I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Prologue–Light From The Netherworlds
In the dark, cold abyss of space, the massive warship Eldridge cruised as silently as a wraith. A Philadelphia class warship, the Eldridge was the biggest and most powerful warship in the Galaxy Federation Navy. Over 60 miles in length, it resembled a Boeing 747 except it didn't have wings. It had 4 sets of columns that jutted out from the sides of the ship at even intervals, two sets of 3 on each side. In the rear of the ship, the bridge structure rose up as the highest position on the vessel, somewhat resembling the tail of the above mentioned jet liner. Behind that lay the mighty engines which propelled the ship. They looked sort of like giant exhaust mufflers that were bent so that they resembled a giant Menorah. Carrying over 500 laser batteries, the ship was armed to the teeth. She could carry 25,000 passengers and 50,000 enlisted troops quite comfortably, to say nothing of the crew quarters, which could house her full complement of 7,000. She was like a small country this ship, and indeed, some of her blocks even contained small-scale cities.
On this particular voyage however, most of her living space was occupied by passengers; people who had been rescued from a terrible tragedy. In the cargo hold, a truly monstrous thing was being carried. The plan was to drop it into a nearby Black Hole where it would be destroyed and never repeat the tragedy of what had happened a few days ago. The crew for the most part hadn't spoken much, and Special Duty Captain Shigeyoshi Inoue was no exception.
A quiet man by nature, he had been selected as the Eldridge's captain for it's special mission. He had an impressive career in the Federation Navy, serving in numerous wars, but had been a bit surprised at this assignment. Sitting now in his chair on the bridge during the so-called "graveyard" shift when most of the passengers were asleep, he sipped his coffee slowly, some of it dribbling onto his thick brown beard. Everything had gone according to plan so far, and IT had remained in stasis just as had been assured. Still, a great feeling of unease swept over him as a planet came into view from the viewport. Captain Inoue glanced briefly at his computerized chart. Good, the uninhabited planet capable of supporting life but one that for some reason had never produced any, that was the one he was seeing now, it was labeled simply as LV-462. So far they were on course, only 2 more days till Hole IX-9786, the Black Hole they were heading towards. Sighing quietly, he continued sipping his coffee as the Eldridge cruised on.
Captain Inoue eyed his watch. 1:45 a.m. standard time. Yawning, he turned back to his console. So far, everything seemed normal. He glanced down from his elevated position to the rest of the bridge crew, sitting below him. There were 3 technicians on this shift, all female, and all dressed in identical yellow jumpsuits. They were all standard government issue, and he trusted each and every one of them. The Federation HAD selected its best officers for this mission after all. He thoughts drifted to the computer on this ship, Razael. It was a true wonder, an artificial intelligence that documented every little thing happening on the ship, while at the same time controlling life support, engine speed, and navigation. There was nothing really for the captain to do but sit back and issue orders. Razael handled everything else. Just as his thoughts started to stray to his family, the bridge panels suddenly lit up with an angry red and alarms went off everywhere simultaneously.
"This is an emergency, level one alert" Razael's automated but emotionless voice spoke. The blond haired chief operator's eyes swept over her console, trying to take assessment of all the alarms going off and trying to isolate the problem.
"Omega One restarting. Alpha One genome restructuring. Confirming exon replacement. Base code 85 million. 100 million! Its speed is overwhelming!" she cried at the figures leaping before her. So, Captain Inoue thought, the damn thing must've woken up. Another technician began reading off information as it was fed to her panel. The damn thing was hacking Razael.
"Alpha One to Razael Central, access confirmed. Initializing fake net." The technician activated Razael's first line of defense, a false net that the contamination would hopefully follow. "Disconnected" the techie exclaimed as the contamination failed to enter the false net. "Activating emergency shelter…..denied!" the techie was growing worried, her voice was rising, the second strategy, firewalls, had failed as well.
"Metastasis and contamination is spreading widely! Captain?" the first techie looked back at Captain Inoue, beads of sweat dripping down her forehead. Captain Inoue was still calm at this point. He had been in far worse situations after all. True, the damn thing was apparently trying to take over his ship, but it had not succeeded yet.
"Cut off the cables manually." he said calmly. That would stop it, once the network cables were severed, the thing's program wouldn't be able to continue on to Razael's mainframe.
"Roger, activating self-destruct ports" the techie called out as she pressed a button that blew off a section of the network cables in the bowels of the ship. That'll stop it, thought Captain Inoue confidently. Sorry you piece of trash, but you just failed, he thought, with a sense of accomplishment.
Deep in the ship, where the severed network cable lay, a surge of electricity built up at the place where the cable was breached, and then it leaped impossibly across the gap, continuing its journey, it hadn't lost yet, not by a long shot.
"Confirming…..no good! Nothing happened!" the techie called out as the contamination spread further into Razael. "We can't stop it! 98 percent of our weapons have been taken over!" What the hell? How the hell could a program continue on past severed network cables? Captain Inoue could hardly believe it. The damn thing WAS taking over his ship.
"Captain, we're being rerouted, we're heading….for our capital planet!"
"Damn!" Captain Inoue said, but his voice still didn't rise much. So, now his ship was being rerouted to their capital. That could mean only one thing, IT was planning on wiping out his government. But he wouldn't let that happen, no way in hell! Picking up a phone next to him, he spoke into it. "Engine room. Activate the emergency sealing system." If he couldn't control his ship's destination, then neither could the thing. Once the engines were shut off and sealed, this ship wouldn't be going anywhere. He could then sit back and wait for the cavalry. Unfortunately, his engine room staff weren't responding. After a few seconds, the line just went dead. "What the….." Captain Inoue trailed off. Suddenly, all of the computer screens on the bridge froze and one sentence appeared over and over again on them in crimson letters.
YOU SHALL BE AS GODS over and over again, the words searing into Captain Inoue's brain. The damn thing had taken over his ship! It took him only a few seconds to make a final calculation, and with calmness still in his voice, he ordered the ship to be evacuated.
"Order all passengers to the escape pods. All personnel evacuate immediately. I'll send a dispatch after the ship has been evacuated. All of you…..evacuate now." The techies stared at him briefly, then punched the evacuation alarm. As they started heading for the escape pods, the head techie glanced quickly at Captain Inoue who was still seated in his chair.
"Captain….." she trailed off. He simply shook his head. Understanding, she took off down the corridor.
Everywhere frantic people clambered towards the escape pods as sirens blared throughout the ship. The evacuation went smoothly enough, but as the pods launched, the weapons on the ship turned towards them, and before a helpless Captain Inoue, who watched, horrified, the weapons mercilessly opened fire on the pods, blasting each and every one of them, not a single one escaping. He stood up, watching the cruel and horrible act transpiring before him. There was absolutely nothing he could do, and now, everyone who had been on the ship only moments ago were all dead. The refugees, the soldiers, the crew, everyone. All heartlessly slaughtered. He sank back into his chair, a feeling of loss washing over him, blanketing him. Turning slowly to a panel, he pushed a few buttons, he still wasn't done yet, he'd blow this ship up, and that horrible thing with it. Taking a gold locket out of his blue uniform pocket, he gently, carefully opened it to reveal a photograph of his smiling wife and 14 year old daughter. He smiled, pushing the button that began the 5 second countdown. Closing his eyes, he put his mind at ease as a gigantic explosion tore the ship apart. Unfortunately, the thing that had taken control of his ship also managed to suppress the destruction to an extent, and several large sections of the ship, including the one carrying the thing, plummeted to the nearby planet, pulled in by its gravity. The pieces accelerated at a rapid rate, smashing into the planet with incredible force.
A short while later, near some burning wreckage that had crashed on a beach of the planet, a woman stood up. Completely naked with long, flowing blue hair that swept down to her feet, she gazed out over the ocean as flaming debris continued to fall far out on the azure sea, creating an eerie light from the Netherworlds. The woman smiled, her hair being whipped by a brisk wind, yes, she smiled, for this marked the day that both god and man had fallen to earth.