Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
“Lord Steven and Lady Ashlyn—we are approaching the gate. I request your presence on the bridge.”
“Never a dull moment,” quipped Ashlyn.
Dressing quickly, Ashlyn slipped into a black stretchy one piece and Steven donned a pair of khaki’s and a black polo shirt. They made their way to the bridge.
When they arrived, what they saw beyond the large dome took their breath away. The massive structure of the gate’s ring sat directly in front of them, just off Destiny’s bow. It held a magnificent ambience that spoke of a highly advanced technology and yet, the hieroglyphs inset into the ring gave it an ancient, aesthetic appeal.
Ashlyn walked to the forward view window. “Some of the symbols are changing shape and color.” Seemingly random inactive symbols were coming to life, glowing light blue as they coalesced into their new shapes.
“Keeper, what’s happening?” asked Steven as he too saw that many of the symbols portrayed around the ring were randomly dissolving and changing into new and different ones.
“The wormhole is aligning itself to the inputted codes I’ve given it. The larger glowing symbols you see on the outer ring are juncture points that correlate to specific events, definitive moments in the timeline. The narrower, inner ring then refines that information, allowing the wormhole to give us an exact exit point in time.
“Lord Steven, the gate’s temporal vortex is almost ready. It is time for me to put Destiny into an offensive configuration. The change cannot be initiated within the wormhole, and we will not have time to do so once we exit. Do I have permission to make the structural changes?”
Ashlyn chirped in. “Like I said, never a dull moment.”
“Yes, Keeper. Permission given. It looks like you and I will have a lot to discuss,” said Steven.
agreed the Keeper.
Ashlyn put her hand atop Steven’s forearm, who was seated in the command chair beside her. Outside, the Destiny began to morph, shifting her shape by rearranging her molecular structure. It was yet another impressive display of the vastly advanced Anunnaki technology. Rising from within Destiny’s hull, dozens of massive arms unfurled. At the end of each arm, a cylindrical cannon shaped array holding twenty-five missiles, swiveled into position—locking in a forward trajectory.
The Observation Deck and protruding portions of the hull began to melt back into Destiny, giving way to dozens of shorter turreted, laser cannons.
On the bridge, the large domed viewing window shrunk in size, forming into a conical shape. To an enemy Steven could only imagine the feeling of seeing one giant offensive weapon, heading toward them. It would be tantamount to looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun—damned scary to try and face down.
“Lord Steven, the gate is ready, as is Destiny’s structural configuration complete. Do I have permission to open the wormhole?”
“Let’s do it.” Their view of space in the center of the ring disappeared, giving way to a roiling cloud of swirling colors. A narrow funnel formed in the middle and began to expand outwards until it reached the edge of the inner ring. The churning wormhole was open.
Hundreds of bolts of lightning began to arc outside of Destiny as the Keeper fortified the shields, bringing them up to full power. Slowly, Destiny began to move forward and into the funnel. Once inside, the ride was smooth—only the passing kaleidoscope of color and the roar of the engines gave indication to the immense speed at which they were traveling.
“How long until we arrive at Earth?” asked Ash.
“Two days. I have two days to prepare both of you.”
“Keeper, Steven and I have decided that we want to keep the children in stasis for the duration of the journey, and until such time as we complete whatever lays ahead of us.”
“Very well, Lady Ashlyn. Long term stasis protocols initiated.”
Ashlyn and Steven shared a quick glance as the Keeper’s words seemed to confirm that the task ahead of them wasn’t going to be over quickly.
“It is now time for me to prepare you for what is ahead. If you are ready, please recline your command chairs.”
Ashlyn and Steven both toggled the buttons on the arm of their chairs, reclining them fully. Facing upwards, they stared into the depths of space, wondering about their future.
A moment passed.
“I will now induce each of you into a state of semi-consciousness where I can safely download all the pertinent information you need.”
“I assume you’ve done this before, Keeper?” asked Ashlyn casually.
“At this time, I am forbidden to say,”
said the Keeper in reply, surprising them both.
“Well, I guess we both knew he was holding something back,”
said Steven silently in the meld to Ashlyn.
“You should also know that I have been given permission to awaken that which is still dormant within you. As you are aware, Enlil long ago ordered that many of the natural genetic attributes belonging to the Anunnaki, be turned off for the people of Tiamat. And when we were on Hadaesia, the gifts you received unlocked some of the hidden attributes. But there are others that are still dormant. I will be unlocking those genes, allowing you to reach your full potential.
“One of the changes will be to your molecular structure. All pure Anunnaki have it. It will make your bodies stronger. At the same time the healing abilities within you will be greatly improved.
“Ultimately, it is the reason why Enlil was able to heal himself and survive, while Ashlyn could not do so without help. It will also make you near impervious to things like fire and cold temperatures.”
Steven and Ashlyn awakened to the sound of soft chimes and the Keeper’s words.
“It is done.”
Steven reached out and took Ashlyn’s hand. “You all right?”
Ashlyn nodded. “You?”
Steven returned the nod. “Keeper, how long were we out?”
“Just over three hours.”
Feeling a small itch, Steven reached for his neck and found a small lump beneath the skin. “Keeper, did you implant something into us?”
“I did. It is a communication device. You need merely say my name to activate it. The itch will stop in a few hours.”
Steven rose from his chair and went to the forward window. Staring at the wormhole, “There is so much we never knew, Ash. So much.”
Ash came to Steven’s side and wrapped her arm around his. Resting her head on his shoulder, “And then some. The other Steven and Ashlyn were right. It all makes sense now.”
Each of them had received knowledge the Keeper knew they needed. To Steven, he’d imparted all the workings of Destiny’s physical capabilities—and the necessary data of the upcoming battle to develop a sound, tactical stratagem.
Ashlyn’s role was going to be more passive until such time as she reached Earth—Tiamat, as it was called in the distant past. To Ashlyn, the Keeper imparted a vast wealth of knowledge about Tiamat—its customs, peoples, cities, and long forgotten dialects—and a thousand other things that she would need to survive.
They also saw that Enki was right, they were going to separate. For the foreseeable future, they were to travel along different paths. The universe itself had taken on a new clarity; it shone with a vibrancy they had never known existed—and they were going to be a part of it in ways they could never have imagined.
They now had less than twenty hours until the world they knew crumbled beneath their feet. It wasn’t nearly enough.
The hours afforded them passed quickly. They’d found little time for one another, but what little they did have, they made the most of. The Keeper had been sympathetically apologetic in his interrupting them, as he requested their presence on the bridge. He seemed fully aware of the anxiety and emotional toll the anticipated separation was causing.
“This is it, Ash,” said Steven as they entered the bridge and he took his seat. He swiveled his chair around to look at Ashlyn who had come to a stop. She was staring into the wormhole, her thoughts distant, her eyes vacant. “Ash, what’s wrong?” Seeing how deeply shaken she was he rose from his chair and went to her, taking her arm.
“I’m sensing—darkness. I didn’t comprehend Enki’s words earlier. He’d said that only by entering into the darkness could I rise into the light.” Steven saw that her admission had not come easily for her as she swallowed past a lump in her throat.
“Ash, what is this darkness you’re sensing? What is it that you aren’t telling me?”
“The darkness is waiting for me,” responded Ashlyn. Slowly, her eyes focused and she looked at Steven. Again, she swallowed. “It’s calling me.”
Steven led her to the command chair beside his. “Ash, what’s calling you? What is the darkness?”
“It’s my enemies. They’re waiting for me.”
“One minute until wormhole exit.”
“Dammit.” His concern for Ashlyn was tearing at him, but he had no choice but to focus on his own battle. “You know what to do, Keeper. If you see the slightest deviation from the information in your database, alert me immediately. If a single ship of Enlil’s is not where it is supposed to be, let me know.
“Also, I want to assign a new, temporary designation to our vessel—Destiny 2.”
“Yes, Lord Steven. Exiting.”
Ash sent Steven a questioning look, “Are you implying what I think you are?”
“You’ll see,” said Steven through an awkward smile that conveyed his inward struggle to fight off his concern for Ash.
The wormhole’s swirl of vibrant colors disappeared. Through the forward window, Tiamat came into view—its moon appearing as a small crescent popping out from just behind it.
Destiny 2 veered hard to port as she dodged a twisted pile of debris. The scene was chaotic. They’d exited the wormhole into the middle of an immense battle. Debris from dozens of destroyed ships pounded their shields as the Keeper brought the ship up to full impulse power.
On the forward view window, each target received a designation—friendlies in blue, enemies in red. As Steven expected, Enlil’s fleet was bearing down on Enki and his few remaining support ships.
Steven had learned from the Keeper that at the moment of their insertion point into the battle, Enki’s original fleet of forty-one ships would be down to just five. Five battered and barely operational vessels that were on backup life-support. The four remaining support vessels were limping toward their own Flagship, seeking nothing more than to die honorably beside Enki, their Lord Commander and friend.
Enki’s own battlecruiser, the Flagship Destiny 1, which had been provided to him by his father Anu—was inoperable. She was in a slow tumble to her starboard side. Small explosions were erupting around her hull, sending yet more pieces into the junkyard of drifting debris. The tattered ship was little more than a coffin for the dead and dying aboard her.
Enlil’s larger fleet of fifty-nine ships, now reduced to twenty-one were moving in for the kill. The battle was over, his victory certain. Striking the final blow, each of Enlil’s ships released a volley of missiles.
There was nothing in the way to stop them—except the Destiny 2. “Fire,” shouted Steven. The moment Steven and the Keeper had strategized for had arrived. In a devastating barrage, dozens of laser turrets began systematically knocking out Enlil’s fired missiles with flawless precision. Near simultaneous plasma explosions turned the dark depths of space into day. In a matter of seconds every missile of Enlil’s was destroyed. Not a single one got through to Enki’s floundering ships.
“Fire all missiles,” ordered Steven. From Destiny 2’s fifty-two missile turrets, more than a thousand missiles launched.
The tactical data the Keeper had provided to Steven of the battle, revealed that Enlil’s weakened ships would be caught off-guard, unable to evade the flanking surprise attack.
“Engage boosters and take us in.” The Destiny 2 rocketed forward, trailing only seconds behind the curtain of missiles closing on Enlil’s fleet. “As soon as we’re beyond the debris field, extend our shields around Enki’s fleet.”
The field of view through the forward window was a blur of motion. Like a threatened beehive, the enemy fleet was scattering, disjointedly fleeing in all directions. The desperation of the vessels was evident as two of the larger destroyers chose similar vectors and careened into one another.
In front of Destiny 2, ships began exploding as the missiles closed on their targets. Debris was sent hurtling in all directions.
“Prepare for impact,”
announced the Keeper as they started to pass through the core of the debris field. Even with the shields at maximum, the concussions from the larger impacts rocked the ship hard. The noise was deafening. The lights flickered as the Keeper rerouted power, fortifying the strained shields.
“Five seconds until we clear the debris field.”
A wide-eyed Ashlyn was holding her breath as the Keeper dipped beneath a massive, tumbling section of a destroyed ship. Her grasp upon Steven’s arm tightened drawing his gaze away from the display on his chair. Like Ashlyn, he stared in awe as it rolled past, just feet above them.
Destiny 2, now clear of the main debris field,
“Extending shields around Lord Enki’s fleet,”
announced the Keeper. The light blue haze of the shields could be seen enveloping the five ships of Enki’s fleet. Destiny 2 came to a stop, her massive hull now providing a barrier of protection for Enki and his ships.
“Enlil’s support ships have all been destroyed.”
“Bring all weapons to bear upon Enlil’s ship and fire!” ordered Steven. In unison, while the lasers were firing, the missile turrets aboard Destiny 2 swiveled into position toward Enlil’s own Class One, Battlecruiser.
A tremor vibrated through the hull as the missiles left their launch arrays.
Steven would have given near anything to see the look on Enlil’s face. In a matter of seconds, he had gone from absolute victory to utter defeat. On the enhanced screen, Steven could see the lasers striking the battlecruiser’s shields.
“Enlil’s shields are at twelve percent and falling.”
As Steven watched the missiles closing on Enlil, he recalled the information the Keeper had shared with him. He’d explained the layered dynamics of the resulting paradox effect from their journey back in time. The two ships, Enki’s and Steven’s, were in fact the same vessel. The Destiny which Enki now commanded being the same one Steven brought back from the future, almost seven-thousand years distant.
Steven had learned that it was Anu who’d been the coordinator behind their backward trip through time. He and the Council had intentionally created a time paradox, knowing it would result in there being two Flagships. Anu knew that Enlil’s larger fleet could overcome one Destiny and her accompanying support ships—but not two.
“Enlil’s shields have dropped to four percent. Missiles arriving in 10-9-8 … Lord Steven, my scans show that Enlil’s battlecruiser is opening a wormhole.”
“Will our missiles get there before—” In a flash of light, the wormhole collapsed and Enlil was gone. He’d escaped a split-second before the missiles arrived.
“Keeper, I have a question,” said Ashlyn. “What’s to stop him from going through the gate like we did and going back in time, starting this all over again?”
“Enlil does not have access to the time gate. It cannot be opened without a unanimous decision from all twelve members of the Council. Each member has a sequential piece of the code. Therefore, if even one member disagrees, the gate cannot be opened. It is a precaution against the gate being misused. It is a power that is too great for any one person to possess.
“Lord Steven, Enlil’s ship was badly damaged by our first volley of missiles. Scans recorded several explosions from his vessel, even as he made the jump.”
“Thank you. Keeper, look for survivors among the wreckage,” ordered Steven. “If you find any, beam them straight to—”
“There are no survivors,”
said the Keeper.
“And the term you are looking for is Spatial Transference.”
Steven grimaced. “Don’t be so stuffy, Keeper. I know the terminology, but I want to change the term to
. It holds great nostalgia to our people.”
“As you wish, Lord Steven.”
“Why didn’t you warn me about the battle we were flying into?” asked Ashlyn. “I wasn’t expecting anything like that at all.”
“And spoil all the fun. No way,” responded Steven. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah. It’s time to make some new friends,” said Ashlyn.
“All right, Keeper. Beam us over to Destiny 1,” said Steven through a crooked grin.
“Hold up a sec.” said Ash interrupting. “Steven, why didn’t we just go back a few minutes earlier in time? Maybe we could have saved Enki’s entire fleet, saving hundreds of lives?”
“Keeper, I’ll leave that one to you, if you don’t mind.” Steven reclined in his chair, waiting for him to explain.
“We already did that once, Lady Ashlyn. You and Lord Steven were successful in helping Enki win the battle—but you and Lord Steven did not survive the encounter. The consequences of your deaths were severe. In that timeline’s future, there were other dangers that presented themselves, but because you were not there to confront them, your world died. No one survived.
“Because of this, Anu called for the Council of Twelve to intercede. He fought on behalf of your people, your world. He told them that Earth should not suffer for a situation that his own son had caused.
“The Council agreed, and they decided to reset the timeline. They chose to insert you into the battle at a later point in time, the moment when Enlil’s fleet would be at its weakest—the element of surprise at its greatest—and your safety assured. The results you achieved today are the outcome they had hoped for.”
“Now you know why
were needed here,” said Steven.
“You already knew?” questioned Ash. “You knew that the other Steven and Ashlyn had failed, that they were dead?”
Steven wagged his head and shrugged. “Yes—it was part of the downloaded information the Keeper gave me.”
“I don’t understand why the Anunnaki would sacrifice most of their own fleet to save us,” said Ashlyn. “Why would they put the fate of our world ahead of their own people?”
“We may never know, Ash—but one thing is certain, we owe them.”
“I am sorry, and I do not want to rush you, Lady Ashlyn, but Lord Enki urgently needs you.”
“Me?” said Ashlyn to the Keeper. “Why?”
“I urge you to hurry. We have delayed too long already.”
Steven took a deep breath and put his hand out, inviting Ashlyn. As they joined hands, “Beam us over to the Destiny 1, Keeper.”