The Evil Long Forgotten: Prologue
By: Christopher W. Blaine
DISCLAIMER: All of the characters and situations used in this story are ©2003 by DC Comics Inc. and are used without permission for fan-related entertainment purposes only. No profit is made from this story. This original work of fiction is ©2003 by Christopher W. Blaine and may not be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
The silence of the science chamber was almost deafening as several robed men and women moved about the sterile environment with attitudes matching their surroundings. They were impassive, moving like emotionless robots in the way they carried out their tasks.
Von-Ka, chief scientist for the project, meticulously went through the preflight checklist, noting with a monotone hum that they were moving along at five percent higher efficiency than he had estimated. This was pleasing, but he did not reveal his emotion to his colleagues. Such a display would be frivolous and serve no purpose whatsoever.
"Von-Ka," Sumla said as she brought him a crystal with the current fuel mixture specifications, "today will be a great day in the history of Krypton."
"Perhaps, Sumla, or it will be a great failure. Either way, science and knowledge will progress." She nodded at the response and moved to his rear, as was her place as his subordinate. They were mated and soon they would be permitted to provide the requisite sperm and egg cells required to create a child. It was much easier that way. Had they mated in the barbaric fashion of their ancestors, Sumla would have spent nine months carrying the child, unable to work at peak efficiency. Then there would have to be a considerable resting period afterwards.
"The soil samples are ready, Von-Ka," Tea-Fu, the botanist, called out as he closed the cargo bay of the small rocket. The geneticist, Ult-El, confirmed that the seeds provided were of the correct batch. Both men stepped away from the rocket and then exited the chamber. They had other duties to perform this day and standing around awaiting the launch would be a waste of valuable time.
The project they and the other scientists in the chamber were working on was ambitious. This would be the first attempt to start a garden in the cold of space. The theory was that the non-gravity of the void would allow for unprecedented growth. Krypton was a planet of diminishing resources and the scientists were hoping to provide a means for continued growth of their society. Civilization survived on its stomach as the saying went.
"Your rocket is of unique design," one of the other scientists, a specialist in metals, commented as he handed over a crystal. Von-Ka slid it into the reader and went over the results. "Is it your own creation?"
"I was aided by a young student, Ult-El's second cousin, Jor-El. A remarkable lad." There was no flattery in the comment, only cold logic. Jor-El was destined to become one of the greatest minds Krypton had ever seen. "He provided the basic prints."
"It would appear that this ship is built for more than gardening. This is a vehicle of exploration if it were larger."
Von-Ka nodded. "Indeed. Perhaps Jor-El will be the one to establish the first Kryptonian colony."
The other scientist blanched. "Colonization would expose us to other, less developed societies. We have already explored this region of space as was confirmed by the representative of the Guardians of the Universe." It was a fact that the mysterious ring-bearer in the green uniform had confirmed that Kryptonian explorer vessels had reached out to every world within a month's journey a sub-light speed from Krypton. The Kryptonians would venture no further, preferring their isolationist policy.
"Perhaps by the time Jor-El is our age, attitudes will have changed," Von-Ka submitted.
The other man bowed his head. "I concede your point. It is better to let the lad's imagination grow at this time for it may benefit us in the future. Regardless, the design is sound and made to withstand much more than what the mission parameters require. I bid you good knowledge."
Von-Ka bowed as well. "All knowledge is good; it is the implementation that leads to evil." It was a standard exchange between the learned of Krypton. When the other man was gone, leaving Von-Ka and Sumla alone with those thoughts all explorers had just before the expedition.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
He looked at the rocket ship, a durable but crude design, made to perform its functions in the typical Kryptonian efficiency. He was also required to perform in much the same manner and so he moved to the small control room off to the side. Sumla was awaiting him having moved with quiet speed.
The door sealed and he made a final check to ensure that there were no overhead flights. Krypton had a limited military but civilian air transports were as common as oxygen molecules as many scientists were fond of saying. Satisfied that their flight path was clear, he began pressing the buttons that would start the rocket motors.
Sumla carefully annotated the checklist, checking energy levels, fuel consumption rates and others parameters as the sound began to go beyond the pain threshold for humans. The walls automatically adjusted their soundproofing to prevent any damage to the occupants.
The lift-off was without much ceremony, clouds of gray-blue smoke cheering the small craft on as it fought against the pull of Krypton's gravity. Monitors attached to high-definition holocams followed the rocket as it reached for outer space. When the ship started to move out of the camera's ideal range, computers simulated the image based upon projections previously determined by Von-Ka.
"Angle of ascent is off by point three-oh-four degrees," Sumla stated.
Von-Ka nodded and reached down to adjust the lateral thrusters. "That should take care of it. Please make a note of the adjustment so I can go back over my calculations later." Satisfied that the ship was now on the proper course, he and Sumla involved themselves with verifying many other aspects of the experiment.
A half hour later, a small buzzer and light told the scientists that the ship had reached its destination. "Prepare for engine cut-off," Sumla said.
"Fuel capacity is at three-quarters full; beginning braking sequence," Von-Ka said as he reached down for the switch. Just as his fingertips brushed against it, another alarm went off. This one was located on another panel.
"Gravity distortion," Sumla said calmly. She walked over and examined a small screen. "A gravity spike has been sensed coming from the planet."
"Impossible! That would indicate a major distortion of the planetary…"
Another klaxon was followed by the rear door opening and two other scientists coming in. They started reviewing some of the computer banks and readouts. "A wormhole is opening up!" one of them said in an uncharacteristically excited tone.
Von-Ka swore in his mind. A wormhole would disrupt the experiment and his samples would be useless.
"I am detecting a velocity spike," Sumla said and Von-Ka tried desperately to patch into one of the orbital telescopes. "It's gone," she said flatly.
"Accelerated beyond light speed by last indication," she said as she printed out a detailed examination of the last few seconds. She looked it over and then handed it to Von-Ka as he finished speaking with one of the other scientists.
He reviewed it and handed it to the colleague. "I concur," the man said and then moved over to a holographic star chart. "Based upon the recorded strength of the wormhole, taking into account the tolerances of the measuring equipment…"
"Do not forget the angle of acceleration," Sumla added.
The other scientist nodded. "There are two distinct possibilities. On the high end of the tolerance it would end up in the Earth system, on the low end it would brush past Thanagar. Too far to retrieve."
Von-Ka nodded, knowing that his experiment was a failure. "We must find out where this gravity spike came from."
"There is no time," Sumla said. "We are scheduled to begin the review of the terraforming project being conducted by Jom-Ar."
"It must still be investigated," Von-Ka said, hoping to salvage something from this. He wanted to scream, but he knew he could not. He suddenly had a thought. "Young Jor-El; he could investigate it."
"A worthy project," Sumla said. The other two scientists agreed and then left. Alone, Sumla stepped up to Von-Ka and put her hand on his. It was rare that she would display so much emotion. "You are unhappy."
He nodded, admitting his emotional distress. "Knowledge is not served."
"Not yet. Perhaps you have stumbled upon something else. Chance does have a place in scientific pursuit," she offered before removing her hand.
"Luck?" he said with a small smile. "Luck is like knowledge, neither good or evil. It just matters how it is used."