by Dan Swanson
The time: 100,000 years ago.
The place: A secret Galactic Patrol base on the rogue planet Ekluabdyalbker, somewhere near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Galactic Patrol was about to die. And Iredok Jur Diah was about to kill it. For centuries the Galactic Patrol had been the greatest force for unity, peace, and order in the Milky Way Galaxy. Iredok was one of the greatest champions of the Galactic Patrol, yet he knew he must destroy it at the peak of its power and influence, because the Patrol’s greatest enemies, the Lords of Chaos, had discovered a way to turn the Patrol’s greatest weapons to the service of Chaos.
Selected members of the Galactic Patrol were equipped with the glove and globe, the use of which allowed them to control the power of the glow. Each globe was a conduit, tapping into the Hawking radiation emitted by the massive black hole at the center of the galaxy through a subatomic wormhole.
Each glove was a weapon capable of storing, discharging, and manipulating energy drawn through the globe. A glove was charged by placing it in contact with the globe for about a minute. Each glove contained a highly advanced, non-sentient artificial intelligence. A Patroller sent mental commands to the glove, where they were interpreted by the artificial intelligence within, which released and modulated the stored energy to achieve the results the Patroller had requested.
The energy output from the glove was a glowing off-white, as if someone had illuminated a giant pearl from the inside. This glowing white energy was usually called the glow. More than simple weapons, the gloves also served as identification badges for Patrollers, allowing Patrollers to communicate telepathically with all known intelligent species in the galaxy.
The Galactic Patrol was allied with the mystical Lords of Order, which thus made all Patrollers natural enemies of the Lords of Chaos. Minions of the Lords of Chaos had recently found a way to subvert the glow. A counter-weapon similar to a computer virus had been devised and introduced to the black hole. Each time a Patroller charged a glove, the contaminated energy flowed into the glove, and the chaos virus infected the glove’s artificial intelligence. Each time a Patroller used a contaminated glove, the chaos virus attacked the Patroller’s mind.
Some Patrollers were able to resist the effects of the chaos virus long enough to remove their gloves and then destroy both glove and globe. Others were unable to resist and became agents of Chaos. These corrupted Patrollers were able to wreak havoc on their civilizations, killing billions and destroying many civilized worlds.
When the chaos virus struck, Patroller Iredok Jur Diah was working with another Patroller named Zolru. Iredok was working undercover without his glove. He was able to observe changes in Zolru’s behavior each time Zolru recharged his glove, and from these behavioral changes, he deduced that something was wrong with the glow.
Realizing that he couldn’t possibly fight a Patroller wielding the glow without his own glove, Iredok took his own still-uncontaminated glove and globe and fled. His destination was the Galactic Patrol research base on the rogue planet of Ekluabdyalbker. This base was equipped with highly advanced research equipment, as it carried out sensitive experiments in the dark, empty space between stars. The base had been temporarily abandoned when all Patrollers were recalled to address the problem of the chaos virus.
In this secret Patrol outpost, Iredok began his study of the chaos virus.
Iredok constructed special equipment that could siphon off just a little contaminated energy from his globe and then store it so he could study it. Eventually, he worked out a counter-virus. But he knew that the effects of the counter-virus would be devastating — it would, in fact, destroy every glove and globe, as well as kill every Patroller who wore the glove. Yet it had to be done — the glow was too powerful a weapon to leave in the service of Chaos.
He also realized that he would die when he released the counter-virus, but because his glove was not yet infected, it would not be destroyed. His glove and globe might be returned to the service of Order, if he could arrange it. So, before he released the counter-virus, he completed another project.
Iredok knew that, immediately after the destruction of the Galactic Patrol, chaos would be ascendant throughout the galaxy. But the loss of the power of the glow would weaken the ascendant Lords of Chaos, and inevitably the forces of Order would regroup. Iredok grew a clone of himself, used Patrol technology to give it his current memories, and placed it in suspended animation. He set up a sensitive guardian machine to monitor the galaxy and programmed this guardian to revive the clone when the power of Order began to rebuild in the galaxy.
There were some logical flaws in Iredok’s plan, but his thoughts and feelings at that time were unknown. He had been isolated on a planet far from any star for several years, working frantically to destroy the Galactic Patrol, an organization to which he had given his life and his soul. He would destroy millions of sentient beings, not the least of whom were his best friends and former partners. Without the Galactic Patrol, the many civilizations in the confederation would slip into chaos, trillions of sentient beings would die as a result, and more trillions yet to be born would live their lives in misery and chaos before order would be restored. Is it any wonder, then, that his thinking was flawed?
Finally, he was ready. It was ironic that the last Galactic Patroller would destroy, in the name of Order, the organization that had promoted Order throughout much of the galaxy. But he had no choice. Iredok released the counter-virus into his glove. He then donned his glove and charged it one last time.
As planned, his glove transmitted the counter-virus into the globe and in turn to the black hole. At the black hole, the battle between the counter-virus and the chaos virus produced a violent energy feedback surge, which fed back through Iredok’s globe and glove, killing him instantly. In nanoseconds, the counter-virus attacked and totally destroyed the chaos virus at the black hole. But the virus still infected every other glove and globe.
The next time any Galactic Patroller in the galaxy charged a glove, the counter-virus flowed through the globe into the glove and fought the chaos virus inside them. The counter-virus always won, if destroying every globe, glove, and Galactic Patroller could be counted as a victory. The galaxy was free of the threat of the chaos virus. But the price was terrible — the Galactic Patrol was decimated.
Iredok’s other project was initially a failure. The balance of power between the Lords of Order and the Lords of Chaos shifted many times over the next 100,000 years, but Iredok’s guardian machine never revived the sleeping clone. In his haste, Iredok had made a programming error — his guardian machine was actually programmed to revive the clone only when order returned to the planet Ekluabdyalbker, rather than when the power of order waxed and waned in the galaxy. And during those many long years, no one and nothing visited the rogue planet of Ekluabdyalbker as it made its lonely voyage between the stars.