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A short story by

Brian T. Kindregan

Juras opened eyes that had not seen for centuries. The engineers had told him that awakening from stasis was unpleasant. They’d lied – it was horrible. His skin, his eyes, his nerve cords all hurt. He stumbled from the waking chamber, shielding his eyes from the soft glow on the bridge of the Moratun.

He’d been slated to wake only when his ship detected intelligent life. It was a moment Juras had dreamed of since he’d first designed this enormous vessel. Contact with rational alien intelligence would bring the protoss to another golden age, would spur a renaissance of art and culture. And Juras would be there to see it.

He moved cautiously to the main control console and studied the readout. The ship was moving, shields at full strength, weapons primed. Juras had designed the motherships as peaceful exploration vessels, but space was a dangerous place, and the massive ships were heavily armored and shielded. They also boasted the deadliest weapons the protoss had ever designed. Juras had opposed the inclusion of weapons, but the Templar caste had insisted. The templar had even converted some of the vessels to command ships leading armadas. But Juras had kept his beloved prototype, the Moratun, for exploration.

He was sure the weapons would never be needed; it was impossible to imagine a species achieving interplanetary travel unless it was driven by the need to reach out to others, to understand, share, and learn.

And the protoss must never repeat the mistakes of the past. Juras recited this imperative in his thoughts: the protoss would not repeat the mistakes of the past.

He touched the console. In a moment he would see the first communication from a new species. As the image came up, his brow furrowed. It was a simple burst transmission sent to all the dormant motherships: “Come home. We are lost.”

Fear coiled in Juras’ chest. Instinctively, he reached for the Khala and felt the reassuring touch – his people were out there somewhere.

He closed his eyes, feeling at one with his ship as it hurtled through the darkness. Although he was an explorer and used to solitude, it would be nice to return to the calm, warm embrace of his people. He settled into a meditation stance. Juras was concerned about what he would find at the conclusion of his journey, but under that concern was serenity. His people were the Firstborn: they had the Khala, and they had the Conclave. Any problem could be surmounted.

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