The spiral in the fabric of space closed behind the prison freighter, Leviathan. Sudenjah sat at the helm, fighting to stabilize the ship after as its starboard engine had been fired upon.
Intermittent flashes illumined the sky as he looked through the viewing shield, but every star in the black void was visible. His sensors indicated that objects were hitting the shields but they were of no consequence as they evaporated on contact with the shields’ energy. A scan over the surface, exhibited dead, blacked trees, devoid of both leaves and branches on either side of a long, winding river. Sparks appeared intermittently in long trenches.
Sudenjah gaped at the men who fired rifles and longer range guns, wearing long coats and metal helmets. Some of the sparks from the ground suddenly turned up at them, but the weapons fired upon them were no more threat to them than small children hurling stones.
He felt something against his back as the ship shuddered unsteadily in the planet’s atmosphere and looked up to see his one time science officer stagger into the co-pilot’s seat.
“Xleta, do you know where we are,” he asked her.
She placed her hand on the bloody tear in her prison uniform, before answering.
“No, but they must be a planet in their rudimentary years of growth. They are at war with each other which says that they're not yet unified.”
“I already see they’re primitive,” he said without rebuke. “They’re using projectile weapons; shh.”
Both froze as Sudenjah powered back to minimum on the one remaining engine to avoid two crude aircraft which split to either side of the screen. One was a bi-plane, but the other was a triplane, all in red. Sudenjah glanced earthward, noting a rapid trail of white dots streaming behind the red aircraft, but missing completely.
“It looks like I just saved his life,” he commented to Xleta. “They’re just like the kites we used to fly in as children. Obtain a portable scanner and strap yourself in.”
She nodded, leaving to do as he asked.
Depressing a button on the console with his taloned finger, Sudenjah leaned into the microphone.
“To all crew and prisoners on the Leviathan,” his voice sounded over the ship’s speakers. “Brace yourself; I am about to make a forced landing between the trenches! After that, you’ll have minutes at best to evacuate the ship before it explodes!”
The Leviathan ploughed into the earth, shattering all dead trees on contact. The force of hitting the ground made Sudenjah’s throat leap to his mouth, but he was otherwise unscathed. He tore the seat harness free to the tune of several different systems sirens going off at once and ran to a neighbouring console where Xleta was freeing herself from her own seat.
Jiopin pounded the emergency release with his huge fist and Efelverons began to pour through.
Sudenjah listened to the pelting of the projectile weapons against the hull, reminding him of rain on his roof and took Xleta’s hand, leading her through the huddled bodies. Their taloned feet sank into the mud as they ran for the nearest shelter. Some of the Efelverons seemed to trip, but they didn’t rise from where they fell.
Sudenjah was one of the first to reach a coiled barrier of steel wire, wickedly barbed, and fired his pistol. The wire shattered into particles too small for the naked eye to see.
They sprinted through the huge gap. Sudenjah was one of the first to leap into the trench, still holding Xleta’s hand. All nostrils quivered at the stench of littered bodies, but for the moment the trench appeared abandoned. They ducked as a piercing high pitch filled the air, covering their ears and closing their eyes to the brilliant flash which accompanied the explosion of the Leviathan.
Men in long, blue coats, tromped into view further along the trench, aiming rifles at them.
Jiopin raised his rifle and the men fired, immediately re-cocking their weapons.
“They’re hideous,” whispered Xleta.
The fearful faces behind the rifles jutted her way.
“Shh,” said Sudenjah, raising his hands, ushering the other Efelverons to follow suit. “Don’t speak,” he said under his breath, “until the translator pods begin to decipher their language.”
“Was machst du,” demanded one of the soldiers.
The words began to seep into the Efelverons’ minds.
“They’re demons,” one whispered aside to his comrade.
“Nein,” said Sudenjah, smiling, “we’re not; merely from a different world to yours, across the stars…”
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