This is the second Starship Victory story I wrote during the original concept phase. I actually didn’t intend for this story to be a proper part of the Starship Victory saga, just mostly something to hash out the characters and their interactions over. That’s why I went full bore with the wacky crossover stuff.
Admiral Behyine’s face appeared on the view screen. He made eye contact with Colonel Dart. “Eric, we have an urgent mission for you.”
“We’re pretty busy out here surveying the Panelic Expanse. We’ve only mapped 98.6% of the seven dimensional hyper-spatial anomalies.” Dart replied.
“Good to hear Elorg’s rubbing off on you. That almost sounded like a joke.” Behyine said. “I’m sending you some coordinates. The Victory needs to be there in thirteen hours.”
Dart stared at Behyine for a couple seconds. “Is that all? You’re not going to tell me why we’re going there? Is this top secret?”
“I can’t spoil the surprise.”
Elorg cracked the knuckles in his organic hand. Lieutenant Brahma calculated pi to fifty thousand digits in his head. Chief Hayes day dreamed about hand-to-hand combat with a half dozen Gamar mercenaries. Captain Rogaan read an article about Patecatl, an Aztec god, in the ship’s computer.
The thirteen hour mark passed ten minutes ago. What was it that Admiral Behyine—
The bridge’s klaxon rung.
Elorg jumped into action, bringing up information on his console. “A chronitonic anomaly forming off the port bow. Five hundred ETU’s and rising.”
Chief Hayes brought up the security console. “Shields raised, plasma cannons charged, torpedo bays loaded.”
“Pull back a few hundred kilometers.” Dart said. “We don’t know what we’re up against.”
“This is amazing,” Elorg beamed. “Ten thousand ETU’s. There’s more history condensed in a teaspoon of space out there than on the entire Earth.” He clicked idly at his console. “And it’s still rising.”
Colonel Dart said, “Bring it up on the view screen.”
Ripples bounced out through space distorting the starts and nebula just behind it. The stars prismed, the nebula rainbowed.
“Opinions?” Dart said.
“I never heard about anything like this at the Academy.” Lieutenant Elorg said. “But I don’t think the Union would send us out here if they didn’t know what’s going on. We’re not in any danger.”
“Garbage.” Chief Hayes said. “Perhaps the Asimovs or somebody finally cracked our encryption. Maybe somebody planted a virus in the ship’s computer. This could be a trap. I say we pull further back and keep our finger on the trigger.”
“I think Chief Hayes,” Dart began, but was cut off.
The center of the anomaly exploded in a blast of white light. The Victory jerked to the side, caught in a wave of reality.
Elorg fingered the controls, trying to get a handle on what just happened. “The Choir…” he muttered to himself. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“I can see the view screen.” Dart said.
“They’re hailing us, Colonel.” Elorg said.
“Put them on.”
A familiar face appeared on the view screen; an old, bald, man in an archaic Union Fleet uniform. “Hello unidentified vessel,” he began. “This is Captain Antonio Beauchamp of the Galactic Union starship Victory. We come in a mission of peaceful exploration.”
Captain Beauchamp sipped a glass of wine in Colonel Dart’s Ready Room. “2496… an excellent vintage, apparently.”
“Look more closely at the bottle,” Dart said.
“I’m going to brew this wine in about thirty years?” the captain smiled.
Dart sniffed his wine glass. “You’re certainly taking this all in stride.”
Beauchamp shrugged. “Last month we were trapped in a time loop for six weeks. I’m sure we won’t stay one hundred years in the future for very long.”
“I don’t know if I share your optimism. How did you end up entering that temporal vortex?” Dart asked.
“We were investigating an artifact in deep space. It’s energy emissions were off the charts.” Beauchamp sipped his wine. “I had the engineers scan it with a poly-fractal beam. The artifact cracked open, spraying energy everywhere.”
“You should have used a quantum meta-quantum beam.”
“Those haven’t been invented yet, I’m afraid.” Beauchamp half chuckled, but then realized Dart wasn’t joking. “The artifact began emitting temporal distortions. Our only chance for survival was to ride along one of the waves.”
“You must have one hell of a helmsman.”
“It was mostly our engineer.” Beauchamp corrected Dart.
Golem darted his eyes side to side. There weren’t any other crewmen in the hall. He slipped into the teleporter room. He plugged his wrist into the door sensor and locked it with a 270K encryption key.
Golem thought, Colonel Dart might court martial me for this, but this will probably be my last chance to see him. Screw that rancid bag of meat. I don’t care if I do change history.
He entered his destination into the ship’s computer; the previous Victory’s engineering section. He set a five second delay and stepped onto the transporter pad.
Golem vanished in a swirl of light and emerged on the other Victory. His mechanical eyes adjusted quickly to the blaring florescent light.
Chief Liang heard the displaced air and had a look. “Marvin? Why the heck did you just teleport to engineering? And why are you wearing those strange clothes?” He thought for a second, “Wait, are you Marvin from the future?”
“I’m not Marvin,” Golem said. “But I am here to see my little brother.”
Colonel Dart’s communications badge beeped.
Lieutenant Brahma said, “Colonel, we’re picking up a nexus of hyper-temporal activity a half light year away.”
Dart made eye contact with Beauchamp. “Could be your artifact. Brahma, set a course.”
“Robert, is that you?” Marvin asked.
“Try again, little brother.” Golem said.
“Ah.” Marvin nodded meticulously. “You must have seen some upgrades, Golem.”
Golem hugged his brother. “You have no idea.”
If Chief Liang’s organic eyes weren’t horrifically disfigured they would have teared up. “I didn’t know you had another brother, Marv.”
“Come now, Aaron, you cannot believe I sprung fully formed from my father’s workshop.” Marvin said. “He went through several prototypes before he created Robert and I.” He put his hand on Golem’s shoulder. “There was only one complete body prototype. His mind, however, was primitive compared to Robert and myself.”
“A few years from when you left the Union will pull me out of mothballs, tore me apart, put me back together…” Golem winced.
“How terrible. I do not see how I would allow such a fate to befall my brother.” Marvin said. “However your emotional response indicates that I will not be present to object.”
“Crap. I hadn’t thought that you’d immediately figure that out.” Golem said.
Marvin shook his head. “I can calculate twenty septillion digits in my head, however you cannot assume that your response will hint at future events?”
“The Union didn’t upgrade me that much.” Golem shrugged.
“It’s a crystal lattice of some type,” Brahma explained. “It’s quantum structure is actually quite similar to my own, merely more highly organized, and it’s expanding into five spacial dimensions.”
Dart grunted. He asked Beauchamp, “Is this the artifact you were investigating?”
“The readings indicate it is. Incredible.” Beauchamp looked over Brahma. “What’s so strange about your quantum structure?”
Brahma said, “I’m a Post-Corporeal being.”
The Colonel glared at him.
“Sir, I’ve read his mission logs. He’s had many encounters with highly organized intelligent energy phenomenon.”
“The Union is recruiting god-like energy beings? My word…” Beauchamp smiled. “Two have actually joined the Union by my day.”
“Sorry to interrupt,” Elorg interjected, “but what is this about the lattice being a god-like energy being?”
“It’s not a god,” Brahma said, “It doesn’t have any intelligence. It’s just made from the same material.”
“I have another question,” Beauchamp said. “If it was the size of an egg a hundred years ago why is it so much larger?”
Brahma said, “It’s absorbing energy from the surrounding area and adding it onto it’s lattice structure, expanding out in every spatial dimension it can.”
“If you don’t mind,” Beachamp patted Colonel Dart on the shoulder, “I’d like to return to my Victory now. I must consult with my science team.”
“Actually we were investigating a message from my—our father.” Marvin said. “We merely were side tracked.”
“This mission of yours must get heavily covered up, because I’ve researched the hell out of anything relating to our father and I haven’t heard anything about all this.” Golem said.
The door slid open and Captain Beauchamp stepped inside.
“Captain!” Marvin began, “this is a prototype of me.” He motioned toward Golem. “He snuck aboard to see me.”
Golem gave his brother a ‘you are such a little goody-two-shoes’ look.
Beauchamp said, “Whatever. I need you two on the bridge, right away.” Beauchamp motioned toward the metavator down the hallway and started back toward it. Liang and Marvin followed him. Golem followed them, tail between his legs.
They stepped into the metavator and the captain said, “Bridge.”
The door closed and they shot around the ship. A couple seconds later the door opened again and they stepped into the bridge.
“My god,” Liang examined the readings, “is this the artifact? It’s growing… it’s huge.”
Marvin said, “It has a similar energy signature. But there is something different about it; something familiar.”
Captain Beauchamp pressed a couple buttons on his command chair, opening a comm channel to the other Victory. “Colonel Dart, we appear to have a stowaway.” He motioned toward Golem. “I understand he wanted to see his brother.”
On his Victory, Dart nodded. “One to transport,” he commanded Elorg.
“Colonel,” Brahma began, “I think our scanners are woefully inadequate for dealing with this anomaly. Any beam we scan it with will only add to its immense power.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“I want to go inside.” Brahma said. “Frankly it’s the only way we can get information about it.”
Dart said, “Very well. Myself and Lieutenant Colonel Elorg have vitally important matters to discuss in my ready room.”
Brahma pulled himself inside the anomaly. Shards of light split off in every direction, first in two nodes, then those nodes cut into three more nodes, and from them they went back to two. Pulses wandered up the light stalks with a steady rhythm.
He reached out with a metaphysical hand and cracked one of the energy stalks in half. It split into two sections and those two sections split into three.
Recursive, Brahma thought. Perhaps it’s a hologram.
Brahma felt a consciousness many times larger than himself at the back of his mind. It wasn’t exactly an intelligence, but with the right guidance…
Lightning shot out of the energy shards, tearing energy directly out of Brahma’s imaginary body.
“Colonel, you’ve got to be kidding. A court martial?” Elorg waved his hand over the desk in the Ready Room.
“Absolutely not. Chief Golem violated Rule 1 of the Galactic Union temporal directive.” Dart said. “We know the other Victory will return to its own time. He altered history.”
Elorg thought for a couple seconds. “Let’s assume the Union has the logs from the other Victory. Wouldn’t they tell us that one of our officers tried to alter history?”
“It appears this is a case where if they gave us the logs we would be the ones to alter history.” Dart retorted.
“I didn’t want to use this tactic Colonel, but you’ve forced my hand.” Elorg took a deep breathe. “What if you could go back in time to see Joanne and Andy one last time.”
Elorg’s biometric sensors read the Colonel’s slight twitch.
Lieutenant Brahma emerged on the bridge of the other Victory. “I want to revise my previous speculation that it’s not a god.” Sparks arced off his body.
“It’s alive after all?” Captain Beauchamp asked.
“I think it’s my species’ equivalent of a fetus.” Brahma shrugged.
“Jesus,” Chief Liang said, “How large will this thing have to grow before it ends up like you.”
Brahma said, “I’m still kinda flustered, so my math is probably off a couple decimal places, but my estimate says it’ll require the energy from a fourth of the galaxy before it’s intelligence will kick on.”
Marvin chimed in. “At the rate it is growing that will only take twelve point nine seven four six nine one four seven six four—”
“Years, right?” Captain Beauchamp opened a channel to the other Victory. “Colonel Dart I’m transmitting some information for you to review.”
Dart read the report. “We have to destroy that thing. Didn’t you throw a Gamar War Battalion outside of the Galaxy, Brahma?”
“This thing is much, much larger than that fleet, sir.” Brahma said. “And even if we did it would only delay it’s growth. It might not eat our galaxy but it’ll eat somebody’s galaxy. It’ll find something to feed on whether we like it or not.”
“Can you manipulate time, Lieutenant?” Captain Beauchamp asked.
Brahma thought for a second. “You could call it that from your perspective I suppose.”
Beauchamp nodded. “Could you shunt the anomaly forward in time until the universe is nearing heat death?”
“Then it’ll consume the last of the universe’s refuse. Good idea. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’ll try.” Lieutenant Brahma blinked out in a flash of light.
Marvin reopened the comm channel to the other Victory and asked, “Colonel, would it be possible for me to speak with my brother?”
Brahma skipped across the limits of the crystal lattice. He pushed on the fabric of time itself, testing how far it would stretch.
The lattice, and Brahma along with it, vanished.
Three seconds later both returned.
“How did you not realize this, Marv?” Golem asked. “Look at the meta-structure. It’s got the same design watermarks present in both our positronic minds!”
Back on his own Victory, Marvin shook his head. “Brother, our processors are designed to express permutations of the Fibonacci sequence. Those exist in nature as well as our father’s mind.”
“I guess you’re right.” Golem said.
“You are correct, however. That is the reason I contacted you. I want to know what you make of the anomaly’s quantum structure.” Marvin said.
Golem manipulated the diagram on his 2D monitor. He rotated it in five-dimensional space. “Marvin, do you remember anything about our father?”
“After he completed my neural net father formatted the file-system of my mind. They remain in my mind, however I cannot access them. After that we lived together for several months, though nothing appears relevant.”
“Did he ever make you solve his Rubik’s cube?” Golem asked.
“Oh.” Marvin said.
Marvin tapped at his controls. “Captain,” he began, “I have a theory regarding the structure of the anomaly.”
“Very well, Mr. Marvin.” the Captain said.
Marvin continued. “It is the next generation of my father’s computer design. It’s a quantum leap centuries more advanced than anything the Union has in our day. Likely more advanced than anything the other Victory has ever seen.”
“But why is it expanding? Why did it send us through time?” Beauchamp asked.
“When we scanned the artifact’s underlying structure we damaged the controls built by my father. It’s running outside of its designed programming environment.”
Brahma appeared right beside Marvin, flustered. “Anybody else have any hot ideas?”
“I believe I have solved the problem,” Marvin said. “If we apply a plasma beam to these two locations,” Marvin pointed at the diagram of the lattice on the view-screen, “Then the lattice will collapse in this configuration.” The lattice on the diagram shifted around into a new pattern. “Then we apply plasma blasts here, here and here,” he pointed them out again…
“You don’t need to go through all the steps, Marv.” Golem said. “I’ll inform the Colonel.”
Plasma blasts erupted from both Victory’s. The crystal lattice twisted and knotted into a new pattern. They blasted the lattice again. And again. It morphed and twisted into new fractal shapes, finally settling on a massive cube.
The cube rotated slowly for several minutes. The Victory’s retreated to a safe distance.
The cube collapsed in on itself, energy condensing into new forms. Finally, a new brother, identical to Marvin and Golem both, took shape. He watched the two Starships for a time, and they watched him.
He teleported onto both bridges simultaneously. He looked at his two brothers and said, “Hello.”
Marvin examined his new sibling. “Hello. You must be our father’s latest creation.”
“I am.” the entity said.
“You’re a robot?” Lieutenant Brahma asked. “No offense to all the ‘bots on the crew.”
“No. Robots are machines, generally made of metal and plastic. I have more in common with you; I’m made from thought and pure energy.” it said. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I would enjoy a conversation with my two brothers.” It motioned toward Golem and Marvin.
Captain Beauchamp smiled into the communications system. “It was great meeting you, Colonel, but I have a long history to get back to.”
“You’ll see me in about eighty years when I come through the academy,” Colonel Dart replied. “But I guess we’ll cross that road when we get there.”
I Am shook hands with his brother. “It was great meeting you, Golem. I’m glad you surpass the scant memories that father saw fit to leave me with.”
“Likewise, I Am.” Golem hugged his new brother for a few seconds.
“The other Victory is waiting for me to take them home.” Golem let him go. He vanished.
A lens bubbled around the older Victory. The stars behind it shimmered in front of it and the bubble popped leaving a region of empty space behind.
“Set a course for Starbase 16.” Dart ordered. “I’ll be in my ready room.”
The Colonel walked into his ready room and sat at his computer console. He opened a communications channel to Galactic Union command on Earth and politely asked for Admiral Behyine.
“Eric! I wondered when you’d get around to calling me.” the Admiral said.
“This question may not seem immediately relevant, but I feel it is important. I’ve always suspected that the Union had some ulterior motive in selecting me as the newest commander of the Starship Victory. Generally you choose candidates that aren’t as cold as I am.” Colonel Dart paused for a second. “You selected me based on the mission logs left behind by Captain Beauchamp, didn’t you?”
Admiral Behyine laughed and said, “What mission logs?”