Prologue



It's dark. So much so that I can touch my nose and still not see my hand. I am lying on a hard metal surface.

I don't remember how I got here. I was in space in close proximity to Mars. I had been sent here to investigate the approach of an alien ship. I had just begun my search for debris when I saw a spacecraft coming around the far side of the planet.

As soon as I noticed the spacecraft I began to decelerate. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough and the alien craft began firing on my position. My shields flared as the enemy weapons zeroed in on me and hit home. I dodged as best I could; using everything the U.S. Military had taught me. One more hit and my shields failed. I changed tactics; the planet was still somewhat between us so I changed directions and swung around the southern pole of Mars. If I hadn't been so worried about my life I'm sure it would have been a spectacular view.

Once the planet was completely between us I activated the long range transmitter. "Mayday! Mayday! This is Gryphon. I am under attack by an alien ship. My shields are down. I am attempting to circumnavigate the planet and approach the ship from behind. Do you copy, Earth Control?" I said excitedly.

I knew that it would take a while for me to get a response. So I continued around the planet and began my approach on the ship from behind. The ionization of the area behind the ship effectively hid my approach. My sensors showed the increase in temperature as I drew closer to the engine exhaust. I wasn't trying to fry myself and I didn't really have any reason to fly up their engine exhaust so I changed my trajectory and headed for the belly of the ship's hull. I was hoping for an access hatch or someway to get in.

Ah, found one just forward of the engine nacelles. I examined the hatch closely; not that I expected the hatch to open with an invitation. I closed my eyes and sent my senses out to examine the hatch from a different perspective. I saw the keypad on the inside of the hatch and drew closer with my mind. I followed the circuits inside the pad until I found the right combination. With a hiss the hatch popped open and I brought my senses back into my mind. I opened the hatch wide enough for me to enter and closed it behind me. It was dark inside so I activated the external lights on my suit and began to look around.

It was a small room that I surmised was just an airlock. I was right; I noticed the control pad I had 'sensed' from outside. I couldn't read the alien writing so I used my mind to examine the circuits again. This time I focused on opening the interior door. It opened without a sound. This time I thought to equalize the atmosphere before opening the door.

I had no idea if the aliens knew I was onboard or not. Just to be safe I had to assume they knew the hatch had opened and the airlock cycled through. Even our own Earth technology can do that much.

I had two directions I could choose to go in. I had my back to the airlock so if I went to my left I would end up in the engine room. If I went right I had no idea where I would be. I thought for a moment; I wasn't ready to meet the aliens; on the other hand I wasn't ready for them to meet Earth, either. So I decided to head to the engine room.

I was surprised to find the hatch open to the engine room. I went in and looked around. I knew I wanted to shut the propulsion system down without blowing myself up. Without my shields I had no idea if I could survive the kind of explosion I was imagining. An anti-mater explosion from Star Trek comes to mind. No matter what universe you're from matter and anti-matter just do not mix.

I looked for what I hoped would be control panels and opened fire. Sparks flew everywhere. Lights began to blink off and on. After over 2000 rounds of projectiles I could feel the engines shut down. Weather it was because of me or them I didn't care. They were shutdown and that's all that mattered at the moment.

By this time I could hear footsteps in the corridor. I knew that the time had come to meet my hosts. Before I had the chance to turn and face my enemy I had been shot with some sort of energy weapon. My communication equipment lost power and my lights went out, too.

I opened my eyes and saw nothing; absolutely nothing. So either it was dark where ever I was or that weapon had blinded me...

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