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Five Months on... by Michael EardleyHe sensed it in every fibre of his being, heard the mindcall of the new Controller coming swiftly to awareness. Soon a new generation would take up his duties and he would be able to rest the eternal rest .That was something he anticipated eagerly, as they cruised now in the interstellar reaches, too far from any star to pick up heat or light.
Pilot interrupted his reverie.
"A device is approaching – it is not an entity – it is constructed of metals and other unidentified compounds."
"Origin?" snapped Controller – he really was not very interested, though he knew it was Pilot's duty to inform him of changes to their environment.
"Third planet of an insignificant star system – Recorders have analyzed the signals to and from it. The inhabitants have sent it to see what we are." From the signal analysis, Recorders had also routinely built a picture of the civilization which had dispatched the probe.
"Another one? Life forms are very curious in this sector." It was only a hundred thousand years ago since the last investigation.
"They must be curious," retorted Pilot, "it has taken six of their months and much material resource for that thing to get here!"
"Keep me informed....wait, what was that?"
Controller's naked sensors had picked up a brief flowering of light where the intruder lay.
"Part of the machine has detached," observed Pilot, "it is on a collision course with homeworld."
Controller calculated the possibilities, and began to worry.
"Can you change course?" he asked Pilot.
"Not in time," he replied flatly.
Both could only observe as the bead of light streaked towards homeworld.
"I believe the device is recording," said Pilot, "why would it record a destructive act?"
"Malfunction?" asked Controller.
"I do not believe so – this is a deliberate attempt to collide with homeworld and record the effect."
Controller's thoughts were cut off by a deep shudder in the core of homeworld. Blazing white lifestuff erupted from the surface in an unholy, premature Flaring. The deep rock structure was pierced by the attack, spewing the very heart of homeworld into the void. Controller's mind was pierced by the mindscreams of countless juveniles and drones.
Nursery! Nursery had taken the full impact of the depraved assault! Controller called for anyone to answer him but the vaporized flesh of the next generation had vented into space with the melting ice and stone.
Homeworld pitched and yawed vigorously, its orbit wobbling. There had been meteor strikes before in its long history, but nothing like this.
"Answer me!" screamed Controller, struggling to take in the enormity of what had happened, "is anyone left alive?"
A faint resonance crept into his brain.
"Pilot?" His chamber had been close to Nursery, nearer the surface for good observation of space.
"I am here, Controller. Damaged, but still functional - for now. I will not survive the damage."
The inhabitants of the planet which has wreaked the destruction would have called Controller's emotions despair and rage.
"Are they all gone, Pilot? Our entire race?"