Allequella was a conical being about two metres high whose body consisted of layers of thick, grey fronds. He sighed and it was like a Christmas tree rattling its needles; he had no concept of Christmas, or trees. As he stared out of a portal at the bright white of space, watching the dark specks of distant stars, he fancied he could see the galaxies spinning, slowly, though he knew that was really more an effect of their shape than reality.
This was a universe riven by war, the same war that is fought everywhere: to keep what is yours, or take what isn’t.
Their small group had a plan for peace though. This research facility was one of many clandestine collaborations, a secret conclave of scientists, top thinkers from all the warring races of the bright universe, all seeking an energy source that could be shared.
And they had found one. A dark universe where all of space was like staring into the darkest star. And it had life, and colour. Colour was something strange and new and humming with power, and the life was not like their own – it throbbed, it was vibrant, it was the manifestation of colour. Here in the bright universe that colour and life was so much raw energy.
In the dark universe their attack fleets were like native night-time, invisible. And the locals used light-based weapons, it was like trying to attack their ships with nothingness, like trying to strike them with the void of space, ineffectual. Their own weapons worked though; they brought something of the bright universe with them when they crossed, and focussed beams of darkness struck out devastatingly.
Allequella was both relieved and troubled. The research facility had become the template for a power station that could supply each race with all the energy they could ever need, but it had also become a prison for the natives of the dark universe, where they were drained of their precious, volatile colour, their lives.
He knew that right at that moment each station chief, one from each major race and all of equal standing, was opening a communications channel. They were ready to announce to their governments and peoples that peace was nigh.
It was Allequella alone who was witness to the dark universe’s first incursion into their own. As he was gazing from the station he saw space dimple; it seemed to ripple, then bulge. What had been empty, peaceful white became swirled with black whorls, curving spiralling lines of a painfully dark black.
Allequella had worked with colour, so he was one of the few who could understand what he was seeing as two ships emerged from the disturbance. Two ships built of colour. One ship was dark blue, approaching the densest forms of colour they had identified, the other was red, the least dense end of the energy spectrum. Both ships opened fire, liberally spraying colour as if it weren’t the most precious thing.
In the dark universe their weapons had been powerless against the bright universe’s ships, but here, in the bright universe itself, the tables were turned. Their lasers were something terrible and the dark-based native weapons were useless against their ships, like stroking them with nothingness and void.
Allequella cowered and knew they had done a terrible thing. They had not found peace, only more war.
- - - -
Jelilah was silent. There was none of that ecstatic hysteria bubbling up inside her as she knifed into combat, just a cold, quiet fury. A bleak harshness that matched this strange white space she now flew.
Maarz Riizen had brought them here. The Draazi Infinity Gates had been built at a pinnacle their race had long since fallen from, but Maarz had been an expert, once, part of a team trying to recover what they had lost, before some undisclosed shame drove him to war. His expertise was enough for him to track their attackers. It was enough for him to crack a hole into another universe.
Riizen was impressive. Jelilah was his equal as a pilot, but that was all she would ever be. Having seen this other side of him she knew it would be enough to lose her a dogfight.
For now, side-by-side, they methodically destroyed every ship they found. They freed those Draazi and Humans they could. They killed every native thing they came across. It was a rescue mission; it was a calculated massacre.
Riizen rigged the return jump so it would tear a permanent rift, leaving a deadly maelstrom of colour in the bright universe that would eradicate any traces of the facility and its research. A warning to anyone who might have known what work they did there, who might have been tempted to continue it.
Back in their own space she watched Riizen’s red fighter twist through the Draazi ships. The two fleets were in temporary truce. Warring forces in brief unity against a greater enemy. The first pause in a hundred years.
War as peace, now there was an idea.