Into The Dark Zone
a Roughnecks fanfic by Mr. Hook


The Intrepid coasted in deep space, far outside the gravity well of Tophet II. The launch had gone off without a hitch, just as Ambassador Kel’Rae had planned. But now was the time for Captain Du’Kra’s shining moment.

If one were to ask Du’Kra to explain the basics of celestial mechanics or how to plot a course through Hyperspace, after an awkward pause he probably would have pointed to the navi-computer console and said something like, “Well, this is what we call a navi-computer...” and then let the computer do most of the talking.

All that concerned Du’Kra at the moment was that all of the lights which were supposed to blink green were blinking green. The lights that were supposed to glow orange were glowing orange. All of he lights which were supposed to register blue were registering blue. Evrey light that was capable of glaring red wasn’t glaring at all, which was as it should be. Everything was in perfect working condition, all that remained was to give the order to activate the Hyperdrive.

“Pilot, this is the Captain speaking,” Du’Kra spoke into the com system for the sake of posterity. The pilot was in a seat not more than six feet away. “Engage the Hyperdrive.”

“Hyperdrive engaged,” said the pilot as he pushed down on the shiny red button.

And in the very next instant...

Nothing happened.

But in the very next instant after that, the tiny pinpricks of light that represented the panorama of stars on the main view-screen suddenly turned into streaks of light in a dazzling display that would have made George Lucas blush. Du’Kra could feel himself plunged into the depths of his command chair, a pressure which gradually eased as the inertial dampening fields struggled to compensate for the sudden movement of the ship. Then the overhead lights, which were supposed to blaze yellow, blazed yellow once again, and all was well.

The course had already been set. The Intrepid was headed straight toward the Klendathu system. Kel’Rae had shown Du’Kra the satellite surveys which detailed the extensive asteroid belts present in the orbital plane of Klendathu’s Sun. There was a plethora of raw materials available there, free for the taking. Plus it would enable Kel’Rae to conceal the T’Phetti fleet he planned to construct in secret there, until such time as it was needed.

But Du’Kra didn’t really care about all that. What excited him most about the prospect of arriving at Klendathu was the cover story, the facade, the legitimate front (or whatever else the Humans would have called it). That had been mostly Kel’Rae’s idea too, but it was a good idea, and Du’Kra wasn’t sure Kel’Rae realized its full potential as a marketing strategy for the T’Phetti Bureau of Tourism.

Now that the sentient races of the galaxy were crawling out from under the rocks the Bugs had tried to crush them with, they would soon be flocking to the notorious star system of the Bugs’ origin. Some would want to visit the former Bug homeworld just out of curiosity, others would make the pilgrimage to settle their own doubts about whether or not the Bugs were really dead for good.

And Du’Kra Industries would be there, providing shelter, launching shuttle tours, supplying the proper foods and atmospheres...Du’Kra Industries wasn’t just going to be another branch of the galactic tourist trade, it was going to become a Corporate Sponsor!

No one else seemed to realize it yet, but Klendathu was about to become the biggest tourist attraction in the galaxy!

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