C O S M O S
CHAOS IN THE COSMOS
by D.M. Woolston
Awarded Third Prize in the 2020 Cosmos Prize
Still feeling the scorch of completing two full orbits around the burning sun, the Grand Fleet of Earth had finally overcome its powerful gravity, thus escaping the false coordinates and trap that Ay-Artz had laid.
“Something just flashed off the port bow!” Captain Malcolm exclaimed. He noticed it before any of the crew because of his keen sense of awareness that seemed to stretch far beyond the confines of the flagship Washington’s bubble of breathable air. Both Flight Director Alan Martin and physicist extraordinaire Ferdinand Stone moved to the captain’s location and looked at the visiplate. They saw nothing.
“One moment, Malcolm said. He magnified the view to show a tiny ship approaching at extreme velocity.”
“Is that a ship?” Stone asked.
Alan Martin squeezed in close to the screen, then he pulled back. “It’s the ship of Dos-Tev. I am sure of it!”
“But look at its amazing speed,” Stone said. “If it doesn’t restart deceleration, then it will collide with the burning behemoth behind us.”
The captain hailed the incoming ship, but there was no answer. “Full acceleration!” He ordered, “And prepare the rescue tube.”
The Washington met the smaller ship, matching its speed and direction. Its rescue tube automatically attached to the smaller hull and began to carve a man-sized hole with its burning beam of condensed light.
Alan Martin was the first to enter the rouge ship. He found the crew totaling three unconscious men. With the help of his crew, he brought them on board and installed into the medical bay, just in time to save their lives. The Washington could not decelerate the mass of both ships at such extreme velocity, so it detached to let Dos-Tev’s ship continue its fatal dive into the fiery Sun.
Dos-Tev awoke first to see Alan Martin and Ferdinand stone standing next to him. Mea-Quin and Bullo were still unconscious as they lay in nearby beds. Mea-Quin was in the worst condition due to his age, and Bullo was second most since he was the last of them to finally give in to the g-forces of the hard braking maneuver.
“I can’t believe we are alive,” Dos-Tev whispered.
“That was an incredible rendezvous,” Alan Martin said. “If you hadn’t cut your engines when you did, we wouldn’t have been able to link up with you.”
“My ship,” Dos-Tev said, “do you still have it?”
“I’m sorry, no,” said Alan Martin.
Dos-Tev fell deeper into his bed, looking as though all was lost.
“But we pulled what looked like a power generator before we let her go.” Stone added.
Dos-Tev smiled and raised his head a bit, “Good, then there’s still a chance we might succeed.”
A few hours later, Dos-Tev felt in much better shape thanks to the vitamin shots and intravenous liquids. Mea-Quin and Bullo were recovered as well. All three were soon standing on the bridge of the Washington. Dos-Tev had explained his harrowing ordeal and the fact that Krzza of Lyxfa, otherwise known as the wrongness of space, was vanquished in his fortress deep in the moon.
“And the most critical point,” Dos-Tev added, “is that the armada of Ay-Artz has much more powerful weapons than what you possess.”
“But can’t the weapon we recovered from your ship match his firepower?” Alan Martin asked.
“Yes, but we only have one,” Dos-Tev replied, “and the resources required to make another were on my ship.”
“That’s okay,” Alan Martin said. “Our solar battle fleet will meet Ay-Artz at the Moon, his final destination, and destroy him, or die trying.”
Ay-Artz and his twenty ship battalion had slowed to sub-light speed just outside the solar system, but something seemed amiss to the dictator of Lemnis. Earlier, he had received a message from his collaborator Krzza of Lyxfa, giving the coordinates for their landing, but all further attempts at contact were to no avail.
As his armada crossed the orbit of a midget planet known locally as Pluto, Ay-Artz set to full alert expecting some kind of ambush of which Krzza had told him to expect. But there was no one to meet him. Regardless, defeat of this new system and all its spoils filled Ay-Artz with a grim joy, a feeling he always relished just before making the first kill.
There, among the backdrop of the stars flew the armada of Ay-Artz. The fleets of both the Saturnians and Neptunians were the first to spot the long flare of his deceleration at entering the outskirts of the system. Fo-Peta and Steepa were in communication face to face via a special translation visiplate allowing for instant language translation.
“We have just been informed that the hundred great battleships of the Earth fleet are on their way to join us, but it will take a few hours before they arrive.” Fo-Peta said, his jell showing the concern.
“So do we wait?” the Neptunian prince Steepa hued.
“They want us to, so we can hit the enemy with all forces at once,” Fo-Peta replied, “but the battle must begin at once I say!” his jell brain-case now glowing with fervor.
“I see that the enemy has a mere twenty-one ships, they will surely be no match for us Neptunians and you Saturnians,” Steepa hued with passion.
And so the attack began, but without the Venusian, Martian, and Earth fleets. At first the front cylindrical ships of the enemy were taking massive hits. And finally, one of them was even destroyed. But then a heavy retaliation occurred.
The kind unseen until this point, a flash of some pale dematerializing beam was directed at one of the Hadean dimensional cars, snuffing it out of existence. Luckily most of the fleet ships had taken evasive action, avoiding instant death. Soon, however, many more enemy beams were inflicting heavy damage and disintegration. The numbers of the proud ships of both forces dwindled from the starting one hundred fifty, to merely thirty ships remaining.
“I hope they can join us soon!” Fo-Peta declared. “As I fear there may be no one left to stop the evil Ay-Artz from destroying us all!”
The combined forces of Venus, Earth, and Mars were nearly to the fight that had already started. Captain Malcolm activated the radio transceiver, “This is the flagship Washington, Steepa, do you read?”
“Fo-Peta do you read?”
“Yes, captain, we are here.”
“What in the tar blazes is going on? You were supposed to wait for us before launching an attack!”
“I know, captain. Their weapons…too advanced. We made a mistake.” Fo-Peta replied.
“Damn straight you did.” the captain said, “We will lead the next strike, so fall into our hundred vessel formation, now. Do you copy?”
“Yes sir,” replied Fo-Peta. Steepa also responded in affirmation.
Behind the merging fleet was also the singular ship of the Callistonians with Parlece at the helm. He could not get the triumvirate leaders of their planet to send further assistance, so it was up to them alone. All were prepared to sacrifice their lives if need be in defending the solar system, their only home.
Dos-Tev grew strong again on the way to meet the barbarous Ay-Artz in battle. With the help of Mea-Quin, he got the particle beam working and mounted it on the front end of the Washington, hoping to finish the fight for good.
The Ay-Artz armada had advanced past Neptune as they headed inward to complete their deadly march of the solar system when the newly re-grouped allied fleet found them.
“Full attack!” shouted captain Malcolm. His earth ship led the way as Dov-Tev aimed the attached super particle weapon at the closest enemy cylinder.
Zinlo, Torrogo of Olba, and also commander of the Venusian fleet, also engaged in battle. “For Venus, and all the planets in our system!” he shouted.
The Martian fleet of Zoy Kera was also in the fight, led by their own flagship captained by Fax Gatola. His nemesis Jek Hodar was with him, who had already given up on further assassination attempts against Fax, knowing that too much depended on their success.
Even the Callistonians were fighting for all their worth. One man and crew of Amazonian women showed no mercy during the dreadful onslaught.
The attacking Earth fleet received the first losses, since they took point in the battle formation. Ay-Artz now had twelve ships left, but his viscous attacks were taking their toll. The Washington still lead the way while using their super weapon. On one amazing swoop it took out three of the enemy ships at once. That successful attack caused all attention to be focused on them now.
Responding to the loss of three ships at once, the enemy moved their focus to the super weapon mounted at the front tip of the Washington. Ships from all allied forces tried to draw enemy fire or shield the Washington, but to no avail. A mighty beam from an Ay-Artz ship found its target, thus eliminating the only weapon that the allies possessed to match his own.
Along with the explosion, several forward sections of the Washington ruptured, sending bulkheads in all directions opening the deep interior of the vessel. In a most horrible sight, both oxygen and bodies were blown out into the unforgiving vacuum of space.
Bullo lifted the unconscious Dos-Tev and pitched him into a lifeboat as the ship was being abandoned. Dos-Tev awoke as the hatch was being sealed. Seconds later they were jettisoned away from the tangled and sparking shell of what remained of the Washington.
“Wheres Mea-Quin?” Dos-Tev asked.
Bullo slumped down in his seat, his clothing burned off in patches to expose blackened skin.
“He told me to take you off the ship as soon as they barraged us,” Bullo said, “he stayed behind and kept working visibeams to hide our escape.”
“He died for you, my Prince.” Bullo said.
Tears welled up in Dos-Tev’s eyes, “And he will never be forgotten. In fact, we will avenge him!”
Before long, an Earth ship named Enterprise picked up the helpless Dos-Tev and Bullo in their escape pod. Alan Martin had also been rescued, but captain Malcolm was known to have gone down with his ship, along with Ferdinand Stone. Their sacrifice allowed the hope to continue.
The bridge of the Enterprise was much smaller than that of the destroyed Washington, but it had the same circular configuration along with a massive visiplate on one wall. Alan and Dos-Tev were watching the screen. It showed the on-going battle start to shrink as they were leaving it behind.
“Forward view,” the captain said.
The image on the visiplate shimmered until showing the distant solar center at zero magnification. The Sun looking like a burning white marble from a distance of over three-billion miles away. The Earth shone next to it on the display, labeled with its name and floating in space as merely a pale blue dot.
“Beautiful,” Bullo said wiping a lone tear from his eye, “It makes me homesick for my beautiful world of Lemnis.”
Almost enraged, Dos-Tev asked, “Why are we leaving the fight?”
The captain didn’t answer, but Alan Martin did. “We are headed back to Earth,” he said, “I have convinced the captain that there is but one person who may help turn the tide in our losing battle; a Russian man known only as Narodny. It was he who destroyed the evil automatons of earth and aided in the replenishment of our fleet.”
“Will he help us?” asked Dos-Tev.
Alan had a hopeless look on his face, “We have transmitted a plea for aid but have no reply yet.”
While all allied forces were amid a desperate retreat near the outskirts of the solar system, the Enterprise finally passed the orbit of Mars when it received a response from Narodny. Like once before, the poet-scientist opened a shimmering portal of pallid blue luminescence and through it recognized Alan.
“Greetings,” Narodny said in his cool and unemotional voice. “I see that you are on a trajectory to Earth.”
“Indeed we are, can you help us?” Alan asked.
“I have no wish for the Human Race of this solar system conquered, and I see by your message that if this Ay-Artz is not defeated, that may well be the case.”
Alan released a sigh of relief. “What shall we do when we get to Earth, then?”
“You may not find me at Earth, however I am now located within its Moon.”
Narodny paused as if seeming to expect a response, then he continued.
“It is a rather long story and should not interest you, but essentially I was overrun by the remaining robot thinker and its small task-force that had secretly remained behind. They took me, much against my will, to a deep cavern 12,000 feet below the Copernicus crater. There is a huge underground cavern here where they have set up a sort of base of operations.”
“So we didn’t destroy all the Automatons out in space! Are you now their slave?” Alan asked.
“Heavens no,” Narodny replied, looking as dignified as possible. “When I came to from their slumber shot, I took control of the situation and we came to a mutual consideration. I advance them the knowledge needed to have a peaceful cohabitation with mankind, and they assist in the construction of re-purposing this place as my new home.”
After listening intently to the back and forth of the conversation, Dos-Tev said, “Time is of the essence here. Ay-Artz is forcing us a temporary retreat as we are powerless against his beam cannons. Before long he will take each planet one by one for his own.”
“Not to worry,” Narodny said. “I have studied the battle from afar and already have a solution which should take him by utter surprise. Come to Luna and take the weapons I have had the robots construct for me. Ironic that it is the same type of device that conquered them on Earth, and now they build it for me.”
“Wasn’t it a sonic based weapon that you used? How can it possibly work in space where there is no medium for the sound waves to travel?” Alan asked.
“First let me correct you on something.” Narodny replied. “Space isn’t exactly empty. There are expansive areas of dust and gas out there that might carry sound waves. Due to the scarcity of the particles, the propagating waves would mostly be low- frequency to a level much below that of human hearing.”
Narodny held one hand at length while inspecting his well-manicured fingernails. “And I am the only one who can hear them, thanks to my secret process of sonification. So many splendorous sounds come to me, making the music of the galaxy!”
There wasn’t much more that either Alan or Dos-Tev could say after that. They made it to the Moon and loaded an array of sonic missiles into the cargo hold of the Enterprise and were off again. On the way, the crew learned of the ingenious weapons that Narodny had supplied.
Each sleek weapon had several spikes along its length. Once the missile acquired its target and was within range, it would kamikaze at the hull of the enemy extending its vibranium-tipped spikes at incredible force to attach much like a cactus plant of Earth. And once attached, the sonic portion of devastation would begin.
At maximum speed, the Enterprise with crew including Alan Martin and Dos-Tev and Bullo soon reached the ships of Ay-Artz. His armada from Lemnis was now on approach to Saturn, with only nine cylindrical looking ships left.
Dos-Tev had already received word of the heavy casualties both in space and on the devastated cities of Neptune, viciously attacked from orbit. So much ruin lay in Ay-Artz’s wake, all the while streaming his message of surrender or die. Dos-Tev knew this would be his final chance at victory. He needed to rally the troops and so transmitted his final speech to the joint forces on an encrypted frequency, hoping that their dreadful enemy was not listening in.
“We are prepared to attack the creeping fleet of Ay-Artz once again, but it may require the ultimate sacrifice from you, our brave yet exhausted fleet. You will coordinate and close in from all directions while the Enterprise speeds into the center at the highest velocity possible. We have also increased our shields to be much hardier than before, thanks to Narodny, so it should be enough to infiltrate to the very heart of the enemy armada before possibly being destroyed. Once we are within close range, we will release all our missiles, which should wreak havoc on the invading dogs of war. Godspeed in defending our only home. May we either succeed or perish in the attempt. No other outcome will be sufficient!”
Just before Ay-Artz’s attack on Titan, the sixth gravitationally rounded moon of Saturn, the plan commenced. The allied fleet enveloped the oncoming enemy in a pattern likened to the shell of an egg, where the yolk is the goal. All sides pressed inward in their attacks, knowing that many would perish to the powerful weapons they faced, and indeed they did.
Ay-Artz ships were so consumed and on defense, they didn’t catch the attacking vessel coming in at incredible speed to release its killing payload. The crew being stretched to the very limit their human bodies could withstand at such extreme acceleration. The missiles found their targets and were numerous enough in number to attach to all enemy ships at multiple points of contact. Now the real devastation started.
Ship-wide vibrations began. “What’s happening?” Ay-Artz screamed to his lead astronomer. Soon the blood faded from both their faces as the consoles and interior walls began to shake apart. Star-shaped splinterings appeared as every enemy ship was torn to shreds at the level of the atom.
All at once, like the crashing of the final musical note of a symphony, the entire armada of Ay-Artz exploded, scattering infinitesimally energized particles in every direction. For they were no more. Ay-Artz and the menace of his dreadful invasion were utterly defeated.
Moments later the survivors cheered “We Won!” across all radio frequencies, understanding that besides the joy, their very lives were spared although at a great loss.
With the solar system under no more threat, it was time to limp home and heal the wounds of war. Some scars would remain, both psychological and physical, but that is always the cost to fight for freedom from tyranny.
On the way back to Callisto, something strange happened to Parlece and his twelve chosen women. Being so close in the fight for their lives and their world made tight bonds, opening the attitudes of his crew. Also, Parlece had taken a bride named Rena who happened to be the sister of one of their leaders named Cala. Rena was the feistiest of all his crew, and would make a strong defense in altering the role of the sexes to be more equitable. The eventual acceptance of all men of Callisto as equals would take some time, but at least it was a first step forward.
Steepa and Teena, prince and princess of Tridentia, were off in their great glassite ship with their newly born son, the future and benevolent ruler of the Neptunians. The Martians also prepared to leave. Fax Gatola, along with Jek Hodar, were aboard their geometric spheroid looking ship when Fax said, “Set course for home Jek, and don’t let us wind up crushed like that Wozag on his crash landing onto Radak!”
Jek scowled but obeyed. He disagreed with most all of what Fax had to say, but at least he buried the hatchet between them and gave up on trying to off the only other scientist whom he could have quality intellectual exchange on the whole of their dust ridden world.
It turned out that amidst the battle, the beautiful Xunia of Venus had joined the fight and actually saved Zinlo from being pulverized by an oncoming beam. Afterward she explained to him it was true she had initially sided with Ay-Artz, but then she realized it was a vast mistake after learning of the many Venusian lives being given to protect her home planet.
There was an issue with the Venusians, however. When Dos-Tev visited their ship after the battle to personally thank them, he witnessed Zinlo in the medical bay with Xunia by his side. Zinlo had a hard time saying it, but he openly thanked her for saving him during the fog of war.
As soon as Vorn Vangal, Zinlo’s personal counsellor heard this, he said, “Lies! All lies my Torrogo! She only saved you because of the fact that Ay-Artz planned to kill all who aided him as soon as he was victorious.”
“Nay,” Dos-Tev said. “She only learned of Ay-Artz planned double-cross after she saved him, not before.”
Xunia smiled a genuine and perfect smile to Zinlo. He said, “I may not be prepared for a marriage, but I would be open to a partnership for the uniting of all torrogos of Venus as it needs to be, in order to defend against future foes.”
Back inside the Moon, Narodny thought it would be strange for him being far from Earth, but he really never spent much time on its surface, preferring the controllable and protected space of his underworld.
The robots had been at war with the humans ever since that distant year in the past of 2025 when the initial robot insurrection occurred. Now Narodny had time to learn why it happened, and how to help the automatons learn to live in peace with their makers in an ever populating solar system. After all, he hated neither group and just wanted them to get along so he would finally have some peace. Yes! Finally, some peace to listen to the music of the stars. For he himself would play the moon like an instrument and make it sing.
Dos-Tev finally reached the last of his visits to each of his new stellar allies, being the ship of the Saturnians. He lumbered in full space gear, along with Bullo, as they entered the airlock. After which they floated into dense atmospheric environment of swirling metallic vapors being similar to that of the planet Saturn. They were greeted by the rebel Fo-Peta, his new wife Zeera, and the famous scholar and sky-gazer Kama-Loo.
Through all Dos-Tev and Bullo’s visits to the allied ships, Dos-Tev realized the increasingly problematic question being brought up in every discussion. For they all kept reminding him that only he knew how to rebuild his particle beam weapon and even construct a dimensional pusher like Krzza of Lyxfa had devised. With the most advanced technology in only Dos-Tev’s hands, they feared his dangerous ability to rule, if so desired.
But Dos-Tev wasn’t a tyrannical dictator. After much thought, while still on the Saturnian ship, he announced to all others via general broadcast that he is giving the plans for his devices to everyone. In that way, their entire solar system would be capable and at the ready in case of invaders from this or even other dimensions. He explained the dangers of the amazing technology, and the hideous creatures they may find if deciding to push into another universe.
Dos-Tev wanted nothing more of alternate dimensions. He only wanted to return home and route the rest of the Ay-Artz supporters, retaking his rightful throne. The fleet offered him a ship to return home in, as Dos-Tev was proficient enough to modify it for the faster than light travel.
There was still so much work for Fo Peeta and Zeera to do with regards to uniting Saturn and its moons. Because of this, they understood how important to was for Dos-Tev to return home as soon as possible and stabilize it. They spoke to Kama-Loo for a time until rejoining Dos-Tev in something of a Saturnian living room. Here they offered an alternate plan to him.
“Do you know the exact coordinates of your home planet of Lemnis?” Kama-Loo asked.
“Of course,” Dos-Tev replied. Taking no insult as none was given.
“Then we can help you. For there exists the technology of instantaneous transportation from one place to another, as long as the destination is in clearly defined spatial coordinates.”
“You mean you could take us home right now?” Bullo asked, while sincerely hoping to avoid all the bumps and bruises and waiting during their travel here.
“Yes,” Kama-Loo replied, “as long as we can generate enough extra power being at such a far distance.”
With that said, the plans were made and before long the prince of Lemnis returned home to reclaim his throne, thus ending his unjust exile to the small island of Elbon.
And to Bullo’s surprise, he barely made it back in time for his children to leave their larval cocoons. And also back to a very happy if not nagging wife. At dusk he stepped outside his humble dwellings to catch the sunsets, turning the clear sky from a dark metal-green to almost black. Funny though, it looked to him like there were now three stars on the flaming horizon within his own system, what the earthlings called Alpha Centauri.