Approx. 2100 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Seeds of Chaos
written by SJ
Approximately one-half Galactic year earlier, in the Proxima Altair system, on Cornucopia, the colonization continued smoothly. Slowly but surely people began occupying the large cities and farming towns of what they hoped to be very prosperous agricultural businesses.
The desert region of the planet had already long since been occupied by independent colonists and contractors. But, the farming region had been purchased by the Emperor Corporation, an expansive infrastructure built, then the area opened to colonization. For several years, the gradual colonization continued, the Terrans, learning, long ago, that any colonization done too fast could have disastrous consequences.
The Emperor Corporation had also chipped in for the building of a Space Marine base, Ultra Marines. The CO had just set up his HQ, and a few Space Marines had moved in, mostly Engineers. Master Sergeant Blake Wells was currently the lead Engineer in charge, and, so far, he had done an excellent job. Headquarters, supply, barracks, and mess hall were almost completed. They decided to build one heavy bolter turret and one planetary gun. The underground power plant was already ahead of schedule, so Wells was allowed several days off.
Blake had to let the phone ring for awhile before his cousin finally answered with his usual, "yep."
"Sal, this is Blake."
"Yep, what's up?"
"Did you get a box in the mail?" Blake seemed to know something. "An Uncle passed away, and for some reason sent me, and, I think, you, a box."
"Huh?" Sal didn't seemed to know anything. "I just got this job at the Pomegranate power plant. I haven't checked my mail for awhile. Just a moment..." There was a delay. "I just checked my email. Yeah...there's a message about the passing of an Uncle," he sighed, "I can't pronounce the name...but, yeah, he sent me a box."
"Can you see what's in that box?"
"What's in the box?" Sal seemed harried. "I'm at work right now. Let me get back with you later."
Later that day, after work, Sal called Blake. After his cousin said, hello, he began. "You're right, he sent me a box. And what the hell is with all these crystals--"
"Do you have one big one, about the size of an office duster." Blake seemed excited.
"Yeah." Sal suddenly seemed to share his cousin's excitement. "You don't think these things are valuable, do you?"
"Settle down." Blake was still excited, but tentatively so. "What these look like to me are power crystals--"
"Whoa...power crystals can be valuable."
"Yeah, but only if they're good." Blake calmly explained. "These...these don't look like any power crystals I've seen."
"So...they might not even power crystals." Sal became disappointed.
"Oh, no." Blake sounded positive. "I've tested the big one. It's a power crystal...just none, like I've ever seen."
"How do you know they're good, then?"
"You know what a AMCD is?"
"Anti-Matter Creation Device."
"I was going to say that."
Blake sighed. "Anyway, I have some here at the Base and I used one to test the crystal."
"So, they're good?"
"Let me explain." Blake began. "An AMCD can create and shoot very small amounts of antimatter. But, it can only shoot the antimatter into a VALID power crystal...for, obvious reasons--"
"Otherwise, it'd blow up--"
"Yes..." Blake sighed, again. "Anyway, I tested the AMCD with the crystal and it tested positive. I've also rigged up a device where I can test the quality of the crystal."
"Will you be able to test my crystal?" Sal excitement was restored.
"Yes...that's why I called you."
"I'm off this weekend. Want me to meet you at the Marine Base."
"Yeah." Blake wasn't ready to smile, yet. "But, don't come to the Base. We just got a couple combat Land Speeders here. I'm due to test them out--"
"You're going to pick me up in a Land Speeder?" Now, Sal was really excited. "What weapons--"
"No, weapons." Blake sighed.
"We don't have any weapons for them yet. And, I can't take it that far away. I want you to meet me at the town of Leeds. I'll pick you up and from there we'll go to the bauxite quarry."
"Yes...it's abandoned, and a safe place to test the crystal." When Sal didn't say anything right away, Blake explained. "If these crystals are defective, they might be dangerous."
"...and, therefore worthless." Sal sighed, then asked. "We won't get blown up--"
"No, Sal." Blake assured. "I know what I'm doing, and it's why we're doing this test in the quarry. Frankly, I don't think they'll explode. I've analyzed the crystal and it appears to have the necessary micro-circuitry," he sighed, "just, none like I've ever seen or read about."
"So...how much do you think these crystals will be worth?" Sal wanted to know.
"Let me put it this way." Blake explained. "If the big one turns out to have the quality of a NORMAL power crystal its size, it'll be worth about 10,000 credits."
"I like that." Sal seemed happy with the amount.
Blake continued. "If it's a lower quality, it may only be worth about a 1000. BUT...if it's a HIGH quality crystal, then, we may be looking at over 50,000, maybe as high as 100,000--"
There was the sound of a crash on Sal's side. There was a little rustling and he spoke. "Sorry...dropped the phone. "I'll be there...this weekend, right. Noonish?"
"Yeah, sure...that's good."
In the bauxite quarry, Blake had set up his testing device. Sal had expected something more technical, but the device looked to be nothing more than a flat board with several, small, complex pieces of equipment attached. In the center was the AMCD and a place for a crystal to be inserted. Blake had set it up in about fifteen minutes, then they had stepped back about one kilometer, out of sight from the device. They both wore dark, safety glasses as a precaution.
Blake held the control box/meter. He set the AMCD on it's lowest power and started.
He had hoped to get some sort of reading even on the lowest power. But, there was almost nothing. He turned it up, and still got little results. Then he decided to check the AMCD; after a short diagnostic, it seemed to be working fine, but he changed it with the spare he had with him anyway.
After restarting the tests, he got the same results. Eventually, after almost an hour of testing, and after trying to turn the AMCD to a higher power, which only resulted in the AMCD shutting down, he stopped, coming to a conclusion.
Sal was not happy. "No good, huh?"
Blake didn't answer right away. "It doesn't make any sense. I can't turn the AMCD any higher than twenty percent."
"Remember...I put my phone over there and we watched it." Sal mentioned. "We saw the crystal glow a little."
"So what does that gives us..." Blake was frustrated, "the equivalent of a 25 watt light bulb."
After a sigh, Sal asked, "so, do you want to test the small ones?"
"No." Blake shook his head sharply, then got up to go over and disassemble the testing device. "We're done."
As they walked over to the device, then as Blake took it apart, boxing it, then as he went over to the Land Speeder and placed it in the trunk, Sal didn't want to give up, mentioning other possibilities, which was ridiculous since he knew nothing about power crystals.
Finally, Blake had to explain, forcefully. "Look! Do you know why the AMCD wouldn't go beyond twenty percent?"
Sal shook his head.
"Every time--I got a reading of: Antimatter FULL!"
His cousin looked curious.
"That IMPOSSIBLE!" Blake waved his hands in the air. He picked up one of the crystals and held it. "If this crystal was full of antimatter, it would be..." He sighed and began explaining, looking at his cousin in the eye. "Do you know how a plasma gun works?"
Sal looked back, waiting.
"Plasma gun ammunition is nothing more than the sliver of a piece of power crystal. The AMCD overloads the crystal, which turns it into plasma, which then gets accelerated at a high rate of speed down the barrel."
Blake settled down, then continued, explaining rationally. "And, anyway, antimatter can't exist in our Universe any longer than the tiniest fraction of a nanosecond. There CAN'T possibly be antimatter locked inside this crystal. It's impossible!"
"So, can the AMCD's be defective?"
"No." Again, Blake shook his head sharply. "Those AMCD's are one of the most foolproof devices made. If I had a billion of them, maybe one of them might not work correctly, and even then I could find that out in one diagnostic...which I already did on both of them, several times."
"So, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong!" Blake held the crystal a little longer then dropped it in the box it came in. "It's THIS, these, crystals." His face had a strange, worried look. "They're...not right, somehow." His voice became serious. "I think we should get rid of these crystals--so no one will ever find them..."
Sal stood and looked disappointed...
Blake looked at Sal and sighed, feeling bad. "I brought you all this way for nothing. I'm sorry." He pondered a second. "I wonder were the hell our Uncle got these crystals." He looked at Sal, but it was obvious he didn't know either.
But, Sal answered anyway. "I don't know." Then he pondered a second. "Didn't one of our Uncle's used to live on Mars long ago?"
Blake shrugged, then thought of something. "Hey, I tell you what. Why don't I take you to the Base. Every shot a plasma gun?"
Sal's face lit up.
Then Blake became serious. "If my CO knew I was out here testing an unknown power crystal without his authorization, he'd have my head sitting on a pole right out side his door." He smiled. "So, as far as he's concerned, I came out here testing the Land Speeder, where I picked up my cousin so I could have a second person in the vehicle. And then, I decided to take him to the Base to shoot a plasma gun, which I still need to test anyway."
"He might be a little grumpy about me picking you up to test the Land Speeder without me informing him first, but, hey, we met when I stopped at Leeds." Blake continued with his alibi. "I picked you up there, drove around for awhile, then proceeded to the Base." He looked at his cousin squarely. "Got it?"
Sal nodded eagerly, understanding.
At the Space Marine base, Blake returned everything he had used to test the crystal to their proper places in supply, then took Sal to the plasma gun range, tested the weapon, then returned to the barracks. It was too late for Sal to return to Pomegranate, so they slept at the Marine base, where there was plenty of room.
Blake and Sal bunked using two beds next to each other. They had returned the crystals to the boxes they came in and placed them on a counter next to their beds, exactly opposite of each other, the two men sleeping in between.
However, as the men slept, they didn't notice a glow coming from both boxes. By, morning, the glow was gone. But, the two men had had an uneasy sleep, nightmares. And even though neither of them could remember what the nightmares were about, they had both changed.
Before going to bed, they had talked about turning the crystals over to Blake's CO, have them taken to a place for better scientific testing, without telling him about what they had done at the bauxite quarry, of course. But, in the morning, all that had changed. The two men stood staring at each other, blank expressions on their faces, until it was like they had silently made a deal. Each of them would keep their crystals and tell no one about them. Blake, eventually took Sal back to Leeds, where he returned to Pomegranate.
Afterwards, for each of the men, things only got worse, the crystals becoming their whole life--their God.