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The Sundering

by Kylian Smith 2 months ago in Sci Fi
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From the Logs of Captain Leran

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. They say a lot of things I’ve never really believed. Some of them might have been right, but most? Most were lies, designed to push their own machinations further.

Still. One would think that the laws governing the universe were somewhat more inflexible than the people teaching them to us.

So why did I hear a scream? Was it even a scream? It felt like one, in my heart and bones; The sort of sound that gets the pulse racing, driving the instinct to aid another human despite whatever dangers they were in. We were designed to help our fellows, and thousands of years of exploring the stars didn’t diminish that. No, if anything, it strengthened that aspect of humanity. It’s how we survived in the galaxy.

The scream wasn’t a transmission. I had the ship’s cerbot - lovingly nicknamed Fred - try to locate the source, and if it’d been sent through any electronic communications, the artificial brain would have narrowed down a sector. Or, at the very least, a direction. Fred didn’t even record the sound on the security vids, though I still swear I heard an echo of it nonetheless during my watch-throughs.

Perhaps I’d been out there alone for too long. Not the most comforting of thoughts, truth be told. I had always liked being a Drifter. Go from system to system, planet to planet, finding and sharing interesting oddities: small trinkets they claim were from old civilizations, stories of implausible deeds, new foodstuff that would leave one yearning to return when you’re two sectors over. In between, I’d do some basic courier work so long as it led to somewhere new. I needed to pay for fuel and supplies, after all, and some of the more wealthy beings would pay handsomely for a fast and private shipment to their allies and business partners.

Still. One would think I’d start hearing voices, or seeing shadows, or daydream about the next time I could go planetside. Not feel what sounded to be a nearby scream from an unknown person. One could also assume it was a symptom of becoming starsick, though while there’d be hallucinations, one’d also experience headaches, vertigo, and a slew of other unpleasantness. I’d dealt with it before, and it was a miserable time.

So I wrote off the mysterious ‘scream’ as, perhaps, a sort of boredom-induced half-dream. I couldn’t recall if I’d been dozing off at the console, letting autopilot take care of our course. It wasn’t uncommon to fall asleep on those longer trips, nothing to look at save for the span of distant stars until you reached a Gate.

The bulky ring of the Gate was only just in sight beyond a silver mass in the distance, though I was approaching it at a strange angle. I remember thinking it odd that there seemed to be a void of light on one side, as though one could see the wormhole itself. How can anyone see a transpacial wormhole? The idea was just as ridiculous as hearing a scream in a vacuum. Clearly I needed to take some sort of vacation or break after this delivery.

I found myself idly tapping at the console as we maneuvered around into position. Something in me felt anxious, which in itself was unusual. How many times had I gone through one of these massive portals in my life? At least a hundred, it seemed. Enough that I could remember the beat of the inner rotating rings that aimed the wormhole, the pattern of the lights as they blinked under the supporting mag-rails. What was once more? Everything was reading fine, and we were in queue for the all-clear while the Gate calculated the jump.

Then I remember the lights, the console, everything in my ship just seemed to flicker. I froze, even holding my breath, and I remember looking into a void. There was no starlight through the Gate where there had been seconds before. Even the blinking lights that signaled that it’d been properly aligned had gone out.

“Fred, abort the jump.” The words escaped me before I’d even thought about them, and I was already trying to adjust our course.

<<Captain. We are primed and cleared to proceed to XA74-YN09-ZS22.>> There was an echoing static to the artificial voice that made my blood run cold. This wasn’t right.

“Fred, I said abort the jump. Change course, now!”

Nothing was responding. The cerbot had locked me out of the navigation controls, continuing with the preset course.

<<Proceeding to engage-gage ju-ju-jump pr-protoco-co-col->>

“Emergency shut down! Override code T-0-5-”

And then there was another scream tearing through my very being as the jump was engaged. I recall the visual of the void shattering like an obsidian mirror, fading pinpoints of light reflecting in fractured nothing, and everything.

My knees hit the deck, and then there was nothing but quiet.

Sci Fi

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Kylian Smith

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