Planet Redeem: Class A Prison World
The prison world of Redeem was a cold and isolated planet, where few survived their full sentences. No inmate had ever escaped from the ice world; a statistic the Warden took personal pride and satisfaction in.
If you were unfortunate enough to be sent to Redeem, then it was considered a life in captivity. But most prisoners knew, to last five years without the place killing you or breaking you was rare.
The Warden looked down to the snow covered court yard, where a ship had just unloaded the latest batch of prisoners and a smile cracked his wrinkled face.
He disliked the cold but would always welcome the wretches of earth to their new home. In ten years he would retire back to Earth with a pension that would set him up for life. While here though, he would enjoy his virtual kingship on Redeem and punish those who were sent to him.
The sound of snow crunching behind him broke the Warden out of his reverie. Turning was not necessary. He knew who had joined him; he had been expecting his Captain of the guards, Hugo Wellin.
‘How long before we bring them in Warden?’
He did not ask this question out of concern for the men that shivered in a line beneath them. He just needed to know when to begin the induction of the fresh inmate’s new lives.
‘Another ten minutes should do it Hugo. It looks like a wilful bunch.’
‘They will break the same as they all do Sir.’
The warden had no doubt to the truth of those words. It was his policy to leave them in the cold long enough for them to realise that escape was useless.
Even if you did get away from the actual prison which was mainly underground. You still had to survive in temperatures which were as low as minus forty degrees Celsius.
Getting off the planet was all but impossible, as there were only two ships within an earth year to drop off prisoners and six supply ships that both landed over five miles away and then transported the prisoners or supplies to the facility.
‘When you have broken them Hugo, I will meet them one at a time for our usual acquainting.’
Now it was the captain who smiled his usual wicked grin. The inmates, who looked like they were about to kill over, would be ready soon. Then the real pain would begin.
Caleb looked up at the two men with utter defiance, but could not stop shivering from the extreme cold of the place. He hoped his shaking arms were not confused for fear or weakness, but looking down the row of ten men told him that he was not the only one suffering from the cold. He knew why he was here and the injustice of it was enough to keep his chin up, so he could stare back at his captors with all the contempt he could muster.
He was guilty of no crime except for who his father was.
The memory of the assassin’s knife gliding across his mother and fathers throat was still fresh in his mind. The question as to why this had happened must have had something to do with his father, who led the bodyguard for Earths President.
The assassin, who had taken their lives, wore a black mask and granted Caleb the boon of giving his father some last words.
‘Endure this, my son.’ He had said before his life was taken so quickly it almost seemed unreal.
Caleb had just turned seventeen, a week before his parent’s murder. But for all his youth and immaturity he did not cry one tear.
When it had happened he was so shocked that all he could do was stare dumbly at his parent’s corpses.
But then a rage and an overwhelming thirst for vengeance had consumed him, as the assassin signalled for two more masked men to take him away. The blood that was pumping from his father throat flowed like a red stream to pool around his feet. It had been over so fast; it was hard to take in. Before the masked man left, he said in a raspy voice.
‘If you are thinking why you are alive, while your mother and father were not as fortunate. Then know that your survival is more of a punishment than a reward.’
Caleb noticed for the first time that the masked man’s eyes were a brilliant blue and he would remember them, if he survived long enough.
‘If I was you, I would kill me now. If you let me live, then I will take more time killing you than you did my mother and father.’ He had screamed at the masked man and had tried breaking free of his bounded hands and feet with little success.
The masked man just laughed and whispered into his ear.
‘I will not kill you, because I told you’re illustrious father that you would suffer. Oh, I give my word you will suffer. Unfortunately, there will not be an opportunity for us to meet again. Where you are going there is no return.’
‘Why have you done this?’
Caleb asked hoping to at least gain some meaning, from the madness.
The masked man seemed to consider this for a second and then replied.
‘Because he found out something, he should not have. Now you have a pleasant journey and I mean this when I say good luck to you, for you will need it.’
He continued to laugh; the gravelly sound that had haunted Caleb’s dreams, on the six month journey to the prison world Redeem.
Next to Caleb in the snow covered court yard, one of the new inmates dropped to his knees, which shook him back to the present.
This seemed to be the signal for the main prison doors to open. The guards that had been standing behind them in environmental suits began to herd them into the warmth, of what was to become their new home.
Caleb looked back at the man who had collapsed, as the doors that sealed the hostile environment outside begun to close. They left him there to die; maybe he would be the lucky one he thought.
‘What is your name boy?’
Caleb had been taking a beating for the past hour.
‘I have told you my name ten times already.’ Blood was dripping from his busted nose. He could not see his torturer, as both eyes were starting to close with swelling. He had the measure of the man though. Before the beating came, his torturer almost looked excited to begin. He was a tall lean man, with slick dark hair that was perfectly in place.
‘I don’t care about what name your name used to be boy. As I have said before, your new name is 118. So I ask you again, what is your name?’
Captain Wellin had been working on him for longer than he would have liked. The others had all broken within ten minutes of this induction. So his torturer said. But Caleb had shown unusual stubbornness for someone as young as he was.
Another man entered the room. It was the older man who had been staring down at them outside.
‘I am the Warden of this prison.’ The older man said as he crouched down, so his face was level with the Caleb’s.
‘Your past life is now over prisoner 118. Your new life here will be for the rest of your existence and if you play by the rules, that existence can be prolonged. However if you do not behave, what you have experienced thus far, shall seem pleasant.’
Caleb could not think of how his life could get any worse. He was glad of the warmth inside this room, but that was all he was glad of right now. The little stand outside in the snow was clearly designed to deter prisoners from escaping. The Warden confirmed his theory.
‘This planet was selected as a prison world because of its extreme environment. We have walls and barbed wire, but we have no need of them really. If you did ever wish to leave this place, then you would be stranded in unbearable cold with no food and little shelter. Some have tried before, but are now buried under the snow out there.’ He said and pointed in the direction of the court yard.
‘I have committed no crime...’ the Captain delivered a punch to Caleb’s stomach that knocked the wind out of him.
‘I don’t care why you are here; we are not always furnished with those details. While you are here however, we will make sure you are punished. For that is what the citizens of Earth expect of us, and I would have to admit that Captain Wellin and I do enjoy our work.
He rose and walked to the door. But before he left he said the same thing that he had said to every one of the inmates that had come to him.
‘Welcome to Redeem young man; you will not enjoy your stay here.’ He smiled again. It was a cruel smile that was colder than the temperature outside. The Warden left the room. The only noise Caleb could hear was the dripping of blood that fell from his busted nose. He had been on the end of worse beatings in training back at the Academy on Earth. This fact did not stop him feeling anguish and misery, at his predicament.
Caleb was a tough kid; he had been raised to be. He was the son of Earth’s most famed warrior Dorn Bruce. Who had instructed him and raised him as a warrior, and one of exceptional skill.
He did not fear death as such. But a life in this place was something he could truly not accept. The unfamiliar feeling of fear was starting to consume him. He wanted this beating to stop, so he could just curl up into a dark hole and wallow in self-pity. But a nagging memory came to mind, as he was contemplating just giving up. ‘Endure this, my son.’ His father had said. This memory was like an elixir, for the fear that was brewing within. He would endure this he decided with sudden fury. One day he would have his revenge on his parent’s murderers. The Warden and the man, who had beaten him for the past hour, had just made it on the list of the men he would have to kill.
But to achieve his aim, he would have to play by their rules until the time was right to reveal his strengths and abilities. All they saw was a young boy with an attitude. What they did not know, was that they had the son of Dorn Bruce. He had been trained by master warriors, including his father, since as long as he could remember. He had been groomed for combat, but for now he would just appear to be a frightened seventeen year old boy.
‘I will ask you again.’ Shouted the man he now knew as Wellin. ‘What is your name?’
He did not resist this time and replied. ‘118 Sir.’
The Captain said nothing for a full thirty seconds, hoping to let the silence terrify this insolent boy further. Then he suddenly said to four guards who stood sentry over him.
‘Take him to his cell.’ He then left by the same way the Warden had gone.
Caleb was lifted to his feet and was virtually dragged along the slick, cold stone floor. He was hurting so bad from the multiple bruises on his body. Master Kam had been one of Caleb’s many instructors at the Academy. He was glad now of the hard treatment from him. Kam had certainly not given Caleb an easy ride, just because of who his father was. The gruelling sparring sessions that left him bruised and bloody, also did something else. They gave him a will of iron.
‘I will endure.’ He said quietly to himself, as he was taken to his new accommodation.
Earth: City of Geneva
It took a third world war to bring planet earth under the control of one government. There were no clear winners and a truce was signed between the western nations and the Communist opposition of China and their allies.
That war had cost millions of lives. It was clear to both sides in the end that full scale world war, could never happen again. So the major powers of the world agreed to form a government under one elected leader. That elected leader was named President Edward Black; a wealthy technology tycoon turned politician, who promised global change and rebuilding, for all of Earth.
He had achieved all that and more by creating worldwide co-operation with trade. Black also formed a central tax system, that’s wealth was redistributed to where it was truly needed.
Food and energy were shared between all nations, instead of hoarded by the rich states and the wealthy few.
Black had done all of this within ten years of his election and the people demanded he was given more time. So it was agreed to leave Black in charge.
Year by year, he continued to succeed. By putting the planet together to achieve united goals, he had all but wiped out poverty and starvation. He knew that Technology should be well invested and invest he did. Using his vast resources, he brought together the greatest scientific minds that discovered clean and renewable energy, by using the power within water. This energy was so powerful and vast that a technological boom came shortly after its discovery.
Not all went well for the President in his early days as Earths leader. It was typical human nature for others to crave the power he wielded and several attempts were made on his life. Fortunately all were unsuccessful.
Eventually he decided to create a special division of Elite Guard for himself. These highly capable men were picked on intelligence. But above all, they had to show potential to become the very best warriors on the planet. Candidates were also expected to share in his vision, of prosperity for all.
As well as forming the Elite Guard, it became abundantly clear that to avoid a fourth World War, the planets military should become united. So he mixed up armies from different countries, educated them and made them the police of the entire planet. This world army would later be known as the Regiments; a military force that eventually carved a kind of peace for humanity, by crushing any serious criminal and cartel. They ruthlessly eliminated anyone, who opposed Blacks vision of prosperity for all of mankind. Only execution or life in captivity would await anyone foolish enough to threaten the new order of things.
It was true that Black’s rule was a harsh one and most fell into line eventually.
Growing old seemed to be the only challenge left, for the middle aged President. So he secretly discovered a way to prolong his life, by manipulating his gene code and thus stopping the cells in his body from dying. Black kept many secrets over his long term as leader, and this was the biggest of them all. Now with everlasting youth on his side, he set out to achieve his greatest ambition since he was a small boy, which was to travel to the stars.
Earth was becoming over populated again, even though it had suffered so many casualties in the previous World War. So he set the people the task to find a way to colonise the galaxy.
First Light speed was achieved, taking humanity to the edges of the solar system. This was only the tip of the ice berg. When Earth’s greatest minds discovered Warp travel, they could then go to other star systems. By enabling ships to move through tears in space, they could travel to other planets on distant stars in a matter of weeks or months.
It still excited him today as he thought of how quickly all of the habitable planets were found. The Alpha Centauri system was the very first to be colonised and was now the crown jewel of Blacks achievements. This system however, was just the beginning. Over the centuries, humanity had colonised hundreds of habitable planets. They then used the resources on these worlds, for further expansion and prosperity of mankind.
President Lionel Black was over a thousand years old. His current General of the planetary armed forces; William Defoe, noted as he sat opposite the great man, was that he did not look a day over 50.
‘So William, has Dorn and his family been found yet.’ The president said with genuine concern on his face. It had pained him deeply to learn that his most trusted friend and Captain of his Elite Guard had disappeared along with his family.
‘Nothing yet Mr President, but I can assure you I have the best people on it and we will not stop until we find them.’
The President got up out of his extensive leather chair that looked more like a throne, than something that you would have in an executive office. He turned to look out of his office window, which overlooked the city of Geneva. The Presidential Palace was raised from the ashes of the previous war and provided a base that was more suitable than the Americas or the Asia’s. The beautiful mountainous peaks were another reason to locate his Palace here. He so loved the mountains.
‘When I first formed the Elite Guard all those years ago William, I always handpicked each man. They are, as you know the best of the best.’ He turned back to the General and raised his eyebrows, which were a trait Defoe had come to know as, I want some answers.
‘The Captains of the guard are chosen because they excel even among others who are deemed outstanding. So I find it hard to believe, that a man of Dorn Bruce’s calibre could go missing without a shred of evidence as to his and his family’s whereabouts.’
The General was expecting the meeting to be an uncomfortable one. The President always wanted answers and Defoe on this occasion, could give none.
‘It is a complete mystery sir; we will not rest until we have some answers. In the meantime, you should look to protecting yourself until we know what has happened. Have you appointed a temporary Captain of the Guard, in Dorn’s absence?’
‘Yes, Dorn’s Lieutenant Guy Kruger. He is only temporary but has exceptional skill and would be a worthy Captain one day, in his own rite. I would like you to work with him and get me some answer’s William. I have him waiting outside now.’
The President pushed a button on his desk and spoke into an intercom.
‘Could you send Lieutenant Kruger in please Margaret?’
His secretary opened the door letting in Kruger, who the President thought had the most piercingly blue eyes he had ever seen.
‘Good Morning Mr President.’ Kruger said in a gravelly voice.
The President gestured for him to take a seat beside General Defoe.
‘Gentlemen, you have a lot of work to do, have you met before?’
The two men opposite the President looked at each other briefly and Defoe said. ‘We have met, but haven’t had the pleasure of working with each other. I will keep the Lieutenant informed of all developments...’
Black raised a hand to interrupt Defoe.
‘I want you to work with each other closely and I want daily briefings on your findings. Now gentlemen I must run a planet and her colonies, so unless you have any questions I bid you both good luck.’
Kruger looked dismayed at being dismissed from the Presidents side.
‘I want to discover the mystery Sir; Dorn is my friend. But I must look to your safety first.’
Kruger reminded the President.
‘Finding what happened to the Captain of my Elite Guard does concern my safety Lieutenant. So the quicker you resolve this, the quicker you may return to normal duty.’
Kruger inclined his head in submission. It was not wise to argue with Black when he was in a mood like this. He wisely chose to stay silent.
‘Keep me updated.’
The President said to them both, as he turned his back to look out the window, signalling that the meeting was over.
Defoe and Kruger left by a side door and made their way swiftly to the sub-basement of the building, which was used as a bunker or situation room.
They did not speak until they were inside the sound proofed bunker, which was recently checked for listening devises.
The six inch steel door closed with a hiss, sealing the pair inside.
Defoe had not seen Kruger since he had carried out his last orders.
‘So what was it like to kill the greatest warrior on the planet Guy?’
A thin smile rose on Kruger’s face, making him look more sinister than normal.
‘It was like slaughtering pigs and easier than I expected. His greatest weakness was that he trusted me. He didn’t suspect the ring I had on, carried a poison to incapacitate him. It was just a gentle pat on the back from a trusting friend, which was the undoing of the great Dorn Bruce. Then once he was in my power I went to work on him and his family, in my own way.’
The thin smile was now a full grin, showing perfect white teeth with slightly oversized canines that made him look almost feline.
The General still couldn’t believe Dorn could be taken out so easily.
‘I can recall a while ago; the Presidential mansion being infiltrated by religious fanatics.’ Defoe remembered the day well.
‘I was just a Major then; I recall we were in a meeting with my superiors and the President, when all hell broke loose outside. The Elite Guard were summoned to us immediately. We all watched the surveillance cameras in horror, as the perimeter guards were taken out by the group of zealots.’
Kruger had heard this story many times but never from Dorn himself. He indulged the general to continue any way.
‘Dorn ordered the other Guardsmen to wait with the President. Then he left us. We watched him lay in wait for the enemy on the screens and he systematically killed them all, using only a knife. He was like a ghost; when he had killed the last of the attackers we all just stared at the screen dumbly. Even his fellow Guardsmen seemed to be in awe.’
Defoe activated a hologram of a planet that rose in the centre of the table before continuing.
‘He would have been a great ally in our endeavour Guy. But he had too much honour. I knew I could never turn him against his beloved President. He would still have needed to be eliminated, even if he hadn’t found the weapons being wrought on Lunar Base.’
Defoe motioned towards the planet in front of them.
‘Let us turn our thought now of the future; our future. Has his son been sent to Redeem as I instructed?’
‘Yes, although I could not see why you couldn’t let me just kill him. It would have been more of a mercy you know. One day it could harm our cause.’
The General did not mind in the slightest killing children. But he needed Caleb Bruce alive. President Black had woven too many secrets into the young man. The Prison colony was the perfect place to keep him on ice.
‘No one escapes from Redeem Guy’. Defoe said evilly.
Redeem: Class A Prison World
Caleb lay in a heap in his cell, trying not to make a sound. His ribs were badly bruised from the beating he had just received. Fortunately, apart from his nose, nothing seemed to be broken.
He set the nose straight with a sudden snap, causing his eyes to water with fresh agony. He knew that if he left it until later, he would have to re-brake the bone again to set it straight.
The re-setting of the bone however, did nothing to improve his already puffing eyes. But his vision seemed to be fine as he surveyed his surroundings.
The cell was small, no more than seven feet square. The height was slightly better, making the enclosed space seem bigger than it actually was. He also noticed what looked like a steel bar fixed to either side of the cell walls. A rope was tied to it, which had already been prepared in a hang man’s noose.
Just as he was contemplating his own execution, a hatch in the door opened with a scrape.
The pair of eyes looked Caleb up and down judgingly.
‘Why would you fly me to another planet, only to beat and execute me? Would it not have been cheaper to have just put a bullet in my brain back on Earth?’
The man who Caleb assumed was a guard smiled as if he had said something amusing. It occurred to him strangely that dental hygiene was very low on this guards agenda. As the only teeth he did have, all seemed to be rotten.
‘You don’t talk as rough as most of the blokes we got in here. But we have got a few who talk proper, like you. But that won’t do you any good in here. Most of the others didn’t like your sort when they were free men, and in this place you should make nice sport for some. Even though you are a big lad.’
He had always been the biggest when training with others his own age. At 6ft 4 he had towered over most students, back at the Advanced Training Academy. He had the brawn to match his height as well, making him look more athletic than muscle bound.
‘If I am to be a prisoner then what is the noose for?
The guard flashed a rotten smile again.
‘Well it cost a lot of money to keep you terrors fed and watered, so the warden always keeps one in ya cell just in case you’re feeling a bit low. If you ask me it’s a mercy to go out to the noose.’
‘I don’t want to put ideas into the Wardens head, but why doesn’t he just execute all the prisoners if it cost so much to feed us?’
This was a question Baz had heard many times, during his three years at the prison world. He had been a guard on Earth once, but the pay here was quadruple that of what a near illiterate man like he was could earn.
‘Most of you deserve it I’ll warrant. But I think he likes the suffering, as do most of us in this line of work.’
‘Do you like it?’ retorted Caleb.
‘Oh yes, but I do it mainly for the credits. I’ll be something when I go back home. Now I can’t talk all day, I’ve got a few of the new ones to cut down. So if you don’t swing during the night. Then breakfast is served at eight, your highness.’ Baz said merrily.
The hatch slammed shut and Caleb heard the guard’s footsteps down the hall. He sat on the cell floor and meditated, trying to ignore the rope and the hell he was currently in. As expected though, the blood from the several cuts on his face, were already starting to clot.
He knew by the morning all his wounds would be practically healed. His father had told him, when he was very young that he was special and not like others. He was made in a lab, using his mother and fathers DNA. They had then enhanced it to be greater than any other, in both body and mind.
During his training he had been placed with the other cadets, who had been selected from excellent genetic stock. But he knew he was destined for something bigger than them, from an early age. He had stood out, over cadets in their fifth years whilst only being a raw recruit himself.
Fast healing was only the beginning with Caleb, as he contemplated the unwanted attention his lack of injury might gather. He would deal with that when the time came but for now he just let his mind drift to nothingness.
The light in his cell flashed on and Caleb’s eyes snapped open from his meditative state.
The door to his cell opened mechanically and he rose to his feet, feeling in a much better state than he was the night before. The bruising on his face and body had practically gone now. The only evidence of the cuts to his face was dried blood, on his dirty grey prison issue shirt.
He walked into the brightly lit corridor and surveyed it for the second time. This time he looked with his eyes less swollen. He looked to his right as his cell was the last one of the many that were housed down the solid concrete corridor.
The other inmates stood to attention with their eyes to the front. Caleb thought it prudent to do likewise. Another new inmate began looking all around, as a guard with a pock marked face and a truncheon approached him menacingly. He delivered a blow to the poor prisoner’s stomach that knocked the wind out of his already bruised form.
‘Eyes front when you stand for the morning count, scum.’ The guard shouted. Like a predatory serpent looking for a meal, he looked around for anyone else to defy his instruction. No one did.
The count finished and everyone began walking toward the big double doors that buzzed open at their approach. Caleb noticed as he walked that all of the new inmates had suffered a severe beating on arrival. Their bruised and swollen bodies told a sad tale of the previous night’s induction to Redeem.
Eventually the corridor opened into a big open space, which appeared to be the canteen. Caleb lined up and waited to be served the most appalling looking food he had ever seen. On the space transport to the planet, the food was much of the same. But if anything, the meal that was presented to him now was even worse. He could have sworn that the sloppy gruel was moving. The bread looked edible; he would have to eat it all, to keep his strength up.
Back on earth the dieticians prepared him his daily meals, which were both nutritious and appetising. He would kill to have one of those hearty plates in front of him now. Instead of the cold slop and bread, that would be his only sustenance. The water he was given was no better either.
It murkiness did not refreshing in the slightest, but hydration was more important than food, so he would have to drink it down.
He looked around to find out how many of the new inmates had survived the first night.
Only a few men appeared to have not taken the nose. He could not blame them. Caleb noticed that he had earned a few curious looks in his direction. Maybe this was because his face was in much better condition than the other new prisoners. To his dismay he thought this might seem like he had broken too quickly or was favoured by the guards.
Either way the distrustful stares from both the new inmates and the old, told him that he would need to watch his back with the other prisoners. As well as the violence from the guards he would have to be careful.
Earth: Presidential Bunker, Geneva
The planet glowed in the centre of the holographic table and illuminated the faces of General Defoe and Kruger.
‘The planet was discovered eight years ago.’
Defoe said to Kruger, who looked confused. He had never seen this planet before.
‘Every planet we find is widely publicised sir. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not seen this world before.’
‘You are correct. There are few men privy to the knowledge of this planets existence. Most are dead, including our friend Dorn Bruce.’
Kruger had heard about a scouting mission that had never returned, about four years ago. He wondered now, if his new master had taken measures to silence them. Knowing Defoe, he knew it would be an accurate assumption.
‘What’s so special about a planet that requires all who know its existence to expire? Am I going to share their fate General?’ Kruger asked the question evenly and without fear. This was the world they lived in and the General was well known to tie up loose ends after he had no further use of them.
‘You are far too valuable to me to eliminate Guy. When we have overthrown Black, you will be my second in command. Remember also, that there is no one who knows the location of this planet, other than you and me. But we will have to tell our inner circle soon, for my plan to work.’
Kruger did not believe that for a second. He knew Defoe had a large network of soldiers, assassins and bureaucrats at his disposal. Kruger would play along. Knowing that he was useful for now or the General would not be showing him this.
‘The special thing about this planet Lieutenant is the fact that the scouts found life on it.’
Many of the planets initially found by the first scouts of Earth had only been barren rocks, gas giants or worlds completely covered in water.
At first they started to find microorganisms. Then to the wonder of all of Humanity, alien animals, with only a base intelligence were discovered. Kruger, like everybody knew this and felt this information was underwhelming.
‘So they found life, it would not be the first. Why is this one any different from the others?’
Defoe had been looking forward to telling someone about his discovery for years now. He would enjoy seeing shock on the face of the Lieutenant, who seemed impervious to emotion.
‘Because the life they found on planet X1 Guy... Is intelligent life! Who are barbarous and warlike and could be the key to our revolution.’
Kruger’s eyes went wide and Defoe smirked at seeing this cold man show emotion.
The discovery of intelligent life was extraordinary. President Black had hoped for years that they would find it, and now he would wish he had not.
‘What do you plan to do now sir? How can aliens help our endeavour?’
‘These aliens; which I have named species X1, have the technology to travel the stars, as we do. But fortunately for our planet, we have escaped their notice. That is until the time comes, when we reveal ourselves to them.’
Kruger was struggling to see how this would help them topple Black and his government.
‘I agree sir that this is a great discovery. But how does it help our revolution?’
Defoe was contemplating holding back his plan, but decided they were in too deep now. He would need Kruger, his unofficial number two, to be fully informed.
‘The plan is simple. We have already tried to communicate with them. Unfortunately all of our envoys were killed on the spot. We have also tried to communicate from space, which has resulted in the boarding and capture of our vessel.’
‘So they have one of our ships?’
The General had always wondered what had happened to his secret scouting vessel. He told Kruger how a coded message came to him of the sudden boarding of their ship; and then nothing. He always hoped that the captain would have followed his orders of destroying the craft, if they were captured.
‘The information gathered tells us many things Lieutenant, and among them is that the aliens are capable of travelling to our world, if they knew where to find us. With a faster ship we could bombard their planet and return home. Leading the warlike creatures back to earth and starting the conflict that Black has avoided all his reign.’
Kruger was beginning to understand the general’s plan now, and nodded his understanding.
‘With Dorn out of the way the path for us to eliminate the President is open. You once again Guy, will be the instrument that ends that man. It must appear to have been the work of our Green skinned invaders. Only then will the planet rally behind us as their new leaders, to exterminate the enemy that killed their beloved Edward Black.’
Kruger felt he needed to point out a significant problem.
‘Suppose we can lure them back Sir, without the ships being destroyed or captured. How do we know we can defeat this war like enemy? We could be toppling a President and annihilating ourselves in the process.’
The General had thought this through and began showing the Lieutenant, the weapon capabilities of species X1. It appeared that they preferred close quarter combat to projectile or energy weapons, which was why the scout ship was boarded instead of blown to pieces. Probes had been observing the tribes fight each other for years and this style of fighting remained. They did have a limited supply of projectile weapons, but conflict after conflict the weapon of choice appeared to be mainly bladed weapons.
‘So as you can see Lieutenant we should not have a problem winning this war.
Defoe stared at Kruger, with uncontrolled joyful menace.
‘And then I will rule this planet and use Black’s Genetic engineering to create an army of super warriors, just like Dorn’s brat. With you as my second we will change this false utopia, and harvest the resources so the strong will prosper and the weak perish. Then the natural order will be resumed.’
The General had been hungry for power ever since he was a child. He could never understand why his parents had punished him for taking other children’s toys. After all, why should they have them, if they were too weak to keep them?
The new world that President Black had engineered was generosity on a grand scale. Why should the mighty feed the planet? And why should the strong struggle to help the poorest of this world. Greed was a good thing to Defoe. It was a reward for being powerful enough to take what you wanted in life. He knew he was strong enough to take Blacks power, and his secret of eternal youth.
Then he would run the planet and the colonies how they should be run.
Kruger was impressed; the plan had its risks but the rewards, if the plan worked were beyond his wildest dreams. With the gen hanced soldiers, being secretly created on Lunar base. It would be hard to fail.
‘When do we begin the attack?’ Kruger asked.
The General had been planning this for years and now was the time to act.
‘Immediately Lieutenant, I will dispatch a ship with instructions of a hit and run on the planet. But don’t worry about them getting back to earth to tell their tale. I will trigger the ship to self-destruct upon re-entry.’
The General always did like to tie off loose ends. Defoe continued ‘Be ready to terminate Black; you have your orders Lieutenant.’
Kruger saluted to Defoe crisply and then headed for the door. But before he opened the sealed entrance, Defoe stopped him and said quite casually.’
‘Oh and by the way Lieutenant if you succeed in your mission, your new rank will be High Lord of Earth under me as Emperor.’
The title would be just reward for his efforts but Kruger had higher ambitions. But for now he would serve Defoe and enjoy the killing to come, for his new Emperor.
Earth: City of Geneva
Master Kam had been searching for his friend, ever since he and his family had gone missing.
He had been ordered not to go looking for his best friend, and was ordered to return to the Advanced Training Academy. The order had come from General Defoe himself and this would be the first time in his life that he had disobeyed an order. He was not alone in his search. Caleb’s best friend at the Academy Tristan had joined him in his search. They would both be punished for disobeying orders, but a demotion was worth the risk for Dorn and his family.
Master Kam bent down over a small spot that most people would not have even seen, on the polished travertine floor of Dorn’s home. All of the video recordings had been wiped around the whole area. Defoe had also told him they had no witnesses and no leads. Kam found that hard to believe. There was always a trail; you just had to know where to look.
‘What have you found Master?’
Tristan asked, as they examined the small spot with a High class analyser.
‘The instrument is identifying this spot as blood. It’s small, but I can’t see how an investigation team could have missed it.’ Kam Observed, as he started sampling the blood for a DNA match. Master Kam had been groomed all his life to be an elite guardsman. The same way Dorn had been. They had both quickly climbed the ranks and became Masters together. Dorn had always been faster, stronger and wiser. But Kam had always loved his friend for it, and was thrilled when Dorn was made the High Protector of the President, which was the highest rank they could achieve other than the Presidency itself.
The analyser chirped with a match and as he had suspected it was Dorn Bruce’s Blood.
‘How have they missed this Master? A special investigator or a new recruit would have found that spot eventually.’
Kam looked thoughtfully at the blood but did not answer the apprentice, who looked furious that something like this could have been missed. Just as Kam and Dorn were like brothers. So too were young Caleb and Tristan. Both would be destined to become great men. Kam knew that Caleb’s Genome had been manipulated to create something special. But that was as far as he was told about Dorns son. Perhaps he was to be the next High protector, who knew. But with the Bruce family missing the boy would not fulfil his destiny and Kam would not stop until he uncovered this mystery.
He looked up and changed the analyser to look for the scent of Dorn’s DNA. The analyser was high tech equipment. Kam enjoyed the luxury of having the best equipment at his disposal. He would need it, if he was to find his friend.
The analyser picked up several more tiny spots of blood that also turned out to be Dorn’s and a few drops that matched his wife Jessie. But the trail ran cold when they got to the road.
‘Tristan, call up satellite imagery for this address and look through until you see someone come out of the house.’
Tristan nodded and began searching the satellite images of this location. After about ten minutes Tristan had found something.
‘Master, I think you should see this.’
Kam was looking around the front lawn of the property, and walked over to where Tristan was holding the tablet with an expression of utter sorrow.
‘What did you find?’ asked Kam as he kneeled to look at the display on the tablet.
Tristan rewound the recording, of what looked like two men, dragging another unconscious man from the house and putting him into a vehicle.
Kam zoomed in as much as possible. The person being carried out appeared to be Caleb; by two masked men. But whether he was dead or alive was impossible to tell. After about thirty minutes, more people emerged dragging two more unconscious people. They were being carried out on what looked like plastic sheets. There must have been a tear in this, as Kam had found the drops of blood.
The clarity of these images was better, as the bodies of the two being taken out were face up, almost staring straight back at Kam. He zoomed in and the sight of his friends, both with cut throats was nearly more than he could witness. He had fought and had seen bloodshed all his life and it had not affected him in the slightest. But this was different; this was a brother who had been slaughtered like cattle.
‘Tristan, follow the satellite imagery of the vehicle that takes Caleb away. Call me when you know where they have taken him. I’ll follow the trail that leads to Dorn and Jessie.’
Kam’s voice shook with emotion. Tristan had never seen Master Kam angry before. Even when they had fought on the practice mats, Kam had only a calm determination. The emotional Master breathed in a deep calming breath that seemed to settle him instantly. There was a cold steel in his eyes now.
‘I have never spoken or taught you of revenge Tristan. I have never been an advocate of it. But I promise you this; I will have vengeance for my friend’s lives, and if Caleb survived then we will find him. Now go.’
‘Should we take this to General Defoe Master?
Kam wasn’t sure yet, but something wasn’t right with Defoe.
‘Not yet. Let’s get some more answers before we approach the General.’
They both hurried to their task, of finding answers. One question had already been tragically answered.
Dorn and Jessie Bruce were dead.
Redeem: Class A Prison World
The cell, which had seemed a reasonable size at first, now appeared unbearably tiny.
For a month Caleb had been detained, only being let out of his cell for morning breakfast. The other meals of the day were the same appetising fare of gruel and bread.
Exercising his body had been challenging but not impossible. He used the bar that the hang man’s noose was tied to, for pull ups. He could also do push ups and lots of martial disciplines he had been taught back at the Academy. At the end of every day, he would force himself not to relax his tired muscles and fall into an exhausted heap. Instead he would meditate and think of how he could get out of this hell he was in. He knew that the fatigue in his body would only be temporary, as his enhanced physic would be fresh in a matter of hours.
It was another morning on Redeem. There were no clocks here, but lights were out in what Caleb assumed to be the evening and then turned on just before they were taken to the canteen.
So far this had been the only opportunity to talk to another person. Every attempt so far with his fellow inmates had been met with hostility.
One morning he had joined another inmate. He was young, maybe in his early twenties. But this place had broken him and he would sit as far away from everybody as he could. His body would shake in fear if someone sat near him. Caleb had tried to talk to this man, as he seemed the least hostile in a room full of dangerous looking men.
He just shook, put his head down and ignored Caleb’s attempts at conversation. He scoffed his gruel as fast as possible and left.
The cell door opened and Caleb walked out to be counted by the guards. As was normal now, they were taken to the canteen and given their meal. As he walked to his seat, Caleb noticed a big man covered in tattoos had taken the shaking man’s bread. Caleb’s natural instinct had been to demand the tattooed man give the much needed bread back. But he had to control his urge to confront this bully, if he was to stay unnoticed.
Back at the Academy he had to deal with many bullies, who would try and dominate others to do their bidding. It disgusted him to witness the torment new recruits, just for the pleasure of it. Being the son of the famous Dorn Bruce fortunately gave Caleb a degree of attention throughout his training. They had quickly learned to leave him alone though. The same way as everyone here would learn, if they decided to try and dominate him.
He could not abide people like this. Maybe it was his upbringing or just wired into him to care for others.
He sat next to the shaking man who as expected turned his head away from him. Caleb discreetly placed his bread on the man’s plate. He knew he would suffer from hunger for this later. But contact had to be made and bribery seemed as good as anything. The man looked down at his plate and the bread Caleb had placed there was gone in a heartbeat. He ate fast and before he left he gave a nod of thanks. Well that was a start he thought.
The next day the same thing happened and Caleb knew he would have to deal with the big Tattooed man soon, or he would slowly kill this poor man through starvation.
Again Caleb gave the man his bread and this time he looked up and spoke.
‘He will keep taking it from me you know.’ The man stuttered nervously. ‘Why do you let him take it’? The frightened man then told Caleb of the beatings, when he had first arrived here. The first time the bread was taken he had resisted. But that was the last time he had tried to stop the food being taken. He had lost so much weight during his six months on Redeem. If he did not eat properly soon he would slowly wither away and die here. The guards did nothing to protect the weak at the prison.
‘What is your name my friend?’ asked Caleb.
‘My name?’ He had not been treated well since his arrival here. In six months he had almost forgotten the man he was back on Earth.
‘My Name is Dillon. My name here is 095’
They had stripped Dillon of all identity and the prison world of Redeem had nearly killed him. Caleb would have to work fast on getting out, before he became as feeble as this poor man seemed.
‘It is good to meet you Dillon. I am Caleb; they gave me a number when I arrived here as well, but I will not use it.
‘You will. Give it some time but you will learn to forget the man you were.’
This may well be for any other mere man, but the son of Dorn Bruce was learning his capabilities. Soon he would find a way to leave, and deal with all who had wronged him. He did humour Dillon though. Appearances had to be maintained, for now.
‘Perhaps you are right my friend.’
Caleb swallowed another spoonful of the gruel. He would have felt better with the bread his new companion was devouring. But any contact was worth it.
‘Why do all the other inmates shun me? They are allowed to speak to each other but none will talk or come near me.’
This had been a blessing over the first few days, as Caleb would watch the other new recruits get terrorised by the veteran gangs of the prison. But no one had spoken to him until now.
‘They think you are here to spy on them. The message went out to us all to not speak with you. I’ll be punished for this conversation, but no one has shown me any kindness here until you. They will hurt me any way; maybe they will be kind enough to end my misery once and for all.’
‘Why do think I am a spy.’
Caleb had suspected this from the other inmate’s reaction to his lack of injury on his first morning.
‘It was because you were hardly touched by the guards when you arrived. That never happens, Captain Wellin likes to hurt the new arrivals, and you hardly had a bruise. Are you a spy? I don’t care either way, I’m doomed here.’
‘No, I am not a spy, I don’t expect you to believe me but I heal very fast.’
Dillon shrugged his shoulders to say he didn’t really care about this young man’s story. He twitched nervously as the tattooed man sat to join them.
‘Are you going to introduce me to your new friend?’ He asked Dillon.
‘H…he, he just started talking to me I didn’t.’ The man put his hand up to silence the stuttering Dillon. ‘I’ll see you later about that.’ He glared at Caleb. ‘If you don’t like the bread here, then it comes to me.’ As the man was explaining the rules of the prison, more sinister looking men sat around their table. The other men were also covered in tattoos.
‘You can sit here today boy.’ The man opposite smirked.
‘But you don’t get to sit here and keep your bread.’ He reached over the table and picked up the bread Caleb had given to Dillon. He had wanted to keep a low profile, but it dawned on him very quickly that to let these men do as they wished was to invite all comers to try. So he had to make an example of the men attempting to dominate him. He looked at the man opposite him with a cold stare. The bullying inmate was obviously not expecting defiance from the young new comer, and stared back just as intensely before adding.
‘And don’t you ever look me or my crew in the eyes unless you are into pain.’ Caleb started laughing at the absurdity of the remark. It would be so easy to break this man. They would see a youthful prisoner. That did not know his place. They would be wise not to push too far.
‘I am well acquainted with pain gentlemen, by all means you’re welcome to try and inflict it. But before you do, I must inform you that if you don’t put that bread back onto my plate right now. Then you will force me to inflict some pain of my own.’ Caleb said, pointing calmly towards the one who had threatened him.
The man looked furious; this wasn’t a response he and his gang were used to. The boy had just disrespected him in front of his crew, and now he would hurt him.
His hand reached over the table to grab the young inmate’s shirt and he had probably pictured punching him, until his boyish face was a mess of blood. The guards wouldn’t stop it he doubted. Before his hand even reached him Caleb caught the man’s wrist with two of his genetically modified hands, and then casually broke the man wrist with a twist. The man screamed at the sudden break and stared down at his hand that were now pointing back at him at an unnatural angle.
Caleb released him and stood facing the other three men, who looked at their leader dumbly. This indecision lasted only but a second, as they all set upon him at once. Caleb had been instructed in several of the martial arts since he was a child and he had mastered each discipline with ease, beating every opponent save the Master instructors themselves, who would still struggle with him.
What helped to enhance this ability was the processing speed of his brain, which made his reactions superhuman. The onlookers would see a flash of movement, but to Caleb the men almost moved in slow motion, and he ducked under the first punch and blocked another attacker with the tray that his food was on. In a flow of movement he struck one of the men under the jaw with an uppercut that was so hard, the man was unconscious before he even hit the ground.
Caleb took a step back and the pair rushed at him. It was a planned retreat, designed to let your opponent walk on to a sudden thrust forward. With the two coming at him hard, he took a jump forward into their direction and brought his knee up into the face of the nearest man. Before the other one even had a chance to respond, Caleb then dropped into a crouch and spun around with a straight leg that swept the last of the attackers of his feet. Finally he delivered a blow that was an open handed chop to the man’s neck.
Then silence. He rose and looked instinctively for other threats, but all he could see was a room full of hard, wide eyed men in shock at what this boy had done to one of the prisons most hardened gang members. A guard walked over to Caleb with his truncheon in hand. But he did not strike a blow that he expected. Instead he stopped in front of him. ‘Follow me boy. Try anything and I’ll have you thrown in the yard without a coat.’ He turned and Caleb followed him leaving the four unconscious men lying where they fell.
In the corner of the canteen sat a very old Asian inmate who had watched every detail of the fight that had taken place. He knew that this boy was no ordinary prisoner. The men he had dispatched were now being dragged away by the guards. He had forgotten many things since he was brought to this god forsaken planet all those years ago. But combat was bred into the old Master. Just as it had been this young man.
He would need to find him and warn him. It was clear he could take care of himself, but the men who had attacked him were part of a much larger gang. They would not tolerate that kind of humiliation without some kind of pay back. The gang was called the mine hounds and they pretty much left him alone out of respect of his abilities. They would not leave this boy now though. Not after this.
He would seek him out and do what he could.
Earth: Elite Training Academy, Geneva
Master Kam stood before his friend’s famous sword that was usually here at Dorn’s dojo, when not attached to his hip. The blade seemed almost reverent as it basked in the golden sunlight that shined into his friend’s private armoury.
He picked up the weapon that was so intricately engraved it seemed a crime to actually use it in anger and risk damaging it. But this blade was forged just for that purpose. Dorn always used to call it a tool rather than an ornament. It was a gift commissioned by the President, when he was appointed Captain of the Elite Guard. The maker of the blade was nearly as famous as Dorn himself. Domonique Shabal had lavished the sword that carried his ornate initials ‘DS. Few of his great works had rivalled the magnificent tool of death. None would be made by his expert hand again. The legendary Sword Smith was went missing years ago and was presumed dead, while exploring for precious ore, in the far reaches of space. Always he would look for new metals to enrich his creations.
Dorn’s Sword was forged, using the wondrous material called Graphenatium. An alloy so strong, it could cut through the mightiest of war plate, like a knife through butter. This alloy was used widely, but only those most skilled in the guild of the Weapon Masters were privy to Shabal’s masterpieces. Even a shield made from the man, would be more valuable than any gold or silver.
The swords name was Traitors Bane; Dorn insisted a weapon be given a name, so the wielder could connect with the instrument that both saved and took life. He would have known every inch of Traitors Bane; its balance, its weight and the power of its steel.
Master Kam brought the sword to his lips and kissed the blade gently. He wished it could have been reunited with his friend even in death. But there would be no grave for the High protector. He had witnessed their route to an incinerator plant, a few miles from the city, and assumed the bodies had finished their journey there.
They had descended on the plant quietly. Hoping to rain down fury on anyone who could not give him answers. But when they arrived there was nothing but a burnt out husk, where the plant used to be. All evidence, apart from his satellite imagery and the blood sample, would now be destroyed. Of that he was certain. They were clearly up against professionals with deep pockets, to pull off a hit like this and get away as clean as they had.
He had watched the satellite imagery time and time again, but he could not locate the men that went into that building. They seemed to go into the plant and then just disappear.
The communication bead in his ear chirped and he put the sword back to take the call.
‘Master I know where they sent Caleb.’ Tristen had been tasked to locate Caleb’s trail, and now with all hope he had found him.
‘Sent? Tristen what do you mean. Where is he?’
‘I followed the imagery until it stopped at a transport launch site to a penal colony and then nothing. A ship was shortly dispatched with a full quota of unidentifiable prisoners to Redeem.’
Kam had heard of the place where people were sent that were not heard of, nor seen again.
The typical prisoner to be sent there would be a political threat or a gang member who would not toe the line.
Most found guilty of treason were just executed. But for the few sentenced to a prison world would, death would be a welcomed sentence. There was only one problem that reinforced Master Kams suspicions. The only person who could authorise a prisoner to be sent to Redeem without a trial was General Defoe.
‘Tristen are you thinking what I am thinking? ‘There was a moments silence until He finally answered.
‘I fear it to be so my young friend. We must take this to Guy and then inform the President. I will meet you at the Presidential Palace in two hours.’
Master Kam ended the com feed and knew the apprentice would meet him.
It was all falling into place. First Defoe telling him not to investigate, then the complete removal of all surveillance feeds. The mistake of not finding the spot of blood was shoddy, considering Defoe’s reputation for detail that even a simpleton investigator would have picked up. The fact remained on the other hand that the General was the only man, who could send high level prisoners to Redeem with no papers.
They would have to be careful and gather more evidence before they accused the leader of Earths Armed forces. Defoe had the power of millions of soldiers at his disposal after all. The only armed force he did not have control of was the Elite Guard. So Master Kam would have to keep this evidence within his circle of trust for now.
Guy Kruger was also Dorn’s friend. He was skilled and ambitious to the point that Kam had always kept his distance from the intense man. But he was still an Elite Guardsmen which made him a brother and ally.
He was also Dorn’s temporary replacement, so he would have to be briefed on what they had found. He patched through a com link to Guy, and the call was picked up on the third ring.
‘What can I do for you Master Kam?’
‘I have some news about the Bruce family; is this line secure?’ He knew it would be, but he meant was anybody with him.
‘Of course, what do you know my friend?’
Redeem: Class A Prison World
Caleb was not brought back to his cell after the incident in the canteen. Instead he was taken to a dimly lit, damp smelling room and bound by the wrists.
His wrists were then attached to a hook that hung from the centre of the room, and slowly he began to rise from the ground until his feet left the ground by only a few inches. He noticed blood stains on the concrete floor, where it had soaked in overtime. It was dark, but his enhanced vision could see a number of sharp and evil looking instruments of torcher that were on a stainless steel table. Most were black from the multiple of cuts they had no doubt made and then left to congeal on the blade.
The man that had brought Caleb here was now joined by two others. They were not taking any chances with the boy after the display in the canteen. He did not resist them. Caleb thought to himself, how easy it would have been to kill each one with his bare hands. But then what? He needed to bide his time and wait for an opportunity that would present its self.
The room was flooded with light suddenly, as the door to the room opened to reveal Wellin; the Captain of the prison guards. He motioned to his colleagues that had brought Caleb here, to step outside. When they returned they both regarded his hanging form in silence.
‘I don’t want to know why you were sent to this planet boy. So if you start blabbing about why you shouldn’t be here. I don’t care.’
He calmly picked up, what looked to be a fork tipped cattle prod. ‘But I would like to know how a boy as big as you may be, could take out some of the roughest Earth scum we have here?’
Caleb tracked the cattle prod as Wellin started passing it from hand to hand.
‘I can defend myself well enough sir.’ Caleb said simply. ‘Clearly you can prisoner 118, clearly you can. We like a bit of violence here you know. It keeps the lads morale up by throwing you together on occasion. We have a programme here called the pit, but we normally wouldn’t allow someone as young as you to participate. But after today, I think you would do very nicely indeed.’
Wellin almost purred at the prospect of any blood sport and this arrogant little brat was going to get a shock, even if he could fight so well. The Pit fighters were a strange breed at Redeem. Some actually volunteered for it and they were usually the victors and the cruellest. They were rewarded handsomely when victorious, with more food, better food and left alone by the guard’s harassment.
‘Would you like that boy? If you emerge the victor then your stay with us here could become more comfortable.’ Caleb raised his chin and looked Wellin in the eyes with a confidence that none at the prison had seen until now. Wellin remained expressionless but looked slightly annoyed at this strange boy, who should have been shaking with fear right about now.
‘Do I have a choice whether I fight in your pit sir?’ He said finally.
‘No. Not really, I just wanted to know if you would like it. Some do, you see, but participation is ultimately up to me. Once on the fighting floor, you either fight or not. I recommend you fight though.
Caleb knew he could defeat almost anybody in combat. He fancied his chances against all the men in the room at the same time actually. But he did not want to fight for this low life’s entertainment. ‘I will not fight for your pleasure sir. So just throw me back in my cell and be dammed.’ Wellin chuckled, something he very rarely did.
‘As I said boy, once you’re on the fighting floor it’s up to you whether you fight or not.’
‘I will not fight.’ Caleb repeated but Wellin had grown tired of talking to him and looked like he would have a little bit of blood sport of his own. He brought the forked cattle prod tenderly to Caleb’s leg and pushed the forks tip ever so slightly into the flesh. The pain was Tremendous as he pushed the prod further into his thigh, which made a sucking sound. He did not react to this sudden pain, much to his torturers frustration.
Wellin activated a stud on the forks handle that sent an electrical current into Caleb. It was like being hit by a sledge hammer. Now there was a reaction from him, as his body twitched and danced from where he hung helplessly. Wellin was enjoying his mornings work now. He watched him suffer, but clearly would not be satisfied until he heard him scream.
‘Take off his shoes and socks.’ The other guards did as ordered and after nearly an hour, Caleb took the hint and screamed out, more in frustration than being unable to take the pain.
It was excruciating but he had learned to master his emotional response to pain many years ago. He had taken himself into a meditative state, where he could not feel the full force of the volts flowing through him. He screamed out because this was clearly what the frustrated Wellin wanted. Satisfied, the guards lowered him down and he fell into a heap on the ground.
His torturer took his face into his hands and whispered.
‘I’ll see you in the pit boy. That will probably be the last time I see you.’ Wellin then left the room and Caleb was shackled and taken back to his cell. He did not know what he would do when he was forced to fight, but he knew he would have to get off this planet soon. It would not take long here, for even for him to become a broken man like Dillon, or worse.
Caleb slept lightly that evening; he had expected to be taken by one of the guards at any moment and taken to this so called pit. A visit was also likely from the gang he had recently humiliated. He could always hear voices outside his cell, at all hours of the day and night. That did not sound like the guards. This might have been other prisoners let out for some reason or another. If they did come for him, he would be ready.
He began to take his mind deep within himself and the sensation of it was always pleasing. The feeling was complete freedom, which was a paradox really, considering his current predicament. Master Kam had always claimed that once he had mastered the technique of mind casting, then one day he could take his spirit almost anywhere.
Caleb had never understood what he meant at the time. But the prison had given him the hours to practice the discipline. His masters back on earth had always encouraged him to learn the art and learn it well. Psychic power was very rare, but once honed; it could be the key to Caleb’s escape.
Gradually after much practice within his cell, he could take himself further and further from his body. This night he decided he would try and let his mind leave these walls and try to roam outside. It would be very difficult. He relaxed his body until the familiar numb feeling slipped away into nothingness. Leaving his body he began to slowly rise and was able to look down at himself.
Sweat was gleaming on his perfect skin and even he had to admire sometimes the aesthetic beauty of his muscled form. Vanity was always shunned at the Academy. But pride in your appearance and abilities were not. Caleb took much pride with himself, as he looked at the unbroken body that would endure and escape this place. He noticed also that where they had pierced his skin, was now completely healed. His healing abilities had seemed to be getting faster, every time he had taken an injury. Maybe his body was learning.
He now let his mind focus on the corridor beyond, and drifted through the walls. Suddenly he was outside of the cell. It had taken an immense amount of concentration to do this and going further seemed like madness, but caution would have to be thrown to the wind. Information, any information on how to get out of this place was worth the effort the mind and body would have to go through.
Slowly moving down the corridor, Caleb could see other inmates cleaning the floors and noticed that standing at the top of the stairs was an old Asian man dressed in a white tunic that was certainly not prison issue. Impossibly the man looked his way and waved to come and join him. Floating down to the old man was easy. They now stood facing each other. In reality Caleb wasn’t there at all.
‘Beating that many opponents today, took great skill young one. But what you are doing now, takes a mind of someone exceptional. Who trained you to accomplish this feat?’
The old man had an aura of power that made him glow ethereally. Caleb wondered how he appeared in contrast. ‘Who are you? How can you see me?’ Said Caleb shocked.
‘It is a complicated question. We do not really hear or see when we ascend, but our spirits give us the sensation of our senses. I am like you, back in my cell right now. Frankly my young friend, you astonish me.’ The Asian man looked at Caleb serenely.
‘Who I was long ago young man is a long story; but let us say for now that I am an ally. I also reside here, on this picturesque world.’ The man’s face looked familiar to Caleb and then it dawned on him how there was another person on this world, who could ascend as he did.
‘You are Master Tong; you were once the High protector and Captain of the Elite Guards. I thought you were executed for what happened on Earth all those years ago. I remember my Father showing me picts of you. He also said you were a good man, and not capable of what you was accused of.’
The story of Master Tong was shrouded in mystery and most people had heard of his epic rise and fall. His Father had told him once, that an attempt was made on the life of the President that was only avoided, by the brilliance of Master Tong’s protection. The follow up investigation found that there were a hundred strong terrorists, hiding out in a warehouse near a port called Calais in France. There were several children and women at the site. Presumably Master Tong had ordered the destruction of all the people that posed a threat, and an airstrike was carried out. The destruction, not only killed the terrorists but also a large part of the town, killing thousands.
The President had no choice; he had to execute the man responsible for the deaths of so many innocent lives. But it now seemed that the President had spared his Captain.
‘Yes I am Tong. I’m surprised you recognise me.’
‘You were younger in the picts my Father showed me. You are also a man that he admired, and I was brought up by most of your teachings.’ Recognition struck the old Master immediately. How could he not have known this was the son of one of his fondest pupils?
‘Your Father is Dorn Bruce?’ Said Tong with a sad smile; sad for all the years he had missed the man that was more like a son to him.
‘Was? Does my old Pupil still live? Caleb shook his head to confirm his old masters fears.
‘Truly you have a sad tale to tell young Bruce. Perhaps your story one has more tragedy in it than my own.’ He wanted to ask Dorn’s son a thousand questions, but knew he could not maintain the concentration needed for much longer, away from his body. He had already begun to notice the boy’s essence was starting to fade. ‘I must be swift; we are both beginning to fade back to our bodies.’
Caleb could feel himself slowly drifting. He had never been this far from his body before and the shear effort of it was taxing him greatly. But seeing his father’s old teacher here, gave him hope that he was not completely alone.
‘I take it that, as you are so proficient at dream walking, you can also talk to others in our art with your mind young Bruce?’
‘It’s the furthest I have ever left my body actually Master Tong. This place has focused my study of the art somewhat. But you are correct; I can talk to you now with my mind. It will be less taxing on the body I think than fully ascending.’ The old Master was pleased beyond words that this boy had this skill that so few of humanity had developed. Tampering with the Genetic code had unlocked an evolution of the mind and the possibilities of this new power were just being realised. Tongs son Keblie had the gift. So did a small handful of other Masters and Apprentices.
Caleb’s Mother had the gift in abundance and had obviously passed this ability down to her son. ‘You must be careful young Bruce, the men that attacked you today was by no means your equal. They are many however and they will want you dead, for the insult you have inflicted.’
‘I can take care of myself.’
‘I am sure you can.’ The old master said with mirth. ‘Even so young man, I would like to talk to you again and help you if I can.’ Caleb had not enjoyed the extreme isolation of this place and would welcome the old man’s company.
‘It would be nice to talk to someone again, I must declare.’
‘Alas I fear I am at my limits to stay here. So until we talk again young Bruce.’
Caleb did not want to leave this ancient man just yet and held out a hand for Master Tong to take. Unfortunately it did not work like that when you ascended, and Tong began to fade and then disappear.
‘No wait we need to talk.’
He could hold it no longer and opened his eyes to find himself back in his cell, exhausted to the point that he could not even rise from the heap he had fallen into. Had it been a dream? Surly it was not.
He had never felt so tired yet so thrilled, at what he had just accomplished. To ascend your mind took a degree of skill that only a few Masters had attained. Not even his father could do it. He wanted to attempt the feat again but would have to recover from his first experience before he tried.
After several dark hours, he started to sit himself up and pulled his tired body into his bed and slept a deep dreamless sleep without nightmares, for the first time since he had arrived on Redeem.
Elfandar: Elfan Home World
On the other side of the Galaxy, an ancient being that had also been ascending, opened his eyes.
The beings name in his tongue was Tanandil. He was of a race known as the Elfan. A long lived people of fay wanderers, whose home Elfandar was once at the heart of a great Empire, that spanned great swathes of the Galaxy. But now Old Elfandar was a planet infested with the green skinned monsters known as the Orkra, who were the sworn enemy of the entire Elfan race. They had swept across planet after planet like a plague.
They killed and conquered with numbers that even the sophisticated and mighty Elfan armies could not hold. Now all that was left of the Elfan was scattered and hidden from their terrible foe. That hunted them down to near extinction. It was the green tide of carnage that resulted in the fall of this once great Empire. Tanandil, who was old even for his races definition, stood from his meditation matt and paced the room to contemplate what he had seen in his dream state.
Many of his kind could ascend, but even the most skilled could not comprehend Tanandil’s feats of lore. Most could go miles from their bodies or even communicate with someone continents away from them. His skill however, dwarfed all of his own kind. There was other Mages of course. But for him, to float around star systems in other Galaxies, were not beyond his abilities.
His mind had been trying to find new planets to inhabit for his people, when he felt the ascension of a being of great power that was faint at first. Then gradually the aura was as bright as a new star being born. He had often noticed various alien races achieve the ability to ascend, but only beings that would show an aura like this were few to count. He excitedly honed in on the source and was surprised to find that it did not belong to an old race at all. Instead he found it was one of the younger species, who called themselves Humans.
He had not really taken much notice of them, over the thousands of years he had wandered the Galaxy. It was only two hundred or so cycles ago that this race had discovered the ability to travel to other stars. He had then watched as they started colonies of their own. It was remarkable for a race to be so primitive for so many millennia, to then achieve so much a millennium.
And now there was a being amongst their young race that had a mind and aura so powerful. It could be felt even to where Tanandil now dwelt, in the chamber of dreams on the holy moon of Ghale. He had been drawn to this power like a beacon. With an effortless move through space, his mind journeyed to the planet where this powerful being resided.
He floated over the form of a human adolescent. Curiously the child seemed to be a prisoner of some sort on a planet of ice. He had found him exhausted on a bed, after what Tanandil assumed to be his first ascension
He made up his mind quickly and decided not to tell the council of elders, until he had learned more about the Human boy. He did not know why, but he felt that there was something significant about him. He would only watch for now and hopefully he would reassess the human, for either being a threat or an ally to the Elfan people.
Earth: Planetary Defence Building, Geneva
Defoe had been dismayed at first when his number two man Kruger, had told him that Master Kam had some information on the Bruce family’s disappearance. But after careful consideration he decided he could turn the situation into an opportunity. Kam was at this very moment waiting to be seen by Kruger. Defoe hoped to find out if the meeting would be yet another problem to tie off towards his eventual rule of Earth and its colonies.
He watched the Palace from the Planetary Defence Building. If it turned out that Kam knew nothing, then they would still have to eliminate him, before the time came to take over the world. But if he knew too much, then they would have to deal with the troublesome Master Immediately.
He sipped at a fine brandy that was warm and comforting and let it slip pleasingly down his throat. Turning to place the brandy glass down on his antique mahogany desk, he heard an expected explosion from the direction of the Presidential Palace.
Defoe did not turn to see the carnage, but instead smiled a sly grin and drained the rest of his drink in a toast to himself. He would have a lot of work to do, blaming the entire disappearance of the Bruce family and the explosion on the now expired Master.
As expected the com announced Kruger and he was patched though to Defoe’s secure line.
‘It is done General.’
‘Good work Guy. Go to the President and illuminate him of Master Kams treachery.’
Kam had been made to wait outside the situation room that was located on the top floor of the Presidential Palace.
This seemed unusual to him, to be made to wait when he had information as important as this. His danger sense, which had saved his life on countless occasions, was screaming at him. It should have felt like the safest place on the planet? But it did not for some reason.
The door opened and Guy nodded to his fellow Master Guardsmen.
‘It is good to see you Kam; I would have seen you sooner but circumstances have been difficult of late.’ Kruger sat at the head of a large table and motioned Kam take the other seat available.
‘I have grave news about our friend Guy, and I think General Defoe may be involved.’
Kruger’s eyebrows rose in mock surprise and he let Kam continue. The Master started his tale, about being told not to investigate the disappearance on Defoe’s orders. Then he continued honestly, that he felt it necessary, to disregard those orders. He told him about the spot of Dorn’s blood that must have been seen by investigators and the satellite imagery that led him to the burned out incinerator plant. Finally he told him of the transport to the prison colony that he suspected Caleb had been sent to.
‘You are right, this news is grave indeed, but to point the finger at the General with this amount of evidence would be foolish my friend. What would you like me to do with this Kam? Go to the President?’ It was a strange response from the one man who should now be at least asking to see the satellite imagery.
Kam had taken precautions in fear of the fact that Defoe had not acted alone in this. Tristan was at this moment, sitting in a small warp capable space craft, with enough weapons and amour to start a small war. He also had the evidence on a data disk on board the vessel. If Master Kam did not return from this meeting, then Tristan was to go to Redeem and try to find Caleb.
Kam was still not sure about Kruger, but decided he would not decide his loyalties just yet.
‘I would like this evidence shown to the President at once Guy, I am surprised you have not even asked to see it.’
Kruger’s usually unreadable face, betrayed the very slightest indication of irritation. It was not enough for Kam to jump to conclusions, but he did not feel as comfortable as he should have felt, with his fellow Guardsmen. The emotion was gone as quick as it had appeared.
‘As you wish; I will take this information to him. You also correct Kam that I will need to see this evidence. Have you got it with you now?’
‘Yes.’ Kam indicated to a section of his lightweight armour that acted as a secure pocket, during combat missions. ‘Wait here my friend. I’ll go and set up an audience for you, so you can show him yourself.’ Kam inclined his head in acknowledgment, as Kruger got up and left the room.
His instincts were screaming at him to get out. He could not really say exactly why. Maybe it was Kruger’s reaction to the news, or maybe it was just a suspicion of everybody since Defoe was put in the frame. Those instincts had saved his life on many occasions. He had always listened to them. Kam had taught others at the Academy to do the same. He calmly walked to the window, opened it and stood on the ledge and waited for the return of Kruger.
At that moment the door to the room opened and a destroyer grenade was thrown inside. The door closed sharply and Kam could hear the person who had thrown it run down the corridor. He shook his head in disgust at how far this betrayal had gone. Then he jumped out of the window, just as the destroyer grenade incinerated the room he had been moments before.
He could feel the incredible heat singe the hairs on the back of his head as he fell from the top floor of the Presidential Palace. The Five Hundred story building whizzed by and Kam activated a jump shoot at the very last opportunity, which was housed within the back plate of his amour. His fall rapidly slowed and he guided himself over the Palace wall and down into a nearby park, hitting the ground lightly and tumbling like an acrobat.
His shoot wound itself back into his amour and he casually walked to a spot where he had left a bag for just this type of emergency. Planning for all scenarios was bred into a Guardsman. Reaching into the bag, he removed a black cloak that he swiftly threw around his armoured body. This only took him a matter of seconds. He then holstered twin pistols under his armpits. If anyone was foolish enough to stop him, then they would get a nasty surprise.
Kam attached a communication bead to his ear and started to walk toward the main street where thousands of people were now looking up at the explosion. Blending in with the crowds he initiated a secure com link, with the only person he could trust right now.
‘Tristan; Kruger’s involved. Are you still with the ship?’ He knew he would be waiting for him. It seemed this betrayal went deeper than they first realised. ‘Yes Master, I’ve just seen the explosion on the news; I feared the worst. Are you ok, do you need extraction?’
‘I am unharmed. Extraction would be unwise my friend. I think Kruger will believe me dead after that explosion. Let us go dark for now. Wait for me in orbit and I will come to you. We need to get away from here and find Caleb.’
‘Very well, Master.’ He wanted nothing more than to stay and fight his friend’s murderers. But finding Caleb had become the priority now. It was what Dorn would have wanted. Going to the President would have been folly. Kam would not even make it through the Palace entrance now. The fact that they believed him dead and acting alone might play to his advantage though. ‘Tristan do you have Dorn’s Weapons and armour on board?’
‘I do; all of it.’
Tristan must have found it difficult to get everything Kam had asked for. They needed to start a war on a traitor and for that purpose, he had gathered arms. Kam also had Dorn Bruce’s weaponry. He hoped to be able to reunite the heirlooms with young Caleb. They would be important and symbolic in the hands of another Bruce. Once they returned with Caleb, they would demand to see President Black with both their evidence and a testimony from an eyewitness.
Earth: Presidential Palace, Geneva
The journey to the audience hall, had taken Defoe an eternity, after the explosion.
Black’s Elite Guard had insisted on taking the President to his underground bunker. He had refused their concerns. He was a leader above all, and wanted to be seen leading the response to this crisis. Defoe walked down the long isle that was flanked by the planets senators, who watched his impressive entrance. He wore his full Battle Dress, so he would appear strong in this hour of chaos.
The light reflected off his gleaming war plate that had seen its fair share of battles. Defoe liked to fight, and would always display his martial prowess when he could. Whether it was crushing a new cartel on Earth or subduing a potential rebellion on one of the many colonies. Defoe would take any opportunity to get stuck in personally. He was once cautioned by Black in this very hall once, for his brutality on a planet called Hydelon Prime. It had been glorious to butcher the rebellious force of colonists, who had sought independence from Earth. He remembered with pleasure, the rows of severed heads that had lined the streets of the planets capital.
Black had considered removing Defoe for this brutality. But a humiliation in front of an audience, much like this one, had been his punishment enough. The President knew and accepted that sometimes, you had to be cruel to rule. It had always come so naturally to Defoe to inflict the Earths judgments onto its enemies.
But Defoe had not forgotten his humiliation by Black and he would soon enjoy sitting in the commonly named Black Throne before him. He stood before the empty chair that was carved from a single piece of jet black granite, which was softened with cushions of the same colour. The murmuring in the cathedral like room, stopped immediately, as President Edward Black strode in with purpose, to sit in his grand audience chair. Flanked by two Elite Guardsmen, he sat and looked beyond the General to Kruger, who was now walking up the isle to join the General and give his report.
He stopped next to Defoe and they both looked straight ahead. They bowed and approached the President.
‘Well General; First Dorn’s disappearance, and now this. I hope you have some answers for this assembly.’
The General knew he would be summoned after the explosion. He now had the perfect scapegoat in the form of Master Kam. The Master Guardsman would now bear the blame for the murder of the Bruce family, and the explosion that had occurred, in the upper stories of the Palace.
‘Mr President, the information I have on this matter is quite conclusive, but also very sensitive. I recommend it would be best if it was heard, by your ears alone. Lieutenant Kruger has filled me in briefly on my way here. Frankly sir, I am quite shocked by his findings.’
Black had summoned the audience to the cathedral like Senate Assembly Hall, so all of Earths representatives, would be included in dealing with this crisis.
But what the General was hinting to was potentially a disaster for public relations, IF something damaging was said in their report.
The assembly hall was closed off to the general public and swept for listening devices, before any assembly took place. But that did not stop the leaks, of any damaging information escaping the many loose lipped Senators.
‘Very well, follow me to my private chambers.’ The three men ceremoniously, marched to a hidden door at the halls corner and then hurried through, leaving the hall of Senators to erupt into conversation about the crisis.
The Presidents private chamber was luxurious in every detail, with its flowing tapestries of ancient battles that hung from the high ceiling and portraits of some of earth’s greatest leaders. They all sat down. Kruger did not keep the President waiting to hear the dire news.
‘Mr President I have already informed the General with this information, on a secure channel. We believe the situation is over. You will be pleased to know that the perpetrator and the murderer of the Bruce family, is now dead. He is also no longer a threat to you.’
Black glared at Kruger, and seemed to burn into his very soul with the power of it.
‘Who is it Guy’?
Kruger had played the loyal servant since he had started at the Academy. All assumed he was a trustworthy and honourable warrior. But in reality, he had lied, cheated and engineered a swift rise to his current rank. Lying had always come easily to him, as he demonstrated the secret skill. It was easy to show mock regret, at the bitter news of a trusted battle brother’s betrayal.
‘With regret sir this horrendous act was carried out by Master Kam. He had tried to recruit me into his plan to over throw you. I led him to believe I would. He then told me of how he killed the Bruce’s and destroyed their bodies at an incinerator. The same incinerator recently burned to the ground.’
Black had not expected this. Of all the Elite Guard; Kam had seemed to have the most honour and integrity, out of his entire bodyguard. He even considered him once to be a potential Captain of the Guard. If it wasn’t for Dorn Bruce’s brilliance, he may well have been.
Kruger could see Black was taking the news badly. It was the first time since Master Tong that one of his own Guards went rouge. Kruger continued gently.
‘I tried to take him alive at our recent meeting. But he must have realised that his escape was blocked and detonated a destroyer grenade, taking his own life. I barely made it out alive myself sir.’
The lies spoken were smooth and seamless. Kruger lowered his head, so it would appear that he felt just as betrayed as Black.
‘I can’t believe he could have done this Guy. Why would he kill his best friend and attempt to kill me, the man who had given him so much?’
Kruger then described to Black the whole plot, of how Kam had been secretly bitter at not being appointed Captain. He had plotted to remove Dorn; his rival, who he had kept close. Kruger then told both Black and a shocked looking Defoe, of a grander plan, which was betraying the President and assassinating him, to create a tyrannical government under the Kam alone.
Defoe thanked Kruger for the bitter briefing and said.
‘Mr President I’m as shocked as you at this news. If there were any accomplices involved in this, then we will find and punish them.’
‘Thank you General.’
Black run his hand through his thick, dark curly hair. The weight of his office seemed to be getting to him, which was no surprise. He had invested so much into the Young Caleb. And to lose two Masters in this drama seemed too much for the man.
‘We live in sad time’s gentlemen when a man of Kams pedigree turns on us. I still can’t conceive this horror. I must confess I hoped beyond hope of Dorn and his family still being alive.’
Black said, standing and making his way to a tapestry that portrayed the last world war of Earth, in beautiful stitch work that had taken years to complete.
He then looked across to a work of art that he had commissioned personally, to commemorate the first century without major war. It was a statue of pure bronze of him, holding a large hammer over his cloaked shoulders. His other hand was held out and in its palm was the small globe of Earth. He had always told people that the statue had represented the rebuilding of the human race.
Black knew that the true meaning of the piece was that to sustain peace, you needed the power to crush your enemies, with a ruthlessness that had been unpalatable to him in recent years.
He grasped the bronze planet before him and knew what he had to do. His grip should tighten traitors would suffer the hammer of his office. Black needed a show of strength that would annihilate any co-conspirers. Dorn’s murder could not be avenged on his killer now, so he would have to make meaning of his death, by punishing all who dared challenge his authority.
‘Yes General. You will, find me anyone who has had any involvement. And you will bring them to me and the Senate in chains. Anyone suspected of treason shall pay, for risking our world’s eternal peace. Let it be known that Dorn and his family were killed in that explosion. We can’t let the people know of this treachery.’
‘Yes sir. But what shall we say about Kam and his betrayal?
Black considered this briefly.
‘Tell everyone who knew about Dorn’s disappearance that they are sworn to secrecy.’
Black removed his tight grip, from around the bronze globe and looked at the finger marks that now dented the small planet. Super strength was another of the President’s secrets that Defoe had always marvelled at.
‘Tell the assembly that an attack was carried out by terrorists and the Bruce family were killed in the attack. Say also that Master Kam died in the explosion.’
‘But Mr President should we not expose Kam as the traitor he was? Why lie?
Never before had Black been betrayed by someone as close as his own Master Guardsmen and to admit this to the people may raise questions as to why?
‘We do not need another scandal General, not one as close to home as this. Find and bring to me any accomplices, but cover this up for the sake of peace.’
‘It will be done sir.’
The journey to the ship that Tristen had commandeered had been swift. It needed to be, to avoid detection.
The Sleek vessel Tristen had chosen was the EZT-11 Shadow. It was extremely manoeuvrable and fast. Its sub warp engines could dart around a system undetected. It was often used for hit and run or extraction missions that would sometimes arise, on one of Earth’s ever expanding colonies. Unfortunately the vessels warp engine was only capable of a modest speed. The designers of the craft felt that sacrificing speed and stealth in real space was worth it, compared to the bulky engine that would have enabled a shorter journey time, when travelling through Warp space. It would take roughly one standard year to reach Redeem. They could have taken a faster space craft, but this one also had advanced cloak technology that could avoid detection once they arrived at the planet. Stealth had now become their most important ally. They would need to arrive at Redeem un-noticed and the EZT-11 was perfect for missions just like this one.
All they longed for was to return to the betrayers den and launch an all-out attack on Kruger and Defoe. Even if it meant the price of that insane valour was their lives. But they were Guardsmen and that meant more than physical prowess, and shinning war plate. To become one of the Presidents Elite Guard, you also had to be adaptable and intelligent. For one day, you could be protecting the President or one of Earths many Senators. The next, you might be leading an infiltration mission, to take down a defection force on another world, in all the terrains that could be imagined.
Kam just hoped that Caleb was still alive and that their search would not be in vain.
Whilst in orbit they watched news reports showing Kam and the Dorn family’s demise. The reporter went on to say, how they had tried to diffuse a terrorist bomb unsuccessfully. They had covered this whole mess up perfectly. They also added that the Bruce family who were caught up in the explosion, along with Master Kam, were going to be given a full state funeral, for services to mankind.
‘So I am dead then. Well this at least buys us some time.’
Kam activated the thrusters to leave the solar system, where he would make the first warp jump to Redeem.
‘Why have they betrayed us Master? What do they want?’
Tristen had always found it hard to temper his feelings; he was young at eighteen but he was a big muscled young man from a mixture of good genetic stock and years of brutal training at the Academy.
Sometimes he found it hard to keep that temper in check. Master Kam allowed this slip of emotion in the current circumstances. He knew the answer to his own question but still felt it had to be asked.
‘I do not know the full extent Tristen, but I swear we will get to the bottom of this, and right this horrendous wrong. Stay in Battle dress until we jump to warp.’
The door to the flight control room hissed open. Both Guardsman turned, and went into an attack posture in one movement.
In the doorway stood a large warrior, clad in grey glossy armour from toe to helm. The doorway was over two metres high and just as wide. The figure staring down at them, encompassed most of the space with his immense form.
In his right hand he carried a double headed war axe, which most men would not be able to lift let alone fight with. He pointed the weapon at Kam, with an ease of a child’s toy.
As soon as he started speaking, Kam recognised the bass tones of the giant standing before them.
‘It appears I have stowed away on a dead man’s ship. Tell me Master Kam. Why does a dead man flee on one of my vessels?
Redeem: Class A Prison World
Caleb sat upon his bunk and thought back to better times at the Academy. He closed his eyes, and was once again before his father on top of the Academies roof terrace sparing floor. His photographic memory let him remember every detail of that perfect summer evening. The sun had just started to set, casting them both with an orange glow that made them look angelic, in its brilliance.
Caleb had almost beaten his father in the dance of swords. But just when he had thought he had him, Dorn would always manage to evade and counter to yet another victory. Although he would have to admit, were becoming harder and harder to achieve. They had been practicing with swords all afternoon, and both had enjoyed the contest as they had cut, thrust and parried. There were few warriors who could give Dorn a run for his money and Caleb had counted himself as one of them.
‘You nearly had me a couple of times today my son. You are improving. Don’t tell Master Thion though. To him flattery is the route to a student’s weakness.’
They had both laughed at that. Master Thion’s idea of a compliment was to tell the student, that they were slightly more than sufficient and Dorn aside was possibly the greatest of men with any kind of sword. ‘I will get you one day, you are not getting any younger, and I swear I could hear you short of breath in the last bout.’
He had smiled at that, and appraised Caleb with a look, not of an instructor but a proud father.
‘I have told you many times that you are special have I not young Lord.’ Dorn had reached over and jabbed him affectionately on the shoulder.’ He knew that he was gen hanced, like most aspirants at the Academy were. But even among Earths best genetically selected recruits, he had always been exceptional. It was hard for him not to notice his growing abilities.
‘You have Father, many times. I hope to become as mighty and reputable as you one day.’
A cool breeze blew over them both, cooling the heat they had worked up on the duelling matt. The smile had dropped away from Dorn’s face, to be replaced by a look of discomfort. An expression that was alien to him. He stood and bowed to Caleb.
‘Walk with me.’ They had made their way to the balconies edge and enjoyed the mountainous views that surrounded the Academy. In a panorama that had been truly beautiful to behold, after a tough afternoons sword play. Dorn wanted to tell his son, how Edward Black had personally seen to his genetic enhancements. He had not gone into too much detail over his creation in the past, because they wanted to make sure that the Presidents successor was worthy of the task.
‘How are you getting on with your other studies?’ Dorn had asked in fluent Japanese.
‘I enjoy my lessons father.’
He had replied in flawless German. Caleb could converse fluently in many different languages and also excelled in Mathematics, science, the arts and Political studies.
‘I take it you understand why you were made this way my son?’
The selection process for high offices was started before the person was even born. Parents who displayed good genetics for their field were chosen, and if they wished, their children would be genetically enhanced at the embryo stage. Not all agreed to this but most did, as the gift would guarantee their child received the best opportunities available to them.
Most children went in the direction that was set for them, but some had major character flaws that would inevitably prevent them from achieving the potential they had been destined for.
It had been an honour when the President had made the offer to Dorn. Since then Caleb had reached his potential and more. Others had marvelled at his abilities, especially in combat. Year after year he surprised his own creators. Truth be told, no one knew the limits of Caleb’s capabilities.
‘I know I am enhanced and I thank you for that father, I could not stand being as dim witted as Tristan. One day I will take your job as Captain, and Tristan, if he’s lucky will be my Lieutenant, I will need a man at my side with a sense of humour.’
Tristan was one at the Academy that had been selected without any Gen enhancement. To be selected on merit alone was rare. Dorn could include himself as another one of those, naturally exceptional individuals.
Later, like Dorn, Tristan would be given enhancements, to supplement his existing talents. The Presidents Science Guild was doing amazing things, especially with genetics. Some people said the President was long lived, because God had chosen Earth a leader that would stay until a Utopia was created. Dorn had known the truth of the matter and genetic manipulation on a cellular level was at play, when it came to many of Edward Blacks unnatural gifts.
‘You would make an excellent Captain Caleb, but have you not ever wished for more; to lead for example?’
Caleb had always wished to be like his heroic farther since he could first wield a toy sword.
‘I have considered a career in the army, because of the opportunity to travel the stars and path the way to new colonies. But Guardsmen normally get a few years detachment with the army anyway, so naturally I would choose to stay with my brother Guardsmen. That Golden armour of yours would do me no harm with the ladies as well.’
Dorn chuckled. He certainly would make an impression with women. His son was handsome with chiselled features and a charisma that was so irresistible it was hard not to be swept away by the remarkable young man. He was glad that no females were permitted at the Academy or a scandal might have already occurred.
‘I mean leadership of worlds Caleb. The President will not be with us forever. Even if he is around for another thousand years; he will need some help to lead the human race throughout the Galaxy.
Caleb considered his Fathers words with an expression of utter confusion. All he had ever wanted was to follow in the footsteps of the greatest warrior the planet had ever known. He had to agree that others followed him and leadership sat well with him. But his ambitions were never as high as to rule a planet or even the new colonies.
‘I have no desire to rule, I’m happy enough with being the best Guardsmen I can be. I wouldn’t know the first thing about leading a world. Besides, are we not a democracy; I mean when President Black stands down would there not be elections? Or am I to be a successor that no one has elected? I cannot see the Senate or the People liking that.’
Dorn was glad his son had no desire for power. If he had he might have questioned his son’s character to rule. No leader should crave power for their own sake, but for the good of the people they lead. This was a trait that Black had and was the reason Dorn followed him with the utmost loyalty.
‘I am glad you do not crave the power to rule son. But you have, even if you don’t realise it yet, been groomed for great things. Of course there would be elections but who would not vote for the son of Dorn Bruce eh. I am not saying you must rule one day, far from it. But just consider how someone like you could usher in an even greater era on the foundation President Black has built. I’m telling you this now because we had to be sure you were worthy of the role, and you are more than worthy young Lord.’
Caleb always hated it when his father called him that. He knew it was just teasing, but now he realised there was probably a hidden meaning to that innocent title. He was sure he could rule, he just wasn’t sure if he had wanted to.
That day was just a pleasant thought now for Caleb as he snapped himself out of his daydream and into the harsh reality of the holding cell on Redeem.
He had been there all day awaiting his first fight in the pit for the entertainment of the guards. He had thought long and hard about what his father had said to him that day, and now none of it really mattered. All that mattered now was escape. But liberation would not come easily, even for him.
The cell he was in was closer to the surface than the one he had been sleeping in and it was noticeably colder this close to the extremes of the frozen world.
The cell had been carved out of the very rock of the planets more hospitable underworld. The jagged ceiling was covered in an array of sparkling icicles that dripped mercilessly onto him.
Caleb regulated his body temperature with a thought, keeping his core warm from the chill. Other fighters would not have the luxury of controlling their own body heat but then again Caleb could not be certain that all cells were as cold as his. Even with his body steaming, the drips were still a petty annoyance.
The guards had come for him a week after he had ascended out of his cell. He was glad that he had the time to recover from that energy draining experience. Fatigue was something new to him, having always been quickly refreshed from any excursion. But his first experience that far from his body had seemed to exhaust him to the bone. He had only been able to stand after two days lying in his bunk. He could not allow himself the luxury of another attempt at ascending from his own cell. Not if it could leave him so weak and vulnerable for so long
He was not released to the canteen either that week; probably to keep him safe from the reprisals of the gang that he had fought. Caleb was in no doubt though that his safety and welfare was being maintained to keep a potential fighter alive long enough to give the guards a show.
The grate in the door slid open with a rusty screech and he looked up to see Baz, the guard with the poor dental hygiene grinning one of his partially toothless smiles.
‘Good evening your worship. I hope your stay here so far has been to ya liking.’
He laughed at his own words while Caleb calmly rose and stood before the door.
‘I’ve heard you’re quite a fighter taking out some of those Latino Lads the other day. I must admit I’m looking forward to ya fight, if what they tell me of ya is true.’
‘Who will I be fighting?’
Caleb was confident he could best most opponents; he still did not know what he would do in the pit yet. But soon, one way or the other he would find out.
‘Seems a bit harsh; their facing you against three fighters today. All volunteers who fight regular, coz there either mad or stupid. They have to fight another inmate before you though, so this might ware em out a bit. But a strapping lad like you should be fine.’
Baz was beaming as he opened the door to let Caleb out of his cell.
‘Follow me your worship.’
Baz led him down a very dimly lit corridor that was mainly rock with a few reinforced beams here and there. There was a damp smell that Caleb found most unpleasant but would welcomed it compared to the foul breath that lingered from the man leading him to the pit.
They slowly began to rise and eventually came out at a holding area where many corridors converged to a place the fighters would wait before going into the pit itself.
Caleb could see and hear the crowds of jeering men, through a set of large bar doors. On the opposite side of the pit was another set of bar doors that he noticed housed more prisoners. The fighters surrounding Caleb wore white silk collars around their necks and from the opposite side his enhanced eyes picked out that the other inmates wore black collars around theirs. Baz confirmed what Caleb had instantly assumed.
‘Those blokes over there are the ones you’ll be fighting. Now wait ere for a bit and your number will come up on that screen when it’s ya turn.’
As he finished instructing him two numbers flashed up onto the screen and the prisoner that were called to fight moved very slowly to the pits entrance but stopped just short of crossing. Baz walked over and pushed the man in the back and into the sinister arena.
There was hundreds of men in the crowed that all stood in the tiered spectator stands. They were all guards and they all found the newcomers entrance most amusing and rewarded Baz’es efforts with applause. The fighter was clearly not a volunteer and shook uncontrollably as he stood and faced his opponent, who was a regular to the pit. He carried the scars to prove it. To remain alive long enough to show off his scars was reason enough to fear him. Bouts were not always to the death. The official rule was the winner was the one left standing. Death was always welcomed by the blood thirsty crowed though and the volunteers, would enjoy a better time at the prison for a kill, so were more than obliging to please their masters at Redeem.
The volunteer fighter was hairless save for a Mohawk style haircut. He prowled the pit like a predator about to devour its prey.
The man that Baz had pushed brought up his fists but continued to shake in front of the savage visage of his opponent that spat in his direction. The Warden who was surrounded by an entourage of guards, including Wellin signalled for the fight to begin and the two combatants came together in violence.
The volunteer absorbed a few wild punches from the white collard fighter and suddenly he moved inside his guard and wrapped his hands around the back of the man’s neck. He then delivered a head butt to his nose that exploded in a shower of blood and the white collard fighters head snapped back from the impact.
To his credit he took the blow well and came back to bring the volunteer into a grapple that may have been his only chance against the pit veteran.
But the black collard fighter made short work of him, and eventually put the blood soaked man into an arm bar move that eventually dislocated his shoulder. The screams of pain were rewarded with more applause and laughter from the excited guards.
He stood and awaited the Wardens signal to finish his opponent off. This seemed to Caleb like something from the old Roman stories he had learned in his history lessons.
The Warden raised his thumb and the fight was over. The victor walked back from where he had entered and was hailed from the stands as he left. The screaming man was practically dragged away in what looked like agony, but would live to fight another day.
After that, the bouts went on, with some victories from both sides. Only one man that had fought so far had sustained critical injuries and would not wake after a tirade of blows he had taken to the head. No one had spoken to Caleb throughout the fighting and suddenly Baz whispered into his ear.
‘Your three Lads are up next your worship. You might learn something if ya pay attention.’
The men that came out, from the black collard side of the pit, were all very big Latin men that were covered in tattoos. The first fighter that faced them appeared to be strong and confident and looked the match of the three brutish men with tattoos if they fought alone. Alas, fair play was not something common in the pit.
As expected, the fight did not last long, and the white collard man was beaten nearly senseless by the three Latino men that now stood waiting, for the Warden to signal the loser’s fate.
The thumb dropped, and the meaning was clear as the crowd cheered and clashed beverages, clearly enjoying the spectacle the Warden put on for them, once a standard month.
One of the Latino men walked over to the loser and bit into his throat tearing out the man’s windpipe like a savage beast. He spat out his mouthful of flesh and raised his arms in solute to the baying crowed surrounding them.
Caleb looked at the carnage unfold and was disgusted with the men he would soon have to fight. As he watched the body of the dead man being dragged away, 118 came onto the display screen, indicating that it was his turn now to fight. He had never felt so furious, except when his parents had been slaughtered before him not so long ago.
The Master instructors had always told him not to fight angry, but instead fight smart. Now though, all he could think about was ending the men in front of him that had taken so much pleasure in butchering another human being. The bars opened ‘Good luck again your worship. Ha ha’ shouted Baz patting Caleb on the back, as he entered the pit to the roar of the blood thirsty audience, who had the evenings first kill and now yearned for more blood sport.
They would be the ones who needed luck thought Caleb and even that would not help them. He did not care anymore about hiding his abilities. But with these wretches he would not have to.
He walked to the centre with a confidence that was surprising for someone so young and new to the pit. He gave each man a look of contempt, with fury etched on his sublime face.
‘I want to know before you are dispatched, if you killed that man for them, or your own amusement.’
The one who had done the biting answered for the trio.
‘I enjoyed it, we like to kill, and they like to watch it.’ He indicated to the crowed with a tattoo sleeved arm.
‘Don’t know if the Warden will like it if you died on your first fight, but the mine hounds have put a price on your head.’
The blood from the last fighter’s throat was still dripping from his chin, as he made the threat. The mask of blood made him look like something from hell. But Caleb had not been intimidated by anything in his life. He was just not made to fear, and he calmly waited for the Warden to signal the beginning of the fight.
From above, seated in the galleried tier looking down at this strange boy, who towered over the three men he faced, the Warden turned to Wellin.
‘This boy shows more defiance than when he was first brought to us Mr Wellin. I would have thought him broken by now.’
Wellin had disliked the look of superiority in this boy’s face. He may have been the biggest and best where he was from. But this was Redeem and the Warden ruled this place, and liked all to know it. He would learn humility now though. The mine hounds had apparently put a price on his head, after what they had called a lucky fight with some of its weaker members.
He had made the revenge easy for the mine hounds by putting the boy up against the top fighters that volunteered from the gang to fight in the pit. They were also the most ruthless; the troublesome lad was unlikely to survive the encounter.
Bets were placed and Wellin noticed the guard that had broken up the fight had bet heavily on the young man. Against these three, he was surly doomed.
The Warden shouted over the noise of the crowed who could not contain the excitement of another certain bloody end.
Caleb launched himself at the one covered in blood, and at the last second slid on his knees over the dusty floor. The two other men tried to grab him as he slid past, but they were not expecting the large youngster to even attack, let alone slide past them the way he did.
As he slid, he threw a well-aimed punch to the blood smeared killer that connected with his groin with such force, Caleb almost felt sorry for him as he squealed, agonised by his manhood being pulverised. He dropped to the floor clutching his wounded genitalia screaming like a banshee as Caleb finished the slide and jumped up to his feet.
The two left remaining were more cautious now, after watching their leader dispatched so easily. They began to circle Caleb, hoping to come from behind and to his front at the same time. Caleb was having none of it. He was sick to death of this tortuous world. He had learned his capabilities gradually throughout his short life. But he had noticed a change in him, since being sent to this prison. He was sure he could break every neck in this cursed arena if he wished. But for now he would make do with the necks in front of him.
He took no time to spin a roundhouse kick at one of the attackers circling him, knocking the man out cold. The other thought he could tackle him to the ground and leapt at Caleb, who caught the man in mid-air by the throat and crushed his wind pipe, as he held him in a merciless death grip.
The Mine hound gang member stared into Caleb’s cold green eyes with surprised panic and tried to gasp for air through his ruined oesophagus, unsuccessfully.
Caleb held the man high, demonstrating his un- rivalled power to all that beheld him. He realised that there was now utter silence from the amazed crowed of guards, who marvelled in wonder at this boy’s strength. He dropped the dying man in a heap at his feet and strode over to the screaming mine hound that was holding his manhood. He had not even noticed that his fellow fighters were no longer there to help him and showed no resistance when he was kicked over to face the one who should have been in agony, instead of him. He looked around, and could now see that both of his fellows were silent and down. Looking up past the boy who had been the instrument of his misery he waited for the inevitable thumb of the Warden to signal his death sentence.
Caleb did not even turn to look up for the Wardens authority to end this wretch.
He knelt down next to the stricken mine hound and brought a swinging elbow that connected with his temple, silencing the screams instantly. The man went limp and Caleb rose to survey the pit floor. Two men lay dead and one unconscious. You could have heard a pin drop with the silence.
Caleb looked up to the Warden with malice, and was tempted to leap into the stands and continue killing, until his thirst for vengeance was quenched in the blood of the hundreds of guards, who looked at him open mouthed. They were unsure if what they had just seen was real. The thought occurred to Caleb that when he fought, others would see a blur of motion and carnage. But from his perspective all had happen in slow motion.
Was he strong enough to fight all the guards at once? He knew he was becoming unnaturally strong. He wasn’t sure what his limits were. Killing ten of them would be a certainty. This he crowed however, numbered in its hundreds and all carried truncheons with a few carrying fire arms.
The madness passed and he took a breath to calm the rage that had momentarily burned inside him, and decided he would not try escaping just yet. Looking at the situation with a calmer head he could not believe he had even considered attacking the crowd. Was it suicidal thinking or did he really believe himself capable of defeating so many? Now was not the time to find out. Instead, deception and subservience was called for.
Turning from the carnage, he walked in front of Wellin and the Warden and bowed as he would have done for one of the Academies Masters. What was strange was this seemed to please the Warden, who took it as a sign of obedience.
Caleb then turned and left the pit the way he had come, with the sound of silence behind. Baz opened the bar doors to let the winner through, His mouth also open wide in amazement at what he had seen.
‘how’d you do that.’ Spat Baz at the returning victor.
‘I don’t really know, just lucky I guess.’
Both knew it had not been luck that had enabled such a swift and violent end to the fight. Caleb was not about to tell them that he was genetically enhanced and the son of Earths greatest warrior, who had been created and groomed by the most powerful men on Earth.
Suddenly the quiet was broken by a communicator chirping, and Baz activated the ear bud he was wearing. ‘Yes sir right away.’
Baz picked up some power cuffs that were hanging off the rock wall and gingerly snapped them around the wrists of the dangerous prisoner. Caleb held them out giving Baz no fuss.
‘The Warden wants to see ya. Follow me Lad.’
Caleb realised the stinky guard had not called him your worship this time. Fear it seemed was a new weapon Caleb could now wield, as they made their way to see the ruler of Redeem.
Lord Sebastian Ignatius held the war axe firmly pointed at master Kam. He was Lord Commander at arms, of Earths heavy assault force called Regiment 1. They were elite warriors of Earth that were called upon for special missions, suited to their particular talents. They had no finesse when it came to combat. Their main role was to shock and awe of any nation or colony that decided to rise up. Or anyone else that needed to be brought to justice would be crushed by this very man and his regiment.
Kam always counted him a friend, and had fought with him and his Regiment a few years ago, fighting religious fanatics in North Africa. They had the financial backing of the local and wealthy warlords and posed a serious threat to Earths peace. They had not cared for their own lives when attacking the President’s force; believing in an old faith that they would meet their god in paradise. This had eventually been their undoing, as wave after wave had assaulted their isolated petrol.
The fanatics were mowed down like wheat at harvest, as Lord Ignatius and his small detachment of heavily armoured men, opened up with relentless chain gun fire. Most of the Regiment on the petrol had the heavy assault weapon that they carried on the hip, like reapers of death.
When the sulphuric gun smoke had cleared, they could see that they had wiped out thousands of the religious zealots who had come on to the guns welcoming death, as long as they got the chance to kill one of the enemies that they charged. They had hoped to overwhelm the small detachment with large numbers, but did not realise that they were up against Regiment 1.The shock troopers only stopped firing when the last of the munitions were spent. Their shooting was rewarded with victory, and devastation that shocked the fanatics with its lethal brutality.
They took no joy carrying out the slaughter. But were given comfort in the thought that they were preserving Earths freedoms. They did their work, with a silent efficiency that had been bred into them by Lord Ignatius; they had returned as heroes.
Kam had respected the power this man had wielded on that battle field; and had seen him use that axe with great efficiency to many a foe. But their friendship had been forged on countless engagements on Earth and her colonies. He had lost count on how many times they had saved each other’s lives. Kam was not sure how his mighty friend would take the situation presented before him. For all Kam knew, he may have also been involved in all of this.
‘Did Defoe send you my friend?’ Kam probed the question at the giant firmly.
‘That pompous ingrate likes to think he gives me orders and I like to let him think it. You young lad were lucky you were wearing Guardsmen’s armour. Otherwise, you would have been cut down on the spot for taking one of the Regiments ships. I still might, unless you give me a good reason not to.’
It seemed that the Commander was acting independently. Kam had been in too many scraps with this brute to not trust him with the information that they had. Better tell him quick thought Kam; even though they were friends, he did not know Tristan and their friendship would not stop Lord Ignatius from attacking. His temper was legendary.
He told him everything, from their discovery at the Bruce household to the betrayal by Kruger and Defoe. He listened without interrupting or asking any questions. He just grunted every now and then gruffly. Kam was not surprised, Sebastian Ignatius was a man of few words and would always tell his men that there was a reason they had two ears and one mouth. But when he did speak people would listen. His booming voice could always be heard over the loudest of battlefields.
Kam finished the tale and explained his mission to find the one person who could speak against Defoe and Kruger.
Then they waited for the big man to digest the news, watching him lower his head.
‘Dorn was my friend Kam. Jessica and the boy too.’
‘I know Sebastian, I know. When I found out, I could not believe someone was capable of killing him.’
Lord Ignatius seemed to colour a dark crimson that Kam recognised well. The massive Commander punched the bulkhead next to him, with a gauntleted fist. The dent that was left in the steel was testimony to his fierce power and he appeared to mentally restrain himself, lest he destroy the whole ship in his grief.
Ignatius looked out at the majestic view that was Earth through the viewport.
‘He was my friend.’
He repeated gently, like a volcano about to erupt into violence. Suddenly he turned to Tristan.
‘Take this ship back boy. I want to be on the lawn of the Palace outer gates in twenty minutes… They will die for this. I will be the hand that ends their treachery.’
Kam raised a hand to calm his enraged friend and hoped he could calm the commander down before they were all destroyed in a foolish attempt at revenge.
‘Sebastian I want nothing more than to crush them, but we would be stopped before we even entered the front door. There is another way, and if there is a chance, even a small chance to save Caleb, then we should try. Bringing the son of our friend back to tell his story will end this without causing a civil war.’
The still raging Ignatius did not looked convinced; the blood of his friend must be avenged. He and his Regiment would take on anyone who stood in their way.
Tristan stood and put a hand on the cold steel shoulder plate of the commander’s armour. Kam was not surprised by Tristan’s courage to approach, in the mood he was in.
Uncharacteristically, Ignatius let him speak, also mildly impressed by the young lads courage.
‘I know you loved the Bruce’s, who didn’t. I felt the same as you when I found out. I was never gifted with Master Kam wisdom.’
‘Nor I’ Ignatius added.
‘Caleb is my friend, like Captain Bruce was yours. If we attack this betrayal head on we will fail. If we don’t find Caleb then they might kill him, as soon as we show our hand. Now is the time for strategy not combat. But rest assured that we will return, and when we do we will bring hells wrath with us.’
The Commander looked at Kam and smiled; his battle rage finally broken. Kam returned the gesture.
‘You say you do not possess your Masters gift for wisdom boy. But you are more like him than you think.’ Tristen nodded his thanks to the calming Lord Commander.
‘Very well Kam we do this your way, for now. But whether Dorn’s son is dead or alive, we will still return to take some heads; I swear it on this axe.’
Kam winked at Tristen. His pupil was now a man and showed he did not fear the rage and reputation of anyone. He was proud of him. Kam knew he would be a great warrior if they lived through this.
‘So you will join us then in this mission Sebastian. You will be outlawed if you do. I could drop you off at the barracks, although it might ruin our escape.’
The big man laid down his axe against the wall and sat down at one of the few seats in the flight control room.
‘If I go back, could you imagine me playing nice until you returned?’
Kam shook his head.
‘No, I will come with you. It’s been quiet of late anyway. No uprisings or cartels to oppose. I’m sick of polishing my armour and waiting for a bit of excitement. We will go to get Caleb, and then we go mad. Agreed?’
‘Agreed; make yourself comfortable.’
He did as requested and relaxed in the chair. Tristan sat back at the controls, and manoeuvred the ET11 out of the solar system beginning the first of the many Warp jumps. The tear in space opened and the black vessel slipped through it, and entered warp space.
‘Oh by the way I forgot to ask, where is Caleb anyway?’ The now docile Lord Commander asked.
‘On a planet called Redeem we think.’ Tristen quickly replied.
‘Oh. And how long will that take us to reach.’
He asked whilst stretching, looking like he might drift off to sleep.
The two Guardsmen looked at each other with mirth and it was Kam who told him frankly.
‘About a year my friend.’
Ignatius’s eyes snapped open shocked.
But it was too late to turn back now and Kam and Tristan braced themselves for the inevitable booming outcry.
Planet: Akrioka-Orkra- Orkra Clan World
When the scout ship studied Planet X1, they had marvelled at the advancements of the race they had observed. The green skinned bestial looking aliens had seemed primitive at first glance. Their spacecraft and other technology defied this incorrect assumption. When the scouts had been boarded by the ferocious monsters, it quickly dawned on them that they had grossly underestimated the capabilities of the planets inhabitants.
The crew of the reconnaissance scouting ship had numbered in their hundreds when they had surrendered to the boarding party of the aliens. Who carried very crude, but extremely large blades and colossal guns that looked more like cannons.
The guns seemed to fire some kind of energy that would melt all that it touched, turning every sealed blast door into molten slag that the beasts flooded through, to enslave the unprepared crew, that were all members of Black Watch.
Now the recon task force that was secret to all but General Defoe numbered around twenty five survivors. The death toll had been high, when the beasts had first boarded the ship. None could withstand the ferocity of the rampaging aggressors who used their guns to literally melt any person that showed any resistance.
Some had been hacked to pieces, covering the aliens green skin in their blood and gore. The Captain of the ship eventually ordered the crew to drop their weapons. Some did, and some didn’t follow the order. The result was the same, as they carved their way through the ship with little mercy.
The biggest of the boarding party barked at the others in a guttural language that was aggressive in every syllable. They obeyed the leader and stopped the slaughter reluctantly.
The Black Watch crew were then tied up in wire restraints that cut into them sharply. Anyone that tried to slip out of them slowly peeled the skin from their wrists and gave up immediately in agony. They were then promptly brought down to the planet’s surface that was mainly jungle, occasionally broken here and there with industrial cities that spewed forth smog that tainted the very air they breathed, making it taste metallic and bitter.
They had been there ever since, wallowing in a muddy mesh cage that was open to the elements. Numerous insects would harass and irritate the human survivors, biting them and leaving toxins that would sting for hours. The survivor’s numbers gradually diminished over time. Through illness, infection, starvation and sometimes for the pleasure of their captors, who would slaughter one of them in view of the rest, and then eat the parts that they had chopped off the unfortunate victims. They had not known terror such as this before. Most of them accepted their fate and waited for the time when they would die on the hellish world. Some would even welcome death as an escape from the misery they were now in.
But not all had given up hope. Lucy McDowell had always been a survivor, and she like the others had undergone training, to endure and escape captivity. She was far from breaking and in spite of her young years, was able to rally hope in the hearts of others who were more senior to her. Without her comforting words many would have given in to their despair. Maybe it was her youth that gave her this hope that they would all get out of this alive.
Lucy had always enjoyed the secrecy and adventure of her missions. She always felt lucky to be the one to explore the galaxy. But now as she watched her Captain being returned to the holding cage, whipped and covered in blood, she would have given anything now for a safe office job back on Earth.
‘Are you alright Sir?’
She asked the Captain who winced away from her concerned touch. Lucy had her share of beatings and whippings from their captors, as did many of the captive crew. She did not even recognise some of the highly intelligent members of the Black watch now.
She had been recruited by the secret service that was unofficially called the Watch and graduated top of her class at the technology institute that was formally called MIT in North America. Lucy had climbed the internal ranks within the Watch quickly. At only 22 Lucy was now a full operative in the infamous Black Watch.
The Agency had four branches that would spy and gather information on all of Earths threats, both on and off world. The White Watches’ task was mainly to look and investigate civilian activities. The Red was tasked to spy on the many gangs and Cartels that would pose a threat, and the Blue would keep an eye on any corporate foul play.
The Black Watch would spy on everyone. Sometimes that would include White, Red and Blue Watch. But mainly they would take on the top secret missions that no one would ever find out about. They reported to one man alone; General Defoe, who was also the keeper of secrets, as well as the leader of Earths, armed forces.
‘Captain, are you ok?’ She asked him again hoping her leader, and mentors mind had not been lost.
‘I should have followed the Generals orders and put the ship into self-destruct when they first boarded.’ He looked up at Lucy hoping that his subordinate would give him any comfort.
‘Were you ordered to destroy the ship if we were compromised?’
Asked Lucy surprised at the order. Maybe it would have been a blessing now though, she thought.
‘Yes, but I didn’t have the courage to do it, I thought we could fight them off. Now…’
He choked up, remembering the horror they had endured since being taken.
‘Now we all die slowly or until they massacre us one by one. I am sorry I didn’t have the strength to end us quickly.’ She reached out to hold his shredded hands that were covered in dirt and blood and they sat in silence trying to avoid any glances that came their way from the green skinned captors.
‘You only did what I would have done. We are all in pain sir, it means were still alive and as horrible as that seems right now, I believe we will get through this. I don’t know why I feel that way, but I cannot accept that this is how it ends. We are Black Watch sir. I know I haven’t been with the agency for long, but we are not just selected for our minds alone. You told me not so long ago that we had to be the best physically, as well as mentally. If anyone can escape this situation it is us.’
Lucy had many attributes as well as her intellect. She was chosen before she was born to be enhanced and she had lived up to that expectation. She was destined to become a member of the Guild of Engineers, but during her time at the Technology Institute she showed she had other skills that would be more suitable to the Watch.
She loved to run and was a reputable athlete when she was recruited. Since then her training had been relentlessly extreme. By the time she had achieved the rank of full operative at only 18 years of age, she had been sculpted into an agent of secrecy and death.
She had several kills to her name already, and would always be requested by the Guild of Assassins to assist them with their operations.
Being a spy came easy to her and she would use any weapon available. Including her beauty, that had allowed her to get close to many a target that would spill all they knew, just to get close to her.
She had jumped at the chance to go on the secret scouting mission that General Defoe had tasked them with.
Lucy would not have even been taken on the mission until she had used her flirtatious charms to get her commanding officer to include her. It had not been easy. She was much in demand back on Earth, in infiltrating a potential underground arms dealer. But an opportunity like this would accelerate her career quicker than a shooting star. So she had asked nicely, knowing her commander would fall for her wavy curly brown hair and doe eyes that were irresistible to most men.
This included the ship’s Captain who had kept her close throughout the whole mission, and now squeezed her hand tighter than she would have liked.
She looked over to one of the Aliens, knowing her sexuality could not be used over this enemy for influence. Even if they had been human, her bruised face and mud caked hair that was plastered against her scalp made Lucy look far from attractive.
She noted even though they were bestial in appearance, they shared a lot of characteristics with Humanity. Their ears were pointy but were in the same place as humans, as were their eyes and limbs. They were massive creatures with bulgingly rippled muscles that made them look demonic in appearance.
The Alien slowly turned to look back at Lucy; his bloodshot eyes surveyed her, like someone about to choose their next meal form a selection of prime livestock.
‘Bach Charz Bzarckeras diek vral’
The beast uttered and then licked the tip of one of his larger fanged teeth.
Lucy did not know if she could look into the eyes for much longer before she was taken from the cage and chopped to pieces, like so many of the crew before her.
She had been listening to them talk to each other from orbit using enhanced listing devices normally used spying form orbit on her own race, before they had been boarded. She had been picking up bits of their language and decided she would try and communicate with her captors. What did she have to loose. Death would come eventually anyway.
Her grasp of languages was one of the many reasons she was so valuable in the Watch. She had been observing the Aliens say the same thing every time they greeted each other. She decided she would try that first.
‘jDem Nock Kla.’
She barked at the one eyeing her up, as aggressively as she could. It was a throaty tongue that was difficult to pronounce but felt she had greeted her captor correctly.
His surprised face let her know right away that it had some effect. Whether right or wrong she would now find out, potentially paying for the risk with her life. He slowly picked up a very cruel looking flaying knife and walked to the cages locked entrance.
Gaka was Chieftain of a thousand clans and ruled with an iron fist, on the Continent of Rakaza
The pink skinned race in the cages, had been given to him by one of his clan Chiefs, after capturing them in the void of space above the planet Akrioka-Orkra, which meant home of the Orkra. This world was but one of the multitudes of planets inhabited with his race. Some they had conquered from beings like the ones caged before him. Gaka missed the sport of killing other races and taking their planets for the glory of the clans. They had been forced of late, to make war on each other, due to the lack of new inhabited territory found. Such was the way of the Orkra.
He now had at his disposal a batch of creatures that looked vaguely familiar to him. He stared at one of their females, thinking of another fay race that was so similar to these ones, when the female surprised him, with a perfectly pronounced greeting.
He picked up a blade and moved towards the cage. Behind him his under Chieftain Maglak shouted just as surprised.
‘That thing just spoke our words.’
Gaka growled menacingly at the female, deciding how to respond. She just looked back fearlessly. Maybe the males were the weaker of this race. If any of his clan warriors had looked at him the same way, then they would shortly find their severed head at their feet. But this one was different from the rest somehow. He had always been a thinker, something that was strange for the Orkra. Perhaps this was why he ruled, he mused. He turned to his under Chief.
‘They look like Elf meat, but don’t smells like em. I want to show this one to the High Shaman. He may find where the pink things come from.’
Maglak liked the thought of shedding more of this races blood. They had been so easy to kill, and that was just fine by Maglak. They did look like their hated enemy the Elfan, but they would have needed hundreds more ships to take out one of the fay folk’s mighty space crafts. And they would have lost countless more clan warriors upon boarding an Elfan vessel.
‘I will summon him at once.’
As Maglak left, the Chieftain said to the Clan warriors in ear shot.
‘No one touches the pink things. You may eat what is already dead. Leave the rest until I say.’
The Clan warriors smashed their clawed fists on their oval green body armour, to show they had understood the order.
Gaka knew most would obey. He was also sure that some would not be able to stop their blood lust. Then he would have to take a few heads off.
So be it. The one that had spoken their words, he wanted kept alive for now. She would make good sport once they had learned what they needed to.
‘Bring that one to my chamber and secure her before my throne.’
The order was carried out and the pink skinned female was taken away, to the mild protests of the rest of the captives, who had become a pleasing distraction.
Planet Redeem: Class A Prison World
Caleb had not even broken a sweat after dispatching the three men in the pit. He now waited to be seen in the Wardens Office, which was at the very peak of the prison and above the surface.
The planets sun was bright and it took him a second to focus when entering the room. He had not seen natural daylight since he had been brought to the prison colony, and was glad to bask in the rays that lit up the luxurious office. The Warden had filled it with trinkets and other trappings of wealth. The walls of the office were clad in grey velvet and all of the Warden’s furniture was clad in burgundy leather. His desk was also covered in leather. On its top sat a human skull that had the top removed. Caleb could see the skull had been turned into some unusual kind of ashtray, as one of the Wardens cigars sat inside the skulls cranium.
He looked out of the window and into the courtyard where he had first been made to wait outside in the harsh climate of the planet’s surface.
Fortunately his body could handle cold temperatures. But Caleb was not sure how long he could last in the extremes of Redeem. Soon, he hoped he would try to find out.
He heard footsteps approaching the door. The guards in the room with him stood to attention. The door opened and the Warden followed by his entourage entered, some clearly intoxicated after watching the blood sport in the pit. Caleb was not sure how this would play out. They would be cautious with him now, he was certain of that.
The Warden picked up the smouldering cigar and sat opposite him. It was a strange look he gave Caleb, who just stared right back at him evenly and without fear.
‘When they bring you to us 118, they do not always give us any information about your past. The kind of prisoners we house here you see, are normally very dangerous, politically or otherwise.’
He pulled out a file and began reading its contents to himself. The smoke from his cigar began to cast the room in a smoggy haze.
‘It says here you are an experiment gone wrong, and that you are to end your days here, lest you pose a threat to the world order. It also sets out to us that if you pose a threat while you are with us… Well it tells me that I should isolate you and I am not to kill you unless absolutely necessary.’
Caleb considered telling the Warden his life story but as he began to speak he was quickly spoken over. ‘What do I do with you 118? I try not to read the files of those who come here. That sort of information could get even the likes of me retired early. If you catch my meaning’
He stood and flicked ash from his dwindling cigar and whispered a question to Wellin who was always near. The Warden nodded approval at Wellins advice.
‘The question 118 is not if you are Dangerous. No… we already know the answer to that. The question is what to do with you. The men were mightily entertained by your performance in the pit. But it says here in black and white that you must be kept alive. For what purpose I do not know?’
Wellin moved next to Caleb and attached a rod to his power cuffs, that acted like a dogs lead for dangerous prisoners.
‘For now 118 you will go to the sub levels of this facility where you will be more secure. There is more space down there; you will be pleased to know. But contact with us is minimised, so it ensures the safety of you and my guards.’
More space would be nice if Caleb planned to stay for much longer. But the deeper into the prison, the harder it would be to escape.
‘Warden, killing those men brought me no pleasure what’s so ever. I can assure you I am no trouble, and I won’t harm you or any of your men. I have had plenty of opportunities to retaliate already after the beatings I have sustained at your hands.’
The Warden could not help but like this strange prisoner. He extinguished the cigar that was now only a short stub. ‘I do not wish to fight any one; I wish to do my time here in peace.’
‘Young man if you do not want to fight, then the sublevels would be perfect for you. There will be no fighting there, that you can guarantee.
Caleb had to think of something to offer the Warden or escape could be much harder, if not impossible in the sub levels of the prison. Before he could come up with something Wellin started pulling him away by the rod attached to the power cuffs.
Caleb stopped him in his tracks. His superior size and strength was no match for Wellin who looked like he was about try and yank him off his feet.
‘Warden I wish to stay in my old cell if I may. I will even fight for you if that is what it takes for the privilege.’
He was sure he could kill or incapacitate every single man in the room, even with the power cuffs on. The Warden never showed any emotions on his cold face. So he was not sure how he would take his offer.
Suddenly one of the guards thrust an electro rod into Caleb’s neck which stunned him to his knees. The pain was bad and he considered making his move now. But the Warden waved the guard away and loomed over his large kneeling form.
‘I will consider your offer 118. But do not make the mistake as to who is in charge here. We cannot kill you; that does not mean we cannot make your stay here much worse. Now go and think upon that, and I will think about how you may serve the facility, with your unique talents.
Caleb played along.
‘Thank you Warden.’
He looked pleased with Caleb’s submission.
‘Good bye 118’
The journey to the lower levels had taken ages. The natural caverns were the perfect place to put class one prisoners. The retinue of six guards showed they were not taking any chances with him anymore.
Caleb was eventually led to a large, open cavern that must have been a hundred metres wide. A gliding drone sped towards them from its dark centre. They all stepped onto the whizzing platform and it sped off to an island of rock right in the middle. Its concrete floor had only a bed and two buckets.
Baz was in attendance and his beaming toothless smile had not grown on Caleb one bit. The foul man was wary of Caleb now. But it seemed he was glad to dump him down here. It was not un- heard after all, for a prisoner to kill guard.
‘What is this place? It seems cosy.’
The Guards led Caleb onto the rock island that’s edges were a sheer drop into an abyss of darkness.
‘The lads here like to call this place the basement; we are miles below the surface now. So you should be a bit warmer. Those buckets; one is ya water and the other is ya crapper. Just throw it over the side after. Oh and try not to fall in your worsh… I mean 118.’
‘When do I eat? The fighting has built quite an appetite. Do I still go to the canteen or am I to feast on the rock?’
The other guards all laughed at that.
‘Oh no, you don’t get to go up, unless the Warden allows it. You get ya gruel delivered now. But someone of your station would be used to that I suppose.’
Baz’s wit was rewarded by more laughter from the others, as they stepped back onto the hovering drone.
‘Wait… how long am I to remain down here? Wait…
Caleb toyed with the idea of leaping for the hovering platform drone, and to launch an escape now. But it sped off rapidly. He wasn’t sure, if even he could grab it.
Baz shouted out to him
‘Don’t worry, I’ll send ya grub to ya soon your worship. Ha haha.
He could hear them all the way to the caverns exit. The drone shutting down on the other side, cast the cavernous prison into silence.
Caleb looked up at the ceiling that hung several lights that made the place look like some kind of hellish nightmare. He had become used to his own company after the many months on Redeem. But this isolation felt complete. He truly was alone down here. At least he would not have to fight for their pleasure any longer.
There was always a solution to a problem though. The masters had drilled that into them, until they were sick of hearing it. But how does a man; even one as extraordinary as he was, escape from this. He sat and began to meditate. It did not take long to touch the mind of Master Tong who responded soon after the psychic connection.
‘Are you all right young Bruce?’
Caleb heard the voice of the old master clearly. It was easier to communicate this way, instead of fully ascending. The effort of touching minds would still tax some of his strength, but talking to Master Tong was worth it. ‘I am alright.’
Caleb confirmed quickly. He then went on to tell him of his ordeal in the pit, and then what the Warden had told him about the importance of keeping him alive and isolated down where he now resided.
‘It seems the ones who sent you here want you to be forgotten. They will come for you one day; your gene code is too valuable to just cast away.’
‘What makes you say that?’ Caleb wondered.
‘I know that young one because I played a hand in your creation. President Black wanted my help, to unlock your full potential before you were even born. I, with him and a Dr called Slade recognised that this ability, as well as your other gifts, could be amplified. It pleases me to see our work was successful.’
Caleb knew he was made in a lab, but had never been told many details about it.
‘What shall I do now? Am I to dwell down here, until they finally come to do some grotesque experiment on me?’
‘No. You must train. Use the isolation to discover your full abilities. Once you have unlocked the great power inside, no prison could hold you.’
‘Even I cannot hope to escape from down here.’
There was a pause, as both men tried to think of a way to improve the situation. At present there appeared to be nothing he could do.
‘Just Practice for now young one. I will contact you as much as my mind can. Oh… I thought you should know that the Mine Hounds have sought to kill your friend in the canteen. Dillon was his name I think.’
‘Is he alright?’
‘I have had a meeting with the leader of the gang, and he has assured me he is safe. But was intrigued as to why I would stick up for you and this Dillon. They have been hostile, even to me since I met with him.’
Caleb appreciated the old Masters help in this. He felt a small bit responsible for any hardship Dillon would suffer as a result of his attempted contact with him.
‘Thank you.’ He said to Tong gratefully.
‘Now young Bruce, you must steel yourself, and conduct daily drills as if you were still back at the Academy. You will become the man that we made you to be. Then once you are ready, you will be free.’
‘I will begin at once Master Tong.’ Caleb said back. He would do as he was bid, and find out just how far his limits would go. For the first time since coming to Redeem, he did not despair. For the first time he accepted who he was. He would embrace his destiny he decided.
Lord commander Ignatius was in a bad mood. He had been in one, ever since hearing the news of his friend’s demise and his long trip to find that friends son.
‘I have an idea Kam.’
Kam and Tristan had suffered weeks of his moaning and complaining but Kam listened patiently to the cantankerous Commander.
‘What is on your mind Sebastian?
The three men sat around a table, and Ignatius devoured a 3D printed meal of Pasta and meatballs, as they debated a plan to find and rescue Caleb.
‘Well, how many guards do you suppose they have on this prison world eh? My guess would be in the high hundreds maybe even a thousand?’
Kam nodded a confirmation and let him continue.
‘So let’s just say, for arguments sake that we are up against a large and formidable force. How do you propose we infiltrate this place with just us three?’
Kam did not have the appetite that the other two had, and pushed his plate to one side.
‘Stealth will be our greatest ally on this mission. Since we do not have a company of Regiment 1 with us, stealth shall be our only option.’
Ignatius had been thinking the idea over for days and he was certain that Kam would be opposed to his usual direct approach.
‘I have around a hundred warriors of the Regiment, carrying out exercises on a planet not far from where we are now. It would be just a short detour from our course, and we could have enough firepower and ships, to just take the boy.’
That was interesting indeed; ten of the regiment could easily take the prison. But one hundred fully armed men with ships, could raise the place to the ground if need be.
There was however problems to the Commanders plan. Risk of discovery was great, if they took the prison by storm. There was no guarantee that Caleb was not killed in an all-out assault. They also had no intelligence on the capabilities of the guards. Tristen looked like he was open to the idea, but he had a similar style to Ignatius that was also head on, and worry about the consequences later.
‘Master, that sounds good to me, that many of the Regiment would be very useful to us after we break out Caleb as well.’ There was no doubting that but Kam still had his concerns.
‘I agree that your men Sebastian would make valuable allies. But we do not know for certain how their loyalties would sway. If we jeopardise this mission recruiting, then we lose the power of surprise. Most people think I was acting alone back on Earth and that I am dead. I think we must use this surprise to our advantage.’
‘And just walk Caleb through the front doors?’ Boomed Ignatius.
‘Yes that’s exactly what we will do.’
Tristen smiled; he knew how cunning Master Kam could be. His mind was sharp and he knew his Masters plan would be multi layered and deceptive. Kam had not completely disregarded Ignatius’s suggestion though, and put up a hand up to stop the big brute from getting animated again.
‘I have a compromise for you my friend.’ Ignatius huffed.
‘My men are loyal Kam, I bet my life on it. We need more numbers dam it. You must see that?’
The sound of the ships humming computers were the only sound as Kam considered his plan.
‘I agree with you, we do need more men. They would, as Tristan said, be a valuable asset when we return back to Earth.’ Kam conceded.
‘But I propose we go to Redeem and break out Caleb quietly. You on the other hand, I think should recruit your men and rendezvous with us once we have Caleb safely with us. Then we, with your men and your ships can go back to Earth, so we may right this wrong.’
Ignatius had to admit, an all-out assault on the prison may cost unnecessary casualties. He would do it Kam’s way; for now.
‘Ok we will do it your way Kam.’ He said begrudgingly
‘It’s a good plan Master.
Said Tristan, who felt confident they could actually do this.
‘But if you fail, then I am starting a war, and it will start at Redeem and finish on Earth; agreed!’
‘Fair enough Sebastian. We will drop you off, and regroup at Redeem.’
‘Before you do that, I must relieve your stores of a few beers. The planet the Regiment is on is still weeks away after all. Will you join me young Tristan, in a toast to our endeavour?’
Tristan looked at his Master for approval, the Elite Guard were not supposed to drink alcohol.
Kam answered for them both.
‘Go on then Seb, get three bottles. We could all do with a drink right now.’
Earth: Presidential Palace, Geneva
Black strode back and forth, within his opulent bed chambers. The report he had been given by General Defoe had been disturbing indeed. The whole thing was chaos. The news of the Bruce families demise had hurt the leader of Earth, greater than any lose he had endured throughout his entire long life.
He had not wept for the man who was like a son to him. But inside he grieved. The President had placed so much hope in Dorn and his son Caleb, that starting again with his vision of the future seemed more than he could bear.
But start again he must. When the Captain of the Elite Guard was chosen, it was usually a close decision, with two to three candidates up for selection. Dorn Bruce did not have any equal to compare with, throughout the process. Kam was deluded, if he thought he was the greater man between the two.
Bruce excelled as leader of the Guard and very shortly after his appointment. Black thought it wise to give Dorn some of the gifts that were only available to him. The knowledge on genetic manipulation and other techniques gave Black his physical and mental enhancements and were strictly classified to only the upper echelons of the Science Guild. Even they did not know the full processes that Black had developed long ago.
To stop the aging process had been very difficult. Black discovered that human cells divided until they were too small to divide any longer and that’s when people began to age rapidly and then die of old age.
He found a way to turn off the very thing that made the cell stop dividing and thus finding the answer to the fountain of youth. He also discovered techniques to cut out unwanted genetic code, such as the genes that made you susceptible to cancer or other illness.
He could remove genetic code in DNA and he was also able to add code to it.
This advancement in part, was given to society to create an elite class of people who would lead Earth into a new era. The President had given Dorn all of the gifts that he could.
Alas, it could not save him from assassination. That thought had made him feel more vulnerable than he had in a long time. He looked over the schematics of Caleb’s DNA and marvelled at its creation.
Although Dorn had been Caleb’s real father, Black was the one who was responsible for his unique abilities. It helped that the framework of the boy was already superior, coming from the seed of Dorn and Jessica Bruce.
But the gifts that Black had given him were greater than every living being on the planet, including himself and the boy’s father. Now that creation was gone. A communicator chirped, interrupting his study of Caleb’s complex genome.
‘Sir I have General Defoe on the line, and he says it’s urgent!’
‘Patch him through.’
A screen came to life on a wall, the other side of his bed chamber and the body of Defoe was displayed in ultra-high definition, which made him seem like he was actually there in the room.
‘Good evening General.’
‘Good evening Mr President. I have some more bad news I’m afraid.’
‘It could not be worse than the last news you gave me.’
Black had suffered before; he had survived several assassination attempts on his own life. The betrayal had run way too deep this time for his liking.
‘Sir, The Lord Commander of Regiment 1 is missing and so is a newly appointed Guardsman, by the name of Tristan Donnelly. In the current circumstances we should assume the worst and expect that they have become renegades like Master Kam.’
‘Sebastian is missing now?’
Black despaired. Who else would be tangled up in this drama?
‘Yes, both men had close links to Kam. Tristan was under his direct tutorage.’
‘Hold on there; Kam could have killed them both if they found out his plans and didn’t like it. We should not condemn men without any evidence William!’
‘We do have evidence Sir. A ship belonging to Regiment 1 is missing, and the dojo at the Advanced Training Academy has been cleared of weapons and armour. The surveillance cameras show this Tristan as the one taking them.’
There was still yet another scenario that Defoe may not have thought of.
‘William, what if this Tristan killed the Lord Commander while trying to steel one of his ships.’
‘It’s a possibility sir. Sebastian has always been difficult to manage. But he is a simple warrior and incapable of hiding something this secretive.’
Perhaps the General did not know the Lord Commander? He was far from simple. He liked others to think that he was. This was usually his enemies undoing. Sebastian had been another of Blacks Personal appointments.
He had been groomed from birth to be in command of Earths Shock and ore troops, commonly known as Regiment 1. He was belligerent and even sometimes aggressive. They were both good traits in a warrior. What most people did not know, was that Sebastian Ignatius had a strategic mind to rival even Defoe’s. He just did not make it public and liked it that way.
‘General I think either way we should be cautious about this. Do some digging and let me know what you uncover?’
‘Sir I think Guy should be by your side, until this has been resolved. I am also recalling all of Regiment 1 from galactic manoeuvres.’
It was over the top but Black supposed it was necessary, for now.
‘Very well General send Guy back and tell him to take back command of the Guard temporally, until I make it official. I also want you to brief me immediately if you have any more intel on Sebastian or the missing Guardsmen.’
‘Yes Mr President. I’ll send Guy over right away, Good evening.’
The screen went blank and the President returned to his schematics trying to figure out who would take over from him, if the worst actually did happen.
He feared death and had fought all his life to conquer it. He had even created an elite bodyguard that now seemed as vulnerable, as a broken link of chain mail at the moment.
He needed to create another heir to his throne. Earth, although a democracy, was not wise enough to choose its own leaders any more.
The Human race had their chance at democracy and when he had taken the helm, their system was in ruin. However the people needed the pretence of democracy. Black’s rule could never be questioned. It had to be that way for the prosperity of the planet and her colonies. If he did one day die, then his life’s work must continue through a successor of his making.
He had much work to do.
Defoe looked at a hologram of the alien world. Kruger stood opposite the table that projected the hologram, and both men’s faces were lit by the glowing orb in front of them. Approaching the holographic planet, was a small red dot that gradually moved closer and closer until it eventually split making two dots, with one hitting the planet’s surface and the other turning away in the other direction.
It was a mock attack that they had planned, on the alien world that should have been happening at that very moment. Kruger’s eyes seemed even bluer, as he stared at the theoretical attack sequence before them. He hoped the simulation before him was as accurate as what was actually happening.
‘So, this is happening right now?’ He asked Defoe, who was engrossed in the projections display.
‘If all goes to plan, then yes this should be happening right now.’
‘Then we had best prepare for war my Emperor.’
Defoe liked the sound of that title. He would take it officially soon.
Only Kruger had called him Emperor and if they were not in a sound proof chamber he would have chastised his number two man for the indiscretion.
The title sat well with Defoe who smiled at the flattery.
‘I have most of the elements already in place Guy. I was concerned with the disappearance of the young Guardsmen and Lord Commander Ignatius. I will put some people of Black Watch on it.’
‘The disappearances have placed me in a good position back at Blacks side sir. I must confess I am looking forward to ending that man finally.’
His gravel like voice made the threat seem as sinister as it sounded.
‘I will envy you, not seeing the look on his face when he is finally betrayed.’
Defoe would have many operations running by the time Kruger was in place to assassinate the President. He would not be able to see the dead president at the feet of his top operative. So be it.
Once the deed was done, he would set the scene for the populace to witness the destruction of the Presidential Palace, and the demise of all who were inside its formidable walls.
In the beginning Kruger would have numbered with the other casualties. He had on the other hand proved his worth time and time again, to be just cast aside like the Generals other lose ends. Patience was needed now.
Defoe would have to wait for the coded message to arrive from the attack vessel that should be starting a war, and his ascension to become Emperor.
He would pull on the heart strings of the populace, to rally behind him and avenge the killing of Earth’s greatest leader, at the hands of the barbarous green skinned hoards. They would weep in the streets, he was sure of that. Only the complete annihilation of the attacking alien race would placate humanity.
Planet X1: High Orbit
The Raptor TS was a spacecraft that was renowned for its speed and stealth.
Its deep matt black hull made it virtually invisible to the naked eye, as it entered the enemy star system that was highly congested with alien ships that they had so far successfully avoided.
It was one of the finest ships that Black Watch had at its disposal and it sped through the alien star system undetected. Its sensor dampeners must have been working well since no enemy ship had noticed the dark vessel slip through space like a shadow in darkness.
The crew were limited to five. This mission did not require greater numbers than that.
Devastation would come to this world; they had several war heads that could flatten a whole city in their launch tubes. They were here to ensure maximum destruction and revenge.
That fact put a smile on the Captains face.
He had been told by General Defoe personally, how important and secretive the mission was. Captain Reynolds had been in the Watch way too long to know that important and secretive to Defoe meant if he messed up he would probably go missing.
Reynolds would not mess up.
So far no alien ship had seemed to notice them. That did not mean they would not be noticed. The last crew Black Watch had sent was testament to that. However, his ship was designed to not be seen unless they wanted it to be seen.
After the bombardment, they were then instructed to show themselves, and lure this enemy back to Earth so they could be cut down in one of General Defoe’s elaborate traps. He did not see the wisdom of this plan. Only a fool would reveal their home to a threat as unknown as species X1.
He did not dare to contradict that order, even though he thought it was madness. He had never disobeyed before and he never would. Maybe that’s why he was so valued within the Watch, he concluded happily. Reynolds would usually get to hand pick his men for missions as important as this. But the General had insisted on giving him four of his soldiers that were more than capable to operate the Raptor.
He looked over to the helmsman who was a young man in his late twenties. A tiny bead of sweat ran down his face, even though the temperature on the ship was a constant 22 degrees Celsius.
He could hardly blame the youngster if he was feeling nervous. In about five minutes he would push a button that would potentially kill thousands, if not millions of hostile enemy, deep into their territory, with no reinforcement what’s so ever.
‘Approaching the planet now Captain.’ The helmsmen reminded Reynolds that the game would soon begin.
‘Bring us into orbit over the largest continent and target the following locations.’
Reynolds touched industrial locations on a data tablet that showed the planet’s vast surface.
He sent the targets to the helmsmen and waited for a confirmation.
‘I have targets Captain; I am bringing the Raptor into orbit over the northern hemisphere.’
They all looked at the planet. Its oceans were a murky brown and their atmosphere readings were extremely high but tolerable in carbon monoxide. The General had said the aliens were industrious, and the planets pollution was evidence to this.
‘We are ready to fire on targets, at your command Sir.’
The slight tremor in the helmsmen’s voice was subtle but Reynolds could just detect it.
It was possible to fire from where he sat if he wanted to. He would give him the benefit of the doubt.
The order was stern; the helmsmen fired onto the targets, and they all watched the imagery screen that showed the falling projectiles thundering to destroy and avenge the lost souls of the last Black Watch vessel to come here.
All targets lit up on the screen and a monotone voice of the computer confirmed the successful bombardment, which the Captain had expected.
‘Turn us around and light us up like a Christmas tree helmsmen. Navigator, open a warp tear as soon as we leave the system.’
The Navigator signalled an affirmative, but the helmsmen’s nerves finally collapsed into asking the obvious.
‘Captain, if we light up and speed out, then our stealth will be gone, they will see us.’
‘Don’t worry about that, it is all in hand. I want to be seen helmsmen. And the next time you question one of my orders again, you will be jettisoned with the rest of the waste. Do you understand?’
He nodded that he did and blazed the sub light engines that would show them up to anybody who could detect them. The fires from the warhead impacts would be burning hard on the surface, as they made a slow retreat to the warp jump point back to Earth. Reynolds looked at his data tablet to check if they were being followed. There was no evidence of a pursuit just yet.
The chase did come eventually though, when they had passed close by one of the outer planets in the system, where a fleet of alien ships must have been based.
Hundreds of cruiser size ships made up a fleet that now set an intercept course for the Raptor. At the pace they were going, they may even cut off their small ship from jumping into a warp tear.
Captain Reynolds had no doubt of what he must do, if they did get captured. He did not voice his thought to the men on board. They may just yet make it passed the enemy who were now closing the net and no doubt looking to skin alive the ones who had dared attack there home world. It was a tight moment as they all watched the tear open up to reveal the warp jump point.
‘Helm, divert power to the engines, we need to reach that tear before the enemy fleet cuts us off.’
He would rip the ship apart before he let an enemy take it. As the extra power was fed into the sub-light engines, it felt very likely that it would do just that, before they could reach the sanctuary of warp space.
Some energy lances were fired at the Raptor. At the distance they were being shot, they easily manoeuvred away from the lethal looking projectiles that glowed red fury as they passed harmlessly around the Watch ship.
All of a sudden they had entered the tear and the blue glow of warp space. The relief on the faces of the crew would be short lived, the Captain lamented.
‘Helm, keep the tear open until half of that fleet follows us in.’
He hoped they would follow. After all, the mission he was given was to be the bait for a grand trap of General Defoe’s making. The other men on board were not aware of the full plan, and their relief turned to confused horror at what the Captain had asked. All they knew was that they would be making a retaliatory hit and run attack, on a new hostile race.
‘Sir if we…’
‘I do hope you are not questioning another order Helmsmen? I have an escape pod ready to launch you back to that systems prime planet, if you would like to protest.’
‘No Sir, I will close it when half have entered.’
He replied quickly. Rules and punishments in the Watch were different to the regular military. No record would be kept of this mission and no one would miss any of the ship’s crew.
He could hardly blame the young lad for being nervous. He was feeling the pressure of the mission himself. The rewards of success would be worth the risk though. Defoe would always gift success.
If he failed, Defoe did not give second chances. He would not fail.
Half of the fleet, maybe more had slipped into the warp tear that they had opened. The helmsmen closed it as quickly as he was able.
The distance of the enemy in relation to the Raptor was great enough that they would not be a threat until they exited just outside of the Solar system. Until then they would both helplessly drift in the warp current, unable to gain any advantage in the strange realm that was like a cosmic highway. ‘Well done everyone.’
The Captain congratulated the crew, who all looked like they had hells daemons chasing them. Maybe they did. They would soon find out if the Generals plan was as brilliant as he had claimed it would be.
Planet:Elfandar- Elfan Home World
Tanandil knew there was somebody outside his study chambers, even before they knocked on the intricately carved wooden door.
The Elfan race had always enjoyed building with natural materials. The ships of the Elfan were wrought from the traditional metals that were essential to travel the stars. But inside the crafts, would be artistic wonders carved out of wood or stone. They had ever desired beauty in all its forms.
The expected knock at the door was immediately answered by Tanandil. It must have been important to disturb him when he was with his books.
‘Enter.’ The doors opened to reveal Lord Gretnear, who was a respected leader of their people within hidden realms.
‘What brings a warrior to such a learned place as this, my Lord Gretnear?’
He had always been a good friend to Tanandil, but was not known for his love of books and lore. Gretnear bowed his head in respect to the Arch Mage.
‘I have always loved your stories Tanandil, but alas; this time I bring tidings to you. I will let you be the judge whether they are good or ill.’
The Lord of the inner hidden realm was always a happy Elf, until matters of war were presented. He was an exceptional fighter and this, plus a mind that could outwit any enemy, had enabled him to advance to the rank of Lord of a sector.
His responsibility was to respond to any possible threat to their people, from anything that wished to cause harm to the peace that their race had painstakingly carved out from near destruction.
The green skinned filth had nearly wiped them out, thousands of years ago. Now they fought and endless war with their most hated enemy, and tried to hide where they could, from the tide that never seemed to run out of reinforcements.
‘Then tell me this news my friend.’ Tanandil invited.
‘One of our probes has witnessed a ship bombarding an Orkra planet. They have slain millions of the greens, and are being pursued as we speak through warp space.’
‘Who of our people would dare such an attack without the approval of the High Council?’
Tanandil was not worried for the loss of lives of their enemy, but more so the risk of retaliation, and discovery of the hidden realm.
‘The craft that attacked them were not of our people Tanandil.’ The Arch Mages eyebrows rose in curiosity. ‘None of ours you say…Then who has done this?
‘We cannot be sure, but we think it’s a Humanar craft. We checked the probes activity over the planet and it appears the Orkra has some of the Humans captive. A craft was then observed attacking the planet. It was an advanced looking ship, but seemed to bear some of the characteristics of the younger race.’
Repeated Tanandil, who had not so long ago watched a very powerful Human boy perform ascension on a world of ice. The coincidence of the two great events seemed strangely connected somehow.
‘It appears so Tanandil. We are following the Orkra pursuit to find out more. But it is too dangerous to look for Humanar survivors on the planet’s surface. Even for a probe, I would not like to risk it.’
‘The Humans are delving further and further into the galaxy of late. It was only a matter of time before they delved too deep and found the horrors and their doom. I think we should intervene, though it might be too late for our young cousins.’
He would have to seek approval from the High Council for any intervention, but felt it was important to stop the Orkra’s further expansion and dominion.
‘What will you do Tanandil?’ Gretnear asked.
‘I will do what I can, and seek out what is actually happening. I will Ascend and watch for now. You must summon the council and decide if we should help the humans.’
‘Would it not be prudent to just stay out of this conflict Tanandil? Nobody wants to see a fight with our enemy more than I do, but if we help the young ones, then we risk revealing our new lands to them.’
‘Evil will always linger on our boarders my Lord Gretnear. If we do not oppose it, then we invite the inevitable and our destruction.’
Gretnear knew the old mage was right, but would always voice his concerns. The fate of his people sat heavily on his shoulders and sometimes he needed the reassurance from those wiser than he. ‘I will call a meeting among the High Council. The Lords of the new realms will want to have a say on this matter no doubt. In the meantime, do what you can my friend.’
They both clasped forearms in the Elfan traditional manner and Lord Gretnear took his leave to summon the Leaders of his people.
Tanandil wasted no time at all to discover the galactic events taking place. He walked the short distance from his study to his meditation chambers, as briskly as he could without running.
Other Elfan scholars greeted the wise Mage as he past them, but he paid them no heed. They were used to his ill tempers when he had important work to do. None would find his sombre expression strange.
He entered the chamber that was the epitome of calm, which would make the ascension easier, by closing out anything from the outside. The doors to the chamber closed behind him along with all sounds from beyond. Not even a gentle breeze could be heard in this room.
He climbed the white marble steps to a plinth that had a chair just as white on top. He sat in its comfortable embrace and closed his eyes.
Many centuries ago he would have needed to chant, to channel his mind for the distances he needed to ascend his mind. But he was far from a novice to his arts and his mastery let him drift after only minutes of meditation. Tanandil had also invented a machine called the Dream caster. This psychic device was of his design, and it not only amplified his dream walking capabilities. It also acted as a shield, so that any enemy dream walkers could not find his people.
He felt the familiar feeling of floating, before he was launching his mind and soul across the stars. It would take ships a long time, to travel the distance that Tanandil had just journeyed in what seemed like a blink of an eye.
He was not even aware of his body anymore, as he floated over the Orkra planet. Even from high orbit he could see the destruction the humans had caused. They would want to exterminate the young race for this. He opened his thought to the planets people, and felt the minds of the beasts that inhabited the planet. He eventually found what he was looking for. The minds of the humans were no way near as savage as the Ork. He floated down to the surface where he was drawn to the captives that were near the equatorial jungles.
When he reached their location, he felt an instant repulsion to be in the presence of the Orkra. They looked angry. An attack on their world would stir them up into frenzy. Tanandil felt sorry for the wretched looking humans that were caged before him, wet and caked in mud that seeped into the many wounds they carried. The lush jungle surrounding them, probably had millions of insects that would harass them further.
He sensed other races being held captive on the planet but there was another human not far from his location. An Ork walked passed him and opened the cage where the humans scurried away, trying to not be noticed. Tanandil would not be seen by the foul creature, unless he wanted to be seen. There was little he could do at the moment for the poor humans, who looked like they would become dinner for their captors.
He needed more information, so he drifted to where he felt the other human. As quick as thought he was standing in front of a human female who was quite striking in looks. If her ears were pointier, Tanandil would have even called her attractive.
She was just as mud smeared as the other captives, and she stood shackled to a post outside a large ugly structure.
He could not sense any life forms within the building and felt it safe to reveal himself to the women. The night was just creeping over the jungles clearing. The fire pits and torches were the only lights that pierced the increasingly darkening treeline.
‘Greetings my Lady.’ Tanandil could converse in hundreds of tongues. It was a hobby of his that had proved useful over his long life. He even spoke the disgusting language of the Orkra.
‘What the… who are you.’
The woman had been startled by his glowing form that was caused by his aura. No one else would see him but her. The reaction she gave had been expected.
‘Do not fear me; I am here to help if I can. I am not really here you see. I am but an image of myself, which is light years away from here.’
She just stared at Tanandil, not believing her eyes, and probably thought she had lost her mind.
‘My name is Tanandil and I am from a race of beings called the Elfan. I am what you would call, a holy man. What is your name my lady?’
She was still not convinced she had not lost her mind. The expression on her face was one of pure disbelief. She answered never the less. ‘My name is Lucy.’
‘I am glad to meet you Lucy. How is it that you have ended up here?’
She shivered but not out of fear. The temperature was dropping slightly. Even though they were in the jungle, the night time must have been uncomfortable for her soaked body.
‘My people found this planet and we were sent here to observe. But they found our ship, boarded it and slaughtered many of my comrades.’
She continued to explain her ordeal to Tanandil who listened without interrupting, taking in every detail. He was curious to find out that this Lucy had picked up on some of the Orkra language. She then told him that she had been brought here for trying to talk to them, and that the alien who had entered the building, seemed strange even compared to the rest of them.
‘When did he leave that building Lucy?’ He asked her curiously.
‘He is still inside. He comes out sometimes and just stares at me like he is going to kill me. Then he returns.’
‘He is still in their now?’ Lucy nodded that he was. This was strange indeed; he should be able to sense any life form. He would investigate the building shortly he mused.
‘Was it you who attacked the planet yesterday? I felt a shock wave and then the aliens went crazy.’ She asked, breaking his thought.
‘No, it was not us; I have come to this planet because of the bombardment. I believe it was your people Lucy. You do not realise it yet, but you may have opened the flood gates to your races destruction.’
She looked glad that it might have been her own that had launched the attack.
‘I don’t think so Tanandil. We may be new to meeting aliens but our people can handle a planet like this. We will come back and annihilate these animals.’
She was angry and that was understandable. He had thought the same when his people had been attacked by the Orkra. For all their primitive and bestial ways, their numbers could not be counted, so vast was the green skinned race.
‘I hope you are right Lucy; but this is just one of a million Orkra planets. They will want to destroy your people now. They nearly destroyed my race, long ago.’
Orkra? Lucy had heard the word spoken more savagely by her captors.
‘That is what they call themselves. We call them Greens, a simple term for a simple race. They are however quite formidable warriors.’
‘Yes I have seen them in action.’ Lucy added.
‘We have been trying to defeat them for several millennia, and we are yet to stem the tide. My people had a great empire once. We ruled the galaxy from our home world Elfandar. We had peace for a time, until we met the Orkra.’
Lucy was clearly exhausted from her time spent in captivity. However, she was enjoying the company and asked another question.
‘How did a race as powerful as you claim you were, lose to these animals? They are fantastic fighters, but they do not seem overly bright.’
‘As I told you their numbers are virtually inexhaustible.’ Said Tanandil slightly irritated by this naive humans judgment of his race. He would educate her.
‘My people grew soft in their seat of power, assuming there was nothing that could threaten our peaceful expansion of the galaxy. That was until we discovered the Orkra. They were bent only on destruction, and we were not ready for their onslaught.’
Tanandil remembered the eventual abandonment of his home planet and then the discovery of the Hidden realms that were surrounded by a giant nebula, which shielded the worlds they re-colonised. It had seemed like a sanctuary at first. But even the best hiding places were likely to be found one day. So far they had kept the Orkra busy, far away from their worlds. But they would not just wait for the enemy to get even stronger.
‘My people are explorers too Tanandil, and we have known our fair share of war.’
‘Ah, but you have only fought with your own kind. The threat you will now face, knows only war and destruction. It is what they live for. The discovery of your kind will be a delight to them. That is why I must help you humans where I can.’
His tone softened, she was young even for her race and could not possibly grasp the sheer scale of the enemy they faced. Maybe it was time to thrust back at the Orkra. With the humans beside them, it could be possible to push back the waves of enemy that were getting closer and closer to their boarders. The High Council of the Elfan would ultimately decide their course. The Mage was respected enough to sway even the more prudent members of the Council.
Suddenly Tanandil felt a presence that was not there before. Lucy’s eyes widened like prey caught in a search light. He turned to see an Orkra that was staring right at him. Recognition struck the Mage instantly. He had fought this one before.
It was an Orkra Shaman, and one of great power. No way near as powerful as Tanandil. But the Elfan Mage had not expected to encounter a threat, like the cold and cruel Thrakka the Bloody. He was called the Bloody because he had sacrificed thousands of the Elfan people to his Arcane God. The last encounter Tanandil had with the Shaman was centuries ago.
It was coincidental, but it had been another rescue mission. They had been his people then. Amongst the survivors from Thrakka’s sacrificial victims, had been Gretnears son, Gretnial. That had been a narrow escape and it was the shaman who had come off the worst in the encounter, by losing an eye to Tanandil Mage craft.
Thrakka stared at his most hated enemy with his one blood shot eye. His other one was a milky colour that gazed just as fiercely at Tanandil, who had calmly walked to face the hatful looking Shaman. He stopped ten feet away and smiled. The gesture was not returned.
‘I have waited a long time to gut you Elf Witch.’
Thrakka spoke the Elfan language. Normally it would be melodic and pleasing to the ear. But the Orkra made it sound as disgusting as his own vile tongue, with every syllable uttered.
‘I am afraid you will have to wait a while longer. I am far away from your reach. If we were to meet again, I would not hold much hope for you to achieve your aim, filth.’
‘I may be more of a match for your sorcery than you think.’
Thrakka said cryptically, like he knew some secret knowledge. He had very large fangs for his kind that were set in blood red gums. He spat at the feet of Tanandil.
‘I owe you for this after all. When we next meet, I will take more than an eye. Elfling.
His threats were amusing; if he thought he could intimidate someone of the High Mages power, he was to be sorely disappointed. Tanandil would have ended the conversation then and there, but he needed to gain some insight into what was happening here.
‘I think you are well occupied vermin, I only came to find out what had bombarded this scab of a planet. I see that someone has thinned out your ranks for us.’
He indicated to the plumes of smoke that glowed over the horizon.
‘So it was not your trickery then witch. I did not think so, your kind are more used to hiding, than fighting. Soon we will find you and finish the job. My sacrifice stone will turn red with Elfling blood.’ He gurgled out a throaty animalistic laugh, enjoying his own humour.
Tanandil wanted to crush this worm. If any Orkra would find the hidden realms, it would be one of the shamans. Once he was ready he would begin a quest to eliminate them all. The trouble was there was so many. This one had proven to be one of the more powerful of his order, and Tanandil noted he would be amongst the first to die.
‘No it was not us. I have not seen this species before. Maybe you have met your match. Either way your doom is near. I have foreseen your destruction filth and I hope it will be soon.’
‘I have also seen things Elfling. I have seen a great nebula far away. I think that’s where you hide from us? But you are right; this snivelling race has bought you some time. We are at this very moment, following them back from whence they came.’
The Elfan had a probe that had also followed the humans into the warp tear. They needed eyes everywhere.
The comment from the Orkra Shaman was troubling, and he tried not to let it show on his face or aura.
‘I wish you good luck; I do not fear discovery, from a dimwit such as you.’
He turned his back on Thrakka and faced the human girl once more. Without speaking he sent her a final message that she would here in her thoughts, as loud and clear as if he had been shouting at her. The shaman would not hear the words fortunately.
‘Lucy I am sorry I must go now.’
‘Wait… don’t leave me.’ Her thoughts echoed back to him.
‘I am but an essence Lucy. I will return to this world in my physical form. If you survive this, I will find you. I swear it.’
It did not matter if Tanandil had the council’s approval or not. He would return to this forsaken world. The Orkra shaman had looked a little too confident for his liking.
Behind Tanandil, Thrakka swung his skull tipped staff. The blow swept through his waist, and Tanandil disappeared from where they both stood.
The Shaman cast his raging gaze over the Human Female, who shrunk away from his murderous gaze.
‘Your pointy eared friend can do nothing for you now pinkie.’
He reverted back to Orkish, and spat violence at his captive. Thrakka would get inside the mind of this creature, and discover all there was to know about them. He reached out with his pale green hand that had dried black blood, under his claw like nails.
She screamed, as he clasped her head in a vice like grip. Slowly and painfully, he entered her mind to unravel all she knew. This would be exuviating for her; that would give him much satisfaction.
Tanandil launched his mind back towards New Elfandar. To where his body sat immobile, all the many light years away.
The Ork’s words were troubling him, more than he would like to admit. It was essential to be calm when ascending; especially when travelling such distances. He was finding it very difficult to stay calm. His people were a peaceful race generally. They did however have a dark hatred in them, which was buried deep inside. If this genetic floor was triggered, then they could get just as blood drunk as any crazed Ork berserker.
He centred his feelings, and locked the rising rage inside of him away. It had consumed him before, but only ever on the field of battle. The humans were so much like his elder race. They were much shorter lived than the Elfan, and still had much to learn about the universe. But Tanandil had a feeling that humanity may be the key to unlock the dominion of the Orkra.
He could have gone back to his body. He could do that. Instead he journeyed to a planet of ice to recruit a potentially powerful ally.
Planet Redeem: Class A Prison World
Caleb had lost count of the days he had spent in the isolated sub levels of Redeem. He had thought isolation was a blessing at first. But then the days dwindled by, and the loneliness was starting to hit him hard. There was a plus side to his predicament, which was a much larger area, to practice all the attack sequences that had been drilled into him, at the Advanced Training Academy. He had considered trying to climb down the sheer drop from the platform he was on. But it had been polished as smooth as glass. It appeared to get smaller and smaller into a cone shape as it descended into who knew what. It was not worth the risk.
Instead he bided his time, and trained his body as close to exhaustion, as he was capable of. He had just finished the fiftieth sequence, stopping dead still holding the final posture, when he felt a presence behind him. He would have heard, if anyone had dropped onto the platform with him, so it could be only one person.
He turned to look at the old master who had no doubt ascended to come and meet with him. But what faced him was not the aging master.
Caleb hid his surprise from the unexpected visitor. An angelic form whose aura burned bright stood before him. His long golden hair was tied into a tight top knot and secured with a silver thread. The ears of this stranger were pointy and his almond shaped eyes sparkled an emerald green.
They were kind eyes, but were nothing like any person Caleb had seen before. Perhaps this person was another genetically modified experiment. He would find out if the kind face belonged to a friend or foe.
‘How long have you been watching me?’ The white robes of Caleb’s visitor, swept across the floor, as he approached him, with a grace akin to the nobility of Earth.
‘I have been here long enough to realise that as well as having a powerful mind, you also seem to be quite a formidable warrior. My name is Tanandil.’
The stranger spoke with a slight accent that Caleb could not place. His voice was melodic and soothing to the ear. This may have been to his long isolated imprisonment; it was a joy to hear never the less.
‘It is good to make your acquaintance Tanandil. I hope you don't mind me saying that you do not look like anyone I have ever met before, and I have met some strange men indeed.’
‘I do not mind you saying at all. Your kind have always seemed very strange to me as well.’
Tanandil’s smile mirrored Caleb’s. ‘What do you mean my kind?’
Caleb finally asked the inevitable question. ‘As you can tell I am not human.’
Tanandil said, still smiling.
‘I am of a race of beings, called the Elfan. I have been watching you for a while now; I was there the last time you dream walked. The fact that your race is capable of this feat was impressive.’
‘You’re an Alien?’
‘That is a crude term for my noble people, but yes I am an alien, as you are to me.’
Caleb tensed slightly to this information, unsure whether this being wished to harm him. The alien must have sensed this and raised both palms in a peaceful gesture.
‘I wish you no harm young one; I only desire to help you out of your predicament.’
‘Why? I don’t mean to be rude but I have been a bit short of friend lately.’
‘I understand your surprise and suspicion, especially in your circumstances. But you are right to assume that my help is not entirely unselfish. We may be able to help each other.’
In his current circumstances Caleb could be no help to anyone. He would listen to this Tanandil anyway. What choice did he really have? Inside he marvelled at the very idea of meeting an intelligent being from another world. His training however, always made him cautious to any possible threat and this situation definitely qualified as a possible threat.
‘Let us sit and talk awhile, Tanandil. I must confess I would be lying if I said I did not have questions.’ For such a young man Caleb had always been quite commanding, and led naturally, Tanandil seemed amused by this direct nature and sat dutifully opposite the remarkable young human.
‘If you are an alien, you look extremely similar to us.’
‘Yes, there are many races in this Galaxy that bare the resemblance of our bipedal forms, to one extreme or another. Our peoples are closely related actually. But that is a tale for another time. As you probably already know, leaving our bodies for a long time can be quite taxing on our physical forms.’
‘Yes that is true. You have stayed with me for longer than I could have. Where are you on the planet?’
Whether this visitor was an alien or not, it still impressed Caleb that he could ascend from outside the prison to where he was and for so long.
‘I am not on this planet. My world is far from here and I now sit in a room that helps me channel my thoughts to distances such as this.’
Caleb sat open mouthed at this extraordinary feat of mind travel. He thought he had been outstanding by leaving his cell. If this Tanandil spoke the truth, then it was quite amazing.
‘I don’t know why, but I believe you. My name is Caleb Bruce.’
‘I know; I touched your mind, after your last ascension. I apologize for this uninvited intrusion. But I had to know if a being as powerful as you are, was pure of soul and mind.’
Caleb did not like that at all. He had felt something in his dreams after his last ascension. But he was so exhausted; he could not remember much of it. This was strange in itself as he had a photographic memory even in his dreams.
‘Don’t you think you should ask to enter another person's mind?’ Caleb said with sudden steel in his voice.
Tanandil bowed his head in what seemed to be further apology.
‘I had to be sure; you were not tainted by evil. Once I touched your mind I knew you were not. I would not normally enter a mind unknowingly.’
‘Then why did you?’ The Elf gestured at their surroundings.
‘Because you are being held captive as a prisoner; I know now of the injustice you have born, and I think we could help each other.’
Caleb nodded in understanding. If he saw a prisoner, he would assume he was bad to the core. He would remember not to judge someone too quickly in future.
‘Fair enough Tanandil, fair enough. So I can think of the obvious way you can help me. What service could I possibly perform for someone like you?’
Tanandil was starting to tire from being away from his body for so long. Even he had his limits. But he had a while yet to recruit this human.
He told him his tale. From his people’s rich and prosperous beginnings, to their eventual undoing at the hands of the Orkra hoards. He eventually concluded the story with the recent discovery of the Orkra by Caleb’s people, and the following confrontation that ensued. Finally he told of humans being kept prisoner, in conditions far worse than the prison world Caleb was on.
Caleb listened in stunned silence to this Tanandil, who had brought him the first news of home since coming here. That news did not sound good at all. He felt excitement at first, to learn that humanity was not alone in the galaxy. But why had this being, come all the way to the prison world of Redeem, to tell a young boy this news?
‘Why me?’ He asked simply.
‘We need allies Caleb and you could be a very powerful one.’
‘Then why not go to Earth and ask for their help in exchange for yours?’
Caleb countered quickly.
‘Very rarely, does a being as powerful as you, come into existence. I count myself as one of those powerful beings. Your Current leader on Earth has made great steps to take your people to the stars. He has also done well uniting your war like race. But remember, I have touched your thoughts young Caleb, and I know what you are.’
The Elfan said intensely.
‘Oh... and what am I?’
‘You are the leader of your people. You were made for this, and I don't think even your creators know the full scale of your potential. It humbles me to say that your physical and mental gifts could be even greater than my own, and I am quite special myself I should add.’
Caleb liked the easy manner of this Tanandil. He had suffered greatly at the hands of the unknown killer of his parents. He would have helped this alien anyway, if it had meant an opportunity to take revenge on the people that had done this to him.
‘You do appear to be great, I will concede that.’
Caleb looked around the high vaulted ceiling, of his expansive underground cell. Some kind of glow worm like creatures inhabited the wet rocky surface high above that cast the cavernous cell with mock star light, from their Bioluminescent bodies. It was quite beautiful really. But he would not miss this place even for them.
‘What do you want me to do Tanandil?’
The Elf stood tall and cast an approving look at him.
‘I want you to lead your people. By the time you are free, the damage may already be done. But you must rally what's left and join the Elfan in the extermination of the Orkra; before they exterminate us all.’
His Aura was beginning to fade and Tanandil held on for a second more.
‘I will come for you Caleb, and once you are liberated, I will instruct you in my arts if you wish.’ Caleb always knew deep down, that he would lead. All he had wanted when his father was alive was to be a valued member of the Elite Guard, and one day maybe Captain of the Guard.
He was now being presented with an opportunity to live up to that potential, his creators had invested into him. If leading his people from certain extinction, was a price he would have to pay for his freedom, then he would take it willingly.
‘I accept your offer Tanandil of the Elfan; and your instruction. Once I am free of this place I will ally myself and all who will join with me to your cause. I only ask two conditions if I may.’
‘I wish to free the captives from this Orkra. It would be a good opportunity to observe them I think and free Earths soldiers from their suffering.’
‘I will willingly help that endeavour. I have met one of your people there already, they do not look well.’
Caleb was glad he had agreed to this. He wanted to see with his own eyes, just what sort of enemy humanity faced. The thought also disgusted him that his own kind, would be captives to the foul sounding creatures.
‘My other condition is once we have cleansed Earth of aggressors, I want revenge on the men that have done this to me and my family. Then I will help you Tanandil.’
He was silent for a while, considering this request of a revenge that had no consequence or benefit to the Elfan. He nodded consent. The alliance would be worth it, he decided.
‘Agreed; I will return to you soon.’
The Elfan gradually disappeared from view, as quickly as he appeared, leaving only Caleb and the Glow worms in the depths of Redeems vast dungeon.
Earth: City of Geneva, The Science Guild
There was energy in the lab today. Edward Black should have been meeting with the Lords of Earth, and her colonies. But there was more pressing matters to attend to today.
Dealing with the complexity of world government or other valuable resources had been one of the Presidents great successes. He had brought prosperity to Earth by sharing the wealth with all. However there was always some, that were never happy with their lot and he would use the Watch, his dedicated spy network to seek out the greedy and corrupt, who would be crushed by the administrations many arms of justice.
Black’s true love was in the Lab; coming up with new technologies with the greatest minds of the Science Guilds.
Before he had taken power of Earth, humanity had worked only for the gain of themselves. Companies would hoard their wealth and the greatest scientific minds, including inventors, would work alone. They guarded their discoveries, and patented them in order to gain more wealth.
When he was fully established he funded as many of the greatest people that the world had to offer and placed them in guilds of excellence. Black had a guild for everything, including artistry to medicine. Patents were banned. To make a name for yourself, people that were the best in their field joined a guild and were looked after handsomely if they achieved within its ranks.
Black’s regime was a kind of layered communism. If you succeed in your chosen occupation then your rewards could be high. Even the best cleaners were advanced if they showed promise and excellence in their trade.
All creation or wealth was shared with all of humanity, and an elitist culture was formed under the many guilds that Black had encouraged and was patron to. The hardest thing for Earths greatest leader was not to come up with the ideas and strategies for prosperity. No; the biggest challenge had been to have the population except his ideas. After all they could only work if Blacks electorate supported his policies.
In the early days, it had been difficult to make people see that what he did for them was for the betterment of mankind. He hoped they appreciated the hard work, and brutal choices he had to make throughout his reign. He doubted that many would. His people for all their brilliance were greedy in nature.
That was why, as well as starting the Guilds of Excellence, he also founded the Regiments of Earth, who were Blacks military and enforcers. Later the Regiments expanded to other planets and colonies. They were an effective tool for Black, if ever he met resistance. Such was the way for peace.
They were formed on the same principles as the Guilds. He would put excellence together and distribute talented people to a Regiment that most suited that person.
If that person was big strong and stubborn they would normally be placed in the famous Regiment 1, who were Earths Shock troopers. Or if you were mechanically minded you may be placed with Regiment 6, who worked very closely with the civilian Guild of engineers. Or those good with maps and stealth were placed in Regiment 10 who worked on occasion with the spy network of the Watch.
The Elite Guard, were the cream above all of the Regiments and stood alone as Body Guards to the President. Most of them like Master Kam had been selected as children or at birth. The genetically enhanced were given priority over others, due to their superior abilities. Black had assisted in creating some of the greatest men that had gone through the ranks of his personal guard.
The crown jewel of them all had been Dorn Bruce. He doubted he had ever seen a greater warrior and protector, as that man was. Was... he still could not believe his friend and protector was gone. He certainly didn't think it possible for any man to be able to kill this master of combat and strategy.
He was now going over and over his greatest ever work, and struggled to hide his frustration that he must now start over again. Caleb had only lived for 17 years, which seemed like a blink of an eye to Black. But the boy would have been perfect to take humanity into a new era, of prosperity and peace.
He sat at a very clean stainless steel desk, at the centre of the lab, where he was looking over the genetic data of possible candidates to take over. It seemed only prudent, as if he did ever lose his life or decide to step down, there would be a large power vacuum and war.
He was joined by the head of the Science Guild, Dr Tobias Slade who was privy to all but a few of Blacks discoveries. Guy Kruger, his new Captain of the Elite Guard stood sentinel at the labs single entrance, clad in brightly polished golden armour that was the symbolic colour, of the Captain of the President's bodyguard. He conducted an over watch of the lab; even though no threat could get within a mile of the building. The security outside the entrance of the facility was formidable enough to crush any threat after all.
One day, Black would share with humanity all of his discoveries. The people were not ready for eternal life just yet. He still had more work to do, to create a leader, and figurehead that was strong enough to rule over the gifted ones that would benefit from his genetic gifts; and expand among the galaxy.
Dr Slade made another suggestion to him.
‘Look at this potential pairing Edward. The father of the potential creation is one of the best, in this very Science Guild. The potential mother could be a perfect balance to this candidate; she is an exceptional woman, who is our representative leader in the Alpha Centauri system. At only 28 she has made the Star System flourish. Her Genome is quite a specimen.’
Not many people would dare call President Black by his first name, but the Dr had been one of his few actual friends for a very long time. Dorn Bruce also once enjoyed that friendship with him.
‘I don't know Tobias; the mix of a good leader and scientist would produce a great mind. But I need a candidate that will excel at war as well as peace.’
Dr Slade frowned. He was always so anti-war and violence. Black knew, that to lead a whole race you must have many skills, as well as a good mind. War was an essential weapon to maintain peace, unfortunately.
If a leader was weak, it was only a matter of time before they were challenged. His replacement must be strong, or his life's work would count for nothing.
‘How about we use Captain Kruger over there?’
Said Dr Slade quietly, so he would be out of earshot from the brooding Captain, whose cold blue eyes always made Slade feel uneasy.
‘Surely he is your best warrior, in the current circumstances. Would his seed not grow into something special, if we joined his specimen with the leader of the Alpha Centauri system? After we have worked our magic the new candidate would be quite formidable.’
Black shook his head and rubbed his aching temples.
‘No; current circumstances will not force me into making a rash decision. We will wait for the right candidates if we have to Tobias. We will keep looking my friend.’
Black stood from the sterile desk.
‘It pains me but I must take my leave of you Dr, to carry out other duties that are no less laborious.’
‘I will keep looking then Mr President.’
Slade replied and returned his attention back to his work. Black left the laboratory reluctantly. The planet and colonies did not run themselves without him, after all.
Kruger opened the doors that hissed open, and they made their way back to the Presidential Palace with a retinue of Guardsmen in their wake.
‘Is everything all right Mr President?’
Kruger asked in his gravelly voice.
Black had been deep in thought unable to stop thinking about Caleb Bruce. Technically they could clone him. But Black would only do this as a last resort. They had one sample of Caleb's genome, and he would use it wisely. Making something as complex as Caleb, had not been easy. A clone might not have half the potential as the original.
‘Yes Guy, I am just stressed at the moment.’
‘I can imagine Sir’
Black doubted it, but nodded anyway. ‘Guy, do you know of anyone, with psychic abilities within the Guard that could rival Caleb Bruce’s.’
It was well know that the President had tried to unlock psychic abilities in humanity. He could perform minor feats of the mind himself. But the gift of ascending was rare, and still mysterious, even to Black.
‘There’s nobody in the Guard anymore, who could rival Dorn’s boy.’
Black had always wanted to start a Guild of Psychic’s, but there were never enough people to claim a whole guilds worth.
‘Do you remember Master Tong, Guy?
Kruger knew Tong very well; He had been his Master as a child, before Dorn Bruce took over. Tong had never liked him though, and would always punish his disobedience with a ruthlessness that was expected in the Guard. He had been very happy, when Tong was removed from service, after the massacre he was involved in. Kruger had been told by Defoe, that he was now on a prison colony somewhere. He hopped it was the cruel place like the one he had sent the boy to.
‘Yes I remember him well enough sir.’
‘Do you recall that he had psychic powers, greater than anyone ever known? He even taught Master Kam and Caleb's mother Jessica his arts, did he not? Then Kam and Jessica Bruce, passed on that knowledge to Caleb.’
‘I was not aware Sir.’
Tong had tried to teach Kruger the arts of ascension, but he had not the skill or patience for it.
‘I need a Psychic Guy; I would like to study them again if possible.’
Black took out a palm sized data tablet, from his white lab coat pocket; he liked to wear one, when at the Science Guild facility. He tapped the screen a few times and brought up a person’s face.
‘Master Tong had a son Guy; I want you to get someone to bring him to me, so I may assess his abilities.’
Kruger knew of Tongs son, who had disappeared after his father’s removal. It would not be hard to find him, with the resources he had at his disposal. But before that; he would visit an old rival who might know where Tongs son was.
‘I’ll put someone on it right away sir. I’ll also make some of my own enquiries.’
‘Thank you Guy.’ Black said gratefully.
‘You’re welcome sir.’
Planet: Akrioka-Orkra- Orkra Clan World
Lucy Watched as thousands, upon thousands, of ranks of the green skinned beasts marched to the clearing to where she was chained. She had tried to slip out of the tight constraints that bit deeply into her wrists. She couldn’t feel her arms any more, after the days of them being raised above her head. The clearing she was in was large enough for several star ships. The hundreds of thousands of warriors stood patiently outside of the hideous pyramid like structure, where the Shaman dwelt.
They had worked themselves into frenzy by the time the bizarre, wild eyed Shaman appeared on the buildings balcony. He stirred them up further, in his foul language, as he admired the ranks of his brethren that beat crude, but wicked looking blades onto their chest. They all carried an array of weaponry.
Some carried the large cannon like guns that had melted through one inch thick doors, back on Lucy’s ship. Others carried long carbine guns, strapped over their shoulders. They almost looked happy in their rage, she observed. Their armour clattered, as they beat the weapons on steel covered chests, which bulged with overdeveloped muscle. Making them seem hunched over slightly.
The mad looking alien that had placed his hand on her head was now shouting into a crescendo. It ended with the roar of the thousands of warriors before him.
He then pointed to Lucy who was unshackled and brought to him on the buildings platform. As she was led through the building, she noticed the walls were covered in what seemed like blood.
There were also drawings, of arcane looking beings, slaughtering or sacrificing races of all descriptions, on a stained slab. She hopped that was not her destination.
Her worst fears were realised when she was brought out onto the open balcony, where the one who had touched her so strangely, gazed at her, with saliva dripping from his lips after, his mad rant to the assembled army.
In front of him lay a large slab of stone that was similar to the sacrificial one in the drawings, inside the building. It was mostly black in colour, probably due to the amount of lives that had been taken on it.
She was push to her knees, at the whoops from the crowed. The mad beast pulled a large, dark brown blade from where it was strapped to his back, and stood before the stone menacingly.
Lucy had thought she would escape at some point, or at least try to reason with them, to secure her freedom. However, it looked like her time was up.
She considered how her death would come, to the butcher’s blade. When the large alien that commanded the others, at the camp she had been kept in, walked to the stone.
They led some of her crew, by chains that were attached to their shackles. The mud smeared men looked terrified as they were taken before the baying hoards, who screamed up at the unfolding show of humiliation.
The first of them was taken to the stone. He was too weak from malnourishment, to put up a fight. They lay him onto the stone alter, and he panted in fear as the mad looking alien lowered his blade, and rested it onto the man’s neck.
A tiny drop of blood made a path through his mud caked shoulders, as the blade bit into his flesh, almost tenderly.
‘No… no. don’t do this.’
He looked over to the Lucy and the other crew members, with eyes that pleaded for them to help him. But no help would come for the poor man. The executioner seemed to enjoy the pleading of his victim, and smiled with teeth that were sharp and stained a yellow colour that reminded Lucy of a shark like predator, back on earth.
The great white shark had been extinct on earth, for about a hundred years now. But holograms she’d seen, had displayed a set of teeth that were made for biting, and to cause as much damage as possible. She now looked at teeth that were smaller in size, and just as deadly looking in their ferocity.
He raised the blade high and brought it down in a violent chop that severed the man’s head in one clean cut. The arterial spray of blood from the man’s neck, showered Lucy and the other crewman, who watched in horror, as their comrades head fell to floor with a thud.
‘My god… They are animals.’
The other crew member shouted. She had got to know them well in the cages. His fear and anger would not last long though, as he was forced forward, and put up more of a fight than the last victim.
He was promptly put onto the sacrificial stone and the process was repeated. Lucy had never seen so much blood in all her young life, and it sickened her to the stomach. They took more time with this crewman, cutting off one limb at a time. All that was left in the end was a head and torso, which added to the blood that pooled around where Lucy knelt.
They left him like that for a short while, as he bled out. The crowd roared again, drowning out the man’s screams. They delighted in the slaughter. Before the man passed out from the pain and blood loss; the blade fell for the final death stroke that parted the man’s head, and ended his agony
They turned to her, and picked her up from the red puddle of blood that she knelt in. She was placed onto the stone that was hot to the touch after a day in the heat of the planets sun. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as she contemplated being chopped to pieces.
She stared at the blood shot crazed eye, and waited for the end.
Planet:Earth, Advanced Training Academy
The Dojo within the Advanced Training Academy was a complete contrast to the modern structures that had sprang up around the globe. Its timber frame, that was traditional to this part of old Europe, let it blend in with the mountainous surroundings with ease.
Most of the buildings in this new age of wonder were built using modern materials, such as Graphenatium. This was a steel alloy mix of Graphene; a pure carbon that was very strong, but extremely thin and. one atom thick. It could be layered with metals, to create the perfect building material, which was light, strong and could be used in many other applications. Such as, space craft, weaponry and armour.
Kruger walked through the armoury that displayed many powerful weapons, made from this remarkable material. He stopped to look at a sword, that belonged to the man he had come to see. Its blade was a dull grey in colour, but its edge would cut through the most skilfully wrought armour. The handle and hilt of the blade was golden, and wrapped in tan red leather that was starting to wear. The owner of this blade ensured it was well used.
He gradually made his way to a large court yard that was galleried, and two stories high. He had emerged on the first floor, where he had a decent view on the assembly of trainee Guardsmen surrounding a lone figure, in a circle of eight men.
They all had wooden practice swords that were raised high in the ready position. The lone figure in the centre of this circle stood silently, with his eyes closed and head down. His practice sword was sheathed by his side, as he waited for the inevitable attack from his students.
The lone Master in the centre was as strange and mysterious as they came at the Academy. To become a Master within the ranks of the Guard, You must have a sharp mind and excel at the many martial disciplines that a warrior must possess.
Master Thion was very proficient at all skills of combat. Whether it was hand to hand or firearms, he could make a very good account of himself. But his true talent and love, was sword play.
The only known men ever to offer Master Thion any real competition was the famous Dorn Bruce and maybe Caleb Bruce, who had honed his sword skills, under the tutorage of the Master below, and waited patiently for the eight students to attack.
At only 35 years of age, he was young to be as highly placed as he was. But so exceptional was his skill, that no one had questioned his elevation to instruct trainee Guardsmen in his martial arts, here at the Academy.
Even though he was outnumbered eight to one, it was they who looked nervous, in this confrontation of arms. Thion was an Albino and had long hair, which had been tightly woven into many strands of locks that fell down to his back.
His strange appearance and manner was not what made the eight young men hesitate. No; Thion’s reputation was well known. If they did not defeat him, then even with a training blade, most of the trainees would need to visit the infirmary after this sparing session. The young Sword Master would always say to his students, that the pain would imprint muscle memory, so they would not be defeated by the same move twice.
But since no student had ever touched him with any kind of blow. Kruger did not hold out much hope, for the young men who were tensing to launch their combined assault.
They attacked together, as he knew they would. He watched Thion spin in a whirl of motion, and then he darted through a gap and hit the student as he past, with a winding blow that brought him to his knees.
The other seven advanced past the winded student and pursued the Sword Master who was now suddenly not surrounded. It was impressive to watch conceded Kruger.
As they came at him again, he moved in angles that lured them into many false attacks. He thrust towards one of the advancing pack, and then he suddenly leaped and swayed to where the real attack would fall.
With four more expert swings his wooden sword disarmed two more attackers, who both held their arms in pain and moved away from the tornado like Thion.
Five remained against him; they came at him cautiously now. Each one probing his defence with an exploratory jab or cut that was parried aside comfortably enough.
He made another pass and his sword connected with all of their training weapons. This time, he hit the legs of two more that dropped to the floor, both nursing injured shins.
Three remained, who were obviously the most talented among them all. Thion attacked one, and the other two went to his flanks cutting low and high, forcing him to parry one blade or the other. But Thion spun horizontally through the middle of both swings and landed face down on the floor, where he rolled and swept one of the students with his sword and continued the movement into a thrust to the others rib cage, that cracked in its steady ferocity.
Both men moved aside to leave the last one of the band of eight. Thion nodded to the young man, that had his wooden sword raised high in preparation of the inevitable. The Sword Master attacked with cuts and thrusts that were too fast to follow. The instincts of the final trainee were outstanding.
The recruit, even launched an attack sequence of his own, that made the agile albino seem to stumble backwards. The youngster’s eyes lit up in what seemed like an opportunity of a lifetime. If he was to even land a glancing blow onto Thion, then he would be lauded among the other Cadets for years.
But alas the stumble was yet another ruse in the arsenal of the Sword Master, who smiled at the attack and turned the thrusting blade to one side and jumped forward to place his sword at the throat of the last man standing.
The rest of the students watched, and held the different areas where he had struck them. Thion lowered his weapon and said in clear voice that carried up into the gallery, where Kruger was standing.
‘Did you enjoy the show Guy?’
Kruger descended a nearby staircase, and approached the pale looking Sword Master imperiously.
‘It’s Captain now actually Master Thion. Let us observe the correct protocols.’
Kruger said this lightly, but Thion would know he meant what he said. It was no secret that Kruger had always desired the mantle of Captain of the Elite Guard. Dorn Bruce had always left the affairs of the Academy to Master Kam and others like Thion. But he would be keeping a close watch on the place, until they had executed their plan.
‘You are correct; Captain. Forgive my lack of etiquette.’
Thion acknowledged with a hint of sarcasm. He had never got on with the power hungry Kruger, who openly craved advancement. If that meant stepping over people to get their; so be it. He did however respect him as a warrior. He was a similar age to Thion, and they had been raised in the Academy together, where their rivalry had on many occasions reached boiling point.
The Sword Master did not crave any position, other than the one he held at the Academy. Kruger had soon realised that he posed no threat to his advancement. Once he knew the mighty Thion was happier to dwell at this isolated old Dojo, and play with his swords He pretty much ignored the strange man.
He mused that there were much easier ways to dispatch an enemy than with a blade. He still wore the ring, which had spiked the greatest of them all. Sword fighting prowess did not do Dorn any good, and it would not help the pasty looking albino before him either, if he decided to eliminate him as well.
They did however have one thing in common which was why Kruger was here at the Dojo.
‘I have come to ask you about our old Master.’
He asked, in his typical gravelly voice.
Thion turned to his trainee Guardsmen.
‘I must speak with our new Captain; practice sequences 1 to 10, until the sun sets this evening. Take no food and water until you put down your weapons. Begin!’
They all limped or shuffled into position, and started the first of the 10 attack sequences of the day. It was 11 in the morning, so they had a long time ahead of them. They set to their tasks without complaint. A Guardsmen’s lot was hardship in the pursuit for perfection, and to better serve the President. They would suffer Thions wrath, if they so much as grimaced from the order.
‘Come Captain let us go to my chambers, and leave this sorry lot to their studies.’
Kruger inclined his head in agreement and they made their way to Thion’s private quarters, which he had so conveniently located next to the duelling floor, in the courtyard. He liked to sleep near his precious Dojo fighting floor. Kruger envied the simple pleasures this man enjoyed sometimes.
‘So Captain, what of Master Tong. He is long dead now is he not?’
‘He is.’ Thion closed the sliding doors to his chambers, to silence the whooshing of blades outside. He enjoyed that sound well. But felt that their topic of conversation should be held more privately.
‘I have not come to talk about him. I came to seek information of his son Keblie Tong. Do you know his whereabouts at all?’ The poker face of the Sword Master could not be read easily. This skill was vital in a warrior. He would always say that emotions could be used against you, if not hidden adequately.
‘The last I heard about Keblie, was that he went into the Himalayan Mountains to join some religious order. I haven’t seen him in years.’
Thion said, as he approached a cabinet where he placed his practice sword into its stand.
Kruger noted the Spartan efficiency of the room. Everything had its place and there were few things to show off vanity here. His main weapons were in the armoury with everybody else’s. The only thing that he did have on display was a sword on a stand, which was as legendary as Dorn Bruce’s weapon, Traitors Bane.
On the blade was a mark of the creator of this weapon. The signature etched into the sword was just above the hilt, which said; DS.
The Guild of Smiths had many levels of abilities. Some would produce weapons to the masses and some would craft the finest instruments of war ever created.
The initials on this sword indicated that it was forged and crafted by Domonique Shabal, who was the greatest weapon smith of the age. Precious few swords were made by Shabal, before his death five years ago. Perhaps Thion would have to die, so he could get his hands on the prized sword. He would need one of Domonique Shabal’s weapons, if he was to become High Lord of Earth.
There was an energy stud on the hilt that would make the sword glow with power when activated. This would help it cut through armour or bone as if it were paper.
Thion caught the interest in Kruger, regarding his most precious possession.
‘Not a day goes by Captain, that I am not thankful that the President placed that sword into my hand. It has felt like a part of me since that day.’
There was a hidden barb to Thions words and he knew it. The Sword Master was content with his position in this place. But the token of favour from the President had hurt him greatly. Maybe this was what finally turned him against Black and his regime.
‘It is remarkable, Master Thion.’ He agreed.
‘But back to present matters. When did you last see Tong’s son? Did he leave any clue to where in the Himalayans? It is a big place after all.’
‘You are correct Captain; it is a big place indeed. But it is also sparsely populated. He shouldn’t be hard to find.’
It was a vague answer and he felt like dressing down the smug Sword Master, but decided to take a different direction.
‘I know we have had our differences Thion. If this was for me I could understand your lack of memory.’
‘Oh; this is not for you Captain?’
‘It is not. It is for the President personally. He wishes to study the ways of the mind again. Don’t ask me why.’
Thion raised one of his chalky white eyebrows in a look of curious consideration. He cared much for his beloved President, and would move heaven and earth to please him.
‘When I told you I have not seen Keblie in years. That did not mean I had not heard from him Captain.’
He wondered how many more riddles this albino would weave, until he got the answers he wanted.
‘Then when did you hear from him?’
Kruger growled, through gritted teeth. He was this man’s commander but because the President liked him, there was little he could do to him, in way of punishment; Thion knew it as well.
‘I actually communicate with him all the time. You would also be able to, if you had listened to Master Tong’s teachings of the mind.’
‘What is that supposed to mean?’
‘It means Captain, that because I did listen. I am able to use my mind to accept his voice when he calls.’ Thion said patiently.
‘That’s impossible Thion; even I know that. No one can cast their mind over those distances.’ ‘Well they can now.’
So he did have other talents other than sword play. He would most certainly have to keep an eye on any other abilities, which he might be hiding.
‘If this is Possible then call him now and tell him that he has been summoned by the President.’
Thion smiled at Krugers naivety. It would take a good amount of chanting to gather and channel his thought into something Keblie could hear. The Genetic modification of the mind had enabled some of the new breed of humanity to perform feats that seemed unnatural. Those who had studied the concepts behind the evolutionary art form understood that the powers that some people were developing were not supernatural at all. Some of the gifts could even, in part be explained by science.
‘I will summon him to the Palace as soon as I am able to Captain. I will make preparations immediately.’
‘Good; if what you say is true, though I find it hard to believe. Let me know when he will be coming.’
‘As you wish Captain; was there anything else, some light sparing perhaps?’
Kruger would not fall for that. He had constantly been humiliated by Thion’s far advanced skills, when they were trainees. One day he and Defoe would unlock Black’s secrets of manipulating their own DNA. Then he might return to this Dojo and oblige the peerless Master.
‘I have no doubt you would enjoy that. But I must decline for another time. Call me as soon as you reach Keblie.’
Thion bowed and sat down cross legged on his meditation matt to begin his chanting. Kruger left, without saying goodbye. He wondered on the possibilities of communication in this way. It was nothing new for one of the few known people with psychic abilities, to talk to another sensitive person also possessing the skill. Never had he heard of someone being able to do this over such a distance. He would definitely look into this new evolution that humanity was only now, fully utilising.
He knew that Thion had some psychic talent. Only now did he ponder on just how great this ability was. Could this be the reason that he had seemed to anticipate all of his attacks on the duelling floor. He cursed not showing interest in this study, over the power of the mind. Clearly it had not been a waste of his time. If he could, he would unlock his own mind to this amazing ability. Then he might be powerful enough to become an Emperor himself.
Master Thion heard the arrogant Captain leave his chambers. He began chanting and focusing his mind on his old friend. He did not do this for Kruger. He did this because he was told the President wished it. He would die before he refused a request from his patron Edward Black.
Most people had shunned him as a child. Especially bullies like the man who had just left. But Black had seen past his strange ghost like appearance and encouraged him to fan the flames of his potential, when he joined the Advanced Training Academy.
He had taken the young recruit under his wing, when Dorn Bruce had highlighted his prowess with a sword. He was even asked by Black, if he would one day consider the role of Captain of the Elite Guard. But Thion had respectfully declined the offer. Instead he had chosen his love, to teach all that he knew on the art of combat. He also liked the solitude of the academy and preferred its forgiving walls to the many curious stares that came his way, in the outside world.
He was used to being different; being an Albino. It was who he was. It was just easier to not be at the centre of people’s opinions. After the first day at the academy a recruit might find his appearance haunting. But they soon learned the worth of the noble Master Thion, who would thrash any who disrespected his Dojo.
After what seemed like an eternity, he eventually touched the mind of Keblie Tong.
The connection was like locking horns with a Deer. He had been expecting the shock of it, but had always found it hard to gently touch minds with someone. The person whose mind he met did not have that same problem though.
‘Thion, Is it you?’
He heard Keblie say in his mind.
‘It is I, my old friend. You have been summoned.’
Planet: Akrioka-Orkra- Orkra Clan World
Lucy looked into the amused and unforgiving face, of the monster that now stood over her helpless body. It was the end of the road in her short, but exciting career as a spy. The air still carried the misted scent of blood from her fellow crewmen, who now lay in body parts around her.
She had been made to wait, for far longer than the other two had. The pause in proceedings was interrupted by the executioner’s clumsy words.
He said, with an effort to get his tongue around the English language.
‘Know that your people will all die; horribly.’
Saliva dripped from his lips, as he continued speaking. The other aliens seemed just as interested in his words as Lucy. None of them had spoken to her in her native language before now.
‘You may be spared, if you wish it.’
Lucy said too quickly.
‘Ha… of course you do. But there will be a price for my mercy.’
Lucy said nothing and he continued.
‘You will become my pet and slave. You will turn against your own people and guide us through your realms.’
She watched the lifeblood that still quietly dripped from his tool of execution.
‘I suppose I do not have a choice in the matter.’
A feral smile widened his face, exposing numerous fangs.
‘There is a choice Human. But you will not go as quickly as your brethren. It would amuse me greatly to flay you alive. Your kind dies so nicely.’
She did not know how he could speak English. At the moment it hardly seemed a priority to know how. There was only one priority on Lucy’s mind, and that was to survive. But to survive, she had to betray her own people. It was an easy choice to make.
‘I will gladly be your pet if you set me free.’
She had done many things in the service of the Watch. Betrayal was a new to her; she would not hesitate from doing so though, as long as long as it meant survival. Live today and fight tomorrow, was what her handler had instructed her to do. It seemed like she might just escape after all. From what she had thought would be certain death.
‘Then rise slave, and supplicate yourself before me.’
She did as she was told, and obediently knelt in front of the mad eyed executioner. She bowed her head to the floor and waited for further instruction from the beast. He turned sharply, rattling the bones that were tied into his lank grey hair. He barked an order in his own language, and another of Lucy’s crewmen was brought out. It was the Captain of the ship. He was stripped and taken to the blood soaked stone and did not resist them.
‘Your loyalty will now be tested slave.’
He grabbed her by the hair, bringing Lucy to her feet. He handed her a smaller blade that she accepted without comment. She knew what this sick being would ask.
‘Kill him; Do it slowly.’
The Captain heard the order and struggled against the restraints that tied him to the stone.
‘Lucy… Don’t do this!’ He shouted at her
‘What choice do I have Captain?’
They would do much worse to him, than she would. She would do as they asked. She would survive.
Lucy approached the stone with the wicked looking blade in her hand. Its edge was sharp, mercifully she mused. The captain arched his back from the stone in a desperate, but futile bid to break free. She then saw an opportunity to ease the captains suffering but still put on a show for the blood thirsty animals, who demanded another sacrifice.
She moved fast, before the Captain lowered himself back onto the stone. Lucy was a well-trained assassin, and moved a skilled hand underneath his back as quick as a viper. The impact of the strike jarred up her arm and the blade punched through a vertebra at the base of his neck, paralysing him instantly.
‘I am sorry Captain.’
Lucy cried over the joyful roars. She pulled the blade back from the screaming victim. It made a sucking sound as it was pulled free. She hopped the Captain would play along and realise that she had dealt him the only blow that he would actually feel.
She then went to work on him; flaying his flesh from his body, and putting on a show that she hoped would satisfy her new master. The Captain screamed all the way through, making her torture appear authentic. Lucy knew that the realty was that he would not feel anything, after she had severed his spinal cord so skilfully. But the screams continued to the delight of the green skinned beasts who roared in satisfaction.
She had done many a cruel deed, since she had been recruited by Black Watch. This was by far, the worst of them all. Weak emotions had not been a problem for her. She finally slit the Captains throat and ended his suffering; she hoped that guilt would not haunt her one day.
Lucy turned to her new master and prostrated herself before him again, offering up the blade. She had considered using it on him, but cast the thought aside as fast as it had come. That course of action at the moment would be her end. A time would come to avenge the man, who now lay butchered by her own hand. The blade was taken from her and she dared to look at the blood shot and pale sightless eye.
‘You did well my slave.’ He congratulated her.
‘What would you have me do now Master?’
She played the obedient role well. To her relief, he appeared to like it. She might be able to use that she schemed. Training on turning people, and influencing them was embedded deeply within her now. This scum would find that out to his undoing.
‘Now slave, you will join us in the annihilation of your race. If you are loyal to me, I may just keep you around.’
She bowed her head to him, wondering if humanity could win a war against this savagery.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Master Tong was old even for the long years that people lived these days. He had been helped by Edward Blacks new sciences, in prolonging his life. But the years that he had spent on Redeem, had taken the life from him gradually.
His old limbs ached as he rose from his sleeping mat that he had moved from his bed to the floor. He had never slept in a bed, and would not allow himself the luxury even in captivity.
There was a hard knock on his cell door that had awoken him from his light slumber. It had been a few days ago now that the young Bruce had spoken to him, mind to mind. He told him of a visit from an ancient race of beings that wanted the boys help. If this was true, then it was astonishing. Life on other worlds had already been found, but intelligent life was something humanity had yet to discover; until now it seemed. He had advised caution in accepting this strange beings help, but the boy had lost everything dear to him and Tong knew exactly how that felt.
His son Keblie would be in his thirties now. He had other children, but Keblie had the same gift that he and Dorn’s son enjoyed. He could not help but favour his youngest son, and had tried many times to cast his mind across space, the same way this ancient being had done when visiting Caleb. Unfortunately he did not have the power to even get near his old home.
The Elfan; Caleb had called them. The being said that the son of Bruce had the potential to be greater than even he was. If he spoke the truth then one day, Caleb could journey just as far as this Elfan with his mind. A glimmer of hope began to spread through him at that thought. He did not wish freedom. No; not after the mistake he had made costing the lives of innocents. But to speak with his son again, before he passed from this existence was a boon he would ask of Caleb if ever he attained that power.
Suddenly his mind was back on the present, and who was on the other side of the door. No one was supposed to be here this late. He cast his mind to the other side, where he saw a man covered in tattoos. The Mine Hounds had been increasingly hostile towards him recently. Ever since he had met with their leader, in defence of the man Caleb had tried to protect and befriend. The story of the boy’s short time in the pit was now legendary, after he had killed three of the Mine Hounds top fighters, with an ease of someone who was a veteran of the deadly arena.
The grate to Tongs cell slid open to reveal the amused face of one of the feared gang’s enforcers.
‘May I help you?
Tong asked cautiously.
The man just stared at him menacingly, hoping to scare the feeble looking old man. He would be greatly disappointed, if he thought he could intimidate a warrior of Tongs calibre. No matter how decrepit he had become.
‘You shouldn’t have spoken for the boy old man.’
He said to Tong in a Latin accent. The scars cut into his cheeks, were more or less symmetrical on both sides of his face. This was testament to the many hits this man had made, on behalf of the Mine Hounds.
Tong replied with a stone like expression, in the face of the death dealer.
‘So; because they can’t kill the boy. They are taking their frustrations out on you.’
As he said this he nimbly slipped a hose pipe through the grate and a liquid covered Tong soaking him and the walls of his tiny cell. Tong did not even move as he was covered in fuel, making him stink of fumes.
‘You are sure you want to do this?’
The Mine Hound enforcer looked confused. Most men he had killed would normally be screaming for mercy right now. It unnerved him to watch the calm old man drip with liquid fuel, and appear to not care ever way, whether he lit him up like a torch.
‘Yes; I do want to do this old man.’
He struck a match, hoping to get at least a small amount of fear from his victim.
‘Very well; I did give you a choice.’
The Mine Hound laughed and threw in the lit match that instantly ignited Tong in hellfire. In moments the entire cell was ablaze with fury that engulfed the old Master. He watched the Mine Hounds shocked face at his lack of pain. He certainly felt it, but he had seen the canister of liquid at the feet of the killer, and had prepared his mind to close off what should have been excruciating. He had warned this killer not to do what he had come to do. But Tong knew that his killer, would have been killed himself if he did not carry out this pointless hit.
He would wish he was dead, when Tong was finished with him. His long life was finally at end. It was a horrific end, but he had wanted death ever since he came here, all those many years ago. That did not mean his killer should not suffer, he decided as he launched his mind into the perturbed enforcer. Who gripped his temples at the sudden intrusion of his mind. He screamed in an agony from the thought bomb, that Tong had launched. His screams could be heard down the corridors. Tong was now the one laughing. He felt good about sharing his pain, with this pathetic excuse for a man.
Tong dropped to his knees and his blackened flesh crunched as he hit the floor. He cast his mind out to Caleb, in a final farewell. Then he passed away with a last breath.
Outside his cell, the sound of screaming had stopped, to be replaced with gargling sound of the now mindless Mine Hound. It would be his last hit.
Caleb felt the psychic wave hit him, like a force of a hurricane. The images of Tong burning, and his killer screaming were as clear to him, as if he was standing beside the wise old master. He had yet to learn the mysteries that Master Tong could teach him about himself. This fact was not the only thing that pained Caleb.
He had no other friends here, other than his father’s old teacher. That was now a chard corpse, at the hands of the brutal gangs of this unforgiving prison. Before he finally died, Tong sent a farewell to him, and Caleb’s resolve broke after yet another loss.
He screamed into the heavens, causing the cavernous dungeon to echo like thunder. He did not cry; yet felt a sadness that he channelled into a cold rage. The Mine hounds would die, the Warden would die, Wellin would die, his parents killers would die. If anyone stood in his way, they would meet the same end. He did not care anymore whether he lived or died. He would have his vengeance, and only the blood of his enemies would quench his fury.
Caleb would wait no longer to look for ways to get off this god forsaken planet. For over a year now he had suffered torture, isolation and depravity. He had been forced to fight for the entertainment of others, and had killed for their pleasure. He still did not know what his capabilities were; but soon they would find out. They would be the first to feel the son of Dorn Bruce’s wrath.
Planet: Akrioka-Orkra- Orkra Clan World
The transport ship lifted above the jungled canopy of the Orkra planet. Its green lush colour hid the multitude of warriors, waiting for transport ships as patiently, as they could.
On the Platform, Thrakka sneered down at his new human pet that had amused him greatly in her pathetic effort to save her skin. It took much to amuse the Shaman lately. He spent most of his time casting out his mind and searching for the hated Elfan. They would soon finish the job of destroying that great empire. It had been a long time since he had one of them on his sacrificial stones. The humans had bought the pointy ears some time, but eventually, he and his endless armies would render them extinct. The resources that the conquered worlds would yield were crucial for the expansion of his people. The blood and gore they sacrificed to their war god Thrag Ork, would also provide a much needed outlet for the tribes pent up rage. It was becoming only a matter of time before they turned upon each other, such was their warlike ways. For millennia they had taken what they had needed, from their enemies. When the first outsiders had come to his people aeons ago, they had destroyed them and took the best of their race, to instruct them on the wonders of their warp technologies. His people had always excelled at engineering. Perhaps this was because of what could be gained from the fruits of the creations. Eventually they learned all they needed to know, of that long forgotten race that had given them their first ships to carry them out to the stars and to conquest.
Later they would meet many other intelligent peoples, and the process of slaughter would begin anew. All technologies of the races would be learned, and used for the further expansion of the tribes. Gakka, His High Chieftain and ruler of a thousand worlds dominated large parts of the Galaxy already. But with the discovery of humanity, he would elicit great envy from the other High Chieftains when he and Thrakka found, and expanded into human space. Few of the other beings had caused them as much trouble, as the ancient but highly advanced Elfan. Humanity would pose no such threat as they had.
If they were all as compliant as this female, he may even try to convince his High Chieftain, if they may be kept as slaves instead of wiped out. Oh, what he could do with a slave workforce of billions.
He could build thousands more pyramids, and sacrifice the ones who had built it, when they had finished their task. If they bred even half as quickly as the mighty Orkra, then he could have an endless supply of slaves, and a potential food source. They were a juicy meat after all. Yes; the High Chieftain would like that.
‘Slave.’ He barked to the human female in her own tongue. The words were not easy to pronounce, but for a Shaman of his greatness, it was only a mild challenge.’
‘How can I serve Master?’
‘You did well sacrificing your own kind; one day you will be asked to do it again.’
The more he spoke to the female the easier it was to get the human words out. When he had touched her mind he made sure to learn all he could about her kind. Their words he now knew, but knowing them and speaking them was another matter. He had conversed with his new slave for days now, trying to perfect the strange sounds they made.
She had been an apt teacher. He would only have to punish her mildly, when she forgot her place. She, like him, was a fast learner.
‘I will do what I must.’
‘Yes you will.’ He confirmed savagely.
‘I have received a communication from the fleet that is following the punitive ship that dared to bombard us.’ He paused to let that fact sink in. Thrakka wanted her to know that her kind was doomed. The many ships that began to rise into the planet's atmosphere, was testament to the Okra’s unstoppable expansion into human space. He had already pointed out to her, that the fleet she could see was a drop in an ocean, of the full force that the Orkra had at his disposal. ‘There should be enough warriors in that small fleet to enslave your world. But, if by some miracle your race beats of this fleet. Then they will be just the first wave of our true numbers.’
She had not shown as much emotion, as the males of her kind had done. He had told the fleet heading for Earth, that the females seemed the stronger of the sex. The Orkra females were quite formidable as well, he chuckled inwardly. Perhaps he should send them to conquer the humans. But then, who would the Warriors rut with, if the females done all the killing.
The insatiable mating of the Orkra, made it necessary to expand their territories or else they would inevitably turn on each other. It was his job with the other Shamans, to ensure this did not happen. So they gazed out with their minds to search for these new worlds. Thrakka had now struck gold, in learning of the new territories. He would be rewarded greatly for this service, and looked forward to receiving even more Orkra females to add to his ever expanding harem. There would be much rutting indeed, when they were brought to him on the command vessel. They were even now assembling a vanguard, just outside of the planets orbit. This would be the second wave if the first fleet failed.
‘You will be quartered alone slave. I do this for your protection. I fear my kind have developed a taste for your flesh.’
She seemed grateful for this small gift. He would throw her a bone every now then.
They docked with the command ship, and made their way to the bridge where they were greeted by Gakka and Maglak, who looked at his Slave hungrily. They would not harm her, unless Thrakka consented to it. Even though they were superior to him, Thrakka had earned his new pet. He had let them know, that she would aid them in her own people’s destruction.
Planet: Elfandar, High Council Assembly
The noise of the hundreds of Elfan nobles within the council chambers was becoming deafening. Tanandil had to fight to control his patience, with the petty squabbling of the factionist lords of the hidden realm. He had said his piece already, and now the High Council of the Elfan would decide or not, as was often the case, a course of action. The commanding voice of Gretnear silenced the bickering rabble of council members.
‘My lords and noble council members.’
He paused and waited for the murmuring to die down. Gretnear was a well-respected Lord and warrior, who had the king’s ear. But King Avarn, leader of all the Elfan, would not cast his weighty command until he had heard the arguments, and fleeting wisdom of the people at this assembly. Gretnear continued when silence finally came, and all eyes were turned to him.
‘Long, has it been, since we abandoned our once great Empire to the Orkra filth. So far they have not discovered the hidden realms, but it is only a matter of time, when we shall be discovered by the foul greens. If we sit and do nothing and just enjoy our fictitious paradise, then we will have learned nothing from the past.’
King Avarn nodded solemnly at the great Lords words. Others too would acknowledge that their contentment and lack of action, had cast their race into near extinction in the first place.
‘Freedom and peace are won at the hands of war. This is a bitter paradox but it is true. Tanandil has seen how powerful our enemy are becoming, and he thinks that the Orkra are close to finally finishing us off. I call for action, before we repeat the mistake of our ancestors.’
The high vaulted chamber was supported by many marble pillars, which helped amplify his call to war. Some of the greatest architects and artists had created this council chamber, with a view to attain the perfect acoustics. But such was their way that it was also a work of art, with statues and other images of ancient leaders, reminding them all that they were once a great race.
Their skills however did not just extend to building and artistry. Their warriors were just as talented. If it were not for the numbers of the Orkra, then surely they would have had them beat long ago. Another Elfan stood and waited for the Council's master of ceremony, who consented for him to speak and announced him to the chamber.
Tanandil had been expecting this Elf to talk his poison, and now it was his turn to inevitably confront their plans to save their people. His name was Cael, a Lord of sorts who left the governance of his sector of worlds to administrators, while he on the other hand would swan around at the king’s court, with his retinue of followers. They were the embodiment of what was wrong with the Elfan. They cared little for others and spent most of their days worrying what kind of outfit to wear, or who they could topple on the way to their advancement and royal favour.
It was safe to say that Tanandil did not like Lord Cael. His slim sneering face surveyed the room before he began to speak, until he looked directly at Lord Gretnear.
‘Members of this Council will not be terrorised by what the exaggerating Mage fantasies my Lord Gretnear. You may be enchanted by his ill council, but do not expect the rest of us to be fooled by his tales of our imminent destruction.’
‘Lord Cael, the High Mage has defended our realms from our enemies, for longer than you have been alive. If not for him my own son would have been slain on the sacrificial stone of our enemy. What have you ever done in defence of our people? Other than luxuriate in a safety that has been secured by Elfan, who have had the courage to fight.’
Cael had been at court for far too long, to be lead away from his attack and continued as if Gretnear had not said a thing.
‘They talk of peace gained by war, when we have not been discovered for thousands of years. The High Mage also suggests an alliance with a race that has barely mastered interstellar spaceflight. How I ask, could this infantile ally assist us to strengthen our borders? If they have been discovered by the greens, I say we are fortunate for this distraction. Do not fear my noble councilmen we have never been safer in the hidden realms.’
His words made the room erupt back into argument, of what the right course of action should be. The master of ceremony was struggling to contain the council’s heated opinions. King Avarn stood, and raised his golden staff aloft and brought it down to crack onto the marbled floor beneath him. The council hushed before his great majesty.
He did not wear armour or carry a weapon. He did not need any of that to show who actually ruled here. Avarn was of a line of great kings, and led with wisdom and grace. He wore simple robes with a delicate silver crown. He looked like one of the Elfan gods of old. The king would not tolerate this kind of behaviour from the squabbling Lords. They all turned and waited for their leader to have his say.
‘We have been safe in the nebula now for a long time. You are correct in that fact, Lord Cael.’
Cael looked pleased with the Kings comment.
‘But the High Mage Tanandil, has advised this council well since the days of my grandfather. You would be wise to show him some respect.’
The smile on the face of Cael vanished in an instant, as the King resumed.
‘What exactly did the Orkra Shaman say Tanandil?’
The Mage stood in the centre of the circular council chamber. The floor he stood on was a mosaic star map of their old empire. He hoped that this constant reminder would sway the minds of the members that had not made up their mind yet.
‘My King; his words were clear. He knew about the nebular that shelters us from them. I believe that if we do not act now and fight. Then we will be destroyed.’
There were concerned looks from some of the council members. Many looked horrified by this news of a potential discovery. But others like Cael just shook their head in absolute disagreement.
‘Your words trouble me Tanandil. I do not believe you exaggerate to this council at all. However I must use caution in our approach to this threat. That is why I think to send our entire army to attack the Orkra, would be like trying to break a mountain with a single hammer.’ The king said to his Mage.
‘I agree your majesty; it would be unwise to launch an attack by ourselves. That is why we should help the Humanar and then hit back as allies.’ Tanandil replied to the king.
‘Nonsense; we have sought alliances with other races before, and a lot of good that did us.’
Cael shouted, playing a risky game to speak, when neither the king nor the master of ceremony, had invited any more opinions.
‘Cael, I will not tolerate any more outbursts from this assembly.’ The king said sternly.
Unfortunately the comment had been correct. There was another race of beings that had allied themselves with the Elfan to fight against the Orkra. They called themselves The Indergrin, but the Elfan new them as Dwarfanda which meant the Short People.
It was strange, but explainable that all of the races scattered among this galaxy were very similar in their appearance. Tanandil often met some of the long bearded mountain dwellers, who were happier mining for precious metals and stones than helping a beaten ally.
When the Orkra had attacked their worlds they had gone into hiding, just as the Elfan had done. But they had cursed the Elfan people when they abandoned them to go into the hidden realms in peace. While they fought and ran, from a doom that would eventually catch up with them. Their greatest weapon was their underground fortresses that often went unnoticed by the rampaging greens, which would sometimes inhabit a planet for centuries, not even realising that below the mountainous peaks dwelt thousands of Dwarfanda.
Many would think that because the alliance with the short folk had failed, then what chance would they have with the humans. 'We are all related Cael, if not distantly. Even the Orkra were created in the same image as us.' Tanandil argued back to the ignorant Cael.
'Blasphemy!' Cael virtually spat back, looking disgusted to be compared, to the vile enemy.
The King interjected before the Mage lost his temper with him.
'Do not twist the words of the noble Tanandil my Lord. You know, as do we all, that all life was created by the ancient ones. I for one would like to know more about the human, before I can consent to an alliance. Tanandil, tell me more about this boy you found.'
Tanandil thought back to when he had first seen the power, emanating from the young one. There would be many in the council, which would not believe that the young race were capable of evolving into something that was perhaps far greater than even his powers.
If harnessed correctly, they could use this strength, and turn it towards a common enemy. Then the Elfan could take back their conquered lands. It was an ambitious dream that had been in his heart for a long time. He looked at the assembly and knew others shared his vision of taking back the Empire.
‘I have studied this race and watched them go from primitive beings to advanced explorers in under a thousand of their years.’
It had seemed like yesterday when he had first observed the Humanar, who shared so many characteristics with his own kind. This was not his first assessment of them however.
On some parts of their planet, they had warred on each other to a barbaric degree. Some even killed in the same way as the Orkra, sacrificing on their stones or torturing their captives. He had nearly dismissed them for this trait, which in truth was within some of his own people’s capabilities. But he kept watching them flourish, until their current state of enlightenment. They were truly an astonishing people, to achieve so much, so fast.
Tanandil told the assembly this story and the age of technology that came quicker than realised. Then a great thinking human called Edward Black emerged, who created a utopia on their world, and was even now colonising the stars.
But space travel was not Blacks greatest achievement. Tanandil then went on to tell the council of the study, in manipulating their genetic code and creating the powerful being that was Caleb Bruce. A human boy who knew little of his potential, but that potential could flourish to be greater than even the mightiest Elf. As Tanandil said this, Cael stood to speak, but it was not the master of ceremony or the king that signalled permission for him to talk. Tanandil stopped his tale and invited him to respond.
‘Is there something you would like to add Lord Cael?’ He asked quizzically.
‘As a matter of fact, there is. First you liken us to our enemy Tanandil. Then you claim this savage race of humanar, has a being of greater power than any of us? You insult the intelligence of this assembly, and of our King. I think the only end to your warmongering will be our ruin.’
Before Tanandil could respond, Queen Eira, who sat next to the King voiced her opinion.
‘I have also felt a powerful presence in my dreams Tanandil. I have also seen carnage and war. I do not believe that my dreams are prophecy of our own destruction; whether we claim our lands back or not. The Orkra will only grow more powerful, and we weaker in our inaction. I would like to meet this boy, so we may see for ourselves what kind of being we would be allying ourselves to.’
The queen had offered a good compromise to the council. The next words were from the King. ‘I would like to thank you all for your council. The weight of this decision is a burdenI must carry alone; I have a decision to make.’
The King looked around at his audience; Eira had silenced them all when she had spoken. She enchanted most Elfan with her words, including the King himself. She reached across, and touched King Avarn’s hand in a gesture of support. The King now knew what to do.
‘It is only a matter of time, before we are discovered here in the hidden realms. My Queens visions of war are troubling, and she makes a valid suggestion of finding out more of this boy, before we launch an attack to retake our old lands.’
King Avarn looked at Tanandil, who stood motionless and serene in the white robes of his Order.
‘Tanandil, I wish for you to go to this boy and learn what you can from him. If he will come with you, I would like the assembly to meet him. Then we will know if we have a true friend in our struggle.’
Nobody but Gretnear knew that the human boy was even now, being held captive by his own people. This fact was left out deliberately by the Mage. They would not sanction allying themselves with a common criminal, even if he was innocent.
‘What of the Humanar home world your Highness. It will be attacked imminently by the Orkra? Gretnear pleaded.
‘Lord Gretnear it seems too late to stop this fate from befalling this world. Go with Tanandil if you wish, and once we have learned the hearts of the human; then we will fight with them.’
Tanandil watched Lord Gretnear clench his jaw in frustration. He would obey the king and go with the Mage on his quest to find this boy. But he knew in his heart that he yearned for war with their old enemy, and did not want them to claim yet another world. Even if that world was alien to him.
Once the Kings decision was made, the council was dismissed and Tanandil could not help but look at the smug expression on Lord Caels face, who thought he must have had a victory.
If only he would realise that they would all fall unless they stood together. The Mage would not waste his breath on trying to convince him.
He had more important work to do now. Events were happening in the galaxy that appeared fated. He felt the same as Queen Eira that in the not so distant future, a war was coming. It was his job to ensure that the Elfan were on the side of the victors and to end their era of hiding in fear.
Planet: Amos Prime, Colonial World
The many colonies founded by humanity, numbered in there thousands now. Some worlds were backward and desolate, with only a few brave settlers making an attempt to tame the wild lands discovered. But there were some worlds that now looked just as urbanised as Earth now was. What humanity had done in just a few hundred years was extraordinary in its scale. Buildings had been erected, by billions of robotic machines that never tired from their endless labours.
The towering metropolis that had been created on Amos Prime was awesome in its grandeur. The leaders of the system had made it the jewel in the crown, of Earth's great expansion and people had flocked to this resource rich world, which inevitably became prosperous and affluent. But with prosperity comes greed. President Black had enforced his redistribution of wealth policy with an iron fist, and insisted that any excesses of wealth from the bountiful worlds, be redistribute back into the system, so that the weaker planets could be helped by the stronger ones.
Every now and then, as would be expected from the greed of man, a planet's leader forgot their place, and hoarded all the riches for their own gain. Some would even build private armies to pose a threat to President Black’s peace. That was when the full weight of Earth was sent to a world, in the throes of rebellion. If the threat was serious enough, then they would have the misfortune of facing the might of Regiment 1’s Shock Troops.
Major Warwick had not expected much of a fight when he had landed at the planets busy star port. He landed in a small show of force, even though officially they were only on this world for exercises.
But unofficially they were here to crush any idea of breaking away from Earths yoke, which could at any time, reach out and destroy the golden world, they thought they controlled. Fortunately the governors of the system had seen the good sense to welcome the Majors small task force. Regiment 1s reputation was something to be feared and whoever sent them here had insured that this reputation preceded their arrival. The message was understood.
The last world that had not understood the threat of this elite task force of warriors was now all but dust, on a distant planet that would send no more resources to its masters. It was worth the loss of one fruitful world, to send the message to the others that order must be maintained.
Major Warwick was now bored of the place and could not wait to be sent to somewhere he could occupy his increasingly agitated men. They were bred for war, each being the beneficiary of Presidents Blacks enhancements. They were all big men, and they used this size for one purpose, which was domination of Earth's enemies. Warwick was thrilled when General Defoe had issued the order to return home. He would not have recalled the entire regiment unless there was a real threat of war. A company of his fearsome warriors could subdue whole worlds, but the strength of them all would be cataclysmic to behold.
That excitement had died in an instant, as he sat in the noisy bar, surrounded by his fellow comrades who were all intoxicated, from an evening of sampling the local whisky. He sat open mouthed, as he tried to digest the bitter words of the enormous man sitting in front of him, who had poured himself a large measure of the delightful beverage. No amount of alcohol would numb the pain of losing Dorn Bruce, who had been very close to many in the famous regiment.
‘We have been summoned back to earth Commander, did you know that?’
Warwick said dumbly to Sebastian Ignatius, who drank his whisky in one mighty gulp.
‘I had expected as much Major. Now you know the full horror of this betrayal. I cannot order you to come with us to this ice planet, for Dorn’s son. I ask you nether the less.’
He had fought on more campaigns than he could remember with the Commander and Dorn had been a friend to them both.
‘I am a loyal man to our President, Commander. But the way I see it, we are at war. I’m surprised you didn't launch an attack on the scum right away.’
‘I wanted to, but Kam brought me round; dam him.’
Warwick smiled at that. ‘The Master Guardsmen is persuasive; but I know your temper well. I would like to ask him how he stopped you.’
‘Don’t you dare Major!’ The hulking Ignatius scratched the stubble on his chin in brief contemplation before admitting his shame.
‘The swine kidnapped me, alright. Not another word on the matter.’
Warwick would not let him off that easy. If anyone else baited him like this they would shortly find themselves unconscious. ‘Kidnapped you sir?’
‘Very well I’ll say no more.’ Warwick chuckled at the dangerous looking Commander.
‘So, will the men back us then?’
‘Yes.’ Warwick confirmed simply.
‘I know you knew Dorn as well, as I did. But the men; I don't know?’ With that said, Warwick stood on his chair spilling his drink slightly. ‘Men to me!’
His voice carried over the singing and other noise his men were making in the barracks bar. All of them stopped what they were doing, and what seemed like an ill disciplined mob of gruff looking savages, turned into a well-oiled response from veterans at a parade ground. The Major had their attention.
He told them of the treachery and murder of Earth's greatest warrior, and of the betrayal to the President. They all listened to his commanding words without comment or emotion.
The Major summed up with what their Commander planned to do about it.
‘So I say to you all that I plan on going with the Commander. You are free to do as you wish; I give you that choice now. But if you do come, know that we fight for the President who has been betrayed by the ambitions of men, that has not reckoned on us finding out. This will be their undoing.’
Ignatius stood next to the Major and surveyed the now sober looking men before him. He knew deep down they would be loyal to a man. He had helped to select most of them after all.
He stood on his own chair to add to the Majors plea for vengeance.
‘Before you decide; know that we will be seen as outlaws and mutineers, until we reveal the real traitors. The journey will be hard, but we are Regiment 1 and shall endure it.’
He was passed another drink by a sergeant below him, draining it again, just as quickly as the first dram.
‘As the Major has already said, you do have a choice in this matter. I will think nothing less of you if you walk away from this. I only ask that you do not fight against us.
So who’s with us?’ Ignatius shouted to the assembled men.
They all as one raised a closed fist, and held it to their temples in the classic solute of the Regiment. Then the Sergeant that had handed the commander a drink boomed.
The chant was taken up and The Major noticed that every man in the room had agreed to follow their beloved Commander in the defence of Earth and their President.
Commander Ignatius was tried not to weep, such was the pride he felt for his men in that moment. They had trained them well and all fifty of the 4th company would rain fury upon the ones that had killed the noble Dorn Bruce.
‘I want to see you all ready to ship out in two hours; full battle dress.’
The Sergeant shouted to the men who began to leave the bar in sudden commotion. The Regiment was preparing for war.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Baz had watched the recordings of the fight in the pit, over and over again. He still could not believe how fast the young prisoner, 118 was. The men he had killed, with so much ease should have ended him that day. Instead they had met their doom at 118s skilled hands.
He now stood in the darkness of the cavernous depths that the young inmate resided. The plate he had brought the prisoner was another meal of gruel and bread. He wrinkled his nose at the sight of the unappetizing plate of food. The inmate on the platform across the void, had sat in silence with his eyes closed for the last ten minutes as Baz stared over at him, hidden in the darkness.
He must have been important to be sent to this facility in the first place. When he had first laid eyes on him, he thought he must have been some upstart son of a noble, who had been punished by the unforgiving regime back on Earth.
Baz missed his home in the east London slums, which had raised him to be the model citizen he was. The career path he had chosen was something to take pride in, and when he had first started as a guard, in England’s increasingly violent prison system. He had been respected. So one day they asked Baz, if he would like the opportunity to secure the most dangerous inmates that humanity had to offer, on a world far away. He had jumped at the chance; mainly because the pay was more than the likes of him, would ever be able to acquire anywhere else.
The stint would be a long one, but the rewards for a guard at Redeem would be enough to let him retire a very rich man. He had not enjoyed his time on this world though. Occasionally, he would go to the surface and suffer the cold, so he could taste fresh air and bask in the brightness of the systems sun that did nothing to warm you with its rays.
It was not just the environment that he hated about this place. He was a very social creature, but they forbade you to get overly familiar with the inmates, and the other guards detested him for his bad hygiene.
He did not like the suffering on this world and counted the days like a common criminal, until his time was up to return to his home like a king. He was well liked in the slums that he had come from. It had been painful to be shunned by the many cruel guards that worked here with him.
It was part of the job, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. He contemplated better times to come; the young inmate stood and stretched his arms through the air in a slow windmill movement. Baz continued to watch silently.
‘Do you always watch the prisoners?’ 118 said with his back facing the caverns entrance, where Baz stood. ‘How do you know I’m here?’
‘Yeah, go on’
‘It was your foul smelling breath actually; that I must declare is quite insufferable.’
Baz knew he was not the cleanest person. He could not remember the last time he had brushed his rotten yellow teeth. But doubted his breath was bad enough for prisoner 118 to smell. He ignored the comment.
‘How did you do that, to those men in the pit?’
He asked him curiously, but did not expect a serious answer, because of this inmate’s usual sarcasm. The young prisoner turned around to face Baz, who had now stepped out into the light, holding the plate of grim looking food.
‘I will tell you if you answer one of my questions.’ He replied coldly.
‘Ok I’m listening.’
‘Who burnt alive a friend of mine yesterday?’
‘How’d you know about that from down here?’ Whoever had brought his meal yesterday must have told him, Baz guessed. The young man said nothing and waited for Baz to answer. He looked furious, but could do little from way over there. Telling him would do no harm he decided.
‘Mine hounds did it. Word on the block is they want you dead, and the old man spoke up for ya friend in the canteen. It’s a good job really; that ya down here. It’s much safer like. Now come on, where did ya learn to fight like that?’
Prisoner 118 clenched his jaw and bunched his fists together, making his sanguine features turn to anger as Baz waited for the answer.
‘I am the son of Dorn Bruce.’
‘Dorn who? Can't say I’ve heard of him, but I’m warning you 118; you're not supposed to tell us of ya past. I just wanted to know How ya...?’
‘Dorn Bruce, Captain of the Elite Guard of Earths President.’ He continued cutting off Baz's protest.
‘You could get into trouble for telling me that.’
That was true, they were told on arrival, that talk of their past was strictly forbidden and punishable by torture or worse.
‘I hardly think it could get any worse for me.’
‘So how does being his son make you a decent fighter then? I’ve never in all my days seen anything like it.’
‘That plate of food, could I have it now please.’
‘Of course you can your worship. I’ll send it over now. But will you then tell me, how you did what you did.’
The posh young inmate nodded, and Baz placed the food on the drone, which whizzed the plate to the platform. The drone had been programed to avoid contact with the people it was delivering the meals to. It made its deliveries quickly onto the isolation platform. This ensured that no prisoner could touch the drone, while carrying out its work
It dropped the plate of food down gently and then moved to a height, so that it was out of reach.
To Baz’s amazement, the boy started running for the edge at great speed. For one moment, it looked like the boy had finally given up and decided to jump. But impossibly he leaped to a height that no man should be able to leap, and grabbed hold of the drone that was programed to return to the other side.
Baz watched in terror and awe, as the hanging form of prisoner 118 sped towards him, with murder in his eyes. He wasn't ready for trouble, and he couldn’t reach the locked door behind him in time to get out. Snapping out of his trance, Baz tried to pull his service pistol, as the young inmate loomed over him.
Planet: Earth, Presidential Palace, Geneva
‘It’s good to see you again Keblie.’
‘Thank you Mr President.’ Black poured his guest some more wine, as they dined on the exquisite array of spiced meats before them. Kruger had done well to locate the son of Master Tong so quickly.
‘Before we say anything more, I would just like to say how sorry I was for your father. He did not deserve his sentence, but the government had no choice, because of what he did. He was a good man; I did what I could to save him from the judge’s extreme justice. But even I’m not above the law.’
Keblie Tong put down his glass and smiled kindly at Black.
‘I know you helped my father sir. I know he's alive because of your help.’
Black had made sure that Master Tong’s imprisonment was made a secret. Unfortunately it had to be seen by the people, that justice was done. Even Tongs family were kept in the dark, as to his real sentence.
‘How did you know?’ Black asked incredulously.
‘I know, because before he left, he told me.’ Keblie said, tapping his temple. Of course; he had used his mind to talk to his old father before he left.
‘I should have done more for him. I hope one day you can forgive the politician in me that was chained to the systems laws.’
‘He did not blame you sir, and neither do I. He fell in the service of his Planet. I wish it was different. My father told me all that you did for him, and that you are a good man.
Black was grateful for Keblies kind words. He then moved the topic of conversation to what he really wanted to discuss.
‘Do you know why I asked you to come here Keblie?’
The son of Tong closed his eyes, and sent an affirmative answer to the President with his mind. He must have sensed that Black had the gift if only weakly.
‘Is it possible to hide ones gifts from our kind?’
Black asked Keblie, who was impressed he had been detected, as someone sensitive to the powers of the mind.
‘It is sir, with the correct training and potential. I am still discovering the limits of my own powers, which I suppose I have to thank you for.’
Black had manipulated the genes of several people, whose talents varied from subject to subject. It had been Dr Slade that had helped Tong enhance his psychic sensitive son, Black nodded anyway, accepting the compliment.
‘Your unique talents are as you have already guessed the reason why I have invited you here. I wish to start a new guild of psychics, with you as its head. I will understand if you do not wish to serve your people, after what happened to your father.’
‘On the contrary Mr President, It would be an honour to serve you and my people. But what will be the purpose of this new guild?’
He would hide nothing from Keblie, and told him plainly about what he wanted to achieve.
‘I want to initially use the new guild for communication. But if I can be plain with you, I want you to push yourself, and discover just how far we can take your abilities. I need you to recruit and train this guild, to not only become psychic communicators, but also to seek the potential of the mind, in regards to war.’
Black had studied the talents of this new ability with great interest. Some people had been known to harness electricity, and send it out from them like a lightning bolt of destruction. He had also witnessed others, with the ability to levitate objects, and even themselves using only the power of their minds. Others could heat up the air around them and cast fireballs. To harness this power, and wield it for the good of the human race was something Black was eager to accomplish.
‘Do you expect war sir?’
‘We always expect war Keblie. But I can sense something coming that will change our race. For good or bad I do not know yet. Change will come, whether we are ready for it or not.’
‘I also sense a darkness coming sir. It is faceless, but destructive. I have discussed this with Master Thion who is also skilled in our arts.’
Black had a soft spot for the young Master Thion. Who apart from Dorn Bruce, was the greatest man he had ever witnessed with a blade. The rows of swords on display in Blacks private dining room, demonstrated his love for the martial arts. Thion’s skills however, extended into many other disciplines it seemed. Maybe he would be a good candidate to sire a son to replace Black, when he stepped down. He would think on it.
‘So you have felt this darkness too?’
Keblie nodded, and stared past Black into the spitting fireplace that warmed them both on the cold night. They had modern heat generators, but the President found great comfort in the natural fuel that warmed them. He would stare into it sometimes, just as Keblie was now.
‘Then will you accept my offer and lead this new guild of psychics?’ The president asked expectantly.
‘I accept your offer Mr President. I hope my talents can be of some service to you.’
‘As do I Keblie.’ The President reached over, and shook the hand of his new Master of Psychics and said, as if just thinking it.
‘I would like you to base your guild at the Advanced Training Academy, so you can work closely with Master Thion. He will be the Guards liaison to your guild. If there is anything you need, do not hesitate to ask me personally. I will furnish you with all the resources necessary.
‘Thank you sir.’
‘No; thank you Master Tong.’
Keblie beamed at his new title. He had taken this great opportunity from the President and knew it was up to him to make it work, and make his father proud.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
The wind blew Calebs hair back, as he sped across the sheer drop from his platform. It seemed like madness that he could jump as high as the Drone had been. Managing to hold onto the smooth surface of its robotic shell had been even harder.
He imagined himself falling short, from his audacious jump. But instead of plummeting to a certain death, he jumped the imposable looking height with relative ease, and grabbed hold of the drone, as it hurtled back to the other side, where the guard was now panicking.
Out of all the guards at the facility, this one seemed the most affable of them all. That would not save him from Caleb’s wrath. He had suffered too much at the hands of these men, and one way or another it would end now.
The fool he was speeding towards had gotten over the shock of Caleb’s jump. It looked like he was fumbling for his service pistol, as Caleb loomed over the top of him, and landed with the grace of an acrobat.
The pistol was free, and the guard brought it to bear and fired wildly at the doom descending upon him. Caleb weaved from side to side, but a round from the pistol took him in the shoulder, and went clean through. It did not slow him down though.
It only added to his rage. He reached the guard, and swatted the gun out of his hand, bringing a chopping motion that hit him in the same move, with his other hand. The whole attack was fluid and perfect; this guard did not stand a chance.
Now weapon less, he huddled himself in a heap nursing the slap on his face that had knocked him senseless. He quietly whimpered on the floor, breaking Caleb out of his murderous fury.
‘Please don’t kill me, I’m only doing me job son!’
Caleb stood over the sorry form of the guard with his fists bunched. He contemplated ending him quickly. He had wanted to kill them all. They deserved it; all the men who had wronged him. It was not even about escape any more. Now it was only about revenge.
He did not know what stopped his hand from snapping this worthless man’s neck, like a twig. Maybe it was some wired in compassion that they had programmed into him, before he was born.
‘So should I let you live because you are just doing your job? You take just as much pleasure from their sick games. You even told me that once.’
‘B...but I tried to help ya out in the pit, didn’t I? Please, I don’t wana die.’
He had given him advice, but he had also remembered this simple man, not being overly concerned with his welfare either. On the flip side, he could might prove more useful alive than dead.
‘I could kill you as easy as thinking it. But if you do want to live, you will tell me what cell the man I saved in the canteen is in; Dillon is his name.’
The guard looked petrified and held one hand in front of him pleadingly, as the other still held the welt marks on his cheek.
‘I don’t know ya names; ya cell number is the number we give ya when you arrive. I swear!’
Caleb photographic memory had its uses sometimes; recalling Dillons number instantly.
‘098.’ He said out loud to himself. The guard nodded along, trying to look as helpful as possible. Thick dribble dangled from his mouth, and had shaken itself loose due to the enthusiastic agreement. Caleb picked him from the ground, and raised him onto the air, in a display of strength that he had last shown to the crowd in the pit.
The guard yelped in terror and tried not to cry like a child.
‘Now give me your key card, and tell me the cell number of the leader of the Mine Hounds. Do not tell me you don't know this; for if you do, you know what will happen.’
‘Of course your worship, His cell is 013; here take this it’s my access card, to get through the doors.’
The guard pulled his security card and handed it to Caleb quickly. He was summarily released into a heap on the floor, and Caleb walked over to the sealed door that lead back up, to the upper levels of the prison.
‘It won’t do ya any good though; even with that card. There’s guards everywhere, who’ll shoot you up better than I did.’
The gunshot wound that had hit him on the shoulder had crusted up, and was healing fast. By the time he reached the upper levels, it would be fully restored.
Before leaving, Caleb walked up to the foul smelling cretin beneath him, with fury back on his face.
‘No wait… I helped, I...’ It took one blow to silence him, but he would live. Caleb would not envy the headache he would have, when he eventually woke from the blow.
He had imagined tearing through the prison, killing all in his wake. That was how he had felt, when Master Tong sent him his last message. But now his thoughts were calmer. It was not a peaceful calm that he felt in that moment. It was a feeling more like a simmering pot, waiting to boil over.
Caleb stripped the guard of anything of value, which did not add up to much. The guards I.D. card showed a picture of the simple man smiling dumbly. His name was Bartholomew Devenish but Caleb had heard the other guards call him Baz.
He then swopped clothes with Baz, and threw his rag like garments over the edge of the ravine, with contempt. Before he proceeded to his intended destination, he took an inventory of what he had.
The pistol was empty, but Baz had one spare clip of ammunition, which Caleb slid into it, and cocked the weapon. It was then holstered in a utility belt the guards all wore around their grey uniforms. There was also a simple truncheon on the belt, as well as a can of pepper spray and a few tins of tear gas. He took them all.
Instead of an all-out assault on the prison, He decided stealth would be a better idea, and made his way back to the caverns steel entrance. The ID card was then presented to the reader panel, and the door opened towards him quietly. He remembered the stairs before him led up to a central elevator, where there were many doors to what he assumed were other caverns, with other prisoners.
Caleb ascended the stairs until he reached the top, and peered around the corner, where a guard sat snoozing lightly at his desk. He ran to this guard, pulling the truncheon, and delivered a solid strike to the man’s head, knocking him out cold. Soon it would not matter that these men would sound the alarm. Caleb had planned on being discovered. That’s when all the fun would begin.
There were more clips of ammunition on the guard, which were put into his cargo trouser pockets. This one also carried a large lock knife on his belt that Caleb opened, to reveal a wicked looking blade. This would be put to good use soon. He picked up the guards hat that had fallen off when he had hit him, and placed it on his head. It would help disguise him, in the darkness of the main cell block.
The lift was operated like the doors of the facility, and the card worked just as well on the control panel that opened before him. He selected the sub-ground floor, where he knew the main cells were located. It would be lights out about now, and he did not expect to encounter too much trouble. The lift doors opened to reveal a deserted, tired gallery of cells. On the top floor he heard the footsteps of a lone patrolman, who thudded by noisily. Caleb crept against the wall of the lower cells. Even if he was seen, at this distance he would look like just another guard, having a midnight stroll. The guard did not even look down, and suddenly he turned a corner and was gone; for now anyway.
Suddenly Caleb had reached his destination; cell 013. The man inside, was the leader of the gang that had ordered the killing of Master Tong. He was going to pay him a quick visit, before all hell broke loose.
He presented the security card to the reader, and there was a clunk sound of the lock disengaging. The door opened to reveal a very large fat bellied man, covered in the tattoos the Mine Hounds all seemed to have. There were no lights in the cell, but that did not matter to Caleb, who could see quite well in the darkness. The fat man on the other hand, was confused and made an attempt to protest, for being roused from slumber.
‘What the hell is going on? It can’t be time for breakfast yet.’
He must have assumed Caleb was a guard. In the low light, he could be forgiven for this error.
‘No; it is not breakfast time. I came to give you a message actually.’
Caleb switched the light on, and the cell lit up, dazzling the boss of the Mine Hounds, who tried to look at the face of the guard that had bothered him this night. His eyes did a double take, as he realised that it was not a guard at all. He knew exactly who was in front of him now. There was a price on the head of the young man before him.
He had expected the gang leader to pounce on him, the second he realised who he was. But instead he asked shocked. ‘How did you get in here lad? We’ve been looking for you.’
He smiled at Caleb, and quickly got his confidence under control, showing a smug expression. The way he looked, it seemed like it would be he, and not Caleb that would be giving the message. Caleb closed the door to the cell, so that any no noise would escape.
‘I have my ways you scum. Now; before I give you this message. Tell me why you killed an old man, who posed no threat to you what’s so ever.’
‘Ha; you have balls to come here like this. If you hadn't disrespected my crew, then one day I might have asked you to join. But the answer to your question is a simple one, you little punk. We killed him because we couldn't find you; so it your fault really. He should not have spoken up for you and your friend in the canteen.’
The very thought of joining this scumbags gang, turned his stomach. The sick confession from him, only added to the rage he felt right now. The Mine Hound boss must of sensed violence, as he pulled a long ice pick like dagger, from under his mattress. Caleb was fast enough to stop him from pulling the weapon, but let him take it nether the less.
The gang boss had probably expected the young visitor to pull the pistol holstered at his side and wasted no time, thrusting the point of the pic, straight for his neck. The attack was fast for someone so fat, but Caleb glided to one side, and wrapped up the arm that past him, turning it and pulled down across his shoulder. The bone broke cleanly at the elbow joint,
and the pick fell to the floor. There was a high pitch scream from the gang boss, whose arm was now an L shape, but in the wrong direction. To silence his screams Caleb chopped his hand at his throat, turning the ear splitting cry of pain, into more of a gurgling sound. He fell to his knees struggling to breathe, through his ruined windpipe. The noise would unlikely be heard. Even if it was; a scream in the night on Redeem, was not something out of place.
He would take his time with this murderous fat pig. The weapons he had acquired from the guards had not been needed for this man. They no doubt would be used later he guessed, but for the mine hound, all he would need was his bare hands. With that thought, he kicked the big man in the side of his torso, hearing ribs break satisfyingly. He tried to scream again, but still no sound would come. His face told the whole story of the pain he was in.
Caleb gagged him anyway with a pair of socks that were on the floor. He then spent the next five minutes, breaking every limb in his body, without an ounce of compassion. The whole frustration he felt, at what had happened to him over the past year, was now being taken out on the fat gang boss, who had long passed out from the many fractures his body was enduring. Caleb did not put him out of his misery. Instead he just left the unconscious broken form, where he lay and left, to visit another cell. Before the end he would return to the fat boss.
He made his way up to the upper levels, where his next cell visit was located. Walking along the gangway made a little noise, but no way near as much as the guard, who Caleb could hear rounding the corner up ahead. With his back against the wall, he waited for him to turn. As he did, Caleb pounced, grabbing his uniform and launched him over the barrier, where his scream was cut short quickly, when he hit the ground head first, killing him instantly.
This was now the fourth man he had killed, since coming to this cold world. Again he felt nothing for the life he took. He had been wronged by this system of evil, and did not even turn to see the twitching body, several floors below. Time was running out now, and if he was to fulfil what he had been planning these last month’s, then he needed to hurry.
Finally he reached the second cell he wanted to visit and opened the door the same way as the first. The man in this one, quickly huddled himself into the corner of his bunk.
‘No! Not again, please I can't take any more.’
The man, begging for mercy, had a recent broken nose, and his face was swollen and covered in bruises.
‘Dillon, it’s me Caleb. Do not fear me. I have not come to harm you my friend.’
He switched on the light, which made the shaking Dillon hold his hand up to shield his black eyes.
‘Caleb is it really you, or am I dreaming?’
‘It is me my friend. What have they done to you?’
Tears began streaming down Dillon’s cheeks, making his bruised and swollen face look oily. ‘They come to me most nights Caleb; and every time is worse than the last.’
He went on to say how they had abused and tortured him. The noose that the warden put into most cells was Dillon’s only way out, from a life of unbearable suffering. So far he had held it together enough, not to put his head through the rope.
He stood and threw his arms around Caleb’s muscled body, hugging him close.
‘I am here this night to change things Dillon. Stay here until I have finished my work; can you do that my friend? Can you hold on a while longer?’
Dillon broke away, and wiped his eyes gently.
‘Are you trying to escape? It can’t be done my friend; there’s no way out of here, and even if there was; we are stuck on this planet.’
He said to Caleb, trying to warn him of his folly.
‘Trust me when I tell you not to worry Dillon. As you might have already realised, I am not like other men. I do not plan on sneaking out of some tunnel or service hatch, and then taking my chances outside.’
‘Then what do you plan?’ He asked still confused
‘When I leave, I am going to just walk through the front door. But there is work to do first.’
‘How can you do that?’
Whispered Dillon, entranced by the angelic, and powerful saviour before him.
‘I will do it, because I I’ve had enough of this place. I will do it, because I have been wronged for the last time. I will do it, because I now know what I am capable of, and who I am.
‘Who are you then Caleb? I dreamed that an angel would sweep me away from here one day. Are you that angel?’
Caleb straightened himself to his full height and lifted his chin defiantly. Even though he was dressed in the uniform of a prison guard, he looked like a young god of vengeance in his glory. ‘It is only now, that I truly know who I am Dillon.’
That fact was true enough. He had been forged in a laboratory but he had been tempered on the ice world of pain misery and isolation. It had taken all of this, for him to finally realise.
‘I am the leader of all mankind. I was created to be so.’ The awed look on Dillon’s face, showed he believed him.
‘Before I live up to that destiny, I must first have my vengeance. Wait here, I will return.’
Caleb was like a wrath, as he left the cell to start something that he could not return from. It was the beginning of his destiny, and like a primordial force he would let nothing deny him.
Most of the guards on the ice world, counted the days until they could return to wherever they called home, as rich men. The facility housed dangerous individuals who the financiers wanted forgotten, but also punished. A term for a guard here was rewarded greatly, but a condition for that reward, was to live at the prison with very few luxuries. The Warden put on entertainment for them, with several pit fights each month, to distract the guards from tedium. Most of the employees also had holo glasses that would take them to any virtual reality they desired.
Hugo Wellin did not count the days for his return home to anywhere. He did not bother much in holographic realities either. Redeem was like a home to him now. It was a place where he could truly be himself, without being chastised for his addiction to inflicting suffering and misery. On Earth, he would be considered a sick and twisted individual. But here, he was actually paid, and paid well for punishing those sent to him.
The Warden occasionally stayed his hand, from killing some of the inmates. After all, paying clients kept this facility running and in returned they expected the men it sent to them, to suffer as they would, on no other prison in existence.
The inmate chained before him, in one of his many wet rooms squealed from the touch of his cruel instrument of torture. It was music to the ears of Wellin. He activated a stud, which sent an electrical current through the prisoner’s abdomen.
Smiling; Wellin walked over to a tray of scalpels, and selected a short but extremely sharp one.
He made several tiny cuts all over the hanging man’s body. When he was satisfied that he had made enough. He walked over to a bucket of vinegar, which he had prepared earlier, and picked it up calmly. The prisoner knew what would happen next, not from the smell of the acidic liquid. But from the many times this had happened to him before. The multiple scars that latticed his body, told a tale of the horror this prisoner had endured.
‘No... Please ahhh.’
He screamed, an ear splitting cry that Wellin gratified in, as he slowly began to pour the vinegar over the man’s cuts.
The pleasure Wellin took from the torture was great indeed. But it was never enough to fully satisfy him. In truth, there was no reason why this prisoner had to be punished like this. Hugo Wellin did not need a reason to inflict pain on an inmate here. He started thinking about what he would do next. When he realised the night shift on A wing had not checked in for a long while now. Ignoring the screams of anguish for a second, he consulted his data slate on a nearby table, and to his surprise, no one on that wing had checked in for the last three hours. He was concerned and angry by this failure in procedure.
Pay would be docked for this, unless the mistake was due to illness. He activated a communicator bead, and called through to the guard on shift. He was met with only silence.
Something was wrong. Nobody would ignore a communication from him. They knew better than that.
Leaving his victim hanging in agony, Wellin made his way to A wing, and called the night shift central desk that connected the four branches of the main cell blocks.
‘This is Captain Wellin, Report.’
The response was instant
‘Good evening sir. All seems quiet tonight. Just a few screams from A wing but that’s normal when Henrik’s on duty.’ Henrik shared in Wellin’s lust for inflicting pain, and was also the man that had not checked in. A scream heard from his night patrols was not unusual. Not checking in or responding to communications however, was very out of the ordinary.
‘Henrik’s not checked into the system, and his not responding to my communications. I’m on my way up from the wet rooms now. Send someone over to check if his ok, will you.’
‘I’ll send someone right now sir’
Wellin was disappointed with not being able to finish his work, on the man he could still hear weeping behind him. Breaking into a run, he wondered what foolish accident had happened to Henrik. It was probably just something stupid, like a malfunction with his communicator. But until he knew for certain, he would have to assume the worst and investigate what was happening.
Caleb stopped dead still, in the centre of the long cell block, when he heard footsteps approaching.
His eyes easily picked out two guards approaching him. His first thought was to hide, and take out the two using stealth. But he was tired of skulking in the darkness, like a frightened animal. When he first came to this place, he had tried not to show his unique abilities, through fear of being locked away in the deepest darkest cell. That fate had happened anyway. So now he would show them exactly what he could do. Even back at the academy he had held back his true skills, in fear of harming others he trained with. That was not necessary now. The two guards approaching him finally realised that Caleb, although dressed as a guard, was actually an inmate of the prison.
There was a moment of confusion on their faces as they tried to comprehend, and digest what they were actually seeing.
Caleb did not wait for them to make a decision either way, and drew his pistol quicker than thought, taking the stunned looking men between the eyes. His pistol shooting, just as all other martial disciplines was outstanding. Killing now, he realised was something else he was extremely good at. Killing any man was regrettable to him. But these men had inflicted unnecessary pain on him, and the over prisoners without any qualms or regret. The only guard, who had shown him an ounce of compassion, had been the one called Baz, who now probably still laid unconscious, deep underground. He would live though, unlike the rest of the vermin that would soon be exterminated.
He checked the dead men for anything of use, and took their access cards, more ammunition, and placed one of their communication beads into his ear. One of them also had a data tablet that Caleb went to work on straight away.
Maps of the prison were brought up onto the crystal clear display. Caleb whizzed through information on the layout of the prison in a matter of seconds, his brain working at a speed a normal man could not even conceive possible. He went on to discover the number of guards at the prison, and the tablet even gave him exact locations of where they all were. Most of them were off duty and in their own quarters, or in the guard’s common room. He would deal with those later and made a mental note of where they all were. He would not forget.
Up ahead was a central control desk, which housed several guards. They would no doubt have a panel that operated the locks on the prisoner’s doors, as well as other interesting rooms such as the prisons armoury. He walked to its location as if he owned the place. Perhaps he would soon.
The men at the desk when he arrived must have heard the shots as they had their own automatic rifles drawn and aimed at Caleb who put a hand up to partially conceal his face from them. The moment of confusion seemed to work, when he heard them question. ‘Hey… What’s happening down there?’
‘There's an escaped prisoner.’ Caleb shouted at them, and watched their eyes opened wide in the surprise.
‘How the hell they get out? I take it he's dead now?’
One of them asked him excitedly. They must have enjoyed the mild distraction, from night after night, of sitting at this boring desk. Caleb came in to their full view, and realisation suddenly dawned on the guard, as he recognised the massive young man in a guard’s uniform.
But it was too late for them now, and Caleb snapped of three successive shots and moved so fast that any return fire just hit the walls were he should have been. Each of his bullets on the other hand, hit each guard in the head and they dropped to the floor behind the control desk.
There was one guard remaining, who breathed so heavily in shock, that he could not even hit the red alarm button, his hand hovered over. Caleb pointed his pistol steadily at his face, and indicated with the weapon that the man should stand. He did as instructed, and Caleb jumped over the desk like a gazelle, landing neatly next to the terrified man. He pressed the pistol barrel against the man's temple. The guard would no doubt recognise him from his short spell in the pit; so he would know how lethal he was.
‘It doesn’t matter what you do. You can't escape from Redeem.’ The Guard said to him.
‘What makes you think I want to escape?’ Replied Caleb smoothly.
‘I have ended their lives, and I have no problem killing you right now. Do you want to die?
The guard shook his head vigorously. “Remove your weapons.” Caleb added.
The guard quickly unclipped his belt and laid it on the ground. The barrel of the gun never left the side of his head.
‘Punch your code into the computer and put some cuffs on.’
The guard, again did as he was told, and Caleb, having no use for the guard, struck him hard over the head, knocking him out cold.
He sat in front of the display, which showed the prison cell block wings. He navigated to the armoury, and hacked the locking mechanism, to only open for him. The guards would now have no way to get to this arsenal of weapons to pose a lethal threat to him.
Caleb then uploaded all of the locking mechanisms for the entire facility, including the guard’s quarters. The ones, who were off duty, would be locked in their rooms until he released them. Killing them all had been tempting; especially for all the suffering that they inflicted upon him and the other unfortunate souls here. But that was not his way. Yes he could kill; but if it could be avoided he would.
Suddenly he could hear the elevator start to move over the other side of the room. The alarm had not yet been raised, so this was probably just another guard on patrol. Caleb had locked down the doors to the guards block and had slaved the facilities controls to the data tablet.
Hacking computers had always seemed easy to him, that he did not even have to think about it. He entered the complex coding into the system, with nimble fingers that made short work of the transfer of the facilities control to him. He had received the same training as the others had at the academy. Caleb had quickly surpassed even his instructors in the art of coding and hacking security systems. It had all seemed so logical to him, that he could not understand why his close friend Tristan, had found it difficult to understand the technicalities of how computers and machines worked. The thought of his old friend was a distraction he could not afford, as his attention went back to the visitor that was coming.
He looked up and noticed that the indicator above the elevator doors showed that it was nearly at his level. He could have stopped it using his new control pad, but in truth he wanted the guards to come to him. If they came at him in twos and threes, as it had gone so far. Then they did not stand a chance against him.
Caleb holstered his pistol, and picked up one of the assault rifles lying on the floor, checking the ammunition clip. His training was now kicking in, and curiously he was beginning to enjoy himself.
Taking the data tablet; he placed it high on one of the many overhead cable trays that were in easy reach. He then hid in the shadows of a staircase that lead to the upper levels of the cell blocks, and he waited patiently for elevator to stop. The rage he had felt was now simmering, waiting to boil over at his leisure. The doors to the elevator opened.
The Raptor TS broke out of the warp tear, just outside of the Solar system, and continued in the direction of Earth. Species X1 emerged a short while after them, with the small fleet in close pursuit. Captain Reynolds looked at the velocity of readings of the chasing ships, and concluded they could just about out run them.
‘Helmsmen, get us back to earth as fast as the ship can go.’
The order was obeyed instantly. Reynolds had made it quite clear that any questioning of his instructions would be punished severely. Black Watch reputation for harsh discipline ensured all orders were carried out promptly. The young Helmsmen must have been a fast learner. He did not say a word to counter the strange order to lead the fleet behind them, directly to their home world. What he did not know, was General Defoe had a welcoming committee planned for the alien visitors.
It would not take long to get back to Earth now. When they did, Reynolds was sure they would regret following them through the warp tear. The plan seemed to be running smoothly, and Reynolds opened up a secure channel directly to General Defoe, who would be expecting his communication. The hail was answered on the third ring and he heard the calm voice of the General.
“All is going as planned Sir; the bombardment had the desired effect, and we are being pursued by a large fleet of the aliens, as we speak. We are out running them, just about.’
‘Good work; I will take over the control of your ship remotely, when you pass Earth’s moon. The trap is ready to be sprung Captain.’
‘Very good General.’
He would have liked to have known what had been planned for the alien invaders, but he was more than confident in the Generals ability to deal with the threat.
Planet: Earth, Command Centre, Geneva
The command centre, opposite the Presidential Palace, should have been buzzing in anticipation of what was about to happen. The men and women, had been well drilled for this operation, and the professionalism showed. Orders were calmly relayed to necessary personnel.
General Defoe had looked forward to this day, for a very long time. This day would be a bloody one indeed. All would remember the golden era that President Black had ushered in, as a fond memory. After today; there would be only war for humanity, and he would be the man to lead them.
Opposite him; the holographic form of Guy Kruger knelt. His head was lowered in deference.
‘All is in place my Emperor.’
It was not official yet, but it was right that he used his new title now. If what they planned failed, then they would both be dead anyway.
‘As are all my stratagems Guy. I will send you a message at the exact moment I want you to kill our beloved President. Today his power of office has expired.”
‘I do not expect any issues; after taking out Dorn, this will be a breeze.’
Kruger was confident of how the plan would play out. The only variables that he could not accurately predict, was how well the aliens could fight. But the General had a secret weapon, that he would have command over soon. Considering the power they would wield, he doubted if anything could stand in their way.
The image of Kruger was as clear as if he was actually there.
‘Rise, Supreme Commander.
Kruger stood, and looked impressively dressed, in his war gear that would soon, not just be for show. As Captain of Blacks body guard, he needed to look the part, and he did just that. His cape was made from a light and intricate chainmail, which shimmered magically. Its golden glow made him look majestic. It complimented his dark armour well. He was the complete opposite of the pureness of Dorn Bruce, whose armour was as white and bright as was his character. The darkness suited Kruger.
‘Remember to get out of there, as soon as the deed is done. You will join me here as we coordinate our response to the threat. That is also what we will tell the nobles and senators, when they ask why you were not at the palace, to die at our leader’s side.’
Kruger knew this already. They had gone over and over the plan so much, that he could picture the formations of the new secret Regiment they had been developing on lunar base, over the past few years. The moon had been the perfect place to hide the new warriors they had been developing with the help of some of the scientists, in the employment of Blacks regime.
They were the fruits of years of labour, and as far as President Black knew, the resources being spent on lunar base, were for research and development into advance warfare. Technically Defoe had not even had to lie to Black, while preparing the new soldiers, destined to fight for the good of the current government. Alas; this new breed of soldier, were bred only to serve Defoe. The brainwashing techniques used to make them obedient was only the tip of the iceberg, when it came to what they had done to the men on lunar.
From stocks of soldiers, recruited across the vast colonies, they had made super specimens that were altered physically and mentally. Their genomes had been helped along before birth. But then, they were further enhanced, with all the techniques that they had at their disposal. The greatest of the modifications to these men was a special data chip implanted into their brains, giving them endless advantages over an enemy. It gave them instant data uploading, and communication capabilities. It also allowed them to be controlled by Defoe and Kruger personally. They would use this new and growing army of unrivalled ultimate warriors. They had not been named yet. Initially they would use them to work alongside the other regiments, and eventually they would all be assimilated into a single force of freakish strength.
‘I will send word when it is done my Emperor. Are the men on lunar base ready for what is coming?’
It was an impertinent question, but Defoe answered anyway.
‘They are ready Guy; as are the billons of drones that orbit the moon, awaiting our command to unleash them. I will not do so however, until our grim work is done, and species X1 is upon us. We must be seen as saviours after all.’
Kruger nodded and smiled at what was about to happen. Power would be his soon; if only as Defoe’s underling. He had earned that right so far. He saluted Defoe, and his chair turned away from the dissolving image of Kruger, and back to the other man who had helped him achieve his dream of domination.
‘Dr Slade; You have served the President for a long time. How do you feel about his coming death?’
It was true that Dr Slade had been with Black for many years, helping him create genetic perfection, and advancing their people. But Black had sat on the throne of power for far too long, and held back his best discoveries, even from the most loyal Dr Slade.
It had not been difficult in the end, to turn one of Earths greatest minds against his mentor.
The promise of power had not been the only thing he had offered the Dr. He would become Defoe’s chief scientist, and would have the freedom to create the horrendous things that he had dreamed of bringing to fruition.
Black had always restrained his ambitions and personal experiments. This had worked to Defoe’s advantage, when the Dr was finally at his breaking point, to betray the man who called him a friend.
‘There is no doubting the greatness of that man. But he has had his time, and kept his secrets for too long.’
What the Dr meant by that, was how Black had sustained his own life for so long. He had asked him on several occasions to share his secrets with him. But he just said every time, that he was not ready to share his gift of immortality, with anyone but his potential successor. Now the boy was safely stored on the ice world of Redeem. Yes he would be tortured there. But they had strict instructions to keep him alive. Once they had Black taken care of, and the aliens whipped. They could bring the boy back to his labs for testing.
‘I have observed the prowess of our fighting force on lunar base Dr. You will soon have a front row seat of the destructive power of your creations. After that we can turn thoughts to our own immortality.”
‘That was always his greatest secret you know. I always resented him for not telling me how he did it. How fares the boy on Redeem?’
The Dr looked excited at the mentioning of Dorn’s brat. He looked down his sharp long nose expectantly at Defoe, hoping that his greatest work was still alive. He had protested at first in sending the boy to the brutal planet. But had soon seen sense, when Defoe had insisted that the whole plan would come crashing down, if he was ever discovered while Black lived.
‘He is alive. I had a coded message from the Warden not so long ago. He is being kept in the deepest and darkest dungeon, with no contact with anyone.’
‘That is just as well. Not even I know what he is capable of. No contact is for the best I think.’
Dr Slade run a hand through his thinning grey scruffy hair and added.
‘Maybe we should have instructed him to sedate the boy indefinably, until we begin experimentation.’
‘Could he really be that dangerous; even in that place?’
‘I don’t know.’ The anxious looking Dr said darkly.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Wellin walked out of the elevator briskly, and took in all of the carnage around the central control booth. Shots had been fired he noticed, as he gazed over the multiple bullet holes in the concrete walls, all around the A wing entrance.
Cautiously he made his way to the booth, where the dead bodies of his men lay. There was no sign of their attacker, who was no doubt a prisoner that had escaped his cell. He scanned the room but could see no one. The scum would not get far.
He reached out to touch the large emergency button at the desk, which would summon every guard to action. When they found the prisoner that had dared do this, he would slowly torture and kill him over the span of months, if not years. In the end he would beg Wellin to kill him.
Just as he was about to sound the alarm, he noticed a laser was suddenly targeting him. The red beam came from under a stair case, and the steady aim was pointed straight at his heart.
‘I would not press that button if I was you.’ The voice in the darkness said calmly.
‘It doesn’t matter if you shoot me or not, in about fifteen minutes when no one checks in, this place will go crazy. You’re going to be torn to pieces for what you’ve done. Turn over that gun, and I may let you live after this.’
The gunmen stepped out of the shadows, holding his aim at Wellin, who raised his hands when he recognised who the shooter was.
The young man emerging was prisoner 118. He did not look like he cared either way, whether he got out of the situation alive.
‘It’s funny; your friends lying around your feet gave me the same warning. I must not have understood them either.’
‘It’s not a threat it’s a promise. That gun will not help you when they come fully armoured.’
The young prisoner seemed to consider this, and nodded his head in agreement with him.
‘Perhaps you’re right; I suppose I don’t need this silly gun then after all.’
With that said 118 turned the gun over horizontally and brought it down over his knee, snapping the weapon in two, like dry branches. The strength needed to do that was incomprehensible. Wellin was, for the first time in his life, the one that was frightened.
This young prisoner had been category one; that he knew. The Warden had reprimanded him, for forcing this high value prisoner to fight. He had not checked his papers, which said he was to be kept in complete isolation. Wellin could have got into big trouble for that lax in paperwork. They would have to kill 118 now though. The financers would not be happy.
How he had broken out of the deep holding platform was beyond him. Witnessing the ease in which the boy killed in the pit, gave him some understanding that prisoner he was not an ordinary young man. He must have been about eighteen years old, and was already bigger than most of the hardened inmates, that used the gymnasium on a daily basis. To break a steel gun in such a way was unbelievable, for a lad his age or any age for that matter.
‘How did you do that?
‘I have tried to tell you many times before. I am Caleb Bruce, son of Dorn Bruce, who was Captain of President Edward Blacks elite guard. I was made this way to lead humanity. But I was betrayed and sent to this place, where you have tortured and abused me. One way or the other, it all ends today; and so do you.’ Wellin just had to keep him talking for a while longer. At any moment, the alarm would be triggered without his doing.
‘I only do what I’m paid to do. This is just my job.’
‘Oh really; so you do not enjoy your work then?’ The prisoner asked in mock confusion.
‘No of course not; but I have to do it, to keep you all in line. Our financers expect you to all suffer here, for your crimes after all.’
The young lad was having none of it, and burst into laughter at Wellins lies.
‘You enjoyed hurting me, and I am no criminal. I think you already know this. That is why you will pay for your crimes against me, and the many other men that did not deserve the pain you have inflicted.’ He threw Wellin over a pair of hand cuffs.
‘Put them on behind your back.’
Wellin snapped them on and hopped the alarm bell would be ringing very soon. He had been in some tough scrapes at the prison. But this inmate, who looked like a god of vengeance, was the only person to make him truly worry for his life.
118 got right up into his face, so he could feel his warm breath on his cheeks. Wellin stood still, and looked at the timer on one of the screens inside the control booth. Then all of a sudden the young inmate spun and hit him square on the jaw, with an elbow that he barely felt, as darkness descended into nothingness.
Planet: Elfandar, High Council Assembly
Cael had left the council chambers in a foul temper. He hated Lord Gretnear, and the Mage Tanandil for all their war mongering and prodding. As he saw it, the only way to avoid detection and war with the Orkra, was to stay out of their way. They should just continue to hide within the cloak of the nebula, which the hidden realms resided in.
His arguments had been listened to, but ultimately the reckless actions of fools were given licence. Now an alliance, with beings barely able to grasp the complexities of the universe, may actually happen.
Cael would do all in his power to stop this from occurring. He looked over all the information learned about the humans. Helping him go through the information was an underling name Framlier, who pestered him constantly with useless suggestions.
‘Sire what if I went ahead of the Mage and Lord Gretnear, and kill this Human boy. Surly that would end this ridicules alliance with the humans.’
‘Sometimes Framlier, I worry about your stupidity. Even without this strange human boy, Tanandil will still seek to play his war games, at the risk of what we have built here in the hidden realms. I will die before I let that happen.’
Framlier snivelled an apology to his patron, and asked instead.
‘Then what can we do, to avert this madness Lord?’
Cael plucked a berry from a plate he grazed at, and popped it into his mouth with an un-necessary violence.
‘The King, although influenced by the council, will not listen to my reason. So our solution is to try and influence someone who has his ear, and may be sympathetic to our cause.”
Cael was tiring of the underlings stupid questions. Unfortunately he would need him for a task of importance, which he hoped the worm was capable of.
‘The answer to your question is walking towards us right now; and on time I see.’
Queen Eira approached them. The mighty hall they were in had been lavished with artistic wonders. But all paled in her beauty, which was all too much for Framlier, who could not look at the perfect form of the Elfan Queen that glowed like a star.
‘Are you still scheming Lord Cael?’
Her voice was melodic, and impossible to not enchant whoever she met. Even Cael was not immune to her. But he would try and use all of his skills of influence to gain this Elfan maiden to his cause.
‘Ah; Queen Eira, Thank you for meeting with me. You are a vision of light in these dark times.’
‘You flatter me Lord Cael.
‘I only speak truthfully to your majesty, as I did in the council assembly.’
The queen had ever been a champion of peace, and would always favour the route of none violence. Surly she would understand Cael’s appeal, to leave the rest of the galaxies problems to others. So they may live in peace and harmony in their little corner of it.
‘I do not wish for war my Lord. The king has judged wisely, in finding out the measure of this human boy. I can assure you, if he is found wanting. Then we will turn our backs on them, to suffer their own fate; for good or ill.’
‘Your words are comforting your majesty, but do not underestimate the trickery of the High Mage. Tannandil works on his own agenda and must be stopped, before he brings forth our peoples ruin.’
He had spoken his argument far louder than he would have liked, in the high vaulted halls. His voice would carry to any spying ear, which may have been lurking around one the many giant stone pillars. The queen looked regrettably unmoved by his impassioned plea.
‘Do not fear Lord Cael. I will touch the mind of the human personally. I will know if he is unworthy of our support.’
Framlier coughed and tried to ask a question, that he stuttered out clumsily. He was clearly finding it unbearable to be in the magnificent presence of the royal.
‘P…pardon me your majesty, but if you do not mind me saying?’
He paused, as Cael gave him a venomous look, for daring to talk the Queen.
She smiled at him kindly. ‘What would you like to say Framlier?’ His pale features turned to burgundy; blushing at the words of the wonderful Elfan maiden, who to his astonishment knew his name.
‘I was just thinking, if we should lower ourselves to even meet a member of these humans. Surly our fair race is far above, even their greatest being. Should we not just leave them to their fate?’ Cael would chastise his underling later for the outburst. What he had said was true though. Cael looked at the Queen, hoping the words of the Framlier would appeal to her noble heritage.
‘You are silly Framlier. I can understand how you feel. The Humans must appear beneath you because of how young they are. Our evolution has happened over aeons. But their rise, from primitives to enlightened beings, has happened much faster.”
‘I stand humbled by your wisdom your majesty.’
Framlier conceded, and bowed as low as he possibly could before the amused looking Queen. ‘My servant is ignorant to the ways of the universe My Queen. He does have a point though. Will you at least pass on my concerns to the King?’ She inclined her head graciously to him.
‘I will my Lord Cael; the King appreciates all advice. But until Tanandil returns, I am afraid his will is final.’
‘Thank you your majesty.’
Cael would be forced to wait for the Mages return. Until that day, he would think carefully on whether his king and queen were fit to rule his people any longer. He would not betray them lightly; but fighting the Orkra was folly. He knew that if he challenged the royal throne, he would have many supporters sympathetic to his cause. Even if it meant civil war for his own people, Cael would not let them be exterminated from existence, by the bestial green skinned enemy. He would try and put a stop to this nonsense once and for all.
‘Framlier, I have Job for you’
‘Yes my Lord.’ He replied dutifully.
‘On this very world, is a device that our most learned high mage, uses to channel his thoughts for interstellar ascension.’
Caels servant would know the device well. All of the Elfan would know of this device, which had been created to assist their people’s understanding, of galactic affairs.
‘The same devise that resides in the hall of dreams My Lord?’
‘Yes Framlier that is the one. I want you to destroy this relic for me, and your people. Without the Dream Caster, Tanandil will find it much harder to interfere in matters beyond our borders.’
Framlier looked frightened, and asked his Lord pathetically.
‘But does that device not also shield us from the horrors of the Galaxy Sire?’
‘Nonsense; the nebula is the only shield we need. It has protected us for far longer than the Mages archaic contraption.’ Cael said dismissively to his underling who was tiring, with his stupid questions. ‘I see my Lord.’
‘So you will do this service for me Framlier. If you do, I will reward you beyond your imagination.’
‘Of course I will. I am but your humble servant.’
With the dream caster gone; the King would hear much less galactic gossip. Cael had to make sure no one knew it was they who destroyed the device. He would have to go over his plan a few times with Framlier, to ensure the idiot did not shame them both.
Planet: Earth, Presidential Palace, Geneva
Snow was starting to fall over the city of Geneva, carpeting the streets in virgin powder that would disrupt everybody’s day. President Black felt sorry for the many pedestrians, struggling in the ever deepening snow. Maybe the next thing he should discover was weather control. He would talk to Dr Slade about it. The Dr needed a distraction, from the pressure he was putting him under to produce an heir to his presidency.
As he watched the flakes fall tenderly on the ground below, he wished that he could just have a simple life, away from politics and government. But would there have been a peace to live in, if not for him.
The fire crackled behind him, and he sat back down at his desk to go over some food distribution data. This was boring, but necessary work that he had to do. He did not trust others to have complete control over his great works, and would tinker and change any system that was not working to its optimum efficiency.
Captain Kruger had said he wanted to see him urgently; before he arrived he wanted to make sure the planets harvest was ready to move, to where people needed it the most.
His intercom buzzed and his Personal assistant Margret informed him that Captain Kruger was on his way in. He came in and snapped a salute to Black, who powered down the floating holographic display. The shipping numbers would have to wait.
‘What’s the problem Guy?’ Kruger looked grave, as he approached Black.
‘Mr President, I have just received information that there is a large fleet of vessels heading towards Earth. Our relay posts estimates them to be within our orbit within six hours.’
‘I take it we are not expecting a fleet, Guy?
‘No sir; from the pictures I’ve seen, from the Jupiter relay, they do not look like ours.’
‘If there not ours then whose are they?
Kruger’s cold, steel blue eyes were intense as he replied.
‘We don’t know sir.
Black hurried over to his desk and again brought up a holographic display, where food stock data had been previously. He tapped several icons that showed him images from the Jupiter relay cameras. The screen projected images, of around thirty cruiser size vessels, of a design that Black had never seen before.
‘What the hell are those Guy?’
Kruger came up beside the President to look at the images he was seeing. He put his hand on Blacks shoulder, which was strange. He allowed it because he was engrossed in the pictures of this coming fleet. He felt a very sharp prick from the over familiar touch, and turned to the Captain sternly.
‘What was that Guy?’
Kruger raised his hands, and walked backwards until his back was against one of the Presidents prized tapestries. On his finger, Black noticed a ring that had a spike protruding from it, and a bead of liquid at its tip.
A numb feeling quickly spread from his neck up. He put his hand to where the ring had pricked him and the movement felt sluggish and uncoordinated. Then, losing all feeling in his legs, he fell to the floor. He threw out a uselessly numb arm, to catch hold of the desk and stop his fall. The arm hit the desk like a brick, and the weight of his fall dislocated his shoulder, as he collapsed onto an Old Persian rug.
He looked up to Kruger, who was now standing over him, smiling pearly white canines.
Black tried to speak but could not move his lips to form the words. A babbled moan was all he could manage.
Kruger sat in the Presidents chair, and looked out of the window. He watched the snow fall for a moment. Turning his blue eyes back onto the President, he chuckled merrily at what he had just done. He knelt next to the Black, and started to stroke the fallen leader’s thick dark hair tenderly, as he purred into his ear. ‘People always ask why, when it is too late. As wonderful as you are, no one can sit on the throne indefinitely. You surrounded yourself with the best protection possible; but failed to anticipate that your protection would one day be your undoing.’
Black tried to respond but had completely lost all movement now. So he just lay paralysed, at the mercy of his head bodyguard. He tried to reach out with his mind to Keblie Tong, who he had connected with recently. But his mid was not strong enough to reach as far as the Advanced Training Academy, where Keblie was building his new guild with Master Thion.
‘I will leave you now Mr President. I would like to say before I go, that all you have built and created will be ours. All of your secrets will be discovered. It is our time now Mr President and you will have a front row seat, for all of the destruction to come.’
Kruger indicated out of the window, like he was a presenter of some great show.
‘Soon this building will be ash and ruin. You will not want to miss a thing. I know what a stickler for detail you are.’
Kruger dragged his still form, over to where Black had a view of the golden city of Geneva. How could he have been so blind to this betrayal? He wanted to wipe the arrogant smile from Kruger’s face, and groaned an incoherent sound that made no sense.
‘I just want you to know that you have gone the same way as your beloved Captain Dorn Bruce. This ring has not only defeated you, but also the shield that you hid behind. If you’re thinking that the army will stop us, they won’t. We have created a new army, with the help of someone else close to you.’
Black was going red with an intensity to break from his paralyses, and destroy this betrayer and breaker of oaths. Instead he just spat and spluttered more nonsense, which Kruger pretended he understood, and nodded along like he was listening to an old friend.
‘Dr Slade has been very helpful indeed. General Defoe and I could not have done this without him really.’
The betrayal went everywhere; maybe he wasn’t strong enough to lead any more, if he could not see the scheming right under his nose. Kruger stood and walked to the large double doors, where his personal assistant Margaret sat ignorantly. Guy Kruger had not made a sound with his attack on Black, so she would be none the wiser. The two guards outside would also be in the dark, as to what was happening so close to them.
Kruger pulled two ornate looking pistols, which were holstered behind his back and checked the weapons briefly.
‘Good bye Mr President. It has been a pleasure to serve; now enjoy the show.’
With that said he left the office, and Black heard four silenced shots spit from behind the door and then silence. A tear made its way down his cheek at the death of his beloved Margret; who had been a loyal servant for as long as Slade had been with him. The tear could not be wiped, as it dripped onto the rug he was laying on.
In the distance, there was a light in the sky that was becoming brighter and brighter, as it approached the Palace. This must have been the show that Kruger had promised. He tried again in vain to move his lifeless limbs, as he watched the beginning of his end.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Caleb knew he did not have long, before all hell broke loose inside the prison. He had gathered two ropes, and tied nooses for the two men, who deserved to be punished for crimes against him. The big fat Mine Hound leader was dragged over to the central control, where all of the cell blocks converged. Still the alarm had not activated, but Caleb knew it would not be long.
He took the fat man to the first floor, where he had tied the ropes and put the noose over his head. The man had passed out from the pain of the many fractures that Caleb had inflicted. But still he mewed even in unconsciousness, from the agony he was in.
Caleb then brought the guard called Hugo Wellin up to the noose, and tightened it around his neck with more satisfaction than he would care to admit. The guard was starting to come too, and Caleb reached over and ripped the man’s name badge from his chest, and threw it over the side. He gave him a few mild slaps, and he opened his eyes confused.
He looked at Caleb then at the rope attached to him. The fear on his face should have been reward enough, for all of the things he had done at this place. But Caleb had vowed to punish all who had wronged him. He could have done this by killing them all quickly. He could have done that very easily. But they had to know that they were not just being murdered. They were being executed, for crimes against him.
The fat one had ordered the killing of Master Tong, who had burned in his cell, not so long ago. Wellin on the other hand was guilty of many crimes, including Caleb’s torture and the deaths of hundreds of men in the pit.
‘Please don’t do this.’ He cried with utter desperation. This man had not shown an ounce of compassion for those he had hurt. Caleb tied another rope around their ankles, and made his way back down to the control desk, and jumped up to retrieve the data tablet that he had kept on the ducting.
With both ropes in hand, he took the strain and gently pulled the two condemned men to the edge of the gangway above.
‘No! Please… I can get you off this planet. Don’t kill me.’
‘For now, I do not wish to leave this planet. When I do wish it; I will. I have no need of your assistance.’
Wellin struggled against the cuffs he had put on himself, to no avail.
‘I have been sending your men the necessary codes to keep them away, in case you was wondering why they have not come to your rescue. But now I am ready; let’s give them a show shall we.’
Caleb tapped in some commands on his new control pad, and with a clank, all of the prisoner’s cells opened. He then pushed the red alarm button, much to the relief of Wellin, who assumed his men would now come for him.
Gradually the inmates began to trickle into the central control area. Out of the hundreds of prisoners here at Redeem, only a few of the hardened ones dared leave their cells. Punishment after all was harsh for many here.
A few of the prisoners, Caleb noticed where Mine Hound gang members. They all stopped in shock, at the sight of the bloody and broken form of their leader.
Guards started piling up outside the locked entrance ways. They pressed up to the glass to see what was going on inside the cell blocks. A few of them even kicked at the doors, in a futile attempt to get inside the cell block and return order to the facility.
There was a microphone at the desk, where the guards would sometimes make announcements to inmates. It was Caleb’s turn to make an announcement of his own.
‘If you are in your cell, I invite you to come out and witness the end of this so called prison. I stand here and tell you that you are now safe. I am Caleb Bruce; free yourselves.’
Hundreds of inmates all gave in to their curiosity, and came to see who had released them. Dillon was not among the throng that was assembling in the large control point, which connected the four cell blocks.
A phone started to ring at the control booth where Caleb still held the two men above him, at his mercy. He ignored its monotonous call, which echoed around the crusting prison walls.
‘You all know the guard before you. He has touched all our lives, in his sick and twisted way. I wonder now if death is too easy a punishment, for what he has done to us. The other, I am sure you know as well.
One of the tattooed prisoners walked up to Caleb. There was no threat in his body language.
‘I don’t know how you busted us out man, or why the pigs haven’t come rolling down on you. But the boss man you got up there. It won’t go well for you if you pull that rope.’
His Latin accent was civil and confident. Most people here would have obeyed this fearsome gang member instantly, to avoid certain reprisals that they surly would deal out.
Caleb on the other hand was having none of it. He would not take orders from anyone any longer; especially not from these men. He did however need to win the hearts of all the prisoners, if his plan was to work as effectively as he hoped. He calmed the rage inside him that called for more blood, more justice. His bunched muscles in his back relaxed and the strain of the ropes went slack.
He tied them both off, onto a railing around the booth, and faced the man who had spoken to him.
‘That man; your boss, killed a very good friend of mine. Your gang has terrorised this whole prison in a similar way to all the guards here. I will tell you what I have decided for you all in a moment, but do not think to threaten me again and live.’
He smiled, and quietly laughed at his insanity. Caleb had counted roughly twenty or so guards, behind one of the four entrances to the cell block control. He tapped the data tablet, which he had turned into his own private mobile access key. The guards spilled into the vaulted room with reckless abandon, thinking of nothing but crushing the ones who had caused this breakout.
The inmates shied away, including the one who had spoken to Caleb. They assumed their temporary moment of freedom was up, and they huddled away from the advancing guards.
Caleb on the other hand, had been waiting to let this first batch into his trap. He had spent months envisioning how he would annihilate the men who ran this place. In truth, he could have done it long ago, but for two reasons. One was the fact that once he had broken out, what would he do then? Secondly; he had only recently realised what he was truly capable of, and now it did not matter about getting off of this world of ice.
In the pit he had felt like a god of war who had no equal. It was on the sands of combat that sparked a belief in him, that he could defeat any foe and achieve whatever he turned his desire to. For now that desire was to take this facility, and dare he say this whole world. It would be all under his control, he knew with utter certainty.
He jumped over the control desk again with ease, and ran straight at the guards who were coming at him; all bent on breaking this minor rebellion. They all drew pistols and fired as they came. Fortunately, Caleb had locked them out from the main arsenal of heavy weaponry. At a speed that seemed too fast for a human to run, Caleb was among the guards before they could get off more than a few shots.
His blurring form darted around them, with just the occasional round from their pistols hitting him. They were glancing wounds, and did not slow the wrathful Caleb one bit. He could have hid behind the control desk, and trade shots with these men. But he wanted to put on a show. Death had no fear for him now. With his super enhanced healing abilities he was not even sure if he could die.
With just a knife that he had taken earlier, Caleb went through the twenty or so guards like a whirlwind. Each time he passed one of them; he would make a cut or deliver a blow that dropped them guard by guard. Once he was among them, they ended up shooting each other, in a vain attempt to hit the ghost that weaved around them, killing with impunity.
There were now only a few left. They pulled electro truncheons in a feeble hope, that they may have tired this freak of nature enough to hit him with a telling blow. Alas; this hope was in vain, as Caleb kicked and struck them at all angles, in a confusing melee of carnage.
Suddenly there was only one guard standing, and he was wise enough to drop to his knees with his hands up. If twenty men were no way near the match of Caleb, then what chance did this one hope to achieve.
‘Put some cuffs on him, and put him in a cell.’
Caleb said commandingly, to the Mine Hound that had requested he lower down his leader. Bemused and wide eyed, he obeyed without hesitation. The show that Caleb had put on for them all had the desired effect it seemed.
The other doors that locked out the rest of the guards became quiet. They no longer banged on the steel entrances. They had a good view of what had just happened to the comrades, and were not eager to share their fate. Instead they waited opened mouthed in the corridors, for orders that would not come. Caleb had seen to that by overriding the communication frequencies. The only way the Warden could coordinate with anyone now, was either face to face, or over a hard line that rang hauntingly at the control desk. Caleb walked to the ringing phone to take the call.
The other inmates watched the drama play out. They were impressed. For the first time they dared to hope that their bondage was now over. Caleb picked up the hand set cutting of the eerie ring.
‘Hello; this is the new commander of the facility. How can I help you?’
Planet: Earth, High Orbit
Captain Reynolds had now relinquished all of the Raptors controls, over to General Defoe’s command. The perusing fleet were hot on his heels, and some were so close to his vessel that they had even fired a volley of missiles at him. Luckily the range was still too great to be of much concern.
‘Captain, I have your ship. Thank you for the service to the Watch.’
The way the General had said that made it sound that he would not survive this mission. Surly it had just meant he had served Black Watch well.
‘Thank you General, it has been an honour. Do I just sit tight now sir?’
‘Yes, I will take it from here. Defoe out.’
The General was not the biggest conversationalist at the best of times. But Reynolds had hoped that once he was back in his solar system, he would be told what would happen to the enemy at his tail. Like most missions in the watch however, he remained in the dark.
The helmsmen turned to him suddenly alarmed. He wondered what the problem was now.
‘Sir, I think we have a problem.’
The helm said urgently to Reynolds, who massaged his brow tiringly and held out a calming open hand.
‘It’s ok helmsmen. The General has our ship now; I think he knows what his doing.’
The young helm quickly looked back at his controls for confirmation and added.
‘That’s the problem sir; our course has been set for the Presidential Palace. We’re not slowing down either; in fact the ships steadily speeding up, and I’ve been completely locked out.’
Reynolds hailed the General to see what was happening. Maybe he had given control of their ship to some rookie who had completely miscalculated their approach. No answer came from Earth command.
For a moment he panicked. They had passed the moon, and Earth was looming ever closer. Suddenly he realised that they were getting very near to the point of no return. The fabric of the Raptor TS’s hull would ensure that they did not burn up in the atmosphere. But at the speed they were going the impact would blow the ship and its crew to pieces.
‘Sir we on a collision course with Earth; Orders?’ He had none; they were essentially locked out from all of the Raptors controls.
The nose of the matt black vessel began to glow, as they entered the planet’s atmosphere. What had they done to deserve destruction? Reynolds would never know.
It had not been unheard of to cut off loose ends off, after a delicate operation. But he could not see the sense in eliminating his whole crew who were technically heroes.
The mountains of the Swizz Alps came into focus, as they broke out of the burning re-entry. ‘Helm try a manual over ride… try something curse you!’ He shouted in vain, knowing the order was impossible. ‘It’s too late sir! We’re doomed.’
Within the Presidential office, Black lay completely incapacitated. The betrayal by Kruger had been a complete surprise, and the drug he had pumped into him on the ring he was wearing, had been potent to say the least. He did not feel like he was dying. It was more a feeling of absolute helplessness.
Kruger had been gone a few minutes now. Black looked out of the window, like a spectator at the theatre. No sound had come from outside his office, which meant that Kruger was probably long gone by now. The question was; why didn’t he just kill him while he had him at his mercy?
It was then that he noticed a streak of light that was suddenly getting brighter and brighter. Understanding dawned on him instantly. They had incapacitated him and know they would destroy the Palace with him inside it. This would essentially create a perfect crime with no evidence pointing at the betrayers.
A fear of all his life’s work being ruined fuelled him to summon something of a small movement in his hands. Long ago, he had transformed his physiology to heal and withstand the most potent of pathogens and poisons. Gradually he could feel the healing effects of his work wash over him. It was not enough for him to stand, but clumsily he rolled for the wall near his desk.
He got there as quick as he could. Looking back out of the window the bright flash in the sky was coming at the Palace fast. He reached out underneath one of the hanging tapestries, which showed an ancient battle, of knights and Lords in a time long forgotten.
Behind the tapestry was an elevator that would take him to the buildings underground bunker. Only a few people were privy to this elevators existence, and he hoped that he could summon the power needed to just open the doors, let alone descend into its refuge in time.
The button to the elevator felt as numb as anything else he touched. He sighed in relief when he heard a ding, and the doors opened. Rolling into the steel box and his possible sanctuary, took a monumental effort. As more time was passing however, he could feel his bodies control returning. He threw a partially feeling hand up to the elevator controls, and hit the down button. There was only two places that it could go anyway, which was this office, and to the bunker below.
Intense light lit the room and turned the darkness of night outside to day time. The doors closed, and the elevator whooshed down. He hoped with all hope that he would make it to the bunker in time, before whatever was falling destroyed his home. It was fast but he didn’t think it would be fast enough.
It stopped abruptly, and the doors opened to the bunkers entrance. With a last effort he rolled out onto the concrete floor. The feeling of the grounds coldness told him that all sensation was starting to come back. But before he could celebrate this miraculous return of feeling, there was a thunderous boom all around him and then only darkness.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
The Warden had watched the drama play out on the viewing screen. His calm features that had never betrayed much feeling, were now screwed up in anger at what was happening within his prison.
Inmate 118 had somehow locked everyone out of the system, and the Warden had also been stuck fast in his chambers and could do very little, from where he now paced. The phone he had been holding had rang for ages. He had watched on the screen the big and imposing young man go through twenty or so of his men, like a destructive tempest. Who; and what was this thing they had sent him? How he had even escaped from an isolated cavernous platform was beyond his comprehension.
His men were sprawled on the ground and unmoving. One of them had been spared, and was now being led away in cuffs by one of the other inmates. They looked just as stunned as the Warden had been, at what was happening.
118 came back to the desk, as if he had been out for a light stroll. No sense of fatigue showed on the face of the person who had taken out a score of well-trained prison officers. He came back to the desk, and looked straight into the camera that the Warden was watching him on. He picked up the ringing phone.
‘Hello, this is the new commander of the facility. How can I help you?’
Prisoner 118 said over the phone conversationally.
‘No young man; you are not. This facility is mine, and I promise you that there will be payment, for what you have done this evening.’
He stared into the camera, as if he were looking straight at him. The Warden felt a cold shiver run along his spine. He did not fear anyone; he had no need to here. In this place he was the tormenter, and the one to be feared. This fact did not help his feeling of dread, as he looked back into the monitor, at the hulking young prisoner.
‘Unfortunately, it is you who is mistaken. I could have done this at any time; but it was the death of a friend that pushed my plans forward.’
‘You are unnaturally strong, I’ll give you that. But if you think you can escape from Redeem, prisoner 118; I would think again. I will let you leave now if you wish. You will not last long outside.”
118 smiled, like he did not care in the slightest about what the Warden would allow. Sooner or later though, one of his tech engineers would regain access to the facilities controls.
‘It is understandable Warden that you think I want to leave this place. But as I told Hugo Wellin up there. I do not want to leave just yet. I have things I would like to address before I leave. And contrary to what you believe; I can leave here at any time.’
‘What do you want then, if not to leave?’
Maybe this inmate was mad as well as powerful, if he thought that he could just leave this establishment.
‘I want justice for all the crimes committed here. I will warrant there are some men, who deserve to be in prison. What you do to them however; I find abhorrent. It makes me sick to my stomach, and now it is over.’
‘We will see 118, we will see.’ The young prisoner stopped smiling and picked up a data tablet.
‘Your ignorance to the fact that you think you are still in control, is understandable Warden. After all, this has never happened here before. But you are not in control, and if you think your technical engineers will come to the rescue; then you will have a very long wait indeed.’
‘Release my men 118 and I promise we won’t flay you alive before we put you back in that pit of a cell. Trust me; you will not enjoy what’s coming to you either way.’
‘Warden, your threats are wasted. All you are doing is wasting the vital air you breathe.
118 raised the data tablet up to the camera. On its screen were air vent location schematics. They all indicated in the off position. He lowered it, and smiled; looking sinister, in the ambient light of the control booth he was in.
‘You see Warden. I control this facility now… What was it you said to me, after I was given my first beating by your goon up there? ... Oh that was it; you welcomed me here, and told me I would not enjoy my stay here. Well you were correct I have not.’
The Warden reached up to the air vents, which had no flow what’s so ever. He turned back to the screen pleadingly.
‘You were not correct however in the fact that you presume to still run this place. You do not; I do. I have even let you watch me on the screen in your room, and let you use that phone that we now converse on. I hope now, you get the picture of what you face, and what is coming. I bid you farewell… oh and Warden.’
‘Yes curse you?’
The Warden said tersely. ‘You will not enjoy the rest of your time here. Goodbye.
With that the line went blank, without even a dialling tone. The screen that showed 118 and the control room also went blank. Finally the lights were shut off leaving his opulent room in pitch darkness. The silence was deafening, with no sound coming from the air vent. The Warden started to shiver, but not from cold. He whispered to himself. ‘How?’
Planet: Earth, Command Centre, Geneva
Hell had been unleashed upon the fair capital of Geneva. No devastation like this had ever touched the peaceful city. The unidentified object had hit the Presidential Palace with a destructive force, great enough to level most of the wondrous building.
The sad reports had streamed in by the hundreds, all for the attention of General Defoe. He alone was now dealing with this crisis. He conversed with the leader of the Senate, who looked pale, and pleaded for answers. They wanted to know what had happened to their great leader.
‘That’s all I know at the moment Senator.’ Defoe said elusively; he had bigger fish to fry right now, rather than answer the questions of this imbecile.
‘General the people of Earth need answers. They need to know if mankind's saviour is still alive?’ That was rich thought Defoe. The Senate of this planet would now only think of how to close the vacuum of power, left in the wake of Blacks demise. Defoe had fortunately been planning for Blacks replacement for a long time.
‘Captain Kruger was running an errand for the President. He is here now, trying to coordinate the Elite Guard. Unfortunately the Presidents last known whereabouts, were in his chambers that now lie in ruins.’
‘My word; what is happening General?’
‘We are under attack Senator. In Orbit as we speak, there is a small fleet poised to attack our world. I have a large task force incoming from Lunar Base, but this attack was so sudden our response has been sluggish to say the least.’
‘General who is in command until we know the Presidents fate?’ The Senator would fancy himself a candidate it seemed.
‘Senator this is a military crises and I am commander of all our forces both here and off world. I will assume command until this threat has been dealt with. Until then, I bid you keep your people safe, and wait for my orders. Defoe out.’
The communication went dead as Defoe cut off the Senators call. He would not waste any more time debating with the politician. Kruger once again stood before him, clad in the full glory of his battle dress, which shined in its polished black brilliance. His mail cape folded to the floor, as he bent a knee of deference to his new Emperor.
‘Well done, my new High Lord of Earth.’
Defoe said to his second in command. No one in the room would know the full story of how Black had been replaced. In truth they did not care to know, and carried on with their duties diligently, around the imperious pair of victors. But their victory would be short lived, if they did not handle the savage alien threat in the skies above.
‘Thank you my Emperor; he died quietly. What of our current situation with the aliens above? Does all go to plan?’
‘It does; they have deployed some kind of troop carrier, and have focussed their main assault around the crash site. This suits us well.
Kruger’s jaw tightened with concern. ‘They have landed?’
‘Then we did not shoot them down with our ground batteries, my Lord?’
The ground batteries were supposed to have fired powerful lances of energy at the potential incoming threat. Apparently this had not been executed.
‘Unfortunately, their defensive capabilities were greater than realised. But do not worry yourself too much. The more devastation they wreak, the greater the desperation of the people for a saviour. That is our role Guy.’
‘Can we control this Emperor?’ Defoe had kept on his general’s uniform. The medals buttoned to his chest, spoke of the number of times he had triumphed in combat through many theatres of war. Soon he would strip away this uniform of subservience to Blacks regime. He would soon wear the stuff of heroes, and portray an image suitable for an emperor of humankind. He puffed out his chest, to emphasize the fact of these victories but Kruger’s concern remained.
‘Guy I have received reports of widespread attacks across the city. Go and lead the guard against this rabble of beasts. I want you to be seen. Make a name for yourself. Soon our secret weapons will be here to reinforce you. Then we will have our final victory.’
The Weapon Defoe spoke of, was the thousands of gen-hanced warriors, who were all under their complete control. They still had their own minds; as such. But the brainwashing, and control chips, ensured they had complete loyalty from this army of ultimate fighters.
‘I will go right away. I want to see the strength of these aliens.
“I want you to report to me when it is over.’
The new Emperor said menacingly. Kruger bowed, and briskly made his way out, to win this battle they had both engineered.
Defoe looked at a screen that showed news reports of the carnage taking place around the city. The fearsome beasts were caught on camera, making short work of the local constabulary, who were more suited to arresting criminals than fighting intergalactic warriors.
It looked like a blood bath. Cities all around the world were reporting the same thing. So far the aggressors were taking a bloody toll. Defoe had made this ultimate gamble. Today would be the beginning of his reign, or the end of them all.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
The Prisoners of Redeem gathered in the Central control block, and beheld Caleb who was about to address them. Dillon had even limped out from his cell to hear the words of the rebel that promised them their liberty.
‘Your time of bondage is now at an end.’
Caleb’s voice carried to every ear in the large cell block. He had no need for the microphone now that all of the prisoners were gathered in one place. Once Caleb had dispatched the first group of guards, he had repeated the process with wave after wave of them. They came at him like the first; with fury and pistols blaring. All met the same fate, as the stunned inmates watched in fascination of this angel of redemption.
The guards behind the last few doors had watched this freak of nature annihilate their comrade’s single handily. When he opened their doors, they came out with arms raised, and were ushered in to cells by the other inmates, all by Caleb’s command. Leadership suited the young him well.
Hugo Wellin and the Mine Hounds gang leader, still lay above them on the steel gallery. Both were pleading down to him, with desperation etched all over their faces.
Caleb was cold to their fate now. The other guards had been dispatched or imprisoned in their quarters and newly vacant cells; it was time to start dishing out long awaited justice on these wicked men.
‘I call anyone to stand in the way of justice now.’
The man, who had asked for his boss to be released, stepped forward out of the milling throng of inmates that crowded to see the impromptu trial.
‘What is your name?’ Caleb inquired.
‘My name is Franco Montoya; I don’t know what you are, but I can understand why you’re so sore about your friend the boss ordered dead.’
Franco gestured up to his boss who was now conscious but said nothing.
‘I have never seen anyone do what you’ve just done my friend. We were put here because our crew was getting to strong back home. It’s a ruthless crew; it’s yours if you set us free. All of us will swear loyalty to you.
Caleb stared at the man called Franco Montoya, and seemed to burn into his soul, causing the Latin gang member to look down in discomfort. Franco was a brutish looking man with tattoos plastered over his body like most of his kin.
‘And your loyalty to him?’ Caleb’s gaze went to the fat man at the end of the rope.
‘We are loyal him. But after what I have seen, we could not stop you even if we tried.’
‘You are correct, you could not.’
Caleb confirmed loud enough so all could hear. Raising his chin and closing his eyes his mood cooled suddenly in the face of this opportunity. ‘This man deserves death my dear Franco.’ Franco nodded in agreement of his words.
‘Loyalty dictates that I plead for his life. He is a cruel man that is true. But spare his life and I will pledge us all to you now.’
In truth, Caleb had put on this show of strength to recruit the prison populace under his banner. Apparently this had worked. He did not envisage gaining the loyalty of the most savage members of the Mine Hounds. If He could control this hardened band of killers, and temper them into obedient soldiers, then he would have the beginnings of an army to return to earth with. It was another tool to be used for his revenge.
‘Your boss is a cripple now anyway Franco. It would be a mercy to kill him now.’
Franco waited and said nothing. His many gang members were at his back, but looked far from threatening, with heads lowered before the wrathful prisoner 118. After the display He had put on for them, it showed tremendous courage for Franco to speak up as he did.
‘Very well Franco Montoya; you have a deal.’ He handed over the rope tied to his boss’s ankle. ‘You may take him down.’
Franco gestured to two others, who rushed up to free their boss. ‘Thank you. Our loyalty is yours 118’
‘You may call me Caleb.’
Franco nodded simply. For a gang member his voice seemed educated, and almost civilised. Perhaps he was high up within the gang’s ranks. This man; Caleb felt he could use.
‘I accept your word of loyalty Franco Montoya.’
Caleb then addressed the other inmates that all stood silently, waiting to see what would happen.
‘My name is Caleb Bruce. Some of you may think strange, what you have seen this night. Do not fear me, for I will set you free.’
He gazed around them, his natural orator talents kept all eyes and ears on him.
‘I was made to lead humanity, after our President steps down. I believe that is why I was sent here; to this place of horror. I tell you now it is over for the men who run this facility. It is over for the men who sent me here!’
Caleb was practically shouting now. ‘I will set you free and wipe your slate clean; but with a condition. This condition is that you renounce any wickedness of your past life. I have control of this facility now, and I plan on returning to Earth to find out who really runs this place. I will have revenge for what they have done to us here. If it was President Black that sent us to this world of ice; then he too will feel my vengeance.’
He knew he had the men around him. The hope in their eyes was answer enough.
‘So who is with me?’ He bellowed finally. They all roared in unison, filling the hall like cellblock with a chorus of jubilation. Caleb let them have this outlet of hope, and then held his hands up as the noise died down to hear him speak once more.
‘I will open the doors to the barracks now; I need you to put the guards into the cells that were once ours. Do not kill them if you can help it.’
He tapped his data tablet, and the doors down the long corridor clanked open with a rusty sound. ‘Follow me men and you will have justice. Betray me and justice will be mine.’
With that said, he pulled the rope attached to the guard Hugo Wellin, who fell a full two metres before the rope around his neck snapped taut. His screams were cut off in an instant, as his neck was broken from the sudden fall. Justice had begun and he would deal it out swiftly. He would now turn his thoughts to the complete control of this facility. After that, he would train this rabble of men. Redeem would soon just be an unpleasant memory, and experience he had endured.
Tanandil had cast his mind to the Ice world were the human captive Caleb dwelt. He did not reveal himself directly. The next time he met the young human, should be face to face. The planet’s surface was harsh and inhospitable, but Tanandil did not feel the cold bitter touch from this place, the humans used to imprison their kind. His dream walking allowed him the luxury of not feeling an environment with extreme weather conditions.
The marvellous being known as Caleb, had broken free of his captivity and was even now marshalling the other prisoners to do his bidding. He was beginning to realise his potential at last.
Tannandil had met a few great beings throughout his long existence, some alien and some were his own kind. But this human’s aura had burned brighter than any living being he had ever met. The potential was there to be as mighty as even him one day, and that he thought with no self-flattery, was something indeed.
It would only be a matter of weeks before the small Elfan war band broke out of the warp tear, and met this remarkable human face to face. Lord Gretnear sat opposite the old mage who looked like a young Elfan in his prime.
‘So he has killed his own Tanandil; should we be worried?’
‘We should not. His aura is as pure as my own; even after the horrors he has endured. The men he has killed on that planet have done wicked things to him my friend.’
Gretnear had put his neck on the line in support of his friend the mage. He thought of nothing but retaking their former worlds, back from the cursed Orkra. If Tanandil said this human boy could help them in that quest, then he would try. He just wished he could have brought an army with him, instead of the small war band they had.
They were tasked to bring back this boy to their people, to stand before the king. He would make final judgement, on whether to pursue an alliance with this young race.
The warriors he had brought with him however were the best fighters his realm had to offer. He hoped soon he could use them, instead of endless avoidance of an enemy that they should be fighting. This thought made him think of the attack by the Orkra on the Humanar planet Earth.
‘The boy will want to go to his own planet, once we tell him that it’s under threat of annihilation Tanandil. In truth I would not blame him if he did. Should we not return there with him, and do what we can.’
The high mage sipped from a cup filled with Arulean wine. The planet that made the fine drink had the perfect conditions for making the best vintage, to grace his cup.
“Gretnear, I want the same as you, but to go against the council and the king would be unwise. I fear the planet Earth is already doomed anyway. I will try to convince the boy of the bigger picture, in my own way.’
‘And if he does not come?’
‘If he does not, then that is his own choice to make. We cannot force him Gretnear.’
He poured more of the precious wine into his friend’s cup, and they both ate a light meal of breads, an assortment of meats and a few other delicacies. Tanandil enjoyed good food and drink, when traveling the stars. Just because they were far from their own realm, did not mean they could not enjoy a few home comforts.
‘Will we have to fight to get to him Tanandil?’
‘Fortunately not; the last time I looked the boy had taken almost complete control of the prison. Alas; they did not know what he is.’
‘What is he?’
‘He is special.’ Tanandil said. The Lord Gretnear was intelligent, but would only utilise that intelligence on Warcraft. Other mysteries of the universe, he left to Tanandil and others in the Mages circle. They both sat quietly and relaxed for a moment to enjoy the flavours of their food and drink, in peace. The High Mage had a feeling there would be little of that, in the future to come.
Planet: Earth, Geneva
Smoke and ruin met Guy Kruger, as he made his way to the rendezvous with the large force of Elite Guard that waited within the city of Geneva. They would be like dogs fighting to get of the leash. Humanities best warriors had being forced to watch the slaughter from the safety of the city barracks. Those same barracks had been emptied of the local constabulary, who were now mostly dead at the hands of the ferocious alien aggressors. The planetary armed forces eventually arrived, and were at this very moment trying to launch a counter attack; so far to no avail.
As he entered the open barrack hall, he was approached by the albino Master Thion, who held a sword in each hand. Both had the engraving DS, which meant he had brought with him his finest weaponry, made by the once great sword smith Domonique Shabal.
The sword masters armour, like Dorn Bruce’s was a pale shade of white ivory, which was in complete contrast to Smits polished black plate. Both were without war helms so that the men could see confidence on the faces of their leaders.
‘Why have we been held back Captain? People are dying out there and we cannot help them here in reserve.’
The sword master had always enjoyed the protection of the President. That luxury was now over. Kruger would need him however in the short term; to help clear the aliens from his planet. After that he would eliminate the arrogant Master Thion.
‘I have held you all here, so we may learn the strengths and weaknesses of this unknown enemy. It is harsh, but I will not risk our best to be cannon fodder. Others less skilled have that honour.’
He raised his gravelly voice, so it carried out to the other elite fighters in the barracks. All looked restless and eager to take the fight back to the Green skinned monsters.
Thion sneered at this blatant disregard of human life.
‘So, may we now join the fight Captain?’
Kruger looked at the albino with his frosty blue eyes, and considered crushing him where he stood. The enhancements that Dr Slade had given him would make the Captain virtually unstoppable, even for the great Thion. But he needed to look in control of this situation; and it was time to launch the elite at the enemy.
‘Master Thion what have you learned in watching the way they kill?’
He answered with a question of his own. Thion looked like he wanted to say something sarcastic, but his love of combat analysis took over.
‘They are strong; very strong. They favour the sword but use projectiles and those energy guns they carry, with great efficiency.’
‘That would be my assessment as well. So what would you do to counter their strengths?’
‘I know what I would do, but you are our Captain.’
‘Yes, that is correct. But I am asking you what you would do.’
Kruger was an assassin at heart; and a good one at that. His skill in combat was outstanding. Battle strategies however, were what Thion dreamed about, so to not ask the Master of an attack plan was like going into a game, without the opinion of your star player.
The sword Master sheaved his swords and walked to a holographic table, which showed live aerial images of the battle being waged below. So far the drone taking the images had not been noticed by the aliens that were now massing around the wide city centre, where the Palace had once stood. He looked at the digital 3D map and made his assessment quickly.
‘I would summon the retreat of the regular soldiers Captain; to this point here.’
Thion zoomed the image to a point between two blocks of buildings, where the street was much narrower than the other parts of the city. The buildings he pointed to were part of the old part of the city.
‘If we set up battle drones here and here, at either side of the buildings there will be carnage within this natural bottle neck. We then form up the retreating men into rank fire, and lay down a hell storm at the chasing pack. Better take some heavy guns there as well; their armour seems quite strong.’
So far the aliens had weathered the gunfire from the soldier’s guns. The drones and heavy calibre weapons should now be brought to bear; he had to admit that the bottle neck was perfect, and nodded along to the genius of the albino.
‘Very good Master Thion, but you have missed out a crucial part of this plan?’
The sword Master raised an eyebrow in confusion.
‘Where will the Elite Guard be when this trap is sprung?’
‘Captain I would have thought that was obvious; we will be everywhere.’
Blood and gore was everywhere. Bagrak had not led his clan warriors against weaklings like this in a long time. The pink skinned worms, looked very much like the pointy eared Elfan, but they did not fight like them. If he was up against a similar number of Elfan then he would have suffered great losses for sure. However, he had only lost a few score to their feeble guns. Bagrak ran into a group of around five of the pink skins, and barged them of their feet powerfully.
He was big even for an Ork. He used this size to his advantage, as he severed two heads in one powerful swing. The other three tried to flee from his berserk rage, but he easily caught them and cut them down from behind, spraying his dented armour with more of their crimson blood.
A few rounds were fired at him from the cover of a vehicle, on the other side of the street. One of the rounds was powerful enough to pierce his armour and irritate him greatly. The projectile fired, failed to penetrate far into his body and he roared in anger at this cowardly way they fought against them.
Bagrak barked an order to the clan’s heavy gunner, who ran to the front of the advancing pack. He carried an energy weapon, that’s technology was stolen long ago from the Elfan. They used it now with lethal effect, and practically melted the vehicle the pink skins where sheltering behind.
He watched with pure joy, as the enemies armour was blown to pieces, leaving smoking limbs that should have been attached to torsos. That sight was too much for the enemy, who ran in great numbers down a street behind them. Bagrak ordered an advance from the open square to finish them off. They chased them hard; the prospect of more blood drove them all into a frenzied attack.
The pink skins stopped at the end of the narrow street, and turned; organising themselves into firing lines. Even Bagrak had to be impressed with this disciplined retreat.
Looking ahead he noticed, large autonomous guns at the corners of each side of the street, where the hunted prey now assembled. The smoke from the battle had hid this gun placement well. Perhaps they were not so dim witted after all.
At that thought the guns opened up in unison shredding his front ranks to pieces.
Bagrak was glad he had brought his storm shield, which he unslung from his back and ducked behind, just in the nick of time. Iron and hate hit its solid surface, almost knocking him to his knees. The other clan warriors around him were not so lucky and were gunned down in their hundreds, in a green bloody mess.
The pink skins would all pay for this. They were suffering loses, but the thousands behind him would take up the place of the fallen. They just had to endure the heavy fire from the gun emplacement. Other warriors were starting to come forward with their own storm shields now. Soon the lines of steel would meet, and he would be among the enemy once again. There would be tremendous glory to take from the deaths to come.
Suddenly the noise of gunfire stopped as quickly as it had started, and Bagrak stood tall above the shelter of his shield to see why they had stopped firing at them. Maybe the stupid species had run out of ammunition, in this futile attempt at a trap. They would now feel the rusty blades of the Orkra for their efforts.
His War plate had been struck several times before he could bring up his defensive shield. He reached down to a piece of it with a clawed hand, and ripped the useless part from his chest and threw it in the direction of the defenders with contempt. The missing piece of armour revealed an over developed muscular body that was built for war.
It was a sickly green colour, with short stubby black hair on a powerful chest.
A sound from the left made him look away from the now soundless gun emplacement. It was a haunting shriek from the buildings along the street. Another war cry came from the buildings on the other side. The attackers came in on mass and were lead on one side by a warrior in pale armour and on the other flank they were led by a warrior in polished black amour. This trap had more surprises it seemed.
Thion waited patiently in the building from where he would strike at the flank of this invader. Captain Kruger was in the building on the opposite side, with the other half of the Elite Guard. It was a risk to throw every guardsman in to the fray at the same time, but it was a risk worth taking. They had to strike back at this unstoppable foe, which now passed his position in their thousands.
He heard the guns open up into the advancing hoard, and watched with delight as the numbers were thinned out by the heavy fire. Some of the beasts had shields, and after the initial ambush they had the sense to come to the front and protect the others of their kind.
The guns then went silent, which mean it was time to attack. He wasted no time, and ran out of the building to take the fight to them directly. The sword Master ignited both swords by depressing energy studs on the hilts, they glowed with an instant heat that would cut though most war plate. There was a secret curiosity to how these aliens would fare against his swordsmanship and steel. The Sword master shrieked a war cry, like a banshee of legend and heard the call taken up by all of his men at his back, and on the other side of the street, where Kruger led the rest of the Guard in this elaborate trap.
He did not have to run far to meet his first foe who brought down a savage blow from his large blade, which Thion turned aside easily, with his Graphenatium forged swords. He spun as he passed, swinging one of the blades at the aliens back. He was gratified to see it cut though the armour like a hot knife through butter. The beast roared as he fell down.
The sword Master did not stop to finish the stricken monster; there were too many to glorify in a single kill. It was good to know that they were not as fearsome as they appeared. They were strong; there was no doubt about that. But there was no art or grace to their brutal attacks. In that first pass Thion, the trained master of the blade, knew he could beat them. Strength was just a very small part of sword play, and now he would give them a lesson in its many intricacies.
He danced around the clumsy beasts, cutting and thrusting as he moved. He was like a ghost that could not be touched by any foe. His men around him were well trained in his art, and their united efforts cut a bloody path through the hoard. Green blood was being spayed everywhere, as they reaped a toll of vengeance.
Thion parried two cuts with his swords, and dropped onto the floor taking a leg from both adversaries, who squealed in pain. The stumps jerked around spraying arterial blood over his pale armour. The sickly green gore had a metallic smell, he noted strangely. It was funny what your senses would register on the field of battle.
In the centre of the frenzy, stood a gargantuan alien who barked at the others like he was the leader. Thion and his warriors were like a wedge of death that gradually made a path to this monster, who tried to rally a counter attack.
Eventually Thion and his fellows were face to face with him. The beast’s retinue were cut down like vermin by the other guardsmen. Most were aspirant warriors, but there were many Masters and veterans who fought at his side this day; who all had exceptional skill.
The aliens eventually woke up from the sudden ambush, and were starting to organise themselves in some kind of shield wall. The Sword Master had to be quick, if he was to take out the leader before he was swallowed up by the protection of this horde.
They both struck hard, causing sparks to ignite from their blades. The alien snarled, exposing fangs that dripped with saliva, making him look satanic in his fury. Intimidation was lost on Master Thion. His face was at peace, as he weaved his twin blades in unnatural angles, making this enemy parry for his very life. The beast slipped on the gore of his fallen kin, and Thion took the opportunity driving one of his uniquely made swords through its armour, burying the steels searing point, through the beast’s muscled chest.
It did not die from the powerful thrust, and Thion was forced to let go of the hilt of the sword that was now stuck inside its torso. More of his kind swarmed around their stricken leader; forming a new shield wall to fend off the fearsome assault on their advance.
The defensive barrier halted the sword Master and his men in their tracks. The alien hoard began to advance onto his position, but before he took a step back, something disturbed the wall of steel from behind. Many of the green skins turned to see this new threat coming from their rear, only to be cut down by Thion’s ruthless and expert guardsmen.
Emerging from the carnage was a warrior clad in jet black polished armour. The helmetless form of Guy Kruger and the other half of the Elite Guard; systematically cut the large aliens to pieces. Thion watched how the Captain fought. He was momentarily stunned by the skill.
A green skinned warrior swung an axe like weapon at Kruger, but he did not even need to parry the lethal swing. He jumped above the foe, turning end over end in mid-air, bringing down his own dark blade, as he landed behind the confused adversary. His stroke cut down its head, splitting him from base to neck. Its two parts fell, like a blooming flower of horror.
Thion marvelled at this unexpected ability from his new Captain. He knew Kruger could fight; but what he was witnessing from his old rival, should have been beyond his capabilities. Kruger killed with ease, and the beasts began to fear his very presence, as they watched him executing them, like a reaper of death. Thion could not watch this display of martial strength for long. There were too many of the foul creatures to contend with. .
The beast’s numbers began to move back down the street, from whence they came. They were starting to lose the stomach from fighting the combined force of Thion and Kruger. The sword Master was ever the tactician, and had planned for the enemy to withdraw back into the open, from where they had begun there assault.
Some of Regiment 1; who was humanities shock and ore troopers, would be advancing on the rear of the aliens. Small detachments had been called back to Earth, for unknown reasons. Thion was sure he would make good use of the large warriors of the 1st that were at his disposal. He would make the aliens very sorry for coming to this world.
Planet: Redeem, High Orbit
The planet Redeem loomed into focus. Master Kam and Tristan had made it at last to the prison world, and powered down their engines so they would not be detected by the planets sensors.
‘Before we go down, I will try and reach out to Caleb with my mind. He may not even be alive.’ Master Kam told Tristen, who was bringing the craft behind one of the planets smaller moons. Kam left for a quiet space where he could concentrate on his task. He opened the door to his sleeping quarters, and knelt at his meditation matt that was already rolled out for him.
He began a chant that cast his mind into nothingness, and once at full peace, he reached out in search of his friend’s son. It did not take long to locate the bright mind of Caleb Bruce, who was like a beacon of power. Kam touched his mind and was rewarded by an instant response that relieved him beyond measure. He was alive. He only hoped that he was still intact. ‘Caleb! It is Kam; how do you fare my young friend?’
‘Master, is it truly you?’
‘It is I my young friend. We are here to set you free.’
‘Then you are too late Master, for I am already free. Are you close?’
How could this be? Redeem was a secret facility for humanities enemies. No one had ever escaped from its grip. ‘I am behind the planets nearest moon. How have you escaped Caleb?
‘I did not escape; yet still I am free. I have much to tell you of my time here.’
He should not have been surprised by the son of Dorn’s achievement. It gladdened him to know that he had not come all this way in vain. ‘I too have news Caleb; but it would be best to tell it too you face to face.’
‘I will send you the landing coordinate’s now Master. Have you come alone?’
‘I have another with me. Tristan will be overjoyed to see you alive, as am I.’ Kam felt the euphoria from the mind of Caleb. Soon they would be reunited to begin their war. ‘What of the planets guards Caleb?’
‘They are no longer a problem Master.’
Earth: Presidential Palace, Geneva
President Black opened his eyes, but found only darkness. There were a few flames here and there. It took a moment for him to orientate, on what had actually happened.
Kruger had touched him with the poison that he could still feel flowing through his body. The numbness was ebbing now, to be replaced with a searing pain around his nervous system. He was gradually starting to feel pain everywhere, as his enhanced anatomy fought off the toxin.
His face and other exposed skin had charred from the explosion that followed him to his underground refuge. He did not see the damage, but felt the stinging agony that was increasing by the second. Black pushed off one of the elevator doors, which was now lying over his legs. Debris covered him from head to toe.
So many questions whirled through his mind. No pondering of what had happened would help him in his current predicament though. He stood and adjusted his eyes to the darkness. His superior eye augmentation, allowed him to navigate to where he needed to go. At this moment, his killers would think him dead. He would try to use this to his advantage. Until he had discovered what had actually happen above. The tunnel he was in gradually become less damaged by the violent explosion, and Black limped on to the door that he hoped was still intact.
It took him about ten minutes to reach it. He rejoiced to find it undamaged. This area had been kept secret for hundreds of years. None would know of it but its long dead workforce who had all agreed after its construction, to leave for a new found colony. They were all sworn to secrecy. Now long dead, the creators of the Presidential Palace left a labyrinth of escape routes for Black, who had hoped never to use the dusty passages in his lifetime. Fate it seemed had other ideas.
He opened the door to a passage that led to Mountains that were miles away from here. Under its lofty peaks, resided a secondary base that was fully equipped and furnished with all that he would need in a crisis such as this. He had not been to the facility for hundreds of years, and did not know if the dated technology within its walls would work.
He started his long walk anyway. He had little choice now. About halfway along the dark passage, was a lever that when pulled, would collapse the tunnel work behind him. This was designed to ensure that any pursuit. would be stopped in its tracks. He had a feeling there would be no pursuit. Not even his close friend Dr Slade had known about this passage. Nor even his old protector, Dorn Bruce. Secrecy was sometimes a necessity when you held as much power as he did.
He limped forwards and began the long and painful walk to his salvation.
Planet: Earth, Geneva
The Orkra around Bagrak were being cut down in there hundreds. The pale armoured warrior had fought like one of the cursed Elfan. The bite from his sword that was now buried deep within his chest was excruciating to say the least. His fellows sheltered him behind a wall of steel; he was glad of their protection. He felt weaker and weaker by the second, as he was pulled back into the mass of his warriors.
He could just about make out his other flank being assaulted, by a warrior in shiny black plate, who was accomplishing marshal feats that he had never seen from the pink skins before. He had to get his force back into the open where their numbers counted for something. He barked the order that carried over the roars of anguish from his slain kin.
As expected they retreated in good order and even managed to kill a few of the fearsome fighters that threw themselves at their shield with reckless abandon. Soon they would be back in the large square and the carnage would begin.
As he was pondering the slaughter he heard a deafening roar of engines above that hovered over the square, where they had just recently been. A bomb of some description was dropped onto the central mass of Orkra. He watched over the heads of the ones behind, as the warriors in the square were virtually vaporised by the strange bomb that sent a shock wave upwards. Only a hot but gentle wind carried to his position from the blast of the incendiary.
The ship that had dropped the bomb had flown to the rear of the pink skinned warriors that were now attacking his shield wall, and lent them aerial fire that smashed apart the front rank of his defences.
He shouted for the ship to be shot down, and several of his own projectiles hit the aircraft that swerved out of sight in a smoking ruin. It was a pleasant sound when he heard the explosion of the ship in the distance.
Without that aerial support the numbers he still had, outnumbered the attackers ten to one. They would pay for every Orkra life they took from his ranks. Alas, the craft was not alone in this intricately laid trap. His heart sank, as he watched row after row of heavy gunmen emerge from the roof tops.
This pink skinned race could fight after all. Bagrak would still kill as many as he could, so he could buy enough time to receive reinforcements. The guns opened up, and they were thrice as powerful as the ones that he had run into when this trap had begun. His warriors fell all around him; even he took a round to the shoulder which tore his bulging arm clean off.
The streets that should have been awash with red blood were turning a very worrying shade of green. How had he been so stupid to rush into this trickery? He supposed that the pink skins so far, had been very easy sport. The swordsmen that had assailed their shields had disappeared into the refuge of the buildings. Some of his kind tried to follow them in and claim a forlorn revenge. All they managed to achieve in this futile chase was to expose their brother clansmen to the wicked bite of the guns trained on them from every direction.
It was a slaughter and Bagrak, unable to stand any longer, fell and lay on a pile of his kin, with one arm missing, and the rest of his body peppered with holes from the guns of the pinkies. The sword of the pale warrior still protruded from his chest, but he was too weak to do anything about that.
He could hear the enemy closing in around him, their language so similar to the pointy ears they could have been of the same kind. His own gun was still holstered at his side; he made a move to reach down for it. But then he realised it was strapped on the same side as his missing arm, that was now a black and charred mess of torn flesh and bone.
The ghost like warrior, with pink eyes and skin, as pale as the amour he wore, loomed above him and stared with utter contempt. He put his foot on to his chest, and pulled his sword free causing more pain.
He shook his head at him and placed both sword at his neck in a cross shape, and slowly the hot blades seared Bagrak’s flesh. He pulled back and swung them both down in a decapitating stroke, which the war chief did not even feel. Darkness then swallowed his dream of conquest.
Cael could take this madness no longer. The Elfan Lord was furious after being ignored by his queen. Could they not see the folly of bringing the human boy to this fair realm? All that they had secured was in dire jeopardy, and it was only he that could put a stop to it.
He had given Framlier clear and concise instructions, and he waited for his servant to arrive, to see if those instructions had been carried out to the letter. In truth he should had dealt with something of this gravity himself. But to be caught red handed did not suit him. Framlier was loyal, but fundamentally he was expendable. If they failed to destroy the Dream Caster, then he would make a very fitting martyr to Cael’s cause.
All of a sudden there was frenzied knock at door. Cael crossed his chambers quickly and opened the door. Framlier was covered in blood and dirt, and looked like he was about to break down in tears. He swept inside the grand chambers of his Lord, with the haste of the condemned.
‘What has happened you fool?’
The shaking Framlier sat at one of the many couches. The stain that he would leave there added further to Cael’s annoyance. His servant said nothing and just rocked back and forth in some insane trance. ‘I said what has happened? Speak!’
Cael grabbed his servant by his robes and shook him violently. This seemed to bring him to his senses. ‘Sire I…’
‘Sire the Dream Caster is destroyed, as you wished.’ Why did this success feel like a twin edged sword?
‘Go on; why are you covered in blood? Cael shouted; he was losing patients fast.
‘I placed the explosives under the device my Lord, when one of the acolytes came into the hall. The timer I set to destroy it was nearly at its end. I just ran for my life and he…’
Framlier chocked on his words as tears began to stream down his dirty blood smeared face.
‘What of the Acolyte Framlier?’ Cael now whispered hauntingly.
‘He is dead my Lord; I barely made it out alive myself. I tried to warn him but he just looked at me bemused. The Hall of Dreams is now destroyed.’
He was only supposed to destroy the Dream Caster, not the whole hall. What a mess he was now in.
‘Did anyone see you come here Framlier?’
Cael was now thinking about damage control. An idea popped menacingly into his scheming head.
‘I do not think so my Lord. I was seen at the explosion site, but there were many wounded Elfan there, so I must have just blended into the chaos.
Cael doubted that; there were always watchful eyes around, that was why he did not carry out this task himself. With Elfan dead and wounded he would be in deep trouble, even with his noble title.
‘Come now my friend; rest. The deed is done regardless. I will prepare you some wine from my finest vintage to calm your nerves.’
Framlier nodded his thanks for the much needed refreshment, and lay back onto the couch looking like he might pass out from the day’s trauma. The servant carried no serious wounds. The cuts seemed more or less superficial.It was a mess that needed cleaning up. Framlier sadly, had worn out his service.
Cael opened a cabinet that housed many rare bottles of his beloved wine. He would not waste too good a drop on this idiot, and selected a recent but still very acceptable bottle.
He then discreetly slipped out a small poison vial, and he added a few drops of it, into his servant’s glass.
‘Drink this dear Framlier.’
He downed the glass in one gulp, and tried to rub some of the dirt from his face. It was clearly uncomfortable to be in the presence of his Lord in such a condition. Cael did not have to wait long for his poison to work, as Framlier became short of breath very rapidly.
It did not take long for him to realise what his master had just done. He grabbed hold of his own throat, which must have been constricting at that very moment.
‘My Lord why…?’ It was a reasonable question, and Cael felt obliged to answer him for some strange reason.
‘I thank you for destroying the Dream Caster Framlier; I really do. But your failure would bring shame on our house, and I cannot allow that to happen.’
Cael turned his back on the dying form of his servant, who chocked quietly on the couch. He was always such a good servant. It was just a shame he was a very stupid one.
Now Cael had the unsavoury task of getting rid of his body.
Thrakka had enjoyed the human females company. He had never thought it possible to actually like one of his slaves, but this one fascinated him for some reason. She had killed several of her kind on his orders. If she carried on serving him like this, he would ensure she was rewarded. This did not hurt from time to time he mused.
Though a pleasing distraction, Thrakka had far important business to take care of. The attack on the human home world was under way, and reports were coming in on the many successes. The news was not all of victory however. The humans had launched a brutal counter attack, and to Thrakka’s shock, were actually fighting back.
He closed his eyes and chanted for a time, losing himself into nothingness. The Shaman drifted to the human world to see if the exaggerated reports were true.
There was flame and destruction upon the planet’s surface. That much he gathered from his orbital watch. He was about to drift to one of the battles to see how well the human warriors fought, when a powerful pulse caught his attention.
He felt drawn to this pulse, and decided to abandon his over watch of the human conquest, to find the source. Thrakka easily launched his consciousness to where he had felt this disturbance, and stopped when he reached a nebula.
It was a massive cloud of mingled gasses that turned this region of space into a colourful hue, which even he had to admit, was pleasing to the eye. He carried on going into the nebula, and passed through its great depths. Eventually he found himself over a large sparkling planet.
The golden world that the pulse originated from was swarming with ships. The creators of the majestic vessels were very familiar to him, and he basked in his triumph.
Thrakka had searched for this realm for so long, he did not think he would ever find it.
The psychic power that had pulsed like a beacon here must have been powerful indeed for him to notice it, as far away from the source he was.
The timing had been perfect. If he had not been casting among the stars, then he would not have felt the touch of this pulse in his physical state. Thrakka knew however, that there was no such thing as a coincidence. He was destined to be casting his mind above the human planet, at that specific time. The Shaman was also destined to make this wonderful discovery.
He had found them; At last he had found the Elfan.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
The cold of the snow melted on Caleb’s muscled body. The last time he was here, he had looked up into the Wardens eyes, with hatred. He had kept it burning like a furnace, until this moment. He was now free, and behind him were the other inmates that he had liberated from the prison of Redeem. They all wore thick environmental suits, which the guards no longer had a use for. Still they shivered from the hostile temperatures that burned the skin with its icy touch.
Caleb was offered one of these coats; he accepted. It was true that he could now adequately control his own body temperature in extremes such as this. But to stay outside without a coat for long periods was madness, even for him.
Master Kam and Tristen walked from their ship towards him. They were dressed for war, and made quick progress to where Caleb and his band stood to welcome them. The year in captivity had been a hard one he lamented. Another man would have been broken by the tortuous ordeal he had been forced to endure.
Caleb had lost everything that fateful day. His parents had been slaughtered before his very eyes, and now he stood a man a year later. This place had done its work on him well. The beatings and the deaths he’d seen here, had all contributing to the changes inside of him. Tristan could contain himself no longer, as he ran the final gap between them and embraced his friend in a bear hug that Caleb responded back, with the same joyous vigour.
‘You are alive my friend.’
Tristen said emotionally. His amour was ice cold to touch. Caleb was glad of the coat he now wore, that protected his skin from sticking to his best friends armour.
‘How did you find me Tristan?’
‘That is a long story; one best told inside I might add. Never the less it is good to see you brother.’
The cold would have been uncomfortable, even in the high tech amour that Tristen and Master Kam wore.
‘Greetings young one’
Tristen let go of Caleb and patted him a few times on his shoulders, dispelling the frosting snow that had started to settle there. Kam beamed at the son of Dorn Bruce. Caleb’s eyes were drawn to what the Master held. He sunk to his knees at the sight of his father’s sword, crunching the thick snow as he fell.
‘We have come a long way to find you Caleb. It brings me so much joy to see you alive.’
Kam held out the sword reverently to him. Even sheaved the magnificent Traitors Bane was a marvel to behold. The intricate carvings had been painstakingly etched by masters of sword craft. Caleb reached out to claim his father’s most prized possession.
‘He would have wanted you to have this.’ Master Kam added and finally relinquished the sword to him. Caleb took it slowly and scanned the famous sword that was now rightfully his. He pulled the golden blade free and the bright sun made it shine with so much brilliance, it almost seemed magical. All who beheld the scene watched in ore. Those who had not heard of this sword looked on in wonder at what they were seeing.
The blade itself was just as intricately etched as its casing. Caleb did not have to test how keen its edge was, as he scanned the sharpness with an expert eye. Without the power stud activated, it could still cut through almost any amour known to man.
He depressed the stud on its hilt, and the sword glowed in golden brilliance. Its heat made the snow that touched it sizzle and hiss.
‘You know what happened to him Master? Caleb did not take his eyes from the gleaming blade as he asked the question.
‘I know enough; I know who did this to you and I know they will pay for it with their lives.’
Caleb dropped his head in sorrow. Long and buried images of his parent’s murder came to mind. Through the entire horror and heart ache he had witnessed; not once had one tear fallen from his cheek- until now.
It was a lonely sorrowful tear that froze before it even reached Caleb’s chin. It would be his last tear, he promised himself. He stood and held the mighty weapon for all to behold. The assembled inmate’s cheered in unison for the one who had liberated them.
‘Young Bruce, I have some armour on board that ship that would attire you more appropriately.’
Caleb looked back to Tristen and Kam and smiled grimly. He could not wait to dress for war, and begin his vengeance. ‘Yes my friend; and a bath would not be out of the question first either.’
Tristan added sarcastically. Caleb roared with laughter at his friends words. It was true, he must have smelled terrible. He could always rely on his best friend to bring him crashing back down to earth.
‘I am glad this experience has not dulled any of your jests.’
‘It has not. Come let us go inside and out of this dammed cold.’ Tristan said. Caleb turned to a rough looking man covered in tattoos.
‘Mr Montoya, would you be so kind and assemble all of the men into the canteen? I will be there shortly after I reacquaint myself with my friends here. We have some preparations to make before we leave this world.’
The Mine Hound number two did not hesitate in carrying out Caleb’s instructions.
‘You heard the man, back inside everyone!’
Montoya shouted like a drill sergeant back at the academy. Caleb felt he could definitely use this man. The men shuffled off obediently, leaving the three to return to the ship.
‘I see I have come to late young Bruce. You do not need rescuing at all.’
‘Never the less, I am glad you are here. Let us continue this inside, shall we. I can see Tristan killing over any minute in this cold.’
That earned a playful jab from Tristan’s gauntleted fist. It was good to be among friends once again.
Once on the ship Caleb was shown to a bathing room, where he washed off the grime that had built up on his skin for the past year. Tristen was right, he did stink. He placed his father’s sword down and stripped away his snow covered coat and cloths. It was not an overly luxurious bathroom, but more of a functional one. He looked at his naked form in a mirror, before it became obscured in the steam from the shower.
He admired his form fleetingly. The dirt around his muscled physic emphasised the aesthetic beauty, he had paid no heed to for a while. Caleb stepped into the shower and luxuriated, as the warm and toasty water, rinsing away the filth on him.
The water felt like it was cleansing him body and soul; like a baptism into a new body.
He had come to this world a boy. He would leave it a man. Caleb spent a long time under those waters. It helped him think about his next move.
Caleb would not take orders from anyone now. Even President Black would have to answer some questions, before he swore allegiance. This place had made him, an extremely untrusting man.
He dried himself quickly, and walked into an adjoining bed chamber that was just as functional as the bathroom was. One bunk, a desk and some draws were all that furnished this room. On the bed however was something quite extraordinary. The gleaming golden plate of his father’s armour, shone like a star going supernova. It caught the light from above, and reflected it around the room, turning the ordinary chambers into a thing of wonder.
Next to the war plate was a flexible undergarment that he dressed in eagerly. Caleb hesitated before putting on the armour that now belonged to him by right. After so long in bondage; all of these knew gifts seemed unreal. He put it on, piece by piece, until he was fully clad in its protective shell. He walked to the mirror and looked at his reflection. It was one he did not recognise.
His brown wavy hair was long now. He tied it up with some leather cord that lay on the chambers desk. Caleb looked neither like his father nor mother. There were characteristics from them both. Now fully dressed for war, he was a vision of majesty that would be a sight for all who had wronged him.
He made his way to the cockpit, where Master Kam and Tristan sat at a table, and poured hot tea into a third waiting cup. They both looked up at Caleb, who was now transformed from a dirt caked inmate, to an angel of redemption in a matter of an hour.
Both men stood slowly and solemnly, their eyes held in astonishment at the vision before them. Caleb had his father’s sword sheathed and fixed at his side. He closed his eyes to inhale the sweet smelling brew of tea that waited for him.
‘Truly you are the son of Dorn young Bruce. But perhaps you are not so young any longer.’
Caleb opened his eyes and looked at the Master steadily. ‘Master Kam, do you know why I was created?’ It was a strange question but Kam answered truthfully.
‘You were to lead us, should our President stand down.’ Caleb nodded and said.
‘I do not know who has done this to me and my family, or why. But I assume it was done because of what I am. I ask you now my friends; if you know who has done this, I beg you to tell me.’
Kam and Tristan told Caleb the full account of how they had investigated the family’s disappearance, right up to the betrayal by Guy Kruger and the possible inclusion of General Defoe. Caleb listened to them without word; his mood calm. He would channel his hate, now that he had a name to focus it on.
Caleb told them about his time at the prison. He went on to tell of Tongs tragedy, and his meeting with the alien Elfan, who warned him of the war like foe coming to Earth.
Finally he told them of his eventual takeover of the entire prison. They both laughed when he told them that the Warden was now stuck in the very cell that Caleb had recently been a resident of.
‘So my friends; we appear to be at a tipping point in history.’ Caleb said after drinking the entire pot of sweet tea.
‘I do not know what awaits us back on Earth, but I wish to go back and get some answers. Will you follow my madness? I would understand if you wished to choose different paths.’
It was Tristan who answered for them both. ‘Caleb, we have flown across half the galaxy to rescue your worthless hide. Of course we will follow you.’
Kam bent down on one knee, as did Tristan.
‘Until we know what has become of our President, I will follow you also. I will guide you, if I may. Together we will punish the schemers who have done this. You have my solemn oath.’
‘You have mine also.’ Tristen confirmed passionately. They both stood and drew swords, touching the tips together in the classic way of the Elite Guard, when oaths were made.
‘Caleb, we have brought weapons and armour with us. It’s enough to equip your new friends in there. Do you trust them to wield such war gear?’
Master Kam asked expectantly. They would need a small army if they were to stop Kruger and his minions back on Earth. They may even need to fight an alien invader, when they returned back home.
‘They will need some basic training, but I see little choice in the matter Master. Plus we will need more ships, if we are to return with an army.’ Kam and Tristen looked at each other and smiled.
‘That will not be a problem. We have taken the liberty of requesting the help from the commander of Regiment 1. Hopefully they should be here in a matter of days.’ Kam said optimistically. ‘Is Lord Ignatius with them?’
Caleb truly hoped he was. With Lord Ignatius and his famous Regiment in tow, they would be a difficult force to defeat.
‘Yes, Sabastian is with them. He was trying to recruit more men when we left him. If he succeeded, then ships won’t be a problem.’ Kam reassured. They all put away their swords and Caleb added. ‘Then we better start training the inmates straight away.
Tanandil was nearly floored by the destructive force that hit his mind. He knew straight away what had assaulted his thoughts, as he sat in meditation quietly.
The Dream Caster had been destroyed. He knew this with certainty, when the image of it passed through him agonisingly. The pain of the destruction passed as quickly as it had arrived. The Mage was linked to the device that helped him drift here and there as he pleased. He would still be able to ascend around the Galaxy, although that task would be much harder now and extremely dangerous.
This was not what troubled the ancient Mage. It was the fact that the Dream Caster stopped prying psychic minds, from discovering the Hidden Realms. What had happened exactly would have to wait until his return. He hoped dearly that the human Caleb would come back with him. There would be much work for him now.
He made his way to the control bridge of the Elfan battle cruiser, with great haste.
Gretnear was on the Bridge as expected, and Tanandil told him of what had befallen the protective device.
‘In the name of the gods Tanandil, let us go back immediately.’ The Mage held up a hand and shook his head sorrowfully.
‘It would take too long Gretnear. I fear the damage has already been done.’
‘Very well; we are not far from the prison world anyway. I pray this tragedy will not cost us dear.’
Tanandil had a funny feeling it would cost them very dear indeed. Things were happening in the galaxy, beyond all of their control. He did not know why, but the Mage felt drawn to this human boy. It was almost like finding him was the answer to all of his peoples woes. Long ago Tanandil had learned to trust his judgment. It had not failed him thus far.
Planet: Earth, Geneva Central Command
Millions of Battle Drones were coming on line. Waking from their long slumber, they primed weapon systems to carry out this planned mission. They had been programed to attack the enemy ships in orbit over Earth. Defoe and some of the greatest minds from the Guild of Engineering, worked hard to orchestrate it all. The battle drones were big, and in the weightlessness of space they could be. All were made from Graphenatium alloy, the strongest material ever conceived by man. It would be hard to slow one down let alone stop them. Once in a gravity environment, thrusters would kick in, keeping it flying and mobile. Weapons such as lasers, chain guns and other explosives would cut through decks and bodies like bulldozers of destruction.
The Drones, much like the super warriors developed on Lunar, were top secret weapons, known only to those with the highest clearance. President Black had been due to tour the facility this very year, to oversee progress on the new and terrifying developments being created there.
Defoe had been observing the full capabilities of the green skinned enemy, laying waste around the major cities of Earth. The ground forces defending the planet were holding, but the losses being wrought by the monstrous aliens were catastrophic.
The first part of his counter attack would come from the battle drones. They had been tested extensively and Defoe was confident they would perform with distinction.
He pushed the simple button on his holographic control panel that gave the order to attack. Then he watched with fascination, as the hive spread around the small fleet of the invading vessels. They attacked in a similar way, an antibody killed in the body. Clustering around the ships surface, they cut inside the hulls easily and swarmed inside to kill everything in their path.
These machines of death would rip apart any organic flesh with a DNA signature of the enemy. But tearing flesh and bone was not their ultimate objective. Inside each drone was a payload of explosives that could level a small city. It was from the old Japanese kamikaze pilots, which Defoe had dreamed up the idea from. In World War Two they would fly whole squadrons of fighter planes, full of explosives into battle ships, and sank them with much success.
Fortunately he would not have to sacrifice any pilots using today’s technology. His next weapon to be unleashed would be more suited for that role.
‘How far have the Drones penetrated?’ He called out to a nearby Lieutenant in the global defence bunker. ‘They are close to the engine cores, on several vessels General.’
That was good; he had worried that the fearsome creatures might be able to repel the borders somehow. This enemy had already surprised him with how well they fought. Defoe would have to be at his very best, to not let this war he had manufactured, slip out of his control.
‘Have they met any resistance?’ He asked the Lieutenant. ‘Not much sir; most of their attack force, seems to be on the surface.’
‘Very good Lieutenant; inform me when the first ships are destroyed.’
He could have left this well planned counter attack, to one of his other more than capable marshals. But the stakes were too high, to leave it in the hands of a mind lesser than his. His micromanagement had ever been his greatest strength.
He noticed on his display, that several of the battle drones had made it to the enemy ships engine cores, and were detonating on mass. ‘There are several ships breaking apart General.’
‘Excellent.’ Defoe replied with glee. ‘Keep sending in waves, until that fleet has been annihilated.’
Defoe was in his element now. Like a master chess player, he moved his pieces around the board in a predetermined game plan. Not all had gone his way, but he would have been surprised if it did. Every stratagem would need adjusting throughout the course of a battle. The success of his drones, gave him the confidence to move his next piece on the board.
‘Dr Slade, are our new warriors on lunar ready to deploy?’
The Dr answered immediately. He would be sitting at a similar console to Defoe, on the Moon. He would be making sure that all of the data gathered on the alien enemy, had been uploaded in the soldiers mind chip.
‘We are sir; the new regiment are in drop ships as we speak. I see our Battle Drones are faring well.’
From his console, Slade would be receiving the same information as the control centre, under the city of Geneva.
‘Yes Dr, it fares extremely well. Once the enemy fleet are eradicated, we shall begin cleansing the planet of the foul creatures. I think it’s time to unleash the drop ships.’
‘It will be done sir.’ The Dr refrained from calling Defoe Emperor again. It was too early to openly call him this yet.
Dr Slade cut off the connection, and Defoe brought up the tactical readouts of the drop ships. He sent the order to attack, and dispersed them around the planets according to greatest need. The largest of the concentration would be deployed in Geneva. That was where the largest enemy numbers were attacking. Seeing his most prized new Regiment in action, was something the General was looking forward to.
Planet: Earth, Geneva
Master Thion had looked up into the sky, and watched in awe as it ignited in fire. A fierce space battle was taking place in the vacuum above the planet. He hoped they were doing as good a job above, as they were on the surface.
The heavy snow had stopped completely, and was beginning to thaw from the heat of the battle being fought around the city.
Captain Kruger walked over to him. Helmetless, his cold blue eyes stood out from his ash covered face. The smoke and dirt from the battles explosions had covered them all in a dark film. Thion’s own ivory armour was now a dull black.
‘You fought well Captain.’ Thion said to Kruger suspiciously. The new Captain had never looked so deadly, slaughtering the aliens. It was as if he possessed super powers. He had ploughed through the ranks of green beasts. There was no doubting that he was a supremely skilled warrior. But the feats he had performed in the ambush would have been difficult, even for the mighty sword Master himself.
‘You also fought well Master Thion. Unfortunately we cannot rest on our small victory.’
He indicated ahead where more of the alien brutes massed to charge the line; Regiment 1 had formed that made the street they were in a corridor of death. From the masses of green skinned enemy, a number of them unslung large cannon like weapons that they fired into them destructively
The carnage was terrible, with the thick armour of the famous Regiment soldiers, melting like wax under a keen flame. Great holes opened up in the defensive line to which the aliens now charged. Their numbers seemed never ending.
‘You are correct Captain. Our element of surprise has gone. I suggest we retreat, and form another trap for them to stumble into.’ Kruger smiled and shook his head at Thion.
‘That will not be necessary. We have bought enough time for a surprise of my own devising.’
‘What surprise?’ Thion asked curiously.
‘On Lunar base, we have been developing a secret Regiment of perfect soldiers. At any moment, they will be with us to drive the enemy off for good.’
Why had Thion not been told about this secret regiment? Even if it had needed to be kept quiet for security purposes; the sword Master had the highest clearance. It would have also helped him plan for their last assault.
‘Yes that is a surprise Captain. How many of these super warriors are coming to our aid?’
‘My word; you have been busy on Lunar. I see you’ve had a few upgrades of your own as well.’
Thion indicated to the devastation they had wrought in the street. Kruger did not confirm or deny any enhancements. He did not need to justify himself to the sword Master no matter how grand he thought he was.
On cue the thrusters of hundreds of ships descended over the city. Cannons opened up on the multitude of drop ships that came in like cavalry of old.
The green skinned creature’s thick shields did little to protect them, from the torrent of iron that rained down. Blood and flesh were splattering the pavement, like some strange contemporary artwork of death.
The drop ships swooped in low, and the rear of the vehicles opened to reveal the largest warriors that Thion had ever seen. They spilled out in their thousands, and rushed straight for the enemy who had formed another defensive shield wall, and were roaring like animals. They almost looked like they were enjoying the battle. Their snarling demonic faces did nothing to halt the advance, of Kruger’s so called super warriors.
They were just as big as the brutish green skins they attacked; making the big men of Regiment 1 look like children. Their dark grey Graphanatium war plate covered them from head to toe. It did not slow their charge with its weight one bit. Hydraulics must have helped them look so nimble. Nobody could move that fast in regular armour.
On their wrists was a built on twin barrelled gun, which they all brought up in unison. Firing as they came, the rounds bounced off the defenders shields, causing no real damage. Raising their aim slightly they fired from the second barrel as one. The larger round fired, were small spheres that slowly flew over the heads of the enemy, and into their central mass. Exploding shrapnel, cut through the crowded beasts, who screamed a feral shriek as the bite of superheated steal shredded into them.
The new Regiment warriors then pulled large double bladed axes that began to glow orange from the heat ignited in them, from each ones power source. To the alien’s credit, they took the pain, and held their tight formation well. Thion then witnessed something extraordinary. He had seen Kruger perform the same feats earlier. On mass the warriors of the secret Regiment leaped into the air, and over the shields of the facing wall of defenders. It seemed unreal, but they did it like they were in a zero gravity environment.
Once among the beasts, they carved a bloody mess, with only a very small number of them falling to the blades of the invaders. The mass of green skins was thinning out, and that was when Kruger shouted an order, to all that could hear him.
‘You’re not going to let them have all the fun are you; with me the Guard!’
All rushed in to follow into the chaos in the square. More aliens were coming in from other side streets to join the battle, which was quickly grinding them into the ground. The large mass of green skins had turned inside itself to try and crush the human soldiers among them. Unfortunately they were taking a brutal tally.
The beast’s rear was now exposed to Kruger and the charging Elite Guardsmen. Once again, they chopped them to pieces. They did not stand a chance against the combined might of the Earths greatest fighters. Regiment 1, seeing the enemy mass being systematically disassembled, made the wise decision to leave the large group of fighters in peace.
Instead of rushing in with the rest; they ran off in groups of ten, and went after any stragglers around the city. Their heavy guns could be heard as they took to the side streets, cutting down the aliens with contempt.
Thion watched these new super warriors that Kruger fought beside. He did not know why, but he felt that he should study the prowess of these terrible allies. Their strength was epic. One of them picked up a green skin on the end of his axe, and launched it into the air, as if it weighed nothing. He hoped he would never have to face them.
The final few beasts were cut down, and shown no mercy. They had dealt Earth and humanity a grievous blow in destroying the Palace. Thion’s thoughts turned to whether President Black lived. The smoke and ruin from where it once stood, did not encourage much hope.
Geneva, Central Command
Defoe sat in his command station with a smile spread from ear to ear. Hundreds of officers in the tactical room were clapping and shouting their praises to him. He would now be seen as saviour of his people. They would love him for stopping Earth from becoming wiped out by the alien aggressors. He accepted the praise with practiced humility.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, today we have had a great victory over the alien invaders.’
More applause broke out, and he waited to let the noise die down before continuing.
‘We do not know what these vile creatures wanted with our Earth. But it pains me to say that we have had no word from the Palace. The President is with much regret, presumed to have perished in this atrocity.’
Cameras were recording Defoe. The whole world would be watching this address with interest. The Earths Senators that lived through the invasion. All demanded answers before Defoe spoke to the populace. But the General would not take their calls. He wanted the people to know their beloved President was dead. He also wanted them to know who had saved them, from destruction.
‘People of Earth. I tell you now that we will hunt down any remaining aliens that we have designated as species X1. We will show them no quarter.’ More applause filled the situation room.
‘Years ago the President asked me to forge a new Regiment for the defence of mankind. Maybe he sensed that one day we would face a threat that would warrant such a Regiment. Today we have unleashed these men upon our enemies, with total success. We will continue to find species X1 wherever they may be in the galaxy, and we will annihilate them for what they have done to us.’
Defoe could hear roaring crowds around the building, who were watching the live feed. The address would also be seen by every man, woman and child with a holo screen. One of the reporters that Defoe had planted asked him a question over the noise in the room.
‘General, what's the name of this new Regiment?’
Normally the Regiments would be given a number as they were created. Defoe wanted to break with this this tradition slightly.
‘So far these super warriors of humanity have not been defeated. Until they are, they shall be known as Regiment Invicta.’
The Reporter asked another loaded question, as other men and women from the media raised their hands for attention.
‘Who will lead us now General? With No President to guide us, who could possibly take over so quickly in this crisis?’
Defoe had been waiting for this question for years. He had gone over and over in his head how he would respond. Now the time had finally come.
‘You are correct in saying that we need to act quickly to avoid global an interstellar catastrophe. Our President has led us thus far into an era of prosperity and peace. But now we are at war ladies and gentlemen. In times of war, we need a strong hand to lead. I will fill the gap, until the threat has been eradicated, and proper elections can take place.’
He had always expected to meet with resistance when he uttered those words. But the crowed in the room, and more importantly the Senators on the several holo screens, all clapped their united approval.
The truth of it was they were all frightened of what had happened. Few had seen war on this planet. The invasion had given them a harsh reminder that they needed a strong and brilliant leader to defend their way of life. Defoe had lived up to that task very well thus far.
With the alien fleet in orbit destroyed and the ground invasion wiped out. The grab for leadership was now in his reach. He raised his hands for silence.
‘I will go into the depths of space, and find species X1. With our forces, we will strike back at the heart of this scourge upon our peace. I will ensure this never happens again.’
Guy Kruger had been standing next to Defoe throughout his public address. The Presidential Bodyguard gave further credentials to Defoe’s claim as leader. The General indicated he step forward for the media.
‘Most of you probably know Captain Kruger here. He led the defence on the ground in our worlds Capital. He will be my Lord Regent of Earth, until I return victorious. I leave him with the burden of rebuilding our jewel of a planet. I also leave him with the labour of turning this world, and Solar system, into the greatest fortress possible. Let this never happen again!
Defoe Repeated, to drive the never again part home. He hopped they would be as happy with his decision when the emotions had died down. Either way, marshal law would now dictate things. Any resistance would be crushed by Regiment Invicta who was streaming down to Earth from Lunar base in their thousands.
‘What title will you have General? Are you to become President?’ Another reporter shouted out. ‘I will become Lord Marshal of our people until Victorious.’
The address was over. The new Lord Marshal of humanity left the news conference by a side door. Kruger left with him. When they were finally alone together, they looked at each other and burst out laughing; letting go of all the stresses from the day’s activity. It was a cruel and sinister sound that both had bottled up from years of scheming.
‘Congratulations my Lord Regent.’ Defoe said to Kruger happily. ‘Well done to you also Lord Marshal.’ Kruger replied in a gravelly baritone.
‘Or may I say congratulations, Emperor.’
Defoe liked the sound of that title immensely. He would take it publicly when the time was right. But for now, he would take it as just reward for a plan well executed. At last the strong would rule again over the weak.
‘Yes Guy you may.’
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Regiment 1 had not taken long to travel to Redeem. Their small cruiser needed to be fast to take them to any hostile colony that decided to get rebellious ideas of independence. Along with the on board fighter crafts and drones, they could subdue whole worlds with a compliment of only five hundred warriors. The Regiment was famous for getting to any theatre of war, with a rapidity that would shock an ill prepared enemy. Lord Sebastian Ignatius was glad that he had the best of the best at the disposal of his beloved Regiment.
They had landed in one of their Drop ships close to the prisons perimeter. He was dumbstruck to see what had happened here. The son of Dorn Bruce had turned the place inside out, and now the guards that once ruled here had become his prisoners.
He was further impressed by his close friend’s son, when he had been given a tour of the facility. Caleb had set tasks for everybody. The inmates had been given weapons and tactical training, with the help of young Tristan and Master Kam. It had been only weeks since Caleb took the prison under his control, and already he had turned the once volatile and dangerous criminals, into a disciplined fighting force of some use.
He was their liberator; but this was not the only reason why they loved him. His personality and easy command was infectious. He had suffered with them, and could relate to the pains they had endured here. Caleb Bruce had moved around the place with a confidence of a ruler. His golden war plate made him look like a god, in its shining brilliance. But even in rags the angelic nobility of Caleb shone through. Lord Ignatius had not been humbled by anyone before. Not even President Black who could be extremely intimidating. The son of Dorn did not intimidate exactly. It was more of an overwhelming feeling of joy to be in his presence. He could not quite explain the strange illation.
Like an alpha in a wolf pack, Caleb drew in people as naturally as breathing. ‘Your father would be proud of you young man.’
Ignatius said in a deep baritone voice. The Four of them sat around the Wardens office desk, in a council of war. All had told their tales, and pieced together what had occurred, in the parts they had all played in this interstellar drama.
‘Thank you my Lord. That means a great deal indeed.’
‘I mean it; I would not have believed it, if I did not see what you have done here with my own eyes.’
‘So what do we do now?’ Tristan asked.
All were aware that Caleb had been bred for leadership, but it was Lord Ignatius that was in charge of this war council. Caleb was remarkable, there was no doubting that. But planning matters of war on this scale would be foolish, if they did not let the elite leader of Regiment 1 take charge.
‘I think we should gather our forces, including any others of the Regiment floating around, and strike at our enemies with everything. If President Black has anything to do with this, he will answer as well.’
Ignatius replied to everyone, with cold steel in his voice. They all nodded in assent to this when there was a sharp knock at the door.
‘Yes what is it?’ Ignatius had put his men on the doors and perimeter of the prison. Essentially Regiment 1 was the new guard at the prison. The former prisoners were learning fast from the instruction of the regular soldiers. They were being built into a guerrilla fighting force, as quickly as possible. The soldier that knocked entered.
‘My Lord there is a former prisoner outside, who wishes an audience.’
‘Tell him to wait until we have concluded here, Private Winters. Then I will see him.’
‘He is quite insistent Sir.’ Ignatius turned crimson with rage; he hated to be interrupted. He took a deep breath to shout something in his usual bad manner, when Caleb intervened.
‘Let’s hear what he has to say my Lord, it could be important.’
Caleb did not lead at this small council meeting, but when he spoke, it was with a strange and gentle force that was hard to resist; even for the Lord Commander.
‘Very well young Caleb; Send him in Winters, let’s hear what he has to say.’
The Private snapped off a quick salute, and signalled to the former prisoner standing outside to enter. He looked relieved that the son of Dorn Bruce had stopped a potential berating from his commander.
Franco Montoya walked in confidently, and nodded his head to the men around the table.
‘Hello Franco’ Caleb said to his unofficial second in command of the new prisoner guerrilla force.
‘Franco is it? That wouldn't be Franco Montoya of the mine hounds would it sonny?’
‘Yes it is Lord Ignatius.’ Franco replied smoothly. It seemed that these two were already acquainted. ‘Sebastian steady.’
Kam cautioned, putting a calming hand on Ignatius's shoulder.
‘Do you know this man my Lord?’ Tristan enquired. ‘Do I know him? Oh yes young man, I know him. I was the one who put him, and the rest of his vermin gang here. I wish we had just slaughtered you all truth be told.’
‘Then why didn't you?’ Montoya said looking genuinely intrigued.
‘Let’s just say, others thought it best to let you suffer here. I agreed then that death was too easy for the likes of you. But now you're free again, I might have to put my axe to some good use.’
Montoya looked calm at the threat, as Caleb stood between the two men.
‘My Lord, this man has pledged his and his gang to me, by oath I might add.’
‘So that means something to me sir. When I make a deal with someone, I do not break my word.’
‘What if he breaks his word; then what? He wasn't sent here wrongly like you Caleb. He was sent here because he is a murdering scumbag who deserves nothing short, of a close shave with my blade.’
Montoya spoke up, but not in anger, as would be expected from a hardened murderer.
‘My Lord, it is true that I am a killer.’
‘You see, he even admits it.’
‘Yes I admit it what I am. But will you sir? Are you not also a killer? What makes you so different from me?’
‘I’m nothing like you.’ Ignatius said with disgust.
‘Truly? Do you not follow orders from a commander to execute any threats that stand in your way?’ Ignatius said nothing but stared at Montoya, with pent up violence on his face.
‘I also kill by orders my Lord. If you knew anything about the Mine Hounds, you would know that we do not kill women or children, and if we make an oath we bind ourselves to it. But you do know this. So I ask again, what makes me any different to you?’
‘He has a point you know.’ Tristan said, to the admonishing gaze of Master Kam, who knew the rages of his long-time friend. ‘Tristan stay out of this’ Kam added quickly, hoping to calm things down. Ignatius carried on, like he had not heard the two elite guardsmen.
‘I may be a killer Montoya, but I haven't burned alive any old men lately. Have you?’
Montoya looked gravely at the Commander. Caleb had obviously told his friends of the murder of Master Tong.
‘That was regrettable my Lord. But just consider this for one moment. When I was a child growing up in the Colombian hills, my entire family were burned in a similar fashion. They were burned by your men, for not sharing crops with the new order. If we are cruel, then it is because you made us so.’
Ignatius did not have an answer for that. Among the tattoos, Caleb could see scarring around Franco's neck. Whether he was telling the truth was irrelevant, and Caleb’s patience was running out.
‘My Lord Commander, we have all agreed that you are in command of this council of war.’
Caleb raised his voice slightly to emphasize his point. ‘You all know why I was created?’
They all nodded ‘I know Caleb.’ The Lord Commander said gruffly.
‘Then you know I have been created to rule over mankind, and all the colonies?’
‘Yes.’ Ignatius answered simply. ‘My Lord, we have all been betrayed. I am going to embrace my destiny Sir, and I need all of you all to help me fulfil it. I am young, that is true. But you all know what I am capable of. I can hear Private Winters heart beating the other side of that door. I can overrun a class A high security prison single handed. The power in me is growing every second and I can feel it.’
Caleb spoke like a natural leader, and everyone hung on to his every word.
‘It is easy to follow a man because he is powerful. But I ask you to follow me because I am a man who keeps his word. I am a man who knows right from wrong. We will have justice that is certain. But as from now on, we need to be united. We also need a hierarchy of leadership. I place myself in that role, and I ask you all; will you follow me?’
He looked like a god, so beautiful was he in every regard. His voice was like silk. Tristan and Kam stood and placed a closed fist over their hearts in a show of agreement. How could they not follow this great young man? Ignatius looked at Caleb for a moment. It was hard to read the Commanders expression.
‘I have followed the orders of the snake that is General Defoe, for longer than you have been alive. I am sick to death of it, truth be told. Your father was the greatest man I have ever known. It is clear to me now, that you will become even greater than he was. This is because you have the compassion of your mother I think.’
‘So will you let me lead you, and follow my command my Lord?’
‘Of course I will.’ Caleb was relieved by the consensus. The last thing they needed right now was their small band to be fractured before they had even begun.
‘It gladdens my heart that you do. Let this day be the beginning of our quest for vengeance. We either go back to our Presidents rule, or crush it if it is found wanting.’
‘Sounds like a plan to me. Shall we resume our council?’ Tristan said.
‘Yes we shall; but first I want the Lord Commander to clear the air with our new man. He and the rest of the old prisoners are after all with us. I wish to invite Franco here to our war council.’
‘But what use is he, in a military sense Caleb?’ Ignatius said, still clearly not convinced about the gang member. Caleb looked to Montoya
‘Well Franco, that’s a fair question. What can you bring to this council?’
Caleb already knew Montoya’s worth. He felt it would be better coming from him though.
‘It is true that I have been an active member in the criminal organization, commonly known as the Mine Hounds. This you know, but what you do not, is that I served five years in Regiment 13 as a 1st Lieutenant. I make no exaggeration in saying that I was good.’
Regiment 13, was a small Regiment of snipers that would support other Regiments, or task forces such as the Watch. If what he said was true, then Franco would be a highly prized asset indeed. ‘I don’t believe you Montoya; I would have known if you had been of the Regiment.’
‘Commander, do you know every soldier in your own Regiment by name?’ Begrudgingly Ignatius had to concede. ‘No, but I know most of em.’
‘Most is not all Commander. I served over ten years ago, in war zones that were majorly classified. Probably even to you.’ Master Kam cleared his throat noisily to get everybody's attention. ‘There is a way of finding out this claim quite easily gentlemen.’
Ignatius asked, as Kam walked over to a gun cabinet that housed some fine rifles, assumingly belonging to the Warden. He picked up one and inspected the weapon expertly. The gun seemed custom made, and Kam found a box of 50 calibre bullets in a draw, underneath the racks.
They were large bullets for a rifle. But in the guns stock was a piston mechanism that cushioned the impact from the shot. Without it you would probably dislocate your shoulder when you fired. The rifle was well oiled and Kam filled a magazine with six bullets then loaded the gun.
He handed it to Montoya who took the weapon and cocked it, pulling a round into the chamber.
‘So he can put a round in the gun, big deal.’
Ignatius chided Montoya, who ignored the Commander and inspected the guns telescopic sight. Kam opened the glass door that led to the balcony, where Caleb had first seen the Warden and Wellin looking down at him in the freezing snow. Icy winds blew into the office, as the door was opened wide. They all made their way to the balconies edge, crunching the fresh snow under foot as they walked. Fortunately, all but Montoya had pressurised armour on which kept the bodies temperature comfortable. The thick coat the Mine Hound was wearing would have to do.
‘Since the Commander is clearly the one I must impress; I invite him to choose my target, and please make it as hard as you like.’
Ignatius scanned the horizon that was a snow covered landscape, offering few targets worthy of a crack shot from the 13th Regiment. He held out his hand for the rifle and Montoya gave him the weapon. The Commander looked through the scope for a target to hit, and found one happily.
‘Ah, I have the very thing. Here, can you see that.’
He handed the gun back to Montoya, who looked through the scope, and saw straight away what he had to hit. It was a pole that had a blue light on top, about half a mile away from the prisons perimeter. It was probably used to guide in aircraft when the snow was severe.
‘If you can shoot that light out, on the top of that pole, then I will welcome you with open arms to this war council.’ Ignatius said gleefully. The shot was a long one, and in this wind it would take an exceptional marksman to hit the target.
‘Sebastian, even I could not hit that in these conditions.’ Kam protested.
‘It should be no problem for a shooter of Regiment 13.’
Before Kam could argue any longer with Ignatius, Franco brought the gun up, to target the light. The wind died down mercifully, but would still make the shot difficult.
‘How many shots do I get Commander?’
‘And if the Warden has not calibrated his weapon correctly, what then?’ Ignatius growled irritably. ‘Very well; two shots and no more.’
Montoya nodded assent and held his breath. He pulled the trigger in a smooth motion and the guns suppressed barrel spat the round quieter than expected. The weapon was a real beauty indeed to have fired such a round so noiselessly. The light at the top of the post suddenly went out as if somebody had flipped a switch. It had taken only one shot after all.
‘Are you satisfied Commander?’
‘Give me that gun.’
Ignatius said, as he snatched it away from Montoya, and looked through the sights to see if his eyes had tricked him. They had not. Nothing of the blue light was left after the 50 calibre round had hit it. Ignatius smiled big strong teeth, and then bellowed a laugh that was frightening in its volume. He stopped, and threw the gun back to Franco happily.
‘Yes Montoya, I’m satisfied. Only a man of the 13th could pull that off.’
‘So Franco, now that you have earned your place in this small council. What was it you wanted to say to us, before your interrogation?’ Asked Kam, who was impressed with the fantastic shooting?
‘I thank you for your trust. My men and I owe Caleb our freedom. I am honoured to serve him.’
‘Thank you Franco.’ Caleb said appreciatively.
‘I would like to also warn you that I have spoken to the Warden. He has told me that a reserve force will be here in a day or two, because the prison would not have communicated with them. It is standard procedure to launch a full scale assault on the prison, if they do not hear from them.’
The news of an assault would have been a pain for Caleb if Ignatius and the others had not come. But now it was music to the ears of the young Bruce, who felt sorry for the reception the reinforcements would receive.
‘Splendid Franco; if we are to be having guests, then lets prepare to welcome them shall we gentleman?’
Tristen and Ignatius shared an amused look, as they all sat back at the war council table to plan their reception.
Ignatius hid his cruiser behind Redeems primary moon, and shut down all power, except from the main sensor array. He wanted to know when the fast response force arrived to retake the prison. He had the Warden on deck. He was in utter shock still, from this invasion on his beloved facility. He had wept when they dragged him from his cell, and spilled all that he knew in a desperate attempt to save his skin from the harsh treatment of the inmates. Ignatius just wanted to jettison the whining scum into the vacuum of space. It was a fitting end for this sick and twisted man.
It was Caleb that had stayed the hand of the Commander yet again. It was strange, but when the boy spoke, it was with power and wisdom. Only a fool would not heed this great young man’s council; and so the Warden lived. He sat miserably at Ignatius's side, and would only speak when spoken to.
‘If you have lied to us Warden, then I still might send you for a trip outside the ship you know.’
The Warden looked at the big and brutal looking Commander, in all his glory and regalia. The terror etched on his face was pitiful.
‘I have not lied to sir, I assure you. The fast response unit should have been here by now.’
‘Then why have we been sitting on our backsides all day. Where are they?’
‘I don’t know my Lord. This has never happened before at Redeem. Protocol will be in place, but the truth of it is, they will probably be a bit surprised and reluctant to come. After all, it should not have been possible to take over a facility such as this.’
Ignatius was surprised also at how Caleb had brought this snivelling man’s little kingship to its knees.
‘Did it not say on the boy’s papers how dangerous he was?’
‘Yes, and that is why we eventually placed him on a platform, far underground and isolated. It still baffles me how he accomplished it.’
‘Ha.’ Ignatius boomed, slapping his knee with mirth.
‘You didn't stand a chance with him in your prison you know.’ The Warden lowered his head in shame. All the years making the facility at Redeem notorious for being inescapable and cruel, were now in tatters. If he lived through this, he could wave goodbye to the fat and juicy pension, he had been hoping to enjoy.
The sensors at the ships helm came to life and the large command bridge bustled with excited energy. It seemed their prey had arrived.
‘Bring the enemy on screen Sargent.’
The crystal clear display came to life, and an image of a troop carrier came into view. It was not a ship built to fight space battles; it did not need to be. It carried hundreds of men with one purpose; to retake an overrun prison. They had been stationed at a nearby system a few standard days travel away. They were not regular army, or part of the Regiment. They were like the rest of the guards at the prison; mercenaries, who enforced suffering on another world that mined precious ore to sell on the open market. The prisoners on that world would sometimes flow from this one, if they were deemed worthless enough to be used there.
Ignatius let them pass, much to the confusion of the Warden, who probably thought they would have been blown apart by the superior fighting craft of the Regiment. But The Lord commander wanted the troop carrier they had arrived in; soon he would have it. He knew that with a cold certainty, as he watched the smaller drop ships disembark from the main carrier, and down to the surface of Redeem.
After a while he presumed all of the transport carriers personnel would have landed to make their assault. He would wait awhile to let Caleb and the ground forces overwhelm the mercenaries, before he would take his prize. It was now Caleb’s opportunity to impress him once more.
Planet: Redeem, Class A Prison World
Like stars falling from the sky, the expectant visitors landed a short distance from the main prison. They would hope to take the inexperienced inmates by surprise. By all accounts the men attacking Caleb were shock troopers. Much like Regiment 1 they would use tactics that would overwhelm an enemy with brute force. Unfortunately for them, they were up against Regiment 1, led by a young man that was perfection personified. It did not take long for the assault force to gather into one massed group, and make their way through the thick snow towards the entrance. It was time thought Caleb. Hiding behind one of the high towers at the entrance, he stepped out and walked casually towards the advancing group. This part of the plan had been the greatest risk. But Caleb had emphasised its importance, and his capability to pull it off with no blood shed.
With his helmet and armour on, it would take a tremendous amount of firepower to take him down. This was his father’s war plate after all, and was designed to withstand most projectile rounds within reason. He stopped and raised a hand in greeting, much to the confusion of the assault force. They all looked at each other, in hope of someone knowing what to do. They would not want to kill Caleb if there was a possibility he was a guard. In shining golden plate, Caleb looked far from a prisoner. One of the Mercenary’s broke away, and held his gun aimed steady at him as he came. His face was also covered; the helmet he wore was dark steel, with a glossy black glass face plate. He stopped short of Caleb and stated his command through a grill in his faceplate, which amplified his words in the howling winds.
Caleb could move faster than his enemy could fire, if he wanted to. He confidently removed his helmet to reveal his sublime face, and thick mane of well-oiled hair. It was tied up neatly in a top knot, like the ancient samurai of old.
‘I am Caleb Bruce my friend, and I control this planet now. If I was you, I would drop your weapons and surrender into my care. I promise no one will be harmed, and you will be treated with honour.’
The man opposing Caleb did not lower his gun. He chuckled at the audacity of the command, and rightly so. Behind him were a good three hundred hardened mercenaries that would eat a motley crew of inmates for breakfast.
‘You have courage for facing us down like this, but the gesture is foolish I think. I don’t know where you got that armour from, but it won't do you any good. We have full authority to execute any prisoner that resists, and you my lad as big as you are, will not be a problem for my men.’
‘Who do you think you are up against sir, if my armour does not give you a clue?’
‘It doesn't matter, prisoner. You are all just numbers to us. I’ll bet you stole that plate from the Wardens collection. He did always like his toys of war. Now tell me where the rest of you are held up, and I might let you live.’
Caleb grinned, a cruel but beautiful smile. He was enjoying this.
‘We are all right here next to you. Could you not see us?’
With that said, the snow burst into life around the group. Hundreds of large men from Regiment 1 broke out from the snow, like beasts awoken from deep slumber. They carried chain guns that were famous for the men of the 1st. The weight of the weapons was tremendous. But they all carried them with ease, as they trained them onto the dumbstruck enemy mercenaries.
‘Hold your fire men.’
The man shouted in front of Caleb. No one fired, but all of the mercenaries were clearly panicking. Caleb was mildly worried one of them would start shooting, and condemn them all to death. The veterans they faced would not give them a second chance.
‘The men you face right now are Regiment 1. I take it you have heard of them?’
The man nodded quickly. Everybody had heard of the famous warriors of the 1st. to his credit, he still kept his gun steadily aimed at Caleb.
‘I am sure this is all very disorientating for you. I will tell you some of what has happened here.
My name is Caleb Bruce, son of Dorn Bruce. I had been sent to this planet by traitorous scum. My friends of the Regiment have kindly come to shut this icy hell down for good.’
‘Where is the Warden?’ The Mercenary asked. ‘He is safe; but if you are familiar with Regiment 1, and the thick Iron Hide armour they wear. Then you will know your rounds are pretty much useless against them. Mine too I might add. So if you do not drop your weapons right no. I will signal for them to open up with those big guns they are carrying. It would make short work of you all; that is a certainty.’
‘What will you do with us, if we do?’
‘As I have already said, you will be treated with honour. Once we have taken your ship, and left this place. You may signal for a lift from your employer. It would be a good story to tell your grandchildren one day. Or not; we could always kill you all.’
That was enough for the mercenary. He dropped his gun, which disappeared in the snow, and signalled, for his men to do the same. It was a wise decision.
Ignatius had taken the transport carrier with equal ease. He had done this a hundred times before. Against a crew of so few, it was child’s play to commandeer the vessel with the might of his battlecruiser. They all stood on the command bridge of the Regiment ship. Caleb stared out at the view screen at the planet, where he had become a man. He would join the freed prisoners soon, who were being led by Montoya, on the mercenary ship they had taken. Before they could return to Earth they needed more men. Ignatius was showing him where he thought he could find some.
‘In this system, there are two companies of my warriors. I believe they are being supported by a few other Regiments as well. I cannot say if those others would follow us, but I’m certain that my men there will.’
‘How do we know they haven't been summoned back with the rest of your lot Sebastian?’
Master Kam questioned. ‘The last I heard there was intense fighting in that system. If they had been summoned, they would ensure they had won the fight there first.’
‘What if they have already won the fight Commander?’
Tristen asked; Ignatius had taken the young guardsman under his wing since they left Earth. ‘Either way Tristan, we need more men.’ As they debated their strategy, the bridges crew came to life suddenly. ‘Sir, Another ship approaches.’
One of the crew shouted. The image of it was brought up without order, and they all looked upon a massive craft that was elegantly slowing before them.
‘What the hell is that?’ Cried Ignatius ‘It’s unlike any known craft we’ve come across sir. It’s too big to be one of the colonies vessels.’ A sergeant said urgently. Only one man on deck looked completely calm at the sudden entrance of the new ship. Caleb knew exactly who was in the strange looking ship.
‘Gentlemen, do you remember I told you about the alien that visited me?’
‘I thought you may have had a hallucination in there Caleb.’ Ignatius replied in awed wonder, at the beautifully sleek and yet large vessel. It made his mighty craft seem like a small shuttle.
The view screen crackled with energy, and pixilated into a vision of the very alien Caleb had spoken of.
‘My timing is perfect it seems. It appears you do not require rescuing my friend.’
‘Tanandil; it is good to see you.’ Everyone on board the bridge stared at the screen. They clearly did not believe what they were seeing. Caleb had told his tale, but to see an actual intelligent alien, was stuff of pure fantasy.
‘Alas, I bring dire tidings my friend. The Orkra horde has attacked Earth, and I fear it may have already been lost. My realm is too under threat from our old enemy.’
All of the ship’s crew seemed shocked at this new turn of events. Ignatius eyes went wide at the mention of his home world being invaded.
‘What...Earth overrun, we must return immediately.’ Ignatius said with panic.
‘We do not know yet if your world is lost. But judging by the Orkra capabilities, we fear the worst.’
‘Thank you for that news my friend.’
Caleb said to Tanandil calmly. They looked so similar to their own race he thought. There were differences. Tanandil’s pointed ears and almond shaped eyes, were what stood out the most. He was slender and fair, to a degree that was thoroughly pleasing to behold him.
‘I come to you in friendship Caleb. I also wish to bring you back to my people to discuss a possible alliance with humanity.’
‘That would be very helpful my friend, but I do not yet speak for all of my people.’
Caleb replied honestly. ‘Plus we need to get back and stop this invasion.’ Added Ignatius, clearly flustered by the news.
‘I know you must feel like rushing back to your world with all haste. I know I would. But by the time you get home, I fear the Orkra would have control of your world, and your people. I give my word that if an alliance is reached, then we will return to Earth as allies and burn the foul creatures from the galaxy once and for all.’
‘Why can we not go there together, right now?’ The commander asked irritably.
‘The Orkra numbers are in the trillions. As I have already told Caleb. My people were a great race once. Not even we could stem the tide from this savage foe. My king wishes to meet with you Caleb and measure for himself what I have told him about you.’
Caleb was torn. On one hand he wanted to get back and help in the fight for his people and planet. He knew he could not do that, unless they had more soldiers. Tanandil could see and feel the turmoil the young man was going through.
‘I know you have sought only vengeance Caleb. I can understand why. But you must realise, that if you return home without our armies. Then surely you will all perish; along with all your kind. But if we can convince my Lord King of an alliance; then you may very well win your world back.’
It was true that Caleb had thought of nothing but vengeance since his parents were both slaughtered before him. What Tanandil said was logical. Caleb closed his eyes to say some words in private to the Elf.
‘How can you assure me that your people will aid us?’
‘I cannot guarantee anything, but this my young friend. Even if my king withholds our armies, I will teach you my arts. Together, with the help of a few of my friends; we will return to your world, and do what we can. I swear this on Iskur and the ascended.’
Lord Ignatius broke Caleb’s concentration.
‘Strategically the alien is correct; we need more guns, and men to carry them. If you'll pardon my generalization, master Tanan… what was it again?’
Tanandil smiled kindly at Ignatius's bad manners, and did not take offence from the blustering Commander.
‘Tanandil; it’s quite alright, it must be strange to say it in your tongue master human.’
Ignatius went on to finish what he was saying. His baritone voice boomed loudly. Master Kam cringed slightly at the Commanders lack of diplomatic etiquette.
‘I recommend we meet this alien king Caleb; and see if we would want an alliance.’
‘Sebastian, would you please refrain from referring to Tanandils people, as aliens. My apologies, for the commander’s inconsideration. I am sure your people are as noble as Caleb has described my friend. Will you also allow me to introduce ourselves?’
Master Kam introduced himself and Ignatius to the amused looking Tanandil.
‘Again I take no offence Master Kam. But I will say that we can only take Caleb back with us. It is forbidden for any race but the Elfan to enter our realm. The king has only made exception to him alone.’
‘Not a chance.’ Ignatius objected. ‘If he goes, we all go. We've travelled across the galaxy to find him, and I will be damned before I let him go into the unknown alone.’
When Caleb had accepted his role to one day rule humanity; he knew he would have to put aside his own wants and desires. Mankind would come first. This opportunity seemed like the best prospect for his people. If this Tanandil was a trickster, then Caleb would deal with him like the rest of his enemies. But he had a good feeling about the Elf. He knew what he had to do.
‘My Lord Commander, I thank you for your concern. But I have made my mind up.’
‘It would be madness to go alone...’ Caleb held up a commanding hand, and gave Ignatius a look to halt his protest.
‘I will go my Lord, because it’s our only hope. I will rendezvous with you all at the Alpha Centauri system, hopefully with an army at my back.’
Alpha Centauri was the closest star system to Earth. It had thrived over the years of colonisation, and would be a logical point to rally and gain more allies. Caleb knew the daughter of the systems leader. She was a remarkable lady, and friend to his family.
‘Are you sure you want to do this Caleb.’ Kam asked sympathetically.
‘I am sure Master. This all feels strangely like destiny somehow. I cannot explain it. But I must go.’
Tristan walked into view of the screen, and Kam winced again, expecting to be embarrassed further. Tristan was so much like Ignatius when it came to communicating. Both were blunt creatures sometimes.
‘I wish I could go with you Caleb. Could your people not make an exception for a chaperone master Tanandil. I have missed my friend here a great deal, and it’s normally my job to bring his massive ego down a peg or two.’
Everyone laughed at Tristan’s words, save Ignatius who did not like the plan one bit.
‘I think we could convince the council and the king of one chaperone, my young friend. What is your name?’ Caleb answered for him. ‘His name is big mouth, back at the Academy. But sometimes he is known as Tristan. I am sure I will regret it, but his company would be most welcome.’
Ignatius and Kam walked up to Caleb and Tristan. Ignatius tried his best to whisper to the two young men and failed miserably.
‘I think you two are bloody fools. But I'm sure your father and I would have done the same thing. Good luck lad.’
‘Thank you Commander.’
Caleb said graciously, taking Ignatius's hand in a firm grip of friendship.
‘Try not to let Tristan get under your skin too much. I have had to suffer him these past months and he can be quite a pest.’ Tristen smirked mischievously, knowing it was true.
‘I believe you.’
Caleb replied rolling his eyes at the thought. He then took Master Kams hand and nodded his respects to his father’s best friends.
‘I want to thank you all for coming for me. I will come to Alpha Centauri as quickly as I can.’ Kam placed his other hand on Caleb’s shoulder paternally. ‘I know you will. What you have become would make both of your parents proud. I am proud of you also.’
‘Thank you Master, that means a great deal.’
Caleb closed his eyes and would think no more of the hell he had suffered on the world below. He had gone through the meat grinder, and came though the other side a stronger person. He had also become man. Caleb hopped he would have his revenge one day, on his parents killers. But he must take his chances one step at a time, if he was to save and lead his people one day. Kam and Lord Commander Ignatius would take the inmates that had commandeered the mercenary vessel. They would need them before the end, Caleb mused. For now though he would take the small pleasure owed to him. They had said on his arrival that no one had escaped from the ice world. But he had done just that; He had done the impossible and escaped from Redeem.
Planet: Akrioka-Orkra- Orkra Clan World
Scores of Orkra roared in unison at the news of the defeat of the first wave of warriors. Thrakka had thought the amount of ships sent to the human world was overkill for the conquest of the puny race.
But they had not been as feeble as previously thought. He would not make the same mistake twice. He stirred up the hoard before him, into frenzy. They and the hundreds of thousands of ships would be part the second wave. The humans would not stop the next attack; of that he was certain.
A mighty looking Orkra warrior broke from the ranks of the others, and tried to attack the creature at Thrakka’s feet. The Shaman had kept the human female as a pet. But after the defeat of their clansmen, they would want to kill and eat any they could find. Thrakka, had come to enjoy the female creature being around, and drew a sword in one swift motion, beheading the ill-disciplined warrior as he came. He roared at the rest who looked hungry for human blood.
‘We will kill and enslave. But this one is mine.’ He spat at the crowed of that frothed spittle, from their cruel fanged jaws. The Shaman stood before the assembled Orkra, and glared menacingly at them all. He dared any of them to challenge his power a second time. None did of course.
‘Warriors of the tribe; the humans think they have one a great victory over us.’
All were becoming silent to hear their Shamans words. Gaka, Chief of a thousand worlds was among the assembled, along with his under chieftain Maglak. Both looked furious at the small defeat of their warriors.
‘I want to taste their blood, just as much as you. Soon you will all have fresh meat and slaves aplenty. No race has before resisted the strength of the tribes. We are legion, and we go to war.’
Thrakka knew what they wanted to hear, and was rewarded with another roar of approval. Even the chief banged his chest at the prospect of killing. It had been far too long since they found a race such as the humans. But Thrakka had two enemies he wanted to attack now. He had held back this information for this very moment.
‘I will spoil the tribe with kills. Yes, we will we crush this new race of humans. But I have also discovered at last where our old enemy hides.’ He had their full attention now.
‘I have found the Elfan. The pointy ears hidden realm is shrouded no longer. To war and slaughter the Orkra!’
The human female covered her ears; such was the volume of jubilation from the crowed. Gaka walked up the grand steps where Thrakka was speaking from.
‘Is it true Shaman? Have we found em?’
‘It is true. I have communed with the others of my order, and we are splitting forces to attack both the humans and the Elfan. I have your approval?’
Thrakka added that out of courtesy. The Chieftains ruled the tribes, but the Shamans held the real power, and both knew it. Gaka nodded consent. All the other Chieftains would do the same. When enemy blood was there to be spilt, then the only answer was war.
Lucy sat at the feat of her Master. She had seen some horrible and scary things in her short carrier in Black Watch. She had always managed to shrug it off in the past. That was her skill, and part of why she had been recruited into clandestine operations. But for the first time in her life, she was terrified. All eyes seemed to be on her; with one intention. They wanted to eat her alive.
She tried to make herself as small as possible, as the big leader walked up the steps to converse with her master. She understood this one was important, and a leader of great respect. Even her master bowed slightly at his approach. She dared a look out of the viewport that showed the thousands of Orkra vessels, preparing to travel to Earth no doubt. If this was but a small portion of the alien fleet, then Earth did not stand a chance. She had asked her master days ago, how many the Orkra warriors numbered. She had asked the question clumsily in their own language, which seemed to amuse him somehow.
‘Like the stars.’ He had said. Now seeing them in battle readiness herself, she felt sorry for what was coming to her people. Lucy was a cold operator, but the enslavement of her planet and its people was enough to make her weep. She would play the loyal pet, until the time was right. Then she would kill the one, who called himself her master. Her job before had been to deal out death to enemies of Earth. Her master would find out the hard way soon. But it would be rude not to hitch a ride back to her planet.