The Vacillation Commission

“Close it, close it, close it!” Jeremy screamed, dripping sweat, out of breath – shit had hit the fan.

*****

Let me introduce myself: Chief Science Officer Lieutenant Jeremy Vasquez of the United Astro Corps. We’re in quite a pickle at the moment, and not the good kind. First, the fuses. Damn them. Supposedly they were impervious to alien anti-crystal tech. But they had a tendency to start fires when they blew.

So, problem numero uno: space fire. I know what you’re thinking, but no, space fires are different. There are no writhing flames igniting everything flammable. The fires are almost invisible in zero G, a fact discovered by NASA engineers in the early 21st century. Great, invisible flames.

But it gets better – despite the most brilliant human minds in the universe, the fire suppression systems flush out the oxygen from the module using nitrogen. You get one minute to evacuate, provided the fire hasn’t reached the escape hatch you’re gunning for, otherwise you feed the figurative space fishes.

That’s good though, right? No long lasting, potentially catastrophic space fires is a good thing when you can afford to evacuate the compartment. It’s a very bad thing when you need to replace the fuse in the burning compartment. The fuse that powers the shields.

That brings us to problem number two: bombardment. Those aliens with anti-crystal tech? Gravity bombs. They scrunch spacetime by tangling up the three macro dimensions – think box-of-power-cords-that-you-haven’t-looked-at-in-years kind of tangled. And the only way to protect the ship is by disentangling those threads, which takes a lot of energy, as you could imagine. The shields work great though… with crystal tech. But with fuses there is a tendency for them to overload with sustained bombardment.

Luckily, Lt. McNay popped a kinetic into their polar generator just before our shields blew, disabling their weapons. Amazing, isn’t it? We have gravity bombs, hyperspectral lasers, and planet crust busters, but sometimes a good ‘ol bullet is all you need to disable an advanced piece of machinery. And the Weapons R&D Department had the nerve to make our kinetics wrench-shaped too.

We have officially survived alien contact for longer than anyone else since first contact last year. Unfortunately, our anthropologists, while they are capable of establishing friendly contact with semi-rational species (such as our own), have been completely unsuccessful in sustaining even any neutral contact with this new species. This alien species appears to be completely rational in its battle tactics, but completely irrational in its behaviour toward other species.

So within minutes of establishing contact, the Ambassador Flagship was obliterated. Luckily our entangled emulators were able to retrieve all the contact information first, so we could identify our enemy. Since then, this species has clearcut our colonies across the galaxy, and is getting dangerously close to our seed colony Proxima b. The best case estimates are that we have three months until final contact, barring any breakthroughs in tech.

So here we are: no shields, in a stalemate with a very powerful, now-weaponless enemy cruiser.

*****

“Got it!” Private Khan shouted, huffing and puffing.

“You got the fuse?”

“Yeah Jer.”

“Alright, thirty more seconds… Go, go, go!”

Khan wrenched the door open and Jeremy ran in, swapped out the fuse, and restarted the shields.

*****

“Status report,” Commodore Kant requested.

“Weapons out, autoloader destroyed, shields holding,” Resistor Charon reported.

“How close is the enemy?”

“Approximately ten shield radii.”

“Move in to one point five.”

“Commodore?”

“We will activate warp at that range, and drop out at three radii from that position based on the linear extrapolation of our relative positions.”

“… To rip apart their ship from harmonic spacetime oscillations?”

“Exactly.”

“I hope you’re right commodore. If our datacore doesn’t reach Earth soon, their scanners will find it, and then we’ll be looking for a new homeworld.”

She smiled. Commodore Kant knew this would work. What she didn’t know, was whether the Intergalactic Commission on Sentient Rights would interfere and put an end to this conflict. Their observer was everywhere, entangled with the galaxy itself, so it knew what you were thinking. But like the United Nations from the 21st century, they usually acted too late and with too little resolve due to bureaucratic compromising.

*****

“What are they, Jer? What are we fighting… Why are we fighting?”

Jeremy shrugged, “We don’t know. There are rumours that we have some information on their culture from high power electromagnetic signals, and that their homeworld is nearby,” Jeremy didn’t want to reveal how much they knew or how – it was dangerous information, and they might lose the war because of it.

*****

The observer knew what it had to do, the ICSR knew what it had to do, but the observer could not act without orders. Apparently the ICSR was still dragging its feet. But the observer decided that this conflict had to end, regardless of the consequences to itself. So, one by one, it began to break the molecular bonds in all the weapons in the galaxy to end this conflict once and for all…

 

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