Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The room was smoky with the singed emissions of substances that made tobacco seem like a health supplement. Everyone knew the risks, but when you were fighting the greatest tyranny to ever rule humanity, longevity just didn’t enter the equation.
General Pantoro couldn’t believe what he had heard: “We’re sure about this?”
Intel Captain Lokus smiled: “It’s confirmed, sir. The damn thing has no defensive field generators and no trace of fusion armour.”
Major Ekrofan raised a fist: “Then we should strike against – what did you say Una Galacta had named it?”
Lokus checked his brief before replying: “Torush One.”
Ekrofan laughed: “Bloody silly name.”
All assembled looked to General Pantoro. He pondered for a moment, then nodded decisively: “Let’s take their new toy away. Tell the Antares and the Ceres that they are cleared for nuclear engagement.”

The twin battlecruisers Antares and Ceres approached the near lunar diameter sphere that hung in equidistant orbit between Earth and Mars. They were heavily cloaked and relying on the chaos created by their attack to give them time to escape, accepting the fact that they might have to go down fighting. It was worth the sacrifice. Torush One was an unknown element, silvery-white with sections of mirror-like reflectivity. Una Galacta had noticeably decreased military operations since it had arrived in orbit, probably from some hidden construction facility. Which indicated how overwhelming they thought it would be.

In the smoky room, a communications officer approached the General. He whispered to Pantoro, whose brow creased before he entered a secure comms booth. The conversation he had was short and he exited the booth with a look of terror on his face. He rushed to the main comms board: “Abort the attack! Stand down all combat units! Stop! Just stop!”

Antares fired first. The damn thing was so big, missing was not the issue. Everyone agreed that all the nukes had to land dead centre to rip their way to the heart of it. With a ripple in space, the Ceres appeared and unleashed her payload as well. The ships used every nuke the Resistance could muster.

General Pantoro sat and cried. No one could get a word of sense from him.

Antares and Ceres linked their comms:
“I’ve got nothing on detectors. Not one hostile or any countermeasures against the nukes or us.”
“Confirmed, we seem to have caught them napping.”
“Hang on; I have surface geometry variance from the target.”
“No impacts yet. What’s the cause?”
“Unknown. There’s a dimple forming in the centre.”
“A what?”
“A crater. Right where we’ve targeted. It’s getting deeper and the rate is accelerating.”
“Do you get a bad feeling about this?”
“Yes. Disengage and get the hell out is my instinct.”

Torush One flowed into itself, the crater sinking far enough to become a tunnel as the object changed from sphere to torus. The nuclear hopes of the Resistance passed cleanly through the hole, hurtling toward Earth where automated defences destroyed them.

Pantoro looked up, his face ashen: “It’s not their superweapon. It’s an intergalactic arbiter, sent to end the futile war we’re engaged in and the tyranny we fight. Una Galacta will become a benevolent leadership under threat of unstoppable annihilation.”
The room erupted with cries of “Victory!”
The General stood slowly: “No. Una Galacta ceased hostilities and delayed informing us so we would think that Torush One was theirs, make a desperate attempt to destroy it and in so doing, contravene the ceasefire. We will be liquidated for that. Una Galacta regard ‘last man standing’ as an acceptable win.”


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows