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Sunday, September 7, 2014

C.o.E.: Act Zero

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Act Zero  


From his vantage point, Sean Mason could see only the azure sphere of Earth and the largest of the cruisers blowing each other to pieces over it.  Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of smaller ships formed a fragmenting line trying to splinter the Falingash assault, pulverizing each other, but Sean was too far away to see any but the largest cruisers without instruments.  

From here, they looked almost peaceful—swimming languidly against an ocean of pinpricked blackness, pushing towards the green and blue sphere.  Though the Falingash cruiser floated in Earth’s shadow, the Human Flagship, Prism, swam through the sunlight of the coming dawn.  Its metal hull glinted and sparkled, a lancing display of scintillating colors, as the sunlight reflected and refracted off of its angular shape in a shiltron of iridescent shafts.

Even Earth seemed small from this distance, about the size of a dinner plate, dark midnight blue in the umbra but with razor slashes and blobs of deep grey.  A halo of light hung around the rim, streaming around the right edge.  It reminded Sean of watching a solar eclipse when he was much younger; in that moment when he could put the box away and look straight up as all the light in the world formed a ring around the moon.  Back then, Sean had thought it was like God winking, letting everyone know to stop taking everything so seriously.  

But that was back then.

Sean rocked back and forth in his cockpit seat, something between a compulsive rock and a spasm, his hands curled against his mouth as if he were warming them with his breath.  He held his fingers interlaced but spread apart, his wide eyes darted and shifted between various panels in his cockpit, Earth, the Falingash cruiser, the separate tips of his fingers each quivering, but his gaze fell mostly on the Prism swimming through the river of sunlight.

Only the noise of his disjointed breathing filled the cockpit. The absence of the normal chatter of the comm. system took on an eerie life of its own.  In the vacuum of the normal cacophony, the quiet bore into the soul. Without a breeze, a distant hum, or the chatter of some bug song, the cockpit was more silent than anywhere on Earth. It was a primordial silence, so deep Sean imagined that it actually absorbed sound. Even the sound of his breathing disappeared into its maw.  It was a roaring silence: the sound of no sound. It wailed a shattering keen of nothing, disintegrating all sound it touched within its vacuum. 

His hand occasionally reached for his instrument panel and then recoiled—as if the panel were white hot. He would sometimes run a hand along the sleek curve of his maneuvering stick, but always he returned to breathing into them.

He had just doomed the human race.

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