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Freedom's Just A Word

By C. R. Downing All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi

Blurb

This, this collection of antiques does not qualify as a supply of anything but disappointment. In the box were ten items. She recognized them all from books on the history of Deloqk, her home planet. Despair crowded out other thoughts She gave her head a vicious shake to reset her feelings and began taking inventory. One grenade. Three canisters of noxious gas. One canister each of flammable liquid and explosive fluid. One detonator for a bomb. Two sacks of projectile ammunition. One bottle of what I assume is wine. Despair pushed against hope, trying to gain the upper hand in her mind. This is a twisted joke being played by fate. “I need a volunteer,” she said with even less inflection than was usual for her species. Suppression of emotion was her preferred method of overcoming unwanted thoughts. She’d found the technique useful in times past. All heads turned in her direction. Twenty-seven quintets of eyes found their point of focus on her. Twenty-seven first-fingers on twenty-seven hands of twenty-seven arms of revenge of twenty-seven guerrillas pointed at her. It is as I expected. They’ve all volunteered. How many do I take with me on this suicide mission?

This is the only chapter

Location: Frinyo City – Weapons Cache

Date: 38.442.02.13

Gnarnell looked down with one of her three stalk-eyes. The rough wooden box she focused on sat in the corner of the small room she and her fellow freedom fighters occupied. The two other stalk-eyes and her pair of inset-eyes remained focused on the evidence of her predicament. It was a mental challenge to focus a single ocular organ on something while the rest of her eyes were otherwise engaged.

She grunted.

“Yes, Captain!” The closest of the twenty-seven insurgents under her command provided the required response to any directive from an officer. That was the expectation, even when the soldier wasn’t sure of the directive.

How foolish is our protocol? Gnarnell thought. This youth is willing to do something without even knowing what it is. I must devise a task.

“I require,” she said before pausing. I have the answer! “The box of ammunition and weaponry from that corner.” She pointed a prehensile finger toward the box. “Bring it to me!”

“By your command!”

The young male made his way through the packed room. Gnarnell’s stalk-eyes followed his progress. He’s so dedicated. I wish he lived in a better time in our history.

The room was too small for them. It was too poorly located to act as a shelter for any who championed their cause. In fact, it was too poorly built to provide adequate protection for anyone, regardless of the cause they championed.

The room was never meant to be a sanctuary. It was listed on government manifestos as a weapons cache. That description convinced her to stage the end of the mission there.

The youth returned with the box held tight against his scaly body. She noted that his fingers had yet to mature into the almost sentient digits of mature Deloqkites. The boy’s no more than twelve-years-old. He sat the box close to where her tail circled her legs and clawed feet. She flashed the sign for a job well done. He beamed.

She gave a nod of dismissal. He nodded in respectful reply and worked his way through the crowd, recounting the end of his successful mission to each companion he passed.

Using her well-muscled tail, Gnarnell slid the box against the wall behind her. She turned her body to shield her movements and the contents of the box from prying eyes. It was best that she know what she had before anyone else. There was neither time nor space for panic or celebration.

The lid lifted with minimal resistance. She leaned it up against the front of the wooden container.

Inside she found much less than she’d hoped for.

Records indicate that this room holds a supply of weapons. I assumed that at least some would be plasma-based or laser pistols. This, this collection of antiques does not qualify as a supply of anything but disappointment.

In the box were ten items. She recognized them all from books on the history of Deloqk, her home planet. Despair crowded out other thoughts She gave her head a vicious shake to reset her feelings and began taking inventory.

One grenade. Three canisters of noxious gas. One canister each of flammable liquid and explosive fluid. One detonator for a bomb. Two sacks of projectile ammunition. One bottle of what I assume is wine.

Despair pushed against hope, trying to gain the upper hand in her mind. This is a twisted joke being played by fate.

“I need a volunteer,” she said with even less inflection than was usual for her species. Suppression of emotion was her preferred method of overcoming unwanted thoughts. She’d found the technique useful in times past.

All heads turned in her direction. Twenty-seven quintets of eyes found their point of focus on her. Twenty-seven first-fingers on twenty-seven hands of twenty-seven arms of revenge of twenty-seven guerrillas pointed at her.

It is as I expected. They’ve all volunteered. How many do I take with me on this suicide mission?


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign Nation of Cronoqk

Date: 38.435.15.24

The celebration is finally over. I was afraid it would never end.

The aliens called themselves explorers when they arrived on Deloqk. Civilians should have asked, “Why would an advanced civilization on a mission of exploration need an armada of spacecraft to survey a three-planet solar system at the fringe of the Andromeda Galaxy?”

But they didn’t. They were too busy enjoying the novelty.

I was glad when the aliens were greeted with cautious optimism by the governments of Deloqk. The hundreds of alien ships are sleek and fast, unlike the bulky cargo spaceships of the Deloqkian space fleet. The technology the aliens freely share is decades, perhaps centuries ahead of anything we’ve got. I’m fearful that the opportunities for improving the status quo are seen as goals by the populace and not the temptations they are.

Few Deloqkites outside the top military brass on Deloqk doubt their claim of a neighboring solar system as their home. From a military point of view, the alien ships’ design and number indicate hyper-light capability. No solar system close to ours would commit this many long-distance spacecraft for a drive through the neighborhood.

Unless exploration was not the primary motivation of that neighborhood jaunt.

The public refuses to doubt any alien claim regarding space travel. Our social media channels buzz with praise of the “spacemen.” I see their point. For the public, the proof of the alien claims regarding interstellar travel is orbiting our planet.

Deloqk has never been a major player in interplanetary commerce. Only four Deloqkian nations have access to materials and fuel sources needed to build and maintain rudimentary interplanetary craft. For that reason, the vast majority of our citizenry is naively unconcerned with interplanetary commerce or interstellar travel.

I know for a fact that the Ruling Council of Chronoqk withdraws support of anything when revenue drops below its predicted monetary benefit. The direct correlation between cost and benefit is especially true for a venture as expensive as space travel. I’ve heard the other governments involved in space commerce feel the same way.

Because of this known expense versus hypothetical gain or loss, all spacecraft produced on Deloqk are cargo-carries. ALL OF THEM! We don’t have a single spaceship equipped with offensive weapons. Our ships don’t have even the most rudimentary of defensive shielding systems.

I’m seriously concerned about the last issue. Mark my words, the lack interest in space travel as anything more than an economic novelty will come back to bite us in our collective muscular tails.


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign Nation of Cronoqk

Date: 38.436.05.37

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 5.25 months since my last Observation Log entry. It hasn’t been from the lack of observations of the aliens, that’s for certain.

Observation number 1. There are a lot of explorers. That’s what the aliens call themselves. Remember? The citizenry continues to overlook that. Only a few naysayers—like me—keep pointing out the large number of aliens on Deloqk. This is a concern.

Observation number 2. The vocal minority has pointed out on many occasions that every alien wears a uniform. To me, the conclusion is clear: all the explorers are members of the military. That’s a cause for concern in my book. The vast majority of Deloqkites don’t see it that way.

Observation number 3. The aliens refuse to allow Deloqkites to board any of their ships except those that landed on the surface. Big concern! What’s in the ships orbiting the planet that has to be kept secret?

That completes my trilogy of concerns and this entry.

Watch your tails, people! (That’s a reference to the end of my last entry. I may just end all these Personal Observations with a tail reference. We’ll see.)


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign Nation of Cronoqk

Date: 38.436.07.41

The vast majority of Deloqkites are ignoring the warnings we of the vocal minority keep giving.

Nations who haven’t played nicely with one another at the diplomatic level for centuries embraced the aliens’ call for a unified planetary government. I’m not opposed to the idea of a planet-wide government. There’s been enough waste of time and resources bickering over what are, in essence, inconsequential agendas. The problem is that a planet-wide government opens the door for a quick takeover of the entire planet in one offense operation. All the aliens have to do is control a single leader.

The gracious aliens are assisting in establishing a central government and its ancillary agencies. They even provided a governmental flow-chart and constitution.

Only two of our smallest sovereign states balked at the big government offer. I was pleased that some politicians hadn’t lost their backbones. It turns out that the aliens had a plan for that contingency.

Both holdout nations changed their tune when the aliens announced that access to their high-level technology would be limited to those included in the planet-wide governmental structure. We’re only days away from becoming one big, happy family . . . on paper!

Now can you feel your tail between your legs, politicians? Because that’s right where it is!


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign Nation of Cronoqk

Date: 38.437.07.01

Here I am, back at my computer station. To clarify, I’ve been at this station often in the past 14 months and 20 days. I just haven’t written a POL during that time. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to write one today, but here goes.

I don’t know all the alien agenda. I doubt that any Deloqkite knows more than 1% of it. It would surprise me to learn that I know even 1% of 1%.

I know that

I was wrong about the timing of the world government implementation. It’s been almost a year and Cronoqk is still a sovereign nation.

nearly all citizens of Deloqk have fallen into place behind the benevolent, extra-intelligent, compassionate extra-terrestrials.

there are only a few of us naysayers left. And we’re on constant high alert status. It’s been months since I’ve heard from any of the senior scientists who encouraged skepticism. Most of my fellow military malcontents are also strangely silent.

I’m almost certain that I’m being followed. If not, then some other type of surveillance is tracking me. I feel like I’m in a room full of blind butchers with cleavers, and I’m trying to keep my tail from being seriously injured . . . or cut off!


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign State of Deloqk

Date: 38.437.15.24

It’s the two-year anniversary of my first Personal Observations Log post on the topic of the aliens. You’re aware that I’ve never written their name, aren’t you?

Oh, my! I must be more paranoid than I thought. Who’s ever going to read these posts? Doesn’t matter. I can barely pronounce the aliens’ name. There’s no way I can spell it.

You might have noticed that I’m no longer in the Army of the Sovereign State of Cronoqk. I didn’t change the header. That was another freebie from the alien’s technicians. As I predicted, we’re all one big happy family now here on Deloqk.

At least they let us keep the name of our planet.

Besides being a personal anniversary for this log, today is the 2.5-year anniversary of the landing of the first alien ship. All Deloqk is now aligned with the alien agenda.

Not all. An ever-shrinking minority still exists.

I thought about closing with the statement that one of those blind butchers with a cleaver I referred to in my last POL was successful. I decided not to do that.

As a result of that decision, I have no tail reference that’s appropriate for this situation.


Location: Frinyo City – Command Post, Cronoqk

Date: 38.439.13.10

“I tell you ’Nell, this will be the last test drive,” Aronf said. “We’re going above the atmosphere today!”

I heard the excitement in his voice. I sniffed discretely. I know I smiled.

“What?” he asked.

“I was hoping the excitement was because we’ve finally synched our reproductive cycles not because of the anti-gravity platform test,” I teased.

Aronf sniffed, but he made no attempt to be discrete with his smile. “I’ll be home early. How about you?”

“I hope I don’t have a headache,” I deadpanned my reply. Although I tried my hardest, I couldn’t maintain my composure.

I began to giggle. Within seconds my husband and I were gasping between sets of laughter.

He left.

I went to my post.

The call came late that morning.

“Lieutenant Gnarnell?”

“Speaking.”

“This is Dr. Flixr.”

“Oh, yes. You’re one of the scientists working with my husband on the anti-gravity platform. I hope you’ve called with good news.”

There was dead air over the comm device.

I don’t like this, I thought. Before I could ask what was wrong, Flixr’s voice pierced me like a knife blade.

“I’m afraid it’s anything but good news, Lieutenant.”

When he stopped at that, I knew.

“How did Aronf die?” I asked without expression.

“The a-g platform was nearly one hundred and fifty meters up when something went wrong. Your husband and a technician died on impact.”

“Thank you for the personal notification. This could not have been easy for you,” I said. At least that’s what I remember saying. I know I added, “I doubt you’ve ever had to give a death notification before”

“It is . . . beyond difficult,” he managed.

“Captain, are you okay?” The voice of Corporal Hextl, her aide de camp, exploded into Gnarnell’s consciousness—an unexpected ending to an unwanted memory.

“Fine, Corporal,” she lied. “What do you need?”

“They’ve taken out another energy-conversion plant.”

“That will be all,” she muttered through clenched teeth.

“Yes, Ma’am.”


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign State of Deloqk

Date: 38.439.13.10

Well, it’s almost two years since my last Personal Observation entry. That’s because the situation here has degraded.

No, that’s not true. The situation stinks!

Interesting choice of term stinks. I stopped at my usual beverage shop on my way in this morning. I smelled the female pheromone indicating she’s ovulating. Most women cover the scent with perfume. I suspect ovulation snuck up on her—those cycles don’t always begin when expected. I don’t mean that she was stinky. It’s just uncommon to smell that pheromone outside a middle school or a bedroom.

I suspect that because the scent was unexpected, it triggered a memory when I sat down at my desk this morning. I found myself reliving the last time I saw my husband alive.

Aronf and I were planning on starting a family. Our reproductive cycles finally synched—I could tell by his pheromone production. It took almost two years after our nuptial celebration for the synchronization to finalize.

He died the day we realized we could have children.

I had my ovaries removed shortly thereafter. I had no desire to procreate with anyone but Aronf. Still don’t.

While I was writing the above, something dawned on me.

I don’t like space travel.

I’ve never been in space, so it’s not that I tried it and don’t like it. It’s not because space travel brought the alien horde to Deloqk, although that’s now part of the reason.

The reason I don’t like space travel is it killed my husband.

Aronf died testing his anti-gravity platform. Oh, they use it now, but only to transport materials back and forth between Deloqk and our space station where the cargo ships are built, loaded, sent out, return, and are unloaded. He and his team wanted Deloqkites to use the platform to get to the space station. It was supposed to be safer than blasting off using a rocket.

There’s been only one crash of an anti-gravity platform. It was the first attempt to leave our atmosphere on the device. It’s the trial trip that killed my husband and his lead scientist.

Oh, my! Was that a digression, or what?

I’m leaving the rambling paragraphs in this document. It is, after all, my POL.

What I was going to do before memory kicked in was check my thesaurus for a term that sounds worse than degraded. I’m not going to delete the stinks comment, but a semblance of decorum must be maintained. Ah, here it is, humiliated.

Upon further review, I’m leaving degraded.

Read on.

What the aliens and their fawning, subservient Deloqkian sell-out politicians touted as the introduction of a wonderful new era has been exposed for what it is. The whole alien charade was nothing more than setting the stage for a planet-wide takeover by the extraterrestrial hoard.

The aliens have finally shown themselves to be the invaders I suspected they were.

During the past months, platoons of alien soldiers used plasma and ion cannons to destroy the majority of the on-planet energy-conversion facilities—all Deloqkian facilities. They hit another one earlier today.

Because of the small numbers of power stations left functioning, each hemisphere has access to the limited power grid only during specified hours. No one area has enough power to do more than maintain the pathetic existing conditions.

The plasma and ion cannons destroyed our factories along with the energy-conversion plants. All we have left is the capability to produce low-grade fuels. Fuel produced is minimal in quantity and of poor quality. As a result, transportation is curtailed. Laser and plasma weapons are still available, but the fuel required to power them is very limited since its produced in clandestine facilities off the main power grid.

Aliens still on Deloqk download some form or energy from their orbiting maintenance craft, so they have no power shortage. I suspect the downloaded energy is electromagnetic, but I have access to ZERO analytical equipment.

Reader, if you’re as smart as I think you are, you noticed that I implied there were fewer aliens and alien spacecraft now. Let me clarify.

When Deloqk was crippled badly enough for their tastes, the aliens withdrew. They left behind a fleet of ships and their associated troops. Guess who’s shocked that all the aliens are in the military?

The aliens aren’t benefactors any longer. Those are occupation troops. They’re here to ensure no change in the status quo.

I’m convinced that the aliens intend to use Deloqkt as nothing more than a source of raw materials and forced labor. The few of us naysayers still alive are now in high demand as we try to overcome this invasion.

Toward that end, we’ve launched several offensives.

That’s being kind.

We had a couple of skirmishes—we don’t have enough troops to mount an offensive of any sort. Every skirmish ends with casualty counts lopsided in the aliens’ favor.

It’s painfully obvious that we have neither the firepower nor the manpower to trade blows with the heavyweight in this match. I know we’re going to be lying low for a while.

However, I refuse to capitulate. You’ll not see me with my tail between my legs!


Location: Frinyo City – Command Post, Cronoqk

Date: 38.441.12.03

Gnarnell chafed at her forced inaction. In truth, her chafing was over the history of poor decisions that led to the inaction. The now puppet government of Deloqk was paralyzed.

After it was obvious that the aliens were enemies and not benefactors, the military had been ordered to “do something.” They took a couple of shots at the invaders. The alien counter-punches left the Deloqkites bloody but unbowed. The problem: the military was unprepared to launch an offensive strike or to offer the resistance ordered by the government. There had been no organized resistance to any alien activity at any time during the occupation.

As the Captain of Deloqk’s Army’s 3rd Company, Gnarnell had the ear of all the brass above her—at least she had those ears in times past. Now, she wasn’t certain if any of the remaining brass had functioning ears or brains for that matter. Her interpretation of the recent events made her lack of brain function hypothesis a solid option in her eyes.

“Ma’am, I just decoded a message from our central governmental server,” her aide-de-camp said from the doorway to her office.

“Since you’re informing me of the communiqué before sending it on to me, I suspect it’s not good news.”

“I wouldn’t want to comment on that, Ma’am.”

Gnarnell snorted. Thank The Maker for soldiers like Corporal Hextl.

“Very, well. Send it on.”

“Not necessary, Ma’am.” The aide’s clawed toes clicked on the hard surface that was the floor of her office as he walked over and handed a printout to the Captain.

“That will be all.”

“By your command!”

The document she held had been folded, no mean feat for a species with lengthy prehensile fingers. She was impressed. Fortunately, unfolding requires less dexterity than folding.

What she read was brief.

To: All Commissioned Officers of Deloqk

Fr: Central Governmental Military Office

Re: Situation Update

This message was sent via automated delivery on the command of the Prime Minister.

Ten hours ago, the Central Government dissolved itself. As a commissioned officer in our military, you are hereby appointed the local leader of the province in which you are stationed. If two or more commissioned officers are in the same province, it is up to them to establish a chain of command.

We should have heeded the vocal minority’s warnings.

This is the final transmission from the Prime Minister’s office on this frequency. I am declaring CODE BLACK.

May The Maker have mercy on us all.

#EOT#

Gnarnell wasn’t shocked. She’d anticipated an action like this from the government. She’d been waiting for it since the majority of the population began evacuating the cities to hide out in the countryside and mountains. In truth, Deloqk had been CODE BLACK—martial law—for some time.

“So, now I’m officially the government, too,” she murmured.

“Ma’am?”

“Nothing. I was just summarizing the message for myself.”

“Would you like my opinion, Ma’am?”

“Proceed.”

“Your summary is a good one.”

“Thank you,” she said, but she added to herself, I think.

“I’ll need the location of all military personnel and their locations ASAP,” she ordered.

“Already in the works, Ma’am.”

That figures.

“Do any of them outrank me?”

There was a pause.

“Was I unclear?”

“No, Ma’am. I wasn’t expecting that question.”

So, you’re not clairvoyant, Corporal. Good to know.

“Then you have a new task. I want a headcount of all civilians in the province, too.”

“With locations on the civilians, Ma’am?”

“I don’t need to see the GPS coordinates in your list. Group the names in some way so I can see where they’re clustered. Subgroup those groups by sex.”

“GPS will be best for that, Ma’am.”

“Very well. You can use the GPS coordinates, but I want them consolidated into groups of no less than twenty civilians.”

“Using those parameters, some of the areas will be large. We have intel that many civilians are living as hermits.”

“Not my problem. Keep expanding the size of the geographic area until you have at least twenty civilians inside the boundary. Send me that map immediately upon completion. I’ll devise my own nomenclature for the group areas.”

“Is that all, Ma’am?”

Is that all? Merciful Maker, are you an android?

“For the moment.”

“By your command!”

It was the next day before Gnarnell got her list. She was relieved. That meant her android theory had been wrong.

The list was on the map she’d requested. There were color-coded with dots for each military personnel. The names of civilians in each bounded geographic area were in two colors—one for males, another for females. There was no indication that either color was related to the military personnel colors. All names were followed by a combination of numbers and letters.

“Corporal!”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

“I don’t see a key for the codes you devised.”

“They’re not on the map.”

“That doesn’t help me, soldier.”

“Right, Ma’am. I’m sorry, Ma’am. There was an envelope with the map. Codes for both military personnel and civilians are in there.”

Gnarnell lifted the map. Sure enough, here it is.

“By the way, Ma’am, the next highest ranking officers to you in this province are the lieutenants of your platoons.”

“Why is that essential information?”

“Yesterday, Ma’am.”

“Again, that’s not helping.”

“Yesterday, you asked if any military personnel in your province outranked you.”

How could I have forgotten that? She nodded and said, “Dismissed.”

“By your command.”

Removing the four-page printout of codes from the envelope took longer than she would ever admit. She unfolded the document, placed it on her desk, and smoothed it as flat as she could manage. The fact that the list was four pages in length stirred hope in her. Fewer than two full pages of names wouldn’t have surprised her.

Military codes.

First letter: Rank. P = Private. C = Corporal. S = Sergeant. L = Lieutenant.

Next two letters: Squad. TS = The Swarm. TT = Thunder Troops. TV = The Void. TP = The Preservers. SS = Super Soldiers. SN = Squad Nasty. WF = We Finish. CC = Covert Corps.

Number: Headcount within Squad.

Final two letters: Platoon. MM = Maroon Marauders. RR = Red Rebels.

Civilian Codes.

First two letters: Military value. ME = Military Experience. WE = Without Military Experience

Number: Headcount within the geographic boundary.

She scanned the codes. I can live with these. Then she checked each list on the map and assessed what living resources she had at her disposal. Her conclusion wasn’t encouraging. Outside of my own soldiers, I don’t have a lot of military experience.

Next, she looked at the boundary of Rucoa, the province she’d inherited. It was an irregular rectangle with the west side and north sides longer than their south and east companions. The western boundary was the Rucoa River. The eastern edge followed a meridian of longitude.

This is easy, she thought as she took a ruler and a pen and divided the province into quadrants. She labeled each one through four clockwise from the top left. Satisfied that would be clear to both troops and civilians in her command, she moved on.

“Corporal,” she called in a speaking voice.

“Ma’am?”

“I need an opinion, and you’re the closest option I have.” I hope he can still see the humor in situations.

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m always honored to be your only choice.”

He does! She chuckled before continuing.

“I’ve divided the province into quadrants. I’m going to assign two squads to each of those quadrants.”

“Understood, Ma’am. Pardon me for commenting, but I don’t think that response qualifies for an opinion.”

Gnarnell laughed.

“Quite right. Here’s your chance to shine. I want to keep the Lieutenant in charge of each platoon to serve as my surrogate when I’m not available.”

Hextl nodded.

“Is the best solution for the platoons to be responsible for north/south or east/west halves of the province? Before you decide, listen to my points to consider.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“First, if we go north/south, each platoon gets one city of significant size. East/west that’s not the case—east gets both of those cities.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Second, an east/west division leaves most of the rural and undeveloped area in the province in the west while the entire river is the responsibility of the east.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Finally, there’s not a single good eatery in the entire west, no matter how we divide the province.”

Hextl stifled a laugh.

“Don’t do that to me, Corporal.”

“Ma’am?” he managed to get the single word out without laughing.

“My final point was wickedly funny. Never again will you stifle a laugh when I provide the humor. Is that understood, soldier?”

“It is, Ma’am. And, Ma’am, permission to chuckle now.”

“Granted!”

Both Captain and her aide laughed a long time.

After both parties had calmed themselves enough to wipe the tears from their fixed eyes, they got back to business. Gnarnell suspended military protocol “for the duration of this decision-making process.” The discussion was spirited. In the end, the province was divided into north/south.

Maroon Marauders platoon with squads The Swarm, Thunder Troops, The Void, and The Preservers was deployed in the northern quadrants. Red Rebels platoon with squads Super Soldiers, Squad Nasty, We Finish, and Covert Corps were assigned to patrol the southern half of the province.


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Personal Observations Log

Author: Gnarnell

Rank: Captain, Army of the Sovereign State of Deloqk Guerilla Fighter for Freedom

Date: 38.442.01.55

Reader, you will notice that I’ve changed my rank. I can’t delete the old header. Marking through it is the best I can do. Things are dicey around here, to say the least.

Read on.

The great, planet-wide government of Deloqk is dead. Our leaders bailed. We switched to guerrilla tactics. Guerilla strikes have been more successful than the frontal attacks were.

In reality, though, I don’t think our attacks are any more disconcerting to the aliens than mosquito bites are to us. However, over time mosquitos can become more bother than the host organism is willing to tolerate.

We’ve reached that point—the one where the aliens’ tolerance is exceeded.

Deloqk is under siege. Armed alien patrols roam the countryside. Cities are searched and re-searched with ruthless efficiency. Over the past months, surviving Deloqkites migrated to the towns and villages in the hills and mountains where they’ve dug in.

This siege is now in its tenth month. Reconnaissance forays by my patrols report increased activity in and around the metallic ore mines. A few former governmental appointees think that the non-military activity indicates that alien interest in resource gathering is a sign of waning interest in fighting us.

Most Deloqkites, led by the remnants of the military, insist that resource gathering is the first step in the production of military hardware on planet.

Of course, only time will tell which faction read the signs accurately. I remember when I was part of the minority. Unfortunately, we ended up being right that time.

On the bright side, if black darkness can be considered brighter than pitch-black darkness, Corporal Hextl thinks he found a weakness in the aliens. It’s a possible way to attack them all at once through something in the material of their uniforms.

Any port in a storm.

I’m going to hightail it out of here now. I have troops to command. I don’t think this computer will be available again—ever—to anyone.

If Deloqk is a foreign term to you, Reader, I hope you understand that the planet on which you are located wore that name proudly.

I just had a thought. Maybe I heard this somewhere, but even if it’s not original to me, I’m going to use it.

Freedom’s just a word that means that there’s nothing left to lose.

Here’s to freedom!


Location: Rucoa Province – Mobile Command Post, Unknown Coordinates

Date: 38.442.01.56

“Explain your uniform material theory, Corporal,” Gnarnell ordered.

“Yes, Ma’am. I was monitoring an alien transmission band when I heard a chorus of cries of pain.”

“And?”

“I ran an amplitude analysis of my recording of the band just before the cries. My first thought was that something overloaded their audio circuits.”

“Based on the fact that you’ve presented me with no information of consequence, may I assume that the problem was not increased amplitude?”

“You may, Ma’am. Next, I tried a frequency discrimination protocol on the recording.” He paused.

She stared at him with all five eyes, her face a blank slate.

“I discovered that a zero point six-second burst at 180 Hz occurred immediately before the cries of pain began.”

“A frequency anomaly. Intriguing.”

“I know. Particularly since it’s just a pure tone sine wave.”

Her look was enough for Hextl to know he’d lost his Captain.

“It’s a hum, Ma’am. It’s just a monotonal hum.”

“I see,” she said, although she didn’t. “What happened after they stopped whining?” she asked.

“They were screaming, Ma’am.”

She shot him a look. He looked away and continued.

“After the scream— um, whining stopped, I heard a lot of alien terminology with which I am unfamiliar.”

“They were cussing someone out,” she said.

“I wouldn’t know, Ma’am.”

“I would. You can trust me when I say that. Profanity is never included in formal language acquisition classes.”

“I tried an experiment, Ma’am.”

“Really? Tell me more.”

“Do you remember early on when we had alien advisors living in our barracks?”

She nodded.

“I stole one of their uniform tops,” he said.

“Why? The aliens are no more than two-thirds our size, and their arms each have two elbows—one controlling its own forearm and hand. A uniform blouse—” She stopped, unable to articulate her confusion.

“I used it to line the litter box of my tac, Ma’am.”

Gnarnell laughed. The tac was a household pet notorious for its sense of self-superiority and noxious fecal deposits.

“Assuming you sterilized the uniform blouse, what did you do in your experiment?”

“My protocol was simple. I cut the fabric into strips and tried using a strip as a communication broadcaster and receiver.”

Gnarnell made no attempt to mask her confusion.

“That’s how they communicate, Ma’am. The aliens communicate through their uniforms. All the aliens wear uniforms because it’s their comm system.”

“Fascinating. How does knowing that help us?”

“I did some calculations. My hypothesis is that a seven or eight-second burst of energy at 180 Hz will stun all the aliens on the comm at that time. It might even kill some of them.”

I can’t believe what I just heard flashed through Gnarnell’s mind. This is our doomsday weapon!

“Are you all right, Ma’am?” The Corporal’s question clearly expressed his concern at her prolonged silence.

“Better than alright, Corporal! I want all my squad and platoon leaders together on our secure channel in one hour!”


Location: Rucoa Province – Mobile Command Post, Unknown Coordinates

Date: 38.442.01.56

“Let me summarize this whole event,” Gnarnell said into her microphone to the eight sergeants and two lieutenants under her command. “I’ll be in contact with military leaders in the four provinces bordering ours. The plan will be for their troops to execute a series of strikes on targets of their own choosing. I’m hoping those forays divert most of the alien attention away from us.”

“Us, Ma’am?” Lieutenant Micyld of Maroon Marauders interrupted. “Are you participating in this mission?”

“You don’t have a problem with that, do you, Lieutenant?”

“No, Ma’am! It’s just—”

“Good. I’ll be commanding something less than a full platoon to create a diversion for the alien’s security forces. Corporal Hextl will be inserted into the local alien communications center where he will implement his protocol. A hybrid squad commanded by the overly vocal Micyld will assist him in that task. Any additional comments or questions?”

“I have one, Captain,” Sergeant Jraxl said.

“Proceed.”

“What will the forces not assigned to one of these details be doing?”

“Thank you for asking. They will have the most difficult assignment of all.”

Silence.

“Those not actively involved in what I suspect could be our final assault on the aliens will be responsible for keeping things running if we fail.” I’m certain that if we do much damage and still fail, the aliens will pull their personnel off Deloqk and eradicate all lifeforms on this planet before they return for the resources.

“Understood, Ma’am. I’d like to volunteer Squad Nasty as part of that detail.”

“I can arrange that. Any other comments or questions?”

“As much as I’d love to be a nail in the coffin of those aliens, I will volunteer to work with Squad Nasty and whoever else we inherit or recruit,” Lieutenant Kokoff said. As the leader of Red Rebels, Squad Nasty’s platoon, Garnell was sure that she knew her people.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. Having a commissioned officer to oversee that eventuality can be nothing but beneficial.”

There were no other comments or questions.


Solar System: Quadrant 4/Red Dwarf 221

Planet: Deloqk

Pirate POL

Author: Hextl

Rank: Corporal

Date: 38.442.02.10

I told Captain Gnarnell my idea to kill off the aliens. She’s working on the implementation of her part now. I’ve got to run a couple more simulations before I get the word to proceed.

I heard that a number of civilians have hooked up with the Captain. I know she’ll appreciate that. They must suspect something’s up with Gnarnell out and about.

The theory behind my plan is simple. I get into the alien comm center and reset their frequency filter to expedite 180 Hz transmissions. Then, I send out a repeating message of only that frequency at maximum amplitude for as long as I can keep transmitting.

I’m hoping for at least 20 seconds. That should incapacitate the bunch of them.

I think 10 seconds might do some permanent damage. According to my calculations, a couple of minutes of my transmission should kill all the aliens on Deloqk and in orbit receiving the transmission.

There’s a chance a burst of that length of time could impact any alien that receives the message wherever it is. That would be a nice bonus!

A lieutenant and squad of soldiers just arrived. It’s showtime.

I hope you’ll read my next personal log, too. That will mean we succeeded!


Location: Frinyo City – Weapons Cache

Date: 38.442.02.13

“I need a volunteer,” she said with even less inflection than was usual for her species. Suppression of emotion was her preferred method of overcoming unwanted thoughts. She’d found the technique useful in times past.

All heads turned in her direction. Twenty-seven quintets of eyes found their point of focus on her. Twenty-seven first-fingers on twenty-seven hands of twenty-seven arms of revenge of twenty-seven guerrillas pointed at her.

It is as I expected. They’ve all volunteered. How many do I take with me on this suicide mission? After some rapid mental machinations, she continued.

“I’ve changed my mind. I now need a maximum of ten of you to come with me. We’re going to draw enough of the aliens surrounding this room after us to give those that remain here a fighting chance to hold out until Corporal Hextl fries their alien nervous systems.”

A cheer echoed through the room. She considered cutting it off, but let it run its course instead. When silence returned, and twenty-seven arms of revenge once again stabbed in her direction, she continued.

“My first choice is the unmarried. If you have no family, you move higher up my list. If you meet one or both of those qualifications, keep your arm of revenge up.”

Seven hands dropped. Eleven others were slowly lowered to the sides of eleven freedom fighters.

Nine left. They won’t like it, but I’m cutting three more.

“Master Sergeant, sergeant, sergeant, I’m amending my qualifications list to exclude all non-com officers in the Deloqkian military.”

“But, Captain—”

“Which part of my amendment is unclear, Master Sergeant Raginn?” Gnarnell barked at the most senior of the non-com’s present. Nine stalked eyes drooped.

“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am to have served with the three of you. I want everyone here to know that it’s only because of your commitment to duty and your courage that I cannot afford to lose any of you on this mission.” Besides, there’s a very real chance that you’ll die in this room after I leave anyway.

Grunts of approval and pats on the backs of the three officers sealed the deal.

“Raginn, as soon as my ample tail clears the exit out of here, you’re in command.”

Raginn nodded.

“I need an inventory of weapons and ammunition, and I need it yesterday,” the Captain ordered.


Location: Frinyo City – Diversionary Action

Date: 38.442.02.13

Gnarnell and her volunteers, which included one civilian, took most of what she’d found in the supposed ammunitions cache. She’d led the way out an obsolete exhaust tunnel. When the guerrillas emerged onto the street, they were over one-half kilometer from their starting point.

She took the point and assigned one of two corporals and the civilian as the rear guard. After six blocks of covert travel, she stepped inside a burned out store and gathered her team around her.

“You’re probably wondering why I called you here,” she said. Three of the soldiers grinned at the often-used phrase. The civilian’s face showed her lack of understanding of the joke.

“I’m sorry, um, I don’t know your name,” Gnarnell said to the civilian.

“Konarxx.”

“That’s a pretty name.”

The young woman smiled a relieved smile.

“What I should have said, Konarxx is that it’s time for you to know what we’ll be doing to help our comrades back in the weapons cache.”

She outlined a plan that involved rigging the containers of flammable liquid and explosive liquid to the detonator. They would plant what she hoped passed as a bomb at a point behind the alien troops. Once the containers of liquid were in place, she and two others would approach the aliens from the rear. She would lob the grenade to get their attention. Two canisters of noxious gas would follow the explosion, and the trio would retreat along a line that led pursuers past Konarxx. She would detonate the bomb when there were aliens on both sides of the device.

The last point of engagement, the snipers’ nest, was set up at a distance from the weapons cache. When the aliens arrived at that location, they would use the remaining gas canister to confuse the aliens and pick them off with their projectile weapons.

Only if necessary would they engage in hand-to-hand combat.

The soldiers nodded grimly. Konarxx tried not to throw up.


Location: Frinyo City - Weapons Cache

Date: 38.442.02.13

“I don’t like that she’s left all the laser pistols and plasma rifles here,” Sergeant Jraxl complained.

“I appreciate your optimistic assessment,” Master Sergeant Raginn retorted. “I don’t consider a total of nine of the weapons you described with fewer than nine fully-charged replacement power cells to be much to brag about.”

“Sorry, Master Sergeant,” Jraxl said. “I just wish—”

A fusillade of projectiles blasted their way into the room.

“Down! Everybody, down!” Raginn ordered unnecessarily.

“They must not think much of us,” a soldier complained. “Projectile weapons. I deserve a least a death by laser.”

Grim laughter answered the soldier’s comment.

“Okay, then, let’s give them a taste of our lasers just to show them how highly we regard them,” the lieutenant said. “No more than ten bursts of one second each per pistol. If you don’t have an alien targeted, do not fire. When you do target an alien, don’t miss!


Location: Alien Communications Center

Date: 38.442.02.13

“I assume you’ve seen building plans,” Lieutenant Micyld said as Corporal Hextl’s sabotage mission team stopped just outside the comm center’s perimeter.

“No, Sir. I had no access to that data.”

“So, after we get you inside, what’s your plan?”

“I’ll find a terminal, hack into the network, upload the repeating frequency burst command, and send it out.”

“Just like that?”

“I hope so, Sir.”

“What happens when we kill an alien before the message goes out?” a corporal asked.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Hextl replied.

“Well, if the aliens communicate through their clothing, won’t some kind of message get sent when one of the guards dies? It seems like an incomplete use of technology if that isn’t the case.”

“I hadn’t considered that,” Hextl admitted. “I hope that’s not the case. Otherwise, any stealthiness we manage to achieve will be compromised when the first alien dies by our actions.”

The conversation stalled until a private spoke.

“I don’t think we need to worry about them being warned by the death of a guard.”

“Why not?” Micyld asked.

“If the uniforms do transmit a time of death, as long as there are other deaths besides the guards we kill, they’ll never learn that we killed anyone before they’re incapacitated.”

“He’s right!” Hextl said. “Even the most sophisticated GPS system sending real-time data at light speed still requires translation of raw data into usable coordinates. If a bunch of coordinates arrive simultaneously, or even close together, the aliens will have a hard time telling who died where.”

“Good to know, Corporal,” the lieutenant said. “Lock and load. We’re going in!”


Location: Frinyo City – Diversionary Action

Date: 38.442.02.13

It took longer than Gnarnell hoped to rig the bomb and set the snipers’ nest. She worried about those left behind in the nearly defenseless ammunition cache. She made certain her guerilla snipers were deployed at the nest down a street behind the alien position. Then, she, two soldiers, and the civilian she’d chosen to assist her made one final check of their weapons.

“Remember that the gas won’t discriminate between the aliens and us, so be sure that you don’t open the canister until they’re running after me. Once you throw the canister, run away from me. Loop around, and we’ll meet at the ambush.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” the pair chorused.

“Konarxx—“

“Yes, Ma’am,” the civilian interrupted.

“I see you’ve been observing our military protocol. That was nicely done. Next time, though, if you’ll wait until I finish my sentence, that would be appreciated,” Gnarnell said through a tired smile.

Konarxx blushed, but she smiled back.

“As soon as I turn that corner,” Gnarnell said while she pointed to her right. “Twist the detonator. Twist it hard. I don’t know how long it’s been in that box, but we need the fire and explosion right then.”

“I’ll do my best, Ma’am.”

“I know you will,” and I hope it doesn’t scar you for life.

“I was wondering, Captain, about how long you think we’ll have before pursuit reaches the ambush point,” one of the gas bombers asked.

“I can’t even hazard a guess. Assume they’re fast runners and that you’ll have to hurry to beat them after you toss your canister.”

She looked at each of her associates in turn, carefully studying their features. If they didn’t make it through, she wanted to remember them as clearly as she could.

“I don’t know if you are religious or not,” she said after she was satisfied with her observation. “I don’t need to know. You, you will be reverent while I pray for us before we set this sequence of events in motion.”


Location: Frinyo City – Weapons Cache

Date: 38.442.02.13

“Why have they slowed their firing, Sir?” asked a private.

“I don’t have a clue,” Master Sergeant Raginn replied. “It goes against any strategy I’ve ever studied. Once you have an enemy down, you beat him until he dies or surrenders.”

“What’ll we do?”

“Give thanks to The Maker, and distribute the remaining ammunition.”


Location: Alien Communications Center

Date: 38.442.02.13

“Since we’re still alive, I’m assuming that the GPS/dead soldier idea was either wrong or somebody’s killing aliens somewhere else, ” Sergeant Jraxl said.

“Doesn’t matter to me which is it, Sir. I’m glad we inserted Corporal Hextl into that office in one piece.”

“As am I, Sold—”

The cold glow of a laser beam cut through the sergeant’s neck, severing his head and stopping his comment in mid-word.

A brief, intense firefight ensued. The final body count was five aliens and two guerillas dead. There were no wounded.

Hextl was unaware of the havoc outside the closed door to the office to which he’d been delivered. He’d managed to log on to the alien network and uploaded his repeating frequency sequence. It was taking longer than he’d anticipated.

He had no choice but to wait and hope that time was still on his side.

“Stick your head inside that office and check the Corporal’s status,” Lieutenant Micyld ordered. With only four men of Hextl’s insertion team left, he was looking for good news.

The private reached for the door handle. A sizzling sound announced the arrival of a plasma discharge at the surface of the Deflite’s elbow. Less than a second later, the private’s forearm hit the ground with a thud.

Fighting was fast and furious. Laser pistols, while effective weapons, were no match for the firepower of plasma rifles. Micyld drained his laser pistol’s energy cell as he watched the remaining members of Nasty Squad, and two of their laser pistols, melt before his eyes.

The lieutenant was crawling toward the remaining laser pistol when he heard the door to the office open.

“It’s running!” Hextl shouted. “And I think it’s working!”

Instinctively, Micyld snatched the laser pistol with one hand, rolled onto his back, and wriggled until he faced the door to the office. He was just quick enough to see the saboteur he was ordered to protect dissolve.

He flipped over and aimed in the direction of the last alien he’d seen standing. There was no alien in his field of view, but the air was filled with horrific screams of agony.

He used his tail to push himself to his feet. He commandeered the alien plasma rifle used to eliminate Hextl. By that time, the building was silent.


Location: Frinyo City – Diversionary Action

Date: 38.442.02.13

Gnarnell’s prayer was simple.

“We ask you, Our Maker, to keep us safe and grant our mission a successful outcome. We ask this in Your Name. Amen.”

“Amen,” chorused in response.

“Let’s get to this,” she said as she picked up her grenade.

Once she was close enough to get a clear visual of the alien position outside the weapons cache, two thoughts flashed through Gnarnell’s mind.

Where are the rest of them? was the first. She counted three times, each time after changing her location in hope of finding more troops. Her count was static—eighteen living and six dead.

Why are there so few of them? was the second. She didn’t care about that answer. She knew the aliens had enough capacity to send twenty-five times that many soldiers if they’d chosen to do so. She took careful aim and lobbed the grenade underhand toward a group of four invaders.

The concussion from the blast echoed from building to building. Gnarnell didn’t wait to see how successful she’d been. She turned and ran.

Shouts and the sounds of projectile ammunition being fired followed the Captain. She heard two clanking noises and a hissing sound. The gas canisters are deployed.

She gave a head nod to Konarxx as she hurried past her position. She didn’t see what the girl’s response was.

As Gnarnell rounded the corner, Knoraxx turned her attention to those pursuing the Captain. Her palms were sweating when she twisted the detonator hard to the left.

Nothing happened.

Panic overwhelmed the civilian. In desperation she twisted the detonator to the right. When that proved unsuccessful, she twisted back and forth as fast as she could manage.

Gnarnell slowed after rounding the corner. She wanted to be sure she was being followed before she left Knoraxx behind. When there’d been no explosion after several seconds, she hurried back around the corner.

Knoraxx was standing in the middle of the alley, the detonator held high above her head. Both hands gripped the cylinder.

“One more step and I’ll blow you all to smithereens!”

An alien took sloppy aim at the woman with his projectile pistol.

“No!” Gnarnell shouted and instinctively reached down to her weapons belt for her laser pistol. It’s back in the weapon’s cache!

“Here’s to freedom!” she bellowed and sprinted toward the alien aggressor.

In a calm calculated move, the alien changed his target. He fired. A projectile tore through the skin of Gnarnell’s abdomen and buried itself deep inside her body cavity.

Startled by the gunshot, Knoraxx dropped the detonator. As the device hit the pavement, the flammable liquid ignited. Flames cast dancing shadows off the walls.

Knoraxx spun around and saw Gnarnell lying on the ground. A fast-widening pool of greenish blood formed beneath her wound.

The civilian took one tentative step toward her leader before she pulled up short. Spinning back around, she rushed the remaining aliens. The fire in her five eyes an inferno compared to the quickly dying flames from the incendiary device. No gun fired. She watched as alien after alien clamped one hand over an ear. She ran faster.

She hadn’t covered half the distance between herself and the invaders when every alien began writhing and screaming in agony. Weapons clattered to the ground followed soon thereafter by body after alien body. The screaming stopped within ten seconds. The writhing lasted only ten seconds more.


Location: Frinyo City – Weapons Cache

Date: 38.442.02.13

“Did you hear that?” asked a private.

“I did,” Raginn replied. “It sounds like the Captain’s started her diversion.”

“Shouldn’t we go help them?”

“I can’t think of a better idea, Private. Charge!”

The door to the weapons cache crashed open. A mini-flood of guerillas emptied into the street.

Before they could fire a single burst, the screaming began.

Thirty seconds later, silence filled the air. The last traces of smoke from the gas canisters and incendiary device floated into the Deloqkian sky. The lieutenant ordered a rotational approach pattern to check the alien bodies for life.


Location: Alien Communications Center

Date: 38.442.02.13

“This is Lieutenant Micyld calling any receiver. I repeat this is Micyld calling any receiver.”

“Enough, already, Lieutenant. We heard you the first time,” Sergeant Kkumn of Super Soldiers squad said.

“What’s your status?” Micyld asked.

“Nice to hear your voice, too.”

“Shut up, Kkumn, and listen.”

Kkumn shut up. It was the first time he’d ever heard that tone from Micyld to anyone but a recalcitrant recruit.

“I’m all that’s left of the insertion squad. Even Hextl’s dead. What’s your status? Are the aliens still alive where you are?”

“We’re just leaving the area around the weapons cache,” Kkumn reported. “Every alien’s nothing but bacteria bait. Wait.”

The comm went silent.

“This isn’t good. The Captain’s been hit. ” Kkumn’s voice lacked any trace of emotion.

The comm went silent again.

“Reports are that it’s bad,” the sergeant managed before his words disintegrated into sup-supping sobs.


Location: Frinyo City – Emergency Medical Station

Date: 38.442.02.14

“I’ve done all I can do,” the doctor said. “Your captain should have died where she fell. It’s a tribute to her and her squad that she’s made it this long.”

“It wasn’t a squad, doctor. It was one person, a civilian,” Sergeant Kkumn said. “She stayed with Gnarnell and willed her to stay alive.”

“Your captain must have been pretty special.”

“Special’s not even close,” Lieutenant Micyld choked out. “We owe her— this planet owes her its existence!”

“Can we talk with her?” a private asked.

“That’s her call. There’s a civilian in there now. Is that the one—”

“Affirmative,” Micyld clipped. “That will be all, Doctor.”

Three battle-hardened soldiers stood side-by-side outside the hastily constructed medical station. Each wanted to go in, but none wanted to be the first. They watched and strained to listen.

“What’s the prognosis, Knoraxx?” Gnarnell asked in just above a whisper.

“I, it’s, um,” Knoraxx stopped without getting out a single coherent thought.

“I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad,” the Captain murmured. She laughed but bit the laughter off when a wave of pain washed over her.

I have to do this, Knoraxx thought. I managed to get that stupid detonator to work when I thought I was going to die. Saying what I need to say to the woman who saved my life shouldn’t be this hard.

“Ma’am, I owe you my life,” she managed before she broke down and cried like she hadn’t cried in years. She wrapped the first-finger of her arm of revenge around Gnarnell’s corresponding digit and squeezed hard.

“You’re worth it all,” the Captain whispered.

Knoraxx had to lean over until her ear was almost touching Gnarnell’s lips to hear her. Gnarnell gave the civilian’s first-finger a weak squeeze.

“Thank you, Ma’am.” Knoraxx choked back additional tears. After she’d composed herself, she added, “I’ll try to live up to that.”

“You . . . already . . . have.”

Gnarnell pulled her first-finger free, lifted her arm of revenge, and draped that arm around the young woman’s neck.

“Deloqk is in your hands,” she said loud enough that the soldiers outside the tent heard it without straining. She turned her head toward the doorway and added her last words.

“I don’t know who’s out there, but I know you all deserve medals. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that freedom’s just a word that means that there’s nothing left to lose. Freedom is much more than a word, and,” she paused and panted for several seconds.

Those outside the tent stepped through the door flap into her room. The rag-tag remnant of those she’d commanded on her last mission hoisted their arms of revenge in support of their Captain. Then they held their collective breath so as not to miss a single word.

“I want you all to know that . . . I didn’t lose anything today. Not because I had nothing to lose. We all had freedom to regain.”

Gnarnell’s forearm drooped and her first-finger began to curl. Micyld stepped to Knoraxx’s side.

In as solemn an act as was ever performed on Deloqk, he raised his dead Captain’s arm of revenge skyward in a gesture of triumph.

The End


Appendix

Deloqkian Calendar

Deloqk’s calendar is based on a repeating cycle of 500 Deloqkian years. Each of those years is approximately equal to two Earth years in elapsed time.

Dates are written in this format: 38:442:07:56

This story takes place in the between the 435th and 442nd years of the current five hundred year cycle of that calendar.

Each Deloqkian year is divided into fifteen months.

Each Deloqkian month consists of sixty days.

Deloqkian days are divided into hours, minutes, and seconds, as are Earth days. Suffice it to say that the difference in the length of these last three time divisions is close enough to Earth’s units that they require no additional explanation.


Deloqkian Naming Nomenclature

Names of planets, nations, states within those nations end in “oqk.”

Names of major cites end in “o.”

All personal names end with at least two consonants.

Female names end in two of the same consonant, e.g., Gnarnell. This corresponds to the two “X-chromosomes” in the female genotype.

Male names end in two different consonants, e.g., Micyld, corresponding to the “XY” arrangement of the male dsex chromosomes.


Deloqkian Lifespan

Gnarnell and others of her species have a lifespan of fifty to eighty Deloqkian years—roughly one hundred to one hundred and sixty Earth years.

Deflites hatch from eggs after one Deloqkian month of incubation.

Deloqkites mature between their tenth and fifteenth year.

Males and females are fertile until death.

Average clutch size in females decreases from two eggs to one egg over the course of their breeding years.


Deloqkian Anatomy & Physiology

There is no size differential between males and females.

The average height of an adult Deloqkite is approximately 2 Meters.

The average weight of an adult Deloqkite is approximately 80 Kilograms.

The species is exothermic within normal temperatures on Deloqk.

When the temperature exceeds 35° Celsius, sweat glands on the tail provide for evaporative cooling.

Exposure to temperatures below 15° Celsius for longer than three hours puts Deloqkites at risk of dying from hypothermia.

Both males and females experience cyclical reproductive seasons. These occur approximately once every three months or five times per Deloqkian year.

The sweat glands referred to above are an integral part of the mating process.

Both sexes secrete pheromones in their sweat during their reproductive cycles. Olfactory stimulation by the pheromones is the trigger of sexual desire in this species.

Alien reports recovered after their demise included unfavorable references to the smell of Deloqkian sweat during reproductive cycles. The most common adjective used, which can be translated without using profanity, was intolerable.

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Roy Jenner: I was pleased to join the action where this B-17 was limping back across the English Channel defying all odds. Obviously written by a person more than familiar with the interior of the Flying Fortresses that were familiar in the skies of Southern England during World War 2. Plenty of action here ...

SandraHan1: This story is very descriptive, with vivid scenes from the very beginning, which made for a good scene setting. I love the symbolism in names, such as “Naysayers”, “Hadd”, etc . The story itself is revolutionary, intriguing, emotional and exciting. I was very pleased to see that there is a happy ...

Pablo Rojas: Love the story, at the end it is a western story, simple, yet giving hints and pieces of the situation that is happening all over ravencroft´s universe. easy to read and always keeping with the main stream story I want to keep reading about, Olafson´s adventures.

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