72 hours before the attack…
Residential Dwelling On the Outskirts of Urban Center Ragnar District
A pale-skinned alien girl bolted upright as a cold sweat flooded over her fragile frame. An involuntary scream escaped her parched lips and reverberated through the small crack of the ajar door to her bedroom. Within moments a tall slender fiery red-haired female appeared in the doorway.
“Esma, illuminate lights. Dreyfus, are you okay, what’s the matter my child?” The dark edges of the room appeared as light crept into the child’s room. The girl blinked and looked up to her mother’s concerned face, her little fingers clinched to the fabric of her blanket.
“I had that nightmare again…” Her soft voice crackled under the weight of her worry.
“It is just a dream child. Some dreams let in the light while others cast shadows of fear.” The adult female sat carefully on the edge of the bed, her clawed fingers took the girl’s head into her palms. She pressed her forehead against hers and their noses touched. The embrace brought a slight smile of comfort to the child’s face. “You have nothing to worry about Dreyfus. I have given you life, you are a part of me, the best part. I would never let anything happen to you. Whatever be silly enough to try and take you from me; must first get through this!” With that the woman pounced to her feet, a slight smirk and a crooked smile, her hands formed fists as she swung them through the air. A belly laugh erupted in the child as the blanket fell from her grasp.
“Okay, okay you can stop…” The girl finally squealed.
“But, I’m just getting warmed up!” Her mother retorted as she switched to her elbows and delivered several swift awkward blows. Her eyes atlas softened as she returned to her child’s bed, she knelt now, eye-to-eye. “Listen, we have never been attacked since I have been alive, and I’m a lot older than you. Nearly 10 times in fact. It won’t happen, we have a lot of brave souls up there amongst the stars keeping an eye on us, ready to fight for our safety, just like I’d fight for you. We have a defence grid, satellite protection, the protectorate ship… We are well secured.”
The little girl nodded as she connected eyes with her mother, “I know… But when I see the fire wash over the planet it seems so real. I can feel the heat on my face, I can hear the cries from our neighbours…”
“Stop,” her mother whispered as she shook her head and moved in closer. “No one is coming. We are safe here, it will be many, many years before your soul touches the sky. And, if a fire starts I shall put it out. I promise.” She reached and tugged on the girl’s earlobe, “Come, get dressed, we shall take a walk through the garden, it will help you sleep…”
The girl nodded as she reached for a stuffed toy, a furry aqua worm-like creature with wide golden eyes, “Okay, but not without Esma!”
Aboard the Orbital Observatory Station Iris
A plump, grey-haired human sat relaxed back in his chair, his feet crossed and thrown over the top of his observation console. White powdered sugar coated his fingertips as he chomped on another jelly-filled pastry. “These freaking things are delicious! I can’t believe you have never tried that little Andorian sweet shop in the Ragnar District.” He rolled his eyes and looked over at his much slimmer coworker who was face and eyes into sensor readouts. “Come on! Just take one bite! One lick! Hell, one sniff! You won’t be disappointed! You look like a drowned rat, all you eat are fruits and vegetables and that protein synthetic junk the replicator pumps out! You could use a few pounds more for the ladies to hold on to!” His round belly started to laugh as the crumbs from his sweet indulgence rolled off his chest.
“I’ve told you before,” his companion retorted, looking briefly from the readouts that had held his attention for so long, “I only eat vegetables and stuff. My body doesn’t like all that stuff you shovel down your gullet every day,” he shook his head as his gaze returned to the computer console he was sitting in front of. “Besides, I like being able to see my feet without having to breath in…” he added with a dastardly smirk.
“My body certainly does,” he howled through a grin as he stuffed the last of the pastries into his mouth. He clenched his bloated belly, “There is no shame in my game, my feet know where they are going, I don’t need to trot about staring at em’…” He shrugged and he wiggled to a stand. He waddled over to the other man’s console. “How about we duck out a little early Slim? I have it on good authority that those two fine twins from Boston came in on the last transport for the month and are dying to go bowling with us again…” A sly grin formed on the edges of his lips, “What do you say? Us two stallions go and run in the wild?”
“Keep eating those pastries and we’ll be using you as a bowling ball,” the slimmer of the two smirked with a shake of his head as he stood upright and stretched his arms into the air. He had to admit, it had been quite a long day and they had been staring at the same old screens for hours – perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get out of dodge for a while? “Alright, fine. But let’s do one last system run through before we go, alright?”
“Screw that! It’s settled, we’re going bowling! I’ll set the computer to sign us out at quitting time and I’ll get my coat!” He grinned again as his feet became lighter as he slid them across the floor, his hands raised in some awkward dance which seriously lacked rhythm. He stopped at the main computer console and tapped in his security code. “Computer activate, project Freed Wild Horses!” He unzipped his one piece and wiggled out. His whole form let loose and relaxed as he shed his work outfit and threw his coat over his shoulder. “Chuck and Boris hit the town, come on pal! We’ll run that check first thing in the morning!”
Chuck had just moved to grab his own coat when the loud beep stopped him in his tracks. He turned back to the console he had been monitoring and tapped away, bringing up a different screen on the main viewer. “That’s odd…” he mused as he continued to work on the machine. “That blip wasn’t anywhere near sensor range a few seconds ago,” he frowned as he looked back at his chubbier colleague. “Check your readouts, see what you can find,” he ordered of his workmate.
Boris moved swiftly to his own console, his face turned serious. Everything about this job was routine, every vessel which entered the system was well scheduled for arrival days and weeks in advance. Ships just didn’t wander in, and there were no expected arrivals until early next month. Boris lowered his head and blew a chest full of air out of his mouth to knock away any rogue crumbs and sugar off his console. His fingers passed over the control screen with urgency and speed very uncharacteristic of him. “It was here, now it’s not! My sensors don’t know what to make of it. It definitely came from grid 0.67, on the outskirts of the solar system. Do you think it was a ship? I’m not reading a warp signature, think it’s cloaked? The Romulans? Klingons? Shit! I’m sending the coordinates to the protectorate ship, have them investigate.”
“Protectorate has received and is moving to intercept,” Chuck revealed as he closely monitored the vessels progress. “And it’s gone aga… wait, it’s firing…” and as quickly as the unidentified vessel appeared, the protectorate ship, which had so ably watched over their precious world for decades, disappeared from their sensors.
The man swallowed hard as the anomaly avoided their scans again. “That’s no Klingon or Romulan ship…” Boris wiped his hand over his face which was no drenched in sweat. “Scan the debris for survivors and activate the satellite defence grid! I’ll contact planetside headquarters!” Boris reached overhead and flicked a switch as the COMM opened, “This is Boris Yacts, aboard the Orbital Observatory Station Iris, we are under attack! I repeat, we are under attack! This is not a drill! We are under attack! The protectorate ship has been destroyed! Please advise!?!” The man flashed a worried look to his comrade, as his own mortality sunk in. “Dammit! They are scrambling our communication signals. The planet isn’t receiving our message. The object is back, grid 0.54… 0.32… 0.13. It’s gone again. No its back! It’s right on top of us!” The lights dimmed as another alarm began to ring out. “They’re on the station…in the shuttle port! They’ve cut secondary power!” Boris sunk in his seat as his heart began to beat harder, to him it seemed like it would rip from his chest. How he wished he was anywhere else. How he wished the Observatory Station had some line of defence beside two lonely, unarmed humans. Their faces faded as their consoles turned black due to lack of power. “Slim…”
Residential Garden On the Outskirts of Urban Center Ragnar District
The lanky female took in a deep breath, her nostrils flared as she took in the sweet air ripe with the scents from the mosaic of flora which surrounded them. “Isn’t this better Dreyfus? It is such a beautiful night, crystal clear.” The young girl simply nodded, as one hand held her mother’s and the other held Esma close to her chest. “I don’t know which is more beautiful, the blankets of flowers all around, the sprinkle of stars up above, or your pretty little round face…” She smiled down at her daughter, “Esma; play us a song, something soothing…” A soft melody emitted from the child’s toy, an instrumental, “Ah, yes… Precious Child of Mine, one of my favourite lullabies…” She squeezed her daughter’s hand gently as they walked circles around their small garden, the various bushes and trees cast shadows on their faces from the starry night.
After several minutes, the pair stopped abruptly as the child pointed her hand toward the sky, her finger stretched out. “Mother… Look… Is that a shooting star…?” The female returned her gaze to the sky as a fiery object passed over the horizon, debris appeared to crash to the surface in the distance. “Yes… I believe it is…” The mother lied as she reached down and scooped up her daughter into her arms. “Come, let’s get you back inside…” The object which shot across the sky was no comet, she had been aboard the Orbital Observatory Station Iris on several occasions and could recognize its unique architecture anywhere. Within moments the sky flashed bright as streaks of light shot across it. A burning ache awakened in the pit of the woman’s stomach as loud blasts rattled her ears, her calm demeanor turned to pain and she sprinted her child toward their home. The last explosion rattled the soil beneath her feet and the shock revertated through the air and hit the pair which knocked them to the ground. A nearby tree shot into flames as smoke circled them.
It took several seconds before the woman regained her wits, her face now covered in blood and dirt. She cried out as she got to her hands and knees to discover her child had been replaced by a burning, fallen branch. “NO! Dreyfus!!! NO!” Her cries evolved into wails as her physical pain was drowned by some darkness she could barely comprehend. “NO!” The woman cocked her head towards the house as she heard distant shouts in a language she couldn’t understand. The woman stood, as she eyed the child’s toy, Esma laid some distance ahead. She reached for it as she ran out into the open field beyond the garden. One leg hobbled in front of the other, her face solemn and blank. Tears rolled down her face, her face painted by blood and dirt. “Dreyfus… Dreyfus… Dreyfus…” she mumbled. She walked and walked for hours repeating her daughters name, until her blood was void of adrenaline and she fell some kilometers in the wilderness.