Parting Shot

Written by Tanith




Commodity of Information

As the door to the bridge of the Andromeda swished open, Tanith stepped through in mid-sentence. Drunkard Kid followed on her heels.

"...many focus ships left?"

The Andromeda AI answered. "Si--Five now, out of more than ten. However, we will also be carrying a lighter 'load' as well, since many of the other vessels have been destroyed as well."

"Is it enough?" asked Tanith as she began plugging a second set of VR pilotting goggles into the navigation console. Shooting a quick glance at the silent figure of Rune, who sat in her pilot's seat.

"Yes. But with a much smaller margin of error." Came the reply. "There is also the matter of the Executor and Zen-Aku, who would be unfamiliar with our procedure."

"Send the signal to Z-man, the usual way we handle high security messages. As for the Executor..." Tanith paused in thought. "How far do we need to be to get Cody over?"

"Not that far," replied Rommie. "The spacial warping has not affected higher levels of communications as much. We can send him over via a low-energy transmission signal, as we do with the Helios Protocol."

"Good," said Tanith, as she began tapping at the console. "We'll send Cody over to take over for them. Also, inform the others to get ready to implement the Sethanon Protocol."

"You're sure?" asked Meta. "...And what about Jaffa? Didn't you find him?"

For a moment, Tanith seemed to falter. But she gathered herself up once more. "He's been taken care of," was all she said.


*****


On board Zen-Aku...

Z-man grabbed onto the handles of his command chair as the cabbit took another sharp turn to avoid the weapons barrage directed at it.

"Miya! Mi-ya!" came the voice of the cabbit.

"Our old security channel?" wondered Z-man upon hearing Zen-Aku's report of the Andromeda's transmission. "I take it we're going to finally get out of his place now."

So saying, he attached himself to an neural interfacer with his vessel, after first taking a small amount of "quicken" to speed up his mental processes. Then, he activated his clairsentience to peer into a pre-specified part of the Andromeda, onto a screen which had data scrolling furiously across it. The text was cobbled up from hundreds of different languages, most of which were highly obscure. As he read the symbols on the screen, Z-man's translation powers automatically translated them, and was then remembered by Zen-Aku. When the text started to repeat itself from the beginning, Z-man pulled out of the scrying.

"You got it all?" he asked Zen-Aku.

"Mi-ya!" returned the cabbit confidently.

"Good. Then send a message back saying we're ready." As he settled back in his chair once more, Z-man muttered quietly to himself, "and let's all hope to God that this mad plan doesn't kill us all."


*****


On board the Executor...

The Executor shuddered as it narrowly avoided another blast from the enemy ships of the Dominion. Suddenly, the Andromeda swept past the vessel as adroitly as an X-wing, continuing on just beyond Khazan's outer atmosphere.

Lieutenant Zelo looked up from his console. "Sir. The Andromeda just sent a transmission--"

Before he could elaborate, a shimmer appeared on top of his panel, which resolved itself into a crystalline duck-like creature. Several security officers immediately pulled out their blasters, ready to destroy the intruder.

"Wait!" came the command from their emperor. The Meddler nodded at Lt. Zelo. "What did the message say?"

Lt. Zelo cleared his throat, looking nervously at the creature on the panel in front of him.

"It says that we're supposed to coordinate with the other vessels to leave this plane by handling control of our navigation, engines, and communication systems over to something called the 'porygon'."

The Meddler considered for a short while. He could not see any other way out of this mess as yet. Directing his attention at the pokemon on the console, he nodded.

"It seems we have little choice but to trust our allies in this matter. Go ahead."

Immediately, the pokemon shimmered again, and seemed to phase into the panel it had rested on before. The Meddler gazed at the empty space where it had been perching on earlier. He sincerely hoped that whatever mad plan the rebels had been hatching would work better than his attempt had. In his opinion, it was definitely NOT a good day to die.





Pyrrhic Victories

Swiftly, the Andromeda glided around the planet of Khazan, just skimming its outer atmosphere. The main screen depicted an aerial shot of what was going on planetside.

"The others all report readiness," reported Rommie solemnly. "Those HALST members that had been outside of their vessels have all returned to their flag ship."

Nodding, Tanith gently place a hand on Rune's shoulder. The younger girl blinked once, then looked up at her, with part of her attention still focused on the piloting.

"Is the rift spell ready?" Tanith asked.

"We'd finished removing the safeties just before you sent me up," Rune replied absently. "It would only take but a small push from me to trigger it."

Tanith nodded as she looked back on to the viewscreen once more. A small transparently shielded area on the far from the main city appeared. "There. Zoom in on DK's mosaic. Send to all ships. We're activating the protocol.... NOW."

At her command, Drunkard Kid activated his power. The mosaic he had arranged with paint and sculpture sprang into life. At the same moment, Rune activated the complex rift-spell that she had helped Pug and company set into place.


*****


On Khazan...

The MunchKING stopped in his forward charge as the planet beneath him began to shudder and shake. Deep chasms began to open up everywhere, swallowing all in its wake. The air around him seemed to supercharge, and space-time began to become even more warped than it already is.

This does not bode well, he mused to himself. Looking around, he found that there were not many foes to fight left at all, except a few of Drunkard Kid's guardian constructs that were still flying around. Seeing nothing remaining to hold his interest, the MunchKING teleported back to the Dominion capitol ship. Even with his awesome power, it still took him several tries to break throught the spacial interference in the area.

The unfortunate ground troops, on the other hand, were left to a fiery death in the death throes of the planet they had sought to conquer.


*****


From high orbit, it seemed that the entire planet of Khazan began to stretch and warp. Suddenly, a pillar of green light shot out one point on the planet, heading for it's sun, then going through it and continuing on. Another pillar shot out the opposite direction, cutting though a section of the planet itself before emerging through the other side.

The cracks on the surface of the planet grew more pronounced. Finally, with a mighty shudder, the entire crust level of the planet crumbled off into space. What was reveal under them was not the glowing mantle of a normal planet...

...but layers upon layers upon layers of spacial-temporal distortions. The very fabric of the natural rifts of the nexus universe itself, unused ever since the nexus had been sealed off, all packed and folded by magical means into the small enclosed area.

As the previously compressed rift-space began to expand outwards, they also exerted a tremendous pull on the original rifts they had been ripped from. One by one, the sealed rifts in the Khazan nexus universe began to be uprooted from the very fabric of space-time itself. What they left behind... was emptiness. The Void between worlds. The Nothingness that also began to expand forth into the dying nexus, swallowing whatever was in their path.

Since the Dominion vessels had formed an outer perimeter in order to corral the rebel fleet in, they were the first targets to be met by the hungry Void.

Meanwhile, the green pillar of light began to widen at a horrifying rate. It also seemed to warp the area of space-time around it, creating multitudes of rifts and almost-rifts into the Void around it. Dominion vessels near it found themselves only able to maintain a mere inching of speed, and could only hover helplessly before the beam reached them. As it touched each Dominon vessel, the beam seemed to phase through metal and steel as if it wasn't there. But whatever organic material it touched, withered into dust upon contact.

Upon seeing the predicament of their forces, the Grand Vizier decided it was time to pull out, before they were all doomed by this... this cataclysm of mutual destruction the rebels had triggered.

Although, somehow, the rebel ships had not been taking much damage from the doomsday weapon they had triggered. Somehow, their ships knew just where and how to maneuver to avoid most of the damage caused by the rampaging rift-folds.


*****


Meanwhile, the Andromeda was flying outward from Khazan, putting distance between itself and the exanding rifts. The other Resistance vessels were slowly closing in on her position as well, while dancing to avoid sudden rifts that opened up near them.

On the bridge, the Andromeda AI informed Tanith that the Dominion capital ship and it's escorts were ready to jump.

"How long before we'll have a clear rift for the Helios Protocol?" Tanith asked from her position near the pilot's seat. Both herself and Rune were pooling their powers to aid the Andromeda's maneuverings.

"By my calculations, in three seconds." Rommie told her.

"Activate it when the chance comes," commanded Tanith, before returning her focus on the piloting once more.

"Activating Helios Protocols....NOW," announced Rommie. "Transmission sent.... .... ....and Confirmed." Another pause. "The Dominion capital ship has just jumped."


*****


As Dominion capital ship jumped out, it was followed by several other Dominon vessels before the damage to the space-time continuum of the nexus reality became too much. The unstable rifts overwhelmed the semi-permeable barrier that the Dominion had turned Khazan reality into. In fact, the unstable rifts and the gaping Void that followed them began to cascade back through to the minor nexus of Phase World itself.

As rift after unstable rift began to rip chunks out of the fabric of space-time out of the Phase World reality as well, the Void began to rush in, annihilatting all in its path.

Soon just as the Khazan reality was in the process of collapsing, so did the Phase World reality also began to collapse, leaving the Dominion forces there to scramble to escape the destruction.


*****


Heedless of the calamity around them, the Resistance ships finally met up together at the pre-set coordinates.. As pre-arranged, the remnants of the fleet fell into a tightly knit formation, with five 'focus' ships on the outside and the Andromeda taking point.

Upon a signal from the Andromeda, the five focus ships activated... something... deeply installed on board. Immediately, a field of some sort appeared around the entire fleet. Just in time, as a colossal chunk of reality was ripped forth. Instead of falling in toward the remnants of Khazan, however, the massive tear fell outwards into the Void itself.

Immediately, the Void began to eat away at the edges of the reality shard. As it ate away at the tear, the fleet within it seemed to shrink down in size, constantly just out of reach of the hungry Blackness.

Moments after the Resistance fleet took leave of the Khazan nexus universe, said universe seemed to shudder once more, before finally collapsing in on itself, taking out everything that was trapped therein, including much of the Dominon's fearsome fleet.

Soon after that, the Phase World minor nexus shuddered as well, as the feedback from it's sister universe's dying throes overwhelmed it. Then, it too collapsed in on itself, destroying everything within it, both of the Dominion and whatever else remained of their conquered worlds.


*****


On the Andromeda, two pairs of eyes searched for their destination in the nothingness of the Void. Occassionally, Rommie would give a status report on the conditions of the fleet in the background. Then....

"There!!" Rune's cry rang out in the tense bridge of the Andromeda.

The viewscreen changed to depict still the blackness of the Void. But in the center of the monitor there appeared a thin, faintly visible string. As the fleet drew closer, the thin line became a blurry yellow-white corridor of sorts stretching out into infinity in both directions.

"Get ready," Tanith warned. ".....GO!"

With that, the fleet took leave of the dwindling reality-shard that they had been riding upon. For a moment, their force-field brushed against the awesome might of the Void, causing a collective shuddering throughout the small fleet...

...And then, suddenly, they were in normal space once more. Safely ensconsed in the shimmering corridor held in place by a narrow stretch of matter that bridged the emptiness of the Void.

For now, at least, the danger was past.






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