The Crossroads
First Contact – Part 23



Time to read



Monday & Friday

Meng had noticed another shift in Kraz’ox’s behavior a few months after the Pegasus mission began. Along with the regular crackdown on humanity, interrogations, and constant check-ups, the Kraz’ox seemed more nervous than usual, at least to Meng’s eyes.

He had seen a significant increase in the number of Kraz’ox military ships entering the Solar System, positioning themselves at various strategic locations. When he attempted to ask the Kraz’ox about it, they remained secretive, revealing no information. Despite having made personal friends with several Kraz’ox over the years, even they kept him at a distance during these past few months, only reassuring him that he had nothing to worry about and that the military presence wasn’t aimed at humans.

Meng’s growing unease was shared by the rest of the team responsible for the Pegasus launch. The team became increasingly paranoid in the months following the first human ship’s departure as the Kraz’ox crackdown and checks continued to intensify. Eventually, the ISS team decided to cut all contact with the South Pole Station to avoid any risks of the Kraz’ox discovering the secret human base. If Captain James and the crew of the Pegasus failed with their mission, the team knew that the station’s second ship, which was close to being finished, might end up being humanity’s only hope for freedom.


The journey back to Earth from the abandoned Ellad world where their mission had failed was tedious and uneventful. Along with traveling vast distances in space, they initiated jumps as soon as their drive was ready, all while feeling increasing anxiety and worry about how to liberate Earth. They had put all their trust in the Ancient Ellad AI to help them free Earth with the aid of the old abandoned Ellad technology.

Captain James became less certain of their mission after the AI’s failure on the distant Ellad planet. However, the AI reassured James that he could easily dismantle and destroy the entire Kraz’ox army, even if they sent every last ship they had at their disposal. The AI claimed his intelligence exceeded anything humans, Kraz’ox, or any other species could comprehend.

As they traveled back, they acquired a large Ellad cruiser ship, a class Destroyer with heavy weaponry that AI thoroughly checked, along with hundreds of smaller drones and scout ships. In addition, they picked up two slightly smaller attack vessels than Pegasus. Their fleet to liberate Earth from Kraz’ox occupation now consisted of Pegasus, one enormous cruiser, one destroyer, and two attack vessels.

They named the large cruisers Eclipse and the class destroyer Nova, while the two smaller attack vessels were called Thunderbolt and Vindicator.

Once they reached the dead zone of space, where no permanent civilizations existed according to AI, they conducted military exercises using one of the planets in the star system as a mockup of Earth. The AI used all available information about Kraz’ox ships and positions to create simulations, expanding some of his drones to resemble Kraz’ox vessels. They conducted three exercises in five days, with the AI taking one day to set up the next test and recalibrating the drones to make each test more challenging.

In the first exercise, they managed to eliminate all the Kraz’ox ships but lost Pegasus, Eclipse, and both Thunderbolt and Vindicator in the process. The second exercise was also successful, but this time they lost Eclipse and Vindicator. In the third exercise, they only lost Eclipse. The large cruiser ship Eclipse was a problem because it had huge weaponry but was slow in close combat near a planet. Usually, they came in big armadas, with one or two large cruisers providing heavy fire cover while dozens of destroyers and smaller ships covered large space beasts.

After finishing the exercises, they resumed their journey back to Earth, with one month separating them from their biggest battle yet. The team once again found themselves in the conference room, the meeting called by the AI himself.

“Captain James,” the AI opened the meeting in a solemn tone. “I have a suggestion that you might not like.”

Captain James sighed inwardly. Quibble had always been an annoyance, but he had also been an invaluable asset to their mission. They had argued for well over three days before James finally gave the AI a name, and “Quibble” seemed to fit due to his tendency to quibble over everything James said. The name had stuck throughout the ship.

“What is it, Quibble?” James asked, trying to sound patient.

“I think it’s best if we send two or three people to each of the ships,” Quibble said. “Yes, I can run everything, yes, I am almighty, but I need monkeys to physically press buttons for me. I think that way we can save all the ships and liberate the Earth almost certainly.”

James raised an eyebrow. “Where is this coming from?”

“I’ve run simulations based on the training we have done,” Quibble continued. “And if there are people on four of our big ships doing the tasks I assign them, I can focus more of my power on drones and other things, and we can win the battle easily.”

James looked around the room, trying to gauge what everyone thought, but their tired faces gave him no clue. “Fine, I guess, if you say it will help.”

“It will,” Quibble said, trying to sound reassuring. “I want Chloe and Eric on Nova. I want Chief Lawson and Roanne on Eclipse.” Quibble continued to assign two more members to each of the attacking vessels.

James checked with the crew, but they had no objections to it if it truly helped them liberate Earth easier and not lose any ships in the process. All of them knew and were willing to accept the risk of boarding the old Ellad ships and going into a battle with them.

Over the next few wekks, Quibble worked tirelessly, teaching the crew members about their assigned ships and the tasks they were supposed to do. He went over every detail with them, drilling them until they could perform their duties in their sleep.

With seven days left until they reached the edge of the Solar System, they punched in the final sequence of jump coordinates and prepared themselves for the battle of their lives. The ship hummed with anticipation as they hurtled through space.

Once they reached the edge of the Solar System, they would send one of the Ellad drone ships piloted Quibble to send the secret signal message to ISS and SPS that they were back and that they had brought the backup.


Meng awoke to alarms blaring all across the new International Space Station. Meng’s heart raced as he hurried through the dimly lit corridors. Alarms blared all around him, signaling danger. He could hear the frantic footsteps of other crew members rushing to their stations, but he had no idea what was happening.

He caught hold of a passing Kraz’ox and demanded an explanation. “What’s going on?” He yelled so the alien could hear him over the alarms.

“They are here,” Kraz’ox replied, his voice urgent. Without another word, he broke free from Meng’s grip and sprinted down the hallway.

Meng’s mind raced. Who could possibly be arriving in the Solar System? Was it the Pegasus, is Captain James and the crew back? He shook his head, trying to think clearer. It was unlikely, but the possibility nagged at him.

When Meng arrived at the main room, he found a group of humans gathered around a screen displaying a live feed of the Solar System. Their faces were etched with worry, and Meng’s heart sank.

“What’s going on?” he asked, his voice strained.

“Some ships just jumped into the Solar System,” a lanky man with messy hair answered. Meng couldn’t remember his name, but it didn’t matter. “We don’t know whose they are yet.” The man continued

Meng’s mind whirled with possibilities. As the crew scrambled to gather information and prepare for the worst, Meng couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.

He gathered all the people that were familiar with the South Space Station program and the Pegasus launch and decided to break the radio silence towards the SPS. He orders everyone to meet in his quarters in fifteen minutes.

Seven of them gathered and hurdled around in Meng’s quarters.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Nathan asked. “If we break the radio silence now, they can track us if the alarm is for nothing.”

“I think it’s for the best,” Meng answered his heart racing.

“Alright,” Nathan said and continued to type on his pad. Less than thirty seconds later they had an established connection with South Pole Station.

“South Pole Station, do you copy?” Meng said. “Meng here, here do copy?”

“Yes,” The voice crackled through the comms. “We can hear you, what is going on?”

“Kraz’ox is on high alert, alarms are blaring all blaring all across the ISS, do you have any information as to what is going on?”

“We are seeing the ships enter the Solar System, but we do not have visuals yet.” The response came from the SPS. “One of our satellites will be in a position to get visual in less than a minute.

The minute that followed felt like an eternity to Meng and his crew. They waited with bated breath as they listened to the silence on the other end of the line. Finally, after what seemed like an agonizingly long time, the voice on the other end spoke up again.

“Meng, we have visual confirmation,” the voice said, and Meng felt his heart sink. He something bad was coming next.

“It’s the Anoi Armada,” the voice continued. “They’ve entered the solar system. We’re picking up thirty or more battle-ready ships.”

Meng felt a wave of despair wash over him as the reality of the situation sank in. The Anoi were back with an armada and if they had come all this way, it could only mean one thing: they were looking for a fight.

“Wait,” The voice from SPS said. “We are picking something else, a message.”

“What message?” Meng asked anxiously.

“It’s Pegasus.”

“What?” Meng was shocked. “Where are they?”

“Wait for a second, decrypting the message.” The line went silent for a few seconds. “They are saying, we are back and we have our own fleet. We see the Anoi and the Kraz’ox, we are liberating the Earth today, get ready to help!”

Meng felt a wave of euphoria wash over him. “It was a damn time,” Meng exclaimed. “Let’s get ready to help our boys and girls and free our planet!”

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