It was a time of expansion. Great wooden vessels sailed the seas between the Old World and the New, Europe and America. One such ship was carrying a selection of seeds for the captain's garden. The name of this ship, and of its captain, are irrelevant, for a reason that will now be seen. The vessel struck the nine hundred billion to one plothole at exactly the right moment and was whisked across space at many times the speed of light.
However, even at such fantastic velocities, the journey was too long for the terrified crew. They died there, in the empty airlessness of intergalactic space, and none now live who remember their names. Yet, though they knew it not, they played a part in the creation of the greatest organisation ever.
Captain Michael Smith of the HMS Voyager was worried. Although the ship was making good time – it seemed that they would make landfall in the New World at least a week earlier than expected – the sea was unnaturally calm. He had travelled these seas many times before, and not once had he seen a day in which there were no waves at all.
Nevertheless, here it was. The great wooden vessel sat in the middle of a clear blue field, as if she were becalmed. Yet somehow, the sails were billowed out, and the ship was racing forward as though the hounds of hell were behind it. Captain Smith had no explanation for this, and he was the kind of man who liked to know why everything occurred.
Stepping back into his office, he encountered his wealthy passenger, a Lord of some sort. The fat man had joined the ship at the last minute, at an absurd cost to himself, but it seemed that he felt this worthwhile. Nevertheless, he had been making an utter nuisance of himself, and Smith would be glad to get rid of him.
“Ah, captain,” said the man in his thick, blubbery voice. “I trust we are making good time?”
“Yes, my Lord,” replied Smith, trying to remember the man’s name. Ah, well, he thought, it doesn’t matter. It’s not as though he listens to what I say anyway.
“Good, good,” came the reply. “You will be able to start your little garden soon, I suspect.”
The Captain looked up in surprise. How did the fat man know about that? He wasn’t the sort to wander around the holds. “Yes, my Lord,” replied Smith, as his mind raced.
Yes, it was true. In addition to a selection of crops, animals, tools and the usual assorted junk the Voyager routinely transported across the Ocean, there were, in a secluded corner of the hold, several pots of assorted seeds. Smith had a small house in the town where they would make port, and on seeing the empty area in the hold had decided to introduce some of the Old World to the New. It was against the rules, but the crew knew that they weren’t in danger.
Oblivious to the Captain’s thoughts, the fat Lord smiled. “That is good,” he said, and then added, “If you ever wish for a good meal, you can –”
“Sir! Sir!” came a frantic cry from the deck. The Captain rushed out to see what disaster had befallen them... and then stopped in shock and awe.
Sitting in the sea directly ahead of the ship was a great blue ring, dozens of yards across. The ship was speeding up as she approached, and it seemed as though they were being drawn right into it. The Captain raised one arm to cover his face, took one step towards the stern, and then…
Blue flickered around them, to be replaced by cold, airless darkness. One of the crew, who had been near the back of the ship, went flying off, his mouth open in a soundless scream. White lines like stretched starlight flashed past as the Captain struggled to breath.
One by one, the crew swiftly died. The captain watched through blood-filled eyes as his men collapsed, skin reddening as if in massive bruising. Then the darkness at the edges of his vision rushed in, and he knew no more.