"Go ahead and take us out, helm."
In the bowels of the Penelope, the massive drive turbines came to life, beginning the cycles they would need to propel the ship through the aether to
their final destination of what would hopefully be a meeting with the Yydryl.
The Penelope gracefully nosed up and slid through the debris field surrounding the destroyed orb of what was once their home, several of the crew
silently watching as she slid out of the Penelope's forward viewports and into the silence. Penelope reached a clear area above the debris field,
elongated and jumped into a wormhole.
Once the exterior was back to the familiar swirl of wormhole travel, Luder sat down in the command chair. He sat back and put his hands on the
armrests, wiggling around for a bit. Something didn't feel quite right about the chair. He looked at the arm rests and the cushions and even spun
it side to side ever so slightly, but couldn't seem to get comfortable. Luder looked back up and gasped. There was no one left on the bridge save
for who appeared to be a civilian female.
"Who the hell are you and where is my crew?" Luder said, grabbing the edges of the armrests and propelling himself up onto his feet. He reached for
his pistol and noticed it was gone. The woman moved from around the helm control station and walked to within five feet of him, a smile on her face.
She looked.... familiar.... She had stark white skin, which offset the raven black hair pouring down across her shoulders and bosom. Her eyes were a
shade of rich purple and her lips were glossed with a dark shade of black or deep blue lipstick. She was wearing a midnight blue, long-sleeved shirt
and a black leather skirt with knee-high black boots.
"I am Tess Luder."
Luder felt uneasy and actually sat back down on the chair which was beginning to feel more and more uncomfortable.
"But you're - you're....."
"Dead?" She smiled and sat on the edge of the tactical station, folding her arms across her chest.
"....yeah." Luder felt his face grow pale and he suddenly felt a chill run down his spine. "I'm not...."
"No silly. You're not." She chuckled, her laugh sounding like the faint tinkling of wind chimes in a summer breeze.
"Why are you here then?"
"I've come to start you down a path, Myron Francis. A path that you were predestined to follow many years before you ever thought about stepping
foot on a starship. Once which runs thick in our family line."
"My name is not..... Wait. What kind of path are you talking about? I'm needed HERE on this ship, RIGHT now. So much has happened. I can't
leave the Penelope now." Luder frowned and shook his head.
"You don't understand, MF. You have to trust what I'm about to say. Many things are in motion in this galaxy right now which far outweigh
anything going on in your life right now. Things that not only put your ship and the world at stake, but the galaxy and possibly the universe.
People like us are amassing and need each other and the time has come for us to set into motion plans which were spoken about in prophecies eons ago.
This is your destiny." She stood up.
"Go? Go where?" Luder was baffled.
"I will feed coordinates into the Storm's Breath and set you up a direct flight line to where the research is taking place. You need to act
quickly, MF. Time is running out. Your time here, with these people and this ship has come and passed. They need to follow their own destinies now.
You have impacted them in many ways as they have you and what you've done here was for the positive influence of all involved. Now, you need to
take that leadership elsewhere. We need you."
Luder took a deep breath and felt a knot in his chest. The chair was supremely uncomfortable and he stood up. As much as it caused pain, he could
see she was right. Things were changing around him. He looked at the floor for a long time and looked back up.
"Alright, I'll do it." She was gone. In her place, the helmsman and tactical officer both turned around.
"Nothing, nothing. Helm, drop us out of wormhole drive at once."
The Penelope's engine noise changed suddenly, the drives protesting the sudden reversal of the wormhole process. Theresa crossed the bridge and
furrowed her eyebrows, looking into Luder's eyes. He smiled and nodded at her. He turned back to the chair and flicked on the inter-ship
As of right now, I am effectively resigning as the Commander of this ship. I am turning complete control over to Lieutenant Commander
Asher. To the crew of this ship I would first like to say thank you for your service. The things you have done in this life will echo in eternity.
Give Asher the same respect and courtesy as you gave me. Good luck and safe travels.
There was an immediate uproar on the bridge. Luder took one last look around, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. Communications channels were
lighting up all over the board. He snatched up his communicator and headed out of the command center, Theresa hot on his heels.
"What the hell are you doing, Luder? This ship needs you now more than ever!" Theresa grabbed his arm and spun him around. "I need you....."
"Theresa, I can't explain everything right now, but you have to come with me. There's something I have to do." She stared at him for a long time
"I can't, Luder, just as you can't. You know we can't leave here like this."
"I have to. I will. Either you can come or you can stay. There are events in motion which not even I can explain right now but I just know I have
to get out of here." Luder felt her grip relax and her hand slide off of his arm. She looked around the corridor and finally nodded.
The bay Luder's personal ship, the Storm's Breath was docked in was quiet for the time of day and there were only a few technicians present when he
and Theresa barged in and headed up the ramp. Behind them, a group of reporters and the Vice President were all following, everyone yelling at once.
Brandom was supremely pissed off and she was making it clear that she was going to do everything in her power to ruin everyone's careers involved.
Theresa patted Luder on the shoulder and smiled. "I'll run the start up sequences. Get rid of the civilians." Luder laughed.
"I think we're technically civilians now too, sweetheart." He turned back to the ramp and pointed at Brandom.
"You can take the ship and my damned rank, Mary. You didn't want my help, well.... looks like you got your wish. So long your highness." He
winked and mashed the retraction button the ramp. As he jogged the corridor to the cockpit, he could hear the engines coming to life. He climbed
into the cockpit and took a seat next to Theresa, helping with the rest of the launch preparations.
Outside of the Storm's Breath, the massive bay doors began to slide open, revealing the inky blackness of the void. Theresa moved some levers and
the ship lifted up from the deck, sliding through the atmospheric shielding into space. Theresa flew out about ten clicks and came back around,
stopping the ship about five hundred meters from the Penelope.
"She's beautiful." Luder said. Theresa nodded.
"Where to, Captain?" She asked, smiling. Luder ran through some computer files and noticed the one Tess said would be there. He plugged it into
the auto-pilot and sat back in the cockpit chair, kicking his feet up on the dashboard. He grinned, a cocky - lopsided grin and crossed his arms
behind his head.
"Second star to the right and straight on until morning."
Outside the Penelope, the Storm's Breath turned into an long point of blurred light and vanished into the aether.