The Bomb

Chapter 1: Deep space near Aridos, 4012

Gunnery Officer David Adams checked the scope again to make sure, the cross-hairs were still on target and had been for the last 9 hours. They had quietly exited Hyperspace on the edge of the system and stealthily gunned their engines to bring them into range of their target. David checked his sights again, in the centre was the grey ball of Aridos, the cloudscape was whipped into bands reminiscent of a grayscale view of Jupiter. David had no idea why this planet was the target, he couldn’t even tell whether it was populated or not. All he knew was that it was deep in Union Territory.

“Time?” Captain John Steele asked in a low voice, almost a whisper. A curious but common psychological effect of being aboard a stealth ship.

“13.25” replied David in his natural voice, the captain scowled disapprovingly at this break in etiquette.

“Another three hours to go” the captain broke from his computer terminal and reached into a locker pulling out two ration packs, he handed one to David. The Captain returned to his computer screen. On it was a profile of the Ship, FNS Titania, a spectre class corvette, designed for stealth recon and small scale hit and run missions. But this time it was something different, the arrow shaped corvette was towing something much larger, a heavily shielded frigate sized ship, over 10 times the Titania’s size. Sensors reported the dull neutrino thrum of an active industrial fusion reactor, but there were no engines to be powered by it, and no signs of life support. No large scale comms equipment. The only visible equipment was a narrowband computer cable that formed part of the umbilical to the Titania. So what exactly was the fusion reactor powering?

David looked at the mission brief on his computer display, but was met with only one message. TOP SECRET BETA LEVEL CLEARENCE. Beta level clearance, so aside from the President of the Federation, and his chiefs of staff, not even the Federation Senate knew about this. Was the President acting without the senate’s approval? Was this even legal? David pushed these thoughts out of his head and concentrated on the task at hand. He returned to the cross-hairs. The planet was still centred in the middle, notably larger and more detailed than before. He thought he could see lights on the night side in the infrequent breaks in the cloud; and something else, the extended violet flash of Cherenkov radiation. Ships must be jumping too and from Hyperspace. His heart rate leapt and his mind jumped, was this a Union world?

Captain John Steele went over the mission brief again. They were to enter the ARIZONA system and proceed to the planet ARIZONA DELTA there they would drop off the Package, and make an escape along the pre determined vector to extraction point NEVADA where they will rendezvous with the Hyperspace Carrier Herschel. Survival odds were projected at 5:1. There was no mention of what planet Delta was or what the package would do. Only deliver the package and escape.

The captain switched his computer over to the targeting scope. Weighing up the situation he made his own projection on their odds of survival, estimating them to be closer to 5 million to one. Either intel screwed the pooch again or this was a suicide mission. Thinking for a moment, he thought to gun the engines and proceed to the rendezvous point. But this was a BETA LEVEL mission, intel couldn't of screwed the pooch on this one. There would be no rendezvous, there would be no escape the only thing to do at this point was to continue with the mission as planned. He hoped what ever was in the package was worth it.

The captain forwarded his screen over to David. If he was going to die he deserved to know.

“Distance to target?” Asked the Captain

“1 million kilometres, at current velocity its going to take us 3 hours before we're in range”

They waited.

“Time?” whispered the Captain

“16.22” replied David. His eyes had rarely deviated from the gunnery sight in the last hour, all the while he watched the grey cloudy blob resolve into a living breathing planet. Bright lights glittered on the night side; through the breaks in the cloud he could see the entire world's landmass was covered in Cities. Low in the atmosphere over a city he could see the small sparks of drive flame, as ships gained orbit, or came in for landing. There was a narrow ring around the equator; the firefly sparks of hundreds of orbital habitats, each one a mote of dust swirling around the planet. David began to have second thoughts.

The Captain monitored the output of the corvettes systems and all devices were functional. He had no idea what classified tech was on the ship, but before take off he noticed technicians bolting a box to the outside of the hull, aerials stuck out from it like porcupine spikes, he could only deduce it was a Union transponder, allowing them access to Union territory. Also the software package on his computer terminal seemed different somehow. It seemed to be smoother and almost predict what the captain wanted to look at. It was eerie. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to ensure this package was delivered.

“Range?” asked the Captain

“18106 kilometres, one minute to Package delivery” replied David, a lump formed in his throat as he turned the key on the gunnery console.

“Just remember they are not like us. They are not women and children down there, they are mutations, just fragments of their own construction. They are NOT human”

All across the board status lights winked on as the weaponry systems woke from their slumber. A green light appeared on the cross-hairs, and two vertical lines began to creep towards the centre, towards package release. The planet was no longer a dull grey ball, but a massive arc that slashed across the display. Magnification showed that it was covered in complex banded cloud layers and at random intervals, the spires of buildings poked through glittering with internal lights. Between them were brief glimpses of transports, going to and fro on their daily business.

“Range?” The Captain repeated

“3004 Kilometres, 10 seconds”

The countdown proceeded silently all the while the arc of the planet became closer to that of a line. The little corvette began to be buffeted by the atmosphere of the planet, the countdown reached zero. Gunnery officer David hit the release on the package, the captain took to the controls, angling the corvette and gunning the engines, below the package began to glow, a plasma trail streaked behind it as it dove deeper into the atmosphere

“Status?” was the last word the Captain said. Before David could reply, the bomb detonated and the corvette was bathed in a pure white light wiping it from existence.

All across the Union, data links and transport wormholes to Aridos Snapped shut as the entire planet dropped off the network.

Chapter 2: Union City - Aridos, 4012

Jenna's consciousness was running 600 times faster than normal, thanks to accelerated brain augmentation. She was connected to a virtual party over the info-grid for her 312th birthday. Several of her friends had turned up already and about 3 more close friends were due in the next couple of seconds. Her connection to the network was enabled by a genetically augmented cluster of nerve cells in her brain. They were tuned to pick up high bandwidth wireless network connections, decode the encryption and pass information directly to her brain. This enabled an overlay of the info-grid on her consciousness. The current overlay was that of a 1930's Paris Café. Jenna and her friends were sat around a table discussing her birthday gifts.

“So what did your dad get you?” asked Jonas

“Daddy got me genetic eye augments,” replied Jenna, "I can see better detail and all the way from infra red to the ultra violet, they'll be useful for my Pilots test next week”

“Why do you want to become a Pilot?” asked Dion “You're so young! You need to go travelling, see all the different clades the Union has. The Merfolk of Blue Ridge, or upload yourself completely here and take a look into the Silverstream Library Computers?” Dion added

“That's all well and good,” Replied Jenna, “But I want to see the Diamond Rains on Hi Fumii, there's not an easy way to get there. If I was a Pilot I could Land and feel the rains on my skin.”

“Fair enough,” retorted Dion, “But becoming a spaceship? It's a bit too long term for me.”

David came through the door, a worried look plastered on his face. Something bothering him.

“What is it?” asked Dion worried

“Nothing, really,” replied David, “It’s just this ship I’m guiding in. The Pilot is using an old identification signal; it’s at least three decades out of date. It’s just a feeling......wait a second!!”

David's expression changed to one of shock and pain as he vanished, the data connection was just ripped away, he was gone. A millisecond later Dion screamed and disappeared in the same manner. Jenna turned to Jonas to find that he was already gone so she opened all the data ports she could trying to find out what was happening.

Nodes were dropping off the network radially from a point not so far away. She didn't have much time. She accessed the local info-grid for any possible information. It was while she was connected that her eyes saw something burning in her real world vision. It wasn't right, something had exploded in the atmosphere and its light output screamed with violent incandescent radiation. The explosion wasn't one of an object breaking up in the air, it appeared perfectly spherical, and it exploded out at a relativistic velocity, she knew she was doomed. Where the shockwave touched the cities spires, they shattered as if they were simply glass. Where it touched the ground, it washed it away like a tidal wave, the shock front raced towards Jenna. She felt a spike of fear, her and the planet was doomed.

At last the info-grid provided her with a result. By the time the info packets had reached her the info-grid was gone, snapped shut from the explosion. Jenna stood alone the shock-wave passed over her, she felt the briefest moment of agony. Her body pulverised, pulped and compressed into material usually only found at the centre of stars.

Jenna never got the chance to access the article:

Strong Force Manipulation Technology (Prohibitions Act 2799)

Chapter 3: Deep space near New Rotterdam, 4012

Captain Annette Renoir really didn't care for politics. She didn't care for the personal squabbles of her comrades, subordinates or superiors. She wasn't interested in how best to advance her career, the only thing she was interested in was the mission at hand and how best to complete it. This was how she had been promoted from a private to Captain. By ingenuity, cunning and guile. She had completed each mission she had ever been given to outstanding levels of satisfaction, and this is why she had been given this job. To transport the package to New Rotterdam.

Although the mission was classified top secret, and the package itself had been classed as BETA LEVEL secret, she had managed to gain knowledge that was above her station. She knew what it was, in the crudest of senses.

A tonne of matter was compressed down to the size of an atom, using a beam that manipulated it on the nuclear level. Essentially compressing the matter to the point that it became one solid neutron. Usually this type of matter was only found in neutron stars. But this matter is unstable. And when the beam is switched off or disrupted. The neutronium then undergoes explosive decompression at near light speeds. Theoretically it could destroy a medium sized star, using it on a planet was severe overkill.

She knew that this was her last mission for it was a suicide mission. But she was safe in the knowledge that they were protecting the Federation from the Union threat. The threat of unchecked technological advancement. The threat of rampant genetic engineering that created abominations and freaks of nature. The threat that represented the corruption of the human species at its most basic level. For nearly a millennia the vastly technologically superior Union had sat quietly in their corner of the galaxy mocking the federation's principles. However, the Federation had now gained a way to strike at the heart of Union civilisation and collapse it from within.

So five ships were sent to five worlds, those deemed the more critical nodes to the Union star network. The FNS Titania to Aridos, FNS Ariel to Mandrashee, FNS Bianca to Talons Reach and FNS Miranda to Blue Ridge and finally her ship the FNS Oberon to New Rotterdam.

“We're almost at the defence perimeter” informed Gunnery Officer Alford Drake

Alford was Annette's Right hand man. They had served together for nearly 50 years in the navy and had grown quite close to each other, almost family, Annette saw Alford as her little brother, this in no way detracted from his competence. Alford could hit a target moving at close to the speed of light from over 60,000 kilometres away, he was a crack sniper with a starship's rail gun.

“Time to perimeter?” Requested Annette.

“Six minutes” he responded.

New Rotterdam appeared as a pale turquoise globe In the centre of Alford's gunnery sight.

He had never seen New Rotterdam in person, only the virtual sims that represented the planet from nearly a thousand years back, when relations weren't quite so sour. The Federation even had an embassy here at one point in centuries past.

He could see cloud formations and the dark green of the vast forests that covered most landmasses. He remembered one city from the V-sims, Manor Top. A huge Bavarian style castle carved into a mountain top, complete with sky touching spires and battlements that double as spaceports. A vision of luxury surrounded by the natural countryside of an unaltered ecosystem.

Three minutes had passed when the scope was filled with the violet light of Cherenkov radiation. A Union bioship sliced out of hyperspace with the grace of a katana cutting through a ribbon. Its vector was already matched to the little corvette and the FNS Oberon was utterly dwarfed.

The Union ship looked like a bizarre cross of a shark and a squid. The skin was grey and smooth, dotted over the skin were crystalline structures. Tentacles trailed behind the ship, they glowed with Cherenkov radiation, the space surrounding seemed to ripple and warp. Oddly the stars appeared to glow a deeper shade of red. Just before the body gave way to the tentacles there looked to be a bulge as if a sphere had been swallowed, huge rigid fins radiated out in all directions from it. These pulsed radially outward a blue liquid in what looked like veins. The surrounding tissue seemed to glow deep red and Alford could almost swear that he could feel heat through the gunnery sight.

One of the crystalline protrusions began to morph and shift and pointed at the Corvette. At its tip pulsed a deep green scanning laser that probed through the ship. It flashed to a red communications beam and a face appeared on all of the corvette's internal view screens. The face was vaguely human, it looked more like the face of an androgynous mannequin than that of a human being. Its voice however was unmistakably male.

“We have scanned your ship and have deduced that it is carrying a weapon forbidden by basic statutes of Union Law. Strong force manipulation technology for the purpose of building weapons of mass destruction is strictly prohibited. Further more, we have scanned your onboard computer and you are on a mission to deliver this weapon to the Union planet of New Rotterdam.....” the Union man paused, “this is a grave act of war, you will be taken into custody, interrogated and interred for detention until your trial, at which your innocence or guilt will be proved by mental simulation of your consciousness on the penal justice system of Aridos. Stand down all weapons and defences and prepare to be impounded”

Annette ran her hands over the console and started the detonation priming sequence.

There was a groan of metal as the superstructure of the ship was stressed. Before she could react, the cockpit was peeled open like an orange and the whole atmosphere exploded into space. She saw Alford disappear out of the gap, a split second later she followed, tugged by the enormous blast of air. The momentum of the blast caused her to spin end over end, her arms flailed uselessly to try and stabilise her. She knew she was going to die, and as the fear pulsed in her head, she began to feel the effects of space.

Extreme cold began to freeze her skin, instantly she got frostbite and her fingers began to solidify. With the lack of pressure it felt like she was being torn up from the inside out. The air in her lungs had exploded out of her mouth with such force that it had ruptured her lungs like a cat dragging its claws along a piece of paper, the pain was unbearable. But a blissful mercy was being bestowed upon her. As her brain starved of oxygen she began to feel both warm and painless and in a state of euphoria, her body finally shut down and she died.

It was known that they wouldn't be able to revive the baselines, but they could scan their brains and learn first hand what the Federation was up too. Carefully using the gravity field manipulator the Pilot retrieved Annette's corpse.

The Pilot merged consciousness with the woman who had been recovered, it infiltrated and established neural connections with the half frozen brain. Baselines were definitely delicate! They couldn't even survive in vacuum

The Pilot began to read the woman's last thoughts, he felt the paralysing fear of impending death, the blissful ignorance of oxygen starvation, and the bitter pain of rapid decompression. The Pilot saw the awe and disgust of the Federation through Annette's eyes and in a way sympathised with them. The people of the Union were wholly different. It was true, they weren't human. They were more than human. They had used the science of genetics, cybernetics and computing and transformed themselves utterly. The Pilot put this aside and continued scanning Annette's thoughts, the Pilot pulled the names of the five targets and instantly opened a comms portal to them all to warn them. Aridos, it wasn't there. He checked the net on New Rotterdam, and there was utmost confusion as the entire planet of Aridos, and all of its orbital cities had vanished. 40 billion people and 5 billion virtuals were missing. Realising what must've happened the primeval feeling of rage overcame all him, the two millennia of carefully crafting their civilisation to be more than their ancestors ment nothing. He ejected the body into space along with a gravity mine. They accompanied the remains of the corvette and Gunnery Officer Alford Drake, detonating the mine, crushing them out of existence accompanied by a blast of deadly gamma rays.

Chapter 4: Union City - Aridos, 4012

Minister Franklin took a seat opposite Ministrer Argyle. Although in the virtual space of the Info-grid, there wasn’t really a table. In reality Minister Argyle was travelling through the vast labyrinth of Aridos’s city on a public train, connecting to the Info-grid via a public Wireless access point. The table was situated in the middle of a vast amphitheatre made of polished seamless green metal, on the terraces floated 30 million heads, a small representation of the billions of union citizens watching the proceedings. Many of the 30 million were virtual simulations who were “actually there”. 10 other ministers also sat around the table, they discussed and represented different viewpoints on the subjects being debated but it was all arbitrary anyway. Ministers were only needed when debating more important things that needed all the different degrees of facts, Subjects too complex for a mass consensus. The 12 Ministers represented the people of the Union. Those that were interested were connected with their minister and influenced the way he would vote. He blocked it all out to concentrate on the task at hand. Minister Franklin looked uncomfortable. His eyes kept darting from side to side. It was clear that this session was going to be one he disliked. The Chairwoman stood up and spoke

“I call this session into action. The items on today's agenda will be....”

Three gruelling real time hours had passed mainly regarding the energy production facilities of Mandrashee before the subject of the Federation was raised. Instantly Minister Franklin's face became as thunder and he interjected into the debate.

“Those Baselines,” he used it as a derogatory term, “are always pushing their luck on the border. Since they alienated themselves and closed their embassy 8 centuries ago, they have continually harassed us and tried to provoke us. I reason that the use of deadly force by our pilots should be introduced as an option. Show those luddites what our technology can really do!”

Minister Argyle cautioned for restraint “Minister Franklin, I do believe that we are more civilised than that? That we possess the capacity for patience and restraint that we have all shown for these centuries. We shouldn't attack the Federation.” he then scoffed, “it’s not as if they could harm us”

Argyle felt the outrage of a significant number of his representatives, they soon fell under the sway of his point though and quieted into a resentful silence.

Argyle checked an area of his consciousness that he had sealed off from probing. It was a private secret room within the public building of his head. It was connected to the defence network and Air/Space traffic control radar of Aridos. it held a virtual image of the planet. A ring of ten thousand dots surrounded it, the habitats and numerous other dots all swarming round the planet like bees round a hive. Further out the dots reduced to just one or two, mainly interplanetary transports, many automated. Nothing looked out of the ordinary.

He checked the time, it was 16.24.

He checked the interplanetary ships on inbound vectors, one was slightly strange, it had an identification of a thirty year old small scale Cargo hauler. Other than that it was normal. Minister Argyle switched to the orbital satellite network and brought up a visual on the ship. It was a small arrow shaped ship towing a larger ship about 4 times bigger. It was a strange design but nothing out of the ordinary.

In a the public space in his head the he received a video call, on it appeared the face of a girl, probably no older that 80 or 90 years.

“Daddy, You need to Come home, something has happened”

Minister Argyle got up from his seat, made his excuses to be with his daughter and left the virtual space. In reality the transport docked the Terminus station for the wormhole link to New Rotterdam. It was only a short walk to the Swirling Blue gate, and as he passed the aperture he sensed just how close he had come. Behind him the aperture snapped shut with a whoosh and a blast of wind, the operator looked at his readout confused. People were still in the line waiting to go the other way. They began to emit discontent and impatience over the info-grid.

Then the operators emotions came across on the info-grid, astonishment, disbelief, confusion, curiosity and something else – Fear

“I..I..Its gone!” he said, “Aridos; Its gone!”

Chapter 5: Manor Top - New Rotterdam, 4012

Minister Argyle occupied the head of the oak table. Around it were sat most of his trusted military officers. He spoke to them privately as the table was in the personal space in his mind. Sealed off from the general probing traffic of the info-grid. Traffic that right now was swarming with the news of the loss of Aridos. Swarming with requests to the minister himself, asking him what action is going to be taken what can be done and what is being put into motion. All of this was being auto responded to by the minister who simply said that the situation is under investigation. In reality the Minister was moving his forces in for the kill, sealed off from other channels by layers of encryption, secrecy protocols and tight beam communication that would be very unlikely to be intercepted.

“The Federation have attacked us and caused the loss of one of our most valued planets, Aridos.”

“We know we were targeted because scouts picked up four more ships poised to attack the planets of Blue Ridge, Mandrashee, Talons Reach and New Rotterdam. They were neutralised”

“The ships were found to be carying payloads based on Strong Force weaponry which as you know is outlawed in the union for good reason” the last statement prompted a gasp from the members of his military audience that understood the nuances of the type of weapons possible.

“I have suspected that the Federation was planning an attack for a while but was unable to bring this up with the council due to insufficient evidence. As a result I took the liberty of trying to position key elements for an effective counterstrike which is where you come in.” he commanded the attention of all his officers

“I want you to take out the Federation by any means necessary. You will only respond to orders via myself and no other. Maintain radio silence unless I order you not too. Is that clear?” the officers nodded.

The Minister severed the connection and appeared in the huge bowl amphitheatre of the Union's Parliamentary building. In there 50,000 people out of tends of billions vied for an audience with the Minister. With the reduced network capacity, its all that could be accommodated for at short notice.

The Minister began to rally his people

“Citizens of the union we have entered grave times. The Federation have attacked us again and despite our technological supremacy, they have caused death and destruction on a genocidal scale. Reports are hard to come by as to exactly how they achieved it but our best minds suspect the use of clandestine Strong Force weapons, banned by the Union centuries ago when their implications were discovered.” Minister Argyle paused to let this sink in.

“The Federation have made no secret about their hatred of our society and what it represents to them. They spread vile propaganda, about how we are freaks of nature and let technology run rampant, but who are the true monsters that use such a weapon and kill 45 billion people? Who are the true monsters?”

He paused to let their anger surge

“Who are the true monsters? Who attack a people, a civilisation! Who haven’t fired a shot in anger in nearly two thousand years?” Symbolically the Minister calmed down, took a breath and continued in a calmer voice,

“We have given the Federation untold chances in the past even when they bombed our embasy on their capital world killing hundreds including my wife and child! Even then we have tried to help them on their way. Even then we turned the other cheek, blamed it on their immaturity. But that didnt stop those deaths. They did it then, they have done it again now. Will they do it again in the future with even more dire consiquences? Our technology can help them overcome their petty ways but NO!”

“They still cling to their ancient ways!”

“They are no better than the greedy self obsessed people that caused the devastation of Earth in ages past. And I say to you now. That we should strike back at the Federation and redeem those who have been lost to their barbarity in the past.”

He knew he hadn't convinced everyone. Soon people would ask questions, how did the Federation get past the defences? How did they acquire the codes needed to bypass all the security checks? How did they get hold of the strong force technology in the first place? But the minister was confident that by the time the truth came out, the Federation would be a distant memory.

Chapter 6: Independence – Epsilon Eridani 4012

The Federation was in disarray. Three days ago, the mission to decapitate the Union government had failed and the Union ships had launched a devastating counter attack. They tore through Federation lines annihilating any pockets of resistance. General Hakim Al-Mehdi had witnessed the destruction of his forces first hand by video feeds from the front line.

He had seen the Union ships cut a swathe of destruction through the Federal military, the line of black assets stretching from the Union systems on the far side of the Great Blackout Dark Cloud, heading directly for the heart of the Federation, the core systems. He had seen 2 Union ships completely destroy the Shield Station around the Vela Pulsar.

Right now the video feed was projecting several images onto the Generals Holographic display. They were all scenes projected from his ships on the outskirts of the core systems.

On one of the screens showed a Federation carrier, the matte black slab bristled with weapons ports, laser batteries, plasma launchers and missile pods. It was surrounded by 2 destroyers and 6 frigates. The destroyers looked like giant shotguns with a fusion power plant and an engine bolted onto the back. All along the length of the carrier lights flared as it launched multiple squadrons of fighters, the captains voice came over the audio.

“Sensors show a gravitational disturbance about 1000 klicks up ahead, launching a recon squadron to investigate, launching 3 more squads for protection.”

5 of the ships formed an X shape and headed in the direction of the gravitational disturbance.

The outline of a bioship flared into existence and with a violet flash the whole ship emerged from Hyperspace.

“Union assets have Jumped near our position, vector, 0.1 degrees by 10 degrees, range 1000 klicks, how the fuck did they exit so close to the Star?”

The captain addressed his science officer

“I don’t know sir, it seems like their hyperdrives are a LOT more advanced than ours, they are advancing on our position, I’m getting inconsistent gravitational and radiation readings.”

“Ok,” began the captain, “We know these jellyfish aren’t here for tea and cakes, all squads of fighters break to intercept, shunt power to weapons, I want to see what kinds of shields we’re dealing with. Destroyers, position for attack, target the Union ship.”

The two destroyers broke formation and began to point their main weapon at the bioship. The 5 fighters close to the Union ship turned and fired, the Union ship’s shield flared green 1 meter away from the hull as the plasma shots were absorbed and dissipated like a giant sponge. They were joined by the other 3 squads who all fired their weapons at the same spot. The shield flared 15 times and 15 shots were harmlessly dissipated. The side of the bioship flashed and 20 bolts of plasma streaked out, each one impacted a scout ship, its shield overloaded and the ship detonated under the onslaught. One of the destroyers fired.

The 50 tonne round pounded into the Union ships' shield at 60,000 kilometres a second. The bright flash drowned out the local sun and the Union ship reeled backwards under the impact. After the light died the shield shimmered green but was still up. The bioship turned towards the destroyer and the tentacles whipped, a distortion rippled from the bow of the bioship and blasted towards the destroyer. The ship was rent from bow to stern and ripped outwards like someone had blown it up from inside, when the wave hit the fusion reactor, the destroyer lit up like a small sun, vaporising what was left and causing the shields to flare bright green on the other Federation ships.

The tentacles whipped 7 more times and the frigates and the remaining destroyer were pulverised, each one going nova before getting off any more shots

“All weapons target that ship!” shouted the captain, “FIRE!!”

The carrier let loose with a barrage of weapons, each one flared off the Union ships shields, the tentacles whipped again. The screen cut to static and the feed shut off.

The General stared at the white noise. After a while, the general didnt know how long, a flustered young ensign opened his door clutching a data tablet close to his chest. A look of primal fear filled his eyes and he laid the tablet on the generals desk.

“General” addressed the young ensign “General, there are reports of Cherenkov flashes in the Epsilon Eridani system, three over New Australia, three over planet Experiment, and…” the ensign swallowed, “ three over Independence.”

“That is all Ensign, thank you…” the General swallowed as the ensign left the room. The door slid shut behind him. He opened the top drawer in his desk, inside was a data tablet containing an order signed by the Federation president herself. The document contained orders for the decapitation of the union government. He pulled the data tablet out of the drawer and laid it on the desk, the seal of the office of the president was emblazoned on it. He took a shot glass and filled it with whiskey from the decanter nearby.

Out of the window a gust of displaced air exploded outward along with the violent flash of blue light. Above the presidential palace a Union bioship had emerged from hyperspace. He knew the unions drives were good but atmospheric re-entry with pinpoint accuracy? His intelligence report had been seriously lacking.

He turned his attention back to the glass of whiskey. He lifted it to his nose and smelled the pungent aroma. He drained it in one gulp and looked further into the drawer. Underneath the orders was an antique service revolver in a silver plated finish. He took out the gun, inspected it for a a few moments, placed it to his temple and fired.

Out-takes: Edits that never made the final cut:

Out-take 1

A tonne of cheese was compressed down to the size of an atom, using a beam that manipulated it on the nuclear level. Essentially compressing the;

“Wait a minute cheese” exclaimed Renoir

“Yeah the tech boys wanted to get across the point that any matter could be used so they quoted cheese” interrupted the narrator.

“Oh okies” Renoir accepted shaking her head like we was the only sane one left on this suicide mission.

Out-take 2:

Jenna upon realising her ultimate demise, she shifted her persona from the Paris Café

Suddenly her mind exploded into a disco beat

To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high

People gettin' loose y'all gettin' down on the roof - Do you hear?

(the folks are flaming)Folks were screamin' - out of control

It was so entertainin' - when the boogie started to explode

I heard somebody say

Burn baby burn! - Disco inferno!

Jenna was last seen going out with a smile on her face and a finger in the air!

“Time” whispered the Captain

“16.22” replied David. His eyes had rarely deviated from the gunnery sight and when they did they had black rims, the captain laughed.....charcoal was hilarious!

The face was vaguely human, it looked more like the face of an androgynous mannequin than that of a human being. Its voice however was unmistakably male.

“youre a bunch of cunts, and youre going to get it!”

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