Sin and RedemptionThe three Dai-X fighters couldn't make it back to Moon Base. BrainCom's systems began to fail as they approached the complex. Rather than risk endangering the base, BrainCom and MainBody cut LegTrax loose and all three craft performed soft landings onto the lunar surface. The three pilots left their vehicles and watched a dust cloud approach from the direction of Moon Base. The recovery vehicles began their work as a stoney faced civilian driver drove the Lieutenants back to Moon Base.
General Kyle's face echoed the emotions of the driver as he addressed the pilots. Pending a full enquiry into their actions, all three were suspended from active duty and confined to quarters. He condemned their recklessness in failing to inform Star Fleet Command of their intentions; the consequences spoke for themselves. He expressed grave disappointment in them before dismissing them. None of the pilots attempted to justify their actions.
As they returned to their quarters, Kyle bowed his head, both hands resting on the briefing table. Even when the Imperial Master had been decimating Earth from his fortress, Kyle had maintained the hope that the X Project would return to turn the tide of battle. Now he faced an invisible enemy, able to strike at will anywhere in the solar system. With the Dai-X fighters out of commission for a yet-to-be determined period of time and the X-Bomber itself still undergoing repairs he had no such hope in the present circumstances.
He considered his options for several moments before issuing the orders. Star Fleet Command now lacked sufficient ships to effectively defend the entire solar system. Consequently, all combat craft were to pull back to the inner solar system on Earth's side of the asteroid belt. Pluto Beta Base, only recently completed, was to be evacuated and left on automatic control. All other outposts beyond Mars were similarly ordered to evacuate and return to Earth or Mars at best possible speed. Finally, General Kyle ordered Professor Hagen to focus all his efforts on the completion of repairs to X-Bomber. He made it clear that the repair of the Dai-X fighters was secondary to the need to bring X-Bomber to full combat effectiveness.
A week later the Alliance had still not made their move. Even with Pluto Beta Base abandoned and virtually inviting attack, none came. The tension on Moon Base was palpable. Shiro, still confined to quarters, had taken some small comfort when he was told that the Dai-X fighters were salvageable. Whether he would ever fly any of them again was more debatable. He watched the latest patrol squadron blast off and then tried to sleep.
The dreams had returned. This time he was in BrainCom with the others, fighting the Imperial Master's fortress in the combined Dai-X. He relived the pain of the Master's final devestating attack on Dai-X, felt himself spinning into the void, powerless. Suddenly the sense of motion ceased, the dizzying star field replaced by a gentle uniform brightness. The cockpit was gone and Shiro realised that he was now in a waking dream; aware of his surroundings, able to control his interaction with the dream. He was suddenly aware of another's presence...
"Lamia? Is that you? But it can't..." And yet it was. He knew it, instinctively; even though she had no physical presence, he sensed it was really her.
"Yes, Shiro. We are here."
"Lamia, what do you mean, we? What is this place?"
"We will answer all your questions, but our time is short. Your spirit knows us as Lamia, but we are also what the Imperial Alliance calls the F Zero One. We are not only Lamia. We are also Kirara and Halley. The F Zero One is balance, a trinity. Kirara's spirit brings courage, Halley's wisdom and Lamia's purity. Together, we are the F Zero One who speaks to you now."
Shiro was stunned but somehow understood the truth behind the words. "Can you help us? The Alliance is...."
"We are saddened by the suffering you continue to endure, but before we are able to help you you must first help us. In defeating the Imperial Master we had to sacrifice our own corporeal form to destroy his. Nor is our struggle ended. For, like us, the Master exists in this realm, the spirit realm - and we must hold him here to maintain the balance between darkness and light which is now in place. Shiro, something is wrong. The Master is growing in strength."
"You mean he's getting more powerful? He could escape?"
"The Master could do little against us following his defeat; we were sufficient to restrain him. But now something feeds him - something without the spirit realm. He lashes out at us constantly, testing us. The totality of our power is focused on resisting him; we cannot influence your reality while he exerts this pressure upon us. To do so would weaken the trinity, giving the Master a chance to break it and return to your reality. This we cannot allow."
"But you're saying you need my help?"
"Yes. For if the Master continues to be bolstered by this external power he will eventually break free of us and re-enter your universe. We cannot act in the physical realm to disrupt the source of his power without freeing him."
"So what you're saying is - unless we intervene for you, the Master will be free, sooner or later?"
"Yes. Although he might one day free himself by other means, unless the support he is receiving is stopped soon the Imperial Master will free himself. We take a risk simply communicating with you, although it takes little of our power."
"Where is this extra power, his support, coming from?"
"Something - someone - is drawing on ancient, dark powers. They come from the very heart of the Thalian Zone, the Alliance's original world, S'Kirina. What you will face when you arrive there we cannot say, for whatever guides these powers to aid the Master cloaks itself from us. We must go now. The Master gathers himself for another assault and we must focus all our energies on him now. Remember what we have told you here. You must go to S'Kirina, Shiro. You must prevent the balance of the universe being shifted to darkness."
Suddenly the presence is gone. Shiro's eyes open, and he feels a curious sense of calm replace the guilt that had filled his mind before he slept. He watches the Earth rise slowly above the horizon through the window of his quarters as he thinks about what Lamia/F Zero One has told him.
Last updated 14 December 2013