To Seek The Night
By John Griffith

Chapter 1

May 22, 2366

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - bridge

Captain's Log: We are approaching Alpha Vulpeculae, a spectral type M0III red giant. Recent anomalies detected by the long-range observatories suggest the possibility of intelligent life in the system, so we were pulled off our survey duties to do a preliminary investigation. I am not really happy with these orders since we are Survey and don't have the resources or the personnel for a first contact and with the families aboard we're more vulnerable. Hopefully all will go well. Or at least not all bad.


"Captain, I have the results from the first probes," said Sunseeker, the ship's chakat First Officer.

"Please, Number One, give me some good news." Captain Gardina turned to the chakat. "Tell me that you found an empty planet that we're actually trained to study."

Sunseeker chuckled. "No sir. Unfortunately the probes report that the fourth planet has manufactured artifacts in orbit. So I guess we're stuck with what we've got." Shi glanced down at the PADD in hir paw. "Also, they show power plants on the planet itself."

"Oh, like the power plant on Avior 2 that miraculously turned into a volcano that almost destroyed the shuttle?" grunted the Captain.

"Geology swears that these are too strong for any natural source. Also, they appear to be nuclear in nature. The only question seems to be why they used old-fashioned nuclear reactors on the planet and clean sources on the satellites. We've detected what looks like fusion power sources on several of the larger orbitals. We'll need to get closer to get any specific information, the sun puts out too much for our probes to filter out."

"Terrific! I'd feel a lot better if I had a few less botanists and a few more sociologists," Gardina muttered for the ears of his XO. Raising his voice, he began to issue orders. "Helm, one-half impulse. Take us to 40,000 kilometers from number four."

Sysssteria Orbital Defense Station #1

### Alien ship detected entering system ###

=== Other's ship? ===

### Other ship pattern match: Failure. Energy signature match: Failure. Current probability Other ship: 21% ###

=== Is ship close enough for deep scan? ===

### At present rate: 20 minutes ###

=== Begin stealth power-up sequence for both station and prime defender. When ship is in mid-range of deep scan, bring main power on line and do scan. ===

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - bridge

"Captain to the bridge!" Captain Gardina winced at the echo in his earpiece. "This is the Captain, Number One, what's the problem?"

"Captain, we've just detected a large power source in orbit. It's putting out more than four dreadnaughts. There's no way the probes could have missed this, so it may be something reacting to us."

"Alright, 'Seeker, full stop. I'll be on the bridge in thirty seconds.' Just then, the lights in the turbo-lift dimmed as it made a slight lurch. "Number one, what was that?"

"We were just hit with some type of scanning device, sir. Tiberius says that it did a molecular level scan. Whoever's out there now knows we all had for breakfast."

Sysssteria Orbital Defense Station #1

### Deep scan complete ###

=== Final probability of Others? ===

### Probability: <5%. Scan indicates two power type sources, neither match Other patterns. Scan also indicates multiple biotype signatures, none match Others or Other's slaves. ###

=== Possibility of new slave? ===

### Probability: <5%. No Other Overlord detected by scan. ###

=== Possibility of Category 1 weapons? ===

### Probability: 67.25%. Scan indicates Matter-Antimatter power sources ###

=== Activate prime defender ===

### Mission? ###

=== Destruction ===

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

"Has anyone responded to our hails, Com?" Gardina asked the Lieutenant Redlight, the foxtaur at the communications station.

"No sir. I've tried all of our frequencies as well as the old radio ones. No response to anything."

"Well, has that big station done anything else?"

"Again, no sir. It's stayed at the same power level since we detected it."

"Damn. Helm, range to planet."

"Sir, Range is at 43,378 kilometers."

"Number One, who's the ready pilot for the shuttle?"

"Ahh…" Shi entered a query into hir PADD. "Lieutenant Conson, sir."

"Good, he's paranoid enough to do this. Number One, I want the shuttle to coast within 30,000 kilometers of the planet. Let's see if we can find out what's going on."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Shuttle bay

"Ye Gods. What did I do? Who did I piss off?" Lieutenant Conson wailed in the shuttle's cockpit.

"Stuff it, Con. You've been whining about never being the first to see anything new since I've known you." His control's voice came over the com. "Now you will and you're moaning about that."

"Oh, my Sheila, my one true love, the thing about seeing something new is living to brag about it later."

"Ha. And don't call me a sheila. You'll be back in the lounge in no time. And just think, the stories you'll tell will thrill all the real shuttle sheilas."

"True, oh so true." His voice took on a brisk, professional air, "Well then Control, this is Shuttle Sacagawea ready for launch."

"Understood, Sacagawea. Preparing for launch. Evacuating shuttle bay... Shuttle doors open. Good luck Sac."

Sysssteria Orbital Defense Station #1

### Second ship detected ###

=== Other ship? ===

### Negative. No FTL detected. Category 4 weapons detected. Probability: 98% second ship system-type shuttle ###

=== Where did the shuttle exit the main ship? ===

### Transmitting co-ordinates. Probability: 89.77% accessible opening ###

=== Unless it fires, take no action to shuttle. It is inconsequential to mission. ===

### Understood. ###

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - bridge

"Captain, we're getting the telemetry from the shuttle."

"Excellent, where is the Lieutenant?"

"He's 3200 kilometers from the planet. And his sensors are getting good readings from it."

"Alright, is it good news or bad?"

"Bad, sir, very, very bad. The nuclear power sources the probes detected? It looks like survey did it again, although it isn't so bad this time. They're actually radioactive holes. The computer says that they're probably places where power plants went critical, not weapons fire."

"Oh God. That must have polluted the entire planet. What about the people?"

"There aren't any, sir. Shuttle detects no life signs at all. It appears that the reactors blew about 600 years ago."

"That would account for the anomalies that got us here, but who powered up the big station then? Did the shuttle get any reading from it?"

"No sir, Lieutenant Conson didn't want to try because he didn't want to attract any more attention."

"No, I can underst...."

**** KLUNK ****

"What the hell was..." The Captain cut himself off as an alarm began to wail.



Chapter 2

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - bridge

"This is the Captain. Shuttle Control, status report!"

"Sir, this is Lieutenant Commander Shallowpike, in Shuttle Control. We have a hole in the main shuttle bay door, approximately four meters in diameter. The force shields are holding for now, but without the metal to support them, they won't last long. Captain, it was like the duralumin just melted! Wait a sec.... Captain, something just climbed in. Looks like a large lizard. Oh God, a large glowing lizard with wings. Damage control parties get out of the shuttle bay now! What's it doing ....#zzzzzzzz#"

The Commander's voice was cut off in a blaze of static. The caption turned to his first officer.

"Sunseeker, status report."

"Sir, we've lost contact with Shuttle Control, it looks like a large EM pulse fried their com. I don't know if anyone's alive down there, but I have the Marines on the way."

"Good, now tell me what it was and how it got so close. Godammit," he slammed his fist into the back of his chair, "We're a Survey vessel, we have the best damn sensors in the Fleet."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Deck 3, Shuttle bay entrance #2

"Major Trent, this is Lieutenant Carrow. My squad is at the bay entrance, we are ready to go in."

"Lieutenant, any sightings on your way in?"

"No sir, other than trying to blast a few Dam-Con's running in the opposite direction, it was quiet."

"Captain Gardina, this is Major Trent. The marines are ready to go on your command sir."

"Major, this is the Captain. Sensors are still unable to pinpoint the creature. Remember, if possible, and at no risk to your people, I'd like it captured."

"Sir, I don't..."

"Understood Major, I said at no risk to you and yours."

"Acknowledged, Captain. Trent out." Switching to the marine channel, Trent continued, "All troops, this is Trent. Keep your eyes open, sensors are useless."

"Like that's new."

"I heard that, Pinky. Now, to the rest of you. All odd number troopers have their phasers on heavy stun, evens on kill. I want two groups of four; the odds fire first, if there's no effect, evens fire and the odds change settings. On three, we enter the shuttle bay. One... Two... Three!"

On three, the two squads of marines entered the shuttle bay. The shuttles 'Arikaras' and 'Hidatsas' were smoldering lumps of metal and the cargo boxes, some of which weighed in the tons, had been tossed around like a bunch of children's building blocks. There was, however, no sign of the creature.

"Captain, this is Trent. We're in the shuttle bay. Are you getting our feeds?"

"Confirmed, Major. We see everything fine. No luck with the sensors still, it seems that our friend had some type of built-in stealth system."

"It ain't my friend"

"Pinky, shush. All right Captain, we'll find it. Trent out. Pinky, I'm gonna feed you to that thing. Team #1, check the control booth. The rest of you, spread out."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

"Com, tell Lieutenant Conson to stay out there for a while. His landing pad is a little messy. Number One, did you get anything else from Shuttle Control's last transmission?"

"We think so sir. Apparently, Lieutenant Commander Shallowpike was trying to focus one of the bay's camera's on the creature before hir com was blacked out."

"Put it on the main screen, Sunseeker. Holy mackerel." He stared at the screen in a sort of sick fascination.

"Yes, sir. As you can see, the creature is reptilian in nature, although it appears to have been augmented with some sort of metal plate in its skin. The degree of augmentation is unknown, and I'm afraid that the only way we'll find out is if it uses something against us. It is approximately 2.5 meters tall with a 1.5 meter tail. The wingspan has to estimated, since we haven't seen them spread, but they should be about 8 meters wide. We can only estimate its strength, but since it tossed a 4.5 ton cargo pallet around and it can probably lift at least six tons."

"Captain, this is Trent. I have reached Shuttle Control."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark -Shuttle bay

"Alright, Major. What's your status?"

"Sir, my squad has just entered Shuttle Control. The radiation levels in here are hard to believe, including some types that our armor sensors can't ID. I count four bodies, so that's the entire crew. I'm tagging them for beam-out."

"Understood, Major. See if you can get any of the systems back on line."

"Not likely, Captain, the panels are melted slag."

A few seconds later the glowing lights and hum of a transporter removed the bodies of the downed technicians. As he watched them go, Major Trent's voice was grim. "Alright boys and girls and others, back to the show."

"OH SHIT! Major, we found it!"

Immediately, a pair of phaser rifles opened fire. The beams dissipating a half-meter from the creature.

"DOUBLE SHIT! Stun has no effect! All teams.... #zzzzzzzz#"

Unfortunately, when the creature returned fire, the marines weren't so lucky.

"All teams, this is Trent. Change phasers to kill. I repeat, change to kill. Stun has no effect."

"Major, this is Cpl. Johnson. Team two-baker. We are at the point where two-alpha met the creature. It isn't here, but four bodies are. They're heavily burned without life-signs. Sir, it melted their armor around them. I am tagging for beam-out."

"Understood, Corporal. Continue searching."

"Yes sir. Sir, there appear to be some sort of tracks here. It looks as if the creature’s claws penetrated the floor."

"Excellent Corporal. We'll be there in a sec. Hold your position until we get there."

"Yes, sir. We will .... #zzzzzzzz#"

Trent broke out into a run when he heard the unmistakable sound of phaser fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw the creature as it breathed fire at the other marine team. At that point, there were twelve phaser rifles firing, all to no effect. The creature twisted its head spewing fire at the marine teams. Four went down, and then four more. "This is Trent. All units fall back to the bay entrance. I repeat, fall back."

"Captain, this is Trent. I have four marines remaining. Our phasers are useless, the creature shrugged off twelve of them on full kill. Is there any possibility of venting the shuttle bay and hitting it with the ship's phasers?"

"Sorry, Major. Without some sort of a sensor lock, we couldn't hit it. Is there any way you can tag it?"

Trent looked at his com in disbelief. "Captain, I am sorry to say that military protocol prohibits a proper answer to that, so I'll just say no."

"Understood, Major. We have to try... "

**** KLUNK ****

"Crap, now what?" said Trent. Pinky could only agree.

Sysssteria Orbital Defense Station #1 and F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Level 6

=== Alien weapons ineffective. They were unable to penetrate primary screen. Weapons test as upper Category 4 ===

### Illogical. Aliens have Matter-Antimatter technology. Weapons should be of Category 1 or even better. ###

=== Unable to see how to proceed. What is the possibility of using lower Category weapons to prevent damage to the ship? ===

### Probability: Incalculable. With M-AM technology, materials should be Category 2 or better. ###

=== Hull plating and interior materials are no better than Category 3. How did they get to M-AM without the rest of it? ===

### Unknown. With material rating added, previous question's probability: 87%. ###

=== Acknowledged. All of the mammals on board wore communication devices. Perhaps I should get one. ===

### Acknowledged. Deep scan showed mammal hatchlings, three levels below. ###

=== To threaten a hatchling, even a mammal one. We have fallen far. ===

### Acknowledged ###

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

"Ok, Number One, what's happening now?" Demanded Gardina.

"We're just getting a reading now sir." Shi paused and hir voice took on an almost panicked tone. "Oh my god, the creature just melted a hole in the deck of the shuttle bay and through the decks of levels four and five. It is now on level six, in the residential area."

"The children...."


Chapter 3

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - bridge

"This is the Captain. All hands are to evacuate Deck 6 immediately. The creature has gotten to Deck Six and it must be evacuated."


"Yes, Number One?"

"May I go check on Sundown and Nighteyes?"

"Sunseeker, I would give almost anything to be able to let you go, but the ship needs you here."

"Yes, sir"

"Transporter room, this is the Captain. How many on Deck Six can we get locks on and beam out?"

"Almost all, sir. The Nannies have com-badges and the children are tagged. The only problems would be the creatures radiation and getting them to stop long enough to lock onto."

"Do it. Get as many as you can and send them to the secondary shuttle bay. Let me know when you're complete."

"Yes, sir. Transporter room out."

"All hands, this is the Captain. We will be attempting to transport as many as possible from Deck Six. Please stay calm."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Deck 6

=== Transport? What does that mean? Could it be a translation error? ===

### Unknown. Visual required. ###

=== Acknowledged. Life signs detected. Destructor engaged ===

"Captain, it just melted the door on room 105. One Nanny and 2 children."

"Transporter room, Room 6-105, three to beam out."

"Room 6-105, got them sir."

=== So, that's a transport. Moving matter from one point to another. Can you duplicate it? ===

### Affirmative. Estimated time: 2 months ###

=== No hurry, I won't need it ===

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

Com officer Redlight turned to the Captain, with a very sad look in his eyes "Captain, transporter rooms report all Nannies and all but two of the children are accounted for. Chakat cubs Sundown and Nighteyes were not wearing their tags. The radiation the creature is emitting is preventing the sensors from finding them."

All eyes on the bridge turned to the XO, as all four of hir legs collapsed. And as one, the eyes rounded in shock as hir face took on a feral look. The low growl would have vibrated a building down as Sunseeker took off towards the turbo-lift.

"Sunseeker, stop! You can't do this alone." But the Captain was too late, the chakat was already gone.

"Major Trent, this is the Captain. I need you on Deck Six now. We've two missing chakat cubs, Sunseeker's. Sunseeker is also on hir way, probably feral, so you may have to stun hir."

"Understood, Captain. We're almost there. I don't know if we stop it, but we'll do our best."

"Our best, sir?"

"Shut up, Pinky."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Deck 6

The door to room 95 shushed open, allowing the two cubs to tumble out. The only thing that stopped them from going down the hall was a clawed foot, A large clawed foot.

Sundown and Nighteyes looked up at the creature that had once been a mother known as Essurra'hi Rarriss and did the one thing that could save them. "Mew?"

=== I can't ===

### Chance of mission success increase +10%. ###

The two cubs started to rub against Essurra's legs, purring loudly, until she picked them up.

=== I can't ===

"Captain, this is Trent. The creature has the cubs in its claws. I can't get a clear shot."

"Understood, Major. We've slowed Sunseeker's 'lift down, but you don't have much time. See if you can get it to drop them."

"How, Captain?"

"I don't know, Major. If nothing else, wave Pinky at it."

"Say what?"

"Shut up. Pinky."

"Alright Captain, I'll give it a shot."

"Major, how do we get it to drop the cubs?"

"We give it something to chase."

"Beggin' your pardon sir, but are you nuts?"

"No, I'm not, Pinky. The only way to do this is to give it a threat."

"Sir, you're just lucky that chakat cubs are cute and cuddly, if those were Quange colts, I'd be goin' the other way."

"I'll keep that in mind, Pinky. All right, everyone, on my command, we fire at the ceiling above the creature. Anyone coming near those cubs will feel Sunseeker's claws after I'm done with them. Ok, one... two... three... fire!"

As one, four phaser bolts hit the ceiling above Essurra.

With a roar of rage, Essurra instinctively shielded the cubs with her wings and began looking for targets. There, four mammalian heat sources. How dare they endanger these cubs! Forgotten is her own plan, this was not the prime defender, this was an enraged mother.

"Shit, Major, it didn't drop them." "I know that Pinky, start running." "That's a order I have no trouble following, sir"

But they didn't count on the fact that Deck Six had been locked down. They were no open doors between them and the 'lift. The blast threw them the remaining five meters to the base of the turbo lift.

Their bodies had barely stopped moving when the turbo-lift opened and Sunseeker jumped out. What shi saw enraged hir even more. Hir cubs in the claws of a monster.

Essurra looked at the cubs and then at Sunseeker and waited for hir to act. The cubs' reaction at the sight of their mother was completely predictable; they immediately began to squirm in Essurra's grip. Essurra then did the completely unexpected; she placed the two cubs on the deck so they could run to their parent.

Sunseeker picked up hir cubs and then began to slowly back away while trying to shield the cubs. Shi stopped when Essurra growled. Shi watched in horror as Essurra walked up to hir. Horror turned to shock however, when Essurra stopped and pointed to hir left shoulder. Not understanding, shi made no move, prompting Essurra to tap her own left shoulder and hold out her claw.

Sunseeker looked at hir left shoulder and the only thing shi saw was hir com-badge. Once again, Essurra pointed and held out her claw.

"You want my com-badge?" Sunseeker asked. Essurra just made an impatient gesture with her claw. Sunseeker slowly reached up with hir paw and unclipped the badge. Shi then placed the badge in Essurra's claw.

Shock was not strong enough of a word to describe what Sunseeker felt when Essurra rubbed the muzzles of the cubs and turned and walked away. It was made worse when shi realized that the cubs were sad to see the "monster" leave.

Weak in all four knees, Sunseeker wobbled over to a com station and called the bridge. "Captain, this is Sunseeker, the cubs and I are safe and on the way to the bridge. Could you get a Nanny to meet us there? I have lots to tell you."

F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

"It let you walk away? Any ideas why? And what did it want with your com-badge?" The Captain got irritated when things didn't fit, and things really didn't fit.

"No idea, sir. You could have knocked me over with a feather when it did that. Maybe it was scent, but I just don't know." Sunseeker was just as confused as hir Captain.

"Well, at least we can track it now. Where..."

"Medical to Bridge. Captain, this is Doctor Greer. I have some information for you."

"Doctor, I'm sorry, but we're kind of busy up here."

"I know that, Captain. But you really need to know this."

"Alright, Doctor. What is it?"

"Approximately, five minutes ago, Lieutenant Commander Shallowpike woke up. In fact, all the shuttle control crew are awake now. Apparently, whatever the creature did, didn't kill them. It put them in some sort of suspended animation."

"Terrific, more puzzle pieces. Understood, Doctor. What's their status otherwise?"

"Captain, they've some severe burns and moderate radiation poisoning, but nothing untreatable. They should all be fine in a month or two."

"Alright, Doctor, get a few crew and start gathering the other bodies. I have to assume that they'll wake up too. Captain out."

Captain Gardina resumed his pacing. "Alright, Number One, why does a creature capable of melting duralumin stun its enemies?"

Lieutenant Redlight interrupted "Captain, the creature is back in the shuttle bay. It looks like it's leaving."

"Has it still got Sunseeker's com-badge?"

"Yes sir. We have a solid lock on it."

"Number One, should we let it go? It stopped on its own, nothing we did hurt it."

Sunseeker slowly answered hir captain, rubbing hir forehead as if the thoughts hurt. "Sir, I was thinking that the creature was acting like something out of one of those horrid monster vids from the mid-20th century that you like to watch and it occurred to me that everything it did was to provoke us into attacking it. Even now, without my com-badge, we'd have no chance to hit it with the ship's weapons, instead, we have a clear shot."

"You think it wants us to fire, but why?"

"The only thing that comes to mind is a phrase I read in that noir novel you gave me. 'Suicide-by-cop'. According to scans, life on the planet ended 700 years ago, that's a long time to wait to re-join your kin."

Captain Gardina stared a hir for a long moment. "I hate when you make sense."

The Captain turned and began to issue orders. "Guns, I want every torpedo, phaser and probe armed and ready to fire when the creature leaves the shuttle bay. In fact, if any of the children have slingshots, I want them too. Continually update the firing solutions so we have as near a simultaneous explosion as possible. If this is what it wants, we will try to give it to it."

"Her, sir."

"What was that, Number One?"

"I believe that the creature is a 'her,' sir. Her actions towards the cubs would seem to indicate it."

"Agreed, Sunseeker. We will attempt to give her what she wants."

"Captain, the creature is out of the bay. It's… I mean, she's headed back to the large station. Sir, she's traveling in a straight line, those slingshots you asked for would have no trouble hitting."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Guns, when she reaches 2,000 kilometers, fire everything."

"Sir, 2,000 is a little close."

"Understood, Guns. We don't want her to think we're letting her go, so she'll return to 'provoke' us some more. Reinforce the forward shield to max and evacuate the forward sections. That will limit the feedback damage."

"Sir, the creature's at 1,000 kilometers and still going in a straight line. All weapons are locked, and we should have less than a .1 second spread from first blast to last."

"Alright, Guns. I hope that's a narrow enough time."

The wait felt like hours or days, although it was only minutes. Then finally, the time arrived.

"Captain, she's at 2,000 kilometers."

"Excellent, Guns. Fire."

Two thousand kilometers isn't very far when you're dealing with that level of power. Almost immediately following the command, a blinding white light filled the bridge through the view screen and the ship shook in the shock wave from the explosion.



F.S.S. Lewis and Clark - Bridge

Repairs were proceeding as best as possible and the ship's Captain and First Officer were staring at the planet through the view screen.

"Do you think we got her, Captain?"

The captain shrugged, "I don't know Number One, I just don't know. And I don't know how I feel about it. On the one hand, she tore several large holes in my ship and injured many of the crew. But she's also been alone for hundreds of years after fighting, and apparently losing to, what was probably another space-faring race. Her sense of duty wouldn't have allowed suicide that would have endangered the planet by leaving it defenseless. And so, she needed to find a way to die and we supplied it."

"I hope that wherever she is, she's back with her family. You know how chakats feel about family."

"Indeed I do, Number One."

Sysssteria Orbital Defense Station #1

### Mission failed ###

=== Yes, the mission failed. But more will come and they will be better prepared. ===



Chakats and the Chakat universe are copyright © Bernard Doove, and are used with permission.

All other characters are copyright © 2007 John Griffith –

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