Stories from the Universal Collector: Book One: The Timekeeper

Stories from the Universal Collector: Book One: The Timekeeper

by Paul Hopper

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475930535
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/27/2012
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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Stories from the Universal Collector

BOOK ONE: THE TIMEKEEPER
By PAUL HOPPER

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Paul Hopper
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-3053-5


Chapter One

During the previous era, a gigantic black spaceship traveled silently and quickly through a galaxy far away from the center of the universe. For over a hundred generations, the ship had been home for a species known throughout the galaxy as growlers, due to their harsh manner of speaking. The translation of their species' classification, kirn almurs, suggests they were "courageous." If they had been human, they could have been classified as hominid horribilis, due to their sensational desire for killing.

The somewhat six hundred thousand males living in the spaceship were territorial and savage warriors. They were larger than humans, with black head and facial hair. Their dark gray, thick, loose and wrinkled skin added to their non-human appearance. Their choice of black leather uniforms, with different types of weapons attached, and large boots, enhanced their appearance as fierce warriors.

The three hundred thousand female growlers were smaller than the males and had no thick wrinkled skin or facial hair. Their duties were to serve the males in many ways, including bearing and rearing the children. The women gave their children only first names as surnames were not used by the growlers. Soon after male children were able to walk, they were turned over to the male growlers for training. The female children performed routine duties, including cleaning and food preparation. Eventually, they would become mothers themselves. The four hundred thousand children rarely knew their fathers.

These particular growlers had never seen their home planet, known in their language as "Kezmara," where their ancestors had spent over a hundred years planning and building the single-purpose spaceship. Because the ship was to be constructed large enough to accommodate as many as two million growlers, the main part of the ship was thirty stories high, a thousand feet wide and almost a mile in length. A semi-circular command deck, with many large windows and offices, was coupled to the bow of the ship. The officers and essential crews were housed within the twenty-nine floors below the command deck. The remaining part of the ship was dedicated to storage and residence for the females, children and lower-ranking males. A gravity system throughout the ship allowed everyone to walk at will.

Near the rear of the ship, four huge engines propelled the ship and two retro-engines slowed the ship, each as required. Although capable of reaching light-speed, the ship normally cruised well below that speed. Many large battleships were coupled to the ship. Each battleship could transport nearly ten thousand warriors to whatever planet in their galaxy that was home for the universe's greatest prize. The single mission for these growlers was to capture that prize, known as the universal collector, and transport it to Kezmara. The growlers believed they could attain total, universal domination simply by acquiring and utilizing the advanced information they had learned was contained within the collector.

Male growlers with high intelligence were destined to leadership. In their language, the highest military rank was "Shera," given in honor for their most famous warrior. The equivalent translation is "commander." This commander had moved up the chain of command rapidly due to his intellect. Every commander before him had earned the respect of all, not only due to rank, but also for superb command ability. This commander, Den-Narsh, inherited the same respect.

As Den-Narsh walked throughout the ship, as he did three times daily for exercise, he ignored greetings from other growlers passing by. The commander always ended his walk upon arriving at the communication section located on the command deck. Ever since the ship left the home planet, the growlers had sent daily signals into space offering a reward for revealing the collector's location. During the many generations the growlers had served on the ship, they had received no response to the signals ... until now.

Arriving at the communication section, the commander turned toward a special room and heard a beeping sound indicating a response to one of the many signals. He picked up the pace, entered the room and stopped immediately. He was looking at the low-ranking worker assigned that day to monitor return signals. In spite of the beeping sound, the worker was asleep. The commander looked around the room and saw several large circular slashers, with short handles, attached to a wall. He selected the largest slasher and walked to the worker. The commander struck the worker's head with his fist. The worker awoke and saw the commander holding the slasher. Without a word spoken, the worker stood and lowered his head. The commander quickly raised the slasher and severed the worker's head. The body dropped to the floor while the head rolled around for a moment. The commander dropped the slasher and pressed a button to engage an alarm. Within moments, four workers and two officers arrived.

After turning the alarm off, the commander said to two workers, "Take this garbage to the incinerator." The two workers placed the head on the body, picked up the body and left the room. The commander ordered another worker to clean the mess. The worker began cleaning immediately. The commander said to the remaining worker, Mak-Grig, "You will initiate a test and confirm the signal is genuine before the message can be translated and read."

The worker sat down at the console and pushed several buttons in sequence. After a short period of time viewing data on the view-screen, Mak-Grig determined the signal was genuine. He then had the message translated and printed. The commander took the message and remained silent while reading.

The message: "I have received your signal. The collector is on the planet where I live. I want to work with you and share the power of the collector if you will allow me to become ruler of our people. Send a positive response and I will reveal my identity, along with the name and location of my planet."

The commander turned to the two officers and said, "It is very possible our wandering through space may be over at last." Then he turned to Mak-Grig, "Do we know where this signal originated?" After reviewing the screen, Mak-Grig responded, "The signal came from a planet in this galaxy known as Ardon."

The commander turned to his officers and said, "Had it not been for this fortuitous response, our descendants would be the ones to discover the planet where the collector is located, as it would be thousands of years before our ship would arrive in that part of space." The commander turned to Mak-Grig, "I need to learn everything about this planet and the people who occupy it."

Mak-Grig pulled information from a database for the commander to browse on another view-screen. The commander saw a small water-planet with thick clouds over a single ocean. He also saw relatively few clouds over a single land mass covering about a third of the planet. Forests and lakes covered nearly half of the land. The remainder was dedicated to cities, homes and farms.

The planet rotated on its axis at a sixty-degree angle to the ecliptic and traveled quickly on an elliptical orbit around its sun. Its three moons orbited at different distances from the planet, assuring there would never be a collision. Because of the planet's rotation and changing proximity to the sun, the two seasons were rainy for five months and dry for three months. The dry months were sufficient for farming and fishing to feed the three million docile human inhabitants living on the planet. The inhabitants were not meat-eaters, probably because the planet's fauna included no edible animals anywhere, other than fish.

Other creatures on the planet included large birds that would attack anyone coming near their nests. Although non-predatory, parents sometimes would use the bird story as a tactic for disciplining unruly children. A dog-like creature was a common house pet with the duty of defending children from feral and other animals of all species. Other than the common fish for food, there were sea creatures that were best left alone.

The commander carefully analyzed the planet's defensive weapons and determined they were useless against growler weapons. He saw only a few old laser-type weapons scattered about the planet. He searched for more lethal weapons possibly hidden elsewhere on the planet. He found none, but that made him more suspicious. Finally, the commander applied a computer program to plot a solution for the expected battle. The program confirmed the commander's analysis, being the people and their weapons would be no match for the commander's warriors and weapons.

Growler history glorified their ancestors because they had no regard for other species and they had never lost a battle. For that reason, the commander of these modern growlers decided, in spite of the program's conclusion, he would follow their ancestor's tactics and eliminate every person on the planet by use of vicious warfare. However, before the commander could express the plan, one of the officers suggested they should retire to the command deck and meet with other senior officers for a discussion. The commander was hesitant, as his Shera rank did not require him to conduct a discussion, however, due to this being their first battle, he agreed and they left the room.

In the commander's large private office on the command deck, the commander and his senior officers could speak freely. After most of the officers had their say, being they should adhere to the standard order, the commander turned to his first officer, known as Nez-Mulex, and asked for his thoughts. Although growlers generally were not friendly, Den-Marsh and Nez-Mulex were born about the same time and began their training together. They often challenged each other on growler history, in addition to combat.

Nez-Mulex suggested a plan that was not quite so bellicose and also somewhat unique for a growler. "After we conquer the planet and move the collector to our ship, the journey to a home we have never known would take many generations of our people. In spite of the order to transport the collector to our home planet, I suggest we occupy this planet and leave the collector in place. We should allow the caretakers to continue their work, as those people know how to operate the collector. However, under our control, the workers and other people on the planet would become our slaves. My plan is bold, but it makes perfect sense for our species to populate this planet. Once we take control, we can send a message to our home planet where the final decision can be made. However, because sending and receiving messages between the planets takes many years, our descendants will be the ones to receive the first response."

The commander was quiet with thought as the other officers grumbled among themselves. The commander considered the plan to be thoughtful and intelligent. The commander trusted the suggestion was well thought out before being offered. He was about to end the discussion and announce his decision when another officer, Jer-Gola, spoke.

"Enough of this cowardly talk! We were given a mission and we must obey. Our only order is to locate the collector and transport it to Kezmara. To disobey that order would be treason, whether or not it will take thousands or even millions of years to reach our planet. Killing everyone on this planet is the right and duty of our people." Jer-Gola turned and growled at Nez-Mulex who returned his own growl and caused more disagreement among the officers.

As the officers argued over what should be done, the commander walked slowly around the room for a moment and said, "Silence! ... If we take control of the collector and enslave the inhabitants, we could move our people to Ardon, as Nez-Mulex suggests. Although contrary to the order, the council should realize nobody will know how to operate the collector if taken to Kezmara. I am ordering the intelligent decision. My officers will take this planet, enslave the occupants and create a new home for ourselves. Our government can deal with the issue after receiving our first report ... long after every person now in this ship has died."

The commander looked into the eyes of each officer. After a few moments of silence, the other officers showed their loyalty to the commander and his decision by growling loudly. Jer-Gola asked, "What should we do with the sender of the message?" The commander thought and said, "We should thank him for sending the message and permit him to be allowed to rule the planet."

The other officers were puzzled as they looked at each other. The commander continued, "However, we will not respond. After we take control of the planet, we will find this person and kill him in a public place. That act, after revealing the treachery, should cause the occupants to respect us." Instinctively, the commander and other officers shared another growl.

The commander continued, "There remains another matter. Even at top speed, it will take several months for us to arrive at Ardon. We should use this time to learn the language of these people so we can communicate and appear more friendly. Also, if we are able to take control of the planet, and the collector, without a battle, then so be it. If the situation changes thereafter, we can fulfill our needs at that time."

The commander and his officers began a spontaneous growl for a few moments. The commander contacted the navigation section by intercom and gave the order to change course. Moments later, the ship disappeared into the darkness on a course to planet Ardon.

Chapter Two

Although the growlers were interested only in the current state of affairs on Ardon, they never knew that thousands of years earlier, before the collector was discovered on Ardon, the people, who were human with light skin, were divided into several clans, each with a different language. They fought constantly, stole from each other and sometimes killed. Finally, clan leaders came together and worked out an agreement to abandon the clan system and adopt a single language. Still, it took several generations for everyone to accept the modern language and a single government. The major city on Ardon, known as Valasia, eventually became the capital for the new government, sometime after the collector was discovered.

The current three million people living on Ardon were divided almost equally between males and females. Men were mostly farmers, although a few worked in the trades, schools, government and civil defense. Most of the women cared for their children and kept house, though some women worked at the same jobs as men. Generally, the people were docile and friendly toward each other. Because crime was rare, there were very few police officers and jails.

In a large room within the government building, with many people present, the chief government minister, Jarla Bazor, was listening to reports from Ardon's ministers. At the moment, he was hearing the final report by the resource minister, Rea Lagar, "The lakes are being drained into our ocean due to overfilling, however, it appears the rain has ended. The crops are now planted and promise a plentiful harvest that should provide sufficient grain throughout the remainder of this season and beyond."

"We are all pleased with your report of another expected harvest. Please continue your good work that I presume will be completed in time for our annual festival."

"Yes, Jarla. We are all working diligently toward completing the harvest on time. The festival this year should be an even greater event than in past years."

"Now, if there is no other business, I suggest we adjourn and attend our weekly concert."

All stood and most walked to another part of the building where a small orchestra played traditional Ardon music for the people in attendance. While Jarla listened to the music, the defense minister, Zendar Molesh, approached, leaned over and whispered to Jarla, "We have an urgent matter, and I need to speak with you in private." Jarla stood and they left together.

In a nearby room, Jarla shut the door and turned to the defense minister who said, "I must report a serious matter. We have detected a large spaceship only a few weeks away from Ardon. We believe the spaceship to be a threat to our planet."

Jarla was surprised, "A spaceship? What kind of danger can we expect?"

"We are certain the people aboard the spaceship are the growlers. We believe they are coming to our planet because of the collector. It is very possible they intend to take it for themselves. It is also likely they intend to annihilate our people in the process."

"We have heard the growler stories all of our lives, however, why should we not attempt a way to make peace with these people?"

Zendar, surprised by Jarla's response, thought for a moment then responded, "The growlers have been sending signals for many years hoping to learn the location of the collector. It is unlikely they would consider any type of peace offering, especially after conquering our planet."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Stories from the Universal Collector by PAUL HOPPER Copyright © 2012 by Paul Hopper. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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