Approx. 2500 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
An Important Clue
written by SJ
Bull and Gannon stood and looked at Lana with her new boyfriend, Ward. He had come with her to their big family barbecue, something, Chad would never have done, deeming it way too common. Yes, they were happy she had finally met someone special.
When Ward mentioned the pictures she had received a couple days ago from Pavonus, she pulled them out to show around.
Gannon howled, asking, “pictures that your Aunt took when you were young?” He turned to Bull, then announced, “hey–-we might have some baby-bare-butt pictures of LuLu!”
“What’s with the baby-bare-butt pictures?” Ward wondered.
Bull, with several of his and Gannon’s family, came quickly to see.
Gannon stood and explained. “Every Cheyenne Ranger, at one time or another, has had a picture of them as a baby with their bare butt showing plastered on the rec room wall for all to see as part of their formal, and final, initiation.”
“Everyone but...Little Sister.” Bull commented.
“No, guys...no.” Lana began breaking the bad news. “No baby-bare-butt pictures. I wish there was...just to get it over with, but, no.”
However, everyone very much enjoyed the eight pictures of a much younger Lana, taken during different times of her childhood, with her Aunt. Lana explained that Raymond, in his letter, said these were the only ones he could find. Apparently, Annie wasn’t very big on taking pictures, something Lana knew about and confirmed, surprised even these existed.
Lana had to resist a tear or two as everyone looked at them, commented, and asked questions. These eight pictures would be all that was left to remind her of Annie...and were much better than a lousy urn with dirt in inside.
Lana had been expecting a big meeting ever since she returned from Delta Pavonus. After about three months, it finally came. The alien power crystals, now being called, Chaos Crystals, were an important clue, and most certainly the MOST important clue they had found yet.
The usual group of officers were online: Colonel Gallardo, Major Taliaferro, General Parker, High Commissar Yarrick, and Librarian Marcellus, plus those team leaders under each of their commands: Lieutenant LaFong, Officer Dion, Commissar Shaw, and Officer Dakota.
The General started: “Well, after informing Prime Minister Lebesque and all the representatives of the Cartel Capitals about what we found on Pavonus, they sent out announcements to each of their respective planets about the alien power crystals and how dangerous they were. From what I was told, shortly afterwards, as many as twenty people came forward to turn in their Mars, power-plant, crystals. Many of them had forgotten about them, some of them received them as a gift or an inheritance and had never looked at them, others had no idea what they were and had thrown them away.”
He spoke directly to LaFong. “That woman you shot at the Cambridge Hospital was wearing a pair of earring studs made from those Crystals. Our scientists seem to think it was those Crystals, and the position they were in, directly opposite from each other on each side of her head, that had something to do with her Chaos condition.” He mused a second or two. “But, they still have no idea how these Crystals work, or how they get turned on or off.” He almost chuckled. “They say it’s VERY frustrating. The whole thing is being done over at the research station on Catherine’s Planet in the Henry’s Star System. Needless to say, even our best power crystal scientists are scared of those things. All of the Crystals are located inside an asteroid and are being studied remotely from the planet’s surface.”
Suddenly a middle-aged, mature, man became part of the meeting, the General introducing him as Doctor Cheung, the lead scientist in charge of studying the Chaos Crystals.
Doctor Cheung began with a warning. “Under no circumstances should anyone try to power these Crystals. What we think happened was that there were people who tried to do that, and in doing so, provided a link to the WARP.” He became very serious. “There is something VERY powerful inside the WARP, and providing power to a Crystal is like...” He searched for the right words. “It’s like making a call to it. If it calls back, I don’t think any one of us can be ready for the consequences. Even with the Crystals being millions of kilometers away, two of our scientists have already had minor nervous breakdowns shortly after trying to power one or more Crystals. One of them only had one phrase to describe what he saw and felt: The EYE of TERROR.”
“I did a little research on Mars and its associated power plant.” LaFong spoke up, then asked, “wasn’t it powered by four large alien crystals? And if so, where are they now?”
The General contemplated the question, taking on a sympathetic tone to his voice before answering. “Yes, LaFong. I heard from Ben you lost your whole family there when you were only two years old, back when that power plant imploded. I’m very sorry for your loss.” He sighed. “As for the Crystals...well, we really don’t know what happened to them. It was thought they were all destroyed. The power plant itself is now buried under about a kilometer of Martian soil. I’m not sure if we can, or should, go down and look for them.” He took a short time to find some papers on his desk, then continued, looking at them as he did. “Elarians. That’s only name we have for the aliens that helped Old Earth survive complete destruction hundreds of years ago. It was they who set up the power plant on Mars using four large power crystals captured from the very aliens trying to destroy us. Apparently, only the Elarians knew how to turn them on or off, something they said WE would never be able to do...nor should. Mars has a gravity of 0.38G. It was the only way to supply enough power for a gravity generator so human beings could live there. But, they warned us: We were supposed to build a new power source as soon as possible, either fusion or geothermic...then destroy all the crystals soon afterwards by flying them into the sun.” He looked at everyone with a frown. “Needless to say...we never did destroy those crystals, and now it’s come back to bite us in the proverbial butt.”
Sergeant Nikolai Petrovsky announced his presence and had a question, primarily for Doctor Cheung. “When I encountered the Crystal on Pavonus, the first thing I thought of was that it was getting ready to explode.” His eyes became wide. “And we’re talking about an anti-matter explosion that has to be more than 100 megatons. Is there any chance these Crystals can be used as bombs?”
The Doctor thought a few seconds, then answered. “That’s one of the things we thought of also. If they used a couple hundred of these Crystals as bombs, they could easily lay waste to a whole planet. And, as we know, a pure anti-matter explosion could easily ignite a planet’s atmosphere. It’s what we believe happened on Old Earth.” He held up a finger as if to make a point. “However, I don’t think these Crystals can be used that way. It’s like...they’re simply not wired to do so. In our testing, we’ve pumped large amounts of anti-matter into several of the Crystals numerous times--and in some cases, trying to get one to explode. It’s unbelievable...nothing happens; it barely even powers it--something I still warn, not to do. We think the excess anti-matter gets syphoned off into the WARP somehow, where it’s apparently harmless.” He thought a second, then got back to Nikolai’s question. “I think, whatever the original design of these Crystals were, right now, they are more valuable to Chaos as power sources and as links to the WARP.”
When there was a pause, Officer Dion had a question. “Why didn’t something like this happen a hundred years ago...back when Chaos had access to four, large, crystals, all of them fully powered?”
Marcellus answered directly. “You’re asking us to peer inside the machinations of beings that have very likely committed the most heinous crimes any of us could imagine...very possibly, doing so on a Galactic scale. And they’ve probably only gotten worse during the, millions, of not billions, of years they’ve been imprisoned in the WARP. Why didn’t they do it sooner? I doubt we’re EVER going to have an answer to that...and, in my opinion--hope we never do. Time in the WARP cannot be compared to time in our Universe. After all, it’s a very good chance they DID take notice of the four power crystals, and it just took a hundred years for them to act--”
The General smacked his hand on his desk in frustration. “It’s why we should’ve destroyed those crystals long ago.”
“Doctor Cheung.” Marcellus began to ask, serious. “The Crystals you are currently studying--”
“We’ve already destroyed all but four of them.” The scientist assumed the Librarian’s question. “We don’t want any more of those things around than we absolutely need.”
Marcellus nodded, agreeing.
The Doctor continued. “And those that are left, we have a nova bomb already in place to destroy them, encase the unforeseeable should happen.”
“If we should encounter any more Chaos Crystals on our missions,” Major Taliaferro began asking, “should we just destroy them on sight?”
“Well, I would allocate at least a melta bomb to destroy one.” The Doctor estimated. “As for breaking them, good luck. We needed an industrial press to break one of ours. But, most of you’re high powered weapons should be able to break one. Whether that will turn the Crystal off...well, I don’t know..”
“So we shouldn’t be worried about causing one of the Crystals to explode should we happen to hit one with weapon’s fire?” Taliaferro wanted to make sure.
“I would say, no...even though, we’ll never be absolutely one-hundred percent sure.” The Doctor confirmed. “In fact, I would make any sizable Chaos Crystal a primary target if you can possibly do so.”
LaFong began recalling, preparing to ask a question. “When I was on Cimarron, the person I rescued said she spotted a large Chaos Crystal, one that seemed to match the size and shape of one of the crystals used on Mars. How rare are these crystals? Could that be one of those crystals?”
No one answered for a few seconds...
Then Marcellus responded. “For better or worse, that’s a very good question. If it’s one of the actual Mars crystals, then that means they DID survive; but, it would also mean there’s probably only four of them. If it’s not, then, maybe the crystals didn’t survive; but, then that could mean Chaos has access to a possibly endless amount of large crystals.”
The General sat back and folded his arms and sighed, apparently not liking what he was going to say next. “Well, I guess we’re going to have to check out that power plant. With the Tau involved in our problem, I think I can get them to prepare a couple of specialized drones to send down there.” He frowned, determined. “But, I’ll be damned if I’ll send any people down there.”
After several days, the same group of people were called back for another online meeting, this time an emergency meeting.
Chaos was back!
Lana Lyu LaFong sat and looked at the array of officers and waited for it to officially begin.
It was Yarrick who started it off, his voice seriously joking, using the letters of the General’s first and middle names, the first name he preferred. “Okay JC, let me see it. I want to see that solid neutronium brick--”
General Parker was not amused, but realized he had it coming, letting Yarrick have his say. “Okay...okay, very funny. But, what may be happening on Terra Aurigae is not.” He put on a straight face. “Yes, the Legion AND the Pendulum of Doom have been located in the Psi5 Aurigae system.” He looked at Yarrick. “And it’s been a little more than three months since the Pendulum of Doom was damaged--”
“Still, do you think any of our spaceship repair facilities could repair a spaceship the size of the Pendulum of Doom in that quick of time?” Yarrick added.
“No, I don’t.” The General replied sharply. “And we still don’t know what shape it’s in, right, because both of them are hiding out next to Psi5 Aurigae-8, the system’s one and only gas giant.”
“What is it with these Chaos spaceships and gas giants?” Yarrick mused.
“Other than it’s a good place to hide, I don’t know.” The General responded. “But, what’s more important is they managed to get a WARP gate on the planet, Terra Aurigae.”
“I already have three Leman Russ tanks, three Basilisk artillery vehicles, and an armored fist squad already on their way there. Plus, Shaw’s team is probably already there.” Yarrick announced.
Then the General added. “I’ve already sent two Leman Russ demolishers and two squads of Federal Marines from Prociara.” He spoke to Yarrick directly. “They should be there about the same time as your troops.”
“Those troops are newly raised, right?” Yarrick asked the General, a little concerned.
“The Marines are, but the Demolishers have been around for awhile.” The General smiled confidently. “But, if we’re facing anything similar to what we’ve faced before, we should have enough. Anyway, the Tau are organizing three Fire Warrior teams with Devilfish transports, plus an XV8 Battlesuit team on New Tau'n. They’ve also sent two Cruisers, due to arrive about the same time as our troops. Currently, there’s at least four platoons of Planetary Guard militia, plus some Tau Pathfinder militia already there; but, I’m hesitant to request their use unless we absolutely have to.”
Yarrick clapped his hands in agreement. “So we got this thing wrapped up. All, we’ll need is a little reconnaissance and we’ll be ready to hand Chaos their butts one more time.”
There was a pause, then Major Talifferio spoke up. “LaFong, that’s were you come in. Get your team together and be ready to leave in the morning. Since this will basically be a reconnaissance mission, you won’t be using Shannon and Hodge. Officer Dion has already left and will be handling her own separate investigation. She’s bringing Officer Dakota with her; she’ll be joining your team once you reach Terra Aurigae.”
The General smiled and spoke directly to the Space Marine. “LaFong, I’ll be there to meet you on the space station once you arrive, update you on the current events before you start your reconnaissance.” To everyone: “Captain Davis will be coming with me, and will take direct command of the ground Federal forces as soon as we arrive.”