Phantasy Star Zero
Prologue: A Fateful Voyage
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“Greetings, alien craft! Identify yourselves. This is the
London Communications Center on Earth of the Sol system. Over and out.”
These were to be the last words that Aron, Kara, Laya and the two cyborgs would ever hear. A shockwave ripped through the ship, knocking all but Wren to the ground, and even the hardy cyborg reeled from the blow. Aron hastily glanced upward through the ferroglass dome that protected each of the individual mini-worlds, only to see two of them spinning away madly, the connection network that still united them beginning to shear in half. He recognized the doomed mini-worlds to be Landen and Aridia... he quickly wondered if any of the occupants were even still alive, too shocked by the emotional implications of the thought to do anything more than watch as the two tiny artificial worlds slipped away before his very eyes. A cry of despair escaped his lips, but Aron couldn't even hear himself over the trembling and groaning that was surely the death knell of the Alisa III. He glanced around, and saw Laya unconscious near his feet. He feeblyattempted to crawl toward her, while half-noticing Wren shouting something inaudible out of the corner of his eye.
The trembling worsened, knocking Aron prone once more. Suddenly, he and his friends went sliding madly as spinning centrifugal force overrode the now-defunct grav generators. Aron caught purchase on a nearby pillar, straining to keep himself steady. Looking up again, he saw a spheroid planet growing near... very near. No, it wasn't a planet, it was a moon! The crippled Alisa III was about to hit a moon! Aron screamed.
And then all was darkness.
"Sir, it appears that the ship has been destroyed," the professional, stoic voice of the female aide quavered only slightly, "primarily by colliding with our moon. There appears to be no serious collateral damage to Luna's surface or any remaining threat to Terra."
Administrator Franklin thought for a minute, frowning slightly, his large hands folded carefully over the datascan neatly placed upon his desk.
"Do we know where they came from?" He asked quietly, his normally gruff voice subdued.
"From what our scans indicate, there was a dimensional rift, and apparently the ship emerged, albeit heavily damaged."
"Is the cause known as of yet?" He asked, gazing up at her with steely blue eyes both wizened and jaded by years of politics.
"From the information gathered so far, it seems the ship passed through a black hole, and traveled an extraordinary distance. There is also the possibility that it came from another time period as well."
Franklin considered this information, his brain working furiously. Earth was already teetering on the edge of disaster, and his position as the Administrator of the Terran Federated Alliance was tenuous at best. Perhaps there could be something to be gained from this incident...
"Survivors..?" he queried, his eyes still locked on the increasingly uncomfortable cabinet aide.
"No life signs, I'm sorry to say," her false apologetic tone assuring him she didn't care at all, "However, the rescue ships have been busy examining everything they can from the wreckage. Two of the mini-world pods seemed to split off from the main body, and while they are mostly destroyed, there is more than enough to salvage."
"Then that's where we'll probably find our answers." He announced with conviction, absentmindedly slapping his hand onto the desk,” keep me informed on every development!" His voice regaining its authority, the aide quickly agreed and hastily exited the administrative suite.
The Administrator swung his grav chair around to stare out of the huge transparisteel window. Maybe, this ship would provide some needed technology or information that could help save Terra... and his office.
A week later the entire planetary media network was buzzing with news of the destroyed vessel. Franklin was, of course, aware of all the information before it ever reached the public. It was called the “Alisa III,” and indeed the ship had traveled through both space and time... a lot of time, in fact. From over two thousand years into the future. A database and many samples of the life forms, both biological and mechanical, had been collected; some at great cost. Although the two remaining world-pods had ceased to support any life, there were still functional armed machines that took almost an entire battalion of marines to destroy. However, the results were in, and he was almost giddy with excitement. In his Seventy-Five years, Franklin could not remember being this pleased since he was sworn in as Planetary Administrator almost a decade ago. The creatures on board... the sentient ones, anyway, were human! DNA analysis had showed a %99.998 match to that of Homo Sapiens... which could only mean one thing... humans had managed to survive the coming global catastrophe! According to the database, the ship had been launched from a planet called Palma in the Algo solar system, located in the relatively nearby Andromeda Galaxy, only a mere two hundred fifty million light years away. The records had also shown there were other planets also inhabited by humans in the same system, and possibly other sentient life forms as well!
His speech prepared, his information as complete as possible, Administrator Franklin slowly walked to the awaiting media press conference. Although Seventy-Five, with modern medicine he was as healthy as an average forty-year-old, and other than his graying hair, which he chose not to recolor, looked the part.v
His approach to the podium was marked with the expected uproarious applause, and the bright lights of the media cameras that he had long since grown used to. He stood appropriately erect behind the elaborate podium, which was draped with the Terran Federated Alliance emblem. The applause gradually died down, and his aide and bodyguards moved into their usual positions astride of Franklin. He stood silent for a few seconds, cleared his throat, and began:
"Citizens of the Terran Federated Alliance, I have the untenable position of bringing you details, both fortunate and unfortunate, regarding the recently destroyed vessel known as the Alisa III. We know for certain that it was indeed transported here from millions of light years and thousands of years into the future from an encounter with a black hole. We know that that there were no living survivors, however, there was a considerable amount of biological and technological remains, and all have been closely analyzed. The database recovered indicated that the sentient life forms that both crafted and inhabited the vessel were indeed human, and they created the ships for further colonization, but then used them to flee their destroyed planet. Apparently, there were once over four hundred of these ships, but for causes we have not been able to fully understand, all but this one had been previously destroyed. Or should I say, had been destroyed before the Alisa III passed through the black hole." He paused for a moment, gathered himself, and continued:
"Twenty-one years ago, the climatrol disaster that is slowly destroying Terra began." His voice became appropriately dour at this point, and there were murmurs of either anger or frustration from he audience; Franklin couldn't tell which and cared even less. What he was about to announce would change everything. Hopefully.
"We have had the technology of hyper drive for almost thirty years now, and since the Climatrol disaster have been regularly launching colony ships to any star system that even has a remote chance of sustaining human life, in our own Milky Way Galaxy and others beyond. Of course, as many of you know, hyper drive works by bending space, which also bends time, so that a hyper drive-equipped ship actually emerges at its destination hundreds of years before it was launched, a small price to pay for traveling thousands of light years in the space of a few days. Up until now, however, we could only guess at the success rate of these missions, as a communication from these ships, or colonized worlds, wouldn't reach Terra for at least another several centuries. But now, we have proof that one of our colony ships did indeed make it to a habitable star system... one with not one but three habitable planets... the Algo star system in the Andromeda Galaxy!"
Now there was commotion. Some of the crowd applauded, other merely chatted excitedly with their neighbors, and all of the media reps were firing off hasty questions. Franklin raised his right hand to silence them all. After a few moments, the audience acquiesced.
He continued,” according to the information presented by top experts in the field of intergalactic travel, our colony ship likely reached the Algo Solar System around the year Eighteen-Seventy-Five, old calendar. Now, as many of you also know, our new hyper drive is highly unstable and has an almost 96 percent chance of destroying the vessel using it, and these ships are merely an act of desperation to preserve our species. However, one has not only survived but colonized this Algo System. By now, the humans in this System must be very advanced, especially if they will one day be capable of creating not one but four hundred of these spectacular world-ships,” Franklin paused, smiling, preparing himself for his greatest announcement yet. The entire press conference were on the edge of their seats.
“We have managed to salvage a very important piece of technology from the Alisa III. Our top interstellar physicists have informed me that we have obtained a stable hyper drive unit!” Applause and shouts of approval and admiration thundered, and he knew that across the globe, people watching this broadcast at home in trivid were probably celebrating in various ways.
“By our current estimates, “ the Administrator continued, “Terra cannot sustain our race for more than a hundred years. The Terran Federated Alliance has decided to build a ship, which will be called the Noah, to carry one thousand of our people to the Algo Solar System, and meet up again with our lost brethren. There, we will ask for their help, and with their advanced technology, it should be no problem to return to Terra and repair our climatrol, thus ensuring the survival and prosperity for all Terrans for thousands of years to come!"
His speech concluded, he merely smiled as more booming applause enveloped him like a soothing tidal wave. Of course, now was the hard part. The inevitable questioning. Franklin half considered simply leaving, but the confidence from the warm acceptance of his speech, and the Terran Federated Alliance's proposal, compelled him to stay.
“Administrator!“ An older journalist with a white trimmed beard raised his hand, “isn’t Algol an eclipsing binary star located in the Perseus constellation? Not in Andromeda?” Franklin was almost impressed. This guy knew his stuff.
“True, but this is system is called Algo, not Algol. It is definitely a different system,” the Administrator answered, smiling, “The data has been checked and cross-referenced many times and the results are clear. This Algo System is completely different and much, much farther away. Next question.”
"Sir," fired a skinny man in a well-pressed suit,” is this 'Noah' to be equipped with the salvaged hyper drive?" There were several murmurs of agreement to the question.
"Naturally, yes" replied Franklin," The ship will be powered by the stable hyper drive unit, and will be augmented with other technology salvaged from the Alisa III, including a cloaking device, however…” and he trailed off here, as this next part might be difficult for the masses to grasp,” the stable hyper drive unit still travels many times the speed of light, but not nearly as much as our crude, all-or-nothing versions. Also, there is no time warp effect. It will probably take roughly two hundred years to reach the Algo Solar System. The crew will be in cryogenic sleep through almost the entire journey, of course, but-"
He was cut off by a large woman with a blouse that made her appear twenty pounds lighter,” But Terra won't survive another hundred years!" This was accompanied by predictable angry shouts and confused, hastily phrased statements and insults. Franklin was ready for this.
"Think of it this way: if our future brethren could create a ship that could actually make it through a black hole without being crushed to a speck of dust, surely they have mastered many other technologies, or at least will have by the time we arrive. When the Noah reaches Algo, they will have mastered hyper drive, or do eventually anyway, and because of the time warp effect, should arrive here at Terra with plenty of time to correct our world's problems."
"That's a load of..."
Almost the entire audience erupted in frantic queries, demanding answers and further explanations to this now unlikely plan of action. Once again, Franklin raised his hand, although it took longer for the voices to die down this time, and quiet, hushed conversation continued amongst the audience.
"This is our only hope. We do not have the time or the technology to fix our climatrol problem, and any expert on the subject will explain there is less than a one percent chance of our race surviving another century. The stable hyper drive unit is from thousands of years in the future and there is no chance of us being able to copy the technology. Half of the components are made from materials that we can’t even identify, much less duplicate. Even if their current hyper drive doesn’t have a time-warp effect, with their expertise of the technology, they should easily be able to create a stable unit with the time-warp effect that could make it back here in time.” He continued, his authoritative voice becoming very serious.
“Terra is dying, and this is humanity’s only hope to fix our mistake. Through cross-referencing the records from the Alisa III, with our colony ships' manifests, we have determined the colony ship that succeeded in its mission. Colony ship TCS-347, the lucky vessel that actually succeeded in reaching Algo probably two hundred years ago, was one of the original seven launched ten years ago. The original colonists would be long dead by the time Noah reached Algo, but the history of their undertaking will definitely help them discern us as allies, and they will surely help us. They must...." Franklin scowled inside. He did not mean for that last note of desperation to escape his lips. Thinking quickly, he decide the best course of action was to continue speaking to mitigate his mistake.
"The Noah has a ninety-seven percent chance of reaching Algo intact with all hands alive, due to the presence of the stable hyper drive and our improved cryogenic systems. The climatrol systems from the Alisa III are far more advanced than ours, but again the technology was all but destroyed, and what remains is again indecipherable and incompatible with our current technology," he was anticipating the remaining questions, a necessary technique learned early in politics, and was attempting to assuage any further dissent by answering them before they were asked. Franklin found to his surprise that he was beginning to sweat. He never sweated during a press conference.
"In addition, we believe the reason our colonists living at Algo have not returned already is that, at the time of their departure, the climatrol problem was thought fixable. Our representatives onboard Noah will show documented proof otherwise. How could the Algoan colonists not send help to save their home planet if they could?" Franklin paused once more, and this time, the audience was silent.
"This is our most rational course of action, and the most likely hope for Terra, albeit it is a desperate one. Unless a major breakthrough occurs to help us fix the climatrol, which again is slim-to-none, then the Noah plan will be implemented as soon as possible. Thank you all for your attention, support, and may the Divine Power bless the Terran Federated Alliance." With that, he quickly turned and strode away, flanked by his burly bodyguards. Applause followed him, but it was not as powerful or sincere as he had hoped.
Oh well, he though to himself, it could've gone worse....
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Nearly fifty years later, the Noah was completed. Because of the several setbacks in the process of interfacing of the Alisa III’s hyper drive with the relatively crude Terran technology, it took much longer to complete than a standard colony ship. The cloaking device proved especially troublesome, but was deemed necessary to assure that the ship wasn’t mistakenly shot down by any starships defending Algo when the Noah finally arrived.
As predicted, no breakthroughs had been made to assuage Terra's climatrol woes, and things were beginning to get worse. Earth's burgeoning population had begun to sharply decline as worldwide desertification, defoliation, and rising ocean levels took their toll. Franklin had later been voted out of office and replaced by a succession of Administrators whose empty promises of a solution to the global crises did nothing to assuage the populace. Dozens of colony ships continued to be sent into the voids of space via their dangerous and unpredictable hyper drive, but other than the fateful appearance of the Alisa III, no human ships had yet returned from the future to offer the world salvation. With global famine out of control, widespread crime and rioting, the Terran Federated Alliance could barely maintain control and out of necessity turned from a benevolent Democracy to a harsh Despotism in an attempt to maintain some sort of control over the world. Subtly, despair began to spread among the Earth's remaining citizens. Religious adherence reached an all-time high.
What hope remained was placed squarely on the Noah. When it came time to select the thousand representatives and crew that would be traveling aboard the Noah, riots broke out in nearly every city. The "lucky thousand" as they were called, were simultaneously looked up to and jealously despised. The Terran representatives didn't care, however. They were giddy with relief. After pleading their case, whether or not the Algoans could send help, at least they could join them on a world not dying. They had a future, one way or another. Still, when the ship launched, the entire world rejoiced. Even recalcitrant citizens admitted that the Noah represented Earth's last real hope. Slowly, and ponderously at first, the ungainly rectangular craft left the orbital shipyard and quickly gained speed.
A few minutes after leaving the shipyards, there was a minor collision with some debris still orbiting Terra from the long-since destroyed Alisa III. There was no apparent damage, and the relieved crew quickly forgot the incident. What nobody realized however, is that something was living in that debris. Waiting. Calculating. Something colder and much more evil than even the most insidious demon from Terran folklore. This entity, undetected, slipped aboard the Noah and hid quietly in the Noah's engine housing, biding its time. When the Noah's crew had entered cryogenic sleep and the ship was on course to Algo under full stable hyper drive, this malevolent being slowly and methodically entered the sleeping, dreaming minds of the Noah's crew. Their original mission, and even their humanity were gradually forgotten. Knowledge was placed into their brains, dark secrets that would allow them to control the peoples of Algo when they finally arrived. Over the ship's two-hundred year voyage, the thoughts of these representatives from Terra had turned from pleading for salvation and joining their former brethren to something far more sinister...
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Unfortunately for the remaining Terrans, assistance never arrived. Gradually the world grew so despoiled that only the hardiest of creatures could survive. Humanity declined at an alarming rate, until only packs of crazed cannibals and isolated pockets of civilization remained. Until the last days of humanity, the desperate Colony ships were sent, until finally the few remaining humans attempted to eke out an existence in underground complexes, as the surface of Terra was essentially dead. Colonies set up on the moon and Mars slowly withered as well, as essential supplies from Earth long ceased arriving.
It would take tens of thousands of years for the Earth to heal itself, and the fate of these unfortunate “survivors“ was never determined. A handful of colony ships did manage to survive their journeys, and fewer still found habitable worlds. Again, their fates are unknown, and with the demise of Terra, they were forgotten and alone.