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Fantasy Fiction Science Fiction

“You call this technology?” Captain was taken aback by the vehemence of the query from the room.

“Captain, Old One requests an audience with you and the other captains.”

“What does it want?” Captain knew Old One from stories his predecessor told him. No one could tell him if Old One was male or female or even StarOne.

“It says it has a story for you. An old story.”

In its hooded shimmering gray cloak, Old One stood a head above the others. Broader across the shoulders than even the strongest warrior, it stood tall and confident. As it was ushered into the presence of Captain, it spoke.

“In times past, I was known as male among my kind. The few of us that remain in your consciousness are in equal numbers male and female. We are what was known as Stars.

“I have a story for you, Captain. A story both uncomfortable and comforting. Shall I tell it?”

Captain could not care less what Old One had to say. Tradition bound him to tolerate this one in his district, but he did not have to like it. Nor did he have to accommodate this creature’s requests.

“Not today, Old One. We are developing battle plans that will take us to supremacy in this galaxy. I allowed you in so that I could tell you this directly out of politeness to you.”

“Your candor and respect are greatly appreciated, Captain. Soon, your plans will all be nothing in the face of time and your enemy. You need my story.”

Captain’s “Speak, Old One,” silenced the muttering of the other captains who were taken aback by Old One’s impertinence.

“Aye, Captain. Let’s begin with the Change, that development of discord that seemed to come from beyond our space. This will take a while.”

Captain cut off all other conversation in the hall with a downward chop of his right hand.

“We will listen. Please be aware you are using our valuable planning time.”

“I assure you, Captain, you will consider this integral to your planning.

“Your records show that the Change started one and a half millennia ago and was firmly entrenched after about five hundred years. So, we have lived with the Change for a thousand years.

“When did you last ponder the purpose or cause of the Change? No, don’t answer. I have watched all of you for the few decades you have lived until today. You never question it.”

Muttering and sideways glances between the others in the hall confirmed his assessment to his audience.

Within his hood, Old One continued, “A forgotten song ago, we Stars joined with brethren from galaxies innumerable in a magic epic to rout a chaos that invaded our Universe. Visible and invisible conquerors bent on our assimilation into their ways came in wave after wave. Myriad weapons played havoc with time and space. Creatures great and small suffered and some became extinct.

“Thousands of years saw onslaught. Centuries of respite would come and end and the onslaught returned. Multiple cycles, respite/onslaught occurred. Our weaponry improved; theirs never changed. We pondered this puzzle to understand why our improvements mattered naught to them.

“We could not advance our cause; we could only defend our status quo. It made no sense to us. They never seemed to diminish. They would just stop and retreat to their source and return to battle again.

“We saw no strategic advantage for them. We saw nothing except a desire to do battle with us. There were no settlements, no interbreeding, no typical claim to battle spoils. All we saw was battle. Endless, grinding battle. We defended our Universe but could not stop the onslaught. We could not follow them to their realm to take the battle to them. When they retreated, they simply ceased to exist in our Universe. There was no following them.

“The Council of Commanders made up of thousands of species from across our Universe demanded answers to the unanswerable. How? Why? What can we negotiate to stop this?

“At that time, Stars were part of the Council. They led their own contingent of creatures who swore fealty to the Council. Stars were recognized as unique among the multitude of unique ones. They differed from all the others even as they integrated their efforts into the efforts of all the others.

“We were known as part in this dimension and part somewhere else. Although subordinate to the effort of all, our kind stood apart because of that strange dichotomy.

“Our Eldest One requested to speak to the gathered Council of Commanders. His request was accepted; the Council chambers quieted.

“’My fellow Commanders and allies, we have pondered the quandary of the Invaders for millennia. Looking into our history long before most you species existed, we found a weapon used against a similar foe then. A different technology than what we have brought to muster so far. I hesitate to offer it up because it will require a shift in your consciousness unknown for ages.’”

“As you can imagine, a bitter anger arose throughout the Council. What does he mean? Why not bring this up long ago? Is this a not-so-subtle way for the Stars to subjugate us all?

“’Enough!’ roared the Eldest One. ‘If we Stars wanted the totality of this Universe, we would have taken it long ago. We don’t want that and never will. We live in two ways that suffice us. Now that we understand what will vanquish the Others and stop them for millennia, we will share that information. When this is done and the Others are gone, our numbers will devolve to a tenth of what we are now.

“’I assure you, the only weapon adequate to stop this incessant plague of slaughter is at hand. You must all commit to its use and decide quickly because it requires time and patience and an inner calm that comes from acceptance and fidelity. I will return tomorrow to receive your commitment or denial. I only want this Universe to be peaceful and unmolested’”

Setting aside their impatience, the captains paid close attention to Old One’s tale. His baritone voice flowing from within his cowl was captivating. His tale was new to the gathering. They all knew that their upcoming battles could only result in a draw with no certainty about the ultimate outcome.

“Continue, Old One, please,” Captain said.

“Eldest One returned as promised and stood aloof and silent at the Council entrance until acknowledged by the crowd.

“’Eldest One, on behalf of the Council, we agree to join you in utilizing this technology of which you speak. We are committed to vanquishing this evil and, because we trust and respect you and the Stars, we will make every effort to ensure success.’”

At this point, Old One stopped and stood straighter slowly drawing his cowl backward off his head. As the cowl cleared his crown, the shimmering of his cloak brightened and an aura both blinding and beautiful surrounded his head.

“Now, I will share with you the technology that was ignored and hidden since the beginning of the Change. After working with the Commanders and all they commanded to vanquish the Evil, the Eldest One and his ilk vanished, nine out of every ten.

“We last ten percent have stayed with your kind since then.

“Earthlings have very old texts that describes the use and advantages of the technology you have all forgotten. I will remind you and teach you how to use it. This new plague that threatens your existence can be vanquished.

“All of you must be calm within yourselves, focus your energies as one and thrust that force through your newest Evil.” 

“Old One, what is this forgotten technology?” queried Captain.

“In this dimension, you could call it communal prayer. And, yes, it is the highest technology.”

February 09, 2024 12:05

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2 comments

Corbin Russell
04:14 Feb 15, 2024

Myriad weapons played havoc with time and space. Love this kind of sci-fi. And I am a sucker for world-building. With the minimal (less than 3000 words), the author was able to infer a vast universe with history. I was disappointed at the punch line, however. 1) Not because of the power (or not) of prayer, but because I feel like most veteran warriors have likely already had some experience with prayer. Maybe it’s the communal part that is the difference? And 2) the inferred universe was so cleverly set up, I feel like the resolution came t...

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Chuck Thompson
19:20 Feb 18, 2024

Thanks for your comments. I understand how the ending kind of just drops off. Ran out of time....

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