BackgroundDespite all the alarmist forecasts by false prophets and bad omens, the 23rd Century is a century of peace
in the known system.
Men are no longer just earthlings. Thus, following a primitive colony established on the Moon, men established themselves first on Mars and its satellites (Phobos and Déimos), then Venus in the first years of the 23trd century and are now fanning out onto Saturn's satellites : Titan and Encelade.
It's during a cargo mission towards Titan that an unknown dimensional fault has been discovered by chance.
The information brought back by probes, as well as parametric studies do not enable any conclusions. The majority of scientists therefore recommend a stimulation of the anomaly to bring it back in a accessible dimensional fault to facilitate studying it.
The chain reaction, expected by the scientists so gives birth to what should not have been real except in the prolixe imagination of science fiction writers: a dimensional Vortex.
In the opinion of the Scientific Committee and with the approval of the Federation President, a decision is made for the imminent dispatching of a scientific expedition accompanied by the Alpha unit, the elite
of the Special Forces.
The expedition dispatched into the Vortex includes two warships and one scientific station. It is commanded by Colonel Yvanov and includes 5 voluntary scientists and 82 men of the special forces.
The passage of the "New Era" expedition into the Vortex is not subjected to any particular anxiety. On the other hand, coming out of this dimensional corridor reveals what no scientist might imagine. In front of the astonished eyes of expedition members, a particularly complex planetary system comes into view.
Nothing had been written previously to describe the wonderful group of these 3 stars around which radars and probes are identifying more than 40 planets or celestial bodies. The 87 members of the expedition hardly had time to contemplate the fantastic spectacle which was presented to them before reports from the probes were appearing on the screens :
One of the closest planets to the exit of the Vortex (indexed by the on-board computers with the reference EN/S - 14) according to analysis had an air equivalent to that of the Earth. But the scientists warned Colonel Yvanov: the high oxygen level might provoke a certain euphoria in the team members.
The three ships and the 87 team members of the New Era mission, with the "full support of the entire human community" (to quote the President) prepare to land on this planet which appears so hospitable...
Following touchdown on EN/S - 14, and after a speedy and meticulous exploration of the immediate surroundings, the platform is built based on the objectives assigned to Colonel Yvanov for whom the mission was coming to a close.
Yvanov is lost in his thoughts while the captain reports on progress with the preparations: the structures of the base will be assembled before the end of the night everything is going according to plan. The Colonel's anxiety therefore seems without foundation except that at that very moment the head of the scientific mission sows doubt in the everyone's minds. The "reconnaissance drones" are transmitting images of the remains of a city leaving them no room for doubt, there is, or there has been, intelligent beings living on this planet !
The year 2241 finally elicits a response to the question which everyone has been asking themselves : NO we are not the only ones and YES intelligent life exists elsewhere !
These remains were too close to the base to put off their complete inspection until the following day.
Lieutenant Corentin Demetrio commands the Reco unit of the mission. According to its instructors he is one of the best elements in the Alpha Unit. Although entering naval college very late, he is the sum total of all the qualities demanded of a war leader.
The 12 men penetrate the city as if entering a sanctuary. The silence is scarcely disturbed by the wind rustling the high grass. Vegetation is everywhere, but it has not taken over the site, almost as if this antique city has been recently looked after.
Very rapidly the men go off in pairs and position sensors to keep permanent control of the site. The scientists carry out their sampling and build up hypotheses on the use of each building.
The inspection of the city lasts less
than one hour.
The amazement and the dread quickly dissipates the effects of the oxygen when the men from the Reco unit return to their machines.
On the control monitors, a message :
"CAMP DESTROYED BY ATTACK / ENEMY UNKNOWN / COLONEL DEAD/COMMAND TO RETREAT IMMEDIATELY WITH SHIP IN ORBIT / WARN EARTH / DO NOT RETURN TO BASE CAMPE / PRAY FOR US"
Mechanically, carrying out actions repeated many times during their training, the 12 survivors take off and rejoin the mother ship. Without turning back their eyes either towards this planet or the fantastic spectacle of these 3 stars, they dock their shuttles onto the ship, check the perfect functioning of the instrumentation, of the machinery of the weaponry. As everything appears perfectly operational, Lieuteant Demetrio decides to leave as quickly as possible these planetary systems.
Immediately this giant ship heads towards the Vortex, and Demetrio sends this written report to the President and to the High Command of the armed forces :
"Lieutenant Demetrio - Commander of the New Era expedition. New Era Mission destroyed by hostile force. Colonel Yvanov dead. Retreating towards the Vortex with 12 survivors. Prepare to defend the Vortex entrance. No definite information about the nature, force and motivation
of the aggressor. I have a premonition that this is an advanced intelligence. Have samples and pictures of city discovered at the site."
The powerful engines of the ship take it to the Vortex entrance. At the same time, an armada of light but powerfully armed ships give it chase. Determined to prevent its return, they follow it into Vortex entrance.
The dimensional fault is but a short instance of respite for the survivors of the New Era mission.
Men, protected from war for decades, now rediscover the bitter taste of the struggle for survival.