The Milky Way
Ronald F. Currier
Copyright © 2022
All Rights Reserved
To my wife, Ingrid, who is an Austrian native and also my life editor.
Special thanks to my wife, Ingrid, who started out as my first editor but soon became the co-author for this book as well.
About the Author
Currently, Ron Currier, 75, lives with his wife near Denton, Texas. This is his first story.
The story you are about to read chronicles the biggest ‘Black Swan Event’ in history. A black swan event is a catastrophic, sudden, unforeseeable incident with long-lasting repercussions. Take, for instance, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Serbia in 1914, which led to World War I, the 1929 stock market crash, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11, and the 2008 housing meltdown. The phrase ‘Black Swan Event’ was created after the discovery of black swans in Australia, which debunked the common belief that all swans were white. When Andromedans invaded our galaxy, it devastated not only our world but also an entire galactic culture.
Chapter 1: An Intergalactic War Story 1
Chapter 2: Uniting the Galaxy 3
Chapter 4: Artificial Wormholes in Andromeda 18
Chapter 5: Lady Kendora Arrives at Far Point 25
Chapter 6: Taskforce Andromeda 30
Chapter 8: Details of Operation Defiant 39
Chapter 9: Operation Defiant Begins 44
Chapter 10: The Attack and Destruction of the Giant Wormhole 46
Chapter 12: Interrogation of the Captured Prisoners 49
Chapter 1: An Intergalactic War Story
As Jan Oster’s son and sole surviving heir, I have taken on the duty to set down an account of his 20-year quest to dedicate his life to the study of the Great Andromeda Galaxy. He then became the first to sound the alarm about the Andromedan invasion. No one could foresee the terrible devastation that was to come. The Milky Way, as it is known in my home world, otherwise commonly referred to as the Local Group, was completely unprepared for the unrelenting power of the invaders. Warriors only, without diplomatic contact, they swept into the Local Group like locusts, plundering the first of our home worlds. All survivors were enslaved.
Jan was the first to die along with his observation outpost on Far Point Station, a barren planet directly opposite Andromeda. Of the six astronomers, only two managed to escape through a wormhole, carrying the alarm 300 light-years to the nearest communication hub in the Nary System.
Of course, the first thing attempted was communicating diplomatically with the invaders, but to this day, they have not made any attempt to communicate with us. Only now are we beginning to understand their language from intercepted signals. From this, we have learned almost nothing about who they really are. Certainly nothing like the civilizations here in the Local Group.
By now, we have slowed the invasion but have yet to regain anything. The only reason the Andromedans have not completed the occupation is the enormous size of the galaxy, and that is our only hope; size and time. Like those on Earth in early history who tried to conquer Russia, the vastness of territory worked against them.
I, Jan the Younger, son of Jan Oster, will now give the reader a brief overview of the development of unity of the Local Group. Communication, travel, exploration, and settlement. Also, Jan’s 20-year quest to set up a research station to study Andromeda.
Chapter 2: Uniting the Galaxy
Unity sounds divine until you are the one to set its wheels in motion. The invaders were infiltrating our land like roaches, and their barbarity knew no bounds. Our resources were diminishing by the minute, and our will, even faster. Many along the galactic circle had given up hope. They had succumbed to the alien’s means and might.
What our ancestors had accomplished after years of hard work and resilience, these violators had eradicated and derailed in one blow. The system crashed, and the people failed. All hope was lost, and all peace was destroyed.
Those of us who were still trying to restore some normalcy tried hard to contact our fellow civilizations on different planets to establish a united front. This was no easy feat. It had taken 500 years for the sharpest of minds to establish any means of communication with other inhabited planets in the galaxy.
The people of Earth are curious by nature. With incredible scientific and technological advancements, we were about to explore our solar system with great precision and detail. Not only this, but we were also able to establish small bases on Mars along with the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. And the leaps taken in the research of the asteroid belt were par excellence.
Still, we had a long way to go. Other star systems were out of reach, and the desire to execute a multiyear probe to the Alpha century was long debated.
Then one day, everything changed. Without warning, a wormhole appeared, dumping a large research vessel into the Earth’s orbit. This sudden discovery delved us into a new future which opened doors to a new future with civilizations near and far. Redefining the galaxy as we know it.
For those who are still unaware of how a wormhole functions, a wormhole is a structure linking disparate points in space-time, allowing access across a galaxy 100,000 light-years in diameter containing about 10,000 civilizations. Far-flung Earth was one of the last civilizations to be brought into the unity of the Local Group about 500 years ago. Our nearest advanced neighbor is 250 light-years away.
The galactic circle strived hard to develop a unique technology that would help them unite every harmonious civilization in the circle. Creating such a stable wormhole was no easy feat. Big obstacles lay in the way of creating such an exquisite way of commute. First, to create such a wormhole, enormous amounts of energy and stability are needed. The stability of the system was comparatively easier to solve. The biggest challenge was that no conventional power source could come close to being adequate for the task.
Far away in the Borean System was one of the oldest technologically adept civilizations present in the Galactic Group. The Boreans had a large scientific team set to find a solution. They decided there was only one source with enough power for their quest, Dark energy. 70% of the universe is dark energy, 25% dark matter, and only 5% “normal matter.” The question arises here: How to harness this much dark energy and bend it to its purpose?
The first problem is that dark energy is a repulsive force driving the universe apart at an ever-increasing speed. The second problem is: dark energy is created counterintuitively in the vacuum areas of space. Understanding their success is beyond the capabilities of your humble chronicler. It took years for the best researchers to crack the code and come up with a definitive theory to support such an unbelievable notion. Even the sharpest of minds could not understand the complexities for the best explanation for a layman’s understanding, distilled down to its primary elements. They were really trying to figure out a way to gather up enough dark energy counts in a vacuum and try to reverse its polarity. It was easier said than done, but in this case, even talking about such an incredible notion seemed like a long shot.
Something as volatile as dark energy cannot be stored. It has to be put to immediate use, in this case, spun into a powerful vortex that would become a wormhole. Eventually, wormholes would be able to transmit communications 1000 light-years and transfer objects up to 500 light-years away.
It was not all smooth going. Wormholes, however fascinating they may sound, come with their own set of destruction and chaos. A wormhole can be notoriously unstable. A person could find himself lost in it for decades, growing old in a vacuum; his existence diminished to a piece of flesh floating in its gigantic midst and nothing else. To even experiment with a wormhole wasn’t without dangers. And how could one be sure of its working without trial and error? But the fact remained that sending a living being through was unthinkable. Because, in this case, the error was deadly.
Despite the risks, the Boreans were persistent. They had to focus on the bigger picture instead of looking at things from a closer standpoint. After years of research and data analysis, they had been successful in generating an awareness of the existence of an advanced civilization 50 light-years away.
They had been able to accomplish such a win after picking up 50-year-old radio and video transmissions for some time and believed that the “Andorrans,” as they called themselves, knew about them through the same source. In curiosity to find out more about them, the Boreans wanted to send a message to the Andorrans the only way they knew how. Had they opted for the conventional way, 100 years would elapse before a reply would have been redirected from the Andorran.
The very first attempt to communicate with the Andorrans through a stable wormhole was made with a message of greeting. There was great celebration when a response from them was received in a short span of time, much sooner than expected. A vast cross-cultural exchange of information was established, probably the very first in the galaxy. Soon after, small objects were successfully sent back and forth through the wormhole.
Later, the wormhole was deemed strong enough to send small objects back and forth. It was an incredible win and a giant leap for mankind. Eventually, the Galactic circle was unified, stronger than ever. For a while, the world we knew and lived in seemed like the best place to be. Its fruitful bounties, the blowing winds of harmony, and the growing realms of achievement made it all worth the effort.
Before the transportation of any living creature was deemed safe through the wormhole, a young man named Jax, who was the leader of the Borean wormhole team, initiated a correspondence with Hanly, the female leader on the Andorran side. There was no hope of moving this friendship forward, as sending any living creature, let alone a person, through the wormhole wasn’t feasible.
However, Jax succeeded in sending a romantic gift – a gleaming gemstone – and, later on, a bouquet of exotic flowers. Hanly responded by sending a delicately etched crystal box in return. The two finally met ten years later when human space travel in compact ships became possible.
This sweet and delightful exchange will be remembered for a long time, as not only does it portray human kindness but also promotes the fact that such scientific discoveries do more good than harm.
And what harm has befallen upon us? Wormhole transportation led to a peaceful galaxy due to the fact that every habitat in the Galactic circle was rich with its fair share of resources. Intelligent life spread far and wide among the Galactic circle.
The rest of it was inhabited by non-sentient life. With plentiful plant life, crawling life, along with swimming and flying life existence. But thinking, creative, self-aware beings were rare and spread out. A heated debate as to why the wormhole transaction should be ongoing had infiltrated the mind of many.
Those who were unfazed by the scientific advancements remained skeptical of its existence. For them, there stood no logical reason behind it. What was the need to attain such advanced portals? They were also aware that the creation of artificial dark energy wormholes for the purpose of transmitting information had reached a ceiling of 1000 light-years and 500 light-years for the transportation of objects. Surely it was no easy feat.
For decades, the Galactic circle remained peaceful. The wars all people endured in the past have ended. Police forces have to be maintained only as the thin blue line guarding civilization against the dark side of human nature. Ground forces and space police patrol between the worlds. Piracy is not unheard of. The greedy will always prefer to take what others have worked hard for. There are no battleships.
The people remembered how hard their ancestors had fought to maintain such a peaceful equilibrium. They wished to keep it that way. The ones who were set in their own old ways detested the unnecessary prodding and probing.
But the ones with curiosity laced in their very beings stood un-waivered. They aspired to know the galaxy around them. Millions of uninhabited worlds rich with lower biological life forms were there to be explored, and exotic plant and animal life waited to be researched. Inexhaustible mineral wealth could be accessed and used for trade. To them, there were no drawbacks, only benefits.
Their desire for such advancements and peace left them helpless when the Andromedins attacked their lands and homes with an array of destructive armaments that not only spread chaos and terror but also disabled, paralyzed, and destroyed any resistance at will.
Chapter 3: Jan Oster
This desire for such advancements also brought forth a man who not only made new discoveries in the field of cosmic studies but was also not laid behind the salvation of many in the galactic circle. He created such an exquisite alarm that went off throughout the galaxy, informing on all of the catastrophic invasion of Andromeda.
Jan Oster, a Dutch Astronomer, had a singular vision to study the vast Andromeda Galaxy as it had never been done before. Six fellow astronomers joined him, three men and three women, all from Earth, in a focused endeavor. It was Jan Oster’s 20-year quest to build a large eye observatory on the desolate planet that resulted in such a timely permeation of the much-needed warning.
In 18 years of crisscrossing the galaxy and staging a series of successful fundraisers, he was able to raise enough money to buy the barren planet where the observatory was to be based. After developing the necessary infrastructure, he only had the funds to furnish the living quarters for himself and his colleagues. Not only that, but he was also short of money to even acquire state-of-the-art observational equipment, including a big telescope, and finance the salaries for all the people necessary to keep the observatory running for the first year.
Jan knew it meant organizing yet another series of fundraisers. He knew they were necessary for the cause, but they also took him away from his science. His forte was invention and research. For him, fraternizing was never part of the deal. Yet somehow, fate had chosen him for this feat. And everything else was history. Travelling was his life now. He was now on his way to the Korin system, only 500 light-years away from Earth, for a symposium called “The Collective Focus on Unfunded Exploratory Projects.” Really, it was just a long title for a project to support languishing orphan initiatives to get off the ground. It would be a packed meeting in the Great Hall of Science.
During the four-day event, each speaker would be limited to a five-minute presentation of their project. Oster was aware the committee would approve and support only 25% of the proposals. Not only was this program highly selective, but they only could also fund a specific number of projects due to the limited availability of funds. Nerves and anticipation laced the air. Jan knew that he had to make his presentation so fine that it be worthy of a monetary award. Even if successful, the grant would not be enough to finish his whole project. It was just the start.
He could feel his body tingle with the fear of what was about to come. This wasn’t just a presentation. For him, it was a case of life and death. He had given his whole life for this. To fail at this symposium would set them back greatly. As he sipped some water to calm his nerves, a coordinator came in to inform him that he was up next. This was it; he thought to himself as he straightened his clothes and checked his reflection in the mirror one last time; it was do or die…
“Esteemed committee members and colleagues. In the coming days, you will be asked to evaluate many worthy projects. Please let me explain my uniqueness: While there are countless projects to explore our vast galaxy, I claim to be the only one to think it worth our while to go beyond our Local Group and probe our nearest neighbor, the ‘Great Andromeda Galaxy,’ proclaimed Jan in a confident voice as the giant screen behind him lit up, displaying Andromeda in all its glory.”
“It seems to be the general opinion that, since Andromeda is 2.5 million light-years away and we are unable to travel there, it is unworthy of study. Is Andromeda so similar to us that we cannot acquire more knowledge? Might we find other civilizations and their abilities to move about similar to ours? And most importantly, if astronomy has taught us one lesson, we can always be surprised by what we find. In my view, we will have a chance to research this galaxy and find information if we use the latest in today’s tech. I believe I will be able to accomplish my goal with a team of twelve scientists and two support staff.
We have already purchased a planet we deem to be ideal for our endeavor; we call it the ‘Far Point Andromeda Observatory.’ All structures are in place but empty, with a team ready and waiting. In conclusion, we hope you will join us in our vision for the project and that you consider it an undertaking worthy of your support. Thank you.”
He concluded his presentation to a huge round of applause. He bowed and exited the stage. The event had come to an end as Jan tucked his notes into his satchel and shook hands with several well-wishers on his way out of the hall. Their encouragement lifted his spirits.
As he was about to exit the hall, a tall, strikingly elegant woman came up to him. She wore a simple dress made of an exotic fabric he had never seen before. Behind her, at a discreet distance, stood two men; maybe they were aides.
She smiled warmly, took his hand with both of hers, and said, “My name is Lady Jas Kendora, and Korin is my home world. I personally share your vision, Mr. Oster. Your presentation is singular in its scope, and I would be honored if you would have lunch at my home tomorrow and further discuss what you need to move forward with your project.”
Jan couldn’t believe his ears. The initial response from the investors has made him a little skeptical of their decision. The promise of the resources he needed ever so badly made him excited. Could she be the benefactor he was hoping for? Her title of ‘Lady Kendora’ showcased her as being a member of the affluent aristocracy known to govern Korin. He was unfamiliar with the source of her wealth, but he knew that she might be influential enough to get the ball rolling.
Jan bowed slightly and responded, “My Lady, it would be my honor to accept your kind invitation.”
“Splendid,” she laughed, a sparkle evident in her vivid green eyes.
“Please let my aides know where you would like them to pick you up mid-day tomorrow.”
After a short conversation with her aides, she walked purposefully toward a stately vehicle waiting outside the hall. Jan was ecstatic. He hurried back to his room to prepare for the upcoming meeting. He was trying not to get too excited. Being over-optimistic was not a mistake he could afford to make ahead of the luncheon. He would enjoy the opportunity to calmly lay out his vision for the Andromeda Project and wait for her opinion. He slept well and was looking forward to the day ahead.
A little before noon, the same vehicle he had seen the day before pulled up in front of his hotel. He entered the car and drove up a winding road high above the city, through a park nestled with fruit trees and plants and flowers that were mostly alien to him. They drove up to an imposing mansion. There, he was met by a servant who ushered him through a large foyer and taken – surprisingly – into the kitchen, where he found Lady Kendora busily preparing their meal at the counter. She turned around and smiled at him with her hypnotizing green eyes, which today matched her casual green dress.
“I thought it would be fun to have our informal meeting right here in the kitchen after the luncheon. All the ingredients for this special meal that have been sent here are from your home planet.”
Jan was amazed by Lady Kendora’s warm hospitality. His line of work had shown him that most aristocrats tended to be a little indifferent and aloof. And yet, here she was, inviting him to her kitchen, cooking them a meal herself. Her demeanor was welcoming. He was lost in his thoughts, and apparently, Lady Kendora figured it out too. She brought him back to reality by addressing him once again.
“From here, we have a view of the Dark Forest and a distant mountain range.”
She gestured him to the kitchen table and set down platters of special cheeses, bread, crackers, and even lobster tails. She poured white wine into two tall glasses. The dessert table showed a selection of pastries and exotic delights.
He looked at his hostess and said, “How can I ever thank you for this rare and unexpected treat! May I ask you if you also enjoy this food from my home planet?”
“Even though I am familiar with the cuisines from across the galaxy,” she said. “I have had only a few samples from Earth. I ordered these items especially for this occasion to make you feel at home. Planetary Chef Advisory was very helpful with suggestions on what to order. Maybe you can educate me a little as we enjoy this food.” She added merrily as she dished out the food.
Jan’s mouth watered in anticipation. This was too good to be true. He was about to enjoy the food he had not tasted in a while. During the meal, he explained the origin and preparation of the different delicacies before them. They also shared stories about their lives. Jan talked about growing up on Earth in Holland and his fascination with astronomy. Lady Kendora explained how they prospered through the family trading business. The business was now in the hands of capable managers and enabled her to focus her attention on underfunded projects having to do with space exploration.
After they finished eating, Lady Kendora rang a small metal bell, and a maid came and cleared the table quietly. They sat back, and Jan said, “My hope is that someday you may visit Earth, and I can invite you to a meal with other culinary delights and introduce you to my beautiful planet.”
Lady Kendora smiled at him and replied, “I appreciate the invitation, but now let’s look at your proposal for Andromeda Far Point Observatory.”
Jan retrieved the papers from his satchel and spread them out on the table. “Of course, I have saved all this on my computer, but I thought it helpful to show you the actual drawings in an architectural rendering. First is a view of the observatory from the outside. Then the interior including living quarters, the kitchen, and then the facilities where the specialized equipment and the astronomical instruments will be set up.”
She studied the plans carefully and said, “This is impressive. What would the estimated budget be to complete what you laid out before me?”
Jan hesitated, then pulled out an additional paper containing the budget, and said cautiously, “I foresee expenses in the amount of 3-1/2 billion solar credits to cover the operating costs, including salaries and equipment, for one year. My hope is that, after my presentation yesterday before the committee, I might receive a grant that would cover part of the cost of the project.”
Lady Kendora leaned forward, put her hand on his, and said, “Leave this proposal with me, and don’t worry about the committee. Let them spend their funds on other worthy causes. I want Andromeda Far Point to be my personal project. Let’s meet with my advisors and draw up a contract and create an account with enough funds to get you started. The account will be replenished as needed.”
All of a sudden, the long years of pleading for support and frustratingly slow progress were behind him.
With his voice full of emotion, he declared, “My Lady, please allow me to name the project ‘The Lady Kendora Andromeda Far Point Observatory’ in your honor.”
Having concluded the formal meeting, Lady Kendora invited him to view her collection of artifacts from mostly extinct civilizations, and after agreeing on a convenient time for a meeting with her advisors, she bid him goodbye. Jan, full of gratitude, left for Earth to collect his team of associates to finally start working on the observatory at Far Point.
Chapter 4: Artificial Wormholes in Andromeda
The project was completed about a year after Jan Oster was able to secure sufficient funds, thanks to the lovely Lady Kendora. Jan could only attribute the timing of the observatory’s opening to nothing less but divine providence. Jan engrossed himself in his work, his nights entwined into the day, and there was no telling when dawn was and when was dusk. Jan, at times, didn’t sleep for two days straight, surviving only on hot beverages that would help keep himself awake and energy bars that could be consumed without taking a break from his work. His dedication to his work knew no bounds.
Shortly after Jan resumed work, he and his team were able to achieve something that otherwise would have been nothing short of impossible. After tedious hard work, they were able to collect sufficient data to prove the existence of artificial wormholes in Andromeda. Their significantly advanced equipment and high-powered telescopes were now intricate enough that they were able to pick up amazing images and data far into the Galactic Circle and beyond.
As Jan sat back to rest his eyes for a while, taking a break from his never-ending and extremely busy schedule, he thought of a time when the news of the initial discovery of the Wormholes had rocked the scientific community across the Galactic Circle some three months after the Dedication of the Observatory.
Hiro Watanabe, one of the initial six astronomers and a wormhole specialist, was brought in from previous wormhole research. His sole task was to find evidence of artificial wormholes in the Andromeda system. Such a discovery would not only bolster the image of the Galactic Circle as an important contributor to the world of astronomy but would also create an avenue for finding other intergalactic civilizations. Though Lady Kendora had generously funded the initial year of the research, finding artificial wormholes would guarantee future bottomless funding from other sources.
After only one week of focused investigation, Hiro rushed into Jan Oster’s office, not with an expression of excitement but rather one of deep concern. He carried a sheaf of paper under one arm and clutched a virtual memory card in his other hand. His initial reflex was to offer Hiro a seat to sit and calm himself. He reached toward the liquor cabinet to offer him a drink to help calm his nerves. He knew that scientific minds work solely on finding the missing piece to their puzzle, without a care for their health, physical or otherwise. He didn’t want one of his top specialists to burn out. Hiro laid the papers on Jan’s desk and the memory card next to them.
“Jan,” he said, “Before you examine the data and images on your desk, let me give you a summary of my findings. I wanted to be absolutely certain that my conclusions were correct. Please insert the memory card into your computer. The first image on the screen shows a clear picture of an artificial wormhole that I took with a special spectrometer. This is different than the artificial wormholes we create.”
The enhanced image showed a distinct shift, giving it an elongated appearance. It also had a strange, undulating glow. Jan leaned forward to look at it more closely.
“Please explain exactly what I am looking at. This is definitely different than what we are used to seeing here.” He said to Hiro.
“Before I speculate, please advance to the next image,” said Hiro.
The next picture showed a larger view of the same type of wormhole connecting the one-star system to another.
“I believe I see a wormhole connecting two-star systems. Is this unusual in any way?” Jan asked.
Hiro leaned forward. “O yes, it is! What do you estimate the distance between those two stars? If my calculations are correct … 10.000 light-years!”
Jan was left stunned. With their combined best efforts, they had successfully created a dark energy wormhole that allowed them to make jumps of 500 light-years for transportation and 1000 light-years for the transmission of information.
Hiro continued, “In the short time I have been searching, this is by far the longest jump I have been able to detect, but the Andromedans may be capable of exceeding even this distance. I was certain that you would want to be informed of these early findings. The next three images show similar wormholes in different locations. But before you click on the final two screens, let me prepare you for what you are about to see.”
Hiro patiently watched as Jan scrutinized the next three images with great curiosity.
“The next two pictures will explain the urgency of the situation and the reason why I rushed to show you what I had discovered,” Hiro added.
What Jan saw next on the screen had him rising up from his chair in disbelief. In front of him was an extremely daunting image – something that Jan had never seen before. The image appeared to be the mouth of an impossibly large wormhole. It looked dark, foreboding, and angry.
Jan gulped. Whatever it was, he knew this was not a foretelling of any good news.
“I guess I am looking at the aperture of a giant wormhole, so large in fact, that it should not exist at all in the world of artificially stabled wormholes,” he said in a tone that begged Hiro to prove otherwise.
Hiro looked at him with a solemn look.
“And yet, there it is,” said Hiro, “and it is headed directly toward us. At the moment, I cannot even speculate about the impact this might have on us, but the wormhole that originated from Andromeda, an inconceivable 2.5 million light-years away, is rapidly expanding, and I will require assistance from my colleagues to calculate when it will arrive here. Now let me elaborate on the last screen.”
Whatever it was, Jan dreaded it already. Hiro had come rushing in not to boast about another achievement. Today he was nothing but a bearer of bad news. Hiro brought upon the screen the last of his findings.
Before Jan could closely inspect and scrutinize what was displayed before him, Hiro explained, “What you see here is the beginning of the wormhole and at least 40 smaller wormholes converging toward it. My best guess is that we are looking at supply lines from other star systems leading to the main tunnel.
Let me speculate how it is possible for such large structures to exist: Looking at spectrometers and available data – and I know this defies conventional wisdom – I believe the Andromedans succeeded in combining dark energy and dark matter into a stable structure. To find answers to all these questions will require the combined effort of all our experts.”
Both the men fell silent; now, it was all out in the open. The repercussions, something they were even scared to think about, would be grave.
After a few painful minutes had passed, Hiro stood up and straightened himself.
“I leave you now to sort through this information. Please keep me updated on what comes next.” With that, he left Jan’s office.
With this information, Jan started thinking about what avenues were open to him. This unexpected development weighed heavily on his conscience. The Andromeda Project had been Jan’s lifelong dream. If the right actions were not taken, the long hours of work and efforts would inevitably go down the drain, all due to a sudden and completely unforeseen dimension. Jan thought the best approach was to reach out to Jas Kendora on Korin, her home planet. The following message was sent via a priority jump:
I have been made aware of discovery with implications of such magnitude. It is way beyond the capacity of our facility to cope with. The last time we met here at Far Point was for the joyous dedication of your observatory. It was the realization of a dream and the promise of wonderful discoveries. This impending event cannot be explained through the available channels, and I implore you to come here as soon as possible so we can lay out the whole case before you.
Once we have made clear our grave concerns, it will become evident that your contacts in the political and scientific realm will be essential in evaluating the implications of our discovery. Please understand that I cannot go into more detail, but if you decide to come, my colleagues and I will explain the possible gravity of this situation. I anxiously await your response.
Jan did not have to wait long for Lady Kendora’s response. He received her reply almost immediately.
“Jan,” she wrote, “I felt the urgency and emotion in your message. Since I am aware of your sincerity and dedication from our first encounter, I have decided to leave for Far Point immediately. I will be traveling by Priority Transport and will arrive within a week.
Chapter 5: Lady Kendora Arrives at Far Point
“The world of science is filled with wrong interpretations, mishaps, and annoyingly long hours. Jas Kendora, though a fan of scientific advances and discoveries, hated the nitty-gritty and unbearably long periods of anticipation. She had high hopes for the Andromeda Project, and now, when everything they worked so hard for seemed to be at stake, Jas couldn’t just sit back. She would see it through the end.
Jas Kendora arrived at Far Point not long after she received Jan Oster’s gruesome message. Upon her arrival at Far Point, she felt disoriented, a side effect of traveling through the wormhole. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, the journey through a wormhole left behind the residue of something of a similar effect to jet lag; its intensity only worse.
Despite her disorienting journey, she landed in high spirits. She exited the wormhole station’s air-locked base and headed toward the observatory. As she reached her destination, the first thing she saw as she neared the foyer was a grand arch that read, ‘WELCOME TO THE LADY JAS KENDORA ANDROMEDA OBSERVATORY’.
Not only this, but she soon found that the entire staff of the observatory was stationed at the front of the observatory to greet their gracious sponsor. They all met her with great enthusiasm; some had brought her flowers that, for Kendra, were completely foreign.
Jan approached her ahead of the welcoming crowd, took her hand in both of his, and said excitedly, “I am so glad to see you here, Lady Kendra. Let me take you to your quarters so you can get settled and familiarize yourself with our atmosphere. I know your home planet is experiencing pleasant weather, whereas here, it is quite cold.”
As he led the way to her assigned quarters, he talked to her in a quiet voice, “I wish your visit to the observatory had taken place under different circumstances. I would have shown you the work we accomplished due to your generosity.”
“I agree,” she replied, “Now that I am here, explain all the details to me.”
“I understand your impatience and urgency, but our briefing is not scheduled until tomorrow.”
They continued walking; behind them, a woman from the maintenance staff followed them with Lady Kendra’s single bag. He handed her a key card and left her to get settled.
“If you need anything, there is a phone next to your bed, with all the relevant extensions mentioned on the card attached to it. Please don’t hesitate in the slightest,” Jan bowed and left.
The guest room was modest by her standards but looked comfortable. A porthole allowed a spectacular view of the Galactic Circle. A large screen on the opposite wall displayed the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Without delay, Jas lay down on the simple yet comfortable bed and fell asleep, the travel exhaustion finally getting to her.
“After a full eight hours of sleep, she felt well-rested and proceeded to get dressed for the day. To her surprise, she discovered that some warm coats had been provided for her in the closet. She chose one and left for her first meeting.”
As she stepped out of her room, she found the observatory a beehive of activity. She walked around poking her head into various rooms when Hiro Watanabe noticed her and excitedly invited her in.
“I am Hiro Watanabe, the wormhole technician, and this is my work- station. I will inform Jan that you are up, and while we are waiting, allow me to show you all this state-of-the-art equipment and its applications.”
Jan arrived just as they were finished with the tour.
“Let me take you to our dining room, where a surprise meal has been prepared in your honor. Afterward, we will adjourn for an in-depth briefing.”
As they entered, the entire staff was already assembled and gave her a standing ovation. Jas Kendora appreciated the warm welcome. As she sat down at the table, she saw before her a spread of edibles similar to the one she had served Jan in her kitchen on Korin.
As she surveyed the table, her face lit up as she also discovered several dishes of Korinia origin: Korinian desert antelope, sweet curly squash, and on the dessert table, moon berry swirl, her favorite.
“Jan, you thought of everything. This brings back memories of our meal together and more.”
They enjoyed their lunch over lively conversation. Afterward, they all assembled in the conference room, where a large display screen was mounted on the far wall.
Jan addressed the staff. “I will now turn the briefing over to Hiro Watanabe, our wormhole specialist, and it will become evident right away why he is most qualified to lead our discussion. Sarah Frank, our communications director, will have one last item to put before you.”
As Hiro laid out his discoveries carefully and methodically, Jas Kendora was unable to hide her shock and amazement at the magnitude of his findings. After he was finished, she asked him how close the wormhole was to the Galactic Circle and the estimated arrival time.
“It is unclear how long it has been developing, but I estimate it might arrive in only a few weeks. Hence the urgency to confer with experts outside our circle.”
Jan responded, “After hearing your presentation, Hiro, I understand the urgency of this matter and will immediately act after I hear what Sarah Frank has to say.”
Hiro then invited Sarah, who thanked him and started her presentation, “This is the question before us: who are the Andromedans, and what are their intentions? Of course, we had hoped for peaceful contact. This would be the most exciting, wonderful, and historic event imaginable. Unfortunately – concluding from our observations – it seems unlikely. If you look at the screen, you will see an enhanced view of the approaching wormhole. It is massive and dark and is supplied from Andromedans by multiple smaller wormholes. If their intentions were simply to communicate with us or send a small diplomatic mission, would there be a need for such a massive undertaking? I have tried to initiate contact by sending a rapid communications wormhole with a standard greeting and have not yet received a reply. This concludes the scope of my information so far, and I ask you, Jan, to make a closing statement.”
Jan looked directly at Jas Kendora and said, “My Lady, you can see now the reason why I reached out to you. We at Far Point are merely a small group of scientists on a barren planet at the edge of the Galactic Circle, unprepared for the possible consequences of our discovery. You, on the other hand, have significant contacts throughout the galaxy. And I am not only thinking about scientists. We will also need politicians – may God help us – and people who can establish a military force, should it become necessary. Can we count on you to disseminate this information as widely as possible? We are aware of the burden we are putting on you but cannot imagine placing this task in more capable hands. May God give you the wisdom to carry out this important work.”
Lady Kendora replied, “Jan, I appreciate your reluctance to call me for help, but you are doing the right thing. I already have several qualified specialists in mind and will arrange to bring them to Far Point after we have established a permanent communications channel.”
Chapter 6: Taskforce Andromeda
The observatory sprang into action, and there wasn’t a moment to lose. The world as they knew it was in mortal peril. Thanks to the observatory and Jan Oster’s rapid action, they were prepared to stand their ground. Jas Kendra activated every resource available for the task.
When the Andromedans received the standard greeting from Far Point, their only response was to change the direction of their rapidly advancing, dark energy, dark matter, wormhole, and its fearsome churning opening pointed directly at Far Point Observatory.
Lady Kendora set off for home, but not before setting the ‘Task Force Andromeda’ in motion. Shortly after that, an advance team was dispatched to Far Point under the command of a newly commissioned Admiral Paniken, formerly four-star police chief in charge of the fifth quadrant territory that included Far Point.
He took Sarah and Hiro with him to his next stop, the Nary System, approximately 300 light-years away. Along with his team, he organized a base, setting up a supply chain and a group of specialists. They briefed a hastily yet determined, assembled committee. He ordered ten heavy police cruisers to protect Far Point and additional cruisers to protect nearby planets against the advancing intruders who stationed themselves in front of their borders, protecting their homes against unknown intruders. The brave men and women in Far Point were the first to die as hordes of attackers emerged from the wormhole and destroyed everything.
It was unclear what else they could have done. Despite their rapid response, it was unclear what responses and course of action they had put together. There was never a clear response to the message Sarah sent from Far Point via the rapid information wormhole, just a sound like a thunderclap, which repeated every time the Andromedans conquered a planet or outpost.
When the Andromedans emerged suddenly from the angry mouth of the wormhole with unrelenting force, they first obliterated Far Point Observatory. Without pausing, they pressed their conquest forward, targeting and occupying everything they deemed fit. They targeted only resource-rich planets, bypassing the world’s less valuable. How they so quickly acquired the intelligence, how they determined which worlds were the most unique in their quality, and which ones were the richest in terms of the resources that they provided, it is still all a big giant mystery to us.
There was no chance for the inhabitants of the Galactic Circle to resist the surprise attack. The hastily established new Central Command barely had enough time to issue an order for strategic withdrawal, which was mostly unsuccessful as the advancing enemy quickly destroyed the evacuation wormholes before they could even become fully operational. It seemed that they had thought of every possible interference, every possible strategy. For every move, the intruders had planned a counter move.
“But if our hopes are betrayed, if we are forced to resist the invasion of our soil and to defend our threatened homes, this duty, however hard it may be, will find us armed and resolved upon the greatest sacrifices.” –Albert II of Belgium
The only way to successfully save as many people as possible was to extend the evacuation zone further from the rapidly approaching army, sacrificing those near the front line who were killed or enslaved by the millions and their resources forcibly taken. There was no way around this brutal situation. For every world that was conquered, a thunderclap was broadcasted by the Andromedans throughout the galaxy. And so, the strategic withdrawal continued.
It was emotional torture for Admiral Paneken to watch this destruction helplessly. He decided that, for any counter-attack to succeed, half measures would be worse than nothing. Only a thoroughly planned and executed sudden offensive strike had a chance of prevailing. Paneken had to build a space navy and weaponize it from the ground up. Even with all of the remaining resources of the Galactic Circle, it would take a full year to execute his plan. A year that would enable the Andromedans to further expand their territory and entrench themselves.
The Galactic Circle that once shone with the brightness of innovation, the circle that was a radiant symbol of brotherhood, of cooperation, now stood in silence as darkness invaded its every corner. There seemed to be no hope for many, who had turned captives in their own homes, the colonies deserted or destroyed. What was once a prosperous and progressive space now lay barren with misery and gloom lurking at every corner.
“Something which, once made, can never be destroyed, once destroyed, can never be repaired.” -Christy Lefteri
Chapter 7: Fighting Back
There was no communication with the invaders who conquered and plundered our territories and enslaved the inhabitants. It took almost a year before we could mount any resistance. By then, about seven percent of our galaxy was occupied territory. Because we were initially unable to resist the enemy, we might have thought that we would never be able to launch a counter-attack, but Admiral Paneken had finally devised a plan.
The High Council met in secret. Their place of meeting was always different. The Council was the only force that still held some authority and therefore gave the illusion of some control. They were the ones who were responsible for keeping the people safe.
The Admiral stood, facing the Council, knowing that every eye was focused on him.
He said, “Honorable delegates, as you are aware, we would have welcomed peaceful contact with our neighbors from Andromeda, but instead, without provocation, we were viciously attacked by an unmerciful enemy who plundered and occupied every civilized planet and outpost in its path.” He paused, never stopping making eye contact with everyone. “We are now merely hours away from launching an overdue counter-attack. We have the element of surprise on our side as the enemy’s arrogance works in our favor. Our adversaries believe that we have neither the will nor the ability to retaliate. We plan to make this first strike count. Let it be a morale booster for our citizens and a glimmer of hope that the end of this nightmare is approaching.”
It was as if a wave of energy had swept the audience. They all seemed to become charged with the adrenaline that the Admiral had come hooked on that day. Everyone seemed to be on board with the plan of defense. But the Admiral was not arrogant to not notice that among the crowd of approvals, there were some who remained reserved, almost doubtful.
He continued with his speech, this time staring down those faces which bore an expression laced with cynicism and mistrust.
“He laid out a detailed battle plan projected on the screen behind him. He showed them the detailed plan on the multi-pixel projection behind him, which had the full battle plan, with its blueprints and simulations of the plan of the attack.”
The simulations shown through the projection looked so vivid and real that the cynics were now converted to a real possibility of success. Their eyes were now shining with the promise of a better tomorrow. Admiral was quick to notice the definite change in their body language; however, his expressions remained grim. This was not the victory he was after, and neither were those who were ready to stand in the line of fire, ready to sacrifice their lives for the safety of the galactic circle.
“We will reach out across the galaxy and alert the members of our volunteer army to be at the ready as we have finalized the plans for a combined counter-attack on two selected targets. Our aim is also to capture surviving enemy soldiers and personnel.”
“Our aim is also to capture the surviving enemy soldiers and personnel. Diplomatic approaches to communicating with the Andromedans have failed. Therefore, we have to resort to interrogation.”
“How?” came a shout from within the audience.
The Admiral looked around and finally found the source behind the voice. It was of a seasoned delegate, he had spent a good number of years in the position, and his world was respected by everyone in the room and beyond.
“How what? Sir.”
“How do you plan to interrogate them? Even if you are successful in capturing them, we don’t know the language that they speak,” asked the Delegate.
It was time for the Admiral to lay all his cards on the table.
“Some of us have mastered their language through intercepted communications this past year. We are eager to find out what they look like and what caused them to suddenly attack us without provocation.”
“You have mastered their language?” The Delegate asked in wonder.
“Yes, sir. It was done by some of my finest, but not with ease. They gave their days and nights to the job in order to make sense of what once to them was gibberish and finally cracked the code.”
The Delegate sat back in his seat, and it was no secret that he had been left dumbfounded, too impressed to speak.
“We are not under the illusion that we can meet their offense with an equal countermeasure, as their wormhole technology and weaponry are beyond anything we are even remotely able to replicate. That being the case, we are working on a countermeasure. We are unable to create a similar wormhole using dark matter and dark energy, but we might be able to destroy the enemy’s massive wormhole by making it so unstable that it will set off a chain reaction, causing a catastrophic collapse of the entire structure.”
The tone of the room had now returned to its same seriousness and urgency. Every set of eyes was fixated on the simulations and looked at the destabilizing wormhole.
“To accomplish this,” the Admiral continued, “we will need to transport our last remaining antimatter bomb 2000 light-years across the enemy-occupied territory and drop it into the mouth of the Andromedan main wormhole. We hope that this action will be sufficient to completely destroy the entire structure. To accomplish this task, we need a chain of four connecting wormholes, each transporting the bomb, and a small team of experts in antimatter and wormhole technology 500 light-years closer to the target. Three vacant, isolated planetoids have been located to facilitate the leaps. After arriving at the third station, the team will arm and send the bomb through the fourth wormhole where it will detonate and destroy the target.”
The Admiral paused. He knew that what he had just told them was a lot to digest. He gave the room some time for them to comprehend and understand what lies at stake. He was waiting for questions and objections, but the room stood too stunned to respond. The Admiral cleared his throat as a way to bring the attention back to himself.
“Once the wormhole and all material in transit are obliterated, it leaves the Andromedan occupiers without a fresh supply of goods and personnel. This plan is our best option to change the direction of the fight in our favor. After the conclusion of this unexpected counter-attack, the mighty roar of a lion will be broadcast throughout the galaxy, our retaliation for the yearlong nightmare of having to listen to the sounds of the thunderclap.”
And this, dear reader, is where we find ourselves today. If, God willing, we are victorious, it will prove to be an epic journey that started with my father, Jan Oster, and his quest to study the Great Andromeda Galaxy.
Chapter 8: Details of Operation Defiant
“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Galactic Circle had every advantage when the counter-attack began. The element of surprise could not have been more overstated. The Andromedans had no reason to expect resistance since the Galactic Circle had no space navy to begin with. At the beginning of the invasion, they had used strategic withdrawal while building an attack fleet, which was nestled deep within the home territory.
The Galactic Circle’s first objective was to reclaim just two planets on opposite sides of the enemy-occupied territory. The next thing on their agenda was to free the captives and, if things went as we had planned, destroy the Andromedan fleet. As the Admiral had stated in his plan, one of the priorities was to take some prisoners (a modest goal, considering the thousands of occupied planets) in order to startle the invaders. Taking prisoners had an additional motive. If the Galactic Circle succeeded in its task, it would result in a major boost to the people’s morale.
However, the main goal of this mission was to create a diversion to be able to set the central plan in motion, which was to attempt to destroy the massive wormhole linking Andromeda to the occupied territory in the Galactic Circle.
Final victory could only be achieved by cutting off all supplies and reinforcements, finally giving our fleet the chance to halt the enemy’s advance. This plan had to succeed on the first attempt because once the strategy was discovered, any repeat attack could be easily thwarted and derailed since the wormhole would remain open.
The operation was named Defiant, and its logo, depicting a roaring lion, was sewn on the left sleeve of every uniform. The right sleeve’s patch showed a rendering of the Galactic Circle’s spiral galaxy.
It was a windy morning on the desert planet Totora. The start of the day was unsettling, as if the air had been infused with a deep sense of uncertainty. A feeling that you have in your stomach when you are about to dwell in the unknown.
A red, white, and yellow landscape stretched out in all directions. Totora was situated between the flanks of the Andromedan occupation zone, where the planned counter-attack by the defendants of the Galactic Circle was to take place.
Admiral Panakin stood on a small bluff, flanked by Vice Admiral Lopez from the Earth and Vice Admiral Tonkin hailing from Zohar, a high-tech hub on the opposite side of the galaxy. Together, they each would command a fleet of 500 newly commissioned starships. Each group consisted of one command ship, four heavy cruisers, and the rest, mostly fast sprinter attack ships.
The Admiral looked over the 15000 assembled Fleet Officers and crew with immense pride. Fresh from only a year worth of training, their brave soldiers were ready to step into the line of fire to defend their homeland and the sanctity of the Galactic Circle. Hundreds of thousands of additional troops were being prepared at the same time for the final battle across the galaxy. A spaceport with ships of the new fleet ready for deployment was visible behind the assembled men and women. Every now and then, an orange flash indicated the activation of a wormhole and the black streak of a starship visible inside.
The Admiral scanned the assembled troops, standing in impeccable composure. Dressed in their gray uniforms with blue piping, the right sleeve with the patch of the Galactic Circle, while the left shows either the roaring lion or a similar beast representing their particular homeland.
Their names were embossed on the left of their chest, while the right side was left bare to display future medals. The collar indicated the rank. These men and women, selected from their training camps for their superior abilities, were the inside edge in the long effort to finally free the galaxy of the invader.
“Men and women,” the Admiral bellowed, as every eye looked up at him with nothing but determination, “soon, you will be the liberators of our invaded galaxy. The hopes and prayers of our people everywhere are with you as you carry out your mission. The enemy has seen no resistance from us for nearly a year, just a strategic retreat to evacuate as many citizens as possible before the threatened occupation. This strategy ends next week. The entire galaxy is physically and mentally prepared for war. Starships and armaments have been and are being manufactured secretly at a rapid pace. We were mostly peaceful people but are now forced to reach back to our warrior past. The enemy has woken a sleeping giant within us whose righteous anger will liberate the galaxy. The operation to free the captives and reclaim occupied territory begins today. Together, your leaders have developed a strategy that will lead the Galactic Circle to total victory. You are 15.000 strong and brave soldiers who will pave the way for future attacks — liberating only two planets when the enemy has occupied 7% of our galaxy. Reclaiming only two planets may seem insignificant but is instrumental in testing our new equipment and assessing the enemy’s capabilities. I am meeting with the war council to develop a plan certain to succeed. Go now, and may Almighty God be with you to fight for our just and noble cause, and may victory be ours.”
A cheer of solidarity erupted from the 15.000. Its booming noise was only overshadowed when the mighty roar of a lion blasted from the speakers rendering all quiet in respect and devotion. The ruling Council, together with top military leaders, gathered in a nearby makeshift meeting room to go over plans and strategies one more time.
“Let us finalize Operation Defiant,” said Admiral Panikan. “There are certain advantages to the two planets selected for liberation. They flank the occupied territory and are far from Andromedan reinforcements. We were able to evacuate as many of our people as possible, and it is our belief that only a small occupying force will be stationed there. If we succeed with this plan, it will lift the morale of our people who, until now, have experienced nothing but defeat.”
He paused while the room buzzed with murmurs of agreement.
“Also,” he continued, “the objective of this surprise attack besides liberation will be to take prisoners and seize their ships and weapons. The interrogation of the prisoners will give us the first insight into Andromedan culture and objectives. Our experts will be able to examine the technology of their weapons, equipment, and warships. The main goal of this mission is to create a diversion from our plan to destroy the massive wormhole connecting our two galaxies. While their focus will be on our attacks on the flanks, our team will make three wormhole jumps off, three barren and unoccupied planets to reach and destroy as the main target. The Andromedans chose only resource-rich planets for attack and conquest, leaving large barren areas unwatched, and that ignorance presents itself as our trump card.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, that day is not far when the sun would finally shine on a free and independent Galactic Circle, burning away all the residue of these invaders who dared enter our homes.”
Chapter 9: Operation Defiant Begins
The Andromedans on the two flanking planets were content to be away from the heat of battle. They were tasked with supervising the mining operation carried out by the Local Group captives. They had transport ships, a heavy attack cruiser, and several combat ships at the ready in case they received an order to expand the territory on the flanks. Until then, they were simply holding the fort, far from the main attack group.
Suddenly, multiple orange wormholes emerged from outside the occupied zone. Andromedan transport wormholes were purple and appeared from inside the occupation sector after being announced by the central command. The first reaction of the Andromedans was curiosity since this remote part of the galaxy was usually quiet. Their state of mind changed quickly to alarm when hundreds of unfamiliar starships emerged from the wormholes, immediately went into attack mode, and put a communications barrier in place. It prevented the enemy from sending distress calls to the central command and devising a strategy to defend themselves.
Small attack stinger fighters destroyed both their fighters and transport ships. The final part of the plan was to board the large command ship by special forces, capture the crew and get hold of their equipment. They would gain insight into their technology, interrogate the captive soldiers, and hopefully arrange for a prisoner exchange. A separate force landed on the planet’s surface to evacuate their people and take additional prisoners. After the mission was completed and they were ready to leave, the communications barrier was lifted. The plan was to allow the enemy to send a distress call to the command center, thus drawing the Andromedan forces away from the central attack zone to defend the flanks. When the enemy fleet emerged from their wormholes, they found nothing but burned-out starships full of dead soldiers and complete destruction on the planets.
News of the success was broadcast throughout the galaxy, preceded by the lion’s roar and followed by details of the victorious liberation of two enemy-occupied planets. The announcement was met with celebration everywhere, giving the newly created space navy a tremendous boost. An annual holiday was established for this date. Lady Kendora threw a lavish party at naval headquarters.
The Andromedans at command headquarters flew into a rage after getting word of this unexpected defeat. Although this humiliation was actually small in scope, considering the vastness of their occupied territory, they needed to evaluate the unknown capability of their foe before planning any future missions.
Chapter 10: The Attack and Destruction of the Giant Wormhole
Finally, the time had come to implement the decisive strike against the wormhole, thus isolating the Andromedans from their home galaxy and cutting them off from future reinforcements and supplies. Three wormhole jumps, 500 light-years each, were necessary for the attacking team, consisting of six specialists (three bomb builders and three wormhole technicians), to launch the antimatter bomb in the last jump to the target. It was clear from the outset that the success of this mission was vital, as a failure would give the Andromedans time to develop a defensive strategy, preventing the destruction of the wormhole. Of the ninety percent of seized and barren territories, three isolated and strategically placed planets were chosen to jump the attacking team and the antimatter bomb to the launch point. The Andromedans occupied only the remaining resource-rich ten percent.
After completing the mission, the chance of reaching their home base undetected was in question. The plan was to launch decoy wormholes to other unoccupied planets, thus leaving a false trail for the enemy to follow. The success of this strategy was unknown.
Chapter 11: Victory
The day of the mission had come, and Central Command and dignitaries gathered for the sendoff. The air was electric with anticipation as a benediction was read, blessing the crew and asking for the successful completion of the mission. As the crew, together with their equipment and the bomb, disappeared into the orange glow of the wormhole, a great cheer rose from the assembly.
The first jump landed the team 500 light-years away – as planned – deep in enemy territory. One team member was tasked to stay with the bomb all the time, making sure it remained operational and stable. The other five began setting up the first jump station. After three hours, the equipment was ready and generated enough dark energy to propel the team and equipment to the second planet, then, repeating the process, to their destination. The time had come to prepare for the dangerous trip home, arm the bomb, and send it on its solo journey to the giant wormhole.
The bomb hit the target and detonated as designed. The wormhole quickly started collapsing, continuing along its entire length and obliterating everything in transit. The resulting shockwave demolished its base planet and everything within a – light-year radius.
The Andromedan High Command ordered an immediate hunt for the attackers. Following and discarding the false leads set up by the retreating attackers on their way home, the enemy sent a wormhole to intercept them. The returning team had just landed on the second planet. They were setting up for the journey home and had become aware of an ominous purple streak in the sky. They died a hero’s death and were bestowed the Local Group’s highest honor. In appreciation of their sacrifice, the families were given land and income to support them for life.
Chapter 12: Interrogation of the Captured Prisoners
The Andromedans, taken prisoner during the successful attack, were the first of the enemy to be seen since combat began a year ago. Two persons, Jar Kovas, Chief Interrogator, and Karen Samosa, Psychiatrist, were chosen to do the initial questioning of the captives to find the truth. The purpose of the interrogation was to find the reason behind the invasion of the Local Group. Also, there was an urgency to understand their military strategies.
None of them was ready to use torture as a method to find the truth. Instead, the initial five prisoners, selected from fifty, were seated on uncomfortable cold metal chairs, handcuffed to a metal table. One of them was a starship captain, while two were women administrators.
The interrogators quietly scrutinized their opponents and folded their hands on the table for several minutes. While they were carrying out the interrogation process, they saw a group of surprisingly human-looking individuals. Their skin was a beautiful, opalescent shade of blue. Their heads were bald, and ears were simply openings on both sides, with a small flap of skin partially covering them. Their long fingers ended in claws. The females had more delicate features. Their height varied between five and six feet. The uniforms were pale green, loose-fitting, with a chest patch possibly denoting rank. The interrogators’ scanners detected microchips buried under the skin of the necks and shoulders.
The similarities between humans and the Andromedan prisoners presented the interrogators with this mystery: humans are sentient, they are obviously sentient, and we are both similar in appearance. Why?
Female aliens had similar features, except they had sparse, straight hair. Besides that, their stature was stout and slightly stooped. Their clawed hands were clenched in anticipation, giving them more grip on things, but it was apparent from their nails filled with electronic rings that they could pierce through the thickest of skins.
Stripped of their armor, the aliens wore fitted pale green garments and strange patches on their sleeves that gave them an eerie-like appearance. On falling from their place, their clothes were stripped. At that moment, the interrogators could see their greyish and black cylinder-like bodies, having joints made of a robotic ball that had the numbers 1 and 0 on them. While their hands were grey-colored, having joints between them to help them move. Unlike humans, their bodies had no curves. Every part had microchips, sending signals from top to bottom wirelessly. But they did not portray it, relieving themselves of the achievements they had made and how they were still above them.
Karen Samosa had analyzed the prisoners using both her instinct and a scanner. She sensed hostility, frustration, and fear.
The starship captain was the first to speak. His utterances came in drawn-out grunts, groans, and chirps. The universal translator conveyed merely words, “What is it you want?”
Jar Kovas looked at Karen and responded, “Why did you invade our galaxy? We made numerous attempts to establish contact after your unprovoked attack, but there was only silence and more aggression. Be aware that not only the planet you occupied but also one on the opposing flank was retaken. It diverted your forces and enabled us to strike and totally wipe out the wormhole connecting our two galaxies. You are now completely cut off from reinforcements and supplies and are stranded in our galaxy with no hope of return or rescue. Even as we speak, the size of our Armada is steadily increasing and ready to take on and defeat your stranded forces and liberate our galaxy.”
Karen sensed shock and disbelief.
The captain countered, “You are lying! Our forces are too great, well-armed, and prepared for this to happen.”
Jar replied, “We are willing to open a direct channel between you and your Central Command to verify what I told you.”
The captain said after a short pause, “We were given strict orders not to have any contact with you.”
Jar pounded the table, “We are past that now! We already captured fifty of you, and surely more will follow.”
Karen Samosa spoke up, “We are returning you to your quarters to discuss our proposal with your fellow prisoners and come back in the morning with an answer. If Central Command is willing to communicate with us, we might be able to negotiate a prisoner exchange.”
The following morning, the captain was escorted back to face Jar and Karen.
“After a contentious debate with my fellow Andromedans, we agreed to make contact with Central Command. I cannot guarantee a response due to our policy of non-communication with the enemy.”
The captain was brought to the communication room, accompanied by Karen, Jar, and a technician. The universal translator was set up, enabling the interrogators to follow any communication in case the attempt was successful. A communicator was brought in, and a link opened.
The captain hesitated and leaned forward. Then, with determination, he began to broadcast.
“Central Command, this is Captain Jorash, formerly of the flagship conquest, which was destroyed in section Seven Four Six. After a surprise attack by the enemy, we were overpowered, our ships destroyed, and fifty-two of us captured. We are unharmed and held in an unknown location. According to our captors, the transit wormhole to Andromeda has been destroyed, and we are isolated in enemy territory. Due to the drastic change in our situation, we have been given the option to open a dialogue between you and the humans. This channel will remain open and ready to receive a response.”
After several hours a reply was received and translated. There were two conditions: Communication only with the commanding Admiral and health and safety for the prisoners. Admiral Panikan accepted the demands, assuring the Andromedans of the safety of all prisoners, and suggested that a channel remain open to negotiating an exchange of prisoners.
Chapter 13: The Offense Begins
The destruction of the wormhole drastically changed the mood at High Command. Plans for a major offense were well underway, with feints along the frontlines and concentrated attacks at weak points along the occupied zone.
The Andromedans were cut off and completely isolated from their home galaxy. As a consequence, their offense came to a complete halt, as did the transmission of victorious thunderclaps. They reinforced only their frontlines but had to rethink their strategy, having to draw supplies only from planets in the occupied zone.
The space navy would now be tested on its capability to hold newly gained territory. If successful, they would have the confidence to attack the Andromedan central command with an armada gathered from across the galaxy.
A council made up of representatives summoned from across the galaxy and military chiefs of staff had to decide how to deal with the prisoners, as neither keeping them confined nor returning them to Andromeda was an option. Some could possibly be exchanged for our citizens from the occupied planets.
The anger of some council members toward the enemy was so fierce that they demanded the execution of all prisoners. After a long and contentious debate concerning the termination of the prisoners, the proposition was put up for a vote and defeated by a majority of the Council. And it was apparent when a few more people voted to keep the captured troops and prisoners alive.
The Local Group had to make every effort to retake their enemy-occupied territories, free their people and reestablish control. With the wormhole connecting the two galaxies destroyed, it was decided to exile the surviving Andromedans to a few isolated planets and establish observation posts to prevent any future invasion attempts from Andromeda.
The goal of the lengthy, grueling war was to regain control over the entire galaxy. Would it ever be possible to regain the peace and stability the citizens enjoyed before the unprovoked invasion? Deep anguish would linger for those who lived under Andromedan occupation and dominance. After the successful conclusion of Operation Defiant, the focus shifted to a new campaign called ‘Freedom Strike’.
Long Live The Local Group!