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Rear-Admiral Malnor Kent of the Ale-Turan Navy glanced around the ballroom, observing the crowds of military officers and politicians.
"Still nervous Mal?" asked his mentor, the great Kier Serwen, who was enjoying a cocktail.
"Yes," answered Kent, "It seems risky, gathering together all the most important members of the Allied military and government into the same room all at once."
Serwen frowned, "I'll admit I'm not too happy about it myself. But still, the security's excellent, and who's going to try and mess with the Alliance, eh?"
"Whoever this meeting is about," answered Kent, "Is that the President over there?"
"Where?" asked Serwen, craning his neck.
"Over there, next to Ertab Miione."
"Yeah, that's him," Serwen started over towards the Head of State. "Come on," he said, "I'll introduce you."
"We've already met," said Kent as he followed his mentor, "At your 400th birthday celebration."
"Oh yeah. But that was before he was the President. Val'Ord," he called, "Ertab, nice to see you both."
"Ah, Kier," said Val'Ord, the President of the Ale-Turan Alliance, "And is that Rear-Admiral Kent."
"Yes," said Kent, surprised at being recognised.
Miione, the Commander of the Allied Navy and Army, laughed, seeing Kent's confusion, "Come on Kent. There isn't a being in the Alliance who wouldn't recognise the hero of Xolotl."
"I didn't do much," said Kent modestly.
"Have I taught you nothing," joked Serwen, "Never be modest. You did a hell of a lot, beating those fanatics."
"So why are we here Mr President?" asked Kent, quickly changing the subject.
"Please, call me Val'Ord," said the President, "And that will soon be revealed. I'm doing a presentation."
"Oh god," said Serwen, showing what he thought of presentations, "Can't you just tell us?"
"No," answered Miione, "We can't play favourites. You'll find out along with everyone else."
"Ah, come on. How many wars have I won for us? Nah, I'm joking," Serwen looked around, "I don't see Narrsan anywhere."
"We told him in private," Val'Ord explained, "As the information I have to impart to you concerned him personally."
"Excuse me," said Kent, "I have to go to the men's room."
"Be quick," Miione told him, "We're going to start in ten minutes."
Kent moved away, leaving the three gargantuan galactic figures talking. Hell, he himself wasn't that small a figure any more, actually, not since Xolotl. He nodded to Marie Herwenson, the commander of the Battlestation Thyme, and then to Bellvarius Kellon, the Leader of the Opposition. Truly, the great and the good were out in force today. Val'Ord better have something really good to say. Kent passed close by the giant fountain in the middle of the ballroom. He turned towards it, catching something in the corner of his eye. It looked like there was something in the fountain. Frowning, he walked across to the watery brilliance. Yes, there was definitely something in there, near the edge so that you could only see it if you walked very close to the fountain. He folded up the sleeve of his dress uniform and reached into the water. It was a black box, about 5" by 3". He turned if over. There was a manufacturer's logo: the crossed pistols of Jolinjer Arms. It was ticking, softly. Suddenly, the penny dropped. Kent hurled the box back into the fountain, and sprinted away from the water piece.
"There's a bomb," he screamed, moving between startled officers and ministers, "There's a bomb."
At that moment, acting on some instinct, he dropped to the floor. Behind him, the bomb exploded.
Only a few were mown down in the blast itself, but dozens more died by the shrapnel that streamed forth from the bomb. The ballroom filled with smoke, and bursts from rifles scored into it. Kent raised his head, and pulled out his laser pistol, the only weapon that he had been allowed to take into the ballroom, aside from his ceremonial sword. Speaking of the sword, he loosened it in its sheath, ready to be used. Then he began to fire with his pistol. He had no way of knowing if he was hitting any of the attackers, or even his own people. All he had to go by was were the rifle fire was coming from. He continued blasting for some time, pausing only when a politician (the head of the Imperialist party) stumbled by, coughing. After a while, the smoke began to clear, and the sounds of gunfire diminished. Kent looked up, and rose unsteadily to his feet. He scanned the ballroom. There were bodies everywhere. Kent sincerely hopped they weren't all dead. If they were, the Alliance would be without any type of leadership at all. There was another burst of gunfire, and Kent felt a sharp pain in his chest. He wasn't at all surprised to see that it was bleeding. He raised his gun unsteadily, and fired off a couple of shots in the direction that the fire had come from. Then he fell to the floor.
* * *
Kent opened his eyes. "Kier?" he croaked to the figure sitting next to his bed.
"Yes," replied Kier Serwen, "Its me."
Suddenly, memories filled the Rear-Admiral's head. He coughed violently. Eventually, he said, "Thank god you're alive. Thank god I'm alive," he added.
"Quite," agreed Serwen, "You were almost gone there a couple of times."
"How long has it been? Hell, forget that! Who died?" asked Kent anxiously.
"Its been two days," answered Serwen, "As for who died," he shook his head, "Ertab Miione was probably the most significant. Him and the Prime Minister. And the Leader of the Opposition. And Marie Herwenson. Half the Military Council, eight Grand Admirals and twelve other parliamentary ministers."
"Shit," swore Kent softly, "Is the President okay?"
Serwen nodded, "He took a minor wound in his arm, but Ertab shielded him from most of the blast, losing his life in the process."
"Who was it? Who was responsible?" asked Kent angrily.
"As far as we can tell, it was Iron Fist."
This sparked another coughing fit in Kent. "But he's dead," he eventually managed.
Serwen shook his head, "Not anymore. That was what Val'Ord's presentation was about."
"I saw a Jolinjer logo on the bomb," said Kent.
Serwen grimaced, "You probably did," he said, "That's the thing. Iron Fist owns Jolinjer."
I watch from the bridge as my ships slides ever closer towards the Ale-Turan vessel.
"Target them," I order.
"Targeting, my Khan," acknowledges the tac. officer. A Canthin, like all the crew of this vessel.
"Fire on my word," I say, turning my attention back to my own tac. display. The distance between our two ships is small now, and getting smaller, as is the distance between my old ship and the Ale-Turans, though that distance was considerably wider.
We are in range now, well in range. All we need is for the fighting to start.
* * *
The mood on the bridge of the Elesium Heavy Super-Cruiser, mrk IV, AMC005932, otherwise known as the Ecus, was fairly upbeat. The vessel was at the forefront of technological progress and could easily expect to overcome the horribly dated Mananian Manta Cruiser it was facing, even if it was seriously outmassed.
Captain Garman, a heavy set Dytopian, waved his hand. He was enjoying his new command "Are we in range yet?" he asked.
"Yes sir!" responded his tac. officer.
"Any response to our demand to surrender?"
"No sir." This was from his comm. officer.
"In that case, I think we should light them up. Forward battery to fire…"
There was a cough. Garman turned to his XO, fixing a glare on her. She spoke the quoted words quickly, "Sir, I am bound to inform you that under section 37 part B of the Military Regulation Act (421 PG) you are required to give due, clear and coherent warning immediately prior to opening fire on a potentially hostile warship unless that said vessel can be clearly and positively identified to be the property of or registered within a known hostile nation with which a state of war against the Ale-Turan Salespersons Alliance or an ally of the Ale-Turan Salespersons Alliance exists."
Garman sniffed. "Very well," he turned back to his comm. officer, "Take a message to be transmitted at FTL 9 to the enemy vessel. Message reads: 'Unidentified hostile vessel. This is the Ale-Turan Elesium Ecus. You are hereby required to down guns and surrender your ships under the ICJ ruling of the 23rd of October, 003 PG, which states that the ownership of a national military vessel by a private individual is illegal. Furthermore, we have reason to believe that the fugitive and convicted criminal known as Iron Fist is onboard your ship. He is to be handed over. If you do not comply within five minutes, we will be forced to open fire.' Message ends."
* * *
On the bridge of his Manta Cruiser, Fire Storm snarled upon receiving the Ale-Turan message. The nerve of them… Citing laws and rules like the bureaucratic scum they were.
"Reply," he snapped, "Tell them that this ship is owned by the rightful Mananin government. Tell them that Iron Fist is our lord and that we shall not betray him. Tell them we won't surrender. Demand that they surrender too, for good measure."
"Bastards don't know what's coming to them," commented the burly pirate who was sitting in the comm. chair as he keyed in the message."
Fire Storm grunted in agreement.
* * *
Garman turned that delicate shade of yellow which indicates a furious Dytopian when he received the enemy's reply.
"Open fire," he ordered, "Three volleys from the forward batteries, followed by continuous fire. Open fire with our missiles as well."
"Firing first volley," came the confirmation, "Missiles away."
* * *
"They've fired!" crowed the Manta's sensor officer.
"Return fire with every gun you can get on those bastards at once," ordered Fire Storm, "Give them everything we've got."
"Yeah ha! Guns away."
* * *
The space between the two ships was filled with weaponry that rushed across it with blistering speed. The lasers from the Ecus's first volley were the first to hit, slamming into the Manta's shields. Next were the Manta's lasers. Most of these missed, as the Manta hailed from an earlier age of warfare in which targeting computers were far from idea. Those that did hit were easily absorbed by the Ecus's shields.
* * *
"Shields at 97% and rising, sir."
"Firing second volley, sir."
* * *
"Shit! We''re down to 72% shields."
* * *
And then came plasma. The targeting of an Ale-Turan plasma cannon is perhaps the finest of its kind in the Galaxiki. It is not, however, as accurate as the targeting on an Ale-Turan laser. For that reason, almost one in twenty of the bolts of plasma fired by the Ecus went astray. Still, the nineteen of every twenty that did connect were quite enough to shake the pirate Manta to its core. The return fire from the Manta was woefully inadequate, most of it skirting far wide of its relatively small target.
* * *
"Shields at 94% and rising, sir."
"Firing third volley, sir. Switching to continuous fire."
"How are the enemy shields looking?" asked Garman.
"Enemy shields at 52%, sir," answered his sensor operator, "With two volleys still to connect."
Garman nodded. "Cancel the continuous fire. Our three volleys should be enough to destroy them." After all, what was the point in wasting energy?
* * *
As soon as the second volley hit, Fire Storm knew it was over. The Manta's bridge was filling with smoke. There were choking screams coming from tactical. The communications officer seemed out for the count. Fire Storm himself was nursing what he suspected could be a broken wrist.
"Our shields are gone!" shouted someone, "We're sitting ducks!"
"How long till that next volley hits?" asked Fire Storm to no one in particular, as he rose to his feet, and made his way unsteadily towards the access to his personal escape pod.
"Three minutes," answered a pirate, "My god, there's been a hull breach in sector twelve. Eighty-five gone…"
"Much worse to come," muttered Fire Storm as he clambered into the escape pod and punched the eject button.
* * *
First the lasers came, scoring great holes in the side of the defenceless Manta, whose archaic steel armour did it no good. Hundreds of pirates died in an instant. Those that still lived didn't last much longer. The plasma from the Ecus's third and final volley slammed into the unprotected bulk. The ship burnt, fire flittering from deck to deck, sector to sector. And instant later, it was gone, the explosion lost into the silence of space.
Seven hundred souls gone, each one a pirate. One survivor. Fire Storm.
* * *
"Impressive," I say, "It only to took them ten minutes to burn a ship almost twice their mass out the sky."
"To be fair," drawls Claws, "That old ship was a hunk-o-junk. Hell, even a civilian warship could take it down."
"In ten minutes?" I ask pointedly.
Claws thinks, then concedes the point with a wave of his paw. "You want that ship, don’t you?" he observes.
"I do indeed," I acknowledge, before giving the order the bloodthirsty crew of this ship have been waiting for. "De-stealth, raise shields and fire the missiles," I order, ignoring the foul taste the words bring to my mouth.
* * *
"Sir," said the sensor operator in a perturbed voice, "A Khanate Battleship is de-stealthing behind us."
"What!" exclaimed Garman, "Since when did the Khanate have stealth tech? And why weren't our stealth-sensors running."
"Stealth-sensors were turned off due to expense. There was no indication of Dacor, Children or Ganite activity in this sector, and the stealth-sensor is very expensive to run," explained the sensor operator.
"As for your other question," said Garman's XO, "They don't."
* * *
"Missiles away, my Khan" says the Cantin officer.
Claws grins. He is enjoying the confusion he knows must be going on in the heads of the officers on the Ale-Turan ships. The old me would have found this amusing as well, and even now, despite myself, I have a pleasant feeling in my chest. This ship is far more advanced than it should be.
* * *
"Sir, they've fired on us. Twenty missiles incoming," said the sensor operator, his voice devoid of the shock running through his body.
Garman was shocked too, but he had received the same, more even, training as the operator. "Point defence up, bring our prow around and return fire with our forward battery. Continuous fire."
"Enemy are withholding main fire," said the deputy sensor operator.
"Sir, we've scored multiple hits on the missiles with our point defence. They seem to be shielded."
"What?" spluttered Garman, "The Khanate doesn't have shielded missiles."
"They also don't have stealth tech," his XO reminded him.
* * *
"My Khan, the enemy are firing on us. Should we return fire?" asks the Canthin hopefully.
"No," I snap, "Bring up point defence to deal with any incoming missiles. Do not return fire."
"Point defence online," says the Canthin bitterly.
"Shame we can't fire on them," says Claws, "Maybe a couple of bursts. Not like this ship would be able to take them anyway."
"I want that ship intact," I tell him (not for the first time), "And I don’t want to risk damaging it."
* * *
Eighteen missiles soared through space. Twenty five had been fired, but the point defence of the Eucs had dealt with seven all ready. Another succumbed in a burst of laser fire, its miniature shield generator giving way before a point defence gun. Another's guidance ducked where it should have dived, and ran nosefirst into a bolt of plasma flying towards it's parent vessel. It was never built to deal with firepower of that size. Gradually, one by one, the missiles disappeared. Fifteen, fourteen, twelve, ten, eight six, three, two. And the last two missiles hit, shields having no effect on missiles. One glanced away without detonating, but the other delivered its payload.
* * *
"Shields are down…"
"Weapons no longer functioning…"
"Total systems failure…"
"Everyone to the escape pods!" ordered Garman, "We’re living on borrowed time here."
The crew of the bridge began to file out. "Captain," said the XO, "Are you coming?"
Garman shook his head numbly. The XO nodded. It was in no way military protocol, but every captain had their own views about going down with their ship. Garman evidently believed in it. She saluted her captain, before climbing hastily into the bridge's escape pod.
Garman looked away as the escape pod flew out into space. He sat in his captain's chair, waiting idly for the end. Then the life support failed. Garman, and twelve others who had not managed to get off on time, died in an instant. The rest of the two hundred being crew of the Ecus were able to survive.
* * *
"Don't target the escape pods," I order, "We might as well try and sow a little distrust among our enemies. Now," I turn to Claws, "How long did the Jolinjer people say it would take for the missile's effect to wear off?"
"Two hours," he answers, "And the ship will be exactly as it was before the hit."
"My Khan," says a Canthin, "There's an incoming escape pod. Registered to our Manta."
"That will be Fire Storm," I say, "Claws, go and meet him. Show him up to the bridge."
"My Lord," acknowledges Calws with an exaggerated bow. He goes.
I look at my other Canthin. The leader Canthin. He has said very little today, instead preferring to watch me almost reverentially. "You have the bridge," I say to him, "I am going to get some sleep."
He nods, and I leave the bridge, thinking of anything but the people I have killed today.
The planet WDB227.1 has been named "HYPNOT" (pronounced 'hip-no', the "t" is silent) by the exploration team leader, Molly Prats Robert of New Orleans, LA. Planet HYPNOT, the GREEN Planet, is the basis for a Science Fiction Writing & Illustration Project for participation by young children mentored by a parent, teacher, or other adult. Kids can invent planetary features or lifeforms, illustrate them with drawings, write stories about them, and name them. Authors have automatic naming rights for planetary features, fantasy creatures, etc., if their story or illustration is published. They can have attribution by name or alias, but their email address is never published. Get more information at the blog https://sci-fi-planet.capxs.com or the web site https://sci-fi.capxs.com. The writing project is sponsored by the Science Fiction Shop at the XS MEGA-Shopping Center & Outlet Mall (https://www.capxs.com).
Hunter had finally reached a decision. He was on his way to the bridge. He hated to do this, but he knew what he had to do. The captain…
Hunter hadnt really wanted to do this. He was too much the honorable soldier, too much the devout man. He fingered the knife in his pocket. He closed his eyes as he walked.
The twins, Flamer and Firecracker, looked at the screen on the interweb.
“This could be bad” Flamer said.
“Yeah” Firecracker said.
“So… do we tell the Sword first or talk to Hunter?”
“Um… Sword, I think”
The twins left the room and headed out, they headed towards the bridge at a fast walking pace. The news could wait while they walked quickly, it had been kept secret for a while anyway.
It was then that they turned a corner and ran into the brown skinned, wingless Zionite standing in the corridor.
“Sword” Hunter said to the captain of the Tender.
The captain turned to face hunter. In the Khanate, the Sword of the Khan commands a ship, and is a Captain equivalent.
“Yes?” asked the Sword.
“I regret to tell you of a threat and rebellion to the throne by the Warriorists” Hunter said, taking out his blade and handing it to the Sword, hilt first, and pointing directly to his Heart. A formal declaration of Surrender.
The Sword and the rest of the Bridge crew (which consisted of crew of the tender, apart from the pit crew) stared, dumbstruck.
Then flame twins arrived with the Brown skinned wingless Zionite in tow.
“Sir! We’ve got inter-dimensional travelers!” they cried.
Everyone stared at them, including Hunter.
part of a crossover with https://scatterednations.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/harnam-the-government-agent/
Thar looked silently across the vast expanses of the galaxy, soaking in the stars all around him. As a child, he had always dreamed of joining the ships that flew up, contacting the other races and bringing them under the prophecy of the Core. That was half a millennia ago, and now he knew more than any other, that the dream of the Core was nothing but superstition. But now, at his moment of passing, he clung to the wondrous and optimistic Core God beliefs of his ancestors, the belief that the very foundations of the Dacor had been built on. His family had spoken with him earlier, and now he was content with dying alone, wanting his memories to be the strongest as his soul departed. Going over every detail strengthened his happiness at the prospect of being one with the stars.
For all the wars he had fought in, That Molk had lived strong, and injury after injury, disease after disease, battle after battle, he lived on. Fighting viciously, he brought the Dacor from an age of fanaticism and crusades into modern thinking and power like no other. Thar had brokered the DURGAT, founded the first inter galactic police force, played pivotal roles in every war to happen since his birth, and become a hero of the public and all who heard his story, unifying all with the tale of his turn around from brooding teen and violent captain to wise Emperor and general, defeating all and working for peace; but still relishing in the very thing that made him who he was. War.
His organs were slowing, he could feel it. But it did not worry him, in his colossal life time he had brought the old ways into the new, saved lives and truly made more of a difference than any other Polug Mec in the galaxy ever had, or ever could even dream of doing. He’d seen his comrades and friends die, his contemporises from the Core War and Pax Galactica, die too. And now, in the far future, Thar was ready to join all the men who moulded him, he was ready to rise and go to them, to enter the Core, just like he believed when his father Dealonius Molk had taught him in Fernos. Even now, he recalls his son’s death, at the hands of Zion when he rescued two downed Ganite Pilots, and vividly remembers the funeral, in which his sons armour was fired into the Core, and his body buried in the family mausoleum.
Knowing when he died, he wanted to be with him in that blissful afterlife, he had arranged for the same to happen to his armour. And so, now as his life drew to a close, he watched as an ornate capsule was ejected and fell rapidly towards the event horizon, and seconds later it was swallowed up by the vast expanse of the dark god. Thar sighed, and remembering his whole life, his family, friends and the thick of battle, he breathed his last breath, and looking out over the Core, he finally passed away, his soul going up to reunite with those whom he loved the most. 578 PG, a legend has passed.
And the world was changed.
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