Hi there, please enjoy this short story. Released Christmas day of 2019 as a present to you guys, my fans! I hope you have a lovely day no matter when you are reading this and I hope you enjoy the story. There ain’t too many spoilers if you haven’t read any of my other work so feel free to read at any point. If you are reading my series in order this short story would slot between volumes 2 and 3 of the Love Island Series, but is a stand alone story.
Best Wishes, Stephen Greenhalgh.
This short story picks up from the first instalment available here
PHEONIX AND THE CATACLYSM PART TWO.
Pheo’Nix didn’t so much get reports from his subordinates in the realm of light, but knowledge did come his way often. Now as he sat in comfort at a table in the Library of the Realm of Light he smiled having just learned of the defeat of the New World Orders supreme leader. He knew Emily was injured and he would go and help her heal. He smiled happily and broadly as he listened to the whispers spread. There was a lot of focus on humanity and their fight against the darkness and he felt joy in the realms air. He remembered the times he spent with Nehpets on Earth when his planet was in turmoil and his efforts to help the world he loved so much. His mind drifted back to the second of the many times he met the human and lazed there fondly in the moment.
Nehpets walked back to the stone circle from his van which he’d managed to drive through the thick mud to the edge of the most ancient oak forest in what was until only months before the United Kingdom. It wasn’t as united as it used to be, and Nehpets had spent many hours either in his van or on the flat central stone of the circle hoping that news would start coming again soon. He had an old ham radio he’d salvaged from the remains of a collapsed military base, the same place he’d filled half of his van with rations. He’d have felt bad for raiding government resources had the government done more to protect its citizens. Instead they had held a few emergency pointless cobra committee meetings and when massive earthquakes and micro tectonic fissures had torn Scotland from the rest of mainland Britain and driven it into Ireland they had panicked and fled. Of course the media outlets had remained active, until the last of the radio towers had been unable to withstand the hourly high magnitude quakes that rocked the world. Nehpets had often wondered in the last two months since the last news report how many reporters had died chasing their last big story.
Riots and violence had of course erupted around the globe in the aftermath of the Cern Incident. Panicked populations had demanded answers and less than honourable criminals had taken advantage and started raiding all they could. Police and military forces had been more than heavy handed in their dealings with those in distress. The global death toll was immeasurably high. It had been in the billions in the last report he’d heard. Multiple tsunamis in the days after the appearance of the new moon had swept almost every costal city and village, even Nehpets had almost been caught up in the first to sweep his small beloved town. Volcanic activity in Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic had melted ice flows and contributed to sea level rises that had only ever been imagined before. Other volcanic activity had destroyed cities globally and troubles with the Yellow Stone caldera had killed millions and filled the sky with ash and dust. Whole countries had been destroyed by the melting reactors of nuclear power plants. Other nuclear plants had been swallowed by lava flows.
Nehpets looked down through the clearing on the side of the slope to the low mountain on which he was camped to the coast. He could see the tower from St. Marys Church and the top of the old Guildhall and Castle House on a low tide. Several spring tides had washed away the younger buildings of the town and many of the small hills that had surrounded it. A tear rolled from his eyes. Most of those that had lived in the area, those he’d known and loved in his life had either died, turned on each other or travelled to more populated areas in the hope of finding food. There had been a hard-core group of survivalists with bunkers and bountiful supplies of food for themselves or their families but he avoided them. Those that had not had underground bunkers to retreat to had become increasingly defensive of their homes and Nehpets had heard of more than one killing.
Nehpets had not told anyone of his involvement in the Cern Incident, there would have been no point. He’d have either been declared mad or a terrorist. Probably mad when he got to the bit in the story where he tried to explain to any authorities that had there not been a magickal being present the world would have been destroyed completely.
He plugged the radio into the small socket he had prepared and his hand flicked the switch to the battery pack next to him. He had several charging near a makeshift water turbine in a stream not far away. The lights to the old military ham radio flickered on lazily and the speaker began to hiss. He started tuning through the frequencies to try and find signs of others that wanted to be found.
He picked up the book beside him and started to read where he had left off before his morning’s activities. He had a whole pile of books he thought might have been useful. One or two he had owned before his house collapsed, though these were newer versions he’d found since. The one he was reading currently was titled ‘Meditations and connection to the cosmic consciousness.’ He didn’t hold any high hopes for its usefulness, but he had few ideas on how to try and contact the alien he’d met before in the hope of getting more help for his world.
He had seen a brief news video before the internet had failed showing people burning books in the streets by the millions, a large portion of the worlds populations had attributed the cataclysmic events to their deities and as a result had burned every book which was not their faiths main religious manuscript. Nehpets, knowing that others would burn books just to keep themselves warm had dedicated one the of his vans three front seats to saving what he could in several banana boxes. Obviously he’d had to be selective so had rescued several books on building, advanced architecture, farming and agriculture, medicine, herbalism, meditation and the complete works of Tolkien and Terry Pratchett. He saved the later works because of their cultural benefits, and also because he wanted to read them again. He also saved a copy of the Iliad and the Odyssey a couple of history books and a small collection of readers digest encyclopaedias. In total four boxes of books sat seat to ceiling in there dedicated part of his van.
Nehpets woke to shaking ground in the dark. He was cold again; he’d fallen asleep in the stone circle instead of his van again. His van never seemed to shake as much, nor, no matter how cold it was outside ever seemed to be chilly either. He sat up preparing himself for the hundred yard walk over the shaky terrain to his vehicle. He reached for the book he knew should have been beside him, he’d have to read for a while to get back to sleep again. His fingers couldn’t find it, he huffed, it must be on the floor somewhere. He picked up his torch and pressed the button. The small clearing with the stone circle lit up brightly and showed a figure sat leaning against one of the stones reading his book in the dark. He jumped a little at the sight of the being which glowed ever so slightly with a blue tinge.
“Ahh, Nehpets! You’re awake!” The figure said.
Nehpets rubbed the sleep from his eyes so he could see more clearly. “Pheo’Nix?”
“Indeed. Is this your book?” Pheo’Nix asked holding up the copy of ‘Meditations and connection to the cosmic consciousness.’
“It’s all wrong. Complete nonsense. It’s obviously written by someone with a great imagination how-ever. Anyway, how are you?” Pheo’Nix asked as he placed the book down carefully.
“I’ve been better. Nothing like living rough after losing your home and most of the people you have ever cared for.”
“I did tell you there would be hard times ahead for your planet. You were never going to be immune to them.”
“I know, I never expected to be. And I don’t blame you either. Though I do blame that dark entity we defeated. What brings you back here?”
“I told you I would return. I think. Maybe I thought to tell you but didn’t. Anyway, for now, I am back.”
“Well I was hoping to get in touch with you through the meandering pathways of meditation.”
Pheo’Nix smiled. “Actually, if you know what you’re doing the pathways are straight forwards. Maybe one day you will achieve the ability to visit them yourself. Though, your race isn’t yet ready to awaken itself, you are somewhat closer. Why are you in these woods?”
“It is safe here, the highest tsunami hasn’t reached this height yet and of course there is the innate magickal aura here.”
“No there isn’t.”
“Yes there is, several ley lines cross this stone circle and these woods are so old and beautiful that nothing but magick could have sustained them. There is also the stability that this area seems to have. I was hoping to wait out the cataclysm here at least for a while.”
“All ley lines have an innate magickal field, the ones on the next mountain with no stone circles just as much as this. Though, I will admit there is a beauty to these woods and the circle, it provides no magickal protection or resistance. The woods are so old because of the sediments deposited over the last ice age and millennia of little human activity. The rocks however do provide some resistance to the quakes because of their wedge shaped formation and the cushioning of the sediments between the rocks. That however is again just another coincidence.”
“You know, I think sometimes you like to just dampen my spirits.” Nehpets said with a half-hearted laugh.
“If it helps, I have co-ordinated with a race of aliens known as the Chittans and they are in orbit with a large amount of equipment you couldn’t possibly begin to understand the functions of and magick users. They are here to do what they can to protect your world with me, and I was hoping, you too. What can you tell me of your world’s activity?” Pheo’Nix asked, pointing towards the old ham radio.
“Nothing current. I haven’t been able to pick up any signals, and if I did, this thing doesn’t have the range to reach far.”
“Then come with me!” Pheo’Nix said with a mischievous grin.
One moment Nehpets was sat lazily on a large flat stone in the middle of a circle of similar Preseli Bluestones talking to Pheo’Nix. The next moment he was sat on metal, he thought. On what he was sat how-ever was pushed swiftly to the back of his mind as he realised that there was someone staring at him. And that someone was very close and that someone wasn’t human. Nehpets jumped up and backed himself against the smooth surface of a window. The corner of his eye saw space. He found himself torn between the instantaneous shock of seeing what was clearly an alien and the sight of his home planet from space. He turned towards the window he was pressed against and looked at his own planet; the shock at the sight was greater than that of the sight of the alien.
Pheo’Nix walked and stood to one side, the alien to the other both just a step behind the human. “It has changed.” Was all he could manage as he looked at the grey covering that wrapped itself around the globe.
“I can imagine his shock at realising his world isn’t flat is quite great.” The alien said.
“He knew already, I’ve shown him space once before.” Pheo’Nix replied. “How are you Captain Gan’Yamir?”
“All the better for seeing you old friend. What’s it been? Three hundred years?”
“Four and a few decades.”
“Time warps by. Chittan Command was quite shocked to get a message from an ascended asking for help.”
“There are some things I can’t do without being noticed. Fixing a planet is one of them.”
Nehpets shook his head. Pheo’Nix seemed to like talking to others as if he weren’t there and he rounded on the pair. He looked both of them in the eye one after the other whilst saying very slowly so they both understood clearly. “Just so you know, I have never believed the Earth was flat or carried through space on eldritch beasts.”
“Some of your people did.” Pheo’Nix said.
“Look, flat earthers couldn’t have taken themselves seriously; there ain’t people that ridiculous in what was once a relatively knowledgeable society.” Nehpets replied. He didn’t know why he was defending them. He had read a few flat earth theories; they usually made for good comedy between meditations and attempts to access the realm of magicks. The funniest in his view was the article on the poorly built steam powered ‘space ship’ that one leader of the flat earth field had attempted to use to prove his theory. He often wondered if ‘flat earthers’ were in fact just disk world fans that were still in the closet.
“They had conferences, which imply some must have been uneducated enough.” The alien said.
“They also reported from the same conferences that flat earthers from around the globe had attended. I don’t know about your language, but in ours a globe is inherently spherical. And how do you know?”
The Chittan smiled. “We picked up some of your old visual entertainment signals on our way here. Some of it was quite hilarious, especially the space shows. Wow, your society had no idea what they would find in the universe.”
“When you have quite finished ridiculing the less technologically advanced than yourself, maybe, just maybe we can sort my planet out?” Nehpets said. The alien, whilst as frustrating to converse with as Pheo’Nix did seem quite nice despite his ridicule of humanity. Nehpets couldn’t really blame him though, after all, he had also ridiculed some elements during his life. But he was allowed. He was human.
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you or your species. We Chittans are here at Pheo’Nix’s request to help and we will do so to the best of our abilities.” Gan’Yamir said.
“What are your sensor reading telling you?” Pheo’Nix asked.
“I don’t know, I was on the way to the bridge when you appeared. Consider yourselves lucky you didn’t come five earth minutes before you did. We would all have had a moment of discomfort.” The Chittan said with a chuckle before adding, “Please, follow me.”
Nehpets had been distracted by the sight of his first non-glowing alien and the view of space since his arrival. He looked around properly as they headed out of the room and into a wide pillar lined corridor beyond. They had been talking in what was obviously some form of crew quarters. There was a simple bed and desk; through a small archway he could see a shower room of sorts. He was surprised to see it even included a loo that didn’t look too dis-similar in form to that of a standard human toilet. Not that he had thought of it before, but aliens must have unavoidable bodily functions too, at least Chittans did by the look of things.
Gan’Yamir led the way though the corridor to a double sliding door at its very end. The walls were plain white on the whole beyond the pillars only broken by the unintelligible symbols carved into the wall above doorways. The symbols were probably letters that made words, but they were unlike any letters Nehpets had ever seen, even the more beautiful and complicated written languages of the Far East seemed almost simple by comparison.
The bridge was a hub of activity, at least ten other Chittans milled around between raised panels lit bright with touch screen displays. Nehpets found himself wandering between them and looking. He was no expert in space travel theorem but some of the panels made sense, even if he couldn’t read the actual writing itself. One display clearly showed the ship in the background to an overlay of energy routes and data. A Chittan woman was busy redirecting the ships flows of energy to create a larger pool at the fore of the ship. Again, though he was no expert, he guessed that this was to either power weapons of strengthen sensors. Other displays showed flight paths, the orbits of the two moons. One display showed the international space station, which last he had heard was still manned.
“Hey, Gan’Yamir. Can your sensors tell if there are any people left on the space station here?” Nehpets said, gesturing at the screen.
“There are four people alive on the station.” He replied.
“It’s supposed to have a crew of six, I hope they make it.”
“It is not likely they can be rescued from Earth and the life signs we have are weak. Would you like us to recover them for you?”
“If it is possible then yes please. They should have the opportunity to survive on the ground rather than the knowledge they will die in space.”
“Consider it done. Comm, please dispatch a shuttle and crew to rescue the human space explorers.”
“Thank you Gan’Yamir, you have my gratitude.” Nehpets said. He continued to stare around the bridge in awe. The Chittan had called the crew of the international space station ‘space explorers’ but compared to this ship they were nothing more than high altitude adrenaline seekers with high IQ’s.
“If it’s all the same to you, I would like to erase their memories of us. Your race is probably not ready for alien contact.”
“Those on that station are likely more ready than I was, though, if you feel it is for the best then please do so.”
“We will discuss it later. In the meantime, have a look at this panel. I know you understand some of the readouts, if not the written parts.” Gan’Yamir said gesturing for Pheo’Nix and Nehpets to join him at a sensors station towards the rear of the bridge.
The display showed a picture of a planet that Nehpets barely recognised. The poles had almost completely melted and great fiery fissures tore through the Earth’s crust leaving lines of fire crisscrossing in places where tectonic borders never existed before. Continents had disappeared or folded in on themselves creating new mountain ranges. Much of southern Asia, Australia and a large portion of Africa had crashed into each other with such ferocity that their inward facing shores had crumbled into the sea leaving a vast swath of small islands in the middle. Nehpets took a few deep breaths. Now he knew why there was no news coming from anywhere in the world. The world that he had known no longer existed. Even the American continent had suffered vast changes with much of the US either underwater or crushed by the rest of the continent to the north and south. The pacific and Atlantic oceans were almost the same size now and Nehpets noticed that even his own country had changed. What was left of England and Wales was connected to what Nehpets thought might be the Costa Del Sol and Scotland and Ireland had become their own land mass that didn’t look too dissimilar to a quarter moon.
Nehpets thought back to his father, a very active and staunch leave supporter in a referendum the United Kingdom had had some years before. He’d be turning in his grave if he’d learned England and Wales were now quite literally connected to Europe. Nehpets allowed himself a dry chuckle as he remembered fondly some of the debates he’d instigated with him.
“Something funny?” Gan’Yamir asked.
“I’ll wager you live on a world united under one banner?” Nehpets replied.
“Yes, indeed. My race prides themselves on their ability to work together as one for the betterment of all.”
“Then you could never understand my alien friend.” Nehpets replied clapping the Chittan in a friendly fashion as he did. “I’ll be honest, humour is one of my coping mechanisms, and seeing my world in the state it is in is not easy.”
The Chittan commander turned to the Human and gave him a hug which caught him off guard and a tear escaped his eyes as he fought to control the swell of emotions rising within him. “I am an old Chittan by my people’s standards. I wasn’t there to see the evacuation of our original home world, but my great grandfather left a holo-vid for future generations of my family to watch. The sorrow in his eyes was profound and from the very first time I saw it, that look has stayed with me. I do not feel your pain as I have not experienced it, but I respect it because I’ve seen it among others before.”
Gan’Yamir let Nehpets go and once again turned to the sensor displays that Pheo’Nix was poring over. “The first thing is to decommission or remove the nastier elements of the nuclear power plants.” Pheo’Nix said.
“Yes we had noticed that there were about four hundred and fifty sites that showed there were nuclear facilities in meltdown or near meltdown. Of those nearly a hundred are buried, some of them too deep for us to reach. There are also several high radiation sites in the oceans which suggest nuclear vessels that have sunk. Did you guys have that tech?” Gan’Yamir asked.
“Yes, I’m not sure how many; there are also nuclear weapons in some countries. Thankfully, no one fired any during the start of the cataclysm.” Nehpets replied.
“Having powerful weapons in space is a necessity. There are too many dangers not to. I can’t imagine a circumstance as to why it would be ok have such weapons to harm your own people. And nuclear is the nastiest of all in my view. We will destroy as many as we can for you.” The Chittan replied.
“There will likely be places at risk damage with diseases that could kill large portions of our population.”
“Where would we find information on that?”
“I’d like to say the internet, but that no longer exists. There was a building in my country called SIS; it was in the city of London, about here.” Nehpets pointed to a section of the map that was to the best of his knowledge London. “It’s largely underwater, though I’d have expected it to be more so.”
“The plate in that area has risen. Let’s take a shuttle and have a look.”
It would have been like a dream come true for Nehpets a ride into Earth’s atmosphere in a shuttle were it not for the thick ash that clogged the skies and the thermals and strange air currents that made the ride rocky. Eventually they could see London. Well sort of, whole swathes had collapsed under the relentless earthquakes. The houses of parliament had slipped sideways into the Themes and little but rubble lay where canary wharf once stood proud in its capitalistic splendour. The old MI6 building how-ever was fairly undamaged, though the first floor was completely submerged.
Their pilot, Thil’Nir who had also greeted Pheo’Nix as a friend pointed to an area on the roof where volcanic ash that had fallen on the south of the UK wasn’t so thick. “I’m going to take us in there and set the ship down.”
“Thank you Thil’Nir. Comms, do you have a report?”
“Yes Sir. Commander Tarc’On has arrived on the C.S.F. Gold Flyer. He is dispatching shuttles to accompany ours in the nuclear clear up process. He reports that the C.S.F. Equality is an hour or so behind.”
“We’re they not scheduled to arrive together?”
“Yes Sir, it seems the Commander wanted to attempt a new effect.”
“Good for him. What about the Earthling Space Explorers?”
“Sir, Operations reports they are safely aboard the ship. They are being treated in med ops for dehydration and oxygen starvation. They will be kept unconscious until further orders arrive.”
“Thank you.” Gan’Yamir said as the shuttle touched down. “Thil’Nir, you’re with us.”
Nehpets, Pheo’Nix, Gan’Yamir and Thil’Nir left the ship and headed across to a roof access door that looked like it had regular use.
“You said this is the base of your planets secret services?” Gan’Yamir asked.
“Yes, sort of. Just this country really, but they were highly reputed for their information gathering.”
“Then perhaps we should knock, just to be safe.” He said, gesturing to the relatively fresh foot prints in the ash.”
Nehpets took a few steps forwards and knocked loudly on the door. It was the loudest sound he had heard in a long time and almost made him jump at the reverberating boom. They waited for nearly a full minute before the door opened and several men and women with MP5s and police uniforms rushed out and surrounded the group whilst shouting for them to get on the ground.
“It’s ok, I won’t let them fire.” Pheo’Nix somehow said into Nehpets head.
Nehpets was glad for that knowledge and trusted Pheo’Nix well enough to believe him. The shocked expression that had emerged on his face disappeared and he lowered his arms which he had flung up in panic.
“Gentlemen, Ladies let’s all be calm, we are not here to fight. And as you can see, I’m with people that ain’t from around here. Is there a leader we can talk to?”
One of the female officers took a step forwards. “You a Brit?” She asked.
“I am, from West Wales.”
“You don’t sound Welsh.”
“Didn’t move there till I was eighteen, but home is where the heart is, and my heart is there.”
“I’m a Cardiff lass originally, prove it, say something Welsh.”
Nehpets resisted the urge to say ‘Who’s coat is that Jacket’ though it might have worked. Despite his efforts languages had never come easy to him and though he’d lived there for more than half of his life he still struggled with Welsh. Still, he knew some basics, yet somehow only managed; “Dwi’n hoffi coffi?”
“Yes I like coffee. Are these three aliens?” She said coolly as if aliens were just another day in the office of the great post-apocalyptic era.
“You’d best come and meet the Chief. Follow me, one false move and you’ll regret your visit.” She said. Nehpets believed her.
Nehpets and the three aliens were guided into the building and through several corridors and up several flights of stairs. Nehpets was in awe of the magnificent building, even with the minor damage and lack of interior cleaning the place was smart. They eventually arrived at a large office door and the female officer that had talked to them gave the door a knock.
“Enter!” A man’s voice from behind the door barked.
One of the security officers opened the large wooden door and the group walked in with police officers still surrounding them with their weapons ready. A man in his fifties sat behind a desk which was covered in paperwork. Further paperwork sat in boxes all around the room and books littered the floors with coloured tags poking out.
The man looked up briefly as busy people often do, then paused his reading and looked up again more intently. “Well, well.” He said before standing and approaching Thil’Nir, the nearest of the aliens to study him more carefully. He looked at Nehpets. “Are you an alien in disguise?”
“No Sir, I am just as human as you. We are here seeking information. I am Nehpets, these are Pheo’Nix, Captain Gan’Yamir and Thil’Nir, I’m not sure what his rank is.”
The female officer they had been talking to whispered into the man’s ear. He nodded and gestured for the other police officer to depart. “You have a space ship too I hear.”
“It is space and warped space capable, but it is merely a shuttle, the rest of my fleet is in orbit.” Gan’Yamir said with a smile. “We are of the Chittan race. We would prefer not to interact with you as much as possible; we don’t want to affect your natural growth.”
“Our natural growth is about to come to an end as far as I can tell. Nearly all of my stations abroad have now stopped sending intel. What few scientists I have at my disposal are telling me on a daily basis that we will either die from starvation as crops won’t grow with these cursed ash clouds. If that doesn’t kill us it will be the radiation poisoning. I’m also being told that within just a few months mountains may have crushed what is left of London.”
“The Chittans and Pheo’Nix are here to help us Sir.” Nehpets said offering his hand.
The tall ex-military man took Nehpets hand and gave it a firm shake. “My name is Andrew Collier, Chief of, well a rather large building now. What can I do to help?” He asked as he took turns shaking everyone’s hands, watched carefully by the female officer that stood vigilantly by the door.
“The Chittans will clear up your world’s nuclear materials. We can’t do much about the radiation, time and technology will give you the resources you need to do that. We can however stop further leaks and spread somewhat. We can calm your crust some, but it will be many years before the shaking stops completely. We can filter some of the ash from your skies too, but again, it will be years before it has fully dispersed. We cannot stay here too long either, it will draw the attention of less desirable races, but we will do all we can in the meantime.” Gan’Yamir said.
“And what will the people of Earth owe you in return?” Andrew asked.
“Nothing, we are here at the request of Pheo’Nix, it seems he grew attached to your race when he and Nehpets stopped the daemon that caused the Cern catastrophe. I hear in fact, were it not for them, we would not be having this conversation and your planet would be destroyed already.”
Andrew looked at Nehpets who stood proudly with his alien friends. “Did he say daemon? Were you really there? How did you survive?”
“Yes, and he is not telling a lie either. I tell you mate; we definitely don’t want to be going to hell when we die. I survived because of Pheo’Nix’s magicks. It was Pheo’Nix that transported the daemons device and a large portion of the Cern centre into space.”
“So he caused this?”
“No, he stopped the world from being instantly destroyed.”
“One could argue that it’s too late.”
“Sir, it’s never too late if some of us survive to carry the banner of humanity into the future.”
“Well, you seem to have some wisdom in there Nehpets. What do you need?”
“The locations of any disease control centres you know of so the Chittans can destroy the samples of anything that could kill us if it leaks.”
“I’ve been monitoring them myself, the best I can. Several have been destroyed by volcanic activity worldwide. That was good to hear. However there are two in what is left of Europe and one in what is left of South America that were still standing last I heard. It would be one less thing for me to worry about if they were destroyed. I had the ones in the UK and a few aboard destroyed by fire in the weeks after the cataclysm, before I lost contact with my agents.”
“What happened to our government?”
“Bunkers. I’m sure you’ve seen the movies.”
“So we could regain some form of government?”
“Bunkers are not a place to be when fault lines that never existed before appear.” Andrew said before changing the subject. Nehpets noted a well disguised look of disdain in the man’s face. “Let me find the information you need.” He started to ruffle through papers in a box near his desk and after a few moments stood back up with a file. He handed it to Nehpets. “Take it easy out there and good luck, it seems humanity owes you and these aliens more than it will ever know.”
“Thank you sir.”
“No, thank you sir. Where will you go when the aliens leave?”
“Back home if I can. If not, somewhere else suitable. I will keep you informed.”
“I would be glad for that; we might join you. This building won’t last too many more weeks. The foundations are beginning to crumble.”
Nehpets left the office and made the trip back to the Chittan shuttle in silence. He had not expected there to be people here and apart from the Chittans they were the first he’d seen in more than a month. Having found the building still active he had been surprised that the conversations with Chief Collier had been so easy. All secret services held fierce reputations; he supposed they had to keep their enemies on their toes. The shuttle began to rise into the air as a new flurry of volcanic ash began to drop onto what was left of capital city he had known all of his life.
“You seem saddened.” Gan’Yamir said.
“It is hard not to be in these times. Yet also I have so much to be thankful for too.”
Thil’Nir had expertly flown the shuttle to the two European locations where buildings containing samples of diseases were kept in storage. Both places had been scanned thoroughly and once it had been determined that they were devoid of life they had called down airstrikes of beam fire from the small fleet of Chittan ships above. Gan’Yamir had explained that the use of ship based weapons of that scale were usually prohibited on planets due to their destructive power. In this case however it wasn’t a bad idea to make sure the area was well scorched.
And well scorched those areas were. Nehpets had watched eagerly. Space ships firing beam weapons had been one of his favourite things in sci-fi shows. The beam weapons had completely melted the building and a good area of space around each of the two they had hit so far turning the ground to glass. But now as they approached the third and more difficult to destroy they could see activity. Their final target was an underground laboratory and was supposed to be top secret.
Thil’Nir took them high enough into the air that they wouldn’t be spotted easily as the shuttles comms and sensors officer scanned the ground and focused in the ships external cameras. “It looks like some form of makeshift fort has been built on top of the entrance.”
“Erm, that’s a barn.” Nehpets corrected. “It must be steel framed and well-built to be standing still.”
“Sir, I am also reading a strange energy signature coming from that area too. I think it is Choran.”
“Who are they?”
“Some would say the scourge of the galaxy, though they’re not thought to have ventured this far away from their home planet. We still worry about them discovering your world, or us meddling with it.” Thil’Nir said from the flight control console.
“An enemy of yours then?”
“Sadly yes they are. They are the enemy of all free people and those that do not bend to their will. Many of them are also agents of the realm of Darkness.” Gan’Yamir said. “Comm warn the fleet to be on the lookout for Choran ships. Destroy on sight, we can’t risk them getting a signal out to others and alerting them to the presence of this planet.”
“Yes Sir.” The Chittan at the comms and sensors panel said.
“Thil’Nir, take us in to land, then be ready to provide air support.”
“Not to sound untrusting, but if your enemy is there and there are at least twenty humans wielding a good array of weapons, won’t we be outmatched?” Nehpets said.
“I will ensure our safety” Pheo’Nix said with a smile.
“Still to be on the safe side take this Nehpets.” Thil’Nir said as he drew his side arm and passed it over.
Nehpets didn’t like the idea of harming others, but he didn’t like the idea of being harmed by others either so took the beam pistol and thanked the Chittan pilot.
“You said this was a foreign country to yours and you wouldn’t be able to speak their language, so take this too. We understand each other because of these devices; you’ll need it if you want to understand them. Let’s just hope their languages were among the entertainment signals we picked up.” Gan’Yamir said.
“Thank you, I’ve always wanted to visit Brazil, it’s a shame I am only getting to do so now.”
The shuttle landed and Nehpets, Gan’Yamir and Pheo’Nix walked down the rear ramp to the slowly dying grass of the field in front of the first of the barricades set up by the armed group. They had no distinctive uniform and though the men guarding the barricade were thick set and hardy looking, they didn’t look particularly aggressive. They did how-ever look extremely surprised to see a UFO.
Nehpets took a step forwards and spread his arms wide. “Greetings gentlemen. May we talk?”
“What do you want?” One of the men asked.
“We need to evacuate the area. There is a facility below the ground that needs to be destroyed.”
“We know what is there. It is our base. You bring more aliens with you?”
“You’ve seen others?” Nehpets asked without giving away they knew of the Chorans.
“Yes, they are giving us supplies in exchange to the research, data and scientists the facility contains.”
“You are in grave danger if you have entrusted the Chorans to that information. They will not allow you to live.” Gan’Yamir said.
The guard shifted his position and stood more upright. “What do you mean?”
“He means you’re going to die.” Nehpets said.
“Is that a threat?” The guard said. He raised his weapon halfway and then fell to the floor, as did the other three guards at the post.
A man closer to the barn saw them fall and shouted and suddenly more men and women with weapons began to congregate at the structures entrance. An Earthquake rocked the ground as Pheo’Nix shrugged. “Sorry was getting bored.” He waved his hand and the group of armed personnel closer to the barn fell to the floor too.
The three began to walk again. This time more cautiously as they scanned the terrain around them and the barn itself for further signs of hostility. “We should just fire; these people are obviously in league with the Chorans.” Gan’Yamir said.
“Be calm old friend. We have never had to struggle for a meal. I didn’t sense evil intent in any of them. Let us proceed and see what we can discover.”
They arrived at the barn entrance and peered inside the massive steel doors cautiously. There was an office to one side, something one would expect to find at the entrance to a military base. The rest of the barn was taken up by a space ship twice the size of the shuttle the Chittans had used.
“That is a Choran warped space capable cargo ship. Crew of two, flight and tactical consoles and space for fifteen troops with plentiful cargo too.” Gan’Yamir said quietly.
Nehpets nodded and walked cautiously into the barn. He headed to the office, the likely entrance to any underground facility. Gan’Yamir and Pheo’Nix checked the open entrance on the side of the shuttle. The office was plain. All of the surfaces were white and dust free, a miracle in itself with the regular ash rain.
The rear wall of the office had an open lift door in it. The lift was nowhere to be seen. Nehpets walked over, holding the beam pistol carefully. He peered over the edge into the shaft. He could see the open top hatch of a lift below no more than thirty feet down. He could hear the faint noise of harsh voices, but couldn’t hear what they were actually saying. He waved through the glass of the windows that surrounded the office to the two alien friends as they emerged from the Choran shuttle. They headed over without delay.
“There was one Choran sleeping in the shuttle. He will sleep for longer than he expected.” Gan’Yamir said. “I’ve also called down reinforcements. What have you found?”
“The entrance to the facility.” Nehpets said quietly.
Pheo’Nix smiled and pushed Nehpets and Gan’Yamir into the shaft. Nehpets was about to let out a yell of fear, heights had never been his thing, when he realised he was floating. Gan’Yamir floated with his arms folded across his chest and a frustrated look. “Wait for the re-enforcements Pheo’Nix.” He whispered so quietly that Nehpets had to strain to hear what he was saying.
Pheo’Nix just smiled and stepped into the air besides his two friends and began to lower them and himself to the bottom of the shaft where they landed neatly and silently on the top of the lift. Nehpets could hear the talking more clearly now. It was a strange guttural tone, but it came to his ears in English.
“How long are they going to be?” A Choran said.
“I don’t know, but if they’re not back in five. We’re going; this place gives me the creeps. No Choran should play with biological weapons. It’s not honourable.” A second Choran said.
“We should be getting to a range where we can inform Choran High Command of the slave potential. Take some of the humans outside with us as proof.”
Pheo’Nix slipped down into the lift and vanished from sight. There were two quiet thuds and the sounds of dragging and Pheo’Nix reappeared dragging two Chorans by the Collar. Nehpets looked twice; he had not been expecting them to look so obviously evil. Nehpets had never been one to judge a book by its cover, but when one saw a snake, one didn’t hang around to ask if it was poisonous. The two Chorans he saw being dragged along the floor were those snakes. If he had met one in a dark ally, he’d have run. Sure he was adventurous, but he wasn’t stupid. The rougher looking of the two had battle scars over his multihued face. His skin was a mixture of reds and browns and pale pinks and his eyes which were open and unmoving pierced whatever they lay upon with danger. Apart from that, the armour, which looked to be made from the same materials as the exterior of their ship had spikes. In Nehpets view, any set of armour with spikes belonged to a bad guy. It pretty much said so in all of the cartoons and anime he’d seen when he was younger.
He lowered himself into the lift below and dropped almost silently next to Pheo’Nix with the Chittan just behind him. “If they’re working on chemical or biological weapons we need to stop them.” He said to the pair of aliens.
“Agreed.” Gan’Yamir replied as he looked into the long light lined corridor beyond the lift doors that seemed to stretch for as far as the eye could see with no side rooms or tunnels. He wasn’t sure but he thought maybe it curved slightly to the left.
The tunnel must have been at least a mile long and as Gan’Yamir had though had curved slightly to the left. They reached the end where it flayed out some. Two electric carts with a steering column at the back and front sat in charging bays. He wished there had been one at the other end; he’d have enjoyed driving an Earthling vehicle. There had been no sign of cracks or damage to the tunnels structure as they had walked down. Pheo’Nix had not been sure why apart from his best guess that maybe the whole thing had been carved into one solid piece of rock that had been fortunate enough not to break apart yet.
There were no Choran guards at this end of the corridor, but through the glass next to a door which led further inside the base Nehpets could clearly see other Chorans corralling human scientists who seemed to be working on something. The scientists were scarred, it didn’t take an expert to realise that. Even through the hazmat suits they were wearing Nehpets could see that more than a few of the fifteen or so under guard from an equal amount of Chorans were in tears.
“Looks like I can’t go in there.” Nehpets said quietly, pointing through the window at a small glass made case with a human lying nude on the floor and dead. Blood seeped from every visible orifice and pooled in deep dark patches on the glass floor. His eyes looked like they had burst and great sores covered what was once a living being. He couldn’t go in there, but he was angry that this had been done to anyone at a time when what was left of his world needed to stand united if they were going to survive.
Pheo’Nix shook his head with distaste at the sight. “You can, I’ll protect you from any bio-hazards.”
“There are a lot more of them than there are of us. I’m not saying I won’t go in, I will do what it takes to help you protect my planet, but it’s five to one.”
“We will be fine.” Pheo’Nix said with confidence.
Gan’Yamir shook his head and readied his beam pistol. “Sometimes I think you’re trying to kill me Pheo’Nix.”
Nehpets nodded and pressed the button to the airlock that separated the lab from the tunnel they were stood in. It hissed open and the trio stepped inside.
A jet of smoke washed over them as they waited for the white walled box to run through its cycle. There was a rush of air from below and the second door hissed open. Then there was beam pistol fire. Pheo’Nix pushed Nehpets forwards into cover behind a thick metal topped desk that Gan’Yamir, already a step in front of them tipped to its side.
Suddenly the Chorans were no longer interested in their scientist charges and were pushing them out of the way to get into a place from which they could fire at the small group that entered. Nehpets raised his beam pistol at a Choran coming through a doorway to the side. He took aim and fired at the back of Pheo’Nix a second before Nehpets shot the Choran square in the chest. Pheo’Nix didn’t react to the beam fire and just smiled at Nehpets.
A flurry of beam shots tinged off of the upturned metal table which held up remarkably better than Nehpets thought it should. He peered over the top and took a shot, narrowly missing another Choran soldier. Gan’Yamir took the Choran down himself along with two others before he crouched once again behind the cover they were using.
“Four down, elven to go.” He said cheerily.
Nehpets never thought he would be in a firefight and as he popped up to take another shot, he narrowly avoiding a beam shot aimed at himself. He shot the alien aiming at him without hesitation before once again ducking down behind the shared cover. “Ten.” He said. He wasn’t so cheery; he abhorred the idea of harming others usually. Maybe it was because they were aliens, or maybe it was the knowledge they were playing around with biological weapons, perhaps it was simply because he had found himself in a battle but he had no issues firing his weapon now. He was also damned sure he’d heard the Chorans at the entrance to the tunnel talking about turning humans into slaves too.
He looked back towards Pheo’Nix who was busy putting the scientists to sleep with a combination of effects. Or at least that’s what he thought he was doing. Scientists were falling to the floor throughout the small facility anyway. He smiled, Pheo’Nix might not be allowed to interfere directly, but one wouldn’t have known that by his actions. He popped his head back above the barricade and took another two shots before ducking back into cover. He wasn’t sure if he hit either of his targets. The hallway that separated the four lab rooms was hazy with smoke now and beam fire from both sides shone bright through it like strobing lights. There were no scientists left standing, which Nehpets saw as a bonus, at least they wouldn’t be harmed by stray shots from his poor fire arms skill.
He popped up once more and fired once. He was about to fire a second time when a stinging pain began to spread through his body from his shoulder. He collapsed down as the pain began to overwhelm him. Then suddenly, the pain was gone and he felt as good as he had only moments before, if not better.
“Try not to get shot.” Pheo’Nix said over the zings and pings of beam fire hitting the table.
“It was definitely not my intention.” Nehpets replied as he rose once more and began to fire.
“Never one’s intention to get shot.” Gan’Yamir said with a raucous laugh as he too opened fire again.
Then there was the sound of the airlock behind opening. Nehpets ducked down into cover and aimed at the doorway ready to engage any further Choran forces creeping in behind them. But no Chorans came through, instead a squad of heavily armoured Chittan soldiers came in and opened fire on the aliens that had taken control of the facility.
The battle lasted only moments after that. The remaining Chorans were swiftly dealt with and the Chittans, Pheo’Nix and Nehpets began the process of taking the scientists away. Nehpets had no desire to investigate the facility and left with Gan’Yamir and Pheo’Nix as soon as he was able. They used the cart to get to the lift at the end of the tunnel and Nehpets was quiet for the whole ride. He’d taken life and he felt bad for doing so, even if that life had mal-intent to his world.
The ride back to the Chittan fleets flag ship had been less uncomfortable for Nehpets. About halfway into the journey Thil’Nir had told him to look to his left, shortly after two high powered beams separated by about a mile came down from space. One beam had been relatively short lived; the second had lasted about twenty seconds before blinking out. Other than that the trip had been uneventful.
They landed in a bustling hangar bay. Chittan shuttles were arriving and departing almost constantly and Chittan soldiers and scientists milled around between shuttles carrying equipment or boarding shuttles ready to depart.
Nehpets looked on almost listlessly as his mind reflected on the battle he’d just been a part of and the ease at which he’d been happy to pull the trigger. Pheo’Nix patted him heartily on the back which brought him back to the moment as they started to walk into the bowels of the ship.
“Well, I’d have never thought you capable of being a soldier.” Pheo’Nix said.
“I was protecting myself and my world from an alien threat. I had choice, for sure, but only one if I wanted my planet to survive relatively unharmed.” He replied.
“Well I think you handled yourself as well as any of the soldiers under my command.” Gan’Yamir said with a hearty laugh. “Worry not little human friend, my people tell me that in the time we have been dealing with the biological threats, they have had a chance to remove much of the radioactive material of your planet and have deposited it in your sun. Cloud seeding has also begun to try and clear your world’s atmosphere of the dust and ash blotting out your sun.”
“Already?” Nehpets asked incredulously.
“Indeed, we have four ships here now, and we need to work fast to avoid being discovered by the Chorans. I was surprised the ship on your planet didn’t detect us. If you will follow me, there is just one more thing we need to do before we can leave.”
“Come along and you will see.”
They walked through a variety of hallways until they finally arrived at a long room which had a window running the full length of the outer wall. The view was beautiful Nehpets couldn’t help but note. His planet surrounded by space was one of his favourite views. Less so when the atmosphere was so dirty you couldn’t see the ground admittedly, though he spotted several areas where he could now see through the thick blanket of clouds.
There were about forty people in the room. They were of different ranks and job lines by the looks of their uniforms. He spotted Thil’Nir enter just behind them and move to join the rest of the group. One or two spotted Gan’Yamir and stopped talking and formed up into ranks facing the window. Others seeing what was happing joined until everyone in the room was quiet and waiting expectantly to hear their commander.
“Chittans, we have an opportunity to heal a world, we are going to take it. You have all been briefed on the effect we need to create so let’s get the job done, unless anyone has any questions?” Gan’Yamir said.
No-one spoke up but instead everyone in the lines of ranked Chittan males and females closed their eyes. Nehpets watched, he could feel a tingle in his spine and Pheo’Nix smiled as he saw Nehpets give an involuntary shudder.
Pheo’Nix raised his hand towards the lines of ranked Chittans and smiled. Nehpets wasn’t sure, but he felt he was helping empower them because suddenly the tingling sensation trebled in power.
He looked out the window at his planet below and stood waiting for someone to speak again or for some visual sign they were doing something to his planet. He waited for nearly an hour before there was a huge sigh which came from a good majority of the Chittans all at once. Nehpets turned and saw some Chittans sitting down and the ranks breaking apart.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen.” Gan’Yamir said over the hub of conversation that started.
If Pheo’Nix were not still sat next to him Nehpets might have been tempted to think the actions of the last couple of days would have been a particularly vivid dream. The sun shining through the trees onto the ash covered sodden rocks of the stone circle told a different story how-ever.
“There will still be frequent earthquakes and landmass shift for many years to come, but your planets people will definitely survive.”
“I and the whole planet owe you twice now Pheo’Nix.”
“Think nothing of it; it’s sort of my thing. I like this planet, I can’t explain why but I have come to hold it fondly in my heart. I will be watching.”
“Will we see each other again?”
“Perhaps.” And with that Pheo’Nix was gone.
Nehpets looked out of the edge of the woodland to the tents that were being erected beyond the tree line. The people from Britain’s security services had come to join Nehpets as had the astronauts from the international space station. Most of what was left of the United States would take years to recover and they had elected together to join Nehpets and his attempt to rebuild some form of society here. Someone had even told him it was Christmas, but he knew even if it was, it wouldn’t be the same without those he’d grown to love in his life.
Pheo’Nix had liked Nehpets, he was an oddball in Pheo’Nix’s view, but so many were on this planet. He didn’t know why he was unusually sad; he’d witnessed the deaths of friends he had known for much longer than the human. He stood on the hundred foot high cliffs on the western edge of the remnants of the African continent. He didn’t know what country he was in but he knew, thanks to the projections of a Chittan scientific team, that this cliff and some of the surrounding terrain would survive the tectonic shifts. The regular earthquakes were still ongoing as were the volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and whilst they would continue to cause some devastation, it was calmed vastly. Nehpets floated horizontally besides Pheo’Nix his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes closed as if he were in a deep and peaceful slumber. Wrinkles lined his once young face and the clothes he wore were roughly made but a smile lay on his face none the less. The planets source stone lay in a small cavern below; he thought it would be a nice place to lay the human to rest too.
Pheo’Nix pulled energies from the realm of white light and the small oak woodland and circle of stones that Nehpets had held in high esteem throughout his life appeared around him. That section of mountain side was going to slide into the ocean soon; it was fitting that the woodland be saved.
He created another effect and the circle of standing stones that surrounded the large central stone connected to the planets source stone just below. Then he vanished with Nehpets and his collection of books to the cavern. As he disappeared an inscription appeared on the side of the large stone ‘Here lies Nehpets, Earthling. Age: Who knows with these Earthlings? May you go to that heaven place you were always banging on about and not that hell place that scared you. Thank you for your help.’
THE END FOR NOW.
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