"General Wallace, please report to the Briefing
Room," intoned the emotionless autovoice, sounding almost
anxious in its attempts to contact him.
Armand Wallace sighed and unhitched himself from the virtua
treadmill on the Physical Training Deck on the Dark Veil.
He was the only one who had heard the voice; the Personal Audio
Enhancement Implant in his ear would see to that. With an air of
resignation, he threw on his uniform and headed for the Briefing
Room. After the security droid had scanned his retina pattern,
the door opened and he was allowed to enter.
Around the oval table sat his colleagues, the usual group of
Generals and Admirals. As Wallace took his seat, he realised that
High Admiral Cooper had decided to involve himself in a meeting
for the first time since his arrival on the Dark Veil
two weeks ago. He allowed a faint smile to cross his lips, which
was as far as his military training would permit him to go. The
grave expressions of the High Admiral and his subordinates made
it clear that this was no routine mission. He leaned forward in
expectation, as Cooper prepared to speak.
"I am happy to see that you are all present." said
Cooper, "Please note that this is a matter of Imperial
security, and all information I will reveal now is strictly
classified at level Z-7, which, as you are all aware, is the
highest level of security. Only those who are present are
authorised to receive this information, and any breach of
security will be met with severe punishment."
"In all our three hundred years of space travel, we have
never encountered intelligent life other than our own. This trend
is about to change, however. A Class IV cargo ship reported
activity on the fourth planet of the Logar system on March 17,
2342. However, there are no Terran outposts located there, and
therefore, the activity detected cannot be human in origin. Your,
or should I say, our mission is to investigate this activity, and
if it is nonhuman in origin, to destroy it and report back to
Earth." The last three words carried a strange sense of
urgency, as Cooper called up a three dimensional holographic
schematic of the Logar system from the companel on the armrest of
"With all due respect, High Admiral," interrupted
Wallace, "Shouldn't we exercise a little caution in this
matter? Besides, such an opportunity has never before stood
before humanity. Perhaps they have technologies that we do not,
and vice versa. The Empire could benefit greatly from this."
"Your point is noted, General Wallace, but your arguments
also serve as the perfect reason to destroy them."
"How so, Sir?"
"If their technology is more developed than ours, they
will have no difficulty in overthrowing the Empire itself. Such
an eventuality must not be allowed. That is why we will strike
when they least expect it."
Cooper smiled and leaned back in his chair.
"Besides, General, all scanning shows that they do seem
to possess some kind of power system which we do not. We arrived
at the outskirts of the Logar system three hours ago, and our
long range sensor sweeps show no evidence of any known power
generation system on the planet. However, there is a considerable
amount of energy in use down there, and that too is concentrated
in a single structure located near the equator of Logar IV."
At this point, the soft spoken General Petrov sat up and said,
"You mean to say that we are doing all this when we have
only one building against us, an Imperial Warship?"
"Precisely, General Petrov, and that building is our
target. This meeting is now adjourned. The next meeting will be
held after we reach geostationary orbit over the Logar IV.
Wallace trudged back to his quarters. Whatever
happened to the good old days, he mused, remembering his
grandfather's stories of the Terran Republic in its early days.
This was the fourth time this week that he had remembered the
days of his youth, before the republican government had been
overthrown by Admiral Zoltan in 2317. Now known as the Supreme
Commander, Zoltan had imposed totalitarian rule on all Terran
space in the name of the new Imperial Government led by him.
Individual freedom had been severely curtailed and propaganda
against the government was a direct invitation to the Death
Chambers of the Ceres Asteroid colony.
It all came back to him now...he was a young man, barely of
military age, when he was unwillingly forced into the army. The
alternatives were death or a lifetime of menial labour on the
asteroidal mining colonies. Scientists and doctors were recruited
early in life, and all their training was military driven in
nature. Weapons, war machines and better power systems were all
that were in demand, utter proof of the military backing of the
research institutes. Pure research for its own sake had been
outlawed long ago as useless and non-beneficial to the Empire.
"General, we have arrived at Logar IV," boomed the
voice of the High Admiral into his ear, "Please report to
the bridge immediately."
Wallace made a beeline for the bridge.Battle
Commander Peter McTodd, winner of the Imperial Medal of
Bravery was not a man to be trifled with. On numerous occasions,
he had proved his worth on the battlefield, and was known for his
ruthlessness, both on the battlefield and off it. Brought up on
the Martian colony of New Caledonia, he was accustomed to
physical hardship at an early age, and had resolved to carve out
a niche for himself in the history books. His ambition was amply
borne out by his speedy rise through the ranks. There was a
saying back at Training Base 37, where he had begun his military
training, "The sergeants swear by the Marcos(as Martian
colonists were known in the armed forces), and the Marcos swear
by Peter McTodd."
One life form, General Wallace had told him. All the
preparations being made seemed unnecessary to McTodd. He was, in
fact, of the opinion that he should be sent down alone to the
surface. After all, one man, even armed to the teeth, would be
unable to defeat a Commander of an Imperial Battalion, for the
training given to these men was more gruelling than those of the
now defunct Marines and Green Berets put together. Oh well,let's bring on the green bug eyed monster, thought
McTodd with a smile, as he entered the medium sized transport
capsule that would carry him and his men to the surface. No
cavalry was involved, all the more fun for McTodd. He sat back
and recalled the days back on Mars.
"Sir, we've arrived on the surface." said the pilot,
jolting McTodd out of his reverie.
"All right men, bring out the armour and let's
roll," replied McTodd, donning the metal waistband which
would expand into a full body protective covering at the flick of
a small switch. Camouflage was no problem with these babies, they
simply projected a holographic image of the surface behind him,
enabling him to melt into the background in two shakes of a
McTodd crept out of the capsule slowly, while his men spread
out into a fan-like formation behind him. He moved forward, in
expectation of a possible attack. He prepared his blaster. If
need be, he'd attack first.
He did not have to.
"Welcome, gentlemen!" a voice rang out from the
tunnel directly ahead, "I've been expecting you, though I
had no idea you would come armed! Please feel free to lower your
weapons. I mean no harm to him who means me none."
A figure stepped out from the tunnel. He was clothed in a
strangely shaded blue garment and looked perfectly human to all
those present. The science officer's voice crackled in McTodd's
helmet, "Scanning reveals that target is human, though there
is a little aberration in the readings. No sign of weaponry with
target or in the vicinity."
The figure spoke again, "It will soon be time for me to
satisfy your curiousity, but at the moment you must satisfy mine.
What is your purpose here?"
McTodd smiled crookedly and opened fire.Surprise
"How could this happen?" screamed
Cooper. "General Wallace, your best man was in charge of the
expedition, and you come to me with tales of defeat and
"Yes sir," answered Wallace, "We
are not sure what exactly happened, but the cameras on the
Transport Capsule have given us some idea of what seems to have
transpired. If you would just take a look at those, you might
understand our confusion, sir."
"I've already seen that, and I refuse to
believe it. According to the cameras, your men fired at him and
he fell, but on closer inspection his body faded away, and he
himself walked up from behind them and blasted them with energy
bolts without even using a weapon. This is some sort of
trickery...I refuse to stand for this. Prepare the Energy Cannon.
We'll blast that whole area into smithereens from orbit! What
The last few words were prompted by a flash of
light on the deck, and there stood the same figure that had
moments ago been on the planet surface!
"Such violence will not be necessary, my dear High
Admiral. Your men are not dead, merely stunned. You will find
them recuperating back on the planet surface. I do not kill when
it is unecessary, you see."
Cooper, stunned into silence, merely nodded his head
inarticulately. It was Wallace who spoke.
"Who are you? How did you get here?"
"I am the Overseer. As for how I got here, it is a small
distance, but the process by which I have done it must be kept
pending for the moment."
Most of this was gibberish to Wallace, but Cooper had
recovered sufficiently to speak and he proceeded to do so.
"How do you know my name?"
"Does everyone on this ship only ask questions? Never
mind, I shall endeavour to answer them all. Your name, sir, is
known by everyone on this ship. At such proximity, I can pull
such information out of minds, if they are enough for me to do so
without error. The more there are, the easier it is. Doing so
from one mind is quite difficult, except in the case of
information of which you are perpetually aware, for instance,
your name, or information which you are currently thinking. But
from what I know of your ways, I believe it is time for a meeting
of higher officials to be called. Perhaps you should do so."
Cooper complied quietly.Confrontation
High Admiral Li Zhang Li bit her lip in frustration. In a few
hours, her powerful one man hyperpod would dock with the Dark
Veil and she would have to face that hellhound Cooper again.
She and Cooper were known throughout the Armed Forces for their
heated arguments. Mentally cursing herself for being the only
High Admiral within 50 light years of the Logar system, she
prepared herself for the inevitable confrontations that would
Three hours later, Cooper waited at the docking station, as
apprehensive as High Admiral Li. The events of the past day had
drained him totally. Why didn't I just blast that Overseer or
whatever it was he called himself into atoms, he thought to
himself. Deep down, he knew the answer---he could not. Whatever
the Overseer was, he certainly had powers beyond their
The small craft completed docking successfully and Li stepped
into the Dark Veil, trying her best to keep herself
composed at the sight of Cooper's squarish face. She successfully
resisted the impulse to reach for the ionic blaster at her side
and blow Cooper into oblivion. Stepping forward, she spoke.
"We meet again, Admiral Cooper, this time on a matter of
Z-7 security, if I was briefed correctly. Hopefully things won't
be as bad as last time." She winced, recalling the battle of
words and abuses that had ensued on Beta Centauri V.
"Likewise, I'm sure, Admiral Li. Come, the meeting shall
commence within the hour. Please report to the Conference
Hall at 1630 hours. The remaining officials have already arrived.
At that time, you shall meet our honoured guest."
And with these words, they parted, wearily
resigning themselves to the future and the trials that it would
be sure to bring.
The door to the Conference Hall closed behind High Commisioner
Pedro Paulos as he entered and took his seat. He cast his eye
over the room, taking into account the five armed guards spread
around the room. Interesting setup, he thought. At the
head of the conference table sat the figure called the Overseer.
Paulos liked the colour of his bluish garment, though the garment
itself looked rather strange. The Overseer looked rather like a
fifteen year old, and yet exuded a strange feeling of power. He
wore archaic spectacles over his eyes, which were slightly
brownish when viewed at close quarters, but merged into black if
seen from afar.
The Overseer spoke, "I believe that all the required
officials are present. Please commence your questioning."
Paulos said, "The first question must be, what is your
"The answer to this question takes us back over three
centuries to Earth, were I originally come from. As you are all
aware, the Third World War took place in 2068, where
circumstances led to a huge confrontation between the nations of
Earth concerning large scale control of Earth's massively
depleted resources. The war ended within a year with the
formation of the Republic of Terra. However, this is not germane
to the issue at hand. During the war, I was a boy of seven.
During a small cease fire, I undertook a cross country trip in
order to escape to a place which was less severely affected by
the War. However, I was caught in the middle of an air attack and
was wounded rather badly. Just before passing out, however, I saw
strange lights in the sky, which I assumed to be aircraft on
their way for a second attack. Then, I fell unconscious and would
surely have died, if not for the timely intervention of the Old
"Who are the Old Ones?" asked General Petrov.
"The Old Ones are a race of immortal beings, the first
since the beginning of Time. They are the Custodians of the
Universe, and it was they who saved me. I was taken to their
worldship and repaired as well as enhanced. They assigned me the
task of uniting the various races of this Galaxy and bringing
them together to form a Galactic Republic. Other Overseers have
been assigned the same task in different galaxies. When the task
of the Overseers has been completed, the various republics must
sort out there futures on their own. The challenge of a Universal
government must be met by them and not by the Overseers. However,
it is essential that the Overseers engineer the right conditions
now, for all races are war-like and aggressive in their infancy,
as humans are now. If we cannot remove this aggressive streak
from your minds, the Galactic Republic itself will never come
about, let alone the Universal one. The tendency of infant races
to centralise power will ultimately prove destructive, and races
with highly centralised governments will, in the end, destroy
themselves. The Old Ones value life and intelligence above all
else and have created the Overseers precisely to prevent such an
eventuality. There is the danger of the Universe being rendered
lifeless and empty of intelligence, and that is why the Overseers
must work now and stop all that will endanger the peace and
sanctity of the Universe."
Wallace leaned forward. "If the Old Ones are so
powerful," he said, "Why don't they do the work of
these so called Overseers themselves?"
"Precisely the same question I asked the Old Ones when
the told me of my mission. However, the Old Ones, like all living
beings, are also in the process of evolution. To evolve further,
though, they must move up to a higher continuum, which they call
"the Eternal Plane." They have now left the Universe
for good, and shall not return until the work of the Overseers is
done. At that time, they will take us with them, and we shall
join their ranks. The Overseers have been carefully chosen at the
right time to ensure that the Galactic Republics all come into
being at the same time, so that the formation of Universal
government is not impeded by technological barriers."
High Admiral Cooper said, "You realise that you are
insinuating that the Terran Empire is harmful to the human race.
These are words of treason."
"Your laws do not apply to me, High Admiral. In any case,
I am no longer a member of the human race by form or
intelligence. The Overseers do not retain their original form
after being given the powers needed to accomplish his mission. I
only look like a human since I have chosen to manifest myself to
you in that form. For sentimental purposes, I prefer to use my
human form. But as an Overseer, I am not dealing exclusively with
the human race. As I sit here, I also sit on an alien ship 150
parsecs distant. Your races are on the verge of meeting, and
since you are both governed by military rulers, it is inevitable
that a conflict will arise if you meet each other in your present
state. Gentlemen, the Empire of Terra and the Empire of Guilos
(the alien Empire) must fall within 10 years, and it is one of
you who will help cause the fall of the Terran Empire!"
"What!" screamed Paulos.
"Yes! As my name suggests, I am only the Overseer. I
myself interfere with your affairs only when it is absolutely
necessary. My duty is only to supervise your actions. I have
showed myself now only in order to recruit my agents who will
serve as the means to bring about the formation of the Terran
Republic. The rest of you will remember nothing. The strange
activity on Logar IV will be put down to sensor problems and
radioactive minerals on the surface. Similarly, all other signs
that I ever existed, or that there was any problem on Logar IV
shall be wiped out."
"And do you think we'll just stand here and let you get
along with your fiendish designs? Never! You cannot resist the
power of the Terran Empire! I could blow you apart right now, you
"I beg your pardon, Admiral, but I am more than able to
deal with anything you can throw at me. Look at it in this way.
Humans, and indeed, other intelligent races in the Galaxy have
two levels of capability. The first level, or natural capability
is basically hand to hand combat with no weapons. The second, or
extended capability is combat with weaponry as well as vehicles
such as your warships. Until now, the worst challenge you have
faced is opponents whose extended capabilities are superior to
yours. My natural capabilities, on the other hand , are superior
to your extended capabilities, and I do not even need to appeal
to my extended powers. Also, there is little danger of any normal
race surpassing the level of the Overseers, since we too, are
constantly improving our techniques and increasing our powers.
There will come a time, when the Overseers will fail and war will
take place. In order to counter the disastrous effects of the
war, the Overseers will intervene and for that purpose, we must
prepare ourselves. In any case, you cannot destroy me easily. In
my true form, I am a being of highly ordered energy and am spread
over the entire Galaxy. I can control matter and energy
throughout the Galaxy using the power of my mind only. What you
see in front of you is merely a collection of atoms and molecules
animated by me, through which I communicate with you. In other
words, you cannot destroy me with any technology you presently
have or ever will have during your existence as a being composed
The Conference Hall was silent. No one had ever imagined that
they would ever face an opponent of such power and resources.
Finally, Paulos said in a small voice, "Who do you plan to
recruit as your agent?"
"The only one of you who has realised the true meaning of
my words, as I was confident that he would. General Wallace, you
are the one who shall be my agent. Besides you, I have spent the
past few years collecting helpers throughout the Empire, as I
have done or will do with other races, as the time comes. They
will carefully engineer the fall of the Terran Empire and
establish the Terran Republic. Come, General Wallace, are you
willing to be a Helper?"
Wallace stood up. "I am willing to be a Helper," he
said quietly. "All my life I have yearned for a sense of
purpose and you have given it to me."
"Excellent! Do not fear the dangers of your mission, I
will be watching over you as the Old Ones watch over me as well
as the rest of the Overseers. And now, gentlemen, you will excuse
me. The rest of you will remember nothing. General Wallace, you
will receive your instructions when the time comes."
There was a blinding flash of light.
The Dark Veil sped towards Earth, with the news that
the activity on Logar IV was a false alarm. As General Wallace
dropped into his bed for the first time in two days, he knew that
his life had been changed forever.