The Fractal Nexus – Chapter 4

By the time the survivors of the USS Mako had realized the swirling whiteness above them wasn’t clouds, and that the craft coming toward them wasn’t a rescue plane, the Titan had already touched down in Alaska, China, and Australia simultaneously. Alien aircraft crisscrossed over their heads at lightning speeds. They were not engaged in combat, but seemed to be cooperating with each other. Darkness came early, and the sun only became visible for a few minutes late in the evening when it dipped below the awning of this sky-wide structure, then disappeared beneath the horizon. It was amazing how the dark of night illuminated this behemoth as it straddled the Pacific Ocean. The stars were still somehow visible through it, but they seemed to be magnified and refracted, as if through a broken pane of glass. Faint lines and then blue glowing patterns became visible like the lines traced over constellation maps. They formed dotted spirals and intersecting azimuths of light. The sea remained eerily calm, and silver clouds continued to sail through the intervening air, tickling the belly of this monolithic canopy. All the while, since its first appearance, a deep and steadily growing hum could be heard from above.

About an hour after sunset, something like the moon seemed to be coming through the clouds. But soon it became obvious that a silver sphere was actually descending from the canopy toward the cluster of orange life rafts, where sailors huddled together, helpless to do anything but watch the sky change shape before their eyes. It was difficult to tell how large this craft was due to the loss of all perspective in that darkness at sea, but Captain Foyle estimated it to be no smaller than a two-story house. Then, when it was a short distance away, the creature appeared, still glowing and floating above the waves, but no shining ball of light around him this time. He now appeared to be at least three times the size of any human.

“Hold your fire!” called Foyle to the men, not sure what to expect. Only a few had managed to salvage guns from the wreck, but even those with flares clung to them as a last remnant of protection against what appeared to be an enemy with god-like power.

The being’s dreadlocks began to quiver. Then the voice of Keruso Olgaard was heard reverberating against the very water on which they floated. Captain Foyle and Petty Officer Jared turned to see this man being raised into the air, as if on invisible strings. With an unnaturally amplified voice, he spoke for the creature now presiding over the congregation of survivors.

“Do not be afraid. I come to you for your good.” Alethia began writhing at Foyle’s feet as the creature continued, “You have been engaged in a war which you cannot see, but which has disrupted the lives of many in your world. I bring this Titan, stolen from the Fractal Nexus, to be your defender.” The radio in a nearby raft began to crackle. Foyle made his way to it, stepping over sailors and life vests, and keeping one eye on the creature as he spoke, “As long as I remain, you need not fear the Steward any longer.”

“Hello?” whispered Foyle, grabbing the radio from an Ensign, “This is Captain Foyle, USS Mako, over.”

“Repeat, do not…” came the broken reply, “… the Steward is… I repeat…”

“This is Captain Foyle, USS Mako, say again…”

“Chief… Anderson… I repeat he is not who…” But the message was drowned out by the sudden roar of what sounded like a jet engine crashing into the creature who was speaking to them. As quickly as Foyle’s eyes could glance upward, a green streak like fiery lightning had torn through the air from the northern horizon, thrusting the creature backward into his moon-shaped vessel, which shuddered and crackled with obvious damage surrounding the impact site. Keruso, who by this time had risen to about eight feet in the air, splashed down into the sea. Just as some sailors were fishing him out and pulling him up by his arms, the moon-vessel itself came crashing into the water only a few meters away. The wave lifted up all the rafts and nearly toppled several of them. Then the crackling of the radio gave way to Chief Anderson’s voice, ringing loud and clear,

“…another Steward. Don’t believe him! He is another Steward!”

“Anderson, this is Foyle, where are you?!”

“I’m aboard the USS Stalwart, sir. Not more than half a league from your position. Picked us up yesterday, along with forty-five others. We have one of… them on board with us, you know, with the dreadlocks. Says he’s here to stop the Nexus, but needs help ‘cause the new Steward just arrived with this machine that’s taking up the whole sky. Says we have to help him neutralize the Titan.”

“Neutralize it? How do you plan to neutralize something that’s half the size of the planet?”

“Every machine needs an operator sir,” came the reply.

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