Moonriser – The search for a lost behemoth

They called it the ISS MOONRISER. It was the largest assault cruiser ever built and served the Indian Space Service for 15 years. Unlike other starships that ranged from 500 ft to 2500 ft, MOONRISER was 5000 ft in length. However, what was the reason for the ISS to build a ship that huge? The answer was simple… the rise of a violent political faction – THE FIRE.

History is boring but if I have to bring in any sense to what I am talking about, I have to provide the details so bear with me for a few moments.

It was year 2219, the world is no more a group of ‘warring’ nations trying to kill each other… or abuse each other. About 50 years ago, the leaders of every country realized that they had to work together to ensure the survival of our future generation. Earth was slowly becoming a small place for every living being and therefore, we had to sought out other worlds for colonization.

The WRDO – World Research and Development Organization – was formed under the guidance of all world leaders. Moon and Mars were already colonized during that period and there was a massive transfer of people, animal, plants and resources. 2 space stations were built that lead to more transfer. However, this was only a temporary solution and the leaders had to think ahead of their time.

A breakthrough occurred when a seasoned scientist, Dr. Sam Wilkins was able to successfully test a warp gate that could help in the transfer of any object, living or non-living, between one destination to another within seconds. It was obvious that he needed funds and support to continue this project. The WRDO was impressed and decided to support the scientist.

Dr. Wilkins led a team of 50 scientists and over 1000 workers to create warp gates of different sizes. Termed as THE ZONE, it took the team 5 years to create and successfully test 4 warp gates utilizing every possible object including even a giant class spaceship that was warped to a destination on the Moon and then to Mars.

Dr. Wilkins then created an additional program, scientific in nature of course but for us, the ignorant ones… it was magic, unlike anything we ever dreamt of. According to Dr. Wilkins, we are in a multiverse and this same multiverse houses millions of universes of different sizes and magnitudes. The warp gates had the ability to search for the perfect universe which had the required solar system and in turn the required planet or moon that had the ability to sustain life.  This ability was utilized and within 10 years, close to 5 planets and 3 moons were colonized.

While significant advancements were going on, there was something else going on within the shadows. While most were happy with the world uniting for a common cause, there were those who were dead against it. There were criticisms directed towards this move. While most critics agreed later due to want of bread and butter, there were others who decided to create their own bread and butter to survive and fight against this change.

It all started with a few people starting a propaganda against the WRDO on social media. While we were able to monitor and stop them, little did we realize that this propaganda would turn out into full blown war or perhaps, the propaganda on social media was just to fool us or deviate us from the reality. 2 high profile officials of the WRDO were assassinated and a day after that, a video feed was floated in various social media channels. THE FIRE was born and the leader of this regime, DEHSAT, announced its formation and the reason for it.

This was followed by multiple terrorist activities across several countries and the armed forces were brought in to deal with it. War erupted and the soldiers of THE FIRE were mercilessly killing innocents as an indication that they will not show mercy to anyone, rich or poor, big or small… until and unless the WRDO was dissolved. The WRDO had no other choice but to answer back, the armed forces were given all rights to use any means possible to stop the regime.

There were heavy casualties on both sides and the citizens of every nation were in panic. This had to be curbed, the enemy had to be silenced and the only way that could be done was to find the source of the issue. Many of THE FIRE’s soldiers were captured and interrogated, however, either the captured soldiers were adamant enough in not revealing anything or they had no idea who was leading them. It was during this interrogation phase that the WRDO realized that many of these soldiers were brainwashed into believing that the former was a farce and that the world can only exist if the nations functioned as separate entities and not as one.

DEHSAT was brainwashing them to not believe in the ideology of a unified world, he wanted to have the nations be independent and have a separate leader to govern them, and not be governed by one unified force. It was evident with open eyes that DEHSAT was planning on being the ultimate leader and that was only possible if he had enough followers… or servants that listened to every command of his. What’s more, the lesser the world population, the more it was easier to lead and that is why the bloodshed.

This indeed was alarming considering the number of followers increasing and therefore, the WRDO defense chief, after looking into every documented interrogation, came to a conclusion that they had to first find the brainwashing channel from which the soldiers spawned from. The armed forces of every nation was given the order to track and monitor every known channel – be it phones, emails, chats, data transfers, anything that involved encrypted conversations – and not only find the followers but also the people who had the potential to be brainwashed into joining the regime and picking up a weapon.

The order was duly followed, it was difficult at first but results were showing. A lot of potentials were captured and interrogated. Many had started showing signs of being brainwashed and had to be sent to the rehab. There were those that had not been affected yet but looking into their systems and phone records, it was clear that they were contacted by THE FIRE. The WRDO defense chief went through the reports that were sent from the armed forces of all nations. He was satisfied with the progress. Indeed, the few months that the armed forces spent in finding the potentials had stalled the relentless terrorist activities but the war was still on.

At about the same time, the ISS planned to design a new assault cruiser, an ambitious yet mammoth project that boosted of firepower unlike anything seen before. The ISS had spent months in planning and preparing the rough design of the ship. Codenamed AC 4.0, the plan was set in motion. ISS wanted the ship to have THE ZONE feature installed and therefore, sort the approval of the WRDO. Needless to say, the WRDO was fascinated with the plan and the idea of having a ship installed with a warp gate. What’s more, they decided to fund this project and in turn use it against THE FIRE. The ISS had this notion in mind and therefore, were happy enough to get additional funding for this project.

Construction began under extreme security and secrecy; Dr. Wilkins and his team joined in to check the ships schematics and design the perfect the warp gate while AI Designer Dr. Ijaz led a team to design the ultimate AI system for the ship. Commander Dhiren Malhotra was given charge of maintaining security and secrecy of this project which he had duly fulfilled. It took 3 years to construct the ship and once completed, it was unveiled to the world. The world watched in awe as the ship slowly moved upwards into the sky, a behemoth unlike anything… the ISS MOONRISER.

It so happened that just a few hours after the unveiling, the WRDO command center had received a distress signal from one of the space stations. They were under attack from THE FIRE, the WRDO defense chief and the officials watched in horror as 5 medium class assault cruisers were firing at the space stations. There were heavy casualties and the ships that were protecting the space stations had already engaged the 5 assault cruisers. The WRDO defense chief was on the verge of calling in for support, however, stalled and remembered about the ISS MOONRISER.

He Immediately contacted the ISS and requested for immediate support. Commander Dhiren Malhotra was given immediate command over the ship and promoted as a Captain, and the crew was set up. To save time, Captain Dhiren immediately ordered for THE ZONE to be activated and it was duly complied. I could only imagine how the soldiers of THE FIRE would have felt seeing the behemoth suddenly appear out of nowhere. It is said that the ISS MOONRISER came out of the warp gate trigger ready and fired a barrage of missiles bringing down 2 ships.

The other 3 ships positioned themselves and targeted the ISS MOONRISER, however, there was no way the crew could stop their doom. Captain Dhiren gave the order to activate the cruiser’s secret weapon – THE EMP CANNON. The EMP cannon was activated and within seconds, it fired at the 3 remaining ships. The effect was immediate as the ships lost all control in terms of maneuvering, weapons and communications. Once done, the ISS MOONRISER and the other ships defending the stations fired at the remaining ships of THE FIRE and eventually destroyed them.

While the world celebrated this victory, it also aroused concerns. THE FIRE had shown through this attack that they were not a small regime anymore and not to be trifled with. The regime was now fully equipped to launch even an open space attack which meant that the WRDO had to strengthen their line of defense too. Even then, the might of the ISS MOONRISER was praised. From then on, it became a weapon on demand as it was called whenever there was a need for additional support. The soldiers of THE FIRE quivered in fear at the look of it and needless to say, we were winning the war against them till disaster struck.

The ISS MOONRISER served for 15 years till one day it disappeared mysteriously. It was said that the ISS MOONRISER was sent on a mission to find and colonize a planet that was said to have the same characteristics that planet earth possessed. The ship warped to the location of the planet, however, after 15 minutes of arrival, all contact to the ship was lost. The command center spent 30 minutes trying to track the ship but nothing was found. The ISS sought the help of WRDO, however, even they failed to track it.

Considering it was state of emergency, the WRDO sent in 3 ships to warp to the same location the ISS MOONRISER had gone. It was said that the moment they reached the destination, they faced against what they called a chaotic asteroid belt, a belt where 2 asteroid belts revolved in different directions leading to every rock or debris colliding with each other. The ships tried to charter a course through the belt to find and retrieve the lost ship but it was impossible.

Even though the ships were armed with an intelligent cannon feature that could destroy stray missiles, rocks or debris, it still had its limitation against a chaotic belt. A report was published for the same which also indicated that the ISS MOONRISER may have entered through the chaotic belt in an attempt to utilize the new version of the Intelligent Cannon feature, however, it would have failed. The immense gravitational pressure that lead to the belt being chaotic could have damaged or destroyed the ship because of which there was no trace of it even with the usage of a strong ship tracking system.

All attempts for rescue or salvage was done away with and the crew of the ship along with Captain Dhiren were declared MIA – Missing in Action. The families and friends of the crew members were shocked and also angered by the ISS failure to launch a rescue mission. A ceremony was held to honor the missing crew amidst protests. The field marshal ordered for the report to be published in all leading social media channels, newspapers and magazines in order to stop the protest and give the people an idea of why a rescue and salvage mission was never conducted. While some agreed and moved on, there were still some who were not satisfied. Petitions were piling up in both the offices of the ISS and WRDO for a rescue mission but they never saw the light of day.

One of the people who filed multiple petitions was my Mom, in search of my Dad… none other than the Captain of the ship, Dhiren Malhotra. I still remember the day when the ship went missing and along with the families of the missing crew, we were present at the ISS headquarters waiting for a news. My Dad’s senior and friend, Commodore Ambrose, called my Mom and me in and explained the situation to us. We were, perhaps, the first civilians who were shown all documents, facts and videos to clear out our doubts and accept the fact that my Dad was never going to return.

Times were hard, while my Mom was still unable to accept that my Dad was dead, I had moved on… only because I had sworn to follow in my Dad’s footsteps. I was 15 years old when it happened and when I turned 21, I had enlisted with the ISS. Dedicating my life to the service of the nation, I rose among the ranks to become a Lieutenant Commander.

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