Chapter 1 All Hope Gone
“Calling armour ten, armour ten, come in please.” Drew paused, then tried again:
“Armour ten armour ten. Is there anybody there?” It was no good; three hours of calling had resulted in nothing but silence. Drew knew it was useless, but he was being driven by desperation. He had to face the truth. There was no-one left on Armour ten. There was no way it could have survived the neutron blast.
Modern weapons; the weapons of the twenty third century were faultless. Once the missile was locked onto a location, nothing could stop it. In the past, defence technology could out think and even out manoeuvre any attack. Within seconds of a launch, missiles could be located and stopped; either by confusing its navigation system or somply blowing it out of space. But then came the seventh generation interceptor-a missile capable of outwitting the best computer. This used super-human strategies never before tapped into a machine, to out-think any counter-attacking source. It was a weapon driven by a human mind with none of the usual flaws, such as emotion or pity.
In turn the other side developed yet another super-thinker. The Hyperion Nine; a machine that could never be stopped. It controlled the number of aggressive missiles to be launched depending on the nature of the defending weaponry. It was the supreme grand master. It was one step from universal Armageddon. No-one had the courage to go further.
A Hyperion Nine had destroyed Armour ten, a small outpost on sector four of the Zeus constellation.
Now that Drew knew it was useless going back to Armour Ten he had to think about the immediate future; the next twenty-four hours. His craft, a pilot navigator, specially designed to guide large cargo ships through asteroid belts had enough fuel for three years. There was enough dehydrated food for the same time and all systems were functioning, so he was in no immediate danger. But he had to decide. Was he going to join the struggle against the aggressors of Baalhan? Or look for a small life-supporting enclave outside the war zone; where he might cultivate some land, study inter-stellar law and perhaps run an advisory service for refugees.
During his short life, Drew had witnessed thousands of people passing through Armour ten., looking for new lives away from the war torn areas. Some had been successful, others simply careered into more trouble and disaster, All Drew could now think about was the multitude of hopeful faces, smiling in desperation and gratitude, eyes pleading for a way out of the troubles. He had always wanted to follow some of these lost people into new galaxies, looking for new adventures. Could he just turn his back on these people and escape to somewhere new? Should he look for a resistance or under-cover group, and join in the battle against tyranny while risking life and limb? This was what his people lived for. A great crusade delivering freedom from the evils oppressors of the universe. Drew was a brilliant strategist; not just in battle but in the more mundane aspects of normal life. He was talented. What a choice. It had to be made soon.
There was a light on his screen:
“652 carrier 15 degrees from vanishing point 17 units velocity.”
Drew knew this reference. He knew the craft. For many of his inter-galaxy journeys, Drew had been shipped across the galaxy on a 625. It had been a friendly face, if space craft could have a face. It was the way home or the way to adventure. It was a safe secure craft. Now it had a sinister ring to it. Familiar but sinister. Who was on that craft?
If it had shown up on Drew’s radar it was inevitable that he was on theirs. Staring at the screen he could see the 625 slowly approach until it came into view in his window. Of course they all looked the same so what did Drew have to go on? Body language? This was a ship-how could a ship have body language? Drew knew it was impossible but there was something about the way the craft was moving. Its trajectory and speed did not indicate a friendly approach. At the far end of the ship Drew could see the door light flicker. Someone was in the transport room. Someone was going to be boarding. Beginning to feel the sweat dampen his palms, Drew unstrapped himself and took the three steps down to the boarding deck. He stood ready, prepared with his gun poised as an image emerged at the far end of the compartment.
The decision; the decision about the future, the one that Drew was to take his time pondering over, before reaching a logical, well reasoned conclusion was about to be made for him.