Chapter 1: Stahl
Sivenfosieven, Command Wizard of the 7th Kermac Space Lord Fleet, carefully attached the artificial beard to his chin. He took great care in tying the light blue ribbons that held the cone shaped, appendix-like beard which slightly curved upwards symbolically to his face. In the days of old, the ribbons really did hold the beards and were still used as a symbol of status and position. The color, width, length of the ribbons and way they were tied were codified in great detail and described in the elevated Scrolls of Greatest Importance.
Now these false beards, that had become synonymous with Kermac culture, were often glued or like as in his case attached via surgical implanted micro connectors.
The morning ritual of attaching the beard was an important one for every Kermac and practiced with spiritual and religious significance. To Sivenfosieven, it was the time of day that gave him strength and centered his thoughts.
Kermac beards contained hidden PSI technology. Every Kermac had a MOC approved mindshield in his beard. Those who were in higher positions; like his, also had a small but quite powerful Neuro Ripper in its tip. On very low intensity it was a perfect tool to make servants, slaves, and others lesser than him squirm with uneasiness and painful nerve tingling while in the presence of a Kermac Wizard.
He also had a PSI enhancer that increased his psionic abilities. In his case it elevated him into the very rare group of telekinetic gifted individuals. His natural Psionics had the potential for telekinetic powers but his natural strength allowed him to manipulate objects of no more than a few grams at the greatest concentration and exhaustion. With his enhancer, he could manipulate almost 50 grams within viewing distance. This was something he was tremendously proud of, as only one in about 100,000 Kermac developed telekinetic abilities.
That his PSI shield was actually quite illegal and not approved by the Ministry of Control was one of the perks a military leader of his level enjoyed.
He too feared the ever present shadowy threat of the Thought Police. Once denounced by a TP officer as someone with thoughts not appropriate for a Kermac, even a man of his position could face the terrible punishment of a Mental Wipe.
While he tied the last knot of the upper ribbon ends and checked the result in a mirror field; he had to admit he had many of such non appropriate thoughts lately.
He brushed his long thin hand over his completely smooth skin of his bald head and wondered if he would find time to have a skin bleaching ritual session today. In his self critical opinion, he found that his skin was still several shades below the blessed true white of a Kermac God.
Religion was for Thrall species and slaves. Kermac knew and worshiped only one thing, themselves.
He checked the black mascara that lined his eyes and applied more lip white to make sure his lips matched the whiteness of the rest of his face and recited the seventeen reasons why the Kermac were supreme above all.
Making sure he did it loud enough so his aides waiting for him outside could hear him. He spoke the words mechanically as he had lost the conviction needed to recite this required daily sermon with passion: “Above all that exists and lives are Kermac! To all that lives we are Gods and must be worshiped for we are supreme. We are not among the dirt that dares to defile existence, we are elevated...”
He had not even reached the sixth reason when someone rapped against the folding door that separated his private accommodations from the Command Center.
He was aboard the most powerful warship ever created by the combined sciences and engineers of those who served the Kermac. This 1200 meter giant was part of a 2000 ship fleet of similar sized ships. He swallowed his anger for being disturbed, he was quite aware that no one would have dared to do so if it was not utterly important.
Waving his hand toward the door, he signaled the door to fold away. It revealed Sub Command Wizard Achnacdrie with a thinly veiled expression of concern. His subordinate said, bowing in the required motion. “My eyes are inadequate to fully appreciate the magnificence your presence bestows upon this universe; my lips are inadequate to...”
“Suspend the litany. If you felt it was important enough to interrupt my recital, then time must be of essence.”
“Indeed Magnificent Sivenfosieven, Commander most wise and supreme. We received message via Long Range Telepaths that the Hilibar have fallen. Union barbarians somehow managed to circumvent brilliant tactical defenses planned and implemented by our other regional leader, the Great Command Wizard Fivtofortwe.”
“The fall of the Hilibar was only a matter of weeks and expected. The forces used to assist the Hilibar can now be diverted and bolster the Unifrim to protect the Agerath System.”
“Indeed you’re Magnificent Apparition of Perfection; that is strategy of supreme wisdom. However Great Command Wizard Fivtofortwe might have experienced slight complications in that matter.”
“What kind of Complications?”
“Your colleague of highest esteem and almost equal magnificence was so kind and sent message via LRT that the Union completely destroyed the Agerath System; they destroyed the actual planets, Agerath and all Itkkme present.”
Sivenfosieven did not blame is Sub Commander for acting the way he did. It was how Kermac spoke and behaved, 20,000 years of Thought Police made this as natural as eating and drinking. He did not blame the other Command Wizard, even though he considered him to be an Idiot. Whatever they threw in the way of the Union onslaught was obliterated, killed and destroyed in a truly terrifying methodical fashion. “What of the Unifrim? Simply speak of facts and refrain from the Form Speak.”
The Sub Commander sighed. “Your Magnificence, they fled. They left the Itkkme to fend for themselves. ”
“The Itkkme were vital to our war efforts. In that system was one of our most important ship yards. ”
“Indeed your Magnificence, it was.”
“There is more, isn’t there?”
“Our long range detectors from our scout ships have detected a collection of several barbarian spaceships heading into this area. Insignificant of course, as they are just Union and it is of course completely impossible for them to ever reach this bastion of Kermac might. This is after all not a system that is home to worthless servants, this is a Kermac System. Defended by none other than you, the most brilliant Command Wizard. Their inferior technology and stupidity will make them easy prey to our mighty fleet and your brilliant order decisions you will give. Is this not so?”
“There is a fine line, Sub Commander. There is a fine line indeed between using Formal Speech to laud and elevate your superior; or use it to express sarcasm. You have long ago crossed that line. Your sarcasm is so thick, it has reached your eyes. So spare me your excuses and attempts to convince me otherwise. However do tell me how insignificant that Union Fleet is that is coming this way.”
“We think it is the full First Fleet with the Devastator. No other known space craft makes our mass detectors spike that way.”
Sivenfosieven was certain he just managed to gain a few shades towards the Supreme White without any bleaching sessions. “Stahl is coming?”
Someone in the Command Center said, “No, your Magnificence, that Union Devil is already here!”
As if to underline these words, the Kermac flag ship vibrated from the Battle Alert Warning Sounds and only seconds later shook violently as the first Giga Load exploded nearby.
Admiral Stahl was not on the bridge of the mighty USS Devastator; his Union battle ship of alien origin was under the command of its current CO, Captain Tor Igvar.
The immortal Terran who was known throughout the known universe as the Eternal Warrior, felt unable to remain behind the lines and direct his forces from the safety of his flagship as a man of his importance should have done. Instead, he sat in the command seat of an Ajax Class Super Cruiser; he had pulled out of the Surplus pool of Delta Group about a year ago. It carried the Union Fleet designation USS Shadow Hawk and whenever the First Fleet went into battle, he took her out personally, surrounded by a handpicked crew.
The Shadow Hawk was a 800 meter Super Cruiser, refitted with the most advanced shields and updated weapon systems.
With an almost fanatic devotion of the Devi’s engineering department to make it a ship fit to use by the Old Man, they used every trick in the book to acquire the very finest tech.
Of course Stahl could have taken command of any ship in the fleet. He could have requested the latest and newest Dreadnought coming off the assembly lines at Ross 129; but that would have been inappropriate in his opinion. New ships were needed for the war effort and assigned to proper commanding officers and crews. Pulling such a resource merely to satisfy his personal ambitions and desires was something the man synonymous with integrity did not do.
Taking an old ship out of a bone yard and crewing it with volunteers was as far as he was willing to go. Putting himself in danger on the front lines was not exactly the role or position that the supreme commander of all Union Military should take, and was of course criticized by Admiral McElligott. Along with pretty much everyone else at Fleet Command.
Sitting on a desk and delegating forces behind the lines simply wasn’t him. He could delegate and direct on board the Shadow Hawk just as well and in the very center of the action.
While his style of command and his decision to fight himself alongside regular units was scolded and criticized by Fleet Command; it elevated his legend to almost godlike status among the spacemen, soldiers, marines and officers of the Union Fleet. They followed him with a sense of unequaled pride and devotion.
Stahl himself spearheaded this all out assault on the first Main Kermac Star System. The USS Shadow Hawk was among the first ships dropping out of Quasi.
“Brytha make those loaders sweat!” Stahl said to his Tactical Officer. “Keep your barrels straight ahead and sweep the path.”
“Aye Sir.” The Saresii woman behind the weapon controls said.
“Kolfsen don’t slow down one klick, if necessary plow right through whatever tries to block our approach.”
This was perhaps the only Jooltar on the Union Side and most certainly the only one in the Union Fleet. Jooltar grunted and pushed the Helm System visor before his eyes.
The immortal warrior blinked at the fleet communications icon floating inside his retina, “Stahl to Devi, what is keeping you? Captain Igvar, light up some flares and tell them we’re here.”
The Devi responded and her turrets fired in salvo tact, every 30 seconds the biggest mobile Translocator cannons in the Union arsenal coughed Exo load after Exo load into trans-dimensional space only to re-materialize inside shields and past armor deep inside enemy vessels and each time a Kermac Battleship was vaporized with a suddenly expanding temporary mini-sun in its place.
The Kermac did not give up without a fight. The Kermac FTL Line Cannons did pack a wallop delivering the energies of fusion bomb explosions compressed in a tight focus of only a few centimeters through an ISAH field-like compression and acceleration field. This enabled Kermac Line Cannons to engage an enemy target with translight speed. There was little that could withstand a direct hit. Kermac Psi Powers were one reason the Kermac were so powerful and ruled over the Galactic Council, their Line Cannons were the other reason.
This had been the status quo for many thousands of years. Now there was the Union with Battleships bigger than anything since the Celtest disappeared. Their cursed shields withstood the Line Cannons and it took the combined hits of at least three Kermac Battle ships and all their cannons to crack the shields of a Union Ship long enough to cause serious damage.
After the attack wave of Union Battleships, sixteen Forrestal Class Carriers arrived and launched Wolfcraft Fighters and Thor Gun Boats. Swift Destroyers were protecting the carriers with deadly TL Sniper fire.
Several Union Battleships were seriously damaged, but the Kermac and their Thralls had nothing to equalize the incredible fast Wolfcraft. Once again, the true value of space fighters was demonstrated. These were not the Nul or the Dai who also had fighters; few space faring civilizations considered the use of one pilot attack craft. Most certainly, none of the known Galactic Council species did.
Wolfcraft fighters were heavily shielded, had Translocator Gatlings, Quantum Plasma Cannons and Loki Torpedoes and thanks to their size and fast speed almost impossible to hit, even for Kermac Computronic aided target acquisition systems.
The Saresii Tactical officer of the USS Shadow Hawk resisted wiping of the sweat from her forehead as her hands punched in energy reroute commands to the shield generator systems. The Super Cruiser had lost starboard shields and aft shields flickered with less than 20 % and were down to the last shield layer.
The temperature on the bridge was almost unbearable as Stahl had life support and climate controls turned down to an absolute minimum. Every iota of energy diverted to the bow shield projectors.
More than once since this attack run had begun, the Shadow Hawk plowed right through the barely dissipating energy clouds of enemy and friendly fire alike.
That they could have retreated at any moment return to the safety behind Union Lines was an option no one on this ship even considered. Stahl wanted to reach the Kermac World and deliver the Devil’s Bunch attached to an external hard point at the keel of their ship to that planet’s capital and seat of the local Wizards. They all would rather die than disappoint him.
A Devil’s Bundle or Devil’s Bunch was a set of 12 Loki torpedoes connected to each other like a bundle of fire wood and released simultaneously. (This was actually an invention of Stahl during the Y’All war when he bundled the then common SHIROC anti ship missiles to knock out Y’All ships.)
The reason for this attack was to destroy the well defended and protected Wizard Tower and by doing so, neutralize the Psionic Influencers the Kermac used to press their will on the Thralls fighting for them at least in this region of space. There was also the hope to possibly neutralize their ability to communicate with Long Range Telepaths sitting in bunkers underneath the wizard tower.
The Bundle was released at a distance where it could no longer be intercepted; it made its way and obliterated the city, the Wizard Towers and the Psi Enhancers. Many of the remaining Kermac ship crews suddenly experienced complete confusion as the psionic oppressive will that pressed them to risk life and health to defend the Kermac was gone. The tactical commands given by their telepathic communication suddenly fell silent.
The entire First Fleet, all four Battle Group clusters, had now arrived and the outcome of this space battle had never been in any doubt, but the action led by Stahl himself ensured a fast and decisive victory and the details of this fight were added to the many stories told among the crews and citizens of the Union, about Admiral Stahl.
This was the first Kermac Planet that was ever attacked in over 20,000 years and the first to fall in Kermac history.