The Chronicles of Z’va’Xin - issue #7 | By: Robert G Moons | | Category: Short Story - Science Fiction Bookmark and Share

The Chronicles of Z’va’Xin - issue #7

A small, dark-grey, whirling mass began to form in the vacuum of space,
slowly widening like the aperture of a camera; seconds later the 
Odyssey shot out of its centre a short distance, and immediately came 
to a complete stop. 

The hull around the bridge became transparent as Dave powered down the
ship's propulsion systems. He loved the panoramic view; the 
unobstructed aspect made it easier for his part falcon eyes to sweep 
the immediate area, but it was mostly for his amusement. The ship's 
sensors were more efficient, still, he liked the challenge, and he had 
turned it into a contest. 

“There it is!” Dave exclaimed. The tiny shape was only visible due to
the nearby star's light reflecting off it. “I've already scanned it,” 
Xin replied pretending to gloat. “It's another dead end I'm afraid – 
dead being the operative word – it's a derelict vessel.” 

This was the third disappointment so far in their search. First, the
outdated history section of the Z'va library had directed them to a 
long dead world. Second, to an advanced civilization that had 
deteriorated into a race of xenophobes, not even worth attempting to 
contact for fear of being attacked. And now, Xin had made a detour to 
check out a weak signal midway through a space fold that had led them 

Dave piloted the Odyssey toward the relic. It wasn't what they were
looking for, but he was damn curious non the less. “Dave, what are you 
doing?” Xin floated down the hall to hover next to Dave who was seated 
on the bridge. 

“Just thought we should take a closer look, now that we're here anyway,”
he replied. 

“Very well, but then we should investigate the nearby system – there
might be a connection.” Xin tried to sound optimistic. “Perhaps this 
ship will reveal something.” 

“Woh! Will you look at the size of this thing!” Dave remarked as the
massive hulk quickly filled up his vision, and now loomed above them 
like some ancient sea monster. 

The shape of the enormous ship reminded Dave of a starfish, except that
the five monstrous appendages were bent back at about a thirty-degree 
angle from its centre. It was decorated by countless bumps of varying 
sizes over its entire surface, and in the dim light of the nearby star, 
it appeared predominantly dark-purple in colour. 

“What's the diameter of this thing?” Dave asked without taking his eyes
off the leviathan. 

“1.956 kilometres,” was Xin's machine-like answer. 

“That's about eighteen football fields, and I'm talking with the end
zones included – it's huge!” Dave exclaimed. 

“Based on my scans,” Xin analyzed, “this ship was created by a
reasonably advanced race. The alloys used, the propulsion system, and 
its power core are all quite impressive. If the civilization that 
created this ship still exists, they could be a possibility for the 
Z'va Prime library upload. I cannot get an accurate reading as to the 
age of this vessel due to the preserving effects of space. This is odd 
– I am getting some unusual readings from inside the ship. There is a 
considerable amount of organic matter spread out inside the entire 

“What sort of organic matter?” Dave asked with a bit of trepidation. 

“Inconclusive,” Xin responded, a bit perplexed, “its hull is able to
block some of my scan modes. It is organic matter but I am not getting 
any life readings. Also, there is zero gravity, and it is a virtual 
vacuum inside, except for a small percentage of nitrogen and oxygen 
molecules at a four to one ratio.” 

“So there are frozen dead things inside – that's nice,” Dave summed up

“I need to get inside this ship to find and access the data storage
devices,” Xin determined. “Without them being powered on, it is 
impossible to locate them.” 

“I'm coming along this time,” Dave stated firmly. “I've studied all the
Traveler training files,” he added to argue his case. 

“Affirmative,” Xin's logic programming agreed, “but let's keep it simple
– no space walks – just phase the Odyssey through the hull of that 

“Affirmative,” Dave parroted back with a smile. 

Dave's cranial implant relayed his thoughts to the secondary control
panel, which was out of sight, and located directly under his chair. 
The bridge had no buttons, controls, or monitors of any kind, and 
except for the white, square chair, the bridge was virtually empty. 
Everything on the ship was controlled via thought; all the information 
gathered went directly to the implant, and then to Dave's brain. It 
took a bit of getting used to in the beginning, but the ship was fast 
becoming an extension of Dave's own body, and responding to him almost 
as quickly. 

The transparent bridge transformed back to a white hull as the Odyssey
slowly moved forward, phased out and through the thick hull at the tip 
of the nearest appendage of the huge ship. 

Xin's clinical data of the ship's interior did nothing to prepare Dave
for the visual reality. When he changed the bridge back to transparent 
mode, Dave was face to face with a monstrous, floating skull, of God 
knows what, that was about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. 

“Ahhh!” he yelp as he literally jumped back. 

After he got over the initial shock, he gazed past the frightening
skull. It looked like they were inside a dark, giant tunnel with walls 
that seemed to give off a low, purplish glow just night-light bright 
enough to illuminate the horror it contained. “It's a bone yard!” A 
chill went all the way down Dave's spine. Randomly suspended in the 
near vacuum were thousands of bones as far as the eye could see – 
skulls, jawbones, rib cages, pelvic bones, spinal columns, and others 
that weren't identifiable. Some bones appeared to be from creatures the 
size of a mouse; others were almost as large as a whale's, and every 
size in between, the white-yellow bones taking on a purplish hue from 
the eerie glow coming off the walls. Some skulls looked almost familiar 
while others were barely recognizable as being a skull, making Dave 
wonder what these creatures could have possibly looked like – extremely 
alien, he imagined. 

While Dave had been taking in the bizarre view in front of him, Xin had
been doing what she did best. “These creatures are not listed in the 
Z'va Prime library,” she concluded after having scanned all the 
floating bones. “Of course that is to be expected as the information is 
twenty million years out of date, and I estimate these bones are 
approximately only two hundred years old.” 

“Well, let's go look for computers, data storage devices, ship's logs or
whatever,” Dave uttered with a twinge of apprehension. “It's not like I 
haven't seen a few bones before, but let's do it, and get out of here – 
this place gives me the creeps.” 

A few minutes later, Dave had on a grey flight suit, and an envirosuit
strapped in place. It was a small, flat, triangular-shaped device that 
was attached to his back with a black, X-shaped harness and belt. Xin 
had constructed the sophisticated device in the science lab using 
technical blueprints accessed from the Z'va Prime library. Dave touched 
the buckle area of the belt turning the shiny, black object on, which 
resulted in a breathable atmosphere around his entire body that was 
several centimetres thick. A low powered force field contained the air 
from escaping, and also provided some minimal protection. Dave and Xin 
entered the small room designed around the phaseway location, which 
isolated the ship's portal from the rest of the interior. Xin told the 
Odyssey to seal off the room with a white wall that grew up from the 
floor. Next, the ship removed the air in the room to equalize with the 
outside vacuum; finally the phaseway was slowly opened, and the 
internal artificial gravity was turned off. 

Dave's laced, black boots no longer touched the floor, as he now floated
weightless in the middle of the makeshift air hatch. “How do I move 
around, Xin?” Dave verbalized. 

The sound waves couldn't travel through the vacuum, but Xin understood
him just the same. “You may speak if you wish, but it is not necessary 
– your cranial implant will transfer your thoughts to me and vice 
versa,” Xin instructed. 

“Yeah, right, in space they can't hear you scream, or talk, or fart,”
Dave joked. Xin didn't find it at all funny, as the verbal version 
didn't translate well into thoughts that were then relayed via the chip 

“I would highly recommend avoiding flatulence within the envirosuit,
Dave. Anyway, to answer your question – the envirosuit has anti-grav 
movement capability. Just focus on the device, then visualize the 
direction and speed you wish to go.” Dave had been using the implant 
for a few weeks and was fast becoming expert with its use. He was using 
it to fly the Odyssey, access the Z'va Prime library; he even used it 
with his Mac laptop he had brought along. It took a bit of practice and 
patience at first, but he was now able to work with Photoshop and 
Illustrator by just thought alone. 

So now, he thought about the two centimetre, flat device strapped to his
back, told it he wanted to go forward, and visualized the speed at 
about three kilometres per hour. Sure enough, he floated toward the 
portal at a slow walking speed. Stop, he thought, and he stopped 
abruptly arms length from the phaseway portal. “No problem,” Dave said, 
but Xin only received the thought that he was ready. 

“Good, then let's go,” Xin replied as she moved through the portal to
lead the way. Dave followed right behind her. 

The interior of the tunnel-like appendage was as wide as a football
field. The various bones were not packed thick, nor spread out evenly, 
so it was easy enough to maneuver around the open gaps, and even ignore 
the tiny mouse size bones as they reflected off the envirosuit's low 
force field. Dave's ability to see in minimal light came in handy, as 
he floated a wide zigzag pattern away from the Odyssey. The slightly 
curved floor, about a metre below his feet was a very dark, (and in 
this light) undetermined colour. 

“I see something on the side of this tunnel thing, around the bottom
half.” Dave's distance and night vision worked exceptionally well 
together, even beating Xin to the discovery this time. “Let's check it 

As they approached the side of the tunnel, a new part of the puzzle
emerged – cages, row upon row of cages along the bottom of the high, 
curving wall. The wall itself had a bumpy texture reminiscent of egg 
carton bottoms, but looked more organic than fabricated due to the 
randomness in size and placement of the bumps. The cages were set 
directly into the wall; again there was randomness about it, as there 
were various sizes from the very small to huge, and everything in 
between. The huge cages were about ten metres square; the smaller ones 
were stacked in random patterns of various sizes, but grouped, ending 
up at exactly the same height as the huge ones. 

“I think I know where all those bones came from now,” Dave and Xin
thought in unison to each other. “Was this some sort of alien zoo?” 
Dave puzzled. 

“Possibly,” Xin responded. “However, I am curious about what caused the
damage to some of the cages.” 

Dave examined several of them more closely, and even in the dim light
could see that although many had their bared doors swung open, the few 
that were still shut, had bent and mangled bars. 

“Well, whatever happened here, happened a long time ago,” Dave
commented. “Let's follow this wall – It probably leads to the centre of 
the ship. Maybe there are some answers there.” 

“Agreed,” Xin confirmed as she set off, keeping the dark-purple, glowing
wall to her right. 

There seemed to be no end to the cages, as they travelled the length of
the wall. They had past hundreds if not thousands of cages, and there 
were cages on the opposite wall, as well as four more of these 
tunnel-like sections to the ship. What's with all the animals? Dave was 
mystified. He kept coming back to the zoo idea, but it just didn't sit 

The long tunnel finally opened up into a huge, cavern-like opening. Two
other large, tunnel openings could be seen on the left and right of 
what was the centre of this space hulk – a large, domed structure. The 
structure appeared to have the same dark-purple colour and organic-like 
texture of the tunnels. There was nothing unusual about it except 

“Doors!” exclaimed Dave. 

There were five half circle-shaped openings, each one facing their
respective tunnel. They were about three metres high, and were simply a 
hole by which to gain access into the central structure. 

“This could be the primary control location,” Xin guessed as she floated
toward the opening directly ahead, followed quickly behind by Dave, who 
matched Xin's speed so perfectly it seemed as if the small probe was 
pulling him along. 

Inside the structure the light from the outer glowing walls was absent.
Even Dave had trouble making things out in the almost total blackness, 
until Xin's outer shell illuminated the immediate area with a 
moderately bright, white light. 

In the centre of the round, giant room there was a waist-high, large
table. It appeared to be made out of a clear, glass-like material with 
primary coloured shapes, black alien lettering, and a complex series of 
lines. To Dave, it looked more like an enormous, round piece of 
abstract art reminiscent of Joan Miró perhaps. 

Xin moved to the centre of the great table to stop and hover over it.
“This is it, I suspect.” Xin scanned the ship's central controls 
beneath her. “This appears to be in working order but it needs some 
electrical current to power it.” No sooner had she made her mechanical 
prognosis than an electrical streamer came off her outer shell and 
directly into the centre of the translucent table. The table produced a 
low to high hum, as it lit up like a garish, neon sign. Now she needed 
to access the machine, learn its language and workings. It took less 
than ten minutes before she made her assessment. “Although there is 
some minor damage to the ship and its systems, the main problem is that 
the ship's power core has long been depleted. I could transfer some of 
my energy from my reactor core directly into this ship's.” 

“Xin, I don't want to rain on your parade, but you do know that this
ship is like a million times bigger than you?” Dave pointed out smugly. 

“I assume you are exaggerating to bolster your point, however, dimension
doesn't always equate proportionately with power,” Xin informed. 


“Size doesn't always matter,” Xin simplified, as she phased through the
table then the floor beneath, and continued heading down towards the 
central power core. 

“So what am I supposed to do?” Dave said glumly. 

“Wait,” came back the reply. 

“Fine.” Dave crossed his arms. 

A few minutes later, Xin was back hovering over the control table once
again, but now she was able to power systems on. The room they were in 
lit up as bright as daylight. Next came the sound of rushing air from 
vents unseen. Dave's ears told him it was coming from the sides of some 
of the bumps that decorated the entire interior of this colossal ship. 
And finally the pièce de résistance – gravity, as Dave fell to the 
hard, metallic floor. 

“Ouch! Man, it's a good thing my head is even harder than before.” Dave
rubbed the back of his head feeling for a bump that wasn't there. 

“I am unable to find any ship's logs to enlighten us as to what has
happened here.” Xin stated. “Ship's logs were either not customary by 
the Captain of this vessel, or they have been deleted – very odd. 
However, I was able to locate some information about this ship and its 
destination. This ship was designed to transport a wide variety of 
creatures from one planet to another.” 

“It's an ark!” Dave exclaimed with a sudden realization. 

“It seems that their homeworld's sun was on the verge of going
supernova,” Xin continued. “Their destination was the second planet of 
the nearby solar system. Obviously, something went terribly wrong.” 

“Obviously,” Dave echoed. 

“After transferring energy to this ship's reactor, I am down to twenty
percent power. I need to recharge at the nearby star; then I will meet 
you back at this location; lastly, we can explore the second planet 

“Sounds good,” Dave said. “You go ahead. I'm going to walk back to the
Odyssey; examine some of those bones, and maybe pick up a couple of 
souvenir skulls.” 

“Very well. When finished, phase the Odyssey out of this ship and wait
for me please,” Xin instructed. “You can turn off your envirosuit now – 
the atmosphere and temperature are now at an optimal life sustaining 
level. I adjusted the interior air and heating systems more suitable to 
your specific biological needs. The default air composition settings of 
this ship are very similar to Earth's, but the temperatures of each of 
the five tunnels were set at various levels, from zero to forty degrees 
celsius. I set the entire ship to a comfortable twenty-four degrees – 
the other occupants of this ship will no longer need their specific 

“That's for sure,” Dave agreed turning off his envirosuit as he walked
out of the brightly lit domed structure. 

Outside the central dome, Dave was disappointed to find the huge cavern
and the five tunnels were just as dimly lit as before. Perhaps the 
purplish glow given off by the walls had been much brighter at one 
time. Perhaps the passage of time had all but depleted whatever it was 
that created the fluorescent effect – it was just a thought. There was 
a change however – the dark, curved floor of the great ark was now 
littered with countless bones, the most pronounced being the rib cages 
of the whale sized creatures. It truly was a vast animal graveyard that 
disappeared into the gloomy distance – a visual dreamlike reality. 

“I'll meet you outside this vessel in approximately one cycle or
sixty-eight of your minutes,” Xin said as she quickly levitated upward; 
then through the ceiling of the huge, cavernous dome, and back out into 
the cold, blackness of space. Unlike most sentients, Xin felt very 
comfortable and at home in space, and was quite glad to leave the 
mysterious ship far behind. 

Dave started to walk towards the Odyssey located near the end of the
long, tunnel-like appendage. It was night-light dim, but his eyes could 
easily see the bones at his feet, so it was an easy matter to avoid 
stepping on any. Unfortunately, Xin had adjusted the artificial gravity 
to suit his higher gravitational needs, making the walk back, just 
that. No superhuman leaps this time. What was the point of being super 
if you couldn't be? It was like being Spiderman with his web slinging 
ability, but to find everything coated with a no-stick surface. 

Now, let's look for a nice sample, Dave thought as he began examining
the strange variety of skulls on his way back. 

The gigantic ship had many dark, hidden from view places – access
tunnels, ventilation systems. The cocoon-like things were well 
concealed in these secluded, dead end locations. They were shiny, 
brown-red in colour, about the size of a refrigerator, and with a 
worm-like surface texture. Each one was surrounded at their base by a 
large pile of bones. These bones were thinly covered and penetrated by 
a root-like system of thin, brown tubes that disappeared into the 
bottom half of each cocoon. Many cocoons had perished, but a few of the 
hardiest had survived the unnaturally long, hibernation-like state. The 
warm air lightly touched their surfaces, signaling the extensive 
drought of vacuum and cold were finally at an end. The process of 
reanimation rapidly began. 

Upon closer inspection, Dave noticed that many of the bones had signs of
trauma – breaks and even deep cut marks on their surface. One large 
skull had an obvious sign of three deep cuts running parallel to each 
other across its entire side. What had happened here? Some creature, 
and a nasty one at that, had gotten loose and went amuck? Then he 
thought about the bars of the cages.... They were bent inward, not 
outward.... Something had broken into those cages! Well, whatever 
happened here happened a long time ago, he again reminded himself. 
Still, he decided to forget about the souvenirs, and make his way back 
to the Odyssey a.s.a.p. 

Their antennae twitched with excitement when the smell of Dave wafted on
the recycled air, and all seven of the gigantic arachnids immediately 
headed in the direction of the fresh food. 

Dave was halfway to the Odyssey when his sensitive hearing picked up
multiple clicking sounds coming from behind him. He turned around and 
for a moment, froze when he saw the horror that was about fifty metres 
away, and approaching fast. A group of dark-red, scorpion-like things 
were heading straight for him. They swished their tails back and forth, 
and at their tips, Dave could see three deadly looking barbs. The three 
deep cuts in the skull became all too clear to him now. 

Dave instinctively picked up a large pelvic bone at his feet, and flung
it with all his might at the centre of the group. The Frisbee from hell 
hit the alien scorpion leading the group, smashing through its tough 
exoskeleton like an eggshell, and sending an explosion of green bug 
juice flying in all directions. The four giant bugs directly behind 
their swatted leader piled up into a tangle of legs, snapping pincers, 
and flailing tails. The two that had been on either side, had avoided 
the collision, and kept coming without losing a beat. 

Even though Dave knew he could run much faster after Xin's enhancements,
he didn't think he could outrun these things. He turned to his left and 
started running towards the side wall, and the possible temporary 
safety of the cages. He looked over his shoulder to see two of them 
gaining on him. Two? What happened to the other four? 

Making it inside one of the larger cages, he slammed the door shut with
only a second to spare. Two monster bugs crashed side by side into the 
dark, metal bars, giant pincers straining between the bars making loud, 
snapping sounds, as they attacked the air wildly. Dave quickly backed 
away from the bars, putting as much distance between him and those 
deadly claws. 

Once the creatures realized that Dave wasn't about to walk into their
crushing claws, they concentrated on the bars instead. Dave could see, 
and even hear the metal bars bend under the mangling pressure of those 
huge pincers. It was only a matter of minutes, perhaps seconds before 
they would rip their way through. It felt like he was in a can; they 
were the can opener, and he was the meat inside – he had to do 
something, and quick. 

Dave looked around the floor of the large, square cage for something
else to throw at these things, and spotted a large jawbone. Its size 
and appearance was reminiscent of a horse's except for the sharp, 
carnivorous teeth. 

“Let's play fetch!” He picked it up, aimed, and threw the curved bone
overhead, sending it like a boomerang between two bars, and directly at 
the centre of one hideous bug. This resulted in a satisfying, loud 
crushing sound; the force of the lethal, spinning projectile knocked 
the creature onto its back, and several metres away from the bars. 
“Nice catch.” 

Dead or dying, it flailed its six legs and two claws frantically, while
its barbed tail snaked wildly on the ground. The second alien thing 
immediately fell upon the doomed one and began tearing at it with its 
vise-like mandibles. 

Dave took advantage of the distraction to squeeze through the bars, and
made a run for the Odyssey. Dave assumed that this bug, like the first 
four, would rather consume an easy meal than deal with food that could 
fight back, but he was not completely correct. After running for less 
than a minute, he again heard the now familiar clicking sounds on the 
deck plating. The last remaining monster had left his still quivering 
ex-partner (now meal) behind and was quickly gaining on him. His tactic 
had only bought him a few seconds. Were these things smarter than he 
had given them credit for? 

He knew he couldn't outrun it, so the only option was to stand and
fight. He looked around for more bone weapons, and while doing so, made 
a mental note to have Xin make him a ray gun, phaser, AK-47, or 
whatever – just something better than bone chunks to hurl at alien 
terrors that see him as a meal on two legs. 

He picked up a large, elongated skull in his left hand, gripped it in an
eye socket, and held it up like a shield. For his weapon, he snatched 
up a thick, femur almost two metres long, and held it club-like in his 
right hand. “OK, I'm ready – come on you bastard!” he shouted to 
bolster his courage. 

The monster slowed down when it saw Dave standing his ground with the
bone-club high in the air, ready to strike. It was now only five metres 
away, and began approaching him very cautiously. Did his two kills of 
its own kind result in this less reckless advance? It held its claws 
far apart from each other; its giant pincers opened wide for the 
opportunity to crush Dave, which it was quite capable of doing. Then 
the monster started to move sideways like a crab, as if looking for an 
opening, and/or a way to avoid the threatening club. Dave turned with 
it, not giving the alien creature the chance it sought. 

When it realized this maneuver wasn't working, its deadly barbed tail
came up and over its back, and pointed towards Dave. The tail was 
thicker than one of Dave's legs and had a reach beyond its body. It 
attacked by swiftly moving forward, as its tail snapped three lethal 
spikes directly at Dave's chest. 

Dave countered by meeting it with his makeshift shield. The barbs
impacted on the bone surface, but as luck would have it, one of the 
curved, dagger-size barbs somehow became caught on the skull. Taking 
immediate advantage of the situation, he brought the bone-club down on 
the tail with all his might. So fast and powerful was the blow that it 
literally severed the tail, resulting in the thing letting out a loud, 
unnerving screech. The super-sized bug instantly became more aggressive 
and reckless as it lunged forward with its snapping pincers. 

Dave dropped the now useless barb tangled skull, and grabbed the
bone-club with both hands like a baseball bat. Relying on his 
incredible agility, he managed to avoid both snapping pincers, followed 
by his club coming down lethally hard on what Dave guessed was its 
head. A gratifying crunch of bone through shell resulted in the 
splatter of thick, alien blood, with some landing on his face. The 
thing flopped around wildly in its death throes, as Dave hit it again 
and again, more from adrenaline than to make sure the thing was 
positively dead. He finally stopped more from fatigue than its lack of 
movement. Finally, the only motion was an occasional twitching of a leg 
or antenna. 

When his heart rate started coming back down to normal, he dropped the
once white club, now green with syrupy fluid. He then noticed that the 
alien bug had drawn blood as well – his own. Dave's grey jumpsuit had a 
large tear in it on the left leg, and a great deal of blood was oozing 
out of a large gash on the side of his calf. He remembered that during 
the fight, one of its claws had swiped him there, and although it hurt, 
he had assumed it was just a glancing blow. In reality, it was a 
powerful blow that would have broken a normal human limb in two. 

Trying to ignore the pain, and much to his dismay, Dave found himself
limping back to the Odyssey. He had been walking for a few minutes when 
he heard the distinctive clicking sounds once again. He looked over his 
shoulder to see the remaining four giant arachnids rushing towards him. 

The ship was close now; not wasting any time, he picked up the pace to a
painful jog. He visualized their distance and speed, then his distance 
and speed from the Odyssey, and sent the question to the implant in his 
head. The answer came back – it was possible. He ignored the increasing 
pain, forcing his protesting leg to keep moving. He relied on his 
hearing to tell him how close they were; he couldn't afford to waste 
any time by turning around. 

The Odyssey was now just ten metres away; the alien bugs were maybe
twenty metres and closing. Dave signaled the ship to open the portal; 
the opening expanded to maximum, and Dave jog-limped through. The 
portal quickly closed behind him, shortly followed by the impact of the 
bugs causing a series of loud, muffled thuds that vibrated the ship 

The frustrated monster bugs climbed up the side of the ship, and
attacked the Odyssey with their claws in a futile attempt to break 
through the hull to get at the food inside. 

To Dave's surprise, the Odyssey's AI sent a message to his cranial
implant which then relayed the message to his brain. The ship was 
asking him what he wanted to do. Had there been actual danger to the 
ship, the Odyssey's AI would have responded with what it considered 
appropriate action for self-preservation. But this was just an 
annoyance to the ship, and it was inquiring if something should be 
done, if anything at all. 

Dave was tempted to have the Odyssey super heat its hull, but changed
his mind. These creatures, no matter how horrific from Dave's 
perspective, were nothing more than a bunch of bugs just trying to 
survive, and were doing what came naturally. There was no evil or 
malice behind their actions. No, any retribution shouldn't be wasted on 
them, however, whoever was responsible for these creatures getting 
loose or on board this ship, well, that was a different matter. 

Dave limped to the bridge, strapped in, then told the Odyssey to hover
up fifteen metres, and turn upside down. This resulted in the creatures 
dropping harmlessly onto the space ark's deck, but their single 
mindedness continued without delay as their pincers stretched up 
snapping the air frantically. To someone with a strange sense of 
humour, it might have looked as if the bugs were waving goodbye, a 
situation that did not go to waste on Dave. “Bye-bye, you ugly, f#@%ing 
bugs,” Dave mocked as he waved imitating their pincers with his thumb 
and fingers. 

Dave left them behind in this agitated state as he turned the Odyssey
180 degrees around; headed out and away from this insanity. Once phased 
through the hull of the alien ark, Dave made it a point to put several 
kilometres between the two ships, and waited for Xin's return, which 
should be very soon. 

Now he had time to look at that nasty wound on his leg that he all but
forgot about in the excitement. He opened the torn flight suit, but to 
his surprise, there was no wound! The blood had soaked into the suit 
and caked his leg, but the large gash that had been there was gone! He 
knew it must have been the Microscopic Biological Repair Units, plus 
his improved metabolism at work, but he had no idea it would work so 
quickly. What had it been? Twenty minutes since the injury? Maybe less. 

Xin made the rendezvous a few minutes later, with her Z'va reactor core
now fully recharged with star power. Dave told her his horrifying 
adventure, followed by her profuse apology for leaving him alone. 

“Forget it, Xin, it all worked out OK,” Dave concluded as he downplayed
the event, knowing it was partly his fault. “Now, let's go check out 
the planet this space ark was heading towards.” 

The sky reminded Dave of a beautiful summer day on Earth. Large, fluffy
clouds lazily moved overhead, and a golden sun that felt nicely warm on 
his face. For a few minutes he lost himself in the cloud shapes – one 
resembled a crocodile, an image of a creature foreign to this planet. 
He didn't realize how much he missed these simple things – it had only 
been a few weeks since leaving Earth. 

From his vantage point atop the foothills, the vast jungle landscape
below reminded him of somewhere in South America, or perhaps a jungle 
that only existed long before man had even walked the Earth. 

“What do you think those are?” Dave pointed at three large, cone-shaped
structures far off in the distance. Each grey structure was the size of 
a small volcano, and looked unnaturally out of place. 

“Those are atmospheric processors, Dave,” Xin answered. “This planet was
perhaps much like your planet Mars, but has been transformed to this – 
a planet designed to sustain the specific life forms on the space ark.” 

“Strange,” Dave whispered. 

“Strange? How do you mean?” Xin queried 

“Listen,” Dave instructed, as he tilted his ear toward the rain forest. 

“I do not hear any wildlife.” 

“Yes – no birds, no animals, just the wind and the rustling of leaves.
How very strange. What do you think happened?” Dave asked. 

Xin didn't know, but she knew that when Dave asked a question such as
this one, he was only looking for an opinion, even if it wasn't close 
to the truth. “Something happened on that space ark, whether it was an 
accident or sabotage, I cannot say. These automated atmospheric 
processors completed their task more than two hundred years ago – a 
task that took decades to complete. There should have been many ships 
scheduled, or on course to arrive at this planet. Yet, for some reason, 
the race did not claim the planet that so much time and effort was 
expended on. This is very strange, as you would say. I fear that 
something went terribly wrong, or perhaps something more sinister is 
involved here. 

“It's a mystery all right,” Dave added deep in thought. 

“We should continue with our search for a race to upload the Z'va Prime
library to. I think I will go back to the Z'va Prime history records as 
a guide,” Xin resolved. 

“Agreed,” Dave comment. “We did come closer with that approach than
following this signal. Let's get back to the ship.” 

Back in the Odyssey, Xin consulted the great library, but this time,
plotted a new course for a younger race in hopes of avoiding the 
previous disappointments. 

The strangely quiet plant world quickly shrank behind the Odyssey as Xin
moved the ship to an optimum position away from any gravitational 
forces for the first of a series of space folds. The space directly 
ahead of the Odyssey became a swirling mass of black and dark grey; 
then the ship disappeared into its centre, and the fold's aperture 
closed swiftly behind. 

A small scout ship phased back into the present space and time. It was
matte-black with a multi-faceted surface over its entire triangular 
shaped fuselage. 

“They are gone,” updated the high, whiny voice. 

“Your report,” the multiple whispers demanded. 

“A Z'va Prime science ship and probe, and a biological life form of
unknown origin,” the small form in shadows replied. “Not possible!” the 
unison voices murmured. “Z'va Prime is a long dead world. All ships and 
probes were tracked down and destroyed. Send us your data.” 

“Transmitting,” confirmed the spy. 

“We will study and decide. Now, destroy the ship – the experiment is
finished. Use the device we gave you,” the whispers ordered as their 
last word echoed into silence. 

“Yes, Masters,” the spy uttered obediently. 

A bright, white, pulsating missile shot from the scout ship, hitting the
gigantic space ark dead centre. The brightness of the impact quickly 
spread over the entire derelict, consuming it in a pulsating, white 
glow. With every pulse the great ship gradually dissolve until the 
stars it had been blocking could now been seen. When the pulsations 
weakened and finally stopped, all that was left was a small amount of 
smoky dust in the faint shape of a giant starfish. And the last ship of 
that dead, ancient race joined the fate of the seventeen other worlds. 


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Copyright 2012 Robert G. Moons 

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