Stardate 73576.1; July 29, 2396
Written by Chris Adamek
Admiral William Grayson
Admiral Alexis O’Connor
Ensign Flora Sanders
Captain Jeremy Talbot
Overseer Talyere Rosat
A single flame danced about on the wick of an ancient candle in the Elorg cathedral. Beside it, its only companion, a much shorter candle, was slowly withering away into oblivion. Soon, there would be only one. But not tonight.
Tonight, for the last time, the two candles would light the cathedral together, in the presence of the cathedral’s maestro, who sat before them at the synthesizer. Using an ancient fountain pen to construct his score, the maestro rapidly inked various notes onto the blank sheet of paper before him.
He scribed for what seemed like hours before finally placing the pen down beside the dying candle and inputting the notes into the synthesizer. The computerized musical device chirped happily as it accepted the notes, playing a rough rendition of the piece with each additional note, until finally, the piece was complete. With a touch of a button, the maestro initiated the synthesized orchestra, which immediately commenced playing the input musical notes.
The concerto started off fairly quietly with a simple quatrain of strings, gently oscillating about the musical scales, building in strength as the movement progressed. Stronger grew the strings until finally, they were joined by a brass section, sending the growing movement back into submission.
As the brass came to the forefront, the strings endured in the background, contributing the backbone of the movement. Much as the strings had progressed, the brass slowly picked up in intensity until finally, they reached their magnificent apex, accompanied by a full orchestra by that point.
With the movement in full swing, the sonorous music thundered throughout the cathedral, acquiring an evil, dark tone by the middle of the movement. The timpani slowly came to the forefront in a demanding fashion, the strings propelled a sense of danger, and the brass suddenly shrieked up a terrible octave, creating something less than music.
“Stop playback!” Xi’Yor shouted as the haphazard brass section continued to spiral into chaos. Realizing the computer did not hear him, Xi’Yor repeated his demand to the computer, only this time, much louder. As rapidly as it had descended into chaos, the music delved into silence. “Much better,” Xi’Yor whispered as cold, hard silence returned to the cathedral.
He pecked away at the synthesizer controls for a moment until the section of music that had gone awry was on screen. He highlighted the selection before saying, “Computer, adjust this selection’s octave.”
It complied, and the new rendition played out in a series of nondescript bleeps. Satisfied that the new results would be far superior to the chaos that had erupted last time, Xi’Yor instructed the computer to resume playing the movement at the point the chaos had started.
Again, the timpani came to the forefront amidst the string’s sense of imminent danger, joined in short succession by the brass section, this time propelling the danger to new heights. The sonorous brass section brought the crescendo to its apex before dying down to a much calmer coda.
“Well done,” came the voice of Nafar as the movement died down.
“Thank you, Nafar.” When he turned around, Xi’Yor, to his surprise, noticed Nafar standing only a few meters behind him. Xi’Yor had not even noticed his yeoman’s entrance. “Why have you summoned me?”
“It is time,” said Nafar simply.
Time for what? Xi’Yor had not the slightest idea. He had an interrogation session in eleven cycles, and a staff meeting in twelve, but nothing scheduled before then. “You must be mistaken,” he told his officer before returning to his work.
“I am not,” Nafar persisted. “You instructed me to summon you in eleven cycles. According to the ship’s chronometer, 11.1 cycles have been completed. It is time for your interrogation session with Talyere.”
“Impossible!” Xi’Yor protested. “I just started my work here in the cathedral a few cycles ago. Eleven could not have passed in the interim.”
Xi’Yor suddenly noticed the cathedral had grown much darker in recent cycles. Out of curiosity, he looked up at his two candles—only to see there was one left. The shorter one had finally burnt out, leaving only a puddle of dried wax in its wake. It’s companion still danced about, but at nearly half the size Xi’Yor had last seen it. “Apparently, I became more engrossed in my work than I had anticipated,” he decided.
Nafar readily agreed. “It would seem so.”
Still in awe as to where the time had went, Xi’Yor rose from his bench before the synthesizer and retrieved his pen from beside the puddle of wax that had once been his companion candle. Then, he stepped closer to the other candle.
Its bright orange flame lit the cathedral well enough, but for now, its task was complete. Xi’Yor brought his face very near the gentle flame, and with a gentle stream of his breath, extinguished it.
For several seconds, the cathedral was pitch black. Not until the sensors detected movement in the giant hall did the computer bother to compensate for the extreme darkness. It was at that time when several massive lights affixed to the ceiling filled the giant cathedral with more light than Xi’Yor cared to see.
The light’s presence seemed to take away the cathedral’s mystery and ominous mood, making it a friendly, happy place to be, casting a mood not conducive to creating a musical masterpiece.
Having seen enough of the light, Xi’Yor opened what appeared to be a covered tabernacle nestled away in the back of a semi-circular apse at the back of the sanctum. Inside, instead of a holy relic, was a modern-day computer. Xi’Yor pecked away at the controls for several moments before getting the computer to elicit a waiting bleep.
“Computer, terminate program,” he ordered at the tone.
It complied with another similar tone, and a moment later, the entire cathedral disappeared. Replacing it was a complex grid of hexagonal holo-generators mounted upon the walls and ceiling, and a large set of doors just a few meters in front of the duo.
Nafar took the initiative and opened the doors for his commanding officer. “Quite an excellent piece,” he reiterated as he led Xi’Yor out into the corridor on board the Inkhezi. “Would you mind sharing its title?”
Xi’Yor smiled. “I knew you would ask that,” he said simply. For most pieces Xi’Yor had worked on, the title had usually been the last thing to enter the equation. But this was a terribly different movement. One filled with triumph and battle. One filled with heroes and demons. One Xi’Yor knew was threaded into the Elorg’s destiny. “I call it our future,” he started, “I call it our destiny. But for the moment, I am afraid that will have to suffice.”
And at that very moment, a sudden feeling of doom rushed over Nafar. He knew Xi’Yor’s track record very well, and given his enigmatic answer to such a simple question, Nafar realized Xi’Yor was up to something very, very big…