The Final Battle?
The Admiral sat in total blackness – a degree of deep velvet darkness that could almost be felt. In front of him he could only see a thin but blazingly white line that appeared to cross horizontally between him and two dimmer white disks which had their rims intertwined at the far reach of the universe where few stars existed.
A voice next to him in the darkness questioned, “ So, that’s where the battle line is drawn?”
“Yes your Excellency,” he responded. “Our force is two parsecs from the Henkle Twins, the two galaxies we first attempted to visit three decades ago.”
“Why oh why are we in this position?” the voice asked.
The Admiral gently touched an area of his left arm rest and a very slight degree of light infused the control station he was sitting in at the front of the battle dreadnought. He turned to the figure he could now see sitting at his right; Empress Helena, the supreme ruler of the Confederation. In realty, she was not sitting next to him but rather in her royal Ark some 500,000 kilometers to starboard and the rear of his flagship. One could not tell that from the perfect hologram projection that was displayed next to the captain’s chair without waver or shimmer.
“When we first contacted them it was like running into a wasp’s nest.” answered the Admiral as he turned back to the screen at his front that continued to show the area of space his ship was facing. “Before we could even begin to open a conversation they attacked our survey ship and destroyed it. It was only through our automatic relay system that we knew what had happened. Unfortunately, it was that same system that allowed them to backtrack our signal to our galaxy. We have no choice because, since then, the KKorgs, as best we can pronounce it, have relentlessly attacked the planets in our galaxy and, as you are well aware, we have lost four entire systems and their populations – mostly human. All attempts at trying to meet with them have failed. All diplomatic ventures, all missionary offers, all have failed. When we finally resorted to military action they continued to ignore us. In some contacts we succeeded in turning them back; in others they vanquished us, the results being mostly determined by sheer force of numbers. We have never taken a prisoner that could be interrogated. If capture seems imminent, they destroy themselves. We have tried invading some of their systems with normal military forces, tactics and equipment and were repulsed. What else can we do?”
“So, you agree then that the plan our High Command has devised after years of study is the only solution left to us?” asked the Empress.
“Yes, I do, your Highness,” the Admiral said fastening his eyes on her again. “We have a slight advantage in our level of technology but our real strength comes from our numbers. Our galaxy is much larger than the combined size of the twins and we have many more occupied systems. By combining all of our military resources at one time and in one place, we grossly outnumber and outgun the KKorgs.”
“And your final mission is to do no less than destroy their galaxies. That is not a question,” quickly continued the Empress, “I’m well aware what the high Command concluded – no surrender – a fight to the death.”
“Yes,” answered the Admiral. The Empress heard the slight quaver in his voice and realized how difficult it would be for him to give that final order. “Tell me something” she asked. “Do you believe in God?”
The Admiral hesitated, and then replied, “I don’t believe in the concept of a God as the one put forward by the Christian religions, nor those by a number of other organized religions. Having said that, I have to admit that the ancient saying, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ contains a lot of truth and applies to all military people who have, at times, been put in harms way. Although I’ve given the question a lot of thought, the best I can do with an answer to your question - which, by the way, I’ve asked myself countless times - is to say I believe there is something that we do not and never will understand that created and watches over the universe as we know it.”
“You need not be so careful in explaining yourself to me. Although the official church of the Confederation follows a religious dogma that is based on the old Judea Christian form, we, like you, have similar misgivings and are inclined to be more deist. And then there is always the logic to be found in Pascal’s Wager.”
“Who and what might that be?” questioned the Admiral.
“Pascal was a noted ancient philosopher who once told the story of a lifelong atheist who, on his deathbed, asked for a priest so he could confess and be absolved. Was he behaving logically? If you say “No,” you are wrong said Pascal. It doesn’t matter what he believes. The atheist realized that if there is even the slimmest chance he is wrong, he should act as if there is a God. If God exists, he will go to heaven rather than hell. If God doesn’t exist, he loses nothing. It is a wager with an infinite upside and no downside. It is a wager every human being must make. It is not optional. The logic is impeccable was Pascal’s conclusion.”
It was the Admiral’s turn to chuckle, “He makes a good point.”
The Empress continued, “I have another question, actually two – although I’m well aware of what our plan is and how it is to be executed – do you think it will succeed and doesn’t it bother you that, if it does, we will have killed trillions of sentient beings and their two home galaxies to achieve our ends?”
“Yes, your Excellency, to the first question. and no to the second,” was the Admiral’s firm response. “Our war lords have studied the KKorg for many years and feel we have a reliable interpretation of their methods and thinking. They have taken advantage of the differences that exist between our two dominant species. The Human galaxy is much larger and more densely populated than are their combined galaxies. Even though we have far superior forces, both in numbers and fire power, they have had to be stretched extremely thin in order to respond to the numerous surprise attacks on our habitable systems. When we have tried to punish them by counterattacking it has been against widely separated systems and we have had to make do with limited forces because of not wanting to reduce our protection at home. In those cases we have found them to be ferocious fighters. They will always attack us, even if outnumbered and outgunned. They never retreat. This time we have moved all our military forces to the attack. We are certain they will respond with all of theirs and they simply don’t have enough to prevent being destroyed.”
“And when you are done with them you will move forward and destroy both galaxies?”
“Yes and it will not bother me one bit.”
As he finished speaking a voice from the screen to their front softly said, “Sir, the line is in position. Sensors indicate that the KKorgs are moving a large fleet toward us. It compares to about twenty percent of our force.”
“Very well,” answered the Admiral. “I’m moving forward and will be in the center of the line in a few minutes. When I arrive we will wait until their fleet is within two light seconds from ours and I will then give the order to engage.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” was the response.
“I’m going with you.” Helena said suddenly.
Before the Admiral could respond she gave the order for her Ark to begin moving forward together with the dreadnought. Realizing it would be ineffective for him to object, he also gave the order for his ship to move forward.
Both sat in silence watching as they approached the brilliant white line on the screen. They could just make out a fainter line approaching from beyond theirs and beyond that the twin galaxy disks.
Without warning the screen went black.
“Navigator, Engineer, what’s going on? My screen has failed!” shouted the Admiral at the same time Helena cried out, “What’s happening?”
“We don’t know,” came the answer.” It’s not your screen Sir. Everything to our immediate front is gone – our total force, that of the KKorgs and the Twins, They‘re all gone. Our sensors show empty space.”
The Admiral and the Empress sat in the dark, in silence. Finally the Empress said, “Oh my God! Me thinks someone did not like what we were about to do.”
“Yes”, said the Admiral, “It seems we’ve just been taught a lesson!”