Dec Flyleaf




   On the bridge of the Apocalypse, multihued status lights blinked their variegated chorus, tactical display consoles streamed data garnered from the enemy vessel, and the ship’s computer silently tended to a myriad of pre-programmed functions. The ship was seven short of its normal complement, leaving only one man — Daniel Atgard — but his attention was not concentrated on blinking lights or scrolling readouts. Daniel Atgard’s attention was, instead, focused rather intently on the viewscreen, which displayed an image that was, though from a decade ago, hauntingly familiar.

   Seconds passed and seemed like eons. There was no sign of activity from the alien ship. No movement, no attempt at communication. The categorical indifference was, indeed, the very hallmark of the alien species.

   Suddenly, the viewscreen changed, resolving to show the bridge of the alien ship, a sight with which Daniel was also all too familiar. Though he had last seen it ten years ago, his recollection was as vivid as any memory he had. Every detail of the alien bridge was exactly as he remembered it: hovering light-beings clustered around indecipherable patterns of light, flickering and changing shape seemingly at will. In the center was a being more brilliant than the rest, and the Admiral was forced to squint in order to prevent the entire scene from merging into a single luminous blur.

   "Yes, Admiral Daniel Caesar Atgard," came the being’s delayed response.  "We do indeed remember you."

   The words — or, more accurately, the thoughts — of the creature were not spoken aloud, but instead reverberated only in Daniel’s mind.

   "Good," replied the Admiral, leaning forward in his command chair, uncomfortably aware that he was alone on the ship. "Then you remember what happened the last time you killed innocent people without provocation."

   "Yes," replied the being, in the same manner as before. "We do indeed remember what happened."

   "Yet you destroy entire planets," spat the Admiral, only peripherally aware that his emotions were threatening to overcome him. "And you come again to destroy another. Must we trade death for death? How many will be enough? How many humans do you have to kill before the ‘justice’ you claim you seek has been meted out?"

   The aliens appeared to ponder this for several moments, flickering in unison as they presumably discussed their response. Abruptly the flickering abated, and Daniel thought he sensed an increase in the beings’ luster.

   The light-being in the center seemed to float slightly closer as it spoke.

   "All of them," it said.

   The viewscreen suddenly went black.

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