Jason King stood alone on the upper observation deck of the Equinox; arms folded staring out into the early morning. There were a million stars above him twinkling out of the velvet sky and no moon to take away their sparkle. The horizon remained dark for now as the sunrise was at least an hour away. He sometimes preferred the solitude of his own company and this was one of those times. He found the darkness comforting.
Almost two full weeks had passed since their arrival on Carac and much had transpired in that short space of time.
He played back the events of the recent days in his mind while contemplating his next move. No one could know what his true motivation was. Not just yet, anyway. He knew for certain that his friends wouldn’t approve.
He spent much time keeping Jasmine company while she lay recovering on board the Equinox, telling her of the world he came from and listening to her speak of her world while getting lost in her sparkling green eyes. She had returned to the castle the previous day and he was already missing her company.
So far, he had managed to win the favour of King Wilbur and the people of Octavia by saving the life of the Princess.
Eve had helped many others with their illnesses and heath issues. Jason remembered a woman named Martha who came to Eve because she couldn’t fall pregnant and promised to name her first born either Eve or Jason.
These little acts further cemented the relationship between them and the people of Octavia.
All the remaining prisoners had been released from their modules. Of course, he omitted to mention anything to their hosts about prisoners. They were just part of his crew as far as everyone was concerned. Jason had altered the minds of these dangerous men guaranteeing their loyalty. A large workforce with knowledge of Earth technology was necessary for the ambitious projects that were underway, especially the mining operations which were due to begin soon.
Scans had revealed the presence of many natural resources beneath Carac’s virgin soil, from oil and natural gas to precious metals, and the ever grateful King Wilbur was quick to grant permission to excavate where necessary.
A number of these resources also lay beneath Avalon soil and Jason was going to find a way to get his hands on those resources too, one way or another.
Work had also begun on the place of learning that Jason had envisioned. Octavia’s very first university was beginning to rise from the ground, on the outskirts of the town.
This large collection of buildings was to be both functional as well as artistic in design, to inspire the imagination and encourage learning. Jason had supplied images of ancient Greek architecture to guide the artisans. The teachers would come from both the Equinox crew and the locals.
The horizon was beginning to turn pale pink heralding the start of another day. Jason loved watching the twin sunrise no matter how many times he had seen it before. He paused his thoughts to take in the majestic view of the new day which was just dawning. A new day full of new possibilities. He smiled smugly to himself while taking a deep breath before returning to his busy day.
Meanwhile, word of a giant vessel landing on Octavian soil had reached the ears of King Roland of Avalon and he didn’t like it. He was even more upset when he learnt that King Wilbur had formed some sort of alliance with the visitors.
Jason had taken a few late night high altitude flights in a shuttle above Avalon territory. It was how he had first discovered the large deposits of titanium beneath King Roland’s castle in the first place. Reaching into the minds of the King and his advisors was simple enough from this altitude and sowing the seeds of war was easier still.
King Roland’s castle was a gigantic sprawling structure of many towers, courtyards and living quarters surrounded by a moat filled with man eating fish. His throne room alone could fit half of King Wilbur’s castle inside it. This structure was a tribute to his might and ego. The many statues and portraits throughout the castle depicting this king served to prove how vain he was.
Unlike King Wilbur, King Roland ruled with an iron fist ready to crush anyone who so much as spoke out against him. His subjects remained loyal out of fear.
King Roland was awake quite early on this particular morning. He had yet another sleepless night tossing and turning in his bed and he felt angry and agitated as he sat down with his two royal advisors and his General in a secret room inside his castle.
“We should send our full army over there and demand answers!” exclaimed Blake, the younger of the two advisors, slamming his fist against the wooden table to make his point.
King Roland silently lit up a cigar while watching the antics of his younger adviser.
“I say, we should destroy these visitors and their vessel,” retorted Thorn, the elder of the two. “They are trespassing on Carac!”
General Colby remained silent, listening with interest. He was in charge of the mighty Avalonian army and answerable only to his King. He was a military man who followed his orders to the letter.
“Yes, yes, I agree,” responded King Roland with an air of irritation. “We will destroy the visitors and teach King Wilbur a lesson by conquering his lands.”
“A wise decision, Your Majesty,” said Thorn, standing up and bowing to King Roland before stepping out of the room.
“Your Majesty,” said Blake, also bowing, before making his exit.
“General Colby! Make it so!” instructed King Roland.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” he replied. “It is done, by your command. Victory is ours!”
Jason was quite surprised to run into Eve in the mess hall this early. She was seated with her back towards him, her face buried in a book, so she did not hear him come in. A plate with remnants of breakfast stood on the table in front of her suggesting she had been here for a while.
“Good morning, Eve,” he greeted giving her a little wave with his right hand.
She looked up, giving him a half smile and continued reading.
“I’m going to make me some coffee,” continued Jason. “Can I make you a cup as well?”
“Sure”, she replied almost speaking to herself.
Eve looked distant, a stark contrast to the vibrant and energetic woman he had come to know. She used to have an energy about her which was contagious, but that had changed over the months and more so over the last few days. She seemed angry at Jason and refused to talk about it the few times he did try speaking to her, so he decided to let her be. He honoured his promise not to read her mind or manipulate it so he continued to remain clueless.
He suspected that she still blamed him and had not forgiven him for causing the deaths of the men in the generator room during their escape from Earth. She was a medical doctor, sworn to protect life, and he had caused lives to be lost, so he could understand her feelings on the matter. He had tried hard over the months to show her that he wasn’t a bad person. Tried in vain, it seemed.
“One coffee, just the way you like it,” he said placing the mug of steaming brown liquid next to her.
“Thanks”, she mumbled, without looking up.
It was obvious that she didn’t want company, so he quickly gulped his coffee and left.
He proceeded to have a workout in the gym before showering and getting dressed.
“I think I’m going to spend the day at the castle with Vince,” he thought to himself as he made his way to the shuttle bay, “And perhaps Jasmine too.”
Vince had decided to live at the castle while assisting with the construction of the university and conducting his own research so Jason hadn’t seen him all week.
A few minutes later he set the shuttle down in the castle courtyard and was rather surprised to see King Wilbur and Vince emerge from a nearby entrance and hurriedly walk towards him.
The king looked visibly troubled. “Jason, we’ve just received word that King Roland is sending his full army to destroy you and your ship and conquer our land. They may be riding already, even as I speak!”
“Don’t worry, Your Majesty. Vince and I will deal with this. With your permission, of course,” said Jason calmly. “I promise you that no Octavian lives will be lost.”
King Wilbur nodded. “I trust you, Jason.”
“Come, Vince!” said Jason to his friend. “We have work to do.”
Before long, they were flying across the expanse of red sand towards the kingdom of Avalon.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” said Vince, the disapproval obvious in his voice.
“Trust me, Vince,” Jason smiled back.
This made Vince even more concerned. He was beginning to see a side of Jason emerge which he didn’t like at all.
A short while later the scanners had picked up movement and Jason changed course to intercept. There, down below was the huge army they had been warned about. It was huge indeed. There were, by Jason’s guess, over two thousand armed men on horseback, riding at speed, with a massive red dust cloud following in their wake.
“What exactly do you plan to do, Jason?” asked Vince, growing wary and a little fearful now. He was fearful of what Jason’s answer would reveal. Jason simply ignored his friend.
He piloted the shuttle closer to get a better view. They were now hovering just a few meters up in the air facing the approaching horsemen and were both taken by surprise when the shuttle was struck by a barrage of arrows.
“They’re firing at us!” exclaimed Vince. “Get us out of here, quickly Jason!”
Jason quickly manoeuvred the shuttle higher, beyond the range of the arrows even though it was extremely unlikely that the metal tipped wooden arrows were capable of causing even the slightest damage.
“Vince, bring the plasma cannons on line!”
“Jason! You can’t be serious!” replied Vince in shock.
“Fine! I’ll do it myself,” he said, defiantly reaching across to the control panel in front of his friend. “And don’t even try to stop me, or you will regret it.”
Vince was too shocked for words. He just stared at Jason, mouth half open.
He watched as Jason brought the two mini plasma canons on line and routed its controls to his panel.
He watched as Jason positioned the shuttle almost at ground level, a few metres in front of the advancing army.
He watched as the shuttle was struck by another wave of metal tipped wooden arrows. They struck, making a sound like heavy rain on a metal roof.
Vince looked on in shock, horror and utter disgust as Jason aimed the plasma cannons at the closest group of horsemen who were approaching the front of the shuttle and fired at them.
The high energy weapon which was designed to destroy asteroids and defend against enemy spacecraft simply vaporised those closest to the shuttle while effortlessly burning and shredding through the men and horses further behind.
They were close enough to see blood and chunks of scorched meat fly through the air. It was gory and Vince covered his eyes with his hands as he wept from the shock of what he had seen.
“No, Jason,” he said softly in defeat.
Some of the braver knights charged towards the shuttle while most of the men scattered and began to retreat riding away as fast as they could.
Jason made short work of the brave knights reducing them to ash and burning flesh before turning his guns on the fleeing men.
“Come back and fight, you cowards,” he said angrily.
“You’ve defeated them, Jason,” pleaded Vince. “Let’s turn back.”
Jason simply ignored his friend again as he fired, over and over again, into the mass of men and horses, mercilessly.
The look on Jason’s face sent shivers through Vince. He had a smirk on his face and seemed to derive pleasure from the destruction he had unleashed.
For Vince, the horror seemed to go on forever. He silently and helplessly watched Jason, a man he had come to respect for his superior intellect turn into a monstrous cold blooded murderer.
Not a single man or horse stood by the time Jason had stopped firing. All that remained was a smouldering mass of flesh, like a giant stain on the red sands.
Jason was not done yet, and a few minutes later, they were hovering in front of King Roland’s castle.
“In the name of King Wilbur of Octavia, surrender, or be destroyed,” he spoke into the microphone. His amplified voice resonated through the great halls of the massive castle.
King Roland would have none of it. He emerged into the courtyard with a small contingent of knights, ready to do battle. His arrogance and misplaced bravery only resulted in his destruction and the destruction of his castle and everyone who was inside. All that remained of his once great monument and tribute to his power was rubble.
All around the ruins, people were scampering, looking for a place to hide.
Jason spoke into the microphone again.
“Kneel, in the name of King Wilbur of Octavia, or be destroyed!”
No one resisted, and his victory was complete.