Pariahs and Peacemakers

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Fourteen

Alexander had had his fair share of misjudgments in his political life, he didn’t count this as one however. He was more a victim of a witch hunt, but it didn’t make it feel much better when he was being judged and torn apart by the galaxy’s most powerful beings. He’d come clean pretty soon after he had been taken into custody, he couldn’t play dumb, they had known about his secret operation as soon as the drones had been tampered with in the quarantine zone. Not only had he gone against the Senate but he’d lost a whole frigate of men and women and now Shayara was three days missing. They also blamed him for the threat of the Votheen going public. News crews were on full alert reporting about their return and putting them in the frame for a biological attack on Atlas. All he had to push on for support was the fact that he’d learned of the Votheen’s involvement and forewarned the Senate. Not that they were appreciative. Being the bearer of bad news wasn’t a welcome title. He sat quietly for the moment from the wrong side of an energy field in the maximum security wing of Senate Security which he had all to himself. The other three High Senators bickered about containment of the situation and the possibility of saving face. Hearing apocalyptic news from the tabloids long before government was understandably unnerving to the general public. Finally bored by the injustice Alexander perked up. “You have to realise this is beyond covering up now. We have to act and we have to hold a crisis meeting in the Senate.”

“Don’t you think you’ve done enough, Human?” snapped Arkan furious that the representative dare speak in his presence. Alexander felt like he was being treated like an insolent child and that really pissed him off.

“Excuse me? Yes, I went against the suggested course of action but now we know the Votheen are conspiring against us, for sure. They have a Shiva weapon and evidently are willing to use it. I don’t take too kindly to being bullied especially when the Senate dealt so superbly with the Votheen last time around,” he fired back sarcastically as Ora nodded subtly with approval. It appeared Alexander’s only enemy was the Caliterrian which didn’t surprise him in the least bit. “We are not always supposed to agree, that is why there is a Senate. It’s democracy and I cared too much to just wait around until they come knocking.” Arkan moved closer to the shield wall and snarled.

“Yet you ignored the will of the Senate and cost the lives of an entire frigate and possibly the life of one of the most promising conscripts!” he fired back in response. Alexander was surprised the Caliterrian held the Human conscript in such high regard but he didn’t dwell on that for too long at all.

“Then maybe I should have been properly informed of the dangers. I didn’t ignore the will of the Senate. I ignored your will and you, my friend, are not the senate.” All was quiet. Arkan had never been spoken to in such a manner for generations. He was lost for words.

“Senator Wilhelm is correct regardless of whether we support his little deniable operation or not. If we don’t prepare or if we allow them to strike first we may lose public support for good. There’ll be civil unrest and the Senate could lose thousands of systems. It could even collapse,” Ora admitted uneasily but with authority. The air was stagnated through the conflict and ill feeling. Nobody said much for several moments and the guard on duty looked increasingly uncomfortable.

“I agree, we need to bring everyone up to speed or it may be our undoing,” voiced the so far reserved Selin contingent.

Improvisation, the least solid plan in history had so far turned out to be the most successful of the day. Larik had lost one guy over the past twenty minutes which was statistically a huge improvement on the hour that had proceeded it. The team had agreed that the hangar was a suicide run and the Votheen likely knew that also. Which is why it was the perfect target. It was almost the most ambitious thing Larik had ever done and no one was in the mood to argue. Especially after finding the dismembered corpses of the last group to desert his command. It turned out it was the last approach the Votheen expected as Larik dropped from the ventilation system on top of one of the brutes and took it down silently with his blade. He was soon joined by the rest of his team as he saw team two move across the opposite side of the upper balcony. The target was the control room which was in the centre of the second floor. The two squads of equal size made similar amounts of cautious steps, keeping to the shadows as much as they could before forming up on the door. Below on the hangar floor the foot traffic was insane. It was imperative they didn’t draw the attention of the crowd before they were ready as it would be a massacre. No one near the drop ship they had come in on moved and it appeared as though the Votheen had begun to disassemble it. Larik nodded his approval as Kiko threw a stun canister into the control room almost lazily. He feigned a yawn as the dull flash and pop signified it had gone off. He was thankful it wasn’t a dud but Larik wasn’t even sure it would work on them. He knew nothing of their biology but winging it had gone well so far. They breached moments later and although he focussed too much on the aim of his rifle, Larik could see it had indeed worked. The eight stunned targets went down rather quickly but they’d missed one. One who had had its back to the stun round which had only acted as forewarning for it. It unloaded a volley of red plasma upon Zach, the youngest member of the unit, which cut him to ribbons. It melted through armour and bone and slapped loudly against the hull. The Votheen realigned before anyone could get a bearing on it and spun Kiko around with a shoulder impact before Larik ended its rampage by taking off its head.

A rallying cry in an alien language sounded from below. Larik’s stomach hit a rough spot. Kiko managed to crawl his way through the pain to the command interface and worked as quickly as his injury allowed. Gun fire rang out as two officers attempted to hinder the Votheen’s ascent using the rapidly warping door frame for cover. Kiko coughed up blood and stopped shy of executing his task. Larik recognised the fear in his eyes, he had hoped that Kiko hadn’t realised what he had already. “As soon as I hit that button, I’m dead. My suit’s ruptured.” He shook as he spoke. He’d become a sickly pale pink now, bordering on white.

“I know this is hard, Kiko, but if you don’t press that button we all die,” Larik reasoned hurriedly as one of the officers at the door let out a shriek. They were running low on time. Kiko, much to Larik’s dismay, shook his head and refused to move. The other soldier at the door took a heavy hit and a Votheen crossed the threshold. “I’m sorry then, Kiko, you leave me no choice.” His hand shook as he brought his pistol up. “It’s been an honour serving with you.” Kiko opened his mouth to protest but the bullet sent him backward before a word could be uttered. His husk caught the control panel, executing the command. He was soon snatched away by a gust of air. A bizarre klaxon sounded as the hangar shields dropped and the vacuum swept in. Several Votheen tried to grab anything substantial but found no salvation as the overwhelming force ripped them aside colliding bodies with other bodies, bodies with walls and bodies with other solid objects on their undignified exit from the cruiser. The survivors of Senate Security were spared the horrors of space by their magnified boots and zero gravity preparations. The suspended corpse of Kiko floated around Larik like a tormenting ghost. He didn't regret what he’d done but he’d known the boy for so long it was hard to block emotion out. Yet he had survived and so had his men so in Larik’s eyes his actions were justified.

The surviving three man squad of Larik, Ryinn Ka’Rym and Lunch Box, who had gotten the unfortunate nickname in basic training as he always had food on his person, surveyed the damage. No survivors. They all let a long exhausted breath leave their bodies as Larik keyed up the Ubiquitous Light’s call sign. “Home base, this is Colonel Larik Kass. Reporting heavy casualties. We require a drop ship extraction from our original insertion point.” A short uncomfortable pause entailed as white noise kept the trio company.

“Negative, ground team. Cruiser weapon systems are hot and LZ is not secure.” Larik was so furious he could barely contain himself. He felt like he needed to break something which was a childish thing to think but the anger twisted a knot tightly in his limbs.

“That’s bull shit. We have the nav data.”

“That’s still a negative, ground lead.” Larik cursed up a storm but he knew they were right. Why risk a whole frigate for three guys? “We are going to need a recovery team then, home base. Track personal beacons.” He cut off long before a response could transfer back to his request. His men knew what he was planning and they were beyond scared yet they stood silent. They were much more terrified about what the Votheen would do to them if they didn’t jump ship. “If they won’t come to us, men, we’ll go to them. Disconnect magnetism we are spacing ourselves.” They hoped he was joking, they hoped he had a better idea but as Larik was pulled out into the great beyond the other two officers stood stunned. “I guess we should follow.” Lunchbox shivered anxiously. Lights danced around Larik as his tiny target was vastly too small to hit. He hurtled head over heels aimlessly but in the general direction of a speck on the horizon.



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