A tone rings throughout the ship. Over the main communication line a voice can be heard.

"Prepare for Realspace flashover. Commencing in three minutes."

Finally, after a week of traveling in Hyperspace we're getting back to something of the physical, material universe. Not that the mind churning blankness of Hyperspace isn't something to behold. It defies most laws of physics that even the Mrrnhrrmn hold as truth. A pure nothingness is the only way to describe it. No color, mass, shape. People usually think of "no color" as black. But not even that exists in Hyperspace. One of my professors at the Academy once tried to explain it to us.

"Imagine a bubble," he used to say "With no surroundings whatsoever. No light, no color to be distorted through it. A true void existing between the layers of Realspace and Truespace. A thin veil that is easily punctured, allowing us a quicker, although more costly method of travel."

I'm sure he meant well. Hell, it was how it was described in the book, in our own language. Of course any races quality of understanding is limited by their quality of language. And if you wanted to get an 'A' on any test, that's what you put down. At the time, a college freshman myself, it was all too impossible to imagine. I just couldn't picture total void, ever raise an image in my mind of what it truly looked like. And after making hundreds of runs into Hyperspace, I still can't say I can explain it, or keep the image in my memory.

There truly is no color, no light, no dark, no shape. The sight of it almost sends you into madness, which explains why the view ports are closed during extended runs into the void. You can stare forever at it, and once you look away, the image is gone. So although everyone may look at first once you flashover, no one has ever "seen" Hyperspace. Now of course there are advantages to faster-than-light travel between star systems. Deep space exploration, strategic deployment, colonization. Almost none of these would have been possible without the ability to pierce through the darkness of Realspace.

But have any of these wonderful advantages ever...will they ever equal the horrors that they've brought us? Again over the ship's speakers...

"Realspace flashover in two minutes."

After the Chenjesu made contact with Earth, raised us to travel alongside the various other races, offered us the chance to enter into the Alliance of Free Stars, it wasn't until that day that we met up with the Urquan. The Kzerza and the Kohra. Two halves of the same race. The Kzerza, political enslavers, while the Kohra were just genocidal murderers. Somehow everyone got caught in the crossfire of their civil war. No one was safe. Was the Chenjesu's offer a blessing, or a curse in disguise? Another voice speaks.

"All sections ready for system-wide sensor sweep. Fore and aft quarters, prepare to fire emergency thrusters."

Every encounter with any of the Kohra Marauder ships, or the Kzerza's Hierarchy of Battle Thralls always ended in the same way. Their enemies always destroyed or near the brink. To think of all the lives that were ended, on both sides...it makes you wonder...

"Ensign Murdock, report to Level 3."

Did either side ever really know why they were fighting? What drove the Urquan to fight for their ridiculous doctrines? Why did the Alliance members fight so hard to end a war that had been taking place for thousands of years, which had been taking place possibly before their time. I used to ask myself these questions all the time, and looked for the answers in the same place most people do, I suppose, the bottom of a bottle.

"Flashover in sixty seconds."

Eventually, I stopped asking myself questions. 'Just follow orders' I'd tell myself. As long as you follow orders, you can at least pretend everything's alright. Even if you don't always understand why...or how.

"Fifty seconds until Realspace flashover."

'You're an officer now' is the only thing I can tell myself to feel as if I have some real purpose in this whole situation. Yeah, the pay is good, it isn't like I'm starving. I'm an officer, and officers fight...yeah, that's what they do...isn't it?

"Fourty seconds."

And The Alliance, well, they're the good guys. Or do we just believe that they are? I'm sure the Urquan, both of them, believe that what they're doing, they do for the good of their species. Even if all other species have to wiped out to accomplish it.

"Thirty seconds."

It really is the oldest story in history I suppose. Any historian would be hard-pressed to find a species, Human or otherwise, that wasn't born out of war, chaos, and destruction. It's the nature of sentient beings, wherever they may come from.

"Twenty seconds."

All living things die, that's what makes them cherish their lives so much. If life wasn't so limited, there wouldn't be so much survival value in staying alive. Staying alive...it's as if that's all we strive to do anymore. Not better ourselves or our species...but...just stay alive...

"Ten seconds."

Before any of this, I never used to question life.

"Nine."

Before the academy, before the Urquan.

"Eight."

Before the days of 'The Visiting'.

"Seven."

But things change.

"Six."

No matter how hard you try.

"Five."

And it makes me wonder...

"Four."

Why does a "peaceful" Alliance of beings...

"Three."

Even need weapons of war?

"Two."

Maybe someday we'll find out...

"One."

Yeah...maybe someday...

"Flashover commencing."