“And so a new era of peace began. It would be about as long-lived as the previous ones….” —Kasak Llan

The Omnidean was dead, the Shadoes had been stopped, no one had heard from Omagas in years, and Satan’s attention was pretty much elsewhere. For the first time in several years, there was no major galactic threat to the galaxy, universe, or fabric of reality itself. After a few uneasy days, peace suddenly broke out. Thousands cashed in their Alien Invasion Insurance to help pay for trips to Barbados, Planet of Physical Delights. As always there were some naysayers who said that this was foolish. Eventually, they claimed, some group of conquerors would come along. These people were not very popular. No one invited them to parties.

They were right, of course.

Starcruiser Anonymous

(A Tale of Sfstory)

Wherein Empires and Starships
Are Launched

Dave Menendez

There are few planets quite like Abgila IV, a fact for which many are thankful. When the first Caphanite colonists arrived—by accident—they saw a desolate landscape broken only by gnarled, whithered trees and the occasional active volcano. With the kind of creativity that the people of Sol III (who named their planet after dirt) can only dream about, they renamed it Planet Gloom.

The Caphanite Interstellar Alliance thrived for several years until the rise of Zakav. Zakav, with his comically evil-sounding name and sour disposition, seemed destined never to rise higher than his post as Deputy Snack Procurer. That was before an unexpected explosion killed everyone above him in the chain of command. Zakav took over legally and with his great charisma (as measured in henchmen) soon became Premier for life, passing the role onto his son when he died mysteriously.

His son, named Zakav II, moved the government to Gloom, reasoning that there would be fewer chances for someone to kill him. His relatives, feeling that Gloom was an absurdly depressing place to be, mostly remained on Caphan. The exception, his brother, moved to Blargol and eventually married into their royal family.

Under the… unique rule of Zakav II, the C.I.A.’s power dwindled to almost nothing. Other empires started to ignore them. The armed forces grew restless. Eventually Zakav II died, leaving no heir. The military quickly began looking for a suitable replacement.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Blargol Conglomerate passed to Zakav II’s nephew. (It is left to the readers imagination to explain how a Caphanite and a Blargoloid could successfully have children.) This nephew, one Vakaz by name (the famous creative Caphanite nomenclature again) and current ruler of the Blargol Conglomerate, was the individual chosen to replace Zakav II.

Vakaz, showing the kind of leadership typical for his family, announced he was combining the Conglomerate and the C.I.A. into one government which he would run from Planet Gloom. This new government, he announced, would be called the Zakavian Empire and its mission would be to expand and conquer.

The Blargoloid—now Zakavian—military leaders approved of the expansion directive, as it meant they wouldn’t have to spend time on Planet Gloom. On the other hand, being spread out meant they couldn’t easily plot against Vakaz’s rule—prompting some observers to suggest that Vakaz had actually thought about his plans, rare for a conquering madman.

Expansion went slowly until, suddenly, peace was declared on an unsuspecting galaxy. The Zakavian Empire was so surprised, it took them almost a month to get back to conquest. Then, of course, things moved much faster.

Elsewhere, mostly isolated from the confused muddle that is galactic politics, the planet Earth orbited its sun at its traditional revolution per year. The Earth (home to a surprising proportion of Sfstory characters) has not always been quite so isolated, however. There was a period when it seemed that every time someone fought someone else in space some portion of New England got destroyed. As one might suppose, this was a pretty stressful time—particularly for New Englanders.

In a meeting of leading citizens of a few small towns in New Jersey, it was brought to their attention that (a) New England was getting blown up fairly regularly, and (b) New Jersey is pretty close to New England. This led them to the conclusion that their own city could very well be hit by some piece of space debris, which would have a disastrous effect on property values. How could this be avoided? The simplest answer was to leave the area. But for where? Where could they be free from the threat of having things fall on them from space? This one took longer, as it was pointed out that any spot on earth could conceivably have something fall on it. Eventually it was concluded that the safest place would be space itself, which raised the question of how they would get there.

This question proved to be the hardest of them all. Design teams quickly formed to consider various options. Scientists considered the need for food, water, living room, and air, eventually concluding that all were needed for an effective starship. Physicists worked out various ideas for propulsion. A group of interior designers tried to work out a design that wouldn’t bore the crew to tears or drive them slowly insane. Some archeologists made excavations beneath the area. Eventually the financial committee reported that building a working starship large enough to evacuate everyone would cost far too much to be practical. The mood of the people hit an all time low as the media, ever quick to spot a potential ratings- booster, did special stories on how doomed they were. Fatalism and apathy ran rampant. Many prepared to leave the region for some other, possibly safer, place. So it came as a complete surprise when the archeology team announced they had found a vast alien craft, evidently in working order.

After the joyful celebrations died down and everyone had recovered from the various after-effects of their particular beverage of choice, the townspeople quickly moved onto the next important step in their plan to escape certain doom. They needed a name for their buried, alien starship.

Dozens of names were suggested, and it became clear that the most popular name was Enterprise. The legal department, however, thought that this name was unlikely to go over well with the good people at Paramount (although how they expected to be sued in deep space is anyone’s guess). Eventually, in disgust, someone suggested they “just leave the damn thing anonymous.” As you can guess from the title of this story, this is pretty close to what eventually ended up happening.

Now that they had a ship and a name, the various science teams began investigations to make sure it could support human habitation. It could. With plenty of room for everyone. And any children they might have in the next hundred or so years. The Anonymous was big.

They had a ship, which all evidence suggested would work, and a name. Now all they needed was a crew to run it. After much discussion they turned to one Sandra Harrison, declared her to be Captain, and left her with the job of finding a crew. She did a fine job of it, and returned their favor by not informing them of the departure date.

Other than those deliberately left behind, the Anonymous left with a full complement of reasonably-competent crewmembers and several thousand civilian passengers. Leaving the increasingly risky safety of Earth, they headed out into space, getting as far as Saturn before they had to stop and refuel.

They remained at Saturn for several years, not wanting to leave because the rings looked mighty neat and they could still get Earth TV.

The quickly-declared New Era of Peace had little effect on the planet Arorua, which had been at peace for several centuries now. Once there had been wars, great conflicts between the peace-loving people of Arorua and various expansionistic armadas. Despite the lack of armed forces and space armadas and any sense of strategic skill, these attacks were always repelled. This was because Arorua was defended by Ampron, a gigantic robot which was seemingly invincible—although it only seemed that way because it never lost.

Sadly, Ampron’s record was stained by its final battle, which it lost. The victorious army surged into Arorua and quickly discovered that Arorua wasn’t really that great a place to conquer. The people were bland, the food was bland, even the landscape was bland. The conquerors soon realized that the only thing an invading army could do for fun on Arorua was attack Ampron. After a few years of half-hearted dominance, they decided to go terrorize someone else and left Arorua to its own devices.

The Aroruans, for their part, were quite happy to be left alone. They merely continued their simple lives which consisted mostly of farming, polishing their various Holy Artifacts, singing blandly, and watching the occasional Radar Vogel movie on cable.

Of course, war returned to Arorua eventually. This time it came in the form of the Zakavian Empire. The well-liked King of Arorua died in mysterious circumstances (making him the third ruler to die mysteriously in this prologue alone), and the new regent, Chancellor Desir Elahte, announced the Aroruan surrender to the Zakavian forces. Those Aroruans who didn’t quite accept those circumstances rebelled against their new rulers in a valiant revolution that, by some accounts, lasted almost half an hour.

Afterwards, Elahte spent his time reassuring the Aroruans that things weren’t so bad, while the Zakavian political and military leaders spent their time plotting some way of getting assigned to a more interesting planet.

Elsewhere in space, Captain-General Rtali, leader of the Blargol Eighth Fleet, was considering his options after conquering another random planet. His troops had done well and he had time before he was scheduled to assault something else. Time to think about the state of this so-called Zakav Empire that Vakaz had created. So far, Vakaz’s family had shown the collective leadership ability of mildew—when they weren’t dying mysteriously. Furthermore, he was not too pleased about the idea of a half-Caphanite running things. Also, he really wanted to avoid having to visit Planet Gloom.

There were others who felt as he did, but holding a meeting would be difficult, especially with Captain Mselt in his command. That idiot was almost obsessively loyal to Vakaz. There had to be some way to get rid of him….

Of course, send him off on a mission somewhere. He signaled his aide to call Captain Mselt.

A few moments later, Mselt entered. Rtali looked at him blankly causing Mselt to wince and step outside again.

There was a chime from the door. “Enter,” Rtali said.

Mselt reentered the room and saluted. “You wanted to see me, Captain-General?”

“Indeed. Captain, I have a mission for you and your elite fighting force. I wish you to go and scout for possible enemies in… this system here,” Rtali replied, pointing at a spot on his view screen.


“Right there.” He pointed again.

“Oh, I see it. I thought it was a smudge.”

“It’s glowing.”

“Well, a radioactive smudge.”

“Whatever. I want you to go and scout.”

“Right. We will report any enemies in this system,” he squinted at the map, “…Sol? Kind of a dull name for a star, isn’t it?”

“Possibly.” He switched the map to a view of the system. “Now, you’ll want to meet at one of these outer planets before moving into those more likely to be inhabited.”

“How about this ringed one? It seems easy to pick out and we could get some neat pictures.”

Rtali considered this. “If you wish.” Anything you do that keeps you away from me is fine in my book, he didn’t add.

“Okay then,” Mselt said, preparing to leave, “We’ll get ready to go. Good day, Captain-General.”

“Good day, Captain.”

Mselt walked out, and the door closed behind him. Rtali grinned, pleased he had find a way to get rid of Mselt and scout a potential enemy. Fortunately, it was extremely unlikely they’d find anything important there.

Will they find anything important?

Will the Anonymous be destroyed?

[“In the first episode? As if.”]

How does Arorua fit into this?

What about all those plotlines the Swede left hanging after Renegade Anarchists IV #25?

SFSTORY: Still Not Dead Yet.