Oh look at that I'm posting something
I actually wrote this about two years ago, maybe a bit more. I guess it kind of counts as an EV/O Chronicle since I was making a Star Gurns plugin ever so long ago when I actually had "free time."
...I don't think I posted it here before. If so, whoops. Also, tabs don't seem to work. Awesome.
Lieutenant Shanis Arlamin’s waspish Axis Fighter zigged and zagged its way through the cloud of debris that had once been the Trugandi system’s only planet. Already the rocks were mingling with the asteroid belt that bore its name, and within hours there would be no trace of Trugandis’s former presence in the system but memories.
Shanis, transferring to Commander Leps Utana’s starship Sunstream, had been waylaid by the Tichelopian Starfleet and ordered to investigate the disappearance of Trugandis. A dead, uninhabited world, by all rights nobody should be interested in its destruction. Yet, there it was, shards of rock twisted and melted as if by one of Heilsin Lazar’s creations. But what Lazar Energy Principle weapon could cause destruction on such a massive scale? Feeling her stomach tense into a hard knot, she realized that there were only two realistic options as to what could have destroyed the planet. Either the Gurns had developed some horrible new weapon, or an as-yet un-encountered race had decided to move in.
And either way, it was bad. Shanis wheeled the Axis Fighter around and yanked the Jump Drive lever. She felt an instant of nausea as her molecules were stretched, then she and the fighter snapped out of existence.
Shanis’s Axis Fighter dropped out of Jump Space with a jolt and a loud ‘clunk,’ bouncing her forward so that she nearly collided with her control panel. She shook her head, clearing the dimension-hopping induced vertigo. I wish they’d smooth this bloody thing out, she thought, grimacing at the Jump Drive lever. With a sigh, she began entering course corrections, lining the Axis Fighter up with the distant star that was Tichelopia.
“Thirty-eight… Nine… Twelve… Forty-tw - WHAT!?” Shanis’s shriek echoed back at her off of the cockpit walls as a dark brown form filled the viewscreen. “Computer, identify object!”
“Object is unknown,” the computer stated, smugly acknowledging its own indifference.
The UFO slowly moved away from Shanis’s Axis Fighter, giving her a better view of its structure. The ship, for that was what it was, looked like an asteroid, with chunks of itself extending outward into pods. From the ends of the pods protruded metallic segments; engines, weapons, and the like. The engines glowed a bright blue, and thrust the ship forward slowly but inexorably.
“Mayday, mayday!” Shanis squeaked out into her Dimensional Communicator. “Unidentified starship sighted, coordinates… uh… Forty-eight, ninety-two, thirteen! It’s… um… big! Really really big! It doesn’t see me yet, but-” Shanis broke off abruptly as the ship flickered. “UFO has disappeared, repeat, disappeared. Looks like it’s heading toward the Oolan cluster.”
Shanis slumped back in her seat, her report finished. Heaving a sigh of relief that the ship was out of her hair, she continued entering coordinates. “Forty-two… Seven. There.” She reached for the Jump Drive lever, pulled it, and tried not to throw up as the ship lurched upward.
Lord Akanim grimaced angrily at the black and green monitor in front of him. On its screen, rows and rows of data scrolled slowly downward. Weapons tests, drive tests, energy use and output, Gurnophone installation… every bit of data used in the construction of a new starship, but a thousandfold.
Akanim had not figured on such tasks when he took the role of Imperial Warlord. Nor when he started project KT-26. And, to his further anger, all of his underlings were hiding from him in an effort to shirk the onerous task upon which Akanim was now wasting all of his military genius. All, that is, but Gurniper Moss Tarquin – and he was far too stupid to take on any but the most basic of tasks.
“TARQUIN! Get over here!” he bellowed in the general direction of the common room behind him.
He smelled Tarquin before he heard him. The Gurniper had been eating garlic-flavored cheese dipped in garlic and onion sauce, and stank to high heaven – which was why Akanim had banished him to the common room to begin with. “Tarquin, you smell like a garlic farm exploded in your mouth.”
“Sorry—sir,” warbled the demented Gurn, exhaling a blast of garlic-smell into Akanim’s face. Akanim gagged and choked on the fumes, almost falling from his perch atop the stool he sat on.
“Gag, ack! Don’t breathe on me, you fool!” Akanim gasped desperately, eyes watering.
“Sorry—sir,” Tarquin said again, this time turning his head away. A Gurn working a few terminals down gagged and collapsed on the floor.
“I should have you killed,” muttered Akanim. “You’re lucky your father is friends with Thrumm.”
“Tes—sir,” Tarquin agreed, nodding happily.
“Take this disk to the eggheads. They’ll know what to do with it.”
“But—sir—I—have—no—hands,” Tarquin protested.
“Use your headpiece, you moron.”
Tarquin jumped, remembering the bulky device he wore over his cranium. “Tes—sir!” He grabbed at the disk, missed, then took it from Akanim and raced toward the door.
“Slow down, Tarquin! That disk’s important…” Akanim trailed off as Tarquin slammed head-on into the doorjamb, letting go of the disk, which sailed across the common room and into a chute on the far wall labeled ‘Burninate your Trash’. After a few hushed seconds, a wisp of smoke trailed out of the chute.
Despite Tarquin’s incredible lack of competency in the ‘moving from one room to the next’ field, Akanim’s data had finally made it to the third sublevel of the looming tower normally known as GSE-GOV 001. There, teams of bug-eyed scientists poked and prodded it, compared it to speculated statistics, logged and filed it, and, in one case, dipped the disk in lemon juice. Once they were done, a single phrase was sent over the Gurnophone, a hundred floors upward, to Akanim’s office – “Pcd s 3 k – t eb du”. Akanim, impatient being that he was, destroyed his terminal in frustration.
“I can’t read this drivel,” he roared at Tarquin. “Get out of here! Get me Kunsh!”
Tarquin skittered out of the room, trailing eggshells. He soon returned, followed closely by a young Gurn with large, bulbous eyes. “You called for me, milord?” said the Gurn.
“Read this,” ordered Akanim, gesturing at the indecipherable text in front of him. He had moved to a new terminal, and called up his data again, not noticing a small camera mounted in the terminal’s housing.
Kunsh moved closer to the terminal, his froglike eyes darting from one cryptic letter to the next. “Ah, it appears to be Engineering Shorthand,” he said knowledgeably.
“I don’t care what it is,” Akanim growled. “Just tell me what it means!”
Kunsh gave Akanim an impatient look. “Yes yes…” he continued, his voice a muted growl above the hum of computers. “…Warlords… all the same… no patience…”
“What’s that?” snarled Akanim, kicking Kunsh in the back of one of his kneecaps. Kunsh winced in pain.
“I said, Lord, that the message reads, quote, ‘It is OK to proceed with Step Three. Testing can now commence on the Eyeball Drive Units.’ Unquote.” He scratched his head in confusion. “Eyeball, sir? What are they talking about?”
Akanim quickly brought the desk he had been holding down on Kunsh’s head with a soft ‘thud’. Kunsh’s huge eyes rolled up in his head as he crumpled to the floor, the tip of his tongue bitten off by his suddenly-compressed jaw. Tarquin looked on, playing absently with a stalk of some green vegetable, as Akanim checked the body. Good, Kunsh was quite dead.
“And that, my deranged friend, is what happens when you ask too many questions,” Akanim told Tarquin sternly.
The two Gurns scuttled out of the door and out of sight of the camera hidden in the terminal’s monitor.
The dimly lit room’s stone walls dripped with moisture born of extreme heat. Lichen growing on the ceiling let off a murky red glow, illuminating only a small portion of the room and leaving the rest in shadow. More of the lichen grew in symbols engraved on the walls of the room, giving it a sense of some ancient, primal magic at work.
Nk’zar was, however, unimpressed with the room. She had, after all, been working in it for nearly 90 years now… but sometimes, she did feel as if there was something watching from the shadows.
She shook herself slightly. I’m starting to sound like one of those brutish NebuGurns, she scolded herself. Not bothering to look up, she called out, “Enter.”
The rattle of stone beads echoed off of the walls as the curtain across the doorway was parted and Kr’nax entered. “There’s no point in me-“
“Trying to sneak up on me. Yes, it is a pointless exercise, Warlord.”
Kr’nax grimaced angrily. “Do not presume to read my thoughts, Lady Nk’zar. Your powers will only protect you so much.”
Nk’zar laughed mirthlessly. “Please, feel free to try me. I assure you, Vrath Nurn will execute you personally, assuming I do not.” She waved a leathery leg. “But you did not come to exchange pleasantries. It does not take a telepath to know that.”
“No, Lady. I have news from Gz’rakh’s enclave.” Kr’nax levitated one of the room’s monitors from its hidden position in the ceiling and activated it. “We have discovered the nature of the NebuGurns’ latest venture.”
“Certainly, Lady,” said Kr’nax, only a hint of scorn on his voice. He called up a video file on the monitor, and began to speak.
Shanis was quite pleased to be out of the cramped cockpit of her Axis Fighter.
After landing in the hangar aboard the bulk cruiser Sunstream, she had been quickly ferried to the bridge, where, feet tapping and arms crossed, waited Commander Leps Utana, a veteran of the first Gurnopian invasion. The dark-skinned Utana looked as if she wanted to either strangle or hug Shanis, and she suspected it was leaning toward the former.
“Lieutenant! By the crystals, where have you been?” Utana’s anger was tinged with distinct relief. “You were due to be here hours ago! I was about to send a squad out looking for you!”
Shanis saluted. “Commander, ma’am! My apologies, but I think you will find this interesting.” She handed the Axis Fighter’s tactical printouts to Utana. “I was ordered to Trugandis by the Starfleet.” Leps looked at the pages in fascination.
“Trugandis is gone? And you encountered an alien vessel of unknown origin… Arlamin, if it wasn’t the computer telling us this, I’d say you’d gotten your hands on some Gurnopian Boz. This is… This is incredible.”
“We must get this information to the high command immediately. Shanis, if you would please take the pilot’s seat?”
Shanis moved to the vacant station. “Where’s Gent?”
“Sick bay. He’s picked up a mild case of Drobian lung inflammation.”
Shanis sat down in the chair, gripping the old yet familiar joystick. “Where to, ma’am?”
“The high command is currently located on Terpak station, in the Famist system,” said Commander Utana, moving to the commander’s chair. She picked up the shipwide intercom controls, and spoke into them. “This is Commander Utana speaking. All crew, prepare for Jump Space transition in two minutes.”
Throughout the ship, crewmen and women scrambled for a seat or bunk to protect them from the jolt of Jump Space transition, snapping seatbelts and strapping straps.
Shanis eased the Sunstream away from TSA Starport with an expert hand. After two minutes, she eased it to motionlessness, hand hovering over the controls.
“Jump drives ready, ma’am,” announced Shanis. “Ready to engage whenever you give the word.”
“The word is given, Lieutenant,” Utana said. Shanis gripped the drive lever and pulled it back. The Sunstream lurched, then elongated and disappeared.
“Commander Gz’rakh, I assume you know more than you are telling Warlord Kr’nax.”
Gz’rakh’s telepathically controlled suspension pod rotated slowly away from the wall of panels and monitors. As Gz’rakh came into view, Lady Nk’zar could not help but shudder. The spy-master’s domed head was scarred the entire way around, from above his mouth through one eye to the back of his head. One antenna was missing, and the eye the scar intersected was milky white – remnants of the damage done to Gz’rakh during the NebuGurn rebellion. Gz’rakh’s mouth twisted in an almost-grin, and his words croaked out painfully.
“You assume correctly… my lady Nk’zar.” Each sentence was punctuated by the hiss of Gz’rakh’s respirator. “Kr’nax… is far too… brash. He would… never allow the Gurns… to go unpunished for this… latest excursion.”
“What, then, do you propose?” Nk’zar was impatient. If the NebuGurns were doing something that dangerous, why should the Nebulaar fleet not destroy them?
“I propose… we proceed directly to… Lord Imperator… Nurn.” Gz’rakh spoke the Lord Imperator’s name with as much reverence as his respirator-disguised voice would allow, the croak taking on an almost musical quality.
“And go over Kr’nax’s head? He won’t like that.”
“With Lord Imperator… Nurn’s approval… Kr’nax will have no choice… but to approve.” The scarred head bobbed in satisfaction.
“And if the Lord Imperator does not approve?”
“Then we will be… in far too much pain… to worry about… what Kr’nax thinks.” Gz’rakh’s scarred head nodded again, as if in remembrance of past pain. Nk’zar shuddered again.
“Lord Akanim said to wait here.” The speaker shifted his weight uncomfortably from one side to the other, his fifth leg stabilizing his body.
“But,” returned his colleague, “surely Lord Akanim would understand your need for refreshment.”
“I just said I hadn’t had a good chunk of meat in a long time.”
Commander Wilyonad, the second speaker, grimaced in annoyance. “Look, Doodok, we’re sitting guard on this pile of junk for no good reason. You’re hungry, I’m tired, and that girl with the long antennas is going to get bored soon if I don’t get off my shift. How’s Akanim going to know?”
“He’ll know.” Doodok nodded. “He’s like that. He knows everything.”
The camera in the wall glittered faintly as it adjusted its field of view.
“Listen, Doodok.” Wilyonad’s voice had a conspiratorial tone now. “I hear they caught some Tichelopians last night. There should be a leg or two left in the kitchens.” He winked at the other Gurn and smiled.
“Well… maybe he won’t know this time…”
“That’s the spirit, friend!” Wilyonad nudged Doodok away from the door. “Now you go get your meat, and I’ll go get mine, and we’ll meet back here in an hour.”
The camera sparkled as the two Gurns scuttled off down the corridor.
During the long jump to the Famist system, the Sunstream’s crew had taken the opportunity to sleep. With a new weapon out there somewhere, nobody knew when they would get a chance to again, and it might not be for a while.
Shanis was awakened by a buzzing sound. Reaching one arm out from under the fluffy comforter, she batted at where she thought an alarm clock should be. Nothing… what the…? She stuck her head out as well, not bothering to open her eyes. “Bugger off!”
The buzzing stopped, but a hiss came from one side, followed by a blast of chilly air. “Lieutenant Arlamin?” It was a young man’s voice, plainly nervous. “Please don’t kill me. Commander Utana sent me.”
Shanis opened her eyes, feeling somewhat foolish. She had thought she was at home for a moment, instead of in a spare room in the Sunstream’s belly. “Sorry about that.” She started to swing herself out of the bunk, but stopped suddenly. The young man was still standing in the doorway. “You can go now.”
“Oh, ah, sorry.” He blushed, looking down at the floor, then stepped backward hurriedly as the door shut. Shanis shook her head exasperatedly as she stood up, the covers falling away from her. She dressed quickly – Commander Utana did not like being kept waiting, and the summons probably meant that the Sunstream was in-system, and needed her piloting skill to dock at Terpak station.
Shanis stepped off the elevator onto the bridge, into a scene of barely-controlled panic. Commander Utana paced in front of her chair, her face twisted in a way that Shanis had never seen before. She was speaking urgently to the communications officer. “…must be why I wasn’t able to hail them the entire way here. But it couldn’t have been them. How would they have known? How?”
Shanis’s boots clicked on the floor as she stood behind the captain’s chair. “Lieutenant Arlamin reporting, ma’am.” Utana turned to fully face her, and Shanis’s stomach churned as she saw the haggardness on the face of her commander. Utana’s eyes were red and bloodshot with worry, framed by purple lines underneath. She had obviously not slept en route, and her voice cracked as she spoke. “Shanis… we’re here.”
“Here? Where’s Terpak Station?” Shanis looked out of the viewport. All she could see was a distant sphere – presumably, if this was the Famist system, the primary planet of Fam Hsaia around which rotated the moons Hys Del and Hys Ulm, along with Terpak Station. Yes, there were the moons… but where was the station?
“That’s what I’d like to know.” Utana was very grim. “We are picking up no life signs in space around the planet, nor is there anything larger than an unmanned satellite. Terpak Station is gone.”
The communications officer piped up in the background. “We’re being hailed, ma’am!”
Utana spun. “Terpak Station? Hailing frequencies open!”
A strange whistling sound filled the bridge. Shanis slammed her hands over her ears as the sound surrounded her, filling her senses – and, just as quickly, it was gone. Utana looked at her worriedly, but was much more intent on the main viewscreen, which portrayed a very alien form.
The alien was purplish in coloring, and, from what Shanis could see, hovered free of any constraints. It looked vaguely like a jellyfish. Five stubby appendages hung from its underside, writhing and twisting. The front of the alien was covered by a darker section which was raised from the rest of its skin at least a few inches. On this section were three slits – breathing apparatus? – below three black, slitted eyes. Behind the eyes and down the creature’s back, three black tubes extended backward. The slits below its eyes fluttered as it lifted the darker section slightly, emitting a rustling, humming sound. A few seconds later, the Sunstream’s translator kicked in, filling the bridge with a computerized voice.
“Hello, future allies – friends – comrades. I (we) am Ambassador Extended Tentacle of Important Friendship Gesturing (Hhyuumarah). I (we) extend an offer of friendship – mercy – coexistence to you of the Tichelopian collective – empire – governing body of choice.”
Shanis tapped Utana’s shoulder. “Is this the way they talk, or is it the translation program?”
Utana shrugged. “Usually the program’s pretty good at this sort of thing, but they must have more than one meaning associated with some words. I’m honestly amazed it works at all…”
The alien went on. “Your station – outpost – weapon was destroyed, not at our hand. We (I) have great – important – urgent things to discuss with your leader – commander – undercarriage.”
Shanis tried very hard not to smirk. It’d be a bad idea to upset the ambassador of an alien race during first contact by laughing at his word choice. But still – undercarriage?
“This area is not safe,” the alien continued. “Please, follow our ship – mobile weapons platform – exploratory unit to a more safe – secure – impregnable location.”
Utana finally spoke up. “Hold on, mister ambassador. How am I to know it wasn’t you who destroyed Terpak station? And where are you, anyway?”
The ambassador looked startled. “Many thousand apologies. I did not realize your technology was so inadequate – ill-suited – primitive.” It waved a tentacle, presumably to another alien in the background.
There was a ripple of surprise on the bridge. Shanis jumped as, not a mile off the Sunstream’s starboard bow, a ship rippled into view. The ship appeared to be cylindrical, with protrusions coming off in several directions. From a nose cone on the front came four rods, ninety degrees from each other, each of which ended in a large pod which looked somewhat like an old jet engine. One of the pods was lined up with what looked like a single oversized cannon. The ship had no visible bridge, though lights sparkled on the sides, perhaps from viewports. Around the back of the ship was a sort of collar, which also sported four ninety-degree-apart rods. Each of these rods had a spherical pod on it, and they rotated slowly around the ship’s center. Finally, two rectangular engines were attached to the rear of the ship, one on each side, which glowed a muted red as the ship hung, motionless, superimposed over Fam Hsaia.
The alien, still on the viewscreen, bobbed in a sort of floating bow. “Now, as for the second…” The tentacle waved again, and a video feed appeared in the lower right corner of the viewscreen. On the screen, Terpak Station floated in space. The camera panned over the station, showing fighters in their bays, and a capital ship – which looked like it could have been the Dauntless, a newer cruiser – attached to one of the station’s four docking pads. The camera then pulled out again.
In the space near Terpak Station, a ripple began. It grew, slowly, until suddenly it resolved into an enormous asteroid. No, wait, not an asteroid – it was the ship Shanis had seen before! The ship that had almost run her over on her way from investigating the Trugandis wreckage! Could this ship have destroyed Trugandis as well?
Shanis’s heart jumped into her mouth as the rocky ship’s front end glowed. The glow grew to engulf Terpak Station, and the camera zoomed in. Shanis could see the metal of the station melt and flow toward the asteroid ship. Suddenly, the glow flashed once, twice, three times – and Terpak Station was gone.
The stone ship slowly turned, moving off the camera. The video feed ended.
Utana seemed to take a moment to pull herself together. “Ambassador… thank you for showing this to us. Please, lead the way, and tell us whatever you can to combat this new menace.”
Warlord Akanim grimaced angrily at the empty corridor. Where were those two? He knew Commander Wilyonad could not be trusted as far as he could be thrown, but Commander Doodok should be more reliable – at least, because he was too unimaginative to even think about disobeying orders. He whirled as a clack of claws echoed behind him.
There was no answer.
Still no answer. He turned around again to face the door the two commanders were supposed to have been guarding. The door gaped blackly. No lights were on beyond it, as they would draw on project KT-26’s reactor, rather than that of Rentikor, the construction station to which the project was currently attached.
The clacking echoed behind him again, further away. He grimaced again, then heard another set of claws close behind him and turned to see Commander Doodok. “Where were you?” he demanded angrily.
Doodok shuffled uneasily, a droplet of blood splattering from one of his teeth to the floor. “Commander Wilyonad said you wouldn’t mind…”
“I wouldn’t mind? What wouldn’t I mind?”
“He said I should go eat the Tichelopian legs in the kitchen.”
Akanim crumpled to the floor. Tears welled in his eyes. “Th… those… those were mine!” He beat his legs against the floor in anger. “THOSE WERE MIIIIIINEEEEE!”
“So, I take it you were successful in convincing Lord Imperator Nurn to back your plan?”
Commander Gz’rakh rotated slowly toward Lady Nk’zar. The grin once again twisted his scarred face. “I was indeed… successful in convincing… our Lord of my… plan’s superiority.”
“Then, Kr’nax is out of the picture?”
“Literally.” Gz’rakh’s smile became more twisted. “I saw to the disposal… of the body… myself.”
“Also with Lord Nurn’s approval, no doubt.”
“What Lord Nurn… does not know… will not hurt us.”
Lady Nk’zar nodded. “When will our agent be in place to infiltrate the project?”
Gz’rakh began to turn back toward his monitors. “It has already… been done… Lady Nk’zar.”
“You work fast.”
“No.” Gz’rakh gestured to one of the monitors, showing the debris of Terpak Station, floating in the cargo bay of the Stoneship Gh’rayn. “You work… slow.”
“The Tichelopian station?” Nk’zar swallowed hard. “But I had nothing to do with…”
“You had nothing… to do with… the station’s destruction?” Gz’rakh smiled grimly. “A dozen cameras… say otherwise.”
“They are our enemies anyway. Why should Lord Imperator Nurn care if they are destroyed?”
“Fool…” Gz’rakh snarled through his rebreather at her. “Without them… who will defeat… the Gurnopians?”
Nk’zar laughed. “Those savages? We need no help to defeat them.”
“Numbers say… otherwise, Lady.” Gz’rakh called up pictures of Stoneships on his monitors. “Nzh’tuyn is… destroyed. Lo’tein is… captured. We have… precious few of… the mighty Stoneships… left.” Gz’rakh sighed in frustration. “Whereas the… NebuGurns grow… in numbers daily.”
Nk’zar shifted uncomfortably. “But we are superior. We cannot lose to them. We must not!”
“Do not… fool yourself. Superior we may… be, but we… are dying.” Helpless anger filled Gz’rakh’s mechanically modulated voice. “Years ago we… ruled the galaxy. Now we… struggle to survive… within our little… nebula.”
Nk’zar turned to leave the old man to his mutterings, taking a step toward the door.
“Not so fast… Lady Nk’zar.” Gz’rakh’s voice was cold. “Don’t think I… have forgotten your… attack on the… Tichelopians.
“Your life is… mine.”
Although project KT-26 was supposed to be unmanned at this stage in testing, Warlord Akanim found a certain perverse pleasure in locking both Commander Wilyonad and Commander Doodok in its oversized bridge. He watched, over his Gurnaphone, as the two commanders slung insults at each other, making the wait for KT-26 to reach its final destination much more amusing.
The only thing that was still souring his feelings toward the whole endeavor, actually, was… he felt a tap on his cranium. Right behind me. Akanim sighed, turning to face his idiotic henchman. “What do you want this time?”
Gurniper Moss Tarquin was holding what appeared to be some sort of reddish, leathery fruit in one of his headpiece claws. “I—was—wondering—sir,” he began.
Akanim cut him off. “If you’re going to ask me to hold that for you, the answer’s no. I don’t want to know what it is, nor do I want to see what kind of disgusting uses you can put it to. In fact, I’d really rather not even look at you right now.”
Tarquin looked hurt for a microsecond, then became distracted by a few microscopic insects that buzzed around his head. “Ooh—fruit—flies!” he dropped the fruit, which splattered reddish juice on Akanim’s leg as it exploded on the floor, and chased the flies into the corridor behind them.
Akanim shuddered in disgust. “Some day… some day soon… you’re going to die so much…”
He turned back to the monitors, forgetting Tarquin, as a buzzer sounded. Ah, one of his intelligent underlings!
“Go ahead, Captain,” said Akanim into the Gurnaphone speaker next to him. The voice of one of his younger officers, Captain Deynesal, came back at him.
“Warlord Akanim, project KT-26 has successfully transitioned out of Jump Space and reached the outskirts of the Seti system. Control awaits your command and is ready to attack.”
Akanim grinned. “How many Tichelopian ships are there in the system?”
Deynesal took a few seconds to answer. “Scanners show three cruisers designated Blue Rain, Retribution, and Sunstream. The first two have two bomber squadrons and one Axis fighter squadron deployable; the second has two Axis fighter squadrons deployable. Also, there is the Seti Stardrives construction complex, which has minimal armament. It may have further ships docked internally, our sensors are unable to tell.” He seemed to hesitate a bit.
“What else is there, Captain?” Akanim was unconcerned about the cruisers. KT-26 should have no problem destroying them before they were even in range to fire.
“Unknown, sir. There’s a fourth cruiser in the system, but it’s not Tichelopian.”
“Any idea of its offensive capabilities?”
“A single cannon, sir.”
“I doubt if a single cannon more or less will help the Tichelopians,” Akanim scoffed. “Pay it no mind.”
“Aye, sir. Moving to attack.”
The alien Ambassador had told the Tichelopians much, not only about his race, which he called the Havulaariums, but also about their enemies. “The asteroid – stone – rock starship belongs to the Nebulaars, genetic ancestors of the Gurnopians,” he explained. However, he said, until the Gurns were defeated, the Nebulaars would not be a serious threat. Utana found that to be a rather odd thing to say, since the Nebulaars had destroyed a major space station, but Hhyuumarah theorized that the faction responsible had been destroyed, based on the discovery of the recently-deceased body of one of the Nebulaars’ most powerful leaders buried upside-down in a swamp on Rah Drick.
Hhyuumarah’s next bit of information was much direr, however. The Gurnopians were building a new superweapon, which was what had destroyed Trugandis, on one of its test runs. The final test, he said, was a strike at the Seti Stardrives shipyards in orbit around Seti Setura.
“How do you know all this?” asked Utana, rather suspiciously. Hhyuumarah merely sniffed and looked supercilious.
“I (we) have my secrets – methods – means,” he said, and would not elaborate further.
Under the direction of Hhyuumarah, Utana summoned two other ships, the Blue Rain and the Retribution, to meet them at Seti. Once the small fleet arrived at Seti, Hhyuumarah said, they would have a chance at defeating the Imperial superweapon, KT-26.
Klaxons whoop-whooped an alarm as a huge, spherical object dropped out of Jump Space on the edge of the Seti system. Shanis stared, bug-eyed, as the viewscreen zoomed in. The Imperial weapon looked like nothing so much as…
“A giant eyeball!”
Shanis jumped as her thoughts were vocalized by the Sunstream’s science officer. Utana gave the officer a withering glare, but that did not stop him from continuing. “A giant eyeball of death!”
The science officer’s outburst was confirmed as four panels on the sphere began to slide back, revealing a red pupil. The pupil flickered, beginning to gather energy.
Akanim bounced excitedly in his seat. Under the circumstances, he thought it was all right to act a little childish – he was about to see one of his greatest plans in action. Not even Tarquin could spoil his good mood this time. Long-range satellites broadcast views of project KT-26, the Death Eyeball prototype, to every office in every building of Gurnopolis.
The Death Eyeball’s laser retina was powering up. It flickered, slowly at first, then more and more quickly, as the pulsing energy conduits lining the Eyeball’s inner core pumped more and more power into the retina. Akanim held his breath. The superlaser would fire any second now…
Then the retina exploded.
Shanis was momentarily blinded as a flash of energy came from the Imperial superweapon. She flinched, expecting the weapon’s beam to intersect with one of the ships in the ragtag little fleet. After a few seconds, she looked up, confused.
The Imperial ship was blasting energy wildly out of its front end. Instead of a concentrated beam, however, the energy was dissipating quickly into space, creating a massive cloud around the superweapon. A second explosion sent the weapon into a slow spin, trailing fire.
Commander Leps Utana stood behind her and squeezed her shoulder. “Well. That wasn’t expected.”
“No, Leps. No, it wasn’t.” Shanis leaned her head against the arm of her commander and friend, and watched the Empire’s creation burn.
Akanim roared in fury as one screen after another was filled with fire. Cursing, he attempted to shut off the video feed to his people, but failed – the feed was locked in; he had set it up himself to avoid meddling by Tarquin; Tarquin, who was happily eating fruit flies in the hallway.
If Gurns had hair, Akanim would have been ripping his out in chunks. His headpiece spasmed as his brain was overloaded by the horrible sight before him. He watched in shock as Commander Wilyonad, on the bridge of the Death Eyeball, raced Commander Doodok for the only escape pod, tripped him, and blasted away from the foundering superweapon, leaving Doodok to burn.
“No… No…” he whimpered, rocking back and forth. His last monitor went black as Doodok was incinerated.
“Did not my… plan work, Lady?” Gz’rakh smiled benevolently down on Nk’zar.
Lady Nk’zar stared expressionlessly up at her new master. “It did, my lord.” She kept on staring long after Gz’rakh withdrew his attention, laughing his dry, wheezing laugh. She would have the last laugh.
This post has been edited by Divals the Conqueror : 04 February 2009 - 12:03 AM