by Phillip G. Cargile

Soaring through the vacuums of space three men separated their faith between machine and God for their safety. The machine was the Vicon J500, a long range, fast attack craft. Loaded to bare with an arsenal of light element weapons and ship to ship missiles, it was the formidable war machine. Likened only to the fighter craft designed by the enemy. For that reason came the faith in God. He knew ultimately that the Earth creatures were correct in their war to create peace. For two solar years the Earth had raged was with the illusive alien beings that dwelled in an obscure section of the Vega star system. But now at present date the deciding factor to war had been achieved. Their home planet unknown to humans had been located only a few solar days ago by long range probes. Now the interstellar Earth fleet mustered for a full scaled assault. It was the intention of the Earth Council to make an intimidating show of force that in order to force the aliens to disarm. With their home world under threat of destruction that would be the most logical recourse.
But, Captain William Steed had learned that the Rogas were not beings easily given to what humans would relate to as common sense. That analogy came from the several dog fights he’d engaged the enemy in, and had seen insane acts of defense.
Crippled star cruisers unable to continue in battle or return to their base would overload their engines destroying ship and crew rather than surrender. Attack craft hopelessly out numbered would make suicide runs into the negative shields of a Earth battle craft hoping to damage them. He had seen enough acts of that kind to lead him believe the entire race had the same mentality.
There was a time in the ancient history of man that he as well hated with a determination that threatened his entire world. But the populous of Earth moved from those days to finally achieve a unified republic.
The Rogas had never achieved that level of control over their passions. They made no attempt in formulating peace and openly stated they would wipe the humans from the galaxy. That justified mankind position in destroying them as well. That thought of justified destruction was held strongly by the weapons officer Christine Pile. As a gunner it was easy for her to develop and maintain that kind of mentality. A mentality that she practiced with energetic skill in times of battle. The human race was far more important than a band of Rogas war managers that threatened genocide to any race other than their own. God was on the side of men, of that she had no doubt. In those quite moments at the Star base station when time allowed she would find the ancient Israelite Scriptures and read Genesis. Reading of their victory against any who apposed them. They had to win because God was for men who worshiped and knew him.

The god of the Rogas was equated to a corporate structure. Much like an event that transpired on Earth in the mid twentieth century Germany. The navigator Carl O’Brain made that analogy and the crew took it to heart. Like the Germanys of World War II, the Rogas dedication of spirit and mind revolved around the survival of their state. Their societies government had become controlled by industrial organizations. Not only as a governing factor but, also as a god like figure that supplied all their needs and wants. And their corporate figures wanted to do away with the populous of Earth. But that plan would be superseded in ten solar days. That was the time frame projected by the war council on how long it would take for the fleet to make it’s attack.

So far the enemy suspected nothing. Battle readiness was displayed with no weakness in the front line and the key solar system. So much so that enemy was still making heavy attacks to brake through. That was good. That meant more of their attack craft was away from the home planet. That solid piece of information came from command central six solar days ago. Four days, after that, another communication was sent.
A long range probe scout in the Delta sector reported a undetermined amount of targets. The information was never verified. They lost contact with the scout ship and it was not heard from again. Twenty four hours later they had been detached to make confirmation of the long range probe ship and it’s findings. After two days of anticipating travel they reached the communication point.
“Red alter!” Steed gave the command then reached up to pull the face mask down and secure it in place on his helmet. “All weapons to full power, weapons tracking system on line.” The gunner voiced her stations readiness.
“All scans clear. No contacts, no transmission.” O’Brain looked from one screen to the next looking for any information that might flash across at a seconds notice. One of the screens did come to life the second he widen it’s scope. “I’m picking up remaining particles of nuclear waste trails.” There was a pause in the head mic while O’Brain confirmed his findings. “Confirmed, trail is a nuclear exhaust. A fairly large one.”
The Captain swallowed hard and there was a silence in the com link as all three gave thought of what this meant. “Trail heading.” The Captain said wrenching himself back from his intense thought.
“Mark 400l. That would take them on a direct course to Earth.” Carl said heaving a sigh.
“If they don’t deviate.” Christine broke in. “They may not be headed anywhere near Earth. None of our tactical probes have reported seening any clue that they have ships headed our way.”
“Maybe that’s what they wanted us to think as well.” Carl answered back. His tone still dumfounded by what the findings implied. “Maybe their gearing up for a final show down like we are?”

That next pause of silence was abruptly interrupted by the electronic voice of the ships tactical alert system.
“Alert! Alert! Enemy attack craft located three hundred kilometers and closing on attack course!”
“Confirmed.” Carl verified. “I’m just barely reading what appears to be an attack class Rogas fighter closing on our position!”
“I can’t get a lock on it with the targeting computer!” Christine hissed with frustration resetting the instrumentation.
“He’s flying in the path of the nuclear exhaust trail. It’s distorting a clear scan! He must have been hanging back from the fleet just in case somebody stumbled onto this trail.”
“Have you gotten a clear target?” Steed said controlling his anxiety.
“Negative!” Christine grunted a response still working the controls of the firing computer. “He’ll have to leave the trail first.”
“That might be too late.” Steed answered quickly. “Take your best guess.”
Christine’s skill as a gunner surpassed her expectations when the combat computer registered the salvo of fire as a hit. “We got the bastard!” She hollered with a relief of tension.
“He’s still coming!” Carl’s eyes did not leave the screen and the blip that was the Rogas ship.
The laser bolts of energy had disipated due the the Rogas ship being out of range for a solid hit. The Rogas ship captain

did not deter the ships approach in the wake of being fired upon and, Christine did not have enough time to recalculate another blast of energy. With the Rogas craft gaining it reached range and fired. The ship shook with a violent lurch as the explosive impact of the laser bolts were absorbed by the negative shields. All three would surely have been tossed from their seats but they were held in place by the chest and waist straps. As a precaution against losing cabin pressure they activated the oxygen breathing apparatus incorporated in their suits. “Negative shield down forty percent.” Carl called out the ships condition. “Firming up now.” In the second it took to relay that information the computer feed the protective shields more energy.
“I’ve got a clean lock on him!” The gunner called readying her systems to fire.
“Blow him out of the stars.” Steed gave the command.
A volley of laser bolts spurted from the J500 to flash across the shielding of the Rogas fighter craft.
“Got em!” Steed blurted seeing the white light flash on the view screen.
“He’s veering off.” Carl’s tone was pleased but Steed knew the Rogas would not give up so easily.
“Ready all weapons to fire at close range.” Steed gave the command then changed course to intercept. As he anticipated the Rogas changed course and head in a direct course toward them

In the seconds it took for the two ships to reach effective kill range of their weapons something happened.
A blinding light filled the view screen blocking out the Rogas ship as well as the stars. Steed’s mind flooded with final thoughts as he supposed that these were his last moments of life. He heard Carl calling for mercy from God. Looking to Christine he saw her hands leaving the trigger of the firing control to clutch together for prayer. Believing his life was slipping from him Steed took one final look at his instruments. Something unfolded from the space behind them. Like a ship coming out of hyperspace but different. A voice spoke but not with a voice but directly to his mind. Asking questions to fast for him to answer. He tried to return speech but the thoughts came forth in a jumbled rush of emotions and questions. Some of his thoughts were answered. A race of beings not human not Rogas. Not at war but curious of the two. A name was given but, to different to be translated into his language.
Suddenly, the black wilderness of space was gone and another now presented itself before him.
He was in a standing position. Stripped of his pressure suite, alone facing the brilliance of an orange sun. Steed took deep breath then let it out slowly. It was oxygen. He noted the response of his body to the atmosphere he had taken into his lungs. As pure as that on Earth. But this was not Earth. He turned slowly scanning the horizon noticing the scattered variety of odd planet life. Looking up to the sky
gave him no answers. The sun was set in a dark blue sky which revealed no stars for him to find his way by. There were no planetary bodies within a half dozen sectors and still even that were inhabitable.
“Christine! Carl!” Steed hollered into the distance but was only answered by his own echoing voice. The question of what happened to them brought back the events that lead to this moment.
The dog fight with the Rogas fighter, the blinding light that filled the cockpit. Then finally the voice. A human voice he had thought. Now Steed was sure that it was no human that spoke to him. Some being with the power to stop the most superior weapon known to man dead in space. Then bring him here. Wherever, here was but for what purpose.
A sudden ill at ease feeling placed those thoughts to one side. He felt that sensation with such intensity that he turned to search for what seemed to be the weight of a stare.
He found it. In the distance of what must have roughly been a hundred yards, in a wavering blue haze something stood. It’s pail greenish color was made obvious by the reddish sand and brightly colored plant life. It made no attempt to hide itself nor find protection in the vegetation when Steed’s attention became obvious. It was far from human or humanoid. Steed could make that analogy from his distant position. It looked so like some huge upright insect. That analyzes was derived by the shape of the head and the spiny rapidly moving
tentacles directly below it.
Steed took careful steps closer. As he did that feeling inside of him mounted untill almost a physical barrier began to form. That blue haze became a fluctuating field of energy stretching from one end of the horizon to the next. Casting his eyes up he saw the blue wall disappeared into the distance above. Reaching his hand out his fingertips passed through the wall with no resistance. Stepping though to the other side the sensation within him grew more intense. It was not a feeling that eminated from within himself. It was projected by the brain behind those two huge red compound eyes. Now only twenty or more feet from the creature it now took n the appearance of some hideous monster from a child’s dream.
It was indeed an insect like life form. Having the height of a man but bulk that suggested it weighted hundreds of pounds more. It’s body was shaped like a caterpillar. The rear legs much longer than the others held the creatures body up right in a “S” like fashion.
“Appearance should not be a factor in the humanity of an alien life form.” The academy training came back to him in his mounting repulsion to the thing. It was an uncontrollable repulsion at the sight of something so non human. But it was not entirely his owns feelings at play. Steed discovered that when a sudden sickening feeling flushed over him simultaneously with the fluttering of the fleshy part of what might be the creatures mouth. It was speaking, but not with words. Those
sensations were perhaps the mental projections
of the creature. “Rogas.” That word were being felt to Steed, that conclusion propelled him backwards clumsily. He looked about to the ground with a frantic desperate search for something, anything he could use for a weapon.
The large rock at his feet would suffice for the moment. As Steed reached down for it the emotions of the Rogas changed. Anger burned in his mind and the beast let loose a bone chilling screech. It’s rear legs firmly planted allowed the worm like upper body to spring forward with amazing speed and force. If Steed would have been closer or a more true target the creatures frontal claws would have scissored him mid body. His leaning over for the rock gave miscalculations to the Rogas attack. Rather than being clamped by the claws he was struck in the chest wit the dull outer edge. That blow knocked him backwards to land hard in the sand. Having been able to grab hold of the rock before he’d been hit, Steed collected himself quickly and readied to attack. The Rogas recoiled from it’s over extended lunge back into his “S” like stand. The sensation on anger burned in Steed’s mind and he knew the creature was about to attack again. But he’d not give him that opportunity. Taking a few steps forward to give added force to his blow Steed threw the rock at the Rogas. It struck hard with a hollow thud on the side of the creatures head. The jagged edge ripped into the pail green flesh releasing a watery green liquid. The Rogas screeched a loud cry then scampered into the opposing blue wall
and disappeared into the vegetation. Steed picked up another rock them charged after the creature. When he made contacted with the blue wall he body was bolted back like opposing poles of a magnet. Steed landed hard on his back then looked up to blue wall of energy. He climbed to his feet then stood before the wall. Taking the rock Steed attempted to test it’s integrity. The wall allowed the rock to past through but stopped his hand. This column between the opposing walls was an arena. A field on which either could combat but not allow the other to pass throw to the other side. Steed looked at the vegetation not able to gain sight of the Rogas. The blow from the rock wasn’t as hard. Perhaps the Rogas were not as aggressive outside their war machines or could it be their bodies were that fragile. Steed dismissed the latter and subscribed to the first.
The Rogas was perhaps just as shocked and repulsed by Steed’s presence as he was by it’s. But then came anger and aggression when it as well as he reasoned out it was the enemy. What was the purpose of all this? That was the question that demanded to be answered. The aliens whoever they were had brought Steed ad the Rogas here. To perform like curious animals? That first analogy was dismissed when those words came to his mind. “We will test your God’s ability with that of the Rogas corporate.” A test. Steed swallowed hard. A challenge for each to test their individual God by the zeal of their ability to make war. And they’d watch, he was sure of that. Like a scientist observing a collection of mindless
warring ants. Steed’s fist clenched at the thought. His first task now was not to comply with his staged condition of battle. Soon followed by the thought of his failure or noncompliance. What could either action mean? It could mean not only his own death and that of his crew but perhaps the whole destruction of his race. Steed’s expression now intensified in the direction of the vegetation where the Rogas had disappeared into. The Rogas wounded and would either be a more aggressive opponent or a more dorsal one. Taking into consideration the aggressive nature of the Rogas he easily believed it would be more aggressive. What he needed was weapons, and a defensive position. Leaving the arena Steed went to the vegetation of the opposing side. Searching through the collection of different plant life he searched for something that could be made into a spear.
Steed saw tall stock like trees with a scarce number of leaves protruding from it’s stiff thorn like roots. It was the height of a man. Those he used as spears. Braking them loose from their anchored rooting in the sand he sharpened the ends with a rock. A collection of those and as many jagged edge rocks as he could find formed into an arsenal deadly enough he hoped to do the job. Since the aliens most likely were listening to his thoughts he offered up had no desire to kill. He then he gave the thought of having no other choice but to do so. He then addressed God for the courage to do his task. That would be a deciding factor beyond the power of the aliens.
He hoped that they were listening to those words and feelings of his mind. No matter how the next hour found him there was still power beyond theirs.
The story of David and Golitha made faint application in
his situation. Not in the context of his enemy was so much more powerful. But the story was relative to the way the Rogas mocked the men of Earth beings at forclaimind God as their master. That was a well enough reason for Steed to want to eradicate the Rogas. But what of the alien’s future? Would one day he find himself in need of that same God that he so adamantly denied. There had been many races of Earth that at one time denied God but lived on to come to the knowledge his existence. Steed himself was one who had not accepted God, until forced into war in the cold vacuums of space. Steed released the thought to gather up his arsenal. He needed to attend to the situation at hand. His next action of duty was to find a place to make a stand. Walking along his side of the wall of energy he search for some natural structure to make such a stand. A short distance from away him he came upon a sight that shocked him into a dumfounded stare. It was Christine. Steed entered into the arena and stood over her. She lay stretched out in the sand her mid section mangled with deep laceration from blunt wounds. Not to far from her lay another corpse. It was a Rogas. Most likely not the same he’d encountered but another member of the crew. It’s body was
flattened like an empty sack. The primitive spear that protruded
mid way down it’s body had released the fluid inherits.
“Oh God.” Steed heaved a sigh turning back to Christine. He bent over to her face then closed her eyes. It appeared that the Rogas had gotten in the first blow. Perhaps while she was getting close enough. Realizing the fragile bodies of the Rogas and taking into consideration their speed he would except that scenario.
Folding her arms before her and straighting her legs he would let this be her final resting place for now. Time for mourning would come later, after he’d taken vengence. A burning sensation turned Steed’s attention to the horror on the other side of the blue wall. That burning sensation of emotion forced it’s way into Steed’s mind and he attempted to relay the same. The Rogas turned away and moved to the edge of a line of pole like trees. Steed took a step closer to watch what the Rogas was doing. From it’s mouth a white silky like filament sprayed to stick mid way on one of the trees. The Rogas then strung the filament to the opposite tree and anchored it. Steed watched for a moment until what the Rogas was doing became clear to him. Like some Earth insects the Rogas was capable of creating a web from internal organs. What it was for he was not sure of. Steed took a step closer to see the wound he had inflicted upon Rogas with the rock earlier. The gash had flushed a darker green than the overall color of the beast. That was it’s weakness, one he would take no time in exploiting. Steed lay down his arsenal with the exception of a rock. Taking a few
steps back he lunged forward to send the rock through the field. The rock landed short of it’s target. Just barely kicking up sand on impact. It Rogas responded by turning to look in Steed’s direction. It growled in a tone using a language unknown as well as intensifying the mental communication of anger. Steed took a spear and launched it. It as well feel short of the creature. As the spear came forward the Rogas made an extremely fast evasive move to avoid it. Even if it was in range the Rogas would be a difficult target to hit.
Steed collected his weapons and moved further back to the opposing field. The Rogas observed him for a moment then went back to weaving the web. Steed would have to wait for Rogas to make the first move. For it to get close enough then he’d strike. There would be no element of surprises for either of them. They would have to both be in the arena at the same time bent on battle. How clever the aliens were that brought them here. The had constructed the perfect situation for being with various weakness to combat one another on relatively even terms. While they watched and made determination on which they would call superior, and which they would call a heretic.
The Rogas turned about and headed quickly into the arena. Steed came to his feet, spear ready for what he knew would be the final conflict between the two.
The Rogas had taken the thick webbing from the trees and held it centered between it’s upper tentacles. He used the web like a shield it used it to deflect the rocks thrown by
Steed as it moved carefully closer. Close conflict would be the only hope to inflict a mortal wound for either of them. Steed abandoned the rocks and readied with the spear. As the Rogas moved in close enough the shield became a new weapon. The Rogas tossed it like a fisher man’s net. Steed was easily entangled by the sticky filaments that cloaked half his body. To struggle against it only gave rises to him becoming more entangled. Having only the usage of one arm he stabbed weak jabs as the Rogas beared down on him. Steed knew victory would not be his. But he gave one final prayer to God for mercy on his race because of his failure. Steed closed his eyes to the sight of the horrible death that loomed over him. He braced his body for the pain that would come and readied for death. An ear shattering alarm echoed from the com link in Steed’s ears. Steed opened his eyes to the instrumentation before him. A flashing red light confirmed that the sound was the ships proximity alarm. His eyes then went to the view port to the distorted streaks of stars caused by hyperdrive acceleration. “What happened?” A dismayed voice brought Steeds attention around to see the gunner sitting at her post.
“Did we pass out?” Those words came from the navigator. “Confirm our position?” Steed said attempting to steady his dismay.
“Ten thousand kilometers from Base station.” Carl said with careful words.
In the thirty minutes it took to dock in the Star base
bay they had time to discuss what they all thought had happened. It was some sort of space induced phenomena. The battle with the Rogas fighter had caused some sort of shock. They had destroyed the enemy and plotted the course back to the base, under the influence of that shock.
They had all decided that was what had happened. But that theory dissipated with the news of what had transpired in the thirty hours they’d been gone. The Earth fleet had moved to intercept the Rogas star fleet. But rather than finding the enemies ships, they found only floating debris and expanding gases. The fleet moved on to the home world of the Rogas the mystery intensified. The entire planets surface had been laid waste. Bio scans and exploration found no Rogas to have survived the holocaust. The Earth council had no explanation for what had happened. Only three humans had any idea of what happened. The memory of which seemed to fade into the deep recesses of their minds. Leaving only an summation that some power unknown to man had placed his belief in his God against that of the pagan god of the Rogas and subsequently chosen that God of man. The crew had been missionaries of a sort, and like Paul and the David had sent the knowledge of God to some far reaching land.