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The Destiny

Authors: Floyd Resler
Show Year: Y3
Rating: PG
Date: 2006
What happened to the Alphans and Moonbase Alpha? This story follows the Earth Starship Yorktown as it tries to answer these questions nearly 300 years after the moon left Earth's orbit.
Average Rating: 4.5/5 (based on 6 reviews)


I started developing the story for The Destiny before A Message from Moonbase Alpha was produced. Therefore, the events in my story (i.e. what happened to the Alphans) don't match. Hopefully, this won't detract from the enjoyment of it.

Most of the ideas in the story are my own. However, a few were taken from the mailing list. If I could remember who had suggested them originally, I would give credit! Especially as to what may have happened to a particular character.

During one portion of the story (hopefully you'll figure out which part), have the first season opening theme music running in your mind as you read.

I hope you enjoy the story. If you notice any continuity errors or any "what didn't they do it this way" errors, please let me know. I want to make it as good a story as possible!

Floyd Resler

May 16, 2006

Chapter One

"Ship's log. One hundred and fifteen days of Mission Two Three Seven of Exploratory Vessel Yorktown. Ship date: March 14, 2267. After nearly two months without encountering even a meteor, our sensors have detected a large asteroid. While not much, it is something to explore."

Captain John Bellerson switched off the recorder and leaned back in his chair. It had been a long and tedious mission. In one hundred and fifteen days, they had explored one solar system. It had only two planets, both of which contained no intelligent life. "I'd like to see at least one alien before I die", Bellerson had always thought.

"Anything more on that asteroid?" he asked, looking over his left shoulder to the Science Station.

Science Officer Mukata leaned forward to study the sensor readouts, his dark face reflecting off the panel's surface.

"Nothing as of... Wait. I am picking up what appear to be artificial structures."

Bellerson spun around to face his science officer. "Artificial structures?"

"Yes. And I am now reading a minimal power source."

"Any signals?" Bellerson asked. "Signs for intelligent life?"

"No signals," replied Mukata. "But, most likely, there was intelligent life at one time, but I'm not picking up anything now."

Bellerson rubbed his chin. Get more sensor readings or explore the asterioid. After a moment, he touched a control on his chair arm. "Shuttle bay. Have a shuttle ready for immediate departure."

"Aye, Captain."

"Mr. Mukata, you're with me. Assign two security to the mission."

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Johnson, you have the bridge."

Max Johnson, Bellerson's First Officer, stepped forward as Bellerson was vacating the center seat. Johnson was a striking figure, standing nearly seven feet tall.

"Captain, I must protest," said Johnson coolly, looking down at Bellerson.

"I know. I shouldn't go into an unknown situation. But this is my prerogative. Besides, if something happens to me, you're in command." Bellerson gave Johnson a playful punch on the shoulder.

Johnson didn't flinch. "Of course. Good luck."

The squat shuttle left the shuttle bay and headed for the asteroid. Bellerson looked out the shuttle's view port at the Yorktown. It was a sleek ship.

Not the biggest in the Earth's fleet, or the fastest, but it was a good ship.

"Bellerson to Yorktown."

"Yorktown here," came Johnson's voice.

"We are nearing the asteroid. It is strangely shaped. Part of it is round, like a moon. And other parts are jagged like an asteroid. It's almost as if it was a moon with part of it blown or town away."

"Yes, we're getting that on video."

"Actually, Captain, I think you could be right," said Mukata. "I believe it is, was, a moon."

"Captain, we are nearing the coordinates of the artificial structures," said the pilot.

The shuttle cleared the rim of a crater and there they were -- the artificial structures. It looked like a base of some sort. The structures formed a circular pattern. They showed signs of severe damage, many of them torn open.

"Does that look like a landing pad?" Bellerson asked the pilot, pointing to a round structure with a flat surface.

"Yes, it does. Should I land there?"

"Go ahead. Yorktown, we are landing."

"Roger that, Captain."

The shuttle set down on the pad, its vertical lift engines billowing dust.

Four suited men stepped out of the shuttle onto the landing pad. The first thing they noticed was a structure pointing into space. Only it did not look as if it was designed that way.

"Yorktown," said Bellerson," we are looking at what appears to have been some kind of docking port. It looks as if it was originally designed to be retracted into the housing it's attached to. However, now the bottom part has been torn loose and it is bent upward. We can see what appears to be a large tube leading into the structure. We are going in."

"This is Yorktown. We copy."

The four men entered through the torn opening. The tube was long and disappeared into the darkness.

"Looks like we have a long walk," said Mukata.

Bellerson just nodded and led the way.

The tube was featureless save for regularly placed light ports, which were dark. The men walked and walked. They were beginning to think they would not find a thing. Finally, they saw what appeared to be a door.

"Mukata, what do you make of it?" asked Bellerson.

Mukata pulled out a scanner and began examining the door.

"This is odd," frowned Mukata. "This door is made of titanium."

"Titanium?" asked Bellerson. "That's an Earth alloy. Hasn't been used for decades."

"Yes. However, the only way we're going to get through is to cut it."

"Go ahead."

Mukata pulled a laser from his belt and aimed it at the door. The beam easily cut through. Within seconds, the door fell into the tube. The four men climbed through.

The corridor they entered was wide. It continued a few feet and then split into a four-way intersection. In the middle of the intersection was a square pillar. Each side of the pillar was identical. There were several buttons, a small screen, and a clock.

"Yorktown," said Bellerson, "we are looking at what appears to be some kind of communication device or computer station. It has several buttons, a screen, and a clock. The clock is twelve hour."

"Twelve hour, Captain?" asked Johnson, a little surprised.

"Yes. Just like on Earth." Bellerson looked around. "Something seems too familiar about this. Max, do a records search. See if you can find anything that's been encountered before that matches the design of this place."

"Right away, Captain."


"Yes, sir?"

"Where do you think the operations center might be?"

"Well, judging by the circular design, at the center." Mukata made a complete circle, scanner in front. "This way," he said, indicating a corridor.

As they walked, they noticed the corridor was in bad shape. Cables hung from the ceiling. Walls were blown out, exposing the rooms behind them. Some of the rooms were exposed to space. They came across several more of the communication posts. Many of them were toppled over.

Mukata stopped. "I believe we have found the operations center," he said looking above a set of double doors.

Bellerson looked up. Above the door, in English, were the words

"Command Center".

"Yorktown to Bellerson. Yorktown to Bellerson," came Johnson's excited voice. Bellerson knew he had found something interesting. Johnson never gets excited.

"This is Bellerson. Go ahead."

"Captain. You are standing on Moonbase Alpha!"

Bellerson continued looking at the legend above the door. "Yes. We know."

Chapter Two

Bellerson stood in a large room. He looked up into space, the room's ceiling having long been ripped away. Debris and dust were everywhere.

"What was this place, Captain?" came a voice over Bellerson's suit communicator.

Bellerson turned to see Simon Bergman walking through a doorway that lead into the ruined base. Bergman was a young ensign on his first voyage.

"According to the blueprints we could find, this was Main Mission," replied Bellerson, turning back around to survey the room.

"Main Mission?" asked Bergman.

Bellerson was silent.

"Captain?" said Bergman after a moment.

"Just trying to picture what this place looked like when it was the heart of Moonbase Alpha. Main Mission was its control center. Command Center, the first room we found, was the auxiliary control center."

Bellerson gestured to his left. Bergman's eyes followed the gesture and saw dust covered steps leading up to a partially closed set of large double doors.

"Up there was the Commander's office and..."

"Mukata to Captain Bellerson," a voice interrupted.

"Bellerson here."

"We have achieved a seal and established an atmosphere in Command Center."

"Excellent. I'm on my way."

Bellerson walked past Bergman who continued to gaze at the now-ruined Commander's office.

"What do you suppose happened to them?" he asked.

Bellerson stopped. "Perhaps we will find out. But, whatever it was, it happened long ago and they are all dead by now."

"No, they are not." A voice. Female. Aged.

Bellerson shook his head. "Did you hear that?" he asked.

"Hear what, Captain?" replied Bergman.

Bellerson paused. "Nothing. Must have been some interference. Let's get down to Command Center."

Bellerson stepped through the airlock and into Command Center. Portable lights illuminated the dust covered desks and consoles. Mukata stood near a console as three other men carefully examined Command Center's contents.

Bellerson removed his helmet as Bergman came through the airlock.

"What have you found, Mukata?"

"The minimal power source we detected?"


"It's what was left in the base's solar batteries. There isn't enough power here to bring up any of these systems and we don't have the correct type of power to do it."

"Are you saying we can't even access a log to find out what happened to them?" Bellerson was clearly disappointed.

Mukata shook his head. "No, sir. This technology is just too old."

Bellerson sighed. "Well, learn what you can in here and ..."

Suddenly, darkened lights on the consoles glowed into life. Chirps and beeps filled the room as Moonbase Alpha's main computer started up as if to welcome its new guests.

Bellerson looked around in amazement. "I thought you said there was no power?"

Mukata looked down at his scanner. "There's power coming from somewhere, but I can't trace it," he said in bewilderment.

Bellerson nodded. "Bellerson to Yorktown."

"Johnson here, sir. Were you able to reestablish power down there?"

Bellerson looked at Mukata, puzzled. "Why do you say that?"

"Lights have come on all over the base. You can tell how bad the damage is now."

"Standby, Yorktown." Bellerson walked over to Mukata. "Have the nuclear reactors fired up?"

Mukata looked down at his scanner. "No, sir. I can't explain where this power is coming from."

"It has to be coming from somewhere," muttered Bellerson. "Yorktown. Our scans show the nuclear reactors have not fired up. Keep scanning and let us know if you find anything."

"Aye, sir", was Johnson's reply.

Bellerson turned to the other three men in the room. "Sims, Bream, Friskney. Head for the nearest nuclear reactor and inspect it. Get the route from Mukata."

"Aye, sir, " they each said nearly in unison.

Mukata joined the three near the airlock, showing them the nearest reactor on his handheld. Each man noted the location and marked it on his own handheld.

Bergman stepped over to Bellerson. "Power from nowhere. Doesn't make sense."

Bellerson looked at the blinking consoles, up at the ceiling, trying to find some answer. "No, it doesn't."

A slight hissing sound emitted from the airlock, indicating it had sealed and the three men were on their way.

Bellerson turned to face Mukata. "Alright, Mukata. Let's see if you can bring up a log while we still have..."

The Big Screen suddenly came to life. An image appeared on the screen. It was a man. His hair was gray, facial lines narrow and angular. He wore a command uniform.

"Captain!" exclaimed Mukata, pointing to the screen.

Bellerson turned around to see the image on it.

Mukata touched a few controls on his handheld's screen and then looked up.

"That's Commander John Koenig," he said.

Bellerson stared at the screen. "This is getting strange," he muttered.

Commander Koenig began to speak, his voice holding command and authority.

"This will be last entry into the log of Moonbase Alpha. Today is September 13, 2019 - exactly twenty years since leaving Earth's orbit. Today alien forces attacked us unexpectedly. Today we must abandon Moonbase Alpha. The aliens attacked, nearly destroying Alpha, and left. We don't know why. All we know is that Alpha is now uninhabitable and, the few of us who have survived must leave. We are uncertain if our Eagles can make it to a habitable planet."

Koenig paused and looked down, as if to gather his composure. He then looked back up, his face showing grief. "I don't know what we will find or even if we will survive." He paused again, his face showing a hint of a smile. "The past twenty years have been amazing. I wish Victor could have seen them." Koenig's arm moved, his hand touching a control off-screen. The picture went black.

Except for the chirping of the computer, the room was silent for several moments.

Bellerson turned slowly to Mukata. "There's not enough power to activate these systems. We don't have a power source compatible to bring them up. Just when we are about to give up, power is restored and we have no idea where it is coming from. Then, just as I say 'Let's find the log', this message activates."

Mukata nodded, knowing where Bellerson was going. "The power is a mystery, but the log could have been activated by a number of things - the power coming on, a proximity detector...".

"True," agreed Bellerson. "But it is still very coincidental. Let's see if we can get some answers. Bellerson to Sims."

"Sims here, sir," came the reply.

"Have you reached the reactor?"

"We have just arrived, sir. It is completely dead. There is definitely no power here."

"Alright. Do a thorough check and then move on to the next one."

"Aye, sir. Sims out."

"Mukata. I want the entire log downloaded. We aren't leaving here until we figure out where the power came from."

"No!" It was the aged, female voice. "Time is of the essence. You must leave immediately!"

Bellerson looked around, confused. It sounded as if the voice came from his head.

Mukata's face twisted into one of concern. "Captain? What is it?"

Bellerson paused, looking a Mukata. He took a deep breath. "I've been hearing voices."

"Sir?" asked a puzzled Mukata as Bergman stepped closer.

"It's a woman... old. I heard it first in Main Mission when I had said the Alphans must be dead. The voice said, 'No, they are not.'"

"That's right, Mr. Mukata. The Captain did ask me if I heard anything."

"And, just now, when I said that we weren't leaving, the voice said that time was of the essence and that we had to leave immediately."

"What do you think it means?" asked Mukata.

Bellerson shook his head. "I don't know. But, I'm not going to take any chances. I'm going to go back to the ship and have Dr. Feldman check me out. Continue your analysis here and continue to check in with Sims and his team."

"Yes, sir," said Mukata. He placed a hand on Bellerson's shoulder. "Whatever it is, I'm sure it will be okay."

Bellerson smiled. "Thanks."

Bellerson donned his helmet and stepped into the airlock. A few moments later, he was walking down a ruined corridor, heading towards the launch pad where his shuttle awaited. What few light panels remained intact were brightly lit.

He passed a toppled communications post. As he walked by it, he noticed some movement. He watched in astonishment as the communication post slowly righted itself.

"What the..." he began when someone bummed into him.

"Excuse me," came a voice. A woman walked passed him, looking back. She was wearing an Alphan uniform. But how could this be? She would had to have been in a pressure suit. There was no atmosphere here.

Bellerson's gaze followed the woman as she disappeared around a corner. It was then he noticed that the corridor was whole. No walls were blown out, no cables dangled from the ceiling. He looked down at himself. His pressure suit was gone. Instead, he wore an Alphan uniform with a yellow sleeve.

Chapter Three

"I must be hallucinating," thought Bellerson. Yet, the woman actually bumped into him.

Just then, he heard the sound of a door opening to his right. He turned to see a short section of the corridor ending at a door that was opening. Two men emerged from the doorway. Bellerson recognized the man on the left as Commander John Koenig, but much younger than the image on the view screen. The other man was slightly shorter than Koenig and had a neatly trimmed beard.

"It's a bomb, Simmonds," said Koenig as the pair walked passed Bellerson. "The biggest man has ever made."

The two continued walking towards what Bellerson realized was the entrance to Main Mission.

"What's to be done?" Bellerson could hear the one Koenig called Simmonds say.

"Professor Bergman has some..." was all Bellerson could make out before the two entered Main Mission.

Bellerson decided to follow. He had no idea what was happening to him and his training refused to let him panic in unknown situations. He needed answers.

He entered Main Mission, which was bustling with activity. He watched Bellerson and Simmonds enter the Commander's office through its small door.

Bellerson looked around. It was clear something was going on, but he did not know what. Personnel sat at consoles while others walked from station to station, clipboards in their hands.

Several minutes passed. Bellerson took the time to walk around Main Mission. No one seemed to notice him. He walked up a set of steps to the observation deck. He could see Earth through the view ports.

"We have a plan," came Koenig's voice from below. Bellerson walked over to the railing to see Koenig, Simmonds, and two other people emerge from the big double doors of the Commander's office. He surmised that the older man was Professor Bergman, but he was unsure who the woman was.

He walked down the steps to better hear the plan.

He watched as the plan unfolded. The plan to break up the mass of the nuclear waste. The plan to use Eagles equipped with wenches to scatter the waste canisters across the lunar surface. The plan to avoid disaster.

He watched as worry mounted. As the navigational systems failed in two of the Eagles. This concerned Professor Bergman as he felt the magnetic field was fluctuating.

The only person who didn't seem worried was Simmonds. Bellerson watched as Simmonds walked up to Koenig who was standing near the double doors to his office. Bellerson moved closer to see if he could hear what was being said.

"You see, John...", Simmonds was saying.

Koenig was clearly agitated. "I see men risking their lives to avert disaster - total disaster. Now, wake up Commissioner. If this goes wrong, there won't be anybody to issue a communiqué. There will be no survivors!"

"Commander, it's going up!" shouted a technician from Main Mission.

Koenig moved down the small flight of steps to Main Mission's main floor.

"Abort. Abort the mission," he ordered.

A man with a mustache responded. "Main Mission to all Eagles. Return to base immediately. Repeat, return to base immediately."

The Big Screen showed the activity. Eagles hurried to get away from the area. Massive energy arcs danced across the surface. One arc touched a retreating Eagle and it exploded in a brilliant ball of light.

Then the lunar surface erupted. The Big Screen went dark and the whole of Moonbase Alpha shook violently. Personnel were knocked off their feet and Bellerson felt himself falling backward... and time slowed.

Bellerson fell slowly to the floor, barely noticing when his back touched the deck. He lay there for a moment, looking around. Main Mission's main lights were out. The lights on the computer panels flickered and blinked, but the only other source of light was emanating from the view ports. The Alphans were gone.

Bellerson rose to his feet and walked to a view ports. He looked into space to see a large, black disc with light surrounding it.

"Do you know what that is?" asked the same female voice he had heard before. This time, however, it wasn't in his head. It came from behind him.

Bellerson turned to see an old woman with grey hair, dressed in a black robe. She pulled back the hood to reveal her ancient face.

"A black hole," Bellerson said.

"Yes, it is," said the woman.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"My name is, was, Arra," she said. "The Alphans have a great destiny to fulfill and you must help them."

"The Alphans are alive?" Bellerson asked with doubt in his voice.

Arra smiled. "Yes. I already told you. Remember?"

Bellerson nodded.

"What explanation has your science given for the moon blasting out of orbit?" she asked.

The question caught Bellerson totally off guard. He thought for a moment. "Well, it's still a matter of great debate even three hundred years after it has happened."

"Go on," encouraged Arra.

"From what I have read, scientists have tried every conceivable simulation to explain why the moon left Earth orbit instead of being destroyed. In every simulation, the power required to blast the moon out of orbit, destroyed it."

"So," began Arra as she walked around Bellerson, as a teacher would walk around a student. "A force great enough to blast the moon out of orbit would have destroyed it, giving your planet a ring. Yet, that did not happen. The moon was indeed blasted out of orbit. How do you explain it?"

Bellerson shrugged. "I can't. The greatest minds on our world haven't been able to explain it for centuries. I know I can't. The only conclusion is that there must have been other forces involved, but they have never been able to determine what. Our science is inadequate to explain what happened to the moon."

"No. Your science is quite adequate and quite right. An explosion powerful enough to blast the moon out of orbit would have destroyed it."

"Then how?" asked Bellerson.

Arra stopped directly in front of him.

"That" she said, pointing toward the view ports.

Bellerson turned around. "The black hole?" he asked, disbelieving.

Arra shrugged. "Not that one, but, yes, a black hole. A much smaller one was moving through your solar system. It was traveling at a right angle to the moon on the same equatorial plane."

Bellerson looked puzzled.

Arra continued. "The gravitational force of the black hole reached out just far enough to snag the moon and draw it out of orbit just as the nuclear waste dumps exploded."

Bellerson looked at Arra while he contemplated the explanation. "So, you're saying that this black hole was just close enough to pull the moon out of orbit when the explosion occurred?"


"So, the explosions had nothing to do with the moon's departure from Earth?"

"That is correct. They were, as you would call it, a smoke screen."

"A smoke screen?"

"Yes. The odds of the events leading up to the moon being pulled out of Earth's orbit are inconceivable. We helped. The growth pains of evolution were nearly unbearable and we needed mankind's help to move to another plane of existence. We knew the black hole was moving through your solar system. We just altered its path so that the moon would be pulled out of orbit so the Alphans could begin their journey and fulfill one of their many destinies. We caused the explosions so your people might have some explanation as to why the moon left."

"The Alphans helped you evolve?" asked Bellerson, attempting to understand what he was being told.

"Yes. When the moon collided with our world, the planet and my people evolved into a new state of being. This shell you see before you is but an echo of my former self."

"I see." Bellerson paused. "So, what is it I am supposed to do?"

Suddenly, a flood of data entered Bellerson's mind. Within a microsecond, he had a navigational course.

"I have just given you the course you must take," said Arra. "You must follow this course to find the Alphans and the Departed One."

Arra looked down and to her right as if distracted by something. Then she looked back up, concern in her face.

"The enemy knows you have discovered Moonbase Alpha. It also knows about our conversation." She grabbed Bellerson's hand. "You must hurry. To stay here would risk the enemy destroying you. You must follow the path I have given you."

Arra released Bellerson's hand. She began to fade.

"Will I see you again?"

"No." she said, her voice becoming faint.

"Who is this enemy?"

"I fear you will find out, sooner than you are ready to face it. Good luck, John Bellerson!" Arra was completely gone now, her last few words echoing in Bellerson's mind.

The scene shifted. Bellerson now found himself in his suit inside the ruined Main Mission. He quickly checked the time on his wrist. No real time had passed during his vision.

"Bellerson to Mukata," he said into his suits microphone.

"Mukata here," came the reply.

"Pack it up. We're leaving."

"Leaving?" protested Mukata. "Sir, we could spend months here and still not learn everything. This the find of our time!"

Bellerson paused. He could understand Mukata's disappointed. "I know. I can't explain it, but we are in danger. We must leave."

As if on cue, Johnson's voice came over the radio. "Yorktown to Bellerson."

"Bellerson here."

"Sir, long range scanners have just picked up powered object heading towards us. At this distance, we're not sure exactly what it is, but I know it's not one of our ships. It's moving too fast."

Bellerson knew what it was. "ETA?"

"Fifteen minutes."

Bellerson's heart nearly stopped. Fifteen minutes? He touched a control on his wrist. "Attention all personnel on Moonbase Alpha. We are leaving now. Drop everything and move to the shuttles."

"Sir, do you know something about this object approaching us?" asked Johnson.

Bellerson touched the control again to deactivate the broadcast mode of the radio and began heading for the shuttle. "Yes. I'll explain when I am on board. Prepare for FTL. Set your course to the coordinates I am sending you. As soon as everyone is on board, engage the star drive." Bellerson quickly keyed in the coordinates on his wrist's keypad.

"Aye, sir," said Johnson.

Bellerson knew that Johnson, and the rest of the crew, were puzzled by this turn of events. Perhaps they would understand once he explained...if they didn't think he was crazy.

Chapter Four

Bellerson sat with his senior officers in the ship's conference room. The room was sparsely decorated, containing a table, chairs, and a large view screen.

On the view screen was an image. It was one born of a wicked imagination, yet it was real. It was blackish-brown in color. There was a sphere, if one could call it that, in its center. From the sphere jutted up what would have been pillars, except they were twisted and gnarled - misshapen. The entire surface of the object was covered with, what resembled, coarse fur.

Bellerson turned his chair away from the image to address his officers. Jona Mukata, Science Officer, Karl McDougal, Chief Engineer, Max Johnson, First Officer, Stan Benson, Tactical Officer, and Samantha Feldman, Chief Medical Officer.

Each seamed horrified by the image they say.

"Our scanners were able to capture this image before we went FTL," explained Bellerson. "Mr. Mukata, what do you make of it?"

Mukata shrugged. "I've never seen anything like it."

"I have," said Samantha Feldman. Everyone turned to face her. She quickly glanced to each person and said, "In a nightmare."

Everyone nodded.

"I think we all can agree that it does look like it's right out of some horror story." He looked back to Mukata. "What did we get from the sensors?"

Mukata stood and walked to the view screen. He touched a view of the GUI controls and numbers appeared on the bottom.

"It is one hundred times our size and yet it's mass is roughly the same as our own."

"Meaning it's hollow?" asked Karl McDougal.

Mukata nodded. "Most likely."

"What's your tactical analysis, Mr. Benson?" asked Bellerson.

Benson cleared his throat. "Well, without further scanner analysis, I'd say they could destroy us just by looking at us."

Bellerson nodded. "It's clear we need more information. Mr. Mukata and Mr. Benson, continue to study the scanner data to assess the threat this ship poses. In the meantime..."

"Uh, sir," interrupted Johnson.


"You indicated, while on Moonbase Alpha, that you knew about this ship's arrival and that it posed a danger."

Bellerson looked down at the table. Then he looked at each of his officers. Scratching his chin and clearing his throat, he began his story about his encounter with Arra. He relayed every detail about the encounter, no matter how it may seem to his officers. After he was finished, he looked over to Feldman.

"So, what do you think, Doctor? Am I hallucinating?"

Feldman paused for a moment. "Captain, for us to dismiss this experience as just an hallucination would be irresponsible. After all, you did know about the approaching ship before it arrived. I, for one, believe you."

The other officers nodded in agreement.

Bellerson was relieved, but not surprised. "Good", he said. "Mr. Mukata, have you been able to analyze the course Arra gave to me?"

Mukata shook his head. "About all we know about it, Captain, is that it is in an unexplored area of space. It will take us three days to get there."

Bellerson paused. "Very well. Let's find out as much as we can about the alien ship. Dismissed."

The officers rose and began filing out of the room.

"Max, a moment," said Bellerson.

Johnson, who was nearly out the door, stepped back in, allowing the others to pass. When they were gone and the door had closed, he stepped over to Bellerson.


"Sit down, Max."

Both men sat, facing each other.

Bellerson shook his head. "What have we gotten ourselves into, Max? We find Moonbase Alpha, I have these visions, we encounter an alien ship, and now we're heading to an unknown destination. What are we in for?"

Johnson shrugged. "Obviously there are forces at work that we can't understand - at least not yet." He paused. "At least it's better than cataloging uninhabitable planets."

Bellerson smiled. "So, there is a bit of an adventurer in you after all." He paused and the smile faded. "Keep an eye on me. If I start to behave irrationally, use your best judgment. I'm not sure what further influence I may fall under. I just hope I don't get caught up in the 'I have to give irrational orders but can't tell anyone why' scenario."

"That would make things difficult," admitted Johnson.

The creature was hideous. It was bipedal, but that's where its similarity to humans ended. It stood over three meters tall. Its body was covered in what appeared to be layers of overlapping, dark brown armor plating. As Bellerson looked upon the creature, he wasn't sure if this was the creature's skin or some sort of suit. And the head - the head was truly the most hideous part of the creature. Its general shape was roughly human with its jaw being greatly extended. It had seven glowing yellow eyes. Three were on either side of its face and the seventh in the middle of its forehead. Its mouth was filled with pointed teeth. Jutting from its head were moving tendrils.

Bellerson looked down at the surface where he was standing. It was pitch black save for the numerous cracks that glowed red from the lava churning beneath. He then looked up and beyond the creature. The horizon was lined with erupting volcanoes.

Bellerson then heard a voice. The voice grated like a concrete block across a gravel surface. The voice emanated from the creature, yet its mouth did not move.

"You will not succeed." The voice was forceful and filled with hatred.

Bellerson paused before answering. "Succeed at what?"

"Your mission. You will not find the Departed One."

"The Departed One?" Bellerson voice the question.

"Yes, you will not find him."

Bellerson decided not to tip his hand and let the creature know that Arra had mentioned this Departed One, though he didn't know who he was.

"Who are you?" asked Bellerson.

The creature took a step forward. "You know," he said. "You've always known."

The creature reached out towards Bellerson's face. Bellerson took a step back expecting to see some hideously deformed hand. Instead, the hand he saw as human. Surprised, Bellerson looked past the hand to see himself.

"You've always known," he saw himself say but in the creature's voice.

Bellerson sat up in bed, awaking from the dream. He looked around the room. It was dark and he was alone. Either I just had a nightmare or I was actually visited by one of the creatures from the alien ship, he thought. One thing was for certain, he didn't know who this creature was and he certainly hadn't "always known".

The communication panel next to his bed chirped.

"Bellerson here," he said.

"Sir, this is the bridge," came the voice. It belonged to a Lt. Marksberry on the night watch. "We've arrived at our destination."

Bellerson was puzzled. "We're a bit ahead of schedule, aren't we?"

"Yes, sir. According to our calculations, we should still be eight hours away. But, we are definitely here and it's a planet."

"Very well," said Bellerson. "Alert the senior staff. I'm on my way."

"Yes, sir," replied Marksberry.

Bellerson stood up. "Lights".

The computer obeyed and his quarters were illuminated. As he changed into his uniform, he pondered the events thus far. In the past three days, they had learned nothing more of the alien vessel from their sensor readings. Now, Bellerson had the dream about the alien creature and they arrived at their destination eight hours early. And who, or what, is the Departed One? It was obviously of concern to the creature. Bellerson had no answers. However, one thing was almost certain - Bellerson would find the answers eventually.

Chapter Five

The blue-green planet hung in space. Bellerson sat in the center seat studying it as sensor data scrolled down either side of the image on the Yorktown's main view screen.

"Anything?" asked Bellerson, still staring at the screen.

Mukata studied the sensor data as it appeared on his terminal.

"Oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere," he began. "Evidence of animal and vegetable life. No sign of intelligent life."

Bellerson turned to face him. "Any evidence there has ever been intelligent life?"

Mukata looked up from the readouts. "No, sir. No structures, no ruins, nothing artificial of any kind. At least, not on the surface."

Bellerson rose. "Right. Have the Yorktown's sensor data beamed to the shuttle. You can study it en route to the planet. Mr. Johnson."

Johnson rose from his seat. "Yes, sir?" he said. He knew it would no good to protest the captain going down to the planet.

"Have two security officers meet Mr. Mukata and myself in the shuttle bay."

Stan Benson, who had been seated at tactical, rose. "Sir, shouldn't I accompany you?"

Bellerson looked over at Benson and shook his head. "If our friends so up, I want you here at tactical."

"Aye, sir."

With that, Bellerson and Mukata exited the bridge.

The shuttle departed the bay and arced towards the planet. It looked as if the planet could, should, support intelligent life. Although not in his nature, Bellerson was apprehensive. To explore into the unknown was one thing, but to be guided into the unknown was something else.

As the shuttle entered the atmosphere and cleared a cloud bank, a beautiful world appeared before its passengers. The planet's surface held vast oceans and equally vast forests.

"Look at that," said the pilot, Mark Taylor. "I don't see a clear place to land anywhere."

Bellerson looked out the cockpit window and then over to Mukata who was standing beside him. "I've seen some dense forests before, but never on a planetary scale."

Mukata nodded. "It is unusual."

"This could be a short trip if we can't find..."

"Sir," interrupted the Taylor. "I have a clearing at ten o'clock."

Bellerson looked out the cockpit window and saw an opening in the foilage.

"Set her down, Mr. Taylor."

The shuttle touched down, Taylor landing it smoothly. Inside, Bellerson was giving instructions to his team.

"I don't need to tell any of you that we are in an unusual situation. We don't know why we're here. Caution is of the utmost importance. At no time is anyone to be alone. You are to keep your locators on at all times. Mr. Taylor, are all locators functioning?"

Taylor looked at his console from the pilot's seat. He had a strong signal on each locator. "Yes, sir. All locators are functioning."

Bellerson nodded. "Good." He took a deep breath and said, "Let's go."

The hatch opened to reveal a picture-perfect world. The temperature was more than comfortable. Birds could be heard singing. Bellerson caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a colorful parrot flying off. Of course, it couldn't be a parrot, but it was similar.

As the last security guards, Kramer and McKillip, stepped off the shuttle, the hatch closed.

Bellerson checked his wrist communicator. "Taylor, can you read me?"

"Loud and clear," said Taylor.

"Good," replied Bellerson. "We'll keep in constant contact."

"Aye, sir," was Taylor's reply.

Bellerson took a look at the nearly impossibly dense forest before them.

"Sir, do you have any idea what we're looking for?" asked McKillip.

"Not a clue," admitted Bellerson. "But, I'm sure we'll find it."

Bellerson surveyed the forest as Mukata took readings with his hand scanner.

"Anything unusual?" he asked Mukata.

Mukata shook his head. "Nothing."

"All right," began Bellerson. "McKillip, you come with me. Kramer, you go with Mr. Mukata. Keep in constant communication and..."

"You-must-leave," came a deep, broken voice from their right.

On instinct, each man pulled out his weapon and spun to the right, aiming.

Standing before them was a man. He appeared human in every respect. His hair was black and cut short. The uniform he wore was silver.

"Who are you?" asked Bellerson, his weapon trained on the stranger.

"You-must-leave," he repeated. It was as if it was a struggle to say each word.

Bellerson shook his head. "Not until we get some answers."

"You are in danger," said the stranger.

"From you?" asked Bellerson.

The stranger paused, looked down, then back up. "No, not directly."

Bellerson's patience was beginning to wear thin. He took a breath. "Who are you and why are we in danger?"

"If I answer, will we leave?" asked the stranger.

"Perhaps," said Bellerson, hoping the answer was good enough.

Apparently it was for the man answered, "My name is Lee Russell."

An Earth name. Bellerson turned his head towards Mukata. "Mr. Mukata. Records search."

"Right away, sir," said Mukata as he pulled out his handheld data unit.

Bellerson turned back to Russell. As he did, he motioned for Kramer and McKillip to lower their weapons.

"Now, Mr. Russell, why are we in danger?"

"We are the opposite," he said, the words seeming to come easier. "The image in the mirror."

"We?" asked a concerned Bellerson. "You mean there are others?"

Russell nodded. "Yes. I was allowed to take this form in your world to warn you."

Bellerson felt a slight headache coming on. "What are you talking about?"

Before Russell could answer, Mukata stepped forward.

"Captain, this is Lee Russell, commander of the Astro 7 mission. It was launched from Earth in 1994 on a mission to Jupiter. It was presumed lost."

Bellerson turned back to Russell, eyeing him suspiciously. "Our data indicates that you are from Earth, part of a space mission that was lost. Is that true?"

"Yes", said Russell slowly.

Bellerson looked into Russell's eyes. "How did you get here?"

Russell, who had been fairly devoid of showing emotion, began to show agitation. He shook his head. "You will not listen. Just as they would not listen."

"Who are 'they'?" Bellerson asked, showing his own aggitation.

"The Alphans. They would not listen. Helena would not listen." With the last sentence, Russell looked down.

All Bellerson heard, however, was the mention of the Alphans. He stepped forward.

"The Alphans were here?" he asked.

Russell looked up. "Yes."

"And they left alive?"

"Yes," nodded Russell. "Through the will of Helena."

Bellerson realized this was the second time that he had mentioned Helena. If he were to guess, he would guess that he was talking about Dr. Helena Russell of Alpha. However, Bellerson didn't have time to question him on it.

"We are looking for the Alphans!" exclaimed Bellerson, as he put his hands on Russell's shoulders as if to drive home the point.

Bellerson was thrown backwards as a tremendous amount of energy was released from touching Russell. A wind began to blow.

Kramer and McKillip drew their weapons and trained them on Russell.

Mukata rushed to the fallen captain.

"Captain, are you okay?" he asked, lifting up Bellerson's head.

Bellerson was conscious and shook his head to clear it. He looked up at Russell. "What was that?"

"A matter-antimatter discharge," responded Mukata.

"What?" asked Bellerson, rising to his feet.

"I, and all those on this planet, are made of antimatter," said Russell. "If you stay, you will be destroyed. It has already begun." He lifted a finger, indicating the wind. "It will get worse. Much worse."

Bellerson shook his head. "But we were sent here for a reason. I have to believe that it wasn't just to find out that the Alphans had been here a few hundred years ago."

Russell looked down as if thinking. He then looked up. "Perhaps you have been sent here to retrieve something they left behind."

Russell moved several feet to his right and stopped.

"There," he said, pointing to the ground. "There is a device they left. I cannot touch it."

Bellerson moved to where Russell was pointing and stooped down. Obscured by the forest floor was a stun gun. Bellerson picked it up by its grip.

His wrist communicator beeped. "Bellerson here," he said, looking at the stun gun.

It was Taylor. "Captain, the Yorktown reports that the alien shipped has just appeared on sensors. ETA, fifteen minutes."

Bellerson's jaw dropped. "Fifteen? It will take that long to get back to the ship."

"You must go," said Russell. "If you find the Alphans, tell Helena that I love her."

Bellerson nodded and, with that, the four men ran to the shuttle.

Inside the shuttle, Bellerson was giving orders to Johnson.

"Keep the planet between you and the alien ship. We will adjust our climb to match your position."

On the Yorktown, Johnson heard Bellerson's orders and acknowledged, "Aye, sir. Yorktown out."

He turned to Benson. "Mr. Benson, drop tactical buoys as we move to the other side of the planet."

"Aye, sir," replied Benson, touching controls on his station.

"Helm, take us to the other side of the planet. Don't let them see us."

"Aye, sir," replied the helmsman.

The Yorktown began moving to the opposite side of the planet, dropping tactical buoys so they could keep an eye on the alien vessel.

"ETA on shuttle?" asked Johnson.

"Ten minutes," answered Benson.

"Bellerson to Yorktown. What is the position of the alien ship?" came Bellerson's voice.

Benson looked down at the readouts from the tactical buoys. "It has just entered orbit," he said.

"Mr. Johnson," said Bellerson. "If you must leave orbit to avoid the alien ship, then you are under my direct orders to do so. Is that understood?"

Johnson swallowed. "Yes, sir."

"Good," said Bellerson. "Copernicus out."

"Mr. Benson," said Johnson. "Let's see the alien ship on the main screen."

"Aye, sir," replied Benson, touching a control.

The planet image was replaced with the nightmare ship. For a moment, it hung motionless. Then something began to happen. The twisted pillars - the tentacles - began to move. They began to bend, pointing their tips towards the planet. When their movement stopped, their tips were nearly touching each other, forming a circular pattern. Then a massive beam of energy shot forth from the ship and stopped where the tentacles met. They began to move as if massaging the beam of energy. A brilliant ball of light formed.

"Mr. Benson," said Johnson. "Give me a split screen with the alien ship and the surface of the planet."

Benson touched a few controls and the screen split showing what Johnson had requested.

A blinding beam of energy shot from the energy ball. It struck the planet's surface where the shuttle had landed and... exited the other side.

Johnson and the bridge crew watched in shock as the energy beam disappeared into space and the planet began to break up. Johnson could not even begin to fathom what kind of technology could produce an energy weapon that could punch through a planet in a matter of seconds.

The shuttle shook violently. Bellerson, who had been standing, was thrown to the deck.

"What was that?" he asked, rising to his feet.

"Severe turbulence," replied Taylor. He looked over the monitors which showed various views outside the shuttle, including one of the surface.

"Captain, look at the surface," he said.

Bellerson looked to see the surface breaking up, molten rock spilling from the cracks.

"Yorktown, come in," he called.

There was no response.

"Yorktown, come in," he called again.

This time Johnson responded. "Yorktown here."

By his tone, Bellerson could tell something was wrong. Johnson almost sounded as if he was in shock.

"What's going on?" Bellerson asked.

"The alien ship fired some sort of weapon at the planet. I've never seen anything like it."

"Sir, there she is," said Taylor.

Bellerson looked up and out the cockpit window to see the Yorktown above them.

"ETA, two minutes," said Taylor.

"Mr. Johnson. ETA is two minutes. As soon as we're aboard, engage the star drive."

"Aye, sir," said Johnson.

The shuttle shook again as if struck by something. Taylor easily maintained control.

Mukata, who had been monitoring the planet's surface since the first indicating of trouble, said, "Captain, we were just hit by debris from the planet. It is tearing itself apart. I estimate three minutes until it is completely destroyed."

"And if the Yorktown is in orbit at that time?" asked Bellerson.

"It will be destroyed."

Bellerson looked back out the cockpit window. "Got to love close calls," he muttered.

The shuttle cleared what remained of the planet's atmosphere and effortlessly landed in the shuttle bay. As soon as it touched down, the Yorktown engaged her star drive and vanished. Then the planet that the Alphans had called Terra Nova ceased to exist.

Chapter Six

Stan Benson was clearly agitated. On the screen in the briefing room were the images the tactical buoys captured of the alien vessel's weapon and the destruction of the planet.

"How are we supposed to stand up to firepower like that?" he asked, poking a finger at the screen.

"We can't," said Bellerson matter-of-factly.

Around the table sat the Yorktown's senior officers.

Benson put his hands on the table, leaning in to look Bellerson in the eyes.

"Then what are we doing on this foolish mission?" he scowled.

"Mr. Benson!" shouted Johnson, rising to his feet. "You are out of order!"

Bellerson, who was seated to the left of Johnson, put a hand on Johnson's arm.

Benson stood upright, taken aback by Johnson's outburst, realizing he was indeed out of order.

"I'm sorry, Captain. But if that ship," he said nodding to the screen, "reaches Earth, we won't have a home to go to."

"Sit down, Max," said Bellerson. "You, too, Stan." He looked around to his officers as the two men sat down. "Mr. Benson is right. If that ship finds Earth, it will destroy it. With power like that, nothing we have could stop it. For the moment, however, they seemed to be focused on us and our mission to find the Alphans."

"Shouldn't we at least warn Earth?" asked Dr. Feldman.

"I have already beamed a message to Earth telling them everything we have encountered thus far," said Bellerson.

"Everything?" she asked.

Bellerson knew what she was really asking.

"Everything," he said. "Until we hear from Earth to the contrary, we will continue our mission to find the Alphans. Somehow, the Alphans, the aliens, and Arra are all connected. We have to find that connection. And, somehow, I think the Alphas are the key to stopping these aliens."

"But, sir," said Mukata, "what can a group of people whose technology is three hundred years old do against an alien force like that?"

Bellerson rose and walked to the view screen, looking at the destruction of the planet that played over and over again.

"I don't know," he admitted. He turned to address his officers. "But I do believe that if we don't follow the path that Arra has given us, we lose any chance of stopping these aliens and Earth, possibly the entire galaxy, will be doomed."

Bellerson sat in his quarters, looking at the image of the stun gun they had found on Russell's planet. Why did Arra send them there? Who is the Departed One? What would they find at their next destination? What was so important about a stun gun? It was very primitive compared to their own weapons.

A chime sounded on Bellerson's console. He touched a control and Johnson replaced the image of the stun gun.

"Bellerson, here", he said.

"Sir, we have received a message from Earth," said Johnson. "Your eyes only."

"I'll take it," he replied.

A few seconds later, the image of Admiral Lawrence Bricker appeared on the screen. He was a distinguished looking man in his fifties.

"Captain Bellerson," he began," we have reviewed your report and concur with your assessment. If the alien vessel reaches Earth, one more ship won't make a difference. You are to proceed with your mission to find the Alphans. While all this is very strange, we have learned never to take things for granted. Good luck, Captain. Bricker out."

The image went dark replaced with the words "End Transmission".

So, there it was. A clear directive from Earth. Find the Alphans.

The seven-eyed creature stood before a twisted, gnarled, black tower. Its base was faintly illuminated by yellow light. It disappeared into blackness and blackness surrounded it.

"Have you located the human vessel?" came a voice from the tower. The voice was impossibly deep and shook the tower with each work.

"No, my worship," replied the creature in its grating voice.

The tower shook violently. "We are the most powerful race in the universe and you can't find one ship?!" to voice boomed.

The creature waited for the echo in the vast chamber to die down before responding.

"The destruction of Kla'k'ahk'reek'to obscured our sensors, allowing the human vessel to escape. We were unable to determine its course."

"Yes, I know," replied the voice, calmer. "Those who were responsible for the inadequacy of the sensors have been dealt with. It does not explain why you can't find them now."

"With respect, my worship, we are only one ship and the universe is vast. Perhaps if the Mak'tra could assist..."

"No!" the voice boomed, "It is on its way to Earth. Whether you find the Alphans or not, Earth will be destroyed." The voice paused. "You do know whom they seek, do you not?"

"The Departed One," replied the creature. "But how can one human pose a threat to us?"

The surface of the pillar in front of the creature began to sparkle. A face began to form. The face that was forming resembled that of the creature but was easily five times larger. When it was formed, it stretched forth from the pillar to look directly at the creature.

"I do not know," it said. "And that is what worries me. However, the Astherians obviously know. I should have destroyed them before they evolved."

The creature took a step backward. If the creature's face allowed for the showing of expressions, it would have show confusion.

"Forgive me, my worship, but you don't know? I thought you know everything."

"Are you questioning you god?" shouted the voice. Everything shook violently.

The creature's eyes glowed bright yellow with fear. "No, it's just that..."

"Do you not wish to be one with your god someday?"

"Yes, of course...."

"Today is a good day."

The face on the pillar sprung forward, its mouth opening, and instantly devoured the creature.

The Yorktown arrived at its next destination. From space the planet looked rather odd. Instead of the usual blue-green coloring most habitable planets had, this one's coloring was varying shades of purple and white. Upon closer inspection, these varying shades of purple were actually vast mountain ranges and plateaus.

On one of these plateaus appeared to be a civilization of some sort. That's where the shuttle was heading. Having been impressed by the performance of the crew he took on the last mission, Bellerson decided to have the same crew on this one. Of course, Johnson protested Bellerson going down to the planet.

Inside the shuttle, Bellerson watched the approach with Mukata. On the view screen before him, he could make out some kind of structures on the plateau.

"What do you make of those?" he asked Mukata.

"Not sure," he replied. He touched a control on the console and the image was magnified.

The structures appeared to be tree-like. However, instead of having leaves on their limbs, they had large, white globes. Vegetation grew around the "trees".

"Weird," commented Bellerson.

"Whatever they are, they're alive," said Mukata.

"What about intelligent life?" asked Bellerson.

Mukata studied the readouts. "I am picking up some humanoid life signs, but I can't pinpoint their exact location. However, they are on the plateau somewhere."

The shuttle touched down. Inside, Bellerson was giving instructions to his crew.

"All right, you know the drill," he said. "Keep in communication. We know there are some sort of humanoids out there. We don't know where they are or if they are hostile. Since we found the stun gun on Russell's planet, I can only assume that we are here to find something. And, if I were to guess, I'd say it's going to be something that belonged to the Alphans. Any questions?"

"Sir, if we encounter hostiles, what are you orders?" asked Kramer.

"Stun, don't kill."

"And if stun doesn't work?" asked McKillip.

Bellerson paused. "Then we will have no choice but to kill. Somehow, I think it won't come to that."

Bellerson made one final inspection of his gear, as did the rest.

"Kramer, you're with me. McKillip, you're with Mr. Mukata. Let's go," he said as he touched a control to open the shuttle's door.

The door slid sideways to reveal bright sunlight, a perfectly clear sky, and what seemed to be hundreds of people looking at the landing party. They were clad in what appeared to be togas from ancient Rome. They all had an innocent, child-like look about them.

"I don't think we're going to have any trouble finding the people," muttered Kramer.

"Welcome to Piri," said one of the men standing closest to the shuttle.

Bellerson was surprised to hear the alien speak English.

"You speak English?" he asked.

The man appeared to be surprised as well. "English? No, we speak the language of the saviors. You speak the language of the saviors. Are you of the same people as the saviors?"

Bellerson looked over to Mukata.

"The Alphans?" Mukata offered.

Bellerson turned back to the man. "We are from Earth. Perhaps if you could tell us more about these saviors, we could determine if we are of the same people."

"Yes, yes, of course," said the man. "But this is not the place to discuss such things. Come, let us go inside." He held out his hand for the landing party to follow.

Bellerson nodded and the landing party walked down the shuttle's ramp. The crowd parted to allow the landing party and their guide through. They seemed overjoyed by the presence of the Earth people.

The entire place seemed impossibly serene. Some of the tree-like plants jutted high into the sky while others appeared to be young saplings. Flowers were growing everywhere and the air was filled with soap bubbles as if there was a huge bubble machine constantly running somewhere. The surface of the plateau seemed to be completely artificial save for where the plants were growing.

Their guide stopped. Before them, a section of the surface slid forward to reveal steps going down into a brightly lit room. The party descended the steps and entered the room. The entrance slid shut behind them.

The room consisted only of an oval, white table surrounded by ten white chairs.

"Please, sit," said the man.

Everyone sat.

"I am Lornel, the leader of the Pirians," he said.

"I am John Bellerson, captain of the Earth ship Yorktown. This is my Science Office, Mr. Mukata and security officers Mr. Kramer and Mr. McKillip."

"Security officers? Were you expecting trouble?" asked Lornel.

"Quite honestly, we didn't know what to expect when we landed here," replied Bellerson.

"Ah, just being prepared. Always wise."

"So, Lornel, who are these saviors you referred to?" asked Bellerson.

"A very long time ago," begin Lornel, "Piri had a great, high-tech civilization. The Pirians longed for a perfect life. So, they built a vast machine called the Guardian. The Guardian sought to fulfill its directive by stopping all time on Piri. Nothing grew, nothing changed. All the Pirians were in a state of stasis. Then the saviors came. They too initially fell into the same trap the Pirians were in. All but one. Their leader did not succumb to the will of the Guardian. He resisted and eventually destroyed the Guardian. Once the Guardian was destroyed, time began again.

"When my ancestors came out of their long slumber, they did not know what had happened. Eventually, however, they found a ship left by the saviors and in it contained a message detailing how they brought our world back to life."

"You found one of their ships?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes. Would you like to see it?" offered Lornel.

"Please," said Bellerson, rising to his feet.

Lornel, Kramer, and McKillip also rose. However, Mukata stayed seated.

"Captain, Lornel, I have some more questions," he said.

Bellerson looked down at Mukata. "I know. So do I. This is an amazing story and an amazing civilization, but, unfortunately, right now, we don't have the time for a thorough investigation. Perhaps, when this crisis is over, we can come back."

Mukata rose. "I'd like that very much, Captain".

Back on the surface, the crowd had dissipated. There were children playing. Some adults were playing with them while others were up in the tree-like plants, pulling the white globes off, and tossing them to an awaiting adult below.

"What are they doing?" asked Bellerson as the group walked towards the ship.

"They are harvesting," said Lornel. "The cree plant provides all the food we need."

"One food source?" asked Mukata. "That's amazing."

"Seems kind of boring to me," chimed in Kramer.

Lornel looked back to Kramer and smiled. "You'd be amazed at the variety you can get from a cree globe."

"Is your society the only one on Piri?" asked Mukata.

"No," replied Lornel. "We have communities all over Piri. After our ancestors awoke and their numbers grew, they realized they would need to spread out to other areas of the planet. We do not know why, but, for some reason, before the time of the Guardian, the Pirians only occupied one small area of the planet."

"How many Pirians are there?" asked Mukata.

Lornel shrugged. "We do not know. Our numbers are vast, however." Lornel stopped. "Ah, there it is."

Up ahead was the wreckage of a ship. Leafy vines covered most of the sructure. Mukata pulled out his hand-held sensor and began scanning it.

"It's an Eagle from Moonbase Alpha," he said. "It looks like it's been here for approximately 250 years."

"How's it still intact?" asked Bellerson.

Mukata did more scanning. "It appears the plant life on it is protecting it from decay. Without further study, I can't say how."

Bellerson turned to Lornel.

"Lornel, you said there was a message?" he asked.

"Yes. When our ancestors found this ship, they went inside and discovered a message for them. Unfortunately, they couldn't understand it at first. Since the Guardian was destroyed, there was nothing to translate the words for them. Thankfully, there were gifted linguists among the Pirians so they were eventually able to understand the message. After hearing what the saviors had done, it was decided to adopt their language as our own."

"Can we go inside and hear the message?" asked Bellerson.

"No," said Lornel. "Entry into the ship is forbidden."

"Why? Do you considered it a holy place?" asked Bellerson.

"No," replied Lornel. "It has computers. A Pirian is forbidden to use a computer. The message that the computer inside contained has been handed down throughout the generations."

"But I'm sure those computers would pose no threat. Compared to the Guardian, they are extremely primitive," said Bellerson.

"True, but it is the temptation that we fear most."

"I understand," said Bellerson. "What did the message say?"

"It said, 'People of Piri. This message is being sent to one of our ships that crashed when we restored time to your planet. I am John Koenig, commander of Moonbase Alpha. We were passing your world...'" and Lornel continued with the details of what happened on Piri.

After hearing the story, Bellerson said, "Lornel, I need to talk with my officers. Can we have a moment?"

"Certainly," said Lornel and he walked out of hearing range.

The four officers gathered around.

"We need that ship," said Bellerson.

"Why?" asked McKillip.

Bellerson shook his head. "I'm not sure, but it seems we're being sent to these planets to pick up Alpha artifacts. Mukata, do you think the Eagle would survive being towed back to the Yorktown with the shuttle?"

Mukata scanned the Eagle once again. "The structure is intact. The landing struts have broken and there is damage to the engines, but it should survive being towed back to the Yorktown."

"Do you think the Pirians will give it up?" asked Kramer.

"Well, no one is permitted to enter it and it seems to be a source of temptation for them. So, I'm guessing yes."

Bellerson turned and called for Lornel to rejoin them.

"Lornel, can we take this ship?" asked Bellerson.

Lornel seemed surprised by Bellerson's request. "Why would you want this ship?"

"As you probably have already guessed, we are of the same people as the saviors. We are actually looking for them. A woman named Arra sent us here. We don't know why we were sent here. However, upon finding this ship, we believe we were sent here to retrieve it."

"So, the saviors want it back?" asked Lornel.

Bellerson shook his head. "We don't know. But, somehow, this ship will play a role in finding them."

Without hesitation, Lornel said, "You may have it." He paused. "Will there be others coming, looking for it?"

Bellerson thought back to the destruction of Russell's planet. Although he never saw them, he knew that untold people were killed by the destruction of the planet at the hands of the enemy. He didn't want to put the Pirians into a panic. After all, if the alien ship did arrive, there would be nothing they could do to stop it.

"I don't know," he said.

It was determined that two shuttles would be required to tow the Eagle back to the Yorktown. The salvage crews arrived and began preparing the Eagle for retrieval. The vines were cut away and cables attached. Braces were placed at key points to ensure the Eagle would stay intact.

The Pirians gathered and watched as the salvage work was being done. As the two shuttles were lifting the Eagle, they cheered. As the Eagle and the shuttles disappeared into the sky, they cheered even more. The last computer - the last temptation - that was on their planet was gone

Chapter Seven

The wrecked Eagle lay on the floor of the Yorktown's shuttle bay. Engineers walked about the Eagle taking readings with their hand-held scanners. Bellerson surveyed the Eagle accompanied by Chief Engineer Karl McDougal.

"How bad of shape is she in?" asked Bellerson.

"Considering she's nearly three hundred years old, pretty good," replied McDougal. "I'd say when it crashed, it fell from no more than fifty feet."

"Fifty feet?" asked Bellerson.

McDougal nodded. "It seems they were about ready to touch down when they crashed. There is some structural damage. The landing struts are completely destroyed. There is damage to the undercarriage and some of the engine bells. And, even though those plants that were covering it did a good job protecting it, there is some corrosion."

"Can you make her fly again?" asked Bellerson.

McDougal smiled. "It will be a pleasure to get her to fly again. We'll be able to replace any metal parts with alloys we can produce here."

"How long?"

"Five, maybe six days," replied McDougal. "But, I have to tell you, Captain, if you hadn't found that stun gun, it would be much longer."

Bellerson stopped walking and looked at McDougal. "Why's that?" he asked.

"It gave us a head start in duplicating and understanding their type of power. Without the head start we got, it would probably be another week."

Bellerson shook his head and smiled.

"Some amusing, Captain?" asked McDougal.

"We will reach out next destination in seven days. If we hadn't found that stun gun, you couldn't get the ship ready before we get there."

McDougal nodded his head in understanding. "Ah, I see. Every get the feeling we're being lead along?"

"Of that, I have no doubt," replied Bellerson. He put his hand on McDougal's shoulder. "Keep me posted on your progress."

"Aye, sir."

Seven days to the next destination. Six days to repair the Eagle. Bellerson wondered If they could make it to their next stop without encountering the alien ship. He was very grateful the ship didn't show up at Piri. No doubt Piri's fate would have been the same as Russell's planet.

On day five, Bellerson's hope for an uneventful journey ended. He sat on the bridge when Mukata delivered the bad news.

"Captain," said Mukata from his station, "I'm picking up a powered object ahead of us at extreme sensor range."

"Can you identify it?" asked Bellerson.

"Not at this range," replied Mukata.

"So, it may or may not be our friends," said Bellerson.

"We won't now for sure until we get closer," offered Mukata.

"I'd rather not get too close. Scan for any nearby bodies we can hide behind. Asteroids, comets.."

"Aye, sir," replied Mukata touching controls on his console. "I'm picking up an asteroid field bearing 213 by 115."

"Is there any indicating the powered object has spotted us?"

"No, sir. It has not altered its course."

"Good," said Bellerson. "Mr. Ward, set course to 213 by 115 and go to sub-light speed. "

"Aye, sir," replied the Mark Ward, the helmsman.

The Yorktown altered course and appeared back in normal space after engaging her sub-light engines. Nearby was the asteroid field Mukata had discovered.

Bellerson looked at the field on the main screen. The field was not particularly dense and there was not much movement. The asteroids seemed fairly stable.

"Any chances of us getting hit by an asteroid in there?" asked Bellerson.

"There's always a chance," replied Mukata. "But the asteroids seem stable - there isn't much movement."

"Mr. Ward, take us in," ordered Bellerson.

The Yorktown moved into the asteroid field.

Bellerson watched the main screen, asteroids moving out of view as the Yorktown passed each one.

"Find us a hiding place, Mr. Mukata," said Bellerson.

Mukata watch his console for a few moments and then said, "There." He touched a control and a targeting pattern appeared around an asteroid on the main screen.

"Mr. Ward, park us behind that asteroid," ordered Bellerson.

"Aye, Sir," replied Ward and the Yorktown moved behind the asteroid.

"Any sign of that powered object?" asked Bellerson.

Mukata looked at his console. "Yes, sir. It is still on its original course. I can get configuration information now."

"Is it the alien ship?" asked Bellerson.

Mukata didn't answer right away as he studied the readouts on his console.

"Mr. Mukata?" asked Bellerson, turning to face him.

Mukata looked up from his console. "The configuration is the same, but it is considerably smaller. It's roughly five meters in diameter."

"Five meters?" asked a puzzled Bellerson. He touched a control on the arm of his chair. "Mr. Benson, report to bridge."

Just then, the door to the bridge opened and Stan Benson stepped through.

Bellerson gave him a puzzled look.

"I noticed we had dropped out of light speed, so I thought I might be needed on the bridge," he offered.

Bellerson smiled. "That's why you're my tactical officer. We picked up an alien ship and decided to hide behind an asteroid until it has passed."

"Good thinking, Captain," said Benson.

"The vessel is the same configuration as the alien ship we have encountered," reported Mukata," but it is only five meters in diameter."

"Five meters?" asked Benson. "Could be a scout ship or a probe."

"For the purpose of finding us," said Bellerson.

"Quite possible," agreed Benson. "Since the aliens didn't show up at Piri, they may have lost us. So, sending out probes would be a quick way of finding us."

"Sir," said Mukata, "the probe has altered its course." He looked directly at Bellerson. "It's heading for us."

"How can that be?" asked Bellerson. "How could they detect us behind an asteroid?"

"We don't know the capability of the sensors," replied Mukata. "They may be able to scan through objects our sensors can't."

"Have you detected any kind of transmission from it?" asked Bellerson.

"No, sir," replied Mukata.

"Mr. Benson, do you think we are capable of destroying this probe?" asked Bellerson.

"Because of its size, I would assume it has limited weapons and shielding," replied Benson. "But, of course, I can't make any guarantees."

"Understood," said Bellerson. "We have to destroy it before it can tell its creators that we are here." He touched a control on the arm of his chair. "Red alert! Battle stations!"

Red alert klaxons sounded and the Yorktown broke into a hive of activity.

"Mr. Ward, lay in an intercept course of the probe and take us out," ordered Bellerson.

The Yorktown moved from behind the asteroid and, within minutes, cleared the asteroid field.

"We're clear," announced Ward.

"Distance to target?" asked Bellerson.

"One million kilometers," replied Benson.

"Mr. Ward, maximum sub-light speed," ordered Bellerson. "Get us there before it can transmit."

"Aye, sir," replied Ward.

The Yorktown lurched forward as the sub-light engines went to maximum power.

On the main screen, the alien probe appeared. Save for its size, it looked identical to the alien ship.

Benson touched controls on his console. "We have a lock, Captain. Missiles read to fire."

"Any signs of a transmission," asked Bellerson.

"No, sir," replied Mukata.

"Fire missiles one through six," ordered Bellerson. "And let's hope that's enough," he muttered.

From the underbelly of the Yorktown, six missiles were launched towards the alien probe. Within a matter of seconds, they struck their target, destroying it in a brilliant ball of fire.

Bellerson watched as the fireball dissipated and the alien probe was no more.

"Any signs it was able to send a transmission?" he asked.

Mukata studied the readouts on his console. "No, sir," he said.

There was a collective sigh of relief on the bridge.

Bellerson touched a control. "Stand down red alert," he said.

"Sir, I don't mean to sound pessimistic," began Benson," but that seemed a bit too easy."

Bellerson nodded. "Yes, it did."

Another creature stood before the black, twisted pillar, unaware of the fate of its predecessor.

"Speak," roared the voice from the pillar.

"Your worship, we have lost contact the probe Lek'nair," said the creature.

"Excellent!" exclaimed the voice, shaking the pillar. "The humans must have destroyed it. That is were they are. Set a course."

"Yes, your worship," said the creature as it bowed, backing out of the room.

Finally, something had worked. Attempting to influence the captain of the human vessel in a dream had not worked. Attempting to intimidate them into abandoning their mission by destroying that planet hadn't worked. Now, however, it knew where they humans were. And since the humans had destroyed the probe they would, no doubt, assume their location had gone undiscovered. They would be found and destroyed completely before they could find the Departed One. Then their world. Then every living thing in the galaxy. For that is what its kind did - destroyed galaxies. That was its purpose.

In the Yorktown's landing bay, a huge tarp hung from the ceiling, blocking the Eagle from view.

McDougal stood next to Bellerson, his arms folded and a big smile on his face.

"It take it you've finished it?" asked Bellerson.

"Aye, sir," replied McDougal, nodding, with a bit of pride in his voice.

"And can she fly?"

McDougal unfolded his arms and put his fists on his hips.

"I'm insulted you asked me such a question," he said jokingly. "Of course she can!"

He looked at the other engineers standing near the tarp. "Let's let the captain see our latest miracle, boys!"

The tarp dropped as did Bellerson's jaw. There the Eagle stood, resting proudly on its landing struts. The hull was bright white and the engines glimmered in the light. She was a beautiful ship.

"Mr. McDougal," said Bellerson, "I am impressed."

McDougal just smiled. He gestured towards the Eagle. "Shall we go on board?"

Bellerson saw that the boarding ramp was down and the side doors were open.

"Absolutely," he said with as much enthusiasm as possible.

The passenger module of the Eagle contained four bench seats and the walls were lined with computer banks and screens. The screens were dark but the numerous lights on the panels winked on an off.

"This is incredible, Max," said Bellerson.

"Aye," agreed McDougal. "Wait until you see the cockpit."

Bellerson and McDougal walked into the cockpit. The light panels glowed in an amber color. The lights on the various panels blinked on and off. Bellerson noticed the recessed pilot chairs.

"Pilot," said McDougal gesturing to his left.

"Co-pilot," he said gesturing to his right. Without hesitation, he took the co-pilot chair.

Bellerson took the pilot chair and looked over to McDougal. McDougal was fastening the over-the-shoulder restraints. Bellerson did likewise. Then McDougal slid his seat forward and Bellerson followed suit.

McDougal touched a control and the door to the cockpit slid shut. Bellerson looked up and behind him to see the number 6 inside a circle printed in the center of the door.

"Eagle Six, I presume," said Bellerson.

"Yes, sir," said McDougal. He put his hands on the flight controls. "She's fairly easy to fly. These are the flight controls and..."

"Bridge to Captain," came a voice over Bellerson's wrist communicator.

"Bellerson here," he said.

"We have arrived at our next destination," said Johnson. "It is a planet."

"On my way," replied Bellerson. He looked over to McDougal. "I'm afraid the flight lesson will have to wait."

McDougal was clearly disappointed. "I understand."

Bellerson and McDougal stepped out of the Eagle and into the shuttle bay. They hadn't taken a single step when the lights flickered.

"What was that?" asked Bellerson.

McDougal looked around. "I don't know," he said.

Then the entire bay lurched, throwing everyone to the floor.

A worried Bellerson got to his feet and touched his communicator. "Bellerson to bridge. What is going on?"

"We've just experienced a ten percent power loss and now we've come to a complete stop," replied Johnson. "The engines are on line, but we're not moving."

McDougal was already on his way out of the shuttle bay. "I'm heading to engineering," he said.

Bellerson left the shuttle bay as well not noticing that the Eagle's systems were at full power.

Chapter Eight

Captain Bellerson hurried onto the bridge. On the main screen was a planet.

"Report," he ordered as he headed for the center seat.

"Power is down by thirty percent," said Johnson as he vacated Bellerson's chair.

"Mr. Mukata, what is the source of this power drain?" asked Bellerson as he sat.

"I don't know, Captain," he admitted.

Bellerson assumed as much. He touched a control on the arm of his chair.

"Engineering. Why aren't we moving?" he asked.

McDougal's voice replied, "I don't know, Captain. The engines are fine and they provide thrust. We just aren't moving."

"Keep on it. Bridge out," he said. "Mr. Mukata, how long until we have not power?"

"At the current rate, thirty minutes," replied Mukata.

Thirty minutes? thought Bellerson. And then they would all die.

He rubbed his chin, looking at the planet.

"Whatever the answer is, it's down there," he said, pointing to the planet and rising to his feet. "Mr. Mukata, you're with me. Mr. Johnson, I want the best shuttle pilot we have for nonpowered flight and five security in the launch bay immediately."

"Nonpowered?" asked Johnson.

"Yes," replied Bellerson. "If we lose power in the shuttle while in the atmosphere..."

Johnson nodded. "Aye, sir," he said, moving to fill the center seat.

Bellerson sat in the co-pilot's seat of the shuttle. Next to him sat a young man he had only met in passing.

"Lt. Carter, isn't it?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes, sir," replied Carter, quickly performing a pre-flight check.

"Get us down to that planet, Mr. Carter," said Bellerson.

"Aye, sir." Carter touched a control. Nothing happened. The look on Carter's face indicated he didn't expect that.

"Mr. Carter?" began Bellerson, noticing the frown on Carter's face.

Carter shook his head. "He should be moving, sir. The engines aren't functioning."

Bellerson dropped his head and shook it. Somehow this planet was affecting their systems and they couldn't get down to it. He slowly raised his head and noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Though the cockpit window, he saw the Eagle sitting in the shuttle bay. Its hatch was still open, interior lighting spilling out into the dimmed bay. It seemed the Eagle had full power. Why hadn't he noticed it before?

"Lt. Carter," he said, turn towards him. "Do you, by chance, know how to fly one of those?" He nodded towards the Eagle.

"The Eagle?" he asked. "I've studied them all my life. I have always been fascinated by their design and a relative of mine who lived centuries ago used to fly one. He was stationed on Moonbase Alpha when the accident happened."

Bellerson paused. "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me." He rose to his feet. "That's our way down. Let's go."

The Eagle flew out of the Yorktown's shuttle bay towards the planet. In the cockpit, Lt. Carter easily guided the craft.

"This is a real treat, Captain." he said, smiling, to Bellerson who sat in the co-pilot's chair.

Bellerson had to agree. For the first time since this mission to find the Alphans began, he was enjoying himself.

"ETA to the planet?" he asked.

"Only twenty minutes," replied Carter. "She may be nearly three hundred years old, but she's still fast."

Five minutes later, one of the cockpit's monitors came to life and displayed "Signal Detected" on the screen.

Bellerson looked over at Carter, puzzled. "Signal detected? What's its origin?"

Carter was about to reply, but the computer did it for him. On the screen, various pieces of information about the signal appeared, including its origin. The origin was the planet.

"The planet," said Bellerson. "I wonder if the Alphans are here."

"Only one way to find out," replied Carter.

Bellerson nodded. "Take us down."

On the way down, they saw evidence of a settlement at the signal's origin. It was not a large settlement by any means. There were only a few structures. Using the Eagle's cameras, they were able to get a close up look at it. There were six buildings. They all had thatch roofs. Four of them were fairly square in shape while two were oddly shaped compared to the others being long and narrow. Then something else caught their attention - people. And they were waving. They could make out three adults, eight children of varying ages, and two of the older children were holding babies.

"Seems they'd like for us to land," said Bellerson.

"Seems so," replied Carter.

"Let's not disappoint them. Set her down."

Carter touched the Eagle down with nary a bump.

"Carter, I want you to stay with the ship," Bellerson said, rising from his seat.

Carter was clearly disappointed. "Aye, sir," he said reluctantly.

Bellerson entered the passenger module. Mukata and the security team were gathering their gear.

"Are we ready?" Bellerson asked.

"Aye, sir," came the replies.

Bellerson stepped to the hatch and touched a button. The door slid smoothly open. A warm breeze caressed his face and the scents of spring greeted his nostrils. He let himself enjoy the sensation for only a moment and then moved down the ramp.

The group that had been waving stood before them. With the three adults in the lead, they all rushed forward, smiles on their faces. As soon as they saw the occupants of the Eagle, however, the smiles vanished and the adults stopped, holding out their arms to keep the children back.

Bellerson surveyed the crowd. Clearly, they had been expecting someone else. Two of the adults looked to be middle-aged while the third was elderly.

"We mean you no harm," Bellerson said.

After a moment, the elderly man spoke. "You fly an Eagle, but you are not from Moonbase Alpha."

"No," answered Bellerson," but we are from Earth. We are looking for the Alphans."

"For what purpose?" asked the man.

How to answer that one, thought Bellerson. Honesty would be best.

"Honestly, we are not sure. We were sent her by a woman named Arra."

The adults looked at each other in surprise. Then the man looked back at Bellerson. "You've seen Arra?"

With emphasis on the word "seen", Bellerson decided to qualify his answer.

"In a vision, yes," he replied. "She said the Alphas helped her people evolve and that the Alphans still had a great destiny to fulfill."

The man stepped forward and extended his hand. Bellerson accepted and shook it.

"Welcome to Arkadia," he said. He gestured back towards the others. "This is Luke and Anna Ferro and their eight children. The two little ones are the newest additions to our colony." He turned back to Bellerson. "And I am Victor Bergman."

"Professor Victor Bergman?" asked Bellerson.

Bergman smiled. "No one has called me that in a long time, but, yes."

"Captain John Bellerson", he replied. "Are you the only Alphans still alive?"

Bergman shrugged. "I'm not sure. We would like to think the others have survived."

"How did you come to this place?"

Bergman stretch out his arm. "Come. Let's sit in some shade and let the children fix us something cool to drink. We all have plenty of questions."

The entire landing party, including Carter and the security officer, were seated at a large table under an oak tree with the Alphans. Four of the children were passing out drinks to the adults. He took a sip of the yellowish colored drink and looked at the glass, puzzled.

"Do you like it, Captain?" asked Anna.

Bellerson nodded. "I haven't had real lemonade in a very long time."

"So, Captain," began Bergman as he set his glass down, "how are things on Earth?"

Bellerson took another drink of the lemonade and placed the glass on the table.

"Professor, it is the year 2267," he said.

"Ah," said Bergman. "Of course. Time distortion."

Bellerson knew what Bergman was referring to. A long-held belief that time in space progressed slower than time on a planet. Thus, if someone were to be in space for a year, many years would have passed on Earth when that person returned.

Bellerson shook his head. "That's never been proven. From all of our experiences, time progress in space the same as on Earth."

Bergman looked puzzled. "Then how? We've been on this planet for twenty years. We are from different times. How is that possible?"

"Quite frankly, Professor, I don't know. But, let me tell you how we got here."

Bellerson paused, took a sip of his lemonade, and began his tale.

"We found Moonbase Alpha," he began.

Bergman's eyes lit up, but then quickly his expression changed. "Since you're looking for the Alphans, obviously, they weren't there."

Bellerson shook his head. "No. The base was nearly destroyed. We found a log entry by Commander Koenig. He said the base was attacked and the survivors had to abandon it." He looked into Bergman's eyes. "He said he wished you would have been there to see all that they had seen."

Bergman looked down at the table and then back up. "It was a difficult decision to stay here," he admitted. "I do miss him and the others."

"I then had my encounter with Arra," Bellerson continued. "She spoke of a great destiny that the Alphans had to fulfill and of a great enemy. She gave us a path to follow..." And Bellerson recanted what had happened on their mission so far.

"The Departed One?" asked Bergman when Bellerson had finished.

"Any idea who that might be?" asked Bellerson.

Bergman shrugged. "I suppose it could be any of us. We all departed Moonbase Alpha."

"True," replied Bellerson. "I didn't think of it that way."

Before Bellerson could speculate any further, Bergman asked "You say your ship is losing power and you can't move?"

"Yes," replied Bellerson.

"That's what happened to us when we first arrived," said Bergman. And he told Bellerson about going down to the planet, finding the cave, the skeletons, the Sanskrit and how the Arkadians went to Earth. He told them about Luke and Anna took matters into their own hands so they could settle on the planet.

"Once Luke and Anna had landed on Arkadia, our power started coming back and the Moon began to move again," Bergman said.

"So how did you get here?" asked Bellerson.

"To study the birthplace of mankind was too great of a temptation to pass up," he said. "I convinced John to let me take an Eagle down before the moon was out of range." Bergman smiled. "He tried to talk me out of it, of course."

Bellerson took another sip of is lemonade as he let Bergman's story sink in.

"The birthplace of mankind," he muttered. He then looked up at Bergman. "If the Arkadians were advanced enough to send ships to Earth, then why did people develop like they did? Wouldn't they have started out advanced?"

Bergman raised a hand. "I know it raises a lot of questions. Unfortunately, for your question, I don't have an answer. And, trust me, I have asked that question before!" Bergman took a sip of his drink. Setting it back down, he asked, "Do you know who or what this enemy is Arra spoke of?"

Bellerson pulled his handheld from his belt, touched a few controls, and handed it to Bergman. "This is what their ship looks like," he said.

Bergman took it and looked at the image. He immediately rose, showing a shocked expression. Handing back the handheld, he said, "Come with me."

They moved through the forest at a brisk pace. Bellerson was surprised that someone of Bergman's age could move so quickly. All the members of the landing party accompanied Bergman to where ever it was he was leading them. Bergman had also asked Anna and Luke to join them. Bellerson expressed concern about the children being left alone, but Luke insisted they would be fine. Finally they stopped at an uprooted tree. Near the roots was a large hole - no doubt where the tree had once stood. It looked as if the sides of the hole were shored up by timber and the top of a ladder could be see jutting out of the hole.

"We discovered this about a year and a half after we came here," Bergman was explaining as he moved to the hole. "A storm moved through and uprooted this tree."

At the hold, Bergman got onto the ladder. Bellerson peered down into the hole to see a pit less than two meters deep and a circular hatch at the bottom. Bergman quickly moved down the ladder. At the bottom, he stood on the rim of the hatch and began turning its wheel.

"Come on, then," he called up as he turned the wheel.

Bellerson moved onto the ladder. As he did, he heard the squeaking sound of the hatch opening.

The corridor was long and featureless save for the light ports spaced evenly along the walls.

"Did the Arkadians build this?" asked Bellerson as they walked.

"Yes," replied Bergman without offering more.

As soon as the group had entered the corridor, Mukata had been scanning. Something appeared on his scanner that he did not like.

"Captain, everything here is saturated with radiation," he said.

Bellerson stopped. Bergman took a few steps before realizing that everyone else wasn't moving. He turned around.

"Radiation?" asked Bellerson.

"Don't worry, Captain," said Bergman. "The levels are only dangerous for long term exposure. It would be too dangerous to live down here, but it's suitable for a visit now and then."

"He's right, Captain," said Mukata.

Bellerson nodded. "Let's move on, then."

They walked for nearly thirty minutes before the corridor ended. It emptied into a colossal room. And even that wasn't adequate enough to describe the size of the room. The room was brightly lit and circular. Bellerson could barely make out the other side. Not due to any obscurement, but due to the distance to the other side. Before them was a railing. Bellerson walked to it where Bergman stood and looked over it. The platform they were run repeated itself until Bellerson could no longer see them.

"How big is this place?" he asked.

"One kilometer across and ten deep," replied Bergman. "Each level is ten meters apart."

Bellerson whistled. "A thousand levels," he said. "Why would they build something like this underground?"

Bergman held up a hand. "I'm afraid the history lesson will have to wait. I must show you something first. This way."

Bergman walked along the wall as the others followed. He stopped at a door and pushed a button. The door opened to reveal what appeared to be a transportation car of sorts. It was long and narrow with some twenty seats on either side.

"These transportation vehicles are all over the city," Bergman was explaining as they entered. Everyone sat and Bergman took a seat next to a control panel. He pressed a few controls and the car began to move. "They travel horizontally and vertically. I like to call them travel tubes."

Bellerson realized that, other than when the car first started, there was no sensation of movement.

"Professor," said Bellerson, "perhaps while we're traveling we can..."

"We're here," interrupted Bergman, rising to his feet.

The double-doors of the car opened to reveal a platform that looked identical to the one they had just left.

Remaining seated, Bellerson asked, "How far did we travel?"

"One hundred and three floors," answered Bergman as he walked out of the car, Luke and Anna following his lead.

Bellerson rose to his feet as did his landing party and they exited the car.

Bergman, Luke, and Anna were approaching another door when the landing party caught up with them. Bellerson judged it was in about the same location as the door that lead to the surface some one hundred and three floors up. But these doors were larger. The one above had been a small, single door while these were large double doors. Bergman touched a button on the wall beside them and they opened.

The corridor was brightly lit and immense. It was nearly twenty meters wide and the ceiling was nearly that tall as well. The ceiling was arched. Every thirty meters or so, a support ran up either wall and into the ceiling completing an arch. The lights that illuminated the corridor were hidden in the supporting arches.

Bellerson whistled. "How much of the city have you explored?" he asked.

"Not much, I'm afraid," replied Bergman as they walked. "We can't spend a lot of time down here due to the radiation. Unfortunately, the only entrance seems to be the one we came through so that limits how far we can explore."

As they walked, they saw doors on either side of the corridor about every sixty meters. Each door had markings on it - Sanskrit, no doubt, thought Bellerson. He would have loved to open each door to see what was there. But, of course, he couldn't.

Bellerson noticed that up ahead on the right, there appeared to be large rectangular indentations on the wall. From this distance he couldn't make out what they were. As they drew nearer, he realized that they were windows. And, when they arrived at the windows, Bellerson saw something that was truly amazing - not that everything he had already seen wasn't.

It's a room, he thought. But calling it a room was like calling the Grand Canyon on Earth a hole in the ground. He couldn't estimate the size of the room because he couldn't see any walls save for the right one that came up to the windows and that wall tapered off to its vanishing point in the distance. The wall itself seem to be made of a black, translucent material for Bellerson could see the tell tale signs of lights blinking behind it. The room itself was filled it thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of tables. Each table had a chair, a lamp, and something rectangular on its surface. Bellerson couldn't make out what those were from here.

Forcing himself to look away, Bellerson saw that the group was coming upon another set of double doors. However, this set was made of glass and had some Sanskrit etched into them in large letters. This time, Bergman didn't touch a button on the wall - the doors opened as they approached.

"Welcome to the library," said Bergman as the group filed into the room.

"This is incredible," said Bellerson, looking around like a kid in a candy store.

Bergman just smiled. He was enjoying the wonder he saw on their faces. It was the same wonder that he, Anna, and Luke had experienced several times since they had been on Arkadia.

"Come with me," Bergman finally said.

He led them to one of the tables. The rectangular object was a computer screen inset into the desk. He touched it and the screen came to life. "Anna, if you please."

Anna slid into the chair and began working the virtual controls on the screen. As she did, the group encircled the table so each person could have a clear view of what was happening.

"I'm afraid I still don't know much Sanskrit, even after all these years," Bergman offered as an explanation.

After a few moments, Anna said, "I have it, Victor."

"Put it up, please," he said.

A duplicate image of what was on the screen shimmered into existence above the table. Bellerson was not surprised. This kind of technology had been in use on Earth for centuries. He did notice, however, that no one was moving to get a better angle on the display. He took a few steps to stand directly behind Anna and the image remained in perfect alignment. He took a few more steps to his left and the image still remained in perfect alignment.

"No matter where you go, Captain, the image will remain perfect," said Bergman, smiling.

Bellerson stepped back over to Bergman. "We could learn so much here."

Bergman put a hand on his shoulder. "We will, but first things first." He pointed to the hovering image. On it was a picture of the alien vessel and Sanskrit writing to the right of it. "We discovered this while going through their library. We didn't take the time to learn what the object was. But, after viewing it on your handheld, I remember seeing it here."

Anna took a moment to read through the text so she could summarize what it said.

"The Arkadians found this alien ship in our galaxy. It was dead. When they boarded it, they found the dead bodies of demonic looking creatures and a ship made of nightmarish constructions."

"Did they give any details of what they saw inside?" asked Bellerson.

Anna shook her head. "No. They weren't able to learn a lot about the aliens, but what they did learn frightened them. They apparently came from another galaxy. The sole purpose of the entire race was to destroy every living thing in a galaxy and they were on their way here."

"Looks like they had already arrived," commented Luke.

Anna shook her head again. "The Arkadians felt that the ship they found got here by some sort of time or space warp. They surmised that's what killed them and, if their fleet had arrived, the Arkadians would have detected them.

"They knew that had to come up with something to protect this galaxy for when they arrived. So, they began to work on something. A - uh - I'm not sure what this word is."

"A weapon?" asked Bellerson.

Anna thought for a moment and then shook her head. "No, that's not it."

"A device?" offered Bergman.

"Yes, that's it. A device. A device that would do.. something to the aliens."

"Kill them," offered Bellerson again.

And, again, Anna shook her head. "That's not it."

"Stop them," Bergman offered again.

Anna shook her head again. "No, it's not 'stop' either."

"Repel", said Luke.

Anna looked up at him and smiled. "Yes, that's it." She was reminded of the time Luke helped her with another translation so many years ago.

"Repel them," she continued. "The device would repel them and, supposedly, send them out of our galaxy. But they had to deliver the device to... I'm sorry, but I have no idea what this word is." She looked up at the group. This time, no one offered anything. They had no idea of where the device might need to be delivered.

After a moment, she continued. "But they had no way of delivering it. So, they hid it on a planet to be found by 'those who could deliver it'".

No one said anything as the story sank in.

Finally, Bellerson asked, "Is there a picture or description of the device?"

Anna shook her head. "I didn't see any."

"Well," said Bellerson, "I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that if we find the Alphans, we find the device."

No one questioned his reasoning.

"Once you find the Alphans and the device, how will you know where and how to deliver it?" asked Bergman.

Bellerson put a hand on Bergman's shoulder. "Somehow, Professor, I think that's where you're going to come in. I think you need to come with us."

"What about the others?" asked Bergman nodding towards Luke and Anna.

Bellerson thought for a moment and then said, "They seem to be safe here. I know you're vital to this mission. I'd rather not put anyone into danger that's not vital to it."

"I understand," said Bergman.

"Do you think we'll get to see Earth?" asked Anna, rising from her chair (the screen went blank and the floating image vanished). "I mean, after you're done with your mission."

Bellerson smiled. "Absolutely. And Earth is going to want to study this planet."

The children all said their goodbyes to "Uncle Victor". Bellerson watched as he hugged each of them, assuring them that he would be back. On board the Eagle, Bergman waved to them from the hatch as it closed.

"That was amazing, Captain," said Carter as Bellerson entered the cockpit.

"Yes, it was," replied Bellerson taking his seat and strapping in. "Take us back to the Yorktown."

"I wonder how bad of shape she's in," said Carter as he punched controls. The engines roared to life.

Bellerson didn't seem worried. "I have a feeling that's she's going to be just fine."

As the Eagle lifted off, Bellerson saw Luke, Anna, and the children continue to wave on the monitor. He definitely wanted to come back here. So much to be learned. The birthplace of mankind - what a discovery!

As the Eagle climbed towards the Yorktown, Bellerson continually tried to get her on the communicator. Finally, it cracked.

"Yorktown, here," came Johnson's voice.

"How are things there?" asked Bellerson.

"Power is nearly at one hundred percent," replied Johnson. "Engines are back on line."

"Excellent," said Bellerson. "We are just clearing the atmosphere now. ETA fifteen minutes."

"Roger that," said Johnson. "Yorktown out... wait a second."

Bellerson heard a voice in the background calling to Johnson, but couldn't make it out.

"Captain, are friends are back," said Johnson.

Bellerson's heart sank. "ETA?"

"Ten minutes, but they're heading towards the planet."

Bellerson looked over at Carter. "ETA back to the planet?"

"Fifteen minutes," replied Carter. "Maybe ten if I do a power descent."

Bellerson put his hand over his mouth. "I said they'd be safe," he muttered. Lowering his hand, he ordered, "Take us to the Yorktown."

"But, sir, what about the people," protested Carter.

"We don't have time," he replied. "The planet will be destroyed in ten minutes."

Carter looked over his right shoulder towards the closed door. "Do we tell the Professor?"

Bellerson shook his head. "Not until it's over."

The alien vessel approached the planet and stopped when it was within firing range. So, this is the birthplace of mankind, thought the leader, the god, of the aliens. It had sensed that something significant had happened here. It sensed that the Departed One had been found. No matter. First, it would destroy mankind's home world and then the puny little human vessel. This time, there would be no escape.

The alien vessel fired its weapon on Arkadia. The gigantic beam of destructive power cut through space and... vanished before it touched the planet.

How can that be? wondered the god. It ordered the weapon to be fired again. And, again, the beam vanished before it touched the planet. The god was angry. It sensed absolutely nothing from the planet that could account for this. Fine. If it could not destroy the planet with its energy weapon, it would physically tear it apart. It ordered the ship to move towards Arkadia.

As the ship neared the place where the beam vanished, it stopped and the entire vessel was wracked in pain. The god could hear all of its children screaming in agony. Never had it felt such pain! Instead of wondering how this was possible, all it could do was think about fleeing. And it did.

From the Eagle, Bellerson and Carter watched the spectacle unfold before them. They watched as the alien ship fired twice without success and then moved in. They watched as the twisted pillars on the ship writhed in seeming agony. And they watched as the ship fled, vanishing from their sight.

They are safe, thought a shocked Bellerson.

"Yorktown, did you see that?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes, sir, we did," was Johnson's reply.

"Did the sensors pick up anything from the planet?"

"No, sir, they did not."

Bellerson wondered what kind of technology could be powerful enough to stop a moon, stop the Yorktown, stop the alien vessel, and not be detectable. If they ever got a chance to come back here, he hoped they would find out.

Chapter Nine

"The Arkadians were once a diverse people. They lived in small communities all over their world. Some of the communities were peaceful while others sought conquest. While exploring a cave system, some members of one of the peaceful communities found what they described as a 'huge, natural power source'. The power source they discovered was also very deadly. All but one of the explorers died. The one that survived reported the discovery to his leaders. He described it as a 'giant glowing crystal at the bottom of an immense shaft'. They were able to devise a way to protect them while they studied it. None of the Arkadian writings ever specified what the power source was actually made of.

"It took many years, but they were able to construct a shield over the power source. This shield protected anyone that went into the caves and allowed them to harness the power. Thus they began to construct their city, which they called the City of Arkadia.

"Being a peaceful group, they invited the other communities to join them in their new home. It took a few hundred years, but, eventually, everyone on Arkadia moved into the city. Being unified now, there were no more wars. All the old settlements fell into ruins and crumbled away into dust.

"For two thousand years, the Arkadians were content in their home. They had no desire to go to the surface. Why should they? They had everything they needed. The Arkadian scientists, however, wanted to explore beyond their city. They knew their history, so they wanted to explore space. And they did.

"About three thousand years after all the Arkadians moved into the city, unrest started brewing. Some citizens wanted to move out of the city and establish their own communities on the surface. Fearing that individual communities would eventually lead to wars, the government forbade it. This, of course, did not settle well with the 'rebels', as the historians called them. No matter how they pleaded, the government would not give in.

"In a desperate and unimaginable act, the rebels gained access to the power source. It wasn't guarded. Why should it be? No one would ever do anything to it. The rebels, however, opened the shield. Their plan was to open the shield just a little and then close it. They wanted to force the government to bow to their demands. However, something went wrong. The shield opened all the way and could not be closed. The radiation that had been pent up for thousands of years was suddenly unleashed like water rushing from a broken dam. Within an hour, everyone in the city was dead. Radiation spilled through the city's ventilation shafts and onto the surface. Arkadia was doomed.

"The only surviving Arkadians were those who had been on exploratory missions. One ship returned to Arkadia shortly after the disaster. A team managed to get into the city and close the shield. It was too late for them, however. Not even their advanced protective gear could shield them. Before the survivors died, they sent word to the other exploratory ships, telling them not to come back to Arkadia and to find a new home. One signaled back that they had found a habitable world. As a last act, they wrote the Testament of Arkadia - the one that we found in the cave where they died.

"We were able to piece the history together from accounts we found in the library and other writings we found from the survivors."

Bergman settled back in his chair, reaching for the cup of coffee on the stand next to him.

"Thank you for the history lesson," said Bellerson. "When this mission is over, we can send teams to Arkadia for study. We, of course, have radiation suits. We also have machines called radiation scrubbers that might be able to clean the entire city. They are big and slow, but we might be able to make the city habitable again."

Setting down his cup, Bergman replied, "I think the Arkadians would like that." He rose to his feet. Bellerson could tell he was tired. "Captain, if you don't mind, I should like to get some sleep."

"Of course," said Bellerson, standing. "I'll show you to your quarters."

Exiting Bellerson's quarters, they proceeded down the corridor.

"Perhaps tomorrow," said Bellerson, "you can tell us about all the things you encountered on Moonbase Alpha."

"How long until our next destination?" asked Bergman.

"Five days."

Bergman smiled. "That may be just enough time."

Over the next four days, Bergman was given a tour of the ship and introduced to the crewmember that shared his last name - Simon Bergman. After during a genealogical search, they discovered that they were indeed related. Also during that time, Bergman was telling about his adventures on Alpha. Bellerson, Mukata, Simon Bergman, and Carter would gather in the conference room and listen a couple hours at a time. Of course, his stories were being recorded so all could enjoy them later.

While all the stories were fascinating, one in particular caught Bellerson's interest.

"A black hole?" he asked. "You went through a black hole?"

Bergman nodded. "Yes, we did. And survived."


"I devised a protective screen that used Alpha's eight anti-gravity towers. It was designed to use the force of the black hole to protect us against itself."

"Ingenious," said Mukata. "But how did the moon itself survive?"

Bergman shrugged. "Quite frankly, I don't know. I don't know how any of us survived that. It shouldn't have worked. But, even more striking, was the fact that we sent a survival ship in the opposite direction before entering the black hole. Somehow, shortly after we exited it, the Eagle showed up. The only explanation I have is that the being in the black hole made it possible."

"Being?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes. As we went through, John and I spoke with someone. If it was a delusion, then we shared the same one."

"Captain," began Mukata, "with your permission, I'd like to learn more about this shield the professor created."

"Do you have any objections, Professor?" asked Bellerson.

"None at all," replied Bergman. "And when are you going to call me Victor?!"

They were nearly there. Would they find the Alphans now or would it be just another clue? The door chime rang.

"Come," said Bellerson, setting down the book he was reading.

The door of his quarters opened to reveal Mukata and Bergman.

"Mr. Mukata. Prof - uh -Victor." he asked.

Bergman noticed the book. "I'm glad to see you still have books in your time, Captain."

Glancing down at the book, Bellerson replied. "It's called Colony by Ben Bova."

"Ah, yes, Ben Bova," said Bergman. "He had some interesting ideas about the future."

"So, what can I do for you, gentlemen?" Bellerson asked.

"Sir, we've been going over Victor's force field..." began Mukata.

"From the best of my fleeting memory," interrupted Bergman.

Mukata nodded and continued. "And I believe that Moonbase Alpha was the only place in the universe that the shield could work on."

Bellerson sat straighter. "Explain."

Mukata and Bergman sat down.

"It was a combination of the type of power used, the construction of the towers, and the lunar surface," said Mukata.

"How did the lunar surface play a role?" asked Bellerson.

"It seems the moon is impervious to the crushing effect of intense gravity," replied Mukata.

"What?" asked a disbelieving Bellerson. "How is that possible?"

Mukata shrugged. "I'm not sure at this point. All I know is that the sample we were able to collect from the moon isn't affected by extreme gravity. Of course, I can't replicate the intense gravity of a black hole, but, preliminary tests show they moon, as is, could survive going through a black hole."

Bellerson mulled it over for a moment. Then, leaning forward, he said, "Okay, this is what we know. The Arkadians built a device that will repel the aliens, but they have no way of delivering it. We just learned that the moon is capable of surviving passage through a black hole and that anyone inside Victor's force field would be safe. Do you suppose the device needs to be delivered into a black hole?"

"It's possible," said Mukata. "But why not just send the device into the black hole by itself?"

"Because it would most likely be crushed before it could do whatever it is it needs to do," offered Bergman.

"Sounds reasonable," said Bellerson. "Gentlemen, I believe we will find the Alphans at our next stop." He glanced over at the digital clock set into the wall. "And we should be there shortly."

The Yorktown disengaged her star drive as she entered the solar system. The coordinates would take them to the fourth planet.

"Captain," said Mukata. "I'm reading a vessel in orbit."

"Is it the aliens?" asked Bellerson.

"No, sir," replied Mukata. "It is of a different configuration."

"On screen."

The main view screen changed to show the alien ship. It was sleek and elegant. The design of the ship reminded Bellerson of a wasp. I wonder if it has a stinger? he thought.

"Victor, have you ever seen a ship like that?" asked Bellerson.

Bergman, who was seated next to Mukata at the science station, shook his head. "No, I haven't."

"What kind of readings are you getting, Mr. Mukata?" asked Bellerson.

"None," he replied. "Our scans are bouncing off some sort of shield."

"Mr. Benson. Tactical analysis?"

"If they're blocking our scans, then they have something to hide," replied Benson. "I'd considered them a threat."

"Good enough," said Bellerson. "Raise shields. Battle stations."

Alert klaxons sounded throughout the ship as crewmembers rushed to their assigned posts.

"What kind of readings are you getting from the surface?" asked Bellerson, swinging his chair around to look at Mukata.

"I am picking up ninety eight human life forms," replied Mukata.

Turning his chair back to the main screen, Bellerson ordered, "Navigator, plot an intercept course. Helmsman, take us in."

The two men's "Aye, sir" was nearly in unison as they worked the controls.

"Captain," said Mukata, urgency in his voice, "The alien vessel is firing on the surface."

On the main screen, they watched a ball of light appear under the ship and move towards the surface. Within a few moments, they saw a tiny explosion on the surface.

"The life form count is now ninety three," said Mukata.

"Five people killed," muttered a seething Bellerson. "Mr. Benson, target that alien ship and prepare to fire."

"Aye, sir," was the reply.

"Captain, we are being hailed," said Mukata. "Audio only."

"Let's hear it,"

The speakers crackled and a female voice said, "Attention alien vessel. Stop your approach. You have no business here."

"Who is this?" demanded Bellerson.

"I am Consul Vedre, assistant to Archon, the supreme ruler of the Federated Worlds of Dorca."

From the way she said it, she obviously expected it to mean something. It didn't. Bellerson learned towards Bergman and motioned from him to come closer.

"Do you know who these people are?" he whispered.

Bergman shook his head.

Sitting upright, Bellerson said, "I am John Bellerson, captain of the Yorktown. Why are you firing on the planet?"

"We have been looking for these people for a long time. They owe us a great debt."

"And what kind of debt is that?"

There was a pause as if Vedre was deciding whether or not to answer the question. "They have a Psychon and they killed our previous leader."

Bellerson looked over at Bergman and mouthed "Psychon?". Bergman shrugged and shook his head.

"Well, whatever your grievance is with them, it is settled. These are our people and we are here to get them."

"So, you are from Earth?"

Bellerson paused. "Yes."

"Then we shall destroy you, take what is ours, and find your world and subjugate it into the Dorcon Federation."

"Not on my watch, Consul", replied Bellerson. He gave the cut-throat gesture and Mukata severed the connection.

On the main screen, the Dorcon ship was turning to face them.

Stan Benson looked puzzled. "Only one gun port? Not a very good design."

"Let's take advantage of it," said Bellerson. "Fire tubes one through ten. Full spread."

Benson touched a control and ten missiles sped towards the Dorcon ship. The alien ship rocked violently as the missiles struck. Whatever protective shield they had collapsed and the ship began to break apart. When the explosions ceased, the Dorcon ship was in two large pieces.

"Mr. Mukata, scan for survivors," said Bellerson.

After a moment, Mukata said, "I am reading no bio signs."

"So, they're all dead," said Bellerson.

"No, sir, that's not what I mean. I don't think there was ever anything alive on it."

"A robot ship?" asked Bellerson.

"Very likely," replied Mukata.

"So, its mother ship could be near by," said Bellerson.

"And I'd wager it's a lot tougher than that one was," offered Benson.

Bellerson nodded. "Then we need to move quick. Mr. Johnson, how many trips will it take to evacuate the planet?"

Johnson looked down at the panel in the arm of his chair and tapped the screen. "Three," he replied.

"Three?" asked Bellerson.

"We aren't equipped for large rescue operations," Johnson replied.

"And if we include the Eagle?" asked Bellerson.

"Still the same," replied Johnson.

Bellerson rose. "We take it anyway. Mr. Johnson, get the shuttles ready. Have a medical team board the Eagle. Victor, you're with me."

Bellerson and Bergman headed towards the exit. Before they reached it, Bellerson turned around and said, "And, Mr. Benson, destroy the rest of that ship. I don't it to come crashing down on top of us." He knew it would most likely burn up in the atmosphere, but he didn't want to take the chance.

"Aye, sir," replied Benson.

With the Eagle in the lead, the four Yorktown shuttles headed towards the planet. Bellerson was finally getting his chance to fly the Eagle.

"This is surprisingly easy to fly," he said to Bergman who sat in the copilot's seat.

Bergman nodded. "When I went to Arkadia, I found my Eagle easy to fly as well. It'll practically fly itself if you will let it." He then touched a control on the console and called, "Eagle Six to John Koenig. Eagle Six to John Koenig. This is Victor Bergman."

He waited, but there was no reply. He tried again and, still, no reply.

"They may not have working radios," he said.

As the ship entered the atmosphere, Bergman touched a button on the panel and one of the view screens came to life showing the surface. He worked controls changing the camera's angle and zoom until he found what he was looking for - a settlement.

"Captain," he said excitedly. "There they are!"

Bellerson looked over at Bergman. There was a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He then looked down at the monitor and saw the settlement. He could make out a few structures that resembled those that had been constructed on Arkadia. He also counted ten Eagles. One, however, was totally ripped apart, its remains resting in a small crater. The area around it was charred. Bellerson surmised that was where the Dorcon attack had struck.

"Looks like most of their Eagles are intact," he said.

"They're probably stripped," said Bergman. "That's what we did and used the passenger modules as living quarters."

Bellerson touched his wrist communicator. "This is Captain Bellerson. We will touch down one hundred meters west of the settlement. Remember, they were just attacked and, since we can't contact them, they don't know who we are. Hopefully, seeing an Eagle will alleviate any fears, but we can't count on that. After we land, stay on board your ship. I will assess the situation first and then give the all. Bellerson out." He looked over at Bergman. "Well, here we go."

The five ships touched down, the Eagle being the closest to the settlement. Bellerson and Bergman unstrapped themselves and walked into the passenger module. Dr. Feldman was there with four members of her medical staff. They were fully equipped to treat several patients. They knew that five had perished in the Dorcon attack. They didn't know how many were injured.

"Dr. Feldman, you and your team stay here until we can assess the situation," ordered Bellerson.

"Yes, sir," she replied.

"Perhaps I should go out first," said Bergman. "If they recognize..."

"No," interrupted Bellerson. "You can come out with me, but stay behind me. I don't want some trigger happy person shooting you."

"But, why would they?" asked Bergman.

"They've been through a lot, Victor. Who knows what kind of state they're in now." He glanced over at Feldman and then to Bergman. "Let's go."

The door of the Eagle slid open and bright sunlit spilled in. Bellerson had to squint his eyes until his pupils adjusted. He couldn't see anyone in the settlement. They were most likely hidden. The Eagles he had spotted were haphazardly placed roughly one hundred meters away. Behind them was a forest. Closer was a short barricade made of timber. Bellerson was sure that some of the Alphas were hiding behind it.

"You can't have Maya!" shouted a voice. It indeed came from the barricade.

"The Psychon?" Bellerson shouted back.

"Yes! You can't have her!"

"We aren't here for her," Bellerson replied. "We are not the people who attacked you. We destroyed that ship."

"Then who are you?"

Bergman tugged on Bellerson sleeve. "That's John Koenig," he said.

Without turning around, Bellerson replied, "Call to him, Victor."

"John! It's me, Victor!" he called.

There was a pause. Then, "That's not possible!"

"These people are from Earth, John. They found me on Arkadia with Luke and Anna."

From behind the barricade, a man rose to his feet, as did another. Bellerson recognized the first as being Commander John Koenig. Though he looked much older than what he had seen in either the log message or in his vision.

Victor pushed passed him and rushed towards Koenig.

"John!" he exclaimed hurrying to him.

A smile came upon Koenig's face as he saw Bergman. Moving around the barricade, he exclaimed, "Victor!"

The old friends hungrily embraced each other.

"I thought I would never see you again," said Koenig.

"I was sure of it," replied Bergman.

Breaking the embrace, Bergman took the hand of the man standing next to Koenig.

"Alan," he said, shaking his hand.

"Professor," replied Alan Carter, pulling Bergman in for a hug.

Bellerson touched his communicator. "All clear," he said.

The shuttle doors opened and the remaining Yorktown landing party emerged, as did Dr. Feldman and her team.

People began coming from behind and around the Eagles, heading towards the reunion.

"Commander," said Bellerson. "Are any of your people hurt?"

Koenig shook his head. "No. The Dorcon attack only took out the one Eagle and the five that were inside it. Thank you for destroying them." He extended his hand.

Bellerson took it. "Captain John Bellerson of the Yorktown. It is an honor to meet you, sir."

Koenig smiled. "Please, don't call me that. I haven't been called sir in a very long time. But, thank you just the same."

As the other Alphans approached, Bergman became quite busy embracing many of them. While the reunion was going on, Bellerson said to Koenig, "I know these events must be extraordinary to you. I know they are to me. But time is of the essence. That Dorcon shipped we destroyed was just a robot. Its mother ship is most likely near by and on its way."

"I understand," said Koenig. He glanced over to his people then to Bellerson. "How did you find us?"

"Arra," was Bellerson's reply.

A look of utter shock and surprise came upon Koenig's face. "Arra?" he asked.

Bellerson nodded. "Perhaps if I could address all of your people, I can explain."

Koenig looked over towards his people. They were all gathered around Bergman, laughing and getting reacquainted with their old friend.

"May I have your attention?" he shouted. The laughter quieted and everyone look towards him. "This is Captain John Bellerson of the Yorktown. He has something important he needs to tell all of us. Go ahead, Captain."

"Thank you, Commander," said Bellerson. "A few weeks ago, we found Moonbase Alpha." There were a few murmurs in the crowd. Bellerson raised his hand the murmurs ceased. "While we were there, we were given a mission by a woman you knew as Arra." Once again, murmurs, but they quieted quickly. "Our mission was to find you and Professor Bergman for, according to Arra, you have a great destiny to fulfill.

"Our galaxy has been invaded by a terrible enemy. This enemy has destroyed galaxies and is here to destroy our own. We believe that the Arkadians constructed a device that can stop them. However, we don't know where the device is."

"Do you know what it looks like?" asked Koenig.

Bellerson shook his head. "No, we do not."

"What about the ruins we found?" asked a woman stepping forward.

"This is Helena Russell," said Koenig in way of an introduction.

Bellerson shook her hand. "Ruins?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Helena. "Not far from here. In one of the ruined buildings there's an object that we couldn't identify."

"Take me there," said Bellerson. To Koenig he said, "We need to get your people off this planet."

Koenig nodded. "Everyone, we need to evacuate." This time, there weren't murmurs - there were a lot of "whats" and "whys".

"Quiet, please," said Koenig. "The Dorcon ship they destroyed was just a robot. They believe its mother ship it on its way here."

"Will it never end?" exclaimed a woman from the crowd.

Bellerson looked to see a strikingly beautiful woman. She had long, dark hair and dark markings that ran down either side of her face. She seemed much too young to be part of this group.

Koenig held out his hand and the woman, clearly frightened, came forward.

"This is Maya," said Koenig. "She is the person the Dorcons were after. You see, the Dorcons hunt the Psychons for their brain stems."

"Brain stems?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes," replied Koenig. "By grafting a Psychon brain stem on to a Dorcon's brain stem, it grants the Dorcon immortality."

"That's barbaric!" exclaimed Bellerson.

"Yes," agreed Koenig. "And since Maya is the last Psychon..."

"She is highly sought after," finished Bellerson.

Koenig nodded. "Yes."

Bellerson turned to face his men. "Let's start getting these people to the Yorktown." He turned back to the Alphans. "Please follow my officers' instructions. Don't take anything with you. If it's important, we will hopefully be able to come back for it later." To Koenig, he said, "Let's go see this object you found."

Koenig nodded. "Victor, Helena, Maya, come with us." Noticing that the rest of his people were hesitant, he said. "The rest of you, please do what Captain Bellerson has asked."

The Alphans began moving past them. One, however, stopped and looked up at Koenig. She was a small, dark haired woman.

"You, too, Sandra," said Koenig.

"But, John," she protested.

Koenig put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry. We'll be on board the Yorktown soon."

Nodding, Sandra Benes walked away.

"What about me, John?" asked Carter.

"I need you here to help coordinate the evacuation," said Koenig. Carter started to protest, but Koenig said, "Please, Alan."

Nodding, Carter walked towards the shuttles.

The trek back to the ruins was fairly short. As they walked, Bergman was asking some questions.

"So, a lot of our people were killed by the alien attack?" he asked.

"Several, yes," replied Koenig. "But we lost so many throughout the years due to accidents and other encounters."

Bergman paused, as if trying to think of something. Then, "What about that security officer you were going to promote to chief - Tony Verdeschi?"

Koenig shook his head. "He was killed during the attack."

Bellerson noticed that a look of sadness came over Maya's face. He decided not to pursue it.

The ruins were ruined in every sense of the word. A few walls remained. The rest was just rubble on the forest floor. The forest itself had reclaimed the land.

Koenig lead them to a small, ruined building. There, sitting on a stone block, was the object. It was roughly a meter across. The base was hexagonal in shape and gray in color. Coming up out of the base was a yellowish colored sphere approximately a meter in height. There were no discernable markings or controls on it. Bellerson and Bergman began walking around it.

"We don't know what it is," said Koenig.

"I've studied it and studied it, but haven't been able to determine its function," said Maya. For Maya not to be able to deduce something was rare indeed. "The only thing that we have found on it, " she continued, " is a rectangle on the base that seems to be an access panel. We can't get it open."

"Ah, I see," said Bergman as he found the rectangle Maya was referring to. He ran his fore finger along the lines of the rectangle and the panel popped open. "Well..." he began, stepping back.

"What is it?" asked Koenig.

"Seems I have the magic touch," replied Bergman.

All joined him to look at the open panel. Inside was a small, dark screen. Suddenly, it came to life and symbols starting scrolling across it.

Bergman looked at Bellerson.

"Sanskrit," they said in unison.

"This is it," said Bellerson. "We need to get it back to the Yorktown."

"It's extremely heavy," said Koenig. "We haven't been able to move it."

"John threw out his back trying to move it," offered Helena.

Koenig gave her a sour look. She just smiled.

Bellerson touched his communicator. "Dr. Feldman."

"Feldman here," came the reply.

"Are you still on the surface?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," she said.

"Did you bring the medical anti-grav units?"

"Yes, we did."

"Good. Lock onto my signal and bring..." - he looked at the device, trying to deduce how many it would take - " three."

"On my way."

"So, where do we have to take this?" asked Koenig.

"Back to Alpha," replied Bellerson.

Koenig turned to look at him, wrinkling his brow. "But Alpha is destroyed."

Bellerson nodded. "But somehow, someway, we need to get Victor's force field back up and running."

"Force field?" asked Koenig.

"The black hole," said Bergman.

Koenig looked at Bergman and then back to Bellerson. There was confusion on his face. "I don't understand."

Bellerson sighed. He wasn't sure if Koenig would believe, or even like, what he thought had to be done. "We believe we have to take the device into a black hole. The moon has survived going through one before."

"Yes," said Koenig, "but that was by shear luck. We don't understand how we made it through. There's no guarantee the moon could survive again."

"No, there isn't," replied Bellerson. "But I believe this is the mission set down to us by Arra."

Koenig began pacing, a hand on his chin. "Let's say that is what Arra wants us to do," he said, holding up that hand to emphasis his point, "how do we find a black hole and steer the moon towards it?" He stopped in front of Bellerson.

"There are a lot of things that need answers, I'll grant you that," said Bellerson. "But can you honestly say that, with everything you've seen, that this isn't already laid out and the moon is already heading towards a black hole?"

Koenig smiled. "Everything we've seen that defies scientific explanation, it would be foolish for me to try and apply it now."

There was a rustling in the bushes and Feldman emerged with the anti-grav units.

By the time they had gotten back to the landing site, most of the Alphans had been evacuated. They were on their last trip. Alan Carter was still there.

"I see you were able to move it," he said, pointing towards the floating Arkadian device.

"Uh, yes," said Bergman. "Reduced gravity makes it easy to move heavy objects."

Carter chuckled.

"Let's get it on board the Eagle," said Bellerson.

Bellerson watched as Feldman and Koenig guided the device onto the Eagle.

"One of my crewmembers is a relative of yours," Bellerson said to Carter.

Carter smiled. "Yes, I met him. Delightful lad. He said he got a chance to fly the Eagle."

"Yes, he did," replied Bellerson. Nodding towards the Eagle, he said, "Would you like to fly her?"

Carter grinned. "I was hoping you'd ask me that!"

Alan Carter enjoyed every minute of the flight back. He hadn't flown an Eagle in a long time. But, it was just like riding a bicycle. He even landed it smoothly in the Yorktown's shuttle bay though it was more of a horizontal landing than the vertical ones he was used to.

This time, at least, all were safely on board the Yorktown before an alien ship appeared. It wasn't the ship of the galactic destroyers - it was a Dorcon ship. Although it looked similar to the robot ship, it was much large and much more menacing in appearance.

"Shields up," commanded Bellerson, taking his seat. "Battle stations."

He had no sooner entered the bridge, along with Koenig, Bergman, Helena, Maya, and Carter, than the Dorcon ship appeared.

"We are being hailed," said Mukata. "We have video this time."

"On screen," said Bellerson.

A beautiful, dark haired woman replaced the image of the Dorcon ship. She wore hair up. Her eyes were dark and held authority.

"I am Consul Vedre," she said. "You didn't head our warning and you destroyed our drone."

"We couldn't let you harm our people," replied Bellerson.

"Captain, unless you hand over the Psychon, we will destroy you," she said matter-of-factly.

"Not again," said a small, quiet voice behind Bellerson. He turned around to see Maya looking at him. "Give me to them, Captain. I can't let innocent people be killed again on my behalf." She was almost in tears.

"Heed the Psychon, Captain," said Vedre.

Without turning to face the screen, Bellerson said to Benson, "Tactical analysis?"

Benson looked down at his console and shook his head. "I can't get a reading, but I'd say it's safe to assume that ship will pack a big wallop."

"He's right, Captain," said Vedre. "Don't let your crew die needlessly. Give us the Psychon and you can go in peace."

Bellerson thought for a moment and then said, "This is what I believe, Consul. You threatened to subjugate Earth and you plan on doing just that. This I cannot allow."

Vedre spread her hands. "That was an empty threat, Captain."

"They're liars," whispered Koenig. "They have a ..."

"Captain, I need your decision," interrupted Vedre. If she had heard Koenig, she made no indication of it.

"No deal, Consul," said Bellerson.

"Very well, then," replied Vedre. Looking to her right, she said, "Destroy them" And the screen switched back to the Dorcon ship.

"Fire tubes one through twenty, full spread," ordered Bellerson.

Benson touched some controls. "Missiles away," he said.

On the screen they watched the missiles speed towards the Dorcon ship. Unlike the robot ship, the missiles had no effect. They exploded harmlessly off the ship's shielding. In response, several balls of light sprung forth from the Dorcon ship, heading towards the Yorktown.

"Analysis?" asked Bellerson.

"Plasma of some sort," was all Mukata could get out before the weapons impacted.

The ship rocked violently. Anyone who was standing was thrown to the deck. Several consoles exploded in a shower of sparks. Warning klaxons began sounding throughout the ship.

"Damage report!" shouted Bellerson over the alarms.

"Shields are down," said Mukata. "Several systems have overloaded."

"Casualties?" asked Maya as she rose to her feat.

A little surprised she had asked that question instead of Bellerson, Mukata replied, "No word as of yet."

"Captain, missile tubes one through ten have been damaged," said Benson. "And bridge missile control is off line."

"We can't survive another hit like that," said Johnson.

Bellerson nodded. "Mr. Benson, get down to missile control."

"Aye, sir," replied Benson and he exited the bridge.

Bellerson was about to give another order, when Koenig said, "They have a meson converter."

Bellerson turned to face him, seeing that he, too, had gotten to his feet. "A what?"

"A matter transmitter," replied Koenig. "They can beam over here, take Maya, and finish us off."

A look of realization appeared on Bellerson's face. Touching a button on the arm of his chair, he said, "Security teams to the bridge immediately."

Just then, he saw two shimmering beams of light appear on either side of Maya. Materializing in them were two Dorcon soldiers. One of them immediately put something up to Maya's neck and she slumped into unconsciousness. Mukata, who had been near Maya, grabbed the arm of one of the Dorcons. Nearly everyone on the bridge rushed towards her. And then... the Yorktown was rocked by what felt like another attack. Everyone struggled to stay on his or her feet - most failed.

Bellerson, who did manager to stay standing, turned to the main screen. What he saw astonished and horrified him. The Dorcon ship was gone. In its place was a dissipating ball of fire and debris. Behind it, however, was the alien ship.

"Get us out of here!" shouted Bellerson.

Their would-be saviors were also their would-be destroyers.

The helmsman touched a control and the Yorktown's star drive engaged, sending them away from the alien ship once again.

Chapter Ten

Repairs went smoothly. Thankfully, other than the missile tubes, no critical systems were severely damaged. Koenig had asked Bellerson if the alien ship could follow them. Bellerson said he did not believe so. At least, they could never track a ship once it left normal space. But, he also told Koenig that if the alien ship were pursuing them, they wouldn't know it until they were back in normal space.

Their destination now was Moonbase Alpha. From the planet were they found the Alphans, their journey would take three days. During that time, the Alphans were given tours of the Yorktown. Bellerson gave the details of their mission to Koenig and his staff.

When inquiring what Earth was like, Helena had said, "We heard the Earth was uninhabitable due to pollution."

"At one point, yes," replied Bellerson. "But Earth has been mending itself. It's quite nice now."

"And what about neutrino transmission and being able to beam people great distances?" she asked.

Bellerson shook his head. "Unfortunately, that technology existed on in one place - Texas City which was destroyed in a massive earthquake. All data on it was lost. We haven't been able to duplicate it since."

Instead of trying to answer all their questions, Bellerson gave them access to the ship's historical records. He hoped they would find their answers there.

On the second day of their journey, Bellerson arranged to have a reception honoring the Alphans. Any crewmembers not on duty were encouraged to gather in the recreation room to meet the Alphans.

Tapping his glass, Bellerson prepared to make a toast. The crowd quieted down and Bellerson said, "Here's to living history. To the brave men and women of Moonbase Alpha. May this be their final adventure."

"Here, here's" came from everyone, the loudest ones from the Alphans.

Moonbase Alpha was a wreck. The base looked just like they had left it. "They", in this case, were referring to both the Alphans and the Yorktown crew. Except, now, the mysterious power that had come on while the Yorktown crew was there seemed to have been shut off - the base was dark.

The decision had been made to take as many Alphans and Yorktown crew down to the base that were required to get Bergman's force field up and running. This required the usage of all four of the Yorktown's shuttles and the Eagle. It was only fitting that the Eagle should be involved - it was going home.

On board the Eagle, Bellerson sat in the passenger module with Koenig, Helena, Maya, and Bergman. In their midst was also the Arkadian device. Flying the Eagle were Captain and Lt. Carter.

On the view screens, they could see Moonbase Alpha. The destruction was as bad as Koenig remembered it.

"Can she be repaired?" he asked.

"We can mend torn buildings," replied Bellerson, "but I'm concerned about getting the nuclear generators back on-line. We may not have the material to do that."

"We might be able to use some of the nuclear waste," offered Maya.

"There's still some left?" asked Bellerson, surprised.

Maya shrugged. "There might be."

"Did anyone see that?" asked Helena, pointing to a monitor.

Everyone looked to where she was pointing. The image was one of the ruined buildings. Yet, something seemed to be moving. Maya touched a control and the camera zoomed in. The side of the building had been torn open by an explosion so long ago. But, now, sparkles of light were dancing along the edges of the torn metal. Then the metal began to move. It twisted in on itself until the wall was made whole. The lights continued to move along the crack in the wall that had formed where the pieces joined. After a few moments, the lights vanished and the crack was gone.

"John, are you seeing this?" asked Carter's voice over the intercom.

"Yes, we are, Alan," replied Koenig.

"The whole base is repairing itself!" Carter said excitedly.

The passengers looked at each other and Maya touched a control that caused the camera to zoom out. Carter was right. All of the base there were the sparkling lights and torn buildings were repairing themselves.

"Zoom in on Main Mission," said Koenig.

The camera zoomed in to show the once-grand heart of Alpha. The walls had just finished repairing themselves. Then the roof, which had been completely blown off, seemed to grow back into place.

Within minutes, Moonbase Alpha was whole again.

The passengers in the Eagle looked at each other. Confusion, astonishment, and joy were all on their faces. Then, after the last of the sparkling lights faded, lights came on all over the base. The base had been repaired and the power had been restored.

"Alpha's back!" Carter shouted over the intercom.

The passengers laughed and hugged each other. They couldn't understand what had just happened or contain the joy they were feeling. Their home, their faithful friend, had been restored anew.

Koenig looked over Helena's shoulder as she was hugging him. "Arra?" he asked Bellerson.

Bellerson shrugged. "As good an explanation as any."

Main Mission was complete. The horseshoe of consoles, the computer station in the center, the computer banks lining the walls, the observation platform, the commander's office - it was all there.

As they walked in, Helena spun around with her arms out.

"John, this is incredible!" she exclaimed.

All Koenig could do was smile as he headed up the steps to his desk. He settled into his chair and ran a finger across the surface of his desk. Then he sighed. It was good to be home.

Maya had only seen pictures of Main Mission. She was amazed at how spacious it was.

"This is a wonderful facility," she said. "Why did you ever abandon it?"

"Command Center was safer," said Carter. Then he smiled. "But this, this, was the true heart of Alpha."

Bergman went over to the computer station. He put his hands on the chair. He actually seemed sad. Turning around, he looked up at Koenig. "What happened to David and Paul?" he asked. "I should've liked to have seen them again."

"They were killed when their Eagle crashed," was the reply. But it wasn't Koenig who answered. It was a female voice coming from behind him. Bergman turned around to see Sandra Benes entering Main Mission. "We miss them. I especially miss Paul."

Bergman nodded. "They were good men and I know you were close to Paul."

Bellerson cleared his throat. "I don't want to be a kill-joy, but we have work to do."

"Right," said Bergman as he slid into the computer station's chair. He punched a few keys on the console and a slip of paper appeared. He tore it off and read it. "My original specifications are still in the memory banks."

Suddenly, an alert klaxon sounded and anther slip of paper printed out. Bergman tore it off. "It's a collision alarm. Something is heading towards us."

Bellerson touched his wrist communicator. "Yorktown, are you picking up anything heading towards Alpha?"

"Yes, we are," replied Johnson. "An asteroid just shot past us. According to sensors, it is on a direct collision course with Main Mission."

"Can you intercept it?"

After a pause, Johnson said, "No sir. It's moving too fast. Collision in thirty seconds."

"What's the point of all this if we're going to be destroyed by an asteroid?" asked an exasperated Helena. She felt a hand on her should and looked up to see Koenig. She snuggled tight against him.

"At least we got to see Alpha one more time," he said looking down at her. Looking up, he said, "Victor, can you put the asteroid on the big screen?"

The asteroid appeared on the big screen. It got closer and closer and then...

"Captain," called Johnson over the communicator, "the asteroid is changing course."

"Yes, we see that," said an astonished Bellerson.

On the screen they watched as the asteroid began veering away. Then there was a shudder as it passed dangerously close.

"Track it," said Koenig.

The camera angle shifted to show the retreating asteroid. It continued its flight and Bergman adjusted the zoom to keep it on the screen. Then it seemed to become distorted and it vanished. It didn't go out of ranged of the camera - it simply vanished.

"Computer," said Bergman, "scan the area ahead of us where the asteroid vanished."

After a moment, the familiar, monotone, female voice of the computer spoke. "Gravitational forces increasing. It is a black hole. One hundred percent certainty. It is your duty to report..."

Bergman switched off the voice synthesis. "Uh, yes, we've been through that before," he muttered.

"Seems we found our black hole," said Koenig.

"Black hole?" asked a terrified Sandra. The last time they encountered such a phenomenon, she lost someone very close to her.

Koenig quickly told Sandra their plan. "Don't worry," he said. "We will be fine."

Bergman touched a control on the console. "Computer, what are the odds of us surviving the black hole with the Bergman force field in place?"

"Zero percent," replied the computer.

"I should have known better than to ask you," he muttered. Moving the desk around to face the others, he said, "I guess we better get started."

On the command conference table sat a model of Moonbase Alpha. On top of the eight antigravity towers sat a round plastic dome that represented Bergman's force field.

"The principle is the same," he said. "The closer we get to the black hole, the stronger the shield will become."

"It's ingenious," remarked Bellerson.

Helena looked at him and smiled. "I said that the first time I saw it." She then looked at Bergman. "And I believe your response was, 'It's insane.'".

Bergman smiled and shrugged. "Who knew it would actually work!"

"Where do you want it?" came a voice from within Main Mission.

They turned to see that Alan and Sam Carter had arrived with the Arkadian device.

"Anywhere is fine, Alan," said Bergman.

They moved it to the spot between the Main Mission consoles and the steps leading up to the commander's office. Reducing the anti-grav units' power, they let it settle to the floor.

Joining the others at the command table, Alan Carter said, "So, we're going through another black hole, eh?"

Helena looked at him and smiled. "Actually, Alan, this will be our first trip."

Carter returned the smile. "True."

Even though Bergman was sure the shield would hold just like it did last time, he still wanted to test it.

"All right, Yorktown," Bellerson was saying into his communicator, "send down the missile."

"But, sir, if the shield doesn't hold..." protested Johnson.

"Then none of this will mean a thing," replied Bellerson. "If it can't protect us from a missile, it's not going to protect us from the black hole."

Johnson, while not happy about it, conceded. "Very well, sir. Missile on its way."

Inside Main Mission, the lights were dim and the computer was shut down. They left just enough of the computer systems running to operate the force field. The heating had also been reduced enough so they could see their breath.

"I still think it looks like fish scales," Sandra had commented when the field was turned on.

Bellerson looked down at his communicator. "Impact in five, four, three, two, one."

Main Mission shook slightly and that was it. Everyone in Main Mission looked at each other and smiled.

"Thanks, Yorktown," said Bellerson. "That was great."

"Glad you're still in one piece," said Johnson. "ETA to event horizon is six hours."

"Are all non-essential personnel back on board?" asked Bellerson.

"Yes, sir, they are," Johnson replied.

"Good," said Bellerson. "I'm staying here."

"What?" protested Johnson. "If the moon survives the black hole, we won't know where you will be."

"I've thought of that possibility, but I want to see this thing completely through. You have your orders. Keep the Yorktown at a safe distance."

"Aye, sir," was the reluctant reply.

"Six hours," he said to the rest of them.

"Do you suppose we'll have the same experience?" Bergman asked Koenig.

Koenig shrugged. "Who knows."

"Too bad I don't have a cigar!" smiled Bergman.

Koenig chuckled.

Bellerson was going to ask them more about what they were talking about, but decided not to. Whatever the experience was going to be, he wanted to experience anew.

Bergman had explained that the black hole would drain their power and they would need all they had left to operate the force field. So, it began to get cold. Eventually someone fetched some space suits and they all donned them.

As time passed, the group broke up into pairs. Alan and Sam Carter settled into a couch in the commander's office and talked, no doubt, about flying. Koenig and Helena went up to the observation deck.

"Did you ever think we would see Alpha again, John?" she asked as the two sat, snuggling with each other.

"Never," he said. "But it's good to be back."

She turned to look at him. "If we make it through this, do you want to go back to Earth?"

He turned to look at her, taking her hands in his. "I enjoy our life on our New Earth. It's been a struggle, but it's our world now. How would we fit in on Earth as it is today? I think if Earth can give us the proper supplies, we can build a wonder civilization."

"But, we're old, John," said Helena.

Koenig smiled. "Then we'll get Earth to send some young colonists and let them do the work."

She returned the smile and put her head on his chest.

Bergman was still seated at the computer station. Maya came up to him and half sat on the console.

"I've heard so much about your, Professor," she said.

Bergman looked up and smiled. "I know nothing about you. How is it, though, that you're so young and the rest..." He didn't want to finish the thought.

"Are so old?" Maya finished, smiling. "We Psychons age much slower."

"Tell me about yourself and your world, Maya," said Bergman.

So, she began telling him about her father, her world, how the Alphans found her, and so many other things.

Bellerson saw that Sandra was sitting by herself at one of the consoles. He went over to join her.

"This is my old station," she said as she saw him approaching.

"It must have been a fantastic experience," he said, taking the chair next to her.

"It was," she replied. "We saw so many wonderful things and many horrible things, too."

"In my travels, I have as well," he said. "But, for you, to have made it on a rogue moon that you couldn't control, is a testament to your ability to survive."

"The commander believed, as did most of us, that someone, or some thing, was watching over us. That's the only explanation. We should have all been killed when the nuclear waste dumps exploded."

Bellerson put an arm around her. "But you weren't. And, when this is over, your destiny, according to Arra, will have been fulfilled."

She looked up at him. "I hope so, because I want to go home - to Earth." She leaned into him and started to cry.

"Raise the shield," said Koenig. It was nearly time for the moon to enter the event horizon.

Bergman pressed a few controls and, on the big screen, they saw the shield come to life. "Power levels are holding," he said.

"All right," replied Koenig. "Shut everything down."

Bergman pressed a few more buttons and the big screen went dark. The lights on the computer banks went out, as did those on the consoles.

"Well, we have to think for ourselves," he muttered, repeating something he had said so long ago.

On the Yorktown, Johnson and the bridge crew watched the moon nearing the event horizon.

"Good luck," he said.

"Commander Johnson," said Mukata, "I'm picking up a contact just entering sensor range."

Johnson swiveled to see him. "What is it?"

"It's our friends," he replied.

"They just don't give up, do they?" asked Johnson. He swiveled back around. "Raise shields. Battle stations."

"Sir, the alien ship is not on an intercept course," said Mukata.

"What?" asked a surprised Johnson. "Where are they going?"

"They are heading towards the black hole, but well away from us," replied Mukata.

"On screen," said Johnson.

The alien ship appeared on the screen as it headed towards the black hole. Once it reached a similar distance that the Yorktown was holding, it stopped.

Raising an eyebrow, Johnson said, "Perhaps they are here to see what happens. Maybe they are giving up."

"We might know shortly," said Mukata, "The moon is entering the black hole."

All those in Main mission were gathered on the steps leading up to the commander's office. As the moon entered the black hole, images became obscured. Bellerson likened it to looking through some sort of colored gauze. He looked up at the rest and was shocked. They all looked ancient. Even the beautiful Maya looked as ancient as the rest. He looked down at his own hand and saw it wrinkled with age.

"It is good to see you again," said a female voice. The voice seemed to come from nowhere yet everywhere.

"It has been a long time," said Koenig, yet his lips did not move.

"Yes, it has," replied the voice.

"Who are you?" asked Bergman and his lips did not move either.

Bellerson looked around for the others and noticed they were gone. They only ones in Main Mission were the three men. At first he started to panic, but then he realized that everything he was seeing could very well be an illusion.

"You do not need to know everything, Victor Bergman," said the voice. "There are many things in this universe that you will never understand."

"The last time we were here, did you help us survive and did you bring our friends back to us?" asked Koenig.

"So many questions, but no and yes," said the voice. "But now your journey is at an end."

"Are we to die?" asked Bergman.

"Death is just another state of being," replied the voice. "The time has come for you to fulfill your destiny."

In an instant, Bergman was standing at the Arkadian device. His aged hand touched the panel and it opened. He reached in and touched the screen.

"Behold," said the voice, "the power of the Arkadians and the power of light!"

The dome on the device began to spin. Slowly at first and then faster and faster until it was a blur. Then the dome opened and an impossibly brilliant shaft of light sprang forth and out into the black hole.

The Yorktown was still holding its position, as was the alien ship. The black hole was on the view screen. But, then, there was a flicker of light from within it.

Johnson sat straight up. "Did anyone see that?" he asked.

"A flicker of light, sir?" asked the helmsman.

"Yes," said Johnson.

Then there was another flicker and another. Then the light became a small, solid ball. Then it started growing and growing. And then it exploded. Brilliant light spilled onto the bridge from the view screen. The crewmen shielded their eyes just as the camera burned out.

"Bring up secondary cameras, optical shielding," ordered Johnson.

The main screen came back to life to show the black, white, hole. It looked like a brilliant white disc hovering in space. It wasn't a star - just a disc of white light. No one seemed to notice, however, that every star in the galaxy seemed to glow a little brighter.

"Sir, the alien ship..." began Mukata.

"On screen," he ordered.

The image shifted to the alien ship. It was bathed in the white light and it was clearly in agony. It was reacting similarly to the way it did at Arkadia. This time, however, it seemed much worse.

Its children were in agony and some were dying. The pain it felt at Arkadia was nothing compared to this. The wave that had touched it ship was... purity - that was the only way it could describe it.

Through its pain, the god asked the ship for a damage analysis. The ship was not damaged. However, its Second Space engine was not functioning. The ship could find nothing wrong with it - it simply did not work. Without it, it would take decades to reach any star system. And, without it, they could not power their weapons of destructions.

So, thought the god as the pain began to subside, this was their great plan. All this to disable one ship. No matter. I have many others.

It contacted the one nearing Earth and, to its horror, learned that it had suffered the same fate. Its Second Space engine was not functioning. When asked what happened, the leader of that vessel reported that Earth's sun had suddenly grown brighter, yet not hotter. When it did, a wave of something washed over them. Purity. The leader of the vessel agreed.

The remainder of its fleet, some two hundred ships, had entered the galaxy not long ago. It contacted each of them and each ship was in the same shape. None could jump into Second Space.

Even as the pain and the lighted diminished, the Second Space engine would not activate. This galaxy had become poison to them. The only hope was for it to order all of its children to leave the galaxy. All except for the ship near Earth. It knew that the ship would long be dead before it ever reached the edge of the galaxy. It ordered that ship to fly into Earth's sun.

All of its children would eventually die, it knew. Most would not make it to the edge of the galaxy - it would take to long. All of them were vulnerable to attack as well.

It had failed. Its mission, handed down from generation to generation starting with their creator, was to destroy galaxies. Destruction was their sustenance. Without it, they would perish. Eons of perfect destruction were stopped in a matter of moments.

I am not god, it thought. I am just a leader that failed.

The twisted pillar in its chamber began to vibrate. It then began to twist as if it were a huge cloth being wrung out. Tighter and tighter it twisted until it finally exploded in a shower of foul matter. In its place stood a human male, unclothed. It surveyed the vast chamber. It then turned around to reveal that the face it wore was that of Captain John Bellerson of the Earth vessel Yorktown.

Chapter Eleven

The Yorktown bridge crew watched in amazement as the alien vessel writhed in agony. Then, as the light from the white hole began to dim, they watched the twisted columns, the tentacles, grow limp, nearly doubling over.

As the ship began to move away, Johnson ordered, "Mr. Benson, lock on that ship and fire missiles one through ten."

"Gladly, sir," replied Benson, pressing controls.

The missiles sped towards the alien ship. Even though it appeared its star drive, or whatever they called it, wasn't working, the ship still moved fairly quickly. The missiles, however, were faster. They struck with a vengeance. Explosions rocked the spherical ship. Several of the pillars broke off, twisting end for end in space. The ship continued to move as the last missile had detonated.

"Again, Mr. Benson," ordered Johnson.

Ten more missiles struck the ship and, this time, there was no escape. A gaping hole appeared in the side of the ship. Fluids and pieces of matter spewed forth. They instantly froze in the deep cold of space. The ship stopped moving and began to collapse in on itself. When it was finished, it was nothing more than a lifeless hulk.

Cheers went up all over the bridge. Crewmembers shook other crewmembers' hands. Benson clamped a hand on Johnson's shoulder. Smiling, he looked up to see Benson's smiling face.

"We did it," said Benson.

"Yes, we did," replied Johnson. He smile then vanished and he looked back towards the main screen, which showed the dead ship. "Alpha," he muttered. "Mr. Mukata, scan for the moon."

"It has to be on other side of the galaxy," he said as he studied his sensor readings. If they survived, he added silently. He then stood up, a look of surprise on his face. "Sir, main screen." He touched a control and the image switched to where the black hole was.

The moon, in all her glory, was hanging there. More cheers went up.

"Take us in and put us in orbit," ordered Johnson, his smile returning.

The celebration was one to remember. All the Alphas who had been on the Yorktown were back on the base they had once called home. Only a skeleton crew remained on board the ship so most of the crew could join in the celebration. Champaign, or at least it was supposed to be Champaign, flowed. The bulk of the celebration was in Main Mission with several smaller parties taking place throughout the base. Koenig hadn't seen this much joy on the base since, well, he couldn't remember. Wait, he did remember. It was when Helena, Sandra, Carter, and the others had found their way back home after they went through their first black hole.

"It was incredible," Johnson was telling Bellerson, Koenig, Bergman, Carter, Sandra, Maya, and Helena. "The entire black hold became, well, a white hole. The alien ship nearly withered and died, but we finished it off."

"Well done, Commander," said Bellerson, slapped him on the back, making him nearly spill his glass of Champaign. "I trust you recorded the entire thing?"

"Absolutely," replied Johnson.

"Good," he said, taking a sip.

"Do you suppose there are any more of those?" asked Helena.

Not wanting to dampen spirits, Carter responded, "If there is, we'll just have to find another black hole!"

"Here, here," they all said, tinking their glasses together.

After taking another sip, Bellerson said to Koenig, "So, Commander, are you planning on returning to Earth?"

Koenig looked at Helena and then back to Bellerson. "We'd like to remain on the planet we settled. It's our home now."

"I understand," said Bellerson nodding.

"But, if Earth could give us some supplies and some young colonists to help us build..." said Koenig.

"Consider it done. Earth has a lot of anxious young people wanting to colonize." He turned to Bergman and asked him the same question.

"You should know the answer to that," smiled Bergman.


"Arkadia." Bergman nodded. "With the protective gear you have, I can spend more time in the city. We have learned many things about the Arkadians, but, most of all, we have learned that we still have much to learn."

Bellerson nodded. "And what about you, Captain Carter?"

Carter looked at Koenig and Helena. "I can't leave my family. I'll stay with John and Helena."

Bellerson already knew what Sandra wanted. He was about to ask Maya the same question when he was interrupted by a voice from above.

"I knew you could do it," said the female voice.

All of Main Mission became silent. They all looked up to the observation balcony to see a cloaked figure. Hands moved up sweeping back the hood to reveal the face of Arra. Putting a hand on the railing, she made her way down the steps.

"Arra!" exclaimed Koenig, smiling.

"It is good to see you again, John Koenig," she said, now standing in front of them.

"I thought you said we'd never see you again," said Bellerson.

Arra shrugged. "I thought I could manager one more appearance." She looked over everyone in Main Mission. "You have all done well," she said. Even though there were no cameras set up, her image was being broadcast on every screen in Moonbase Alpha. "You have fulfilled your final destiny. Although you may not understand it, throughout your struggles and triumphs, you all played a key role. Whether you were a technician fixing an Eagle or a medical orderly tending to a patient, you were all important. You have the galaxy's deepest thanks." She bowed to them and the entire base broke out in applause.

Arra stood upright as the applause died down. She turned to Maya and took her hands. "Maya, my child. Captain John Bellerson was going to ask you where you wanted to go. I sense you would have been troubled by this question." Maya nodded. "Well, my dear, you are not the only living Psychon. There is a world, hidden from the Dorcons, where many of your people live. You can go there, if you wish."

The joy on Maya's face was unmistakable. There was also a bit of confusion. She looked over to Koenig and Helena. She opened her mouth to say something, but she couldn't form the words.

Seeing her distress, Helena said, "Maya, we would miss you, but to be with your own people..."

Nodding, she looked back at Arra and said, "I'd like to go to them."

"Good," smiled Arra, releasing Maya's hands.

She turned to Helena and said, "And to answer your question, yes, there are more of the alien ships." After seeing the look of fear on their faces, she quickly added, "But they were all disabled. This galaxy has become a poison to them. They are trying to leave it. They will not succeed."

"Arra, how was all this possible?" asked Koenig. "How was taking the Arkadian device into the black hole capable of disabling all of their ships?"

"You mean the Globe of Purity?" asked Arra. Koenig, as well as the others, had a slightly confused look. "That's what the Arkadians called it," continued Arra. "You humans are all alike - wanting answers for everything. Professor Bergman, you will find answers on Arkadia. Answers for which you don't even know the questions. But, for you, John Koenig, I will tell you this. The stars in the galaxy are connected and a black hole is a gateway."

Koenig started to speak, but Arra put a finger up to his lips. Still holding the finger there, she looked at Bellerson. "And, you, Captain Bellerson of the Earth ship Yorktown. You have a question that has been haunting you since you first found Lee Russell."

"And what question is that?" he asked.

"How is it that you are all from different times and yet have come together."

Bellerson nodded. "I was curious about that."

Arra smiled. "Oh, my dear Captain, seek the answer and you will find it. Find the answer and it will be the beginning of true understanding."

Bellerson shook his head and smiled. "And all you superior beings are the same."

"And how is that, Captain?" asked Arra.

"You can never give a straight answer."

They all laughed and the laughter felt good.

Arra thrust an arm into the crook of Bellerson right elbow and her other arm into the crook of Koenig's left elbow. "Now, gentlemen, why don't you show an old woman around this wonderful base."

The celebration continued as the three strode out of Main Mission.

Copyright (c) 2006. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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