It was only a month after joining the Project that Leonard Wang discovered something that would have galactic consequences.
It began quite innocuously. He and the other scientists – mostly Triclesean and Gonmaldan, though there were two humans – were computing data received from space probes cast out into the void. The information was received nearly instantaneously thanks to miniature wormholes inside the crafts. Leonard happened upon an unusual phenomena: one of the probes experienced a dramatic change in radiation coming from a nearby star.
“It could just be a planet blocking our view,” said Prinn, one of the Gonmaldan scientists. “Or an asteroid.”
“No,” said Leo, excited. “This object is changing our scans not just by blocking the star but also by emitting radiation of its own.”
“Another spacecraft?” asked another scientist.
“Probably. We'll have to move the probe back into position and send it toward the object to be sure. I'll do it right now.”
The probe changed its course, heading back to the object. Leo turned on the EM visualization and they all watched in bated breath.
As it approached the object, it became clear that the object was a spacecraft, with wide cylinders on a side, pulsing with energy. The Tricleseans gasped.
“Oh dear,” one said. “Antimatter generators...”
Suddenly, a second, smaller craft came into view. All recognized that it was a Reptilian battle drone. After a split second of flashing, the drone fired upon the probe. The screen went dark.
“Are you absolutely sure?” asked Goren Strenn, the Triclesean USE Minister. “We can't risk a false alarm. We've been at peace with the Reptilians for decacycles now; allegations like this must be supported by irrefutable evidence.”
“We've double checked everything,” said Leonard respectfully. “It's clear that the Reptilians are producing antimatter in large quantities and concentrations.”
“We're on the brink of war now!” exclaimed Prinn. He was blue with fury, as was normal for Gonmaldans. “They've broken our trust!”
Strenn raised his hand.
“We must first convene the USE conference and call the Reptilian delegates. I want the Union to know what has happened.”
Leonard stood alongside Dante in the balcony, watching history unfold.
There was much shouting and finger (and tentacle) pointing in the USE Council chamber. The Reptilians refused to admit to any wrongdoing; the facility was not theirs, as any species was able to duplicate Reptilian ships. The USE countered by showing that the communication wavelength used by the facility was the same as the Reptilians'. And so it went on, claim and counter-claim.
“This won't end well,” predicted Dante.
Suddenly, six Reptilians emerged from the main door.
“Who are you?” said Strenn sharply.
The newcomers did not reply; instead, they drew firearms and ran toward the Council members. The security detail was quickly overcome and the Strenn, the Reptilian Minister, Roe Perion, and other important individuals in the room were seized by the intruders.
“Did that just happen?” asked Leo, shocked.
“At least they didn't see us,” said Dante, heading to the exit. “Come on, we've got to help them,” pointing to the injured on the Council floor.
It was learned from the remaining Reptilian delegates that the kidnappers were part of a radical group, the "Rogues", that desired their species to become once again the dominant force in the sector. Put down by the Reptilian government, the group attracted those who yearned for their lost empire.
“Crazy conservatives, in other words,” said Dante, eating his bagel. “They tried to take over the palace on the Reptilian homeworld, but that didn't work out as well as it did here. How are you doing with finding their location?”
“Well,” said Leonard. “They destroyed the wormhole terminal they used but the information is not completely gone. Brian is working with Prinn on recovering the last location. But I'm working on another solution.”
“What other solution?”
“You see, the creation of a wormhole entails the use of energy, right?”
“The further out you go, the more energy you use. (It's a cubed relationship, but let's not focus on that) So we can establish a sphere of possible locations using the amount of energy that was used.”
“Yes, I know. So, the problem is, we have the magnitude of the vector –”
“But no direction.”
“Yes, you remember simple physics.”
“Of course I do, I have a photographic memory.”
“Whatever. So we know how far out the kidnappers went, but we need angles. How do I find them?”
“I don't know, you're the physicist.”
“I'm so close...”
Leonard paced. It was his habit, pacing. It gave him an aura of intellectual urgency that he was incapable of generating otherwise. He also rubbed his chin, though that was not as impressive.
“Have you found them yet?” asked someone to the side.
“Not yet,” said Leo, rather rudely. “Either they have to fix the computer or I have to find the angles.” He continued to pace.
“Let me know when you're done pacing,” said the person. Leo saw him leave; it was one of the security officers who had been beaten by the kidnappers.
Dante entered the room, bringing food.
“Who was that?” asked Leo.
“Aaron? He's a security officer. I hear he served in Afghanistan. Oh, and he's Audrey's cousin.”
“He seemed rather angry at something.”
“His wife was kidnapped by the Reptilians,” said Dante nonchalantly. “She walked out of her lab because she heard the phaser fire and she got scooped up by one of the bad guys.”
“Dunno, probably just someone to grab. I hear she's a botanist. She works with Audrey.”
“They took heads of state and Roe Perion but they grabbed a botanist? What's so special about her?”
Sharon Adams awoke in her cell. It was her third day there. There were two bright yellow lights in the ceiling, a toilet, a repulson force-field, and a large quantity of despair.
She supposed she had been well fed; Reptilian cuisine was not her area of expertise. The food her captors had given her could only be described as salty, sour, and definitely not tasting of chicken. There was cooked fish, but it was not to her liking. Water was provided along with the food in a tall metal container; the liquid thus tasted metallic.
Sharon looked up as the force-field was dissolved. Two armored Reptilians lifted her to her feet and guided her through the surprisingly well-lit corridors; she had expected dark and gloomy hallways. Her captors talked, but in a language she did not understand; the Translator implants didn't seem to have all dialects.
They threw her into a room with two other Reptilians. One was sitting in a throne of sorts, with ornaments extruding from the top and sides. The chair, upon further inspection, had controls on the arm-rests.
The other alien was hooded and standing to the side. The seated one uttered something to the standing one; the latter strode toward Sharon. She slowly backed toward an ornamental spear on the wall. Sharon quickly turned around, pulled the weapon from its slot, and faced the hooded one. The seated Reptilian laughed as the hooded one took out a stun gun from his sleeve and shot Sharon. She collapsed.
As she lost consciousness, the alien stood over her. As her vision began to fade, she became aware of an orange liquid coming from his hand onto her face...