Without hindrance, without mass, but with astonishing energy, the emitter beam progressed
swiftly on its course. Through the depths of space it travelled, never slowing,
never fading, and never deviating.
The beam’s straight path was well-chosen, avoiding dense clusters
of solar systems and nebulae, and avoiding large clumps of matter that could
reduce its potency, or deflect its course.
Not every obstacle could have been foreseen, of course.
Just over five thousand light years from Gun-Loc – seven hours into
its monolithic journey, the emitter beam encountered three aging but fully
automated cargo vessels. Each ship carried a million tonnes of frozen spicy
terror wings, and, unknown to anyone, the lead vessel carried a middle-aged
stowaway named Chu Zonmafeat. For years, Chu had planned his escape from
the closed society of Aerok’H’Tron, and from the hard labour
and sugar-free food he had been subjected to in the typsium quarries.
And now, as the stowaway sat shivering like a featherless penguin between
two enormous crates, he grinned broadly. He had done it, and he would soon
be back on his family’s plantation on the democratic free world of
Aerok’H’Tuos, his six gangly siblings at his side at last.
An image of the plantation, and of his favourite sister, Shu, filled Chu’s
mind as he and the cargo ships were vaporised out of existence.
The emitter beam travelled on, and for the next few uneventful hours traversed
the sparse zone between two galactic spiral arms.
The giant space station Dog Breath drifted slowly a hundred light years
from the nearest star system. Out here the station was beyond the detection
of security forces, and almost invisible in this dimly lit region of the
galaxy - the perfect place for the station’s highly illegal activity:
the production of goofigoo, a new and totally addictive hallucinogenic
Lord Shinononoo, Dog Breath’s commandant, sat at the centre of the
station’s command deck and folded his arms on top of his naked furry
belly. A feeling of intense satisfaction filled his mind. Production of
the first batch of goofigoo would be completed today, and eighteen ships
were docked and waiting to begin distribution of his new oral hygiene
substance to the depraved areas of the central worlds. Within weeks, millions
of humanoids would be dependent on his new and satisfying toothpaste,
and billions of credits would soon flood into his bank accounts, giving
him a huge return on investment.
Lord Shinononoo stood and yelled “I am a genius! I am so incredibly
awesome!” He jumped up and down, his midsection bouncing like a
goat on a water bed. “Look at my furry belly!”
The command deck’s crew stared at the commandant, surprised at his
Space station Dog Breath vanished.
The beam entered a densely populated region. For the next couple of hours
the emitter beam continued in its course, passing harmlessly through the
Gninnan cluster, and on into the tunnel-like void through the beautifully
organised Iemiem artificial nebula – the pride of the Gnah-Ziem
On the beam travelled. Solar system after solar system flashed by, and
civilisation after civilisation were left unaware of just how close they
had come to massive devastation.
Then, after atomizing a dozen badly maintained but colourfully decorated
hippy ships from the Lentyl Colonies, the emitter beam entered a new region
of space known as the Ar’Mar’Ni sector.