March of the Habsborg
Chapter 1 - The ArrivalJupiter, Terran Home System, Sector 001
Well, perhaps a better byline would have been "somewhere near Jupiter", or, to be anally rententive, "in orbit around Sol-V". Suffice to say, the setting of this first installment is a point in space in close proximity (from an interstellar standpoint) to the fifth planet in the Terran home system, which is commonly referred to by laypersons as Jupiter. Granted, Jupiter isn't much of a planet anymore thanks to the unchecked gas-mining operations, but ...
Quickly, now! Divert your attention to that patch of empty space there. It is not really empty space, you see. What's that? You don't see anything, you say? Of course you don't see anything, because what must be observed therein cannot be seen. Now, now ... no reason to flash that constipated look across your face, the explanation is simple: that which we wish to take note of in that patch of space is merely disguised as empty space. If we were to strip away its camoflage (a neat trick, ranking right up there with our ability to survive floating here in the vacuum of space), we would see a small craft moving with great haste toward the center of the system. Toward the center of the system in a general sense, of course, because the craft's actual destination lies a bit closer than the star itself. One Astronomical Unit closer, that is.
But it is not the craft's destination with which we are concerned ... at least not yet. Watch the craft carefully now (again, a neat trick given that it cannot be seen). Ha! See that? A curious flash, and now the craft has disappeared entirely, whereas before it had merely been invisible. If we were on the bridge of that gas miner over there, we would surely observe the jump of 1.2 seconds by the ship's chronometer just before the great lumbering miner winked out of existence completely. But we are not, so we shall not.
January 1, 1492
Now that is an interesting byline. First, we have the location setting, one of Europe's finest cities, and then we have the date, expressed in accordance with an antiquated calendar standard, and set long before said city's destruction in the Third World War. This would seem to imply that some sort of temporal monkey-wrench is about to be thrown into the collective work of history, but as of yet the author's intent is unclear. Perhaps we can do some investigating to determine what exactly is going on here.
We're standing in the middle of the courtyard of the palace occupied by Friedrich V, patriarch of the Habsburg family, Archduke of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor, and whatever silly titles he wishes to call himself. Could this be a clue to this mystery? Alas, it's damn hard to concentrate with that awful screeching noise up above. What could cause such a racket? Hmm ... it appears to be a meteor, hell-bent on embedding itself in the good Friedrich's courtyard. Prudence would suggest that we take cover in those shrubberies over yonder.
And no sooner do we prostrate ourselves than the object from the sky meets the ground with a mighty sound effect that even Lucas would be proud of. The object appears to be a cube, with faces measuring 20 feet by 20 feet. It's utterly ruined Friedrich's bric-a-brac; he'll be sore at that, to be sure. And look out, here he comes now.
"What in the Savior's holy name is going on out ... NOOOOOOOO!!! My bric-a-brac!" See, I told you so. "Who dares drop this ... this ... thing into my courtyard, thereby defiling the home of the Holy Roman Emperor of the Germanic Peoples?"
By this time, most of the population of the palace has assembled in the courtyard to see what all the ruckus is about, and they certainly get an eyeful as a portal opens in the face of the cube that Friedrich is standing next to. Out steps what the palace courtiers would only describe as a knight - a knight with skin paler than the driven snow and bizarre black armor that covers his entire body save for the left half of his face. The end of his right arm is a twisted monstrosity of tools the use of which only the mystery man himself could know.
This odd fellow strides up to the steaming Friedrich, who, in a regal tone, booms "Who are you, who dare to invade my palace and defile my patio?! I would know your name before I put you to death!"
With that, four more "knights" exit the cube, all looking remarkably like the first, and take up flanking positions around their compatriot. At last, the figure before Friedrich speaks.
"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
Will the arrival of the Borg on fifteenth-century Earth signal mankind's destruction?
Read March of the Habsborg, Chapter 2 - The Invaders' Plan to find out!