Rimwalker

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Chapter 11

The trail Bluddhook had left Jan was indeed pretty easy to follow. He made his way from station to station, always travelling in the same direction, and when Extar IV came into view on the Wolfklaw’s viewer screen, Kolby sensed this was the planet Bluddhook had been aiming for. And not surprisingly so. The inhabitants were barbarians, cannibalism a popular sport. If Dak wanted Kalan disposed of in the nastiest way possible, Extar IV would be a suitable candidate. He scanned the planet for three days and was thinking to himself to resume his search and leave Extar, when he found a ship. Landing, armed with his phaser, he came to the ship and found the port hatch open. Perhaps he was expected. Coming in he found traces of activity and found some torn cloth of a jacket which appeared to belong to Kalan. He was here, alright. Somewere. He returned to the Wolfklaw, grabbed some sensor equipment, and began his search. The equipment was advanced, the latest New Terran technology. And finding two biped creatures only a few kilometres away, walking steadily towards a large crater like outcropping, Jan began his pursuit. It took him half a day, but he closed in on them slowly and, coming into a clearing, looked up and saw his son dangling from a rope, hanging over the centre of the crater. Just then a loud gurgling sound came from the crater and looking down he could see it was not a crater at all. It was the nesting ground of some hideous creature. The kind of creature which probably would take Kalan as an appetizing offering. With his equipment he knew were Dak was. In the bushes, out of sight. He could shoot now. Really he could. But he couldn’t risk it. Kalan could be shot down instantly and his son would be dead before he could reach him. He would have to play this one cautiously. Just then Dak yelled out. ‘I know you are there, Kolby. I have known for hours now. Come on, free him if you dare. Hey, I give you my word I won’t interfere.’ Jan surmised the situation. He was stuck. If he moved, Dak would kill him or even his son instantly. Yes, he was stuck. He would have to think quick. And just then, the old ways returned to him, and he had an idea. Hopefully, a brilliant idea. ‘Ok Bluddhook. I surrender. Give me your word you won’t harm Kalan, and you can have me. Me for my son. Do we have a trade?’ There was silence for a few moments, as if Bluddhook was considering just that, and as he was Jan took his gambit. Hopefully Dak was distracted, thinking over his offer. And as he climbed up to the place he thought he was, finding him suddenly, Dak turned and took a shot. Jan evaded the shot and shot at Dak’s phaser, blasting it out of his hand with his dead eye. Dak looked at his hand, stunned, noting the burn mark on his skin. He looked at Kolby, and smiled that smile Dak Bluddhook was famous for.’Hey, Jan. Good to see you old buddy. Hey, we can settle this like gentlemen, can’t we. The old fashioned way, huh. Perhaps a game of cards, you know. A gamble.’‘I don’t think so, Bluddhook. You have worried the Kolby’s for the last time.’ Pointing his phaser right at him, he said, ’Let down Kalan. Let him down, NOW. Or you will be rotting in that creatures belly tonight.’‘Sure thing, buddy. Just don’t shoot ok.’ Dak proceeded to lower Kalan down by the rope, and pulled him to the safety of the ledge which was propped out over the crater. When Kalan was safe on the ledge, Jan momentarily lowered his phaser to check his son, when Dak pounced. They wrestled, then. They wrestled and years of frustration went into the figure of Jan Sebastian Kolby, as he wrestled with his own personal demon. They came closer and closer to the edge of the ledge when they both stood, and Dak hit Jan. Jan grabbed his collar in return and Dak was left, feet right near the edge, hanging over.Dak looked at Jan, and then looked down into the pit, observing the creature which had emerged. He returned his look to Jan and spoke.’Hey, you wouldn’t kill an unarmed fellow, would you? Come on.’Jan looked at him, smiled and said. ‘Ok. Have it your way,’ and threw the phaser at Dak. Dak managed to grab it but, in the quick action, slipped and falling backwards, vainly shooting off the phaser, fell to the pit below. The lizard like creature pounced, and within two bites had swallowed his victim whole. Jan looked down. It was over. It was finally over. He turned to his son Kalan, checked his pulse, and found him still alive. He brought out smelling salts which he had brought with him, waved them under Kalan’s nose, and his son soon woke. He looked at his father, and then alarmed asked, ’Bluddhook. Were is he?’‘Digesting,’ responded Jan, looking downwards.Kalan likewise turned his gaze downwards, noted the creature now returning to the pit, and grinned at his father. ’Good bye and good riddance to bad luck.’‘You can say that again,’ responded Jan. And Kalan laughed.


As they traced their way back to the Wolfklaw, Kalan still somewhat drowsy, Kalan began relating some of the things Dak had said.’Well, he had been stuck on the Ark for three months, so he told me. Eating crackers and drinking water, as he couldn’t work out how to grow the food. And then he had found an escape pod on the other side of the Ark which we had not known about, and made his way back to Arcturia Minor. And from there back to Arcturia. And then he planned his revenge, until he kidnapped Xadina and myself.’Jan nodded. It did not surprise him that the Ark had an escape pod. Still, he had not known the vessel that well, and it was something easy enough to overlook. Chance had never mentioned it, so they had just gotten unlucky. But, that was over with now. Now Dak Bluddhook was a memory, never to surface again. And his dealings with league of piracy once and for all dealt with.’ When they got him Kalan soon returned to his regular life and late one night Jan chuckled at the memory of Dak and, just for the hell of it, raised a private toast to the fallen pirate. Whatever else, he had made life interesting for the Kolby’s. Whatever else he had certainly done that.


And now, perhaps the final major act of Jan Kolby’s illustrious life beckoned. The final shaping of the United Galaxy outwards, to claim the entirety of the known Galaxy and galactic life. A year after having sent out the delegates and documentation, similar to the manner of the original Galagon proposal, they had gotten enough positive responses to make expanding the UG outwards to Quadrants 1, 2, 3 & 4 a viable proposition. Quadrant 1 was the weakest response, which was not surprising given the divergent array of life there, quite different to the standard bipedal forms of the other quadrants. But regardless they still had a majority of advanced civilizations in that quadrant assent to the idea, including the Drongans who view Jan Kolby with great favour. It took another 5 years of solid planning, but eventually the inaugural meeting of the first United Galaxy entire Galactic Assembly, constituting all 5 outer quadrants and the inner quadrant took place. There had been some questions from certain new members about the suitability of a Monarchy to oversee the UG, but it was not an important enough issue for most to make admission into to the Galactic Council untenable. And so, at 80 years of age, the illustrious Jan Kolby, the famous Rimwalker, was declared by many Absolute Monarch of the known Milky Way galaxy. Reflecting on this privately with his wife Chance, he knew his destiny had now been fulfilled. He had risen as high as he possibly could in life, and now it was only a matter of responsibility and enjoying the vast privileges which had been given to him. The Galaga was gradually circulated outwards and within another 7 years the Galaxy had its first unified currency, generally accepted on over 90% of Galactic civilized planets. It was around then that Xadina started speaking with her father and reminding him constantly that the Kolby’s, as a family, served the galaxy rather than the galaxy serving them. They had been highly honoured, but as Xadina saw it that meant responsibility so much more so than luxury. And due to that, as a family, they restrained themselves more greatly than they otherwise might have from some of the lavishness of the past that they had grown accustomed to. For Xadina the name of Kolby was meant to be a valued and respected name. Not one of a pampered and out of touch royalty. Jan saw the wisdom in his daughter, and appreciated her humility. Perhaps of all the Kolby family Xadina represented ideals which they all looked up to. She certainly made for a proud father. So, as Jan turned 81 and then 82, getting on in life, but still feeling he had a few years left in him, he grew to understand even more so the notion of service and denoting oneself to a higher purpose and a higher power. And with that attitude the Kolby’s became more than just a royal family. They became decent and real people. The kind of people everyone respects.


At 44 years of age, Xadina finally married. He was a human male, a New Terran citizen, from one of the charities that Xadina was patron over. And a very dedicated hard working soul. Jan had not been surprised at Xadina’s choice. Having met the lad in the palace, and knowing the kind of person Xadina had grown into, Radric Taylor seemed the perfect match for Xadina Kolby. And they got along extremely well. Their first child, Jason, was born to them a year after the marriage, and Jan now found himself with 2 children and three grand-children, with Kalan siring a daughter just the year before, little Brione. More and more as he aged Jan turned his attention to family duties and saw that as an important part in the role of being a royal family. He had been carefully tutoring Kalan and, when he passed some time in the future, expected his son to prove an admirable addition to the name of the Kolby family, which he had already time and again proven. But, at 88 Jan still felt young. Of course, humans lived up to record old ages these days, especially on New Terra, and Chance, who looked much younger than himself now, assured him that she could get another half a century or so out of him, which Jan fondly hoped to be true. But, he itched now to turn his hand to something else, some other part of his life which needed a memory, a more tangible legacy to leave behind and be remembered by. And in that idea, he began his memoirs. He would try to be as accurate as he possibly could, not leaving out even hurtful details, making an honest account. And, although he had so much to say, he would ensure he delved into the most important issue that had come to the life of Jan Kolby. Service. Service to a cause, a higher power, a way of life, which all could look up to. Inspired by his daughter on that issue he wrote his memoirs with vigour and passion and after 3 years of solid work surmised that he had generally finished them. All that they really needed now was some final closing words. But sitting up late one night, having finished the memoirs, he looked at the clock. It was late, and Chance would be up waiting. He could write in the morning. Leave it till then, and then he would be finished, his work complete.


“I think, in this long life I have lived, that no greater legacy can I leave behind me than my family. Those who tread further on into the gene-pool of the Kolby family, displaying in youth the swagger so common to the males, and the maturity so common to the fairer gender. Yes, family is the greatest legacy any son of Adam and Eve can ever hope to be given. And for this legacy I thank the One, the father of all, who brought us all to be for his glory and our own. To him we are all indebted. I would like to close these memoirs by saying some simple words, and quoting a prayer. A prayer of a friend most dear to me, now gone from us. And the words are these: whatever you do in life, do well. For the past is gone from us, and the future beckons us on, but limitless days none of us can really claim. So in the time given to you in this thing called life, live it well and set a mark which will not be soon forgotten. Whatever else, I encourage you dear reader, do that. And now, a prayer. And farewell.” Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,As we forgive those who have trespassed against us.And deliver us lord from every evil.For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, world without end, amen. 40 At 99 Jan was waiting. Careful with his health, which was still quite good, but carefully and anxiously waiting for the day. Kolby’s did not often reach the century mark, and while a great celebration had been planned, he did not want to disappoint anyone by not making the date. So he was extra careful with what he ate, and did not do anything too dangerous. Those were shenanigans of the past, now well beyond him. And then the day came, the big centenary, and a celebration was held, people all over New Terra joining in. Their King had made the big one, and all were happy. It was at that time Jan began looking forward, and in a way looking back. He reflected on the long life of adventure that he had lived. It had indeed had its pivotal moments. One key moment after another, each leading him on in a pathway of destiny known only to God himself. And as he had followed along in that pathway of destiny Jan had grown to trust in the One and learned to place his life in his mighty hands. But now, at 100, and still feeling good, he looked forward. Whatever else he was not done yet. Whatever else he still had some years left, and looked now to just how he might fill them in. In a strange way, he still had some unfulfilled youthful ambitions. And when he joined an indoor cricket team, the team being honoured to have him, he trained methodically and carefully considering his age, but surprised himself by performing well and being a solid contributor to the team’s success that season. He played the game for a couple of years, but then gave it away. There was something else. Something which hungered within him, but what he was not sure. He shared his dilemma with his wife who said he was just bored. He had met all his life challenges, and run out of them. And now he was just bored, looking for something to do. Nevertheless Jan Kolby continued that way for the next year and a half when news struck. News which Jan may have hungered for in a most passionate way for a while, but which he now regretted ever longing for. It was devastating news, and threatened he had worked his whole life to build. The nearest neighbouring galaxy to their own was Andromeda. But much of Andromeda was largely uncharted, and they had very sketchy details of other ones. But when, presumably coming from the direction of Andromeda, an enormous fleet had come into their galaxy and was steadily conquering planets and civilizations, all falling before its onslaught, Jan knew the ultimate test had come. The ultimate and final test for Jan Sebastian Kolby.


‘The Challenge’ 1 Zendar Driavnaki, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of his Imperial Majesty, the most high Cheng Tannia, Lord of the Cheng’tai Empire, conquerors of Andromeda, looked at the figure before him. Could he really trust an Arcturian, and such a pathetic looking one as this with one of his hands badly mutilated. Still, the inner region of the Milky Way would be more challenging to defeat and any help they had in being able to overcome their foes would be considered useful by his Lord Tannia whom he served dutifully.The translators were turned on and Zendar spoke to the human.’You say you know the Emporer of the United Galaxy personally. That you have met him.’‘And I know his weaknesses,’ responded the human. ’The matter is simple. Entrust to me a certain amount of gold and a high position in your empire and I will show you how to defeat him. Attack him at his weakest point.’Zendar considered this. He was an Arcturian, perhaps even a pawn of the enemy, but he would listen for now. Their goal of universal conquest could proceed much more smoothly with useful information the human perhaps could offer.’Very well, Bluddhook. Dak Bluddhook. We will listen to what you say.’And Dak grinned widely, holding his mutilated hand carefully. 2 Jan looked at the figure before him. Funnily enough, of all things to survive the invading Andromedan Empire, he didn’t expect an elderly female human. But Shianna Dessentey was anything but an ordinary woman from what Jan had gotten to know of her. She had dwelt, so she said, amongst the citizens of the Cheng’tai Empire for several years, before recently returning to her home Galaxy. And she had come to Jan with information on the culture and plans of the Cheng’tai. They had been speaking for an hour in the Imperial Palace on New Terra, Jan showing his hospitality to a lady nearly as old as himself.’But above all, Jan. Above all things I have shared with you of the Cheng’tai, they favour honour. Honour is sacred to them. Sacrosanct. If they enter into an agreement they would rather die than betray their families honour. It is central to their whole way of life. It stems from an early monotheistic religion of their community – the way of the ‘Tai’. Tai favours honour as the greatest virtue done in the sight of God. Honour is central to everything.’‘So they believe in the creator,’ commented Jan.’Most. But they are like us in many ways as well, with great doubters.’Jan nodded. He had been forming an opinion of what they were up against and he needed to know both his enemies strengths and weaknesses to ultimately prove successful against them.’Well, thank you Shianna. My wife Chance will escort you to your bedroom as we hope to have you stay with us a few nights for further discussions. But I can see you are tired now so I will let you rest.’‘Thank you,’ she replied, as they returned to a living room were Chance was seated and Jan indicated for Chance to take Shianna to the guest quarters. When Chance had returned she got down on her knees in front of Jan who had sat down and looked up at him. ’Was what she said useful? Do we have new knowledge for understanding our enemy.’Jan took her hands and looked at her. ’I know Arcturia has fallen, sweetie. I know you are worried for your family. But this may be a long hard war. A long, hard and bitter war. Even now we are working overtime on research and development into our united galaxy military and spending an untold amount of Galaga’s on building our fleet. It will be close, but while I fear much of the outer sectors will fall by the time we are ready to defend ourselves, when we are ready we will give them a fight to remember.’‘One of the few things I have heard is that slavery and tributes are paid to the Cheng’tai in Andromeda. Is that true?’ queried Chance.’It appears to be the case and Shianna has confirmed that. This Empire is like the ancient Roman one on earth in some ways. They want to build their civilization but are not necessarily intent on destroying all who stand in their way. Simply to make them submissive to their authority.’’Then Arcturia may be safe.’’For now I wouldn’t worry, Chance. It is conquered but they won’t destroy it – that is not in their interests. When they fight a bitter opponent they like to teach them a lesson, but for those who surrender quickly, like Arcturia did, they simply send in forces to rule them. Our family is safe. Do not worry.’Chance nodded, trusting her husband, but she was not completely consoled. Jan got to his feet and walked over to the window to look out over the city. It would be a struggle, and it would be a close thing, but he had faith they would be ready in time. He just prayed that would be the case. 3 Fortunately for Jan Kolby the inner quadrant did in fact have enough time. The Cheng’tai from the furthest reaches of the Andromedan galaxy opposing them had taken millennia in building their forces ready for the imperial goal of universal conquest. It was strange, in a way, as they sought, ultimately, the same goal as the United Galaxy – that of providing peace for all their citizens and a unified economic system in which prosperity could be attained. But Andromedan civilizations, in general, while about as hostile as those of the Milky Way galaxy on average, had a strong penchant for individuality and uniting them, in Cheng’tai belief, could only be achieved by a strong Empire dedicated to ruling others. It was in Cheng’tai philosophy in their long term best interests to conquer the other civilizations in their galaxy to provide a framework in which their own ongoing prosperity could be achieved – before it was denied them by any potential opposing force. The Cheng’tai had studied from a distance the United Galaxy since its formation and feared that one day, potentially, their stance of peace would turn to hostility in a goal of conquering the universe. And so they had decided upon attacking this galaxy first of all in its own universal goals of conquest after they had completed conquest of Andromeda. But, while they had attacked as soon as possible in the hope of gaining the upper hand they were still somewhat limited in resources and stretched in maintaining the territories they had already gained. And that, after 10 years of war, is were Jan Kolby saw his advantage. The Andromedans had not bothered after a few years of conquest of reaching too much further into the United Galaxy. They had conquered the outer shell and monitored it and were seemingly satisfied with that. Jan knew, instinctively, why. The Cheng wanted to prevent the UGs own efforts in establishing a universal federation, and by blocking their frontier to other galaxies the Cheng made null the potential of expansion for the UG. Because of this they merely, for now, needed to keep the UG in check and one day, when strong enough, complete their mission. And that was the general conclusion of the high council on New Terra and the personal thoughts of Jan Kolby. But, as the Andromedan enemy likely new, they had been steadily building their resources and would soon be ready for the counter-attack. The UG had invested heavily in research and development and had much new space military technology to use against their foes. It would be soon, the counter-attack. Soon. And then, if successful, they may have to begin the sensitive path of establishing protocols of peace with their Andromedan adversary. For if not that a long, bitter and bloody war awaited both of them and Jan was sure that was something neither side really wanted or desired. 4 ‘So what exactly does it do?’ queried Jan to the Allegiance scientific military officer in front of him.‘Well sir, it is like an old fashioned gun in a way. By that I mean it utilises metal, which is the best choice for the ammunition. We could use other substances if needed but metal works best. Essentially we have balls of metal as large as, so far, 100 metres in diameter which are placed in the vortex and flung at the opposition. An old fashioned cannon in a sense. But the real advantage to these cannons is that they fling the metal at incredible velocities, so fast that they will break through easily any force shield and metal hulls of ships and cripple them completely. In brief, we create a gravitational force through our gravitons behind the ammunition and in front of it and fling it through space like a gravitational slingshot towards where they need to go. Traditional phaser technology and nuclear technology are somewhat effective, but can be defended against quite easily. Sound phasers, sending out incredibly loud noise blasts are somewhat effective but can also be neutralized. But the oldest of all military weapons, an old fashioned cannon, when fired incredibly fast is brutally effective and practically impossible to defend against. And it becomes more effective against our foes bigger ships with the larger ammunition.’ Jan chuckled to himself. Of all things – of all things the UG could possibly conceive of – an old fashioned cannon seemed like the strangest of choices. But funnily enough, with the sheer power available to them with graviton technology, it may be the most effective weapon at their disposal. ’I would like to state, sir, that we have considered so many other forms of attack, including the various electronic signals, radio and so on and various other forms of attack which utilise wave technology and most of them can be defended against. Biological attack is difficult in space and not that effective. As strange as it sounds sir and as old fashioned as it may be, brutal cannons seems to be our best weapon. We have invested heavily and have a large array of weaponry based on such graviton technology.’‘Very good,’ said Jan, and saluted to the officer, who turned and left. He continued staring out over the vast weapons manufacturing facility and thought to himself that they would be ready soon. It was with old fashioned brute power they would be fighting this war. But it was the best they had come up with and hopefully, of all types of attack they could formulate, would get the job done. 5 Jan was 112 when the counter-attack began. But he didn’t feel his age and in fact felt obligated not to. New Terran medicine meant if he did all the right things he could still expect another decade or so of good health and that was of fundamental importance to Jan Kolby. They were depending on him, now, the United Galaxy. He was their figurehead, their champion in a way. Sure, he could be replaced, but he knew the effect he had on the morale of people and wanted to ensure his dietary and exercise regime were perfect to give him as many more years in what could be a long war as possible. His son, Kalan, was now getting old as well and looked like he would succeed Jan in his work, but for now the responsibility belonged to Jan Kolby, and he would do his best for all he looked over. They had decided to attack some of the weaker Cheng’tai held sectors first of all and, fortunately, they were met with only minimal resistance. It was UG policy to take prisoners of war as they had no intent of showing themselves a barbaric people and, after the first successful waves of attack they had to deal with a few hundred thousand Cheng’tai prisoners which were dutifully sent to inner quadrant planets prepared for this work. After a year of such hostilities Jan was thinking that the Cheng’tai may have practically given up in their attempts to hold the Milky Way, but inevitably a response came and the Cheng met up with a major portion of their fleet in the ‘Skartaris’ Sector, in what became known as the Battle for the Skats, what Skartarins were known as. It was a brutal three month campaign, with enormous casualties on both side, but as the Andromedans gradually withdrew Jan knew they had achieved a costly but decisive victory. Skartaris came back to the UG and finally officially joined the UG as they had been informal members only and, with the return of the Skartaris Sector the UG was ready to plow ahead with its major attack – the battle for Quadrant Three. Most of the other Quadrants were now again in UG control, but Quadrant Three was the closest quadrant to Andromeda and that was now the focus of the next series of engagements. But this time Jan knew victory would not come easily. The Cheng’tai, from their surveillance reports, had been steadily building forces in quadrant three which meant they were settling in for a long war. It would be a war which would test the resolve of the UG in its ambition for galactic unity and freedom, but it was a war of necessity and everyone knew they could not back down.

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