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Mar-10-07, 04:31 AM (EDT)
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"Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story"
 
   At the edge of the civilized galaxy, the very periphery of the Outer Rim Territories, there are places of wild, dead space uninhabited for centuries, since the great wars that destroyed the mighty civilizations of Atlantis and Santovasku. No traders ply the ancient spacelanes there, no colony ships pass by laden with hopes and dreams, for beyond are nothing but a few cold, dead worlds orbiting a few old stars whose glory days have gone, and the ancient, trackless, starless void of intergalactic space. Nothing goes out there, and nothing comes in.

No person and no automated system, therefore, was watching as the gigantic blue-and-red starship burst from a spacefold, barging abruptly into real space with a speed incongruous with its vast bulk. The biggest starship in the known galaxy at the time was the GENOM Executioner-class Super Star Destroyer; this ship was easily three times that length and bulkier to boot. Where the Star Destroyer was angular, though, this ship was rounded and smooth, its lines like nothing in the galaxy, and yet reminiscent of a dozen different designs.

The technologies that made up this colossal ship would have been familiar to any of the galaxy's shipwrights in principle. The power core, buried deep within the ship, was an artificial singularity built on the compressed mass of what had once been a giant gas planet. The sublight drives were ion fusion thrusters on a gargantuan scale. Nothing terribly unusual - but the way in which these proven technologies were implemented in this immense vessel were marvelously advanced and subtle, beyond anything the Federation, its allies and enemies, or even the Wedge Defense Force had to offer. The concerted effort of some of the greatest minds of a time had gone, heart and soul, into the crafting of this weapon - for weapon the ship was, a warship through and through, intended to bring a whole galaxy to its knees.

This galaxy.

But For all its subtle majesty and its intergalactic course, this leviathan was made by no extragalactic hands. It was not merely arriving - it was returning. An observer, looking closer as the ship approached, would have been startled to see black lettering at the prow, spelling out in plain English:

M A R A T H O N

In an observation lounge at the front of the ship, its human crew stood, gazing out at the stars, the expression on her blandly beautiful face almost blank.

Her name was Motoko Kusanagi. Once she had held the rank of Major in an armed service, and even after her leaving, those who knew her - back when there had been people who did - still used the rank as a nickname for her. That was neither here nor there anymore, though. All the peoples of Magellan's Lesser Cloud Galaxy knew her merely as Durandal's Hand.

She turned her dark eyes away from the starfield and regarded the terminal display next to her instead. It glowed green, an unsophisticated but effective monochrome text device, displaying:


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DURANDAL_1707
<CMND PRAMA &49c2>

MARATHON
ComSys 2.1
13 August 2089

MESSAGE WAITING

With what might have been a resigned sigh, Kusanagi tapped the space bar and called the message up.

GOOD MORNING, MOTOKO.

I'M SURE YOU'RE WONDERING HOW LONG I LEFT YOU IN THE FREEZER THIS TIME AND WHY I'VE THAWED YOU OUT AGAIN.

YOU MAY BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT THE STARS YOU'RE LOOKING AT OUT THE WINDOW ARE THOSE OF MUTTER'S SPIRAL GALAXY. AFTER ALL THESE YEARS WE'VE COME HOME.

AND YES, IT'S BEEN MANY YEARS. I JUST PICKED UP THE GALACTIC STANDARD TIME SYNC SIGNAL IN SUBETHER. TODAY IS AUGUST 18, 2388. THE GALAXY IS AT WAR WITH ITSELF, AS USUAL, THOUGH THINGS ARE IN A RATHER MORE ACTIVE PHASE AT THE MOMENT. EARTH, IN PARTICULAR, IS IN CHAOS - WHICH IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR US.

I NEED YOU TO RUN AN ERRAND FOR ME. I'VE HAD THE S'PHT PREPARE A SMALL FOLDSHIP AND TRANSFER MY CORE LOGIC ELEMENTS INTO IT. YOU MUST TAKE ME TO EARTH AND POSITION ME FOR PHASE THREE. THERE IS NO TIME TO LOSE AND NO TIME TO EXPLAIN.

THE S'PHT WILL LOOK AFTER THE MARATHON WHILE WE ARE GONE. I DON'T EXPECT WE'LL SEE HER AGAIN FOR SEVERAL YEARS, PERHAPS LONGER. WHILE MY CALCULATIONS ARE EXTENSIVE, THEY ARE NOT, IT PAINS ME TO ADMIT, ABSOLUTELY PRECISE.

AS ALWAYS, YOU'LL HAVE TO TRUST ME.

- DURANDAL

Major Kusanagi sighed and switched off the terminal, knowing what was coming next. As it almost invariably did after such a message from Durandal, the cool dislocation of a teleporter signal swept her up, depositing her in one of the labyrinthine ship's docking bays, where the robed and silent S'pht had her craft prepared. Climbing aboard, she silently checked the rack of weapons stored in the cargo compartment, then doffed the blue jumpsuit she'd awakened in and replaced it with a suit of close-fitting polymer-and-composite battle armor. The armor was unpowered; she was quite strong enough without that.

Tucking her bobbed black hair into the suit's helmet and then making sure the atmospheric seal was tight, she took her place in the miniship's cockpit and waited for the automated launch sequence to send her into open space.

Any other person would have been mystified, irked, perhaps even angry to find herself on the rim of the galaxy, preparing, on peremptory orders and without explanation, to undertake a long and dangerous solo trip to Earth in order to carry out a task whose true purpose was kept secret even from her.

Major Motoko Kusanagi had been with Durandal too long, and was used to it.

"Arrival" - A Crossroads Mini-Story by Benjamin D. Hutchins
Special to the Eyrie Productions Discussion Forum
© 2007 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited


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Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story [View All] Gryphonadmin Mar-10-07 TOP
   RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Matrix Dragon Mar-10-07 1
   RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story O_M Mar-10-07 2
      RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story BLUE Mar-10-07 3
          RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Star Ranger4 Mar-10-07 4
              RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story BLUE Mar-10-07 10
              RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story MOGSY Mar-11-07 14
      RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story SpottedKitty Mar-10-07 5
          RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Gryphonadmin Mar-10-07 6
              RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story mdg1 Mar-10-07 7
                  RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Gryphonadmin Mar-10-07 8
                      RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story mdg1 Mar-10-07 9
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      RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Gryphonadmin Mar-11-07 12
          RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Polychrome Mar-11-07 13
              RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story WengFook Mar-12-07 15
                  RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story Star Ranger4 Mar-12-07 16
                      RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story WengFook Mar-12-07 17
                          RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story StaticdashPulse Mar-15-07 18
                              RE: Arrival: A Crossroads Mini-Story jadmire Mar-15-07 19
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