chin steady.

"Skye is in danger. We need to open that hatch, and we don't have much

time. I want options, quickly."

"You are the Captain," said Yang.

"Then move to your station, Dr, Yang, and share your expertise. You saw

Santiago firsthand...what is the situation?"

"Yes, what's her damage?" interjected Miriam softly.

Dr. Yang, ignoring her, moved to the oval table in the center of the bay

and sat down in one fluid motion. He picked up a stylus and began tracing

on the tabletop, which automatically activated and recorded his movements.

"Santiago is disciplined and has firm control over her followers. They are

all armed."

As if on cue, a comm light flashed. All eyes turned to the Captain, who in

turn looked at Dr. Yang. "Dr. Yang, our choices. Quickly."

"Unseal the door and let Santiago control the Greenhouse as well as the

cryobay she has now, then negotiate."

"Could we surrender to her a storage bay, and give her and her people safe

transit to Planet?" asked Lal.

"Only if it were sealed from her side. She wants a fortress, safety," said

Yang.

"But she values honor," said Garland. "We could promise her safety, give

her our word."

Yang smiled grimly. "Perhaps. Choice two...send out a strike team,

neutralize her people, do it quickly and we may save Skye and the

botanists."

"And who will run this strike?" asked Saratov. "My people are armed but not

trained. We need them..."

"There are a few security staff awakened," said Garland. "Any more would

take days to emerge from the sleep into full effectiveness."

"Too long," said Yang. "But there is always choice three....leave the

Greenhouse sealed and cut off its oxygen. With Santiago dead her people

will lose heart."

"Skye and the rest will die as well!" flared Miriam, and her magnetism

pulled at Garland...her intensity.

"You asked for choices...that is a choice. And it is the only one that will

guarantee Santiago is neutralized."

"What if we waited until they fell unconscious and then rushed in?" asked

Lal, always seeking the balanced path.

"The security matrix shows that Santiago's people wait outside the

Greenhouse. Plus the timing would need to be perfect, and Skye will probably

fall before Santiago. We must be firm...give her what she wants, attack her,

or cut off the air. That is all I see."

"Captain," said Saratov urgently. "I have gotten the signal from engineering.

We are ready to restart the fusion drive. We can't wait."

"Then do it," said Garland. "I'll tell Santiago we can't open the door now."

"Wait," said Yang, stopping Garland with his intensity. "Do not contact her.

I see an opportunity."

Personal Log

Pravin Lal, Chief of Surgery

It is the place of a physician to see death as well as life, and in seeing

the two, constantly intertwined, it is easy to stop caring when life

transitions into death.

We face a difficult decision here. Lives are at stake, and perhaps not all

of them can be saved. It is times like this I envy Godwinson's unshakable

faith.

 

Episode 24

Santiago sat lightly, one leg hooked over a green storage box, but she

watched Deirdre with eyes as sharp as blades. One hand rested on her thigh,

and in that hand the shredder pistol shifted back and forth in a rhythm

only Santiago could hear. Deirdre stood quietly, positioning herself at the

front of her small group of staff, trying to hold Santiago's gaze.

Abruptly a metallic shunting sound split the silence of the chamber. Red

lights began to pulse around the perimeter of the Greenhouse. Heedless of

the threat from the insurgents, one of Deirdre's botanists, a mature

brunette named Tara, crossed to a nearby terminal. Santiago had not moved,

but her posture was wired with tension, and there was a curl to her lips.

"What's happening?" she snapped at Tara. The woman directed her answer

towards Deirdre instead.

"The oxygen supply has been cut off to this room, and the seal, of course,

is airtight. It appears they are actually draining oxygen from the room.

We have...ten minutes at most, before we become impaired. Unconsciousness

and death will follow..."

Santiago slid off the box and onto her feet. She punched a code into her

quicklink. "Junack, this is Santiago. Move your people away from the door

and watch for any activity. Set guards..." She abruptly trailed off, her

eyes snapping to Deirdre, whose eyes had flickered, just for a moment, to

the screen on her wearable computer.

Santiago closed the distance between them in an instant, grabbing for

Deirdre's arm. Deirdre slid back with surprising speed, avoiding the grab.

"What was that?" Santiago demanded.

"Nothing," said Deirdre. "The homeostasis is off because of the oxygen...

the Greenhouse computers are sending me their alarms."

"Show me." Her tone remained imperious. Deirdre extended her arm and tapped

a scroll code into the tiny flat screen.

"Meaningless," said Santiago, thoughtfully. The screen contained flashing

codes representing chemical atmospheric balances. "Do you have any oxygen

in here? Where is your emergency supply?"

"Beneath that support beam..." Deirdre motioned to an arc on the far side

of the Greenhouse. "Unless they've somehow been sealed from us as well."

"You," Santiago pointed to Tara. "Check the panels. Verify there is no

oxygen." Back to Deirdre again. "Think quickly, Officer. There are

chemicals here...can you manufacture oxygen somehow?"

"I...don't think so," Deirdre considered. This woman is extremely

intelligent, she realized. Carefully... "Let me check the supplies. We

might be able to..."

"Check quickly. Kurn, watch her," Santiago motioned to her companion, the

shorter bald man, who followed Deirdre as she headed for a stack of storage

canisters behind a small stand of olive trees. As they moved off Santiago

activated a link to the command center, emergency band. "Captain Garland,

this is Santiago. I find your actions indefensible. Don't you fear for your

crew, under guard here?" She looked at the quicklink angrily. "They are not

listening."

And then she looked up. Like trees bending under a forest wind, all of

Deirdre's people had bent to their quicklinks at the same moment, reading

a message. At once they all began to fall, throwing themselves onto the

ground.

Santiago sprung back, instinctively seeking shelter by the wall.

Episode 24, part 2

"Opening the fueling channel," said Saratov. "Priming the reactor. It will

be but a few moments. I am triggering three bursts as a test." A high

pitched hum, just at the outer edge of consciousness, tickled GarlandÂ’s

ear. He looked around. Everyone looked preoccupied, parsing the unusual

sound. Saratov seemed calm, alert. Yang spoke urgently into his quicklink.

Abruptly, a burst of sound split the air, and the ship surged beneath them,

throwing Garland to the floor. He felt, and heard, the screams of metal,

as the world of the Unity shook to its core.

Episode 24, part 3

The ship surged and rocked beneath Santiago's feet. She rolled as if

cresting a wave, her balance spinning her catlike as the floor shuddered

beneath her. Deirdre's staff, already in mid fall, covered their heads and

rolled, tumbling into one another. Deirdre fell forward into a stack of

plastic cylinders containing fertilizers and chemicals, then immediately

twisted around as Kurn fell forward into her.

She slid her fingernails under the release valve of one canister and ripped

it off. A stream of liquid nitrate rolled forth, pouring across Kurn's face.

He screamed, more from surprise then pain.

Deirdre rolled away. The trees around her rocked and swayed, their branches

scraping the sky like scarecrows in a tempest. As she watched a web of

cracks bloomed across one of the glass panels above, like horizontal

lightning.

Oh God...the ship...

A metallic groan traveled down the length of the ship and through her feet.

Outside the panels she caught a wild sight of landing pods shaking, more

structural supports bending.

There was a pock pock pock and three holes appeared near her feet. She

looked up, her heart pounding in alarm...

Santiago's second. The little Kurn. He had one hand clutching his own face,

his own eyes, as the other hand swung wildly, sending shredder pellets in

crazy arcs around the Greenhouse.

"Skye!"

Deirdre looked to see Tara, holding one of the tension rigs the engineers

had used to shore up the synthglass panels. She lunged forward across the

wildly tilting terrain and aimed the contraption in Kurn's direction.

She pulled the trigger.

Out of the front of the rig shot a clear shimmering transparent sheet,

about three meters square, rippling in the light. The sheet should have

been fired into a synthglass panel, where it would have spread out to grip

the surface with high levels of tension, reinforcing it.

Instead it now slapped into the lunging Spartan, wrapping around him. Tara

flipped a switch on the gun, triggering a signal pulse along a slim optical

fiber. The Spartan's eyes grew wide and he opened his mouth to scream as

the tension sheet pulled tight around him, tearing layers from his skin in

different directions. She saw his eyes widen in horror and his skin rip as

the clear sheet tightened around his body. His scream sounded faint, as if

heard through walls.

The ship steadied. The floor became firm again. Deirdre Skye stood slowly.

Leaves scattered across the metal floor of the Greenhouse, and a dark stream

of water, spilled from a hydration tank, snaked around her.

"Is everyone all right? Tara? Nhoj?" She looked around. "Where is Santiago?"

"Here," said a voice, husky with fear. Deirdre looked over.

Nhoj kneeled near Santiago, who lay splayed out against a compost bin near

one wall of the Greenhouse. Santiago's eyes were closed, her face a serene

mask. Deirdre watched her for a moment, imagining the powerful heart that

still beat in the woman's chest. That deep passion for survival at all

costs, so similar to and yet so unlike Deirdre's quiet passions...

Nhoj delicately pulled the shredder pistol from Santiago's fingers. "She's

unconscious. Was that the plan?"

Nhoj looked so puzzled. Deirdre smiled in spite of herself, and then began

to laugh, releasing tension. "Tie her up, quickly, with anything you can

find. I'll contact the Captain. It looks like we have Santiago."

Quicklink to Captain Garland.

Send security detail to the Greenhouse immediately. Release the exit hatch

as well...we need all the oxygen we can get.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 25

Morgan tapped his queen and shifted it to the fifth rank. Imran Siddiqui,

watching from the other side of the small holotable in Morgan's holding

cell, arched an eyebrow. The holographic pieces suddenly flickered and then

slowly wavered back into existence.

"I thought you played a defensive game," Imran muttered.

Morgan smiled. "Making you think that is the best defense I have."

"Mmmph." Imran tapped the board twice and a bishop that resembled a Lara

Croft figure slid forward to threaten one of Morgan's knights. The bishop

suddenly wavered and flickered again, jittering frantically.

"Is it going to vanish?" Imran asked, concerned.

"It might. I can not stand these cheap holos. Real pieces are much more

elegant."

"Yes, and they stay where you put them." Imran looked at his piece with

anguish. "It must be the heat. It's so damn hot in here." He began fanning

the piece madly. "These boards are too delicate."

The bishop flickered back on. Morgan considered for a moment, and then

advanced the knight forward to the sixth rank, deep in Imran's territory.

"In truth, the room is hot because I have a chill I can not shake, ever

since awakening. Check."

"Maybe you should see a doctor." Imran moved his head down to the level of

the board, as if a new perspective could give him inspiration. "I think

you split my rook." He moved his king grudgingly.

"Yes. Doctor Nambala knows me. If you would send for her I would be

grateful." Morgan considered the board for a moment. "Your rook actually

does not concern me at the moment." He tapped his queen and sacrificed it

for the rook pawn.

"You want a doctor now?" Imran studied the board carefully.

"Yes. I am somewhat concerned. Our health is our greatest treasure."

Imran laughed. "Funny, coming from you. I hear you had a lot of 'treasure'

back on Earth...mansions, land, women."

"Yes. I had all those things. And before you ask, it was everything you

could imagine." Morgan grinned.

Imran nodded and let one hand hover over his king, reluctant to accept the

sacrificed queen. "Tell me more."

"Will you call my doctor?"

"I should call any available doctor. You are a prisoner, after all."

"A prisoner? Is that what they told you?"

"Well...under escort. The U.N. doesn't like to ruffle any feathers. I'm

just supposed to check on you once every couple of hours."

"I see." Morgan regarded the board. "You know, you could have those things

you dream of...wealth, security, power."

"Wouldn't that be something," Imran said dryly. "Business is not my forte,

though. I'm just a technician assigned to emergency security duty until

they get this mess straightened out."

"No, no, that is not the way to think. Business is simply the exchange of

value. You just have to learn to play the game."

"If I could play that game I wouldn't be a technician. I'd be mogul of some

kind, back on Earth still. Dead by now, actually, now that I think of it."

Morgan shook his head. "Negative thinking. It's all a game, a trading of

one thing for another. But, like chess, you calculate your exchanges so

that in the end you are in a position to take the prize."

Imran nodded. "Yes. I could see that." He sighed and leaned back, tapping

the resignation code into the holotable. Morgan immediately activated the

replay mode, watching as the board reset and repeated every move in the

game at an accelerated clip. As he watched he spoke.

"Don't fool yourself. Don't convince yourself that power, wealth and

pleasure mean nothing to you because you are an academician. The need for

power is fundamental."

Imran watched the game unfold. "Maybe. What about the need to make a

difference, or raise a family? Those can be more important than power."

Morgan arched an eyebrow. "And did you have a family? On Earth?"

Imran hesitated. "No, I did not have a family."

"I did," Morgan said. Imran looked up, surprised. "I had a lovely wife.

And I saw all the holovid shows, the romances...'even in these terrible

times, we only need each other.' But that was never true, that we only need

each other."

Morgan paused, clearing his throat. "With my wealth, I could protect her.

I could give her a security that those without power, without money, lacked.

You want to dream your big ideas, create your scientific projects, but your

time is not your own. Don't you want to be the one with the power, holding

the purse strings? Deciding your destiny?"

"Yes. Of course." Imran thought for a moment. "What happened to your wife?"

"Even power has limits. Radiation sickness. But she spent her last days in

a room fit for a dying queen, with the best care." The replay wound down.

"Will you call my doctor?"

"Will you make it worth my while?" Imran grinned.

"You're learning! As a matter of fact I can. We are still humans on this

ship, and where there are humans there is human nature. What do you want?

Back on the tech shift?"

Imran jerked his head up. "Yes."

"I will see. But I will miss our talks during your patrol. Be sure to come

by and play some chess."

"You can get me back on tech?" Imran's hope was palpable.

"Yes, most likely. But you must remember the favor. And when Gayle comes

you must leave us for a time."

"Gayle?"

"Dr. Nambala. I believe she can help us."

Unity Log File

Holoboard 0623 requesting program

Accessing program: CHESS

Security check on holoboard passed.

Ensign Siddiqui approved.

Commence game.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 26

[Note: Saratov's name is now Zakharov, reflecting feedback from Russian

fans on Saratov being an unrealistic name. And now, back to our story...]

"The ship is falling apart."

ZakharovÂ’s words blanketed the command center, shadowing the faces of the

assembled staff. "We are not far from Planet, but the stress on the UnityÂ’s

structure is reaching critical levels."

"Implication?" asked Garland tersely.

"We should prepare for the worst. The whole structure may shake apart

before one of us touches the new world."

"WeÂ’ve come all this way," said Miriam. "Why now?"

"Physics," retorted Zakharov.

"Perhaps it is better this way," murmured Deirdre, present in the command

center to debrief after SantiagoÂ’s capture. The Captain ignored her, if he

heard her at all.

"Should we break away now?" he asked, rising to his feet. "Are we close

enough to pilot down the landing pods.?"

"Too soon," said Zakharov. "But we should begin our preparations. Awaken

everyone, move people to their destination pods, redistribute supplies.

Accept that only one pod, or none, may make planetfall."

"Or all of them? Is that even a possibility?" asked Lal.

"Yes, of course," said Zakharov, his voice neutral.

"Captain, we have assembled a report from the first wave of landing pods,"

broke in Ensign Cotter, the ensign on duty.

"Excellent," said Captain Garland. Behind him Deirdre tensed. "Send the

next wave. Seed the surfaceÂ…we donÂ’t know who will need them or when."

"Captain," said Deirdre, rising to her feet. "I must object to this. Are we

now interstellar litterbugsÂ…is this our welcome to Planet?"

"This is not the time," he said simply, coldly. Deirdre took another breath

but saw anger in GarlandÂ’s eyes, and she suddenly could smell a new sense

of desperation in the command center. Now the mission was about survival,

not philosophyÂ…

"Very well," she said, and headed for the observation bay.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 26 part 2

Deirdre Skye stood in the observation room off of the command center and

watched the great jewel of Planet pulse against the darkness. Alpha Centauri

A, the systemÂ’s primary star, backlit Planet beautifully now, creating a

halo around it, and Alpha Centauri B, the systemÂ’s second of three suns,

cast another quality of light across the surface.

She stared, mesmerized, at the new world. Without thinking she lifted one

hand to touch the thick synthglass of the observation windows, brushing

her fingers slowly along it. Its beautyÂ…the swirls of colorsÂ…clouds, not

unlike Earth clouds, and the jagged shape of land beneath, peeking out here

and there.

Behind her the door hissed open, but she did not look up. She was tired of

talking to the Captain about Santiago and what had happened in the

Greenhouse. She was tired of the worry creasing peopleÂ’s facesÂ…would the

ship make it? Even now she could feel it shaking beneath her feet, shaking

as if it would not hold together long.

"Each sight more beautiful than the last," came a rich baritone behind her.

She snapped around quicklyÂ…Morgan, the stowaway, stood in the doorway,

staring at her and the shimmer of Planet behind her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked tersely. "You should be under guard."

He chuckled as if at a good joke. "Not now. Some crewmembers have

interceded on my behalf, and the Captain has called me to consult about the

ship. I know things that could prove useful, during this time of crisis."

He nodded at Planet. "So that is the new world, my lady?"

"Officer Skye, please" she said absently, turning away from him,

inexplicably drawn to the sight of Planet again. "It is beautiful, yes?"

"As beautiful as my finest diamonds." He stepped forward and lifted one

hand, sweeping it expansively across the vista. "It is like aÂ…coin, catching

the light on a field of black velvet."

Her eyes flickered to him. "It is what Earth used to be. Not for hundreds

of thousands of years have Earth people been privileged with what we are

seeing today. A world unspoiled."

"A world rich with promise." He said, lifting his chin.

"No." The word came out clipped and she bit her lip.

He looked over at her, smiling in puzzlement. "You do not find promise

here?" But his eyes searched her face rapidly. "It is your new world, a

perfect world for your experiments. You have seen the preliminary scansÂ…

rich in nitrate, perfect for your hybrids."

"Yes, I know. I meantÂ…. Your goals are transparently obvious." One of his

eyebrows shot up. "You see a world of natural resources, ready to beÂ…

exploited. Correct?"

"Exploit." He turned the word over, considering it as if tasting a new

wine. He looked at her appraisingly. "I wondered who would first use that

word. We allÂ…all life forms exploit, Officer. Your plants exploit the very

air we exhale. We exploit them for food. But even the simplest of your

hybrids would gladly kill us if they could, to stop from being torn from

the earth and consumed."

"Perhaps. But there is a balance. I do not have to tell you something so

patently obvious. We did not come to ‘exploit.’"

"DidnÂ’t we? Sustained growth is a form of balance, and an inevitable one.

The economic Holy Grail."

"Your wealth means nothing here."

"Wealth is the exchange of value. It is a way of representing energy

traded. I donÂ’t need to tell you this." He chuckled. "We will get along

well on this new world, I can see. I will be sure to sell you the tie-dyes."

"You seem to think your place in this world is preordained." She turned

toward him, feeling the heat of the Centauri suns on the side of her face.

"No, not at all. But I am here. I am a leader, and a manager. IÂ’m sure

Captain Garland can appreciate using any available talents to the fullest

on this harsh new world."

She shook her head. "It is a beautiful world. Why canÂ’t you just appreciate

its beauty?"

"I can. I appreciate things of beauty. They are of high value. PlanetÂ…I

value it, or I would not be here."

"But your kind of thinking will destroy it," she shot back. He laughed at

that, and she grew angry. "Why do you laugh like this?"

"I see now your famous intensity, tending your hybrids night and day. I

imagine you making a new breed of plants, one that can defend itself

readily...the Lady Skye and her flame-throwing corn stalks, advancing on

my traderÂ’s outpost." He chuckled again. "We need traders, Lady. How else

to turn worms into silk?"

"Adam and Eve needed nothing, except their garden."

"Now you sound like Godwinson," Morgan said quietly. He let out a deep

breath and turned to leave, then stopped. "Perhaps humankind will taint

Planet, or perhaps we have all learned something of value from EarthÂ’s

tragedy. But Lady," he said, and she turned to look at him with a flicker

of annoyance. "If you wanted Planet to remain truly pure, you would not

have come at all."

Ship's Computer,

Status Report

Pods seeded.

Returning preliminary data, Planetside.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 27

Prokhor Zakharov left the accessway and entered Bay Three, which he

considered his home. In fact, he had insisted on leaving his quarters

here, rather than sleep closer to the command center, and Captain Garland

had not argued. Indeed had no reason to argue; if spending down time among

his engineers helped him to repair the ship more quickly, there could be

no objections.

He entered the main recreation bay. Almost empty; a couple of his scientists,

haggard from lack of sleep, played holodarts at one end. Most people worked

on the ship or slept all day long; many were taking performance-enhancing

drugs that allowed them to stay awake for hours but then crashed them into

a deep sleep.

He crossed into the sleeping quarters, where cryocells were now lined with

moldable foam and turned into beds. Most of the cells were empty but a few

fitful bodies slumbered here and there. He saw a few of the other non-

science Bay Three personnel as well--security and doctors, mostly, their

faces calmer in sleep than the stressed engineers.

He altered his course to pass by a certain cryocell--ah.

"Raymond." His friend was awake, staring hollowly at the low dark roof the

sleeping bay. He refocused on Zakharov slowly.

"Officer." He sat up quickly. "Is everything well?"

"Yes." He let the word trail off. With the ship disintegrating around them

'well' was a relative term. "I am going to have some tea before I retire,

if you would be so kind as to join me."

"Certainly, Officer. Sleep is not coming quickly tonight."

Zakharov walked to the back corner of the bay where partitions had created

a cramped space for his quarters. A small white metal table and two chairs

sat next to the cryocell he used for a bed. On a small ledge rested a red

plastic pitcher and a rod he used as a heating element.

"Sit," he waved at the table. Raymond ran his hands through his white hair

and sat down gingerly. The man was about as old as Zakharov, and the two

had been friends for years.

Zakharov dipped the heating element into the pitcher and dropped in two

small tea capsules. He punched the Play button on a small speaker unit and

dialed up a selection. Bach began to play, the melody wafting softly around

him. Zakharov closed his eyes.

"In times of hardship, this is the music I play. I imagine myself, riding

the waves of sound into a better, calmer place." He broke off abruptly.

Raymond nodded. "It is good music. Sublime. Now please sit down. You know

I will remain on my feet as long as you do."

Zakharov poured the tea into a small cup and handed it to him. The two sat

down and remained in silence for a moment, listening to the music.

"Do you think we'll make it?" Raymond's voice jarred Zakharov from his

reverie. He sipped the tea before answering.

"Humankind astounds me with its...with our versatility and knowledge. We

know so much...we can tweak atoms, we know the result of almost any action

we take. We do this...that happens."

"Yes," said Raymond. He had become close friends with Zakharov by knowing

when to just listen.

"But that is in the lab. It is controlled. Here...there is too much going

on. If the Unity were a lab, and you or I had complete control...of course

we could repair it. But there are too many people on board, and too many

unknowns. Human motivations are still too complex. They are the last

frontier of science, but the human mind itself rebels against scientific

control, and perversely turns against it, even when destruction is the

result.

"This ship is the perfect example. We are riding the back of chaos." He

nodded and took a sip of tea. "So many minds went into the building of

this ship. It is disorganized, haphazard, like so much of what humanity

does."

"Impure," said Raymond quietly.

"Yes. Impure. The motives...not science or exploration, but a variety of

things. This country worked on the Unity to give hope to its people, that

country to experiment with U.N. money, that one because the leader wanted

to stay in power. If we make it to Planet, I want things to be different."

"How?"

"I want to be guided by scientific truth. I believe we will all be happiest

following the ways of science. The crew must see this."

Raymond nodded in agreement. "Many do. The ship is full of thinkers, people

who respect the life of the mind and want to be far from politics. Many

respect your focus. I have even heard Doctor Yang talk of a controlled

society, similar to what you speak of."

"Mmph. I speak of a society where scientific truths drive humanity forward,

not Yang's contrived Utopia."

"Still, he could be an ally. Deirdre's people just spend most of their time

in the Greenhouse, naturally." Raymond smiled at his unwitting joke.

"Well, keep tabs, Raymond. We want the purest minds on the ship, pure as

the clearest vodka. Which, as I speak of itÂ…" He set down his tea and

pulled from a small drawer an unlabelled bottle full of clear liquid. His

face lit up, and RaymondÂ’s eyes widened a bit.

"You would open that now? There is nothing to celebrate."

"Why not now? If the ship does not make it, I want to enjoy this. No sense

vaporizing good vodka." He poured in a small amount into two more cups.

"Is your confidence that low?"

"It is high. But this will bolster it further." He threw back the drink

and his eyes glowed with pleasure for a moment. "Besides, I will save a

last drink for Planetside."

"The last bottle ever made. Think of it." Raymond stared into the cup as

if hypnotized. Zakharov reached out and poked him in the shoulder.

"We will make more! We will recreate Earth on Planet., but with a new

purity of focus, on science. It is like the greatest research grant in

history...an entire planet!"

"Still, it will not be Earth vodka. This is the last. A sobering thought."

Zakharov laughed quietly. "Ironic that it would sober you. Drink," he

urged. Raymond sipped, which was not usually his way, but he wanted to

savor the drink as if it were nectar. Zakharov watched him.

"Don't think too much on Earth, Raymond. It is too painful. You have a

soft side, but it is not always best to indulge it. If we think of Earth,

and all that is lost, our spirits will whither. We must think on the new

world ahead, and the new knowledge that can be gained."

"I know."

"We have the purity of focus. Let's keep our people looking forward,

studying, learning. It is a buffer against melancholy, and moves us toward

a higher purpose."

"Yes," said Raymond, and sipped the vodka, feeling its heat wash over him.

"The ship will be fixed." Zakharov said it suddenly, as if in response to

a question that had floated up to the front of his consciousness. "We have

the skills to do it."

"Yes." Raymond lifted his cup, and they thunked them together and downed

the crystalline spirits.

Ship's Journal,

Prokhor Zakharov recording

"Earth is the cradle of the mind. But one can not stay in the cradle

forever."

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky,

The Father of Rocketry.

From the Datalinks.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 28

"And as you feel them pull away from you...push! So." Sheng-ji tensed his

arms and torso in a quick pulse and sent the burly ensign a good two

meters. The ensign windmilled for a moment and then caught his feet,

grinning in perverse pleasure. The crew gathered around them burst into a

smattering of good-natured applause.

"How long until you learn how to do that?" asked one earnest young

crewmember.

"I already know how to do that," said Yang calmly.

"No," said the crewmember. "I mean us. How long until we learn to do that?"

"You must practice for ten thousand hours, and then practice ten thousand

more. And make sure every move is correct. Or, perhaps fight in zero-g."

Another ensign, with thick dark brows and an urgent demeanor, waved a

touchstylus. "Say, how do you fight in zero-g? Can your techniques be

extrapolated to a zero-g environment?"

"Zero-g is like fighting on the ground, but you can fall in any direction,"

Sheng-ji answered lightly, and then picked up a towel and began padding

his neck and arms. "Session over. Practice the coiling motion for next

time. Ten thousand hours." They laughed politely and started to break up,

talking among themselves.

Sheng-ji moved away, trying to avoid more of the barrage of questions from

curious students. He began coming to Bay Four more often, ever since

Santiago had turned against him. The crew in Bay Four seemed a little

adrift, and there was an unusually large contingent of curious bright-eyed

seekers of...whatever Earth, and the Charter, had failed to offer them. He

watched them all with razor sharpness, although most of them...

Children, really. No discipline, no tolerance for discomfort. They do not

know how to 'eat bitter.' Still...

He headed for his makeshift quarters. Still, their almost fawning worship

of his teaching did stir a part of his ego he enjoyed. And, more

importantly, they gave him an additional power base, a section of crew he

could remake in his own image.

He opened a floor hatch and descended into the cramped lower sleeping

quarters. Most of the crew now slept in their cryocells, remade with foam

padding into coffin-like beds. Yang himself had a private quarters with a

small desk and room to meditate. His intended quarters were closer to the

command, but he had commandeered these new quarters from a Bay Four

Resident Officer.

Officer Rang was his name, and he had not survived the cryosleep.

Unfortunate...

Journey to Centauri : Episode 28 part 2

Deirdre Skye felt the gravity of the Unity lessen, just slightly, and could

see the lights of the ship dim down itÂ’s length. "Nightfall," she murmured,

referring to a mode the ship moved into at regular intervals to help

maintain the crewÂ’s circadian rhythms.

She stretched and stared out the tinted panels of the Greenhouse. She felt

languid, mesmerized by the startling beauty of Planet, its breathtaking

presence against the lonely infinite. They were so close now, and Planet

seemed to sparkle with mystery, calling to her. She had to pull her eyes

away as they grew heavy with the need for sleep.

"Tara, I am retiring for now," she alerted her second in command, and

walked back through her gardens and tiny forests, her green worlds, toward

a series of light partitions she had set up next to a grouping of white

pine.

She passed by a small white bunk where Tara, loyal Tara, now slept, her

presence reassuring to Deirdre, and then went behind the shaded partitions.

She pulled off her uniform and let it fall, feeling the patterns of warmth

and coolness in the Greenhouse. She smelled the tingly, refreshing scent of

the pine and kneeled next to their bins, pushing her hands into the soil

which was dry and sandy, but still better than the metal and plastic that

made up most of the Unity.

Her eyes crossed the bright sphere of a thermal lamp and she closed them

and watched the afterimage burn against her eyelids, mirroring the bright

sphere of Planet. The afterimage fragmented and wavered and then took shap

againÂ…PlanetÂ…and she heard a roaring in her ears, and it sounded like wind

and sea, but not quite like Earth wind or Earth sea.

And somewhere beneath it all, beneath the roaring, as she reached out her

pale arms and dug her fingers into the earthÂ…a voice, harmonic and faint,

but rich with ageÂ…"earth". And thenÂ… "being"

"earthbeing."

Her eyes snapped open. Her heart pounded in her chest, and a chill rippled

across her torso.

"Deirdre." She turned. Tara stood at the partition, looking concerned. "Is

everything OK here?"

Deirdre nodded and stood, brushed the dirt from her hands and moved silently

to her own simple cot. She lay down and pulled a lightweight Unity blanket

over her. "IÂ’m just retiring. I am all right."

"Shall I turn off the thermal lamp there, Officer?"

"No," Deirdre said, with an edge. "Leave it."

"Very well." She heard Tara pad away.

Deirdre stared at the light and then closed her eyes again, as a planet

dream took shape against the darkness of her sleep.

ShipÂ’s Personal Logs

Deirdre Skye, Xenobiologist

The Unity was born of fire, a spark crossing the sky from a burning world,

and where it lands a fire will begin.

That fire will rage on PlanetÂ…we will rage on PlanetÂ…sweeping across its

peaceful vistas, until only a charred husk remains.

Unless, of course, other struggles passed here, struggles undreamed of in

our human-centric universe. Unless slumbering demons of PlanetÂ’s own await

us, beneath its strange and alien sky.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 29

"Commander Zakharov." Doctor Yang waited as the scientist studied his

console, the muscles of his back a study in disinterest. "Commander

Zakharov, please. We need your knowledge here."

He turned, and despite the stillness of his posture annoyance flared in his

eyes. "Yes, Commander. What do you require of me?"

"We need an update on the UnityÂ’s status."

"You are not the Captain."

"I am the Executive Officer. While the Captain is in quarters, I ask that

you register your status report so that we all know whether to cash in our

777-Cs."

Zakharov smiled. "Our retirement funds are ashes, along with the rest of

Earth."

"We donÂ’t know that," said a quiet voice. Yang looked over to see Miriam,

hovering at the perimeter of the command center. "We donÂ’t know it for

sure."

"I believe we all can guess the fate of Earth," said Zakharov. Pravin Lal,

working a medical console, turned to stare at him thoughtfully.

"Guess, perhaps," said Miriam. "But I thought you respected proof."

"I have little time for status reports or for these debates."

"True, I am sure, " said Yang, "but perhaps if you give us the status report

we will understand just how little time you have."

Zakharov nodded tersely. "Very well. I will give you both."

His fingers flashed on his touchpanel, and three screens flickered and

reconfigured themselves into a schematic configuration. A simple diagram

of a ship appeared. With a couple of taps, Zakharov made the wireframe

lines as thick as crayon marks.

"As we know, the Unity was designed to make it to PlanetÂ…barely."

"Explain," said Miriam in a high clear voice. Yang turned to give her a

disapproving look, but Miriam stayed focused on Zakharov. Lal, too, seemed

mesmerized by the scientistÂ’s words. Zakharov continued.

"The amount of fuel it took to get us here, is astronomical. Literally!" He

slammed one long bony finger into the surface of his touchpanel. "Here and

hereÂ…in the huge bins on either side of the cryobays is the fuel that got

us here. It is carried through delivery mechanisms into this chamber, here,

where the fusion reactions take place that power the ship forward. The power

from the reactionsÂ…"

"I believe we know all this," murmured Yang, but Zakharov did not stop.

"The power from the reactions is carried down this shaft through these

containment rings, right through the center of the eight cryobays, and

impacts here, on this plate, which absorbs the shock and propels us forward.

This happens many times each second!"

He paused for effect, his eyes gleaming with thoughts of force and precision.

"Over and over again a burst of energy that rivals an atomic weapon travels

through the containment rings, only meters from the edge of the cryobays,

and propels us forward. This went on for over six years, accelerating us in

the near frictionless environment of space to a coasting speed, and then,

halfway through the journey, a carefully placed retro rocket fired, and the

entire Unity turned, so that its thrusters faced forward." Miriam watched

him intently. Lal and Yang looked annoyed.

"Then the fusion drive fired again, again bursts like the sun, and so slowed

us down for another 20 years, stopping us precisely here, at Chiron. At

least that was the theory. And to pull that off! It isÂ…"

"Amazing. Impressive," said Yang.

"It isÂ…virtuallyÂ…impossible. Do you see?"

"What do you mean?" asked Deirdre Skye, who had walked in from the

observation room and now listened from a chair beneath a small round

ceiling lamp.

Zakharov looked at her, caught up in the momentum of his own thoughts. "To

freeze us all, leave us in these crypts, send us into space across light

years, powered by our own manufactured sun...." He began pacing, cursing

in Russian.

"I see," said Deirdre, and she ran one hand through her dark hair. "It is

impossible. The odds that we could make itÂ…"

"What are you saying here?" asked Miriam, eyes narrowed, reading them all

carefully. "Skye, please, share your thoughts."

"You remember Earth, "Deirdre said. "The wars. The chaos. TheÂ…destruction."

"I remember holding the children of my enemies, watching the hollows that

used to be eyes," said Lal quietly. "YesÂ…the chaos."

"Governments rising and falling. Every piece of this ship was built by a

new regime, practically. The launchÂ…"

"Rushed." said Pravin suddenly. "They didnÂ’t thinkÂ…"

"They didnÂ’t think weÂ’d make it!" finished Deirdre. "It was a blind hope,

a flare shot against the darkness of a night at sea. Why?"

"They started building it, why not finish?" said Yang. "Perhaps it is that

simple."

"No," said Miriam. "ItÂ’s more. ItÂ’s hope."

Zakharov shook his head.

"Yes," persisted Deirdre. "The Earth was dying. All of us knew it. But if

theyÂ…if the people of Earth could live long enoughÂ…at least long enough to

see the flash of light as we shot out of orbit. Hope."

"Or the political gain of another twisted regime," said Zakharov.

"What does that matter?" asked Lal. "To the people of that regimeÂ…to see

the Unity catapult itself into the night skyÂ…and to think, in the pain, the

poverty, the death and sickness all around, that perhaps, in forty years

time...hope. For humanity."

"They are all dead now, for certain," cut in Zakharov. "DonÂ’t make this too

maudlin."

"Most are dead one way or the other, by age or violence," said Miriam.

"Humanity still survives. God certainly does."

"So they fired us off, a wild firecracker into the sky, and they hoped,"

said Deirdre. "Where does that leave us?"

"If we do not fix the ship, they were right," said Zakharov. "We are not

making it."

"But we might," said Deirdre. "We still have the hope. We are the last.

Agreed?"

"Yes," said Miriam. "Most likely, we are the last."

Deep Space Orbital Command Station : OFFLINE

NATO Command Crystal Palace : OFFLINE

Christian States Heavenly Sword Main Diocese : OFFLINE

FOX Broadcast Worldwide Main Feed : OFFLINE

EBS North America : CRITICAL FAULT

NBC/MS Integrated Optical Network : ABORT RETRY FAIL

NAOL Consumer Courtesy Warning Web : OFFLINE

Journey to Centauri : Episode 30

"Where is the Captain?" asked Deirdre, growing restless.

"I have sent him a wakeup," said Lal quietly. "He is timing his emergency

stim use carefully. Soon there won't be very much time to sleep."

"I have just looked at Planet again," said Deirdre, and Lal could see, in

her eyes, reflections of PlanetÂ’s beauty mirroring out to infinity. "We

are so close."

"Yes," said Zakharov sharply, and the others turned to look at him. "Very

close. It is time for final preparations. We have a window to land, but it

is a small one. Still, I believe we can make it." Morgan nodded; Miriam

closed her eyes for a brief and silent prayer.

"Are we all clear on our duties?" asked Yang, sweeping the assembled staff

with a dark gaze. "Is there anything left undone?"

"Our duties are to follow the CaptainÂ’s orders," Lal said quietly. Zakharov

ignored the comment and spoke again.

"We have decelerated almost enough, but we will need to increase the fusion

drive output in the last hour of our journey or we will not be able to land

on Planet. We may need to split off in the landing pods at a moment's

notice, and hope we are close enough to Planet to make it."

'What is the danger then?" asked Lal. "Will there be loss of life?"

"Almost certainly," Zakharov answered. "Possibly all of us, in the worst

case."

"There could not be a worse case than that," murmured Deirdre.

"But we have no choice. Unless we want to remain on the ship, sailing

through the cosmos. That would guarantee our lives, but I assume we all

want to make it to Planet, regardless of the risk. Correct?"

He looked around. Several heads nodded.

"Then these risks must be taken. They are our only chance to reach Planet.

My proposal: each of us in a separate bay, with a full complement of

supplies, weapons and staff. We will increase our chances that any one will

survive."

The room locked into a shocked silence as emotions swirled in currents

through the assembled staff. Their own pod, each of them...

"Ah," said Yang, finally.

"A prudent plan," said Morgan.

"A moment," said Lal to Morgan. "You seek only the raw materials for a new

empire. And you are not even an officer!" He turned to Zakharov. "Who are

you to advance such a proposal without the Captain present?"

"I am bringing it up because the issue is foremost in our minds. We must

assure the survival of the human race."

"The people admire me," said Morgan quietly. "I am a leader. I also own

part of the ship."

"Enough!" said Lal. "We are talking of redistributing supplies. The ship

has been designed with enough redundancy that if two or three pods don't

make it the mission will still not be jeopardized."

"True," said Zakharov calmly. "I say take it farther. We must accept that

perhaps only one pod will make it. Each must be ready to restart the human

race from scratch."

"As Director Morgan said, a prudent plan," said Yang.

"It seems extreme," said Miriam. "What exactly are we proposing here?"

"Each pod, a self-contained world," said Zakharov.

Lal shot to his feet, his normally soft voice trembling with anger. "This

is mutiny."

"No!" shouted Zakharov, and they all turned to look at him. He lowered his

voice. "There is no mutiny here. We are waiting for the Captain. We are

discussing our future, our lives! If we all present a reasonable proposal,

he must acknowledge it."

"Agreed," said Morgan hastily. "The pods already are self-contained, in

theory. Although they donÂ’t all have weapons."

"Or the best lab equipment," said Deirdre.

"Of course, the 'best' is relative," said Zakharov. "Only one can have the

best lab equipment and that must be mine."

"Why?" asked Morgan. "Because you are the science officer? With your

expertise you should be able to do more with less."

"Surely you are proposing that we all reach Planet and reassemble there if

humanly possible," said Lal. "Correct?"

"Of course!" laughed Morgan.

"One pod, one leader," cut in Zakharov. "It is the only guarantee against

the chaos approaching."

"What chaos?" persisted Lal. "We have a chain of command."

"We must prepare for that chain to be decimated," said Yang. "Any or all

of us may die before reaching Planet."

"That is why we have a Charter," said Lal.

"Did Santiago follow your Charter?" asked Zakharov, staring at Lal. He

turned to the rest of the core staff. "The Captain will arrive shortly.

Will we present a unified front?"

Yang lifted a hand. "Why not vote? We have a say in this mission as much

as anyone."

"I must register my objections to this secret meeting," said Lal.

"Look around," said Yang quietly. "This is not the court of a king. We are

alone. The Charter is what we make of it."

"I motion that each of us become acting captain of a cryocell until

Planetfall, and resources be carefully divided between them," said Zakharov.

"Second," said Yang.

"Second," said Morgan.

"You are not an officer," said Deirdre.

"I am an owner," said Morgan simply. "I am part of you now."

"Against," said Lal.

"Against," said Miriam. All heads turned to Deirdre, who seemed to stare

off into space, seeking counsel from something beyond their vision. When

she spoke her voice was clear and measured, her eyes wide, as if enchanted.

"In favor," she said.

"Then we will inform the Captain," said Zakharov quickly. Lal, stunned,

looked around the command center, watching different scenarios play behind

eyes alive with possibility.

A few moments passed, and then the door to the command center opened.

Quicklink, Pravin Lal

To: Captain Garland

Message: ACTIVATE WAKEUP SEQ

Your presence is urgently requested...

Journey to Centauri : Episode 31

Captain Garland awakened in his bed, a converted cryocell, breathless and

terrified. the nightmare again, stronger this time...that feeling of being

swallowed, infinitely, down a dark and narrow throat, sliding forever into

an abyss...

His hand lashed out involuntarily and struck glass. The sides of his

cryocell were now foggy from his own heat, and the pain of his knuckles on

glass set his heart pounding.

He looked up. The lid to cryocell...closed! He struck out so hard he

thought he might crack the lid into fragments, forcing it open with a rush

of adrenaline-powered strength, and jumped as the lid crashed into the side

of the cell.

I never close that.

Something was wrong. He heard voices shouting in the distance, and the wail

of distant alarms, but his own dark quarters remained strangely muffled. He

felt apart from everything, disconnected, even as he awakened again from

sleep into chaos.

And why was my cryocell closed?

He looked to his quicklink for notification of the trouble, and found it

nonfunctioning, a dead flexible gray patch on his sleeve, his connection to

the command center severed. He rose quickly and crossed to his desk-mounted

console, dialing up a status report. The ship was on full alert and Alpha

Centauri was only a cosmic stone-throw away, even as the Unity finally

shook itself apart, torn apart from the inside by its damaged reactor.

Got to get this under control. There will be panic.

He reached over to punch up the command center, and then stopped as he saw

the tiny scrolling slipmessage in its yellow box on the screen. A series of

numbers...timecode? And a letter-number combination.

Video from the matrix. A time and a place, left for him.

Which first? Command center, or unravel this mystery. He paused and the

dreams caught at him, returning to haunt him. Voices, ghosts, floating

above him as he awakened. It will only take a moment.

He dialed up the matrix.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 31 part 2

"What was that sound?" asked Morgan.

"What sound?" asked Miriam. "There are a thousand sounds...the screaming

of the ship, the warning klaxons..."

"The voice of a thousand valkyries," murmured Pravin, nervous and subdued.

"No. I hear it...a pulse tone," said Zakharov, his eyes darting around the

command center. "Modulated, increasing in volume and frequency..."

"From here. Here," said a crewman, Ensign Mirza, putting his hand on the

door to the small meeting room off of the command center.

"Is something wrong here? My God," said Pravin. The pulses had grown to a

pounding, wave upon crashing wave of sound, shaking the assembled crew.

Pravin clenched his teeth to stop them from cracking together.

The ensign, agitated, shouted something and pressed the "Hatch open" stud.

Miriam had stepped back from the door, and Lal stood nearby.

The sounds abruptly fell off, replaced by a high-pitched whine. Into that

silence Morgan spoke.

"I would not open that door," he said. Miriam looked at him, then threw

herself backwards as the hatch door opened.

An explosion rocked the command center. Fragments of metal table and plastic

chairs blew outwards, funneled through the hatchway and filling the command

center in a cloud of violent force, engulfing the ensign. Miriam fell, one

side beaded with blood, and Lal turned to shield his face.

"Sabotage!" shouted Miriam. Lal hurried to the ensign, who was now a

collage of half pale brown flesh, half stringy tissue. Indian...

The image of Pria leapt into his mind unbidden.

"What was that?" asked Miriam.

"Sonic hammer," said Zakharov. "Small but deadly. There shouldn't even be

any on board."

"Did we screen the Emissary?" Asked Miriam. "Or was it..." she turned to

Morgan.

"Don't be foolish," said Morgan. "But look here! Dr. Yang, where are you

off to so quickly?"

Miriam and Pravin both looked around. Yang stood at the door to the hatch,

watching them calmly. "This command center is severely damaged, and we are

close to Planet. I am off to my landing pod, as we all voted."

"That resolution was not approved..." said Lal., but weakly.

"Look around," said Yang. "We are not ready for Utopia." And with that the

exit hatch closed.

Zakharov spoke. "He is right. Many of the systems here are damaged. Let us

get to our landing pods. I can trigger the escape sequence from there. This

command center was never meant to take us all the way to Planet."

"How can we trust you?" Miriam shot after him, as Zakharov headed for the

exit hatch.

Lal lifted his hand. "He's right. The landing sequence is automated. This

command center was not meant to bring us all the way to Planetfall. The

ship must divide."

Miriam stared at him, then looked down. "This man is dead," she said, and

closed his eyes. Her fingers came back touched with blood. Lal shook his

head and rose.

"I'm off to Bay Five," he said.

"Aren't Santiago's people there?" asked Miriam.

"I will bring a bargaining chip." He headed for the exit hatch. "Are you

coming?"

She looked up at him. He looked tired, worn by the weight of the failing

Charter. "Yes, I suppose. There is no other place."

"Head to a safe Bay. I am going." He turned for the exit hatch, and she

followed.

Behind them, panels sparked and flared, and emergency fire control systems

switched on, blanketing the command center in a soft white-gray powder like

snow.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 31 part 3

Camera D76B54 opened it shadowy narrow field of view to Captain Garland.

This was a hidden eye, not known to most of the crew, trained on bales of

valuable synthnetting. He saw the bales, their shadowy bulk, strangely

blurred as if seen through a cataract. And then he made out a tight narrow

blob of flesh, hands pulled to sides across a chest that was thin but in

the strangely defocused view of the camera still had the look of tension

and strength.

He shook his head slightly. The man seemed bound, held by...Wires? Organic

restraints...a security tool. Holding a man, naked, held in the shadows

against dark wrapped bales of synthnet.

And another form watched him, pacing, nervous, sometimes stepping into the

light to reveal a female crew in the uniform of the security team. He

caught a glimpse of her face, her eyes hardened but with a flicker of

nervousness in them, like a ripple in a deep well.

Garland punched the Identify panel and watched as a pale green mesh wrapped

her features and then streaked and faded, ghostlike, as she moved on, the

computer unable to get a feature lock.

Now she stopped and watched the bound figure, staring quietly. The two

seemed to speak. Garland couldn't see her face but abruptly her whole body

began to slacken, her muscles loosening. She watched the bound figure,

which now seemed to dominate her, sucking power and light from the rest of

the room.

She grew agitated, defensive, as if warding off a blow. And then, shaking

with physical effort, she began to lift her weapon, turning it, slowly,

toward him and then toward her self, toward her own face.

Garland noticed his own hands trembling, his lungs paralyzed, trying to

change events that had already passed.

She pulled the trigger. He watched her jerk back from the concussion,

strangely silent, over a distance of space and time he could not cross.

The bound figure watched her for a moment, then moved forward, bending over

her.

He took a key from her and released his bonds. He stood and let out a deep

breath, then walked out of the room. He seemed to hunch his shoulders,

avoiding the general direction of the hidden camera.

But Garland had marked him, had caught a glimpse before the man had

released himself.

Sheng-ji Yang.

Video Matrix D76B54

Archived and Transferred

See linked note, J Garland, Captain.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 32 part 1

Captain Garland punched in a quicklink to his friend, Pravin Lal, his most

trusted advisor in the command staff.

Pravin: Yang has murdered crew. He is to be divested of rank and arrested

immediately. Use caution.

He entered into the record his decision, and its consequences. To strip a

man of rank and bring him on trial before the UN Charter, on charges of

murder and betrayal of fellow crew!

He punched the SEND button, entering the decision into the record, along

with a copy of the video feed as evidence. He watched the shadowy figure

play out its crime one more time, and there, in the checkered light and

shadow of his makeshift desk a very real fear gripped his heart.

The stakes are very high here, higher than I could have imagined, he

thought. They, all of them, will fight for what they want, their deepest

desires, and their survival. There will not be peace.

The journey back to the command center seemed an epic trek through deepest

peril.

He punched SEND. His accusation, as yet unanswered, winged its way on a

transmission of light back to Earth, if any on Earth still existed to

receive it. To Earth and probably beyond, writing Yang's crimes against

the eternity of space time on a pulsing finger of light.

Whatever came now, he had done his duty.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 32 part 2

Pravin Lal, hurrying through the connecting tunnels between bays, tried

again to contact the Captain, and again got nothing. His quicklink offline,

his ID badge not locatingÂ…Pravin feared the worst.

And now he hurried toward Bay Five, the maw of the beast, where shadowy

figures, Santiago's wolves, still lurked.

Somewhere, the other staff headed toward Bays of their own choosing,

where crew awaited, some cynical, some fearful, some ready to embrace the

ideals of a powerful leader. Somewhere they were sealing off all exits to

each Bay, breaking the connector tunnels, checking their individual thrust

drives.

But the Captain has not released them, Pravin realized. Their landing pods

can not break away without approval codes from Garland. Unless he could not

be located. Pravin froze. If the time came and the computer could not locate

the Captain's bioprint, then anyone could separate the pods from the

structure of the Unity. Each leader would be free to go their own way.

Fear clutched Pravin's heart, and with it came a rush, a deep instinctive

need to protect his loved ones at all costs.

All over the ship there were still those in sleep, souls not yet awakened.

Did he want their fates chosen for them, their lives utterly under the

control of the personalities he had seen operating in the command center?

And if they were all to die in space, didn't these people have the right to

see Planet, and to make their peace with the new world or the old?

Lal, the humanitarian. Of course what he really wanted now was Pria, awake

and alive. And he wanted a gesture that affirmed life in the face of all

the animal fears rising up to bite at him.

Ship's Chief of Surgery. He was one of the elite. He had the power.

He activated his quicklink, punched in to the computer, coasted through

layer after layer of security.

At lastÂ… He issued a command, verified it with a voiceprint and retinal

scan.

Activate.

All across the ship, bubbles burst in cryocells full of frozen souls

waiting.

Command Executed.

Open all remaining cryocells.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 33

The ship is coming apart. Zakharov could feel it, could feel his

connection to it, could feel a small hidden part of him unraveling with it.

The mission. The last of Earth society, tearing asunder.

He let out one deep breath and punched up a view from the forward camera.

Looking ahead, there was Planet, shimmering against the darknessÂ…the blank

slate, the dream.

Citizens stood around himÂ…future citizens of this brave new world. They

watched him, some warily, some with fear, some with hope and admiration.

Ilka could not hold back a broad smile, his normally furrowed brow smooth.

Let the others go their own way, or try to reform later like lost relatives

at a Post Strike Gathering Point on Earth. He believed this crew would

follow him on Planet, and the way the ship was going the pods were sure to

scatter all across the surface.

"To a world of science. To a life of the mind," he said simply. They looked

at him,. fiercely, tensely, uncertainly, reaching for the hope he gave.

These would follow. He had selected them so carefully. Those who hated himÂ…

let them find another way.

"Activate the breakaway sequence," he ordered.

"Yes sir," said Ensign Fiszer. "Ready for your verification."

Zakharov checked the status display. "I have verified it. The command will

not go through until Captain Garland approves it, or the computer believes

him dead."

"Yes, sir. What should we do then?"

Zakharov stared into space for a moment, reading calculations in the ether.

"We will wait a few minutes. This is a time of pure chaos. Circumstances

changeÂ…new paths will open. If nothing has changed, we will fire the

thrusters and risk tearing ourselves off of the body of the ship."

Zakharov nodded. This was the best way. "The landing pods are prepared.

The Unity will separate and the landing pods will explode out from the

shell of the ship. Each pod, self-sustaining, will guide itself down to

the surface. At that point, we will be alone."

The Ensign looked puzzled. "Won't we land near the others?"

"Not with the ship as unstable as it is. There are no guarantees."

* * *

"There are no guarantees," said Morgan to the assembled crew. "I know you

were expecting your Captain. Well, he is nowhere to be found. I came to you

because you have supported my position on the Unity, and you know what I

offer you.

"The chance to begin again. The chance for a world of comfort and wealth

such as most of you ever knew on Earth."

* * *

"The chance to begin again," said Deirdre Skye, looking over her assembled

followers, meeting the eyes of her most trusted advisors as they watched

her intensely. "Planet is a waiting, living being, pure and unsullied, such

as Earth was at one time. We have a chance to purge ourselves of the

unspeakable crimes we have committed against our home Planet. We will never

have such a chance again.

"It is like the Garden of EdenÂ…"

* * *

A Garden of Eden. Miriam hurried through the cryobay, meditating on Planet,

seeing the curve of God's eye in its surface, watching her. Yes. It is a

beautiful thing.

She stopped. Ahead of her a cryobay opened, and on the far side, in the

forward compartment where the controls for the landing pod were housed,

she caught a glimpse of a vibrant figure, gesturing passionately.

Zakharov. Will I be welcome?

She turned toward the connector to the next bay.

Two crew worked there. As she watched, one of them opened a panel and

closed a circuit inside the Unity's walls. She heard a blast and a vibration

shook the floor and wall.

They've fired the connecting tunnel. I will be trapped here!

Trapped with Zakharov and his people, their cool scientific minds pushing

in on her faith, dissecting her with their minds.

An image flashed across her mindÂ…the connector on the other side of the bay.

She turned and ran.

And as she ran, unopened cryobays burst to life around her.

***

Sheng-ji Yang jumped, startled, as unopened cryobays burst to life around

him. He watched nearby cells boil furiously, the shadowy forms inside

jittering, as his mind raced furiously to absorb this change in his

situation.

Crew loyal to him stood nearby at perfect attention, ready for his next

command. His eyes swept them.

"Control. It is the most important tool in the face of chaos. All of you

have it." His voice remained calm, his tone matter-of-fact. "The awakening

crew may not. We will isolate them, one by one, and make sure they are in

the proper condition for the hardships ahead."

"Imprison them, you mean?" asked one crewman hesitantly. Yang's eyes

flickered to him, marked him.

"This ship is a prison. That Planet is a prison. Your freedom exists in

your mind only. Your thoughts are your only escape."

***

Escape.

Santiago paced the holding cell like a caged animal, feeling the structure

of the ship shake beneath her.

Conserve your energy, she ordered herself, and she stopped pacing, breathed

deeply, seeking calm.

There is nowhere to go. Either someone will come through that door or they

won't. And they will be either friend or foe. She set her jaw.

At that moment, she heard a sound outside the door and a small panel

opened. Deep brown eyes looked through.

***

Pravin Lal looked through the narrow panel at the smooth face of Corazon

Santiago, her expression a study in defiance.

Her courage! he thought. He could see that she breathed heavily, but she

remained steady, controlling her panic, seeking a way out.

I see the nobility in her, he thought. She would be a fearsome opponent,

but a powerful ally. She is a survivor.

But from the other side of the door, Pravin knew they existed worlds apart.

He believed in peace, she in violence.

Still, he needed her.

"Would you like your freedom?" he asked her through the panel in the door.

Ship's Computer to All Personnel

Approaching Planet. Prepare for emergency landing procs Alpha One through

Gamma Seven.

All personnel report to nearest cryobay.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 34

Pravin Lal entered the shadows of Bay Five with his hands raised. He could

sense figures in the shadows around him, primed for violence. Blue lit

cryocells boiled furiously nearby, and he could hear the hiss of lids

opening.

"I am here from Santiago. Santiago. Burning sword," he said, repeating the

code phrase that Santiago had given him during their talk.

Suddenly, a force smacked into the back of his head and he hit the cold

metal floor face first. Hands grabbed at him, biting his flesh as they

pinned his arms and turned him over. Blue lights and yellow lights spun

wildly around him, and then he saw a grim, angry face above him, along with

the cool eye of a shredder pistol barrel. The smell of his assailant filled

the air around him...rank and sour.

"Why are you saying 'burning sword'?" came the question, the voice thin and

rapid. "Quickly!"

"I have spoken to Santiago," said Pravin. "She is locked away now, but I

have a code key to release her. I ask only that you abandon this bay and

the personnel inside."

"We have this bay and everything in it...food, supplies. Why should we go?"

A different voice, heavier, from a large figure at the periphery of Pravin's

vision.

"You can have your leader back," he answered.

"She would not want us to abandon our position."

Pravin tried a different tack. "You will have a mutiny if you stay in this

bay, I guarantee it. Officer Yang has declared martial law on the ship. He

will be here with guards when he finds out you are still here."

"We have hostages," said the first voice, and Pravin watched the small man

wave his pistol at the cryocells around them. He felt a chill as he thought

of Pria, not so far away, awakening in one of these very cells.

"They will do you no good. The ship is falling apart...there is no one to

negotiate with. Go to your leader...there is a storage room near her, with

food and supplies. You can lock yourself in there and have your passage to

Planet."

"You want something. Why should we trust you?" The heavy voice again, shot

through with a growing rage.

"You have my word. I only want the safety of the crew."

"We could take that code key now," hissed the thin man above him.

"It is encrypted, of course, as assurance..."

"There are ways," came the reply.

Pravin shook his head, steeling himself. "You know an officer's training.

We are resistant to persuasion, if that is what you mean."

"There is always a lever," muttered the heavier man, almost to himself, and

Pravin thought of Pria again, her perfect skin.

"I am offering you your leader and my promise of safe transport." He could

hear the groans of awakening crew in the shadows, and Spartan voices

issuing clipped orders.

The shadows faded from around him and he heard a short heated discussion.

The heavier man came back, now looming over him. Pravin could make out a

large bull-like face and narrow dark eyes.

"Very well, we accept. Give us the key."

"Move your people to the bay exit. Leave the crew alone."

The man shook his head ponderously. "First the key."

Pravin drew a deep breath, seeking strength and calm, and then abruptly

stood up. The large man stared at him, shredder pistol twitching in his

hand. "Move to the bay's exit," said Pravin. "Then I will give you the key.

It is best for all of us."

The heavier man suddenly grabbed Pravin's wrist, near his quicklink, and

wrenched his arm around. "Is this the key code? I will break this encryption

like I will break this arm. Give me the key!"

Pravin let out an involuntary gasp and tried to twist away. The man struck

the side of his face and stars bloomed in his vision. The violence... Then

he heard a voice, the thin man's voice again.

"There is another Lal here, in this cell. Is she what he wants?"

Pravin's world spun around him. He saw blue and black, and then a halo of

light around...Pria!...her torso rising from a cryocell only five meters

away...he saw blue liquid dripping from her, and wet black hair across her

sleep-sick face.

The heavy man tore his quicklink from Pravin's sleeve and raised his

pistol. The shadows closed in.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 34 part 2

Miriam found the other connector tunnel and punched it open, seeking a

quick escape from Zakharov's bay. The hatch to the connector hissed open

and an alarm blared, signaling a breach. She slipped through and punched

the CLOSE switch on the other side.

The connector was dark and narrow, with no lights. The power must have been

diverted, she realized, and her breathing grew strained. Is there still air

flowing here?

There was, of course. A momentary panic. God will provide.

She moved forward, knowing it wouldn't be far to the next cryobay and

perhaps a safe harbor. The darkness pushed in around her, and she could

smell an oily mechanical smell from a maintenance shaft somewhere ahead.

I walk through the valley of death, the power of the Lord close at hand,

she said to herself and then repeated it, using it as a talisman. That had

always worked for her on Earth; when she found God she found the strength

and courage to go forward in a world of fear and darkness, the world of the

burning cities.

The connector hatch hissed open behind her and a shaft of light lanced her

direction. She quickly ducked to one side, and found the opening to a

maintenance shaft. She moved into it, feeling herself swallowed into

darkness within darkness.

She could hear the footsteps of Zakharov's men behind her, looking for her.

Then she heard one call out, and another voice, father away, answering.

An angry exchange followed, a flurry of different accents, and then a sudden

burst of shredder pistol fire. A scream that echoed down the metal walls of

the connector.

She heard a yell and the words "martial law" and then a concussion rocked

the metal walls again. She began to hurry, pushing her way down the

maintenance shaft.

Everyone fighting for their own, she realized. Zakharov, someone else?

The metal around her groaned. Dim red warning lights flickered on around

her, and then another groan, loud and long.

The ship was pulling apart, and she had nowhere to go!

She pushed on forward, hands trembling, toward a sliver of light ahead. I

walk through the valley of death...

Quicklink: Yang to all personnel

Martial law is in effect on the ship. All crew

will turn all weapons over

to the nearest executive crew. No interference will be tolerated.

 

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35

(Note: This is the nine part conclusion to the story)

Pria!

Pravin saw her, haloed in soft blue light, her torso slicked with the

moisture from the cryogel. The burly Spartan who held Pravin's arm raised

his shredder pistol, and Lal could only see its barrel, swiveling toward

Pria as another Spartan grabbed her arm and pulled her roughly upÂ…

He lunged, spurred by rage. The burly man, still holding his arm, shouted

something and Pravin felt pain shooting up his arm, then felt the sleeve

of his uniformÂ…his quicklink, the code key to Santiago's cell, tearing

away. He crossed the space to Pria's cryocell in four giant steps, and

drove his fingers toward the face of the Spartan who still pulled at her

arm.

He felt his fingers strike the face of the Spartan. He heard a yell and he

spread his arms, throwing himself in front of Pria, every muscle in his

back tensed for the feel of shredder dartsÂ…

The explosive hum sounded behind him. A scream welled up inside of him as

a cloud of shredder darts, cutting the air angrily, crossed the room.

He anticipated death but it did not come. He felt himself striking PriaÂ…he

felt the hard glass of the cryocell and the soft yielding of her flesh. He

grabbed her and twisted and lunged forward as another cloud of shredder

darts filled the air and shattered the cryocell.

Glass. He grabbed Pria, aware of her smell and the feel of her hair in his

face even as his other hand grabbed a fragment of glass from the shattered

remains of the cryocell. A Spartan face loomed up and he lunged out, felt

the glass bite his own hand even as it sunk into the shoulder of his foeÂ…

That man was crew, thought Pravin. We all were, but we are fighting for

something different now.

The man melted away. Pravin lunged on, legs burning, into the shadows,

where more rows of cryocells waited. The lights in the bay flashed out.

There was a shout, and then a crash from the hatch behind him.

"Turn over your weapons! We are taking this bay in the name of the

Executive Officer of the Unity!" shouted a voice.

Pistols and the concussion of stun grenades rocked the room. Fire flashed

from behind him, sending jittery shadows around him. He looked down at

PriaÂ…her face, cocked at an odd angle, looked up at him, still weak from

the cryosleep.

The next bay lay ahead, through a connector tunnel. It was Captain GarlandÂ’s

bay, full of waiting crew.

He ran. Tears streamed down his face from the effort. He could hear the

fighting behind him, the disciplined shouts of the Spartans.

He had bluffedÂ…there was no encryption on that code key the burly man had

taken. If the Spartans survived this fight they would have this bay, and

Santiago.

He came to the connector tunnel and saw the red lights lining it, meaning

it was about to detach. He punched open the small touchscreen next to the

hatch and ordered it to open.

The red lights went off in sequence.

He looked down at Pria. Her naked body lay in a jumble in his arms. He

lifted one hand and saw the red sticky fluid all over it. Something caught

in his throat.

He turned her over. Shredder darts covered her back, constellations of tiny,

deadly wounds. He shook his head and pressed his hands into her back, trying

to staunch the flow of blood.

He turned her back and looked at her face. Her eyes swam with pain, but

she saw him. She smiled.

"Pravin."

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 2

Captain Garland moved through the dark hallways of the ship in a crouch.

He could hear the sounds of infighting and the hideous groaning of the

ship's structure beneath him.

Something is very wrong here, he thought. The sounds of the fighting, the

terrible violence of human fighting human for survival and space, barely

registered now. Now he concentrated only on the sounds the ship, his ship.

The landing pods have not separated. They are waiting for me to verify the

release command. But, I have already issued that command.

Which meant that the entire superstructure of the Unity now spiraled out of

control toward PlanetÂ’s atmosphere, the landing pods still attached. We

will be unable to enter the atmosphere properly, realized Garland. The

superstructure is meant to burn, but not with the landing pods attached.

We will all die hereÂ…everything that is left of humanity!

He stopped at the next touchpanel and called up schematics of the ship.

Warning lights flashed everywhere, the very joints of the ship strained to

near breaking.

Why havenÂ’t the landing pods broken away?

Then he saw it. And as he saw it, he heard the sound of a footstep on metal.

"Raise your hands, Captain," came a voice, a voice as dark as the shadows

that surrounded him.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 3

"Release the landing pods." The voice was calm, resonant, and very youthful.

Garland couldnÂ’t tell if the speaker was male or female.

"I already have. The pods are jammed. ItÂ’s a mechanical failure."

"Oh?" the figure paused, processing this. "Then there isn't much time."

"We have to get to the center of the ship, to the nexus," Garland said

urgently. "I know theÂ…"

"Quiet!" came the sharp retort.

A chill washed down GarlandÂ’s spine. She doesn't care.

The figure stepped forward and Garland could now see the face. It was a

young woman, her face pale and very smooth and clean, but bland. Her eyes

seemed dull, lifeless. "Turn around and walk down the tunnel."

Garland shook his head. "I donÂ’t think anyone can get down here in time,

donÂ’t you see? We have toÂ…" A shot cracked the air, a one-off from the

shredder pistol, deforming the floor by GarlandÂ’s left foot. He began to

sweatÂ…she was using compacted slugs, and this tunnel was not immune to a

breach.

"Turn and move," she said.

Garland turned and began walking down the tunnel. The woman continued

speaking. "They sent us into the sky on a hope, a hope based on vanity and

self delusion."

He turned back to look at her. "We have almost made it, don't you see?"

She laughed, and the laughÂ’s harshness unsettled him. "I see a square-jawed

parody of a Captain, picked for press tours and photo shoots and net views.

You are a token, unfit to lead. You were never meant to do anything."

"You're wrong," he said, shaking his head.

"The people that built this ship never really cared if we made it. We are

a violent people from a violent world, put into this metal cage to create

the illusion of hope for a dying planet. If they really thought the Unity

would make it, they would be on this ship themselves."

A chill ran down GarlandÂ’s spine.

She continued. "Better men and women than you were passed over, believe me.

And look at you nowÂ…your leadership stolen from under you by others with

vision and the will to survive. Now open that hatch."

Garland stopped in front of the hatch, his hands shaking. They were deep

in the center of the ship, crossing narrow maintenance ducts that soon

would tear away into space.

He pushed the hatch open stud using a sequence that would cause the hatch

to close again after five seconds. The hatch opened and a bright, brilliant

light washed over him. He put one hand in front of his eyes, blinded.

One second...

"Hands up! Step forward," she barked at him. He lifted his hand again and

opened his eyes slowly. He found himself looking into an exterior

observation shaft, circled in glass, and outside those panels he could seeÂ…

Planet, huge and radiant, a brilliant eye filling the void of space, a

living jewel bathed in the light of the Centauri suns.

Three seconds, four...

"Step forward, Captain," she said, "and look at what you lost."

Five seconds!

He dove forward, into the chamber. He heard her yell and saw her lunge,

saw the shredder pistol swivel...

Why isn't the hatch closing?

He felt a sharp pain in his throat, and then a wave of ice and fire ran

down his torso and up into his face. I'm hit!

The hatch hissed closed, locking her away from him, but he knew she'd have

it opened again in seconds. He looked around frantically, saw blood, his

blood, on the glass panels, saw a maintenance locker...

The hatch began to open. He threw open the locker and grabbed a closed

extensor pole with a gripping vice on the end. Where is the activation

stud?

The hatch opened and she came through, her face twisted with rage. He

tried to hit her with the handle of the extensor pole and felt it strike

her shoulder, than she fired again and he felt himself thrown to one knee.

She stood above him, looking down, death poised to strike. He turned the

pole toward her and his thumb found the Activate switch.

The pole lanced open. The kickback rocked through him as the vice struck

her beneath the chin, lifted her up and smashed her back into the edge of

the hatch. He felt the pole move in his hand as she twisted towards him,

her eyes hollow and empty, the vice caught in her throat.

Her body twitched twice and then stopped. Captain Garland looked at her,

staring at the shredder pistol in her hand. Was she sent for me? Has it

come to this?

He turned to look at Planet again. It was beautiful, so alive, so pure.

He sank into darkness.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 4

Miriam heard the sound of shredder pistols humming behind her as she moved

forward through darkness, the sound not near but not far away, either. She

heard the shouts of battle, and the crisp commands of officers keeping

their crew calm under fire. The sliver of light ahead of her had vanished

for a moment as she moved forwardÂ…had she changed her angle of vision? Or

had that light, whatever it was, winked out?

The smell of oily lubricants overwhelmed her. I walk through the valley of

the shadow of deathÂ… She listened to her feet ring against the metal

flooring, her steps sure and steady. Faith can carry us, she reflected. I

am more warrior-priest than psych chaplain anywayÂ…

A rapid flicker of movement caught her eye, and suddenly a face dark and

twisted with hate appeared in the spaceÂ…immediately beneath her feet!

Suddenly clanging and shouts surrounded her, from one direction and then

the other "You mutinousÂ…" Red flares arced around herÂ…she found herself on

a narrow suspended walkway above a dark narrow pit.

Demons!

The angry faces, smudged with darkness, stared up and a hand grabbed the

metal grating near her left foot. Miriam hurried her steps over thisÂ…valley

of deathÂ…this blackened metal bridge over the dark oily pit. Yang would love

it down there.

She began to run, spurred by a sudden instinct. A concussion blast split

the room, the bright light sending a montage of shadows jolting across the

wall. A scream sounded behind her and she jumped againÂ…an unholy scream of

pain. Someone hit!

Footsteps clanged behind her and she stumbled and fell. Her hands hit the

grated floor and she scrambled, trying Â… God protect meÂ…

They were fighting down there, warriors with hate-twisted faces. I'm near a

connector, she realized. They are fighting over the bays!

A tall woman in security red charged forward, swinging a modified shredder

like a club. She saw the woman jam the butt of her gun into another

crewman's cheek and heard the bone-crushing impact, and she felt a rush of

revulsion mixed with something like excitement. Someone else came in with

fingernails trailing flesh and then there was the pop of a shredder pistol.

We're too close to the hull!

Miriam scrambled up and ran, heart pounding, angels lifting her feet.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 5

Pravin surged through the last part of the connector tunnel and into the

open spaces of Bay Six, Pria still in his arms.

Two engineers stood near the exit, looking with shocked concern at the

sight of Pravin, the tears of effort and sadness streaming freely down his

face, with the jumbled figure of Pria in his arms.

"Fire this tunnel," he gasped. "Get me a medkit!"

They quickly locked the hatch and Pravin saw the lights around the seal

turn red. Moments later a shock went through the floor and walls as the

tunnel broke away.

Pravin laid Pria out on the floor, arranging her limbs for comfort. Her

mouth moved open and closed, gasping.

A medkit appeared next to him, carried by a nervous crewman.

"Is the Captain here yet?" barked Pravin, working furiously to staunch the

flow of Pria's blood.

"No sir," said the engineer. Pravin looked at him.

"Do you know where he is?"

"No one does."

Pravin shook his head. "We are very close to Planet. The Captain may be

dead. We should break away from the Unity."

"We can't, sir. Something is wrong. We've even tried firing the enginesÂ…the

landing pods are not separating."

Pravin worked furiously, absorbing the information, watching Pria's face

for flickers of life.

"Could we coordinate our thrusts with the other pods? Turn the ship so

that we enter the atmosphere, so that we have a chance?"

"Someone's section of the ship would enter at the wrong angle, sir, and

no one wants to be that someone. The landing pods now have captains of

their ownÂ…and none of them wants to burn in space."

"So we will all burn?" Pravin shouted it. Pria's eyes flickered open. "What

has happened to this crew?"

But watching Pria, he knew. Pria, whom he had brought into the crew despite

anyone else's wishes, because he wished it, and he alone. A second rate

medical technician, who on her own merits would never have passed the

selection committee.

Didn't you fight for me? he could imagine her saying to him. Didn't you

pull rank, make demands, alter records, hand a more qualified applicant a

death sentence on Earth so that we could remain together? Wouldn't you kill

for me? Or, if needed, for your precious peace?

Yes, he would kill for peace. And that was the problem.

Her eyesÂ…infinity vanishing into infinity. He felt sick at heartÂ…crew

killing crew, humanity bringing its conflict to a new world.

He continued to work.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 6

Sprays of shredder fire. The booming of concussion hammers. The hiss of

steam, and the roaring metallic groans of the superstructure tearing itself

apart, the metallic banshee scream.

Captain Garland opened his eyes to a world split by pain. AliveÂ…the shots

had not killed him, but he could feel the stickiness of blood soaking the

front of his shirt as pain racked his body. Barely rational, he stood on

shaky feet and moved toward the body of the woman who had shot him.

Vision swimming, Captain Garland knelt down and patted over her. He saw her

ID tag on her sleeve.

Sarah Jaydo. The name meant nothing. He found her shredder pistol, and also

a couple of concussion grenades tucked into her belt, which he took. The

armory must be wide open now...we are all armed. And it was this threat of

violence that made us lock the armory in the first place.

He looked down at the floor. Blood, his blood, pattered down around his

feet. He felt weak, barely able to stand.

I had the chance to make it work, he thought. And I failed. He felt reduced

to his pain, living only within the pounding, tearing metal skin around him,

the sweep of history a forgotten illusion.

He turned back and saw the maintenance locker. He staggered to it,

remembering something he had seen there earlier...a pressure suit. Blood

washed down his shirt as he donned the suit, hands shaking uncontrollably.

He locked the seals on the suit and fumbled with the controls.

Going to black out, can't control my hands! Suddenly he heard a rush of air

and the suit repressurized, tightening around him. He adjusted the pressure

inside, transforming the suit into a giant tourniquet. Equilibrium returned,

but his heart still pounded. He could still feel the wounds in his throat

and leg.

I am dying now, he realized.

He went forward through another lock and down another narrow dark tunnel.

He was far from any landing pod now, in the maze of maintenance tunnels

that surrounded the fusion drive at the center of the ship.

The hull screamed and twisted around him. He fought to keep his balance.

Through tunnel after tunnel he struggled, marking time against his death,

tracing a path away from any landing pod. And then he crossed through an

airlock and found himself in the center of the ship.

At last...

He looked out over a vast cylinder, where thick metal arms extended from

the axis of the ship to the eight cryobays and the massive fuel tanks

around them. At the axis of the ship the arms met at a juncture point, a

thick silver disc that groaned from the strain of the landing pods trying

to pull away. The whole structure rotated around him, surfaces spinning

over and around him.

On the juncture point at the Unity's axis Garland could see a series of

explosive bolts that should have fired, still in place and still holding

the landing pods. All the remains of humanity were held together by those

bolts. All the violence, all the hope, all the despair.

From where he stood he could see could see an accessway that led to one of

the metal arms, and then to a series of rungs where, climbing against

gravity, he could reach the bolts.

He felt suddenly faint, and collapsed at the edge of the cylinder. Then he

remembered the quicklink on the sleeve of the pressure suit.

PravinÂ…

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 7

Miriam Godwinson found herself in a storage room, the lights glimmering

softly. She slammed shut the hatch behind her, closing off the fighting.

Now, where am I...

She called up a diagram. She was near the connector between two bays, but

the hatch to the next tunnel had been sealed. Why?

The Dead Bay. The bay that had been ruptured when the ship was damaged,

locked off from the rest of the ship, and now further damaged by the strain

on the Unity.

So she was trapped, no way forward, and death behind. Still, she knew

something had brought her here, some force or power, leading her home.

Home? To Heaven?

She thought of the outside, the radiant light of the suns shining down

across the Unity's hull. In a world where everything is relative, God must

orient to the light, as one of her pastors had taught her back on Earth.

And the light is outside.

She climbed into a pressure suit and moved into an airlock, where she

opened a small observation panel to look out over the bright surface of the

ship.

Her eyes widened. The ship here was no more than a landscape of twisted

metal, a blasted terrain where the damage had been absolute. It felt like

Earth again, the beginning of the apocalypse, burnt death everywhere.

The light shined down across it all, setting the landscape in high relief.

She could see the ruined Bay, from which no signs of life had emerged.

ButÂ…wait.

In the very back, in a small shaft, she could see a tiny panel. And from

thereÂ…a flicker of light. She watched as it flickered again. Some kind of

vibration, moving the glass?

No. A realization filled her, rising through her from toe to spine. An SOSÂ…

someone was alive down there. When the cryocells openedÂ…there must be

people, trapped in the back of the landing pod, probably poisoned with

radiation, some sick and blind.

Needing a shepherd.

Her eyes widened with the glory of it, of God watching and guiding her,

giving her the tools she needed on the new world.

She opened the airlock and prepared to walk the outer surface of the ship,

through the twisted landscape, not fearing death.

Ready to be embraced by her people.

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 8

"Pravin."

The voice came again, through the quicklink that one of the engineers had

just handed him.

Pravin grabbed the link, hands trembling. "John?"

"Pravin, yes."

"Where are you John? Are you safe?"

A short, shaky laugh. "None of us are. I'm here, in the center of the ship.

I've been shot."

"Wait there, we will send someone!" Pravin chattered, searching his mindÂ…

who to send? How to get there?

"No. Too late. I'm alone here, and I don't have very long."

"JohnÂ…" Pravin stopped, looked down at Pria, whose life was slipping away.

He stroked her hair, and it felt so real to himÂ…a small, simple pleasure.

"We are all going to die here."

The Captain's voice came back, shaky and weak. "Maybe not. I canÂ…cut us

loose."

"Captain, IÂ…" said Pravin, his voice husky.

And then he looked at his hand, covered with Pria's blood, and looked at

the blood smeared around them. He looked at her face, and felt just the

smallest part of the crushing grief that would soon overwhelm him as she

breathed her last.

He thought of the anger and hate of the battling crew. He thought of the

new world, the hope. And he knew his friend was thinking the same.

"Is it worth saving?" came the whispering voice through the quicklink.

"They will battle for generationsÂ…we will never be at peace."

"Never," mumbled Pria, in a daze. Pravin looked at her, and grabbed her

hand. "NeverÂ…" she mumbled again, repeating the word.

Pravin looked at her carefully. Never. Was itÂ…a question?

"Never?" said Pravin quietly into the quicklink, and looked again at Pria,

and felt her hand and thought of the good things. "It is up to you."

Journey to Centauri : Episode 35 part 9

Deep in the center of the ship, alone, Captain Garland felt the warmth of

his friend's voice through the distance of the quicklink. "It is up to

you..." He broke the link and tried to breathe.

They will fight and battle for generations, he knew, the violence spreading

across all of Planet's surface. Maybe there will never be peace.

But, if there was a chanceÂ…

He struggled to rise but could not, and so he crawled through the narrow

accessway to the first rung of the ladder. He reached up to grab it,

focussing on his gloved hand, on the feel of the rung., trying to ignore

the inner surfaces of the ship spinning wildly around him. He reached up,

to the second rung, and the third, heading for the ship's axis.

With every step he left something behindÂ…the dream of peace, memories of

the wife and the children he had left behind on Earth, his anger and hate

at those who had usurped his crew, the shame at his own failure, his fear,

his guilt. One by one, step by step, he felt the weight lifting from his

shoulders.

Until, at the last rung, his ego seemed to drift away, his very identity

dissolving into the mass of humanity around him, and the space beyond.

He let out a breath and lifted his hand, which now held the last concussion

grenade. He activated it and watched the countdown calmly. He measured the

last moments of his life with it.

At one second to go he squeezed the grenade in his hand and slammed it into

the nearest explosive bolt. And then he let go of the ladder.

Captain John Garland fell away from the Unity's axis as the exp

losion he

planted rocked the center of the ship and blasted through the explosive

bolts like a chain of fire. He saw the landing pods split out and away from

the useless superstructure of the Unity and into the black space beyond.

As he fell away he watched the beautiful sequence of fire on the eternal

night beyond, and then the flames reached out to him, turning from fire into

white light, and the scream in his skull faded to a hum and then a silence.

His last sight was of the landing pods, breaking apart, and thrusters firing

one by one. He imagined them, arcing their way down to the new world,

bringing humanity's curses with them, and humanity's giftÂ…

Hope.

Sarah Jaydo's Journal

Why have we come to the stars? Why didnÂ’t we surrender when we had the

chance? Are we so blind, that we believe this new world will be different,

immune to suffering and crime and violence?

The Unity mission was a feeble candle flickering in a blasted night. We

rode this illusion into the sky, and now we will die here, or, perhaps

worse, die on Planet. Those of us onboard rode an illusion into the night;

those who stayed behind took their chances on a dying world.

As for now, we continue to do what humans have always done. We eat, sleep,

make love, hone our skills, pass the time. And deep down we wait for

someone, some special human, to rise above it all and make the thousands

of years of history, of suffering, all worth it. To enlighten us, by which

I mean end our pain, heal our wounds, take away the uncertainty.

But I have seen the sweep of history, and we are no better off now than we

have ever been. Just more aware. Planet will be no different.

Unless...

===========================================

XI. Credits/ Links

===========================================

- Firaxis Games (especially for the story)

- Electronic Arts

- PC Gamer

- Prima

- GameFaqs and CJayC

- vgstrategies.about.com

- Cheat Code Central--http://www.cheatcc.com

- http://www.alphacentauri.com/

- http://alphazone.cjb.net/

- http://civilization.gamestats.com/smac

===========================================

XII. Farewell!

===========================================

Copyright 1999 Jim Chamberlin. All Rights Reserved. You can't copyright

facts, only style. Like I mentioned earlier, this is more of a reference

guide than anything else. If you know of anything you think that I should

include, e- mail me at the address at the beginning of the guide. I am

open to consideration. If you wish to add this guide to your site, ask me

first. Until next time...