Unlike their twin fleet lead by the starship the "Land Beyond", Andromeda and her fleet made a swift and silent journey toward their promised beyond. Upon their arrival, however, they would find this mystical beyond to be less romantic than they imagined.


 The star ship “Andromeda”, outfitted with the finest of space-faring technology humanity had to offer, was sent out into the endless sea of darkness in search of the beyond. Much like its twin ship the “Land Beyond”, it had made a promising start. Accompanied by its ten other companion craft, the “Dawn’s Trail”, “Luna’s Pride”, “Sun’s Song”, “Ocean’s Reach”, “Sky’s Atlas”, “Earth’s Love”, “Dusk’s Triumph”, “Winter’s Wing”, “Summer’s Breath”, and “Autumn’s Rook”, the Andromeda made a swift and uneventful race for the promised beyond. It was well into the voyage, with scout ships “Cloud’s Call” and “Thunder’s Step” several kilometers in the lead, when the connection to the Land Beyond and her fleet was lost. Andromeda’s crew was deep into cryogenic sleep when their faceless overseer, the ship’s A.I., discovered this disconnection from the other fleet. It calculated that the best course of action was to stay on the current path, and so they did. Several decades passed, the crew in ageless sleep, until the promised land was now in sight. But something was wrong, and the faceless overseer knew it. There was nothing that could be done, however, before the two brave scouts of the beyond, Cloud’s Call and Thunder’s Step, were torn asunder by gravity’s invisible hand. Andromeda and her fleet shortly followed suit, the smaller ships suffering the brunt of the rogue attack from the black void. Andromeda’s overseer raced her through the tides of the void, attempting to reach the beyond before they fell prey as well to their invisible attacker. It was to no avail, however. Andromeda made it further than her comrades, but ended her journey in the rocky brooks of an asteroid belt. It was there, to the simulated relief of the AI, that their attacker seemed to cease its assault, leaving Andromeda to bleed electricity until she eventually expired. Andromeda knew of this eventuality, and instead of allowing it, created a plan that could yet save her. Whilst in orbit of the small star that was named Kronos, --a star slightly colder than Sol-- Andromeda awoke her crew and taught them of the events that had unfolded, of the dire circumstance that had befallen them. She told her sons and daughters of her life that she knew was limited, --only about a century remained-- and told them what they must do, how they must survive. It was then that Andromeda’s Chosen were born to unify her children under one name, as the machine knew that all would die if they did not unite underneath that sunless sky.

 She stood on the precipice of her world of light and the world of the void. She stared out with fear, excitement, and curiosity. She stared out from behind the dark glass of her voidskin, --which was used by her mother’s mother’s mother once-upon-a-time-- her helm clasped between the gently waving brim of her equally old but far more intricate shawl. The suit hugged her body tightly, making her form only slightly taller and larger than she actually was. Stripes and spots of blue light lined her suit, the clearest beacons of hope in the darkness that now surrounded her. Her name was Void’s-Dawn, and her mission that day was to prove herself worthy of wearing the voidskin of her ancestors five generations prior. It had been a big event among her people: the elders gathered to send her good-wishes, her mother gave her the tools she needed in order to prove herself, the children watched in awe, and the great Andromeda wished her safe passage. It was the most important moment of her life thus far, and she intended to prove to all that she was indeed worthy.

 And so she stood there, on the precipice of light and dark, where streams of holographic glow slid silently in every direction, where glass spread out in shards and a shattered dome revealed the endless, Sunless Sky. With a deep breath of synthesized oxygen, Dawn stepped forth into the place known as the Bright Sea, a place she had previously only dreamed of seeing. She stood on a round platform, tables and chairs taking up the majority of space on said platform. Ahead, two more similar platforms existed, the one which was on her right remaining at an odd angle after it had detached from its former place. It floated on the verge of the shattered dome, angling itself steep enough that one could not walk on it, were one not already swimming in the void. Streams of broken, holographic light raced by on all her sides --like pulses of electricity through the pathways of the brain-- that formed rivers, pools, and brooks. Occasionally, Dawn could make out the word “food” or “beverage” for a brief moment before the light inevitably shifted once more to form a new streak of gold or blue or orange.

 Dawn walked with expected difficulty between the many stray chairs and tables that were fixed to the ground, her boots magnetically holding her upright. Her glass helm contained its own blue, holographic light, streams of which came together to form words, highlight objects, or scan environments. Her helm was too etched with swirling art meant to resemble the silver seas of dust that slid through space; they were barely visible in the darkness of the void she now swam through. She recalled, from moments before, that her objective was to find an item --whether it be machine, scrap, or otherwise-- that would prove useful to her people. She was to find this item and bring it home to prove she was worthy of her voidskin.

 Dawn uneasily walked until she reached the very edge of her platform, peering down to view several other platforms of similar contents stationed below. She raised her right hand before her vision, blue and orange light forming around it to highlight her wrist, some of her forearm, and the tips of her fingers. She reflected that her arm looked odd beneath the bulky voidskin she beared. With the flick of her middle finger and thumb, her blue display sent a visible wave of blue light down into the depths, scanning for anything useful. When a red symbol appeared and told her that a trip below would be fruitless, she brought her attention upward and performed the same action. This time, much to her relief, her display revealed several teal icons representing the locations of potentially useful materials.

 Smiling in satisfaction, Dawn released the grip of her magnetic boots, allowing her to fly forward into the void with a slight jump. Using her arms and her holographic display, Dawn positioned herself forward, slowing herself down just before the border of void and the Bright Sea. To the right, silver brooks of dust slid around floating stones as they slowly meandered toward Kronos, the star. To her left, blackness and twinkling stars greeted with cold gazes. Her helm’s display identified two objects that lay hidden within the dark void to her left, and many others that slid amongst the stones and dust of the Stratast Belt on her right. Another scan of the objects that lay in the void revealed that they were anomalies, something unreadable by scan. It piqued her interest, and before long her curiosity was too much to resist. Against better judgement, Dawn sent herself gliding into the void to uncover what lay within. Her display marked the objects as several kilometers away, estimating that it would take her something like half an hour to reach them. With a glance back at her home, Dawn fought back the urge to turn-tail and abandon the new enigmas she was presented with.

 And so she glided silently and gently through the liquid void, adjusting her speed and trajectory every so often. She noted along the way that her home, Andromeda, now seemed further from her than she expected. She figured this was because of Mother Andromeda’s tight orbit within the Stratast Belt. But despite this growing dread at the back of her mind, Dawn continued to approach the unknown objects. Her excitement grew as she wondered to herself just what they could be. Could they be useful machines? Could they be a new material that her people could use? Could they be long-lost artifacts of old times? All these questions swirled in her head as she reached the great mysteries. It was too her confusion that they were not any of the things she thought she’d find. Instead, Dawn brought herself to a stop before two small, lopsided orbs of metal with antenna sprouting from the tops and bottoms. At the end of each antenna a green light that blinked periodically.

 With a perpetual expression of her confusion, Dawn’s helm warped from black to transparent to allow her a better view of what she had encountered; her deep blue eyes scanned over the two orbs, her dark, haphazard hair resembling a mess of spines or a shadowy maw of some beast. The two orbs were in close orbit of each other, each one slightly bigger than her fist. Tentatively, she reached out with her left hand and grasped the leftmost one. As she did so, she activated a more penetrating scan of the object. A rectangle of blue light stretched to cover a little more than half the orb, revealing its innerworkings. It appeared to be a makeshift comm-buoy, a device made to enhance and reflect communicator signals. She had no knowledge of her people ever sending such devices into the void, nor did she understand why her people would even require such a thing.

 Suddenly, after her scans had finished, a sharp burst of static screeched into her helm. She winced, dropping the buoy to send it drifting away in a spiral. Several seconds later, before she even had a moment to collect her thoughts, her voidskin warned of inbound objects moving at rapid speeds. She watched as several objects skimmed by her helm, and she almost mistook them as dust or debris. But then several more raced by, one of which collided with her shoulder pad and sent her spiralling backward; she could hear the heavy thunk of impact and knew what it was that had hit her. Flying into panic, Dawn stopped her spiral, swam through the void to grab the other buoy, and turned-tail for home. It was to her horror then that she realized her beloved Andromeda was far in the distance, calculated as approximately seventeen kilometers. It would take her several hours at her normal speed to reach home.

 Her thoughts were cut short when another thunk of impact sent her spiralling through the void. She reoriented herself in time to view the source of the projectiles. Two objects were just within view, no more than a couple kilometers away, wielding thundermaws and spitting hateful lighting toward her. Hastily, she reached behind her to grab her own thundermaw, which rested magnetically on her waist. The machine unfolded its barrel and scope and Dawn wielded it in one hand, buoy in the other. She fired almost blindly at the distant attackers, the soundless lighting lancing from her gun and into the void before her. She fired only for a few moments before her attackers had reached her, riding on the backs of solar-winged voidgliders. They beared voidskins of grey and red, their helms black, a makeshift sword in one hand and thundermaw in the other.

 Thinking quickly, Dawn sent herself spiralling downward to avoid the swing of scrapblades, halting her spiral to take aim of her gun and fire. Her thunder landed on its mark, scarlet, liquid light bleeding from her one attacker’s voidskin. She could not hear him, but did not need to to know he screamed in agony. Golden shells streamed from her thundermaw as she sprayed lightning at her other attacker, this time to no avail. On the back of his winged beast, the man reversed and made an inverted break for Dawn. Upside down, his machine slammed against her to send her spinning through the void again. Panicked, Dawn forced herself into the proper orientation, making a break for the abandoned craft that had belonged to the dead attacker. It drifted through space at a great speed as Dawn raced to catch it, her heart thumping in her chest like a beating drum.

 Finally, with an outstretched grasp, Dawn reached the fleeing vehicle, climbing aboard and sheathing her gun. She placed the buoy magnetically to her waist then launched away from the fight, heading toward the distant Andromeda. Her breaths came harsh and quick, tiny debris clinking against her now black visor.

 After what seemed like a long race for home, Dawn finally reached the slowly-drifting Andromeda, sliding her craft slowly into the slice of the ship that had been torn away: the Great Rift. She approached an airlock door with glowing green lights and holograms painting it, drifting inside once the doors opened. Dawn felt as though she would pass out from fright as fell to the floor, the pressure and atmosphere returning to normal. The doors before her slid open to reveal bright light blocked out by one silhouette, and it was then that her vision faded to blackness.

The End

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