There Will Be No More

All was silent in the vacuum of space. The vacuum of space was never very loud, because sound cannot travel in a vacuum. A person wishing to get some peace and quiet, however, would never consider the vacuum of space a place to get this. He might get the "quiet" part of his wish, but space was seldom peaceful. And despite its mute quality, space was seldom silent.

Sueht woke to a loud, beeping noise. The noise had started out piercing at intervals but then it calmed down to a constant blip. Sueht jumped up and ran over to the complex control system and navigation center located in the ship. It was an old ship, refurbished by the Grand Council of Intergalactic Assistance and Meddling. The latter part of the title was added when the Borogians, infamous philosophers of the Arcturian star system, brought up a very long debate about what exactly defined "assisting" and "meddling," and what made the concepts different. To appease the Borogians, who were wont to talk for hours, the name was changed. The only people who really cared were college students who were forced to spell out an even longer title when taking notes. Acronyms were thought to be one of the fifteen eternal sins.

Sueht looked at the radar and saw a blinking blue light. She smiled and looked around the ship frantically. "Hey Emorp! Where are you? Gates! Emorp?"

Sueht heard the scraping and shuffling of footsteps advancing towards her. She recognized the short, stocky shape of the ship's pilot, Gates, heading her way. Gates bounced into the room with a large plunger. "What is it!? Have we been attacked by Floborgs again? I'll get 'em... I'll get 'em, you watch! Never again, they'll never--"

"Gates! There aren't any Floborgs! The radar has found something," Sueht assured her friend.

"Oh. Got it. Where's Emorp then? He sitting this one out?"

"Fat chance! I want to get out of here. We've been riding for what seems like eons and ages. Probably has been eons and ages..." Sueht sighed and glared into the vacuum of space. It was so empty and dull and silent and ugly. Nothing cool ever happened in any decent amount of time. The nothingness made Sueht feel lost, without a home, empty inside.

"Sueht, what's going on?" Emorp entered the room.

Sueht turned to him and smiled. "Hey! The radar has picked something up. I want to go check it out!"

Emorp smiled and shook his head. "We can't save them all, Sueht. Even the Council will tell you that!" Emorp walked over to the navigation center and took a look at the radar. He nodded when he saw the blue dot on the screen. It was definitely a planet.

Sueht frowned. "Oh well, we don't have to save it. But come on, we've been traveling forever without so much as a sign of life. Can't we at least check it out? Please? I'm so sick of this place."

Emorp turned to Sueht and shrugged. "Sure thing. Gates, get this thing running."

"Wooh!" Sueht hugged Emorp. Gates rolled his eyes and headed over to the control center which contained hundreds of switches and dials. Gates was about to ask a question but Emorp interrupted him.

"No! No warp speed. Dammit Gates, no warp speed."

Grumbling, Gates pulled several switches and turned a few dials. He put his small hand on a direction synchronizer and directed the ship the way he wanted it to go. Gates stared gloomily out into space as far away stars zipped by the windows. The stars would look so much more beautiful if he were going warp speed. Warp speed was something Gates had always wanted to try out, but everyone else seemed to think it was something dreadfully dangerous. Not even the philosophers of Borogia discussed why someone would create something that was too dangerous to ever use.

The ship rocked as it picked up speed. Sueht and Emorp were forced to sit down before they fell back. While Gates didn't put the ship in warp speed, he did speed it up quite a bit. Several times Gates had to bring the ship down to a slower level and speed it up again, rerouting his course, and every time he did so, Emorp's stomach reeled. The constant change in motion didn't agree with his stomach at all. Emorp groaned and Sueht passed him a bucket that was always kept in the control room of the ship. She heard Gates chuckle like a diseased hyena.

Sueht watched as the blip on the radar became visible. It was like a small blue marble at first and then it became the size of a small moon. Soon it had consumed the entire window space. Sueht marveled at the giant pool of water. There were chunks of land, but these were few and very small compared to the water. Or at least, Sueht hoped it was water and not a methane atmosphere.

Gates brought the ship to a constant, slow speed much to Emorp's relief. The ship approached the planet while circling it very slowly. Emorp, setting the bucket aside, looked out of the window. At first the world seemed a bit bland, but when the ship gained proximity, the three created a grand, collective gasp.

The world had monumental mountains topped with majestic layers of snow that seemed to hail to the heavens such was their height. There were gentle lengths of river that hugged the land and made it fertile. The glassy deserts seemed to radiate beauty itself, spanning great lengths and speaking slowly of the history they had seen.. There were forests whose whispers created music and oceans that filled the void with their life. The land was sprinkled with wild life and sown with seed.

Suddenly the ship began to jerk, causing Sueht and Emorp to be thrown against the ship with a bang. Unconnected pieces of furniture began to slide and crash against the walls. Emorp struggled to stand and jumped up to what was now the ceiling to grab the controls. He clicked a few switches and the ship returned to normal. "Gates. Pay attention to the sky."

"Sorry I just... wow. Just wow." Gates was staring out the window. The glaciers of the world shined, reflecting the sun and filling Gates' eyes with their wonder.

"Let's get closer. I want to save this one. We need to! Just look at it," Sueht pointed at the window and surrounded the picture with her hands.

Emorp nodded and set the ship on course for the planet. Gates got up from where he had fallen and glared at Emorp, tapping his foot. Sueht laughed as Emorp blatantly ignored him. Gates crossed his arms and gave Sueht a scathing glance. Emorp turned his head to look at Gates, smiling roguishly. "Oh, you wanted the controls? All yours." Emorp let go of the controls and stepped out of the control seat. The ship began to turn again, but everything went back to normal when a cursing Gates was back in his seat.

"Cloaking devices, Gates!" Sueht yelled when they began getting very close to the surface. It wouldn't do for the inhabitants of the planet to notice a foreign vehicle. Some planets were farther advanced in intergalactic travel than others. "Okay now let's try to find the primary inhabitants of this rock."

Gates mumbled something Sueht didn't hear and started meandering around trees and mountains, looking for some form of sentient life. The ship sped past the mountains, which didn't seem to support any sort of sentient being, and began whirling randomly around the planet. It was always pretty tricky trying to scope out the intelligent life on any planet. Sometimes there was hardly any life on a planet at all. Gates brought the ship to an abrupt stop, which sent Emorp's stomach sailing through the air. The short pilot pointed out the window. "How 'bout those?"

Sueht wrapped her arms around Emorp, trying to comfort him. He had completely changed colors. Gates kept pointing out the window and making exclamations but Sueht ignored him. It was when Gates stopped making exclamations and became suddenly silent that Sueht looked out the window. "Oh. What are they doing?"

Emorp tried to shake off the sickness to no avail. He stood up anyway and looked out of the ship. Outside of the ship, inhabitants of the planet where scattered across the land, each holding large objects that looked like bent sticks that could be held easily in the hand. Most of the sticks needed to be held with two hands. There seemed to be an invisible line between some of the inhabitants and the others, because there was a mammoth-like gap between one bunch and the other.

Sueht flinched when she heard a large bang. The sky seemed to erupt in smoke and the land was marked with fire. The inhabitants ran every which way, continuing to create the noises and atrocities. When Sueht no longer had to flinch at the noise, she realized that the giant sticks were actually projectile launchers. The sticks were sending small pieces of something shooting into the air. The projectiles were going to the other side. The inhabitants were all doing this.

Several beings fell to the ground because of the projectiles. Some of the creatures had small items they threw which burst into flame. The objective of the situation seemed to be to make the most inhabitants on the other side fall to the ground.

Sueht shook her head. "What the hell is this?"

"Your sentient beings," replied Gates.

Emorp stared at the inhabitants with a crease in his forehead and wrinkled his nose. There was a taste of iron that seemed to penetrate the ship. "Ah! Know what it must be? You know that game they play on Faringo? Maybe it's sort of like that."

"Oh! You're right. It does look very similar." Sueht recalled the days they had spent on the planet of Faringo. Faringo was a very interesting planet with an incredibly rich culture. Every two Faringan years, the government officials would hold huge competitions in which everyone was allowed to take part. Each person would be given a supply of what was called "sludge." The competitors would have half a Faringan day to go to wherever they wanted on the planet and begin creating a strategy. The Faringans who took part had to hunt down others who were taking part and try to cover them with sludge before they themselves were covered with the sludge. The substance would seep into the pores and eventually paralyze the contestants for a very short amount of time. When this paralysis was reached, the Faringan was eliminated. The Faringan who was the last one standing became the new Overlord for the next two years until the next competition and received a lifetime supply of Kool-Aid packets.

Emorp considered the situation. "You know, the Faringans were awful good cooks."

Gates made a face. "If you like eating your own excrement."

Sueht nodded. "You don't have to come, Gates. Just drop us off at the nearest city!"

Gates looked at Sueht hard and rolled his eyes. They were always trying to get rid of him. Faringans! Good cooks! The Faringans never told anyone what they put in their food, but Gates had a feeling he wasn't too far off from the truth. Grumbling, Gates kicked the ship back into action and began twisting around the world, searching for some sort of city. After a short amount of time, he found one. He found it, because he almost crashed into it.

Large pillars of metal rose to challenge the mountains the group had seen earlier. Streets had been paved throughout the city and it was littered with buildings. Not a blade of grass could be seen. Gates shrugged, lowered the ship and opened the door. It was their problem now, he was going to take a nap.

"Bye Gates!" Sueht yelled as she ran out of the ship with Emorp close behind. The two stared aghast at the city.

The tall buildings Gates had noticed before seemed to reached forever into the sky, but this was not the most prominent part of the city. The streets were bustling with inhabitants moving at what seemed to be warp speed. The creatures seemed to bump into each other quite a bit and didn't seem to take any notice. The inhabitants were not like the Faringans. The Faringans would stop on the streets and have a conversation with everyone they came across. These inhabitants seemed to ignore the very existence of their fellow beings.

Several beings pushed and shoved Emorp and Sueht out of the way without even noticing them. "Why don't they see us? Question us?" Emorp asked. Every other sentient being he had ever met had immediately, upon seeing him, asked where he was from or threatened him with some sort of charge.

"I don't know... and what are all of those colors? Hold on, I'm going to go see." Sueht dodged several people and made her way across the street. She saw something shiny on the ground and picked it up. "Oh. It's some form of plastic. But it's everywhere." In her hands, she held a light, flimsy material that read "Doritos." There were crumbs inside of it. Sueht couldn't read the label, but she could distinguish that it was some sort of food.

Emorp took the piece of plastic and studied it. He looked at the ground and noticed that there was a lot of it scattered about. "Some new sort of fertilizer perhaps."

"They can make rain clouds too!" Sueht stared in the distance and Emorp followed her gaze. Sure enough, there was a large building that was creating gray rain clouds. The clouds came pouring out of giant pipes at the top of the building. Emorp began thinking of ways to implement this technology on his home planet. Rain was one of the most necessary and sacred things. To be able to create it was amazing.

Emorp and Sueht turned around abruptly, ripped from their awe for the rain cloud buildings, when they heard a high pitched scream. At first, they could see nothing significant due to the mobs of people traveling down the streets. But then, the two saw something that made them freeze. One being was trying to take something from another. When the inhabitant would not let go, the other pulled out something that caught the sun's light. It was sharp and the being was apparently frightened by it because the item was let go and the creature was allowed to run off with it. Nobody stopped him.

"Thievery," Emorp stated.

"No, I don't understand. They've made so many breakthroughs... they can make rain. They made plastic into something useful. There must be something we don't understand." Sueht was shaken. On her home planet, thievery was one of the highest offenses.

"It was thievery," Emorp stated again, gritting his teeth. He didn't understand the planet, he no longer wanted to understand the planet. The planet was dangerous now. "Let's go. It's a city of thieves."

Sueht frowned. "But I don't understand."

Emorp grabbed Sueht's arm. "We don't need to understand. Please, let's go."

"What if we make contact? We could have this all wrong. Maybe they're not bad, just misunderstood."

"No, Sueht please." He wanted to leave. The planet didn't feel right anymore. Suddenly even the air seemed to be corrupted with the pollution of thievery. He had a bad feeling about the planet and didn't want to risk anything by staying.

Sueht bit her lip. She could feel Emorp's grip tighten on her arm and she saw the pleading in his eyes but she wanted to know what was wrong with the planet. Maybe there was no thievery. There could have been a misunderstanding. She wanted to talk to one of the inhabitants and find out. Sueht didn't understand what sort of danger Emorp anticipated. He was just being paranoid. "I just want to make contact with one. If something bad comes up, we'll just leave. We don't have to talk to a bunch at once."

Emorp sighed heavily and nodded. Sueht would have her way whether he left with the ship or not. Emorp went back to the ship to a very disgruntled Gates and and asked for a communication stone. Communication stones were thought to be one of the greatest inventions of the universe because if two people who speak different languages touch the stone, they can communicate. The stone had basically expanded intergalactic trade and alliance to such an extent that anyone without a communication stone was basically deaf and mute.

Emorp brought the stone back to Sueht and gave it to her. Sueht looked around the city trying to find an inhabitant by himself. It was hard to do because most of the beings were swarming like bees around the streets and buildings. Soon she spotted one individual who was standing by a sign. The being was tapping his foot not unlike Gates was earlier. Sueht walked over to the being and he seemed to jump at her aproach.

Sueht held out the communication stone to the inhabitant and tried to signal for him to put his hand on it as well. The being stared at Sueht and then moved his eyes to the stone. A tremendous roar could be heard and then a many-seated vehicle pulled up next to the sign. The being took one last look at Sueht and then took the stone. He jumped onto the vehicle and screamed. "ALIENS! ALIENS EVERYONE! ALIENS!"

Sueht raised an eyebrow. She didn't understand what he was saying. "Maybe he's trying to get his friends involved."

Emorp looked around. He agreed. The people who were busy before, heard the screams and started to circle in on Emorp and Sueht. Sueht became frightened but without the communication stone, was powerless to explain the situation.

The inhabitants began to grab the two and they struggled. Sueht pulled away from the mob and got closer to Emorp. "What do we do? I'm scared." Sueht was having difficulty breathing. There were too many beings.

Emorp came between Sueht and the mob. "Stop. We come in peace. We're here to save your planet! We want to take you to a safe place to wait through the apocalypse. Let us help--" And then all was dark.

Sueht woke to a loud, beeping noise. The noise had started out piercing at intervals but then it calmed down to a constant blip. Sueht was startled to find that she was in a stark white room surrounded by nothing familiar. She found that she was in a small bed surrounded by nothing fascinating. There were machines in the room but she didn't know what they did. Sueht got up and reached the door at the other end of the room. She heard voices.

"He died during experimentation. At least we still have the female. If we harvest his organs fast enough, we may have a chance to create more."

"Blast. Oh well, we learned a lot. Do you think these new cells can really cure cancer?"

"No, that's just the media talking. Don't be such a novice. There was nothing spectacular in these cells. It'd make a nice exhibit in the zoo though. Make a lot of money."

Sueht couldn't understand the words. She didn't like that she couldn't understand the words. She felt as if they may have told her something important. She waited for the words to go away and then she opened the door. There was a long hall to her left and right but she didn't see it. Her eyes were frozen in place, looking straight ahead to the next room.

She ran into the room and screamed. Sueht grabbed the nearest bucket, which appeared to be used for scrap disposal, and wretched. Before her was Emorp, cut in half, organs exposed to the world. "No. No! Thieves sure but not... no! This can't be... this can't be..." Sueht backed up, confused and disoriented. She bumped into a wall and fell down.

Cautiously she reached out a hand and touched her partner. He was cold. "No... not murderers. They can't be murderers." Sueht began to break down. "They make rain! They make life... there hasn't been murder in the universe since... since times unheard of! What fell planet... what monstrous race... No. There will be no more. I will make sure of that."

Sueht looked around the room and saw a window. She went over and tested it. It was open. She crawled through the window and ran as far away from the building as possible. Somewhere out there, Gates was waiting. When the apocalypse comes, there will be no more.