“Twenty years ago the Mystics attacked without provocation. They descended savagely on the outer rim planets, killing thousands of Humans and taking thousands more into slavery.
“Fearing peacekeeping reactions from the Federation of Neutral Zones the Human Empire chose to submit to Federation war regulations and retaliate against the Mystics with a lower level of aggression, fighting exclusively with small arms, drastically reducing the number of firearms used and resorting to the use of primitive weaponry.
“This style of fighting was completely un...”
Olivia shut off the recording.
As the princess of the Human Empire it was important to understand the history of her people, but listening to the video history lessons about it was always so boring.
Tonight was the first clear night in weeks, and Olivia planned on spending it looking at the stars.
Olivia stepped out onto her balcony, looking up toward the sky.
The stars were beautiful tonight. It was rare to see them so clearly.
The Palace shook slightly, disturbing Olivia’s star gazing and causing her to lose balance. She caught herself on the balcony’s smooth, marble handrail.
We must have hit turbulence while passing over the city. She thought. The Air Palace was so large that most weather patterns didn’t affect its flight path, but when they went over the larger cities the updrafts of hot air and steam coming off of the industrial skyscrapers sometimes gave them a slight jolt. The movement was probably nothing to be worried about, but she was sure that a whole troop of V.A.L.O.R. soldiers would be deployed to investigate anyway.
Security was so tight here that an investigation was launched every time a bird landed on a wall. And it was even tighter tonight since the Palace landed for new supplies and personnel exchange earlier that day.
The Air Palace’s flight path was kept top secret, and it would stay moving for six months at a time without ever stopping unless it was an emergency. Only the highest ranking military officials knew where it was going ahead of time. That way it was much harder to plan an attack against it. With a war being fought on one end of the Human Empire against the Mystics and an even harsher, never-ending battle against the unknown hostiles raging at the other end, it often paid off to be a little more cautious. Although, with all the elite V.A.L.O.R. soldiers acting as the Palace Guards and the huge turrets mounted all over the walls, they were likely to win any battle that would be waged against them.
Olivia shifted her attention down toward the outer wall. Five V.A.L.O.R. soldiers gathered around a single man pointing their assault rifles at his chest.
This should be interesting. Olivia thought.
She lifted a small metallic object out of the pocket of her robe. She had planned to use her view screen to look up at the stars, but since this seemed more interesting, she might as well use it to watch the guards question some poor janitor who was cleaning the wrong place at the wrong time.
“View screen activate,” Olivia said as she sat the little machine on her balcony railing. The view screen responded instantly, whirring to life and projecting an image of the group of soldiers into the air above it. Just as Olivia had suspected, the man wore a janitor uniform. The poor janitor looked so tiny next to the V.A.L.O.R. soldiers. With their heavy plated mechanical armor, and the tinted visors covering their faces, the V.A.L.O.R. soldiers looked more like machines than men; and the thick armor made them appear to be twice their normal size.
“Zoom fifty percent,” Olivia said. Her view screen responded, zooming in so she could see the details as if she stood next to the group of people. The janitor seemed to be trying to explain something to the guards, probably his reasons for being on the wall.
No audio came through, but judging from the equipment bag he hauled with him, Olivia guessed that he had been sent up there to fix something and somebody had forgotten to inform the guards.
He was a strange looking man though. His skin was pale, almost like he was sick. And even though he looked like a younger man, he already had brilliant silver hair. But his most striking feature was his blood-red eyes.
The guards were right to question him; although most Mystics looked more like animals, many members of the religion looked almost identical to Humans. So it never hurt to check.
The janitor burst into motion, pulling something out of his sleeve and ramming it into a small slit that allowed movement of the neck in the nearest soldier’s armor.
He went limp within seconds falling dead into the janitor’s arms.
The other V.A.L.O.R. soldiers opened fire; their automatic heavy assault rifles sending a spray of bullets toward the man who had just murdered their comrade.
Not a single bullet hit him.
Every bullet found its way into the armor clad corpse that rested on top of their target.
Not wasting a second, the mysterious man picked up the rifle of the fallen soldier and unleashed a wave of bullets, landing perfect kill shots on the other four soldiers without even taking the time to aim.
Without hesitation the man dropped the dead soldier and retrieved his bag, drawing out a short sword and some kind of machine that looked to be an arm-mounted gun except that it had a blade off to one side.
Moving fast, the attacker lifted the device, pointing it toward a group of approaching soldiers, and pulled the trigger.
Olivia couldn’t see anything leave the barrel, but it must have fired something because the ground in front of the attacker exploded upward taking the soldiers along with it.
The attacker strode over to the group of soldiers. His face remained eerily calm as he ran his short sword in through even the tiniest slits in their armor.
Within seconds the entire platoon of soldiers lay on the floor in pools of their own blood.
Alarms rang throughout the Palace; but not an intruder alarm as Olivia had expected. A pre-recorded message played through the speakers installed in the ceiling of every room.
“A bomb has been detected in the Palace. Please attach the emergency security straps that should already have been released and await further instructions.”
Olivia looked inside her room to see the straps being released from the wall just as the message had said.
I should follow protocol. She thought as she moved toward the straps. But the alarm had sounded too late.
A series of explosions rang out from the outer wings of the Palace before Olivia reached the safety of her security straps.
The explosions were almost as bright as they were loud. The entire palace shook from the force of their detonation as they destroyed the supports that connecting its main flight engines.
The building lurched, knocking Olivia off her feet and onto the floor of her bedroom.
What was that? Olivia thought as she rose back up from the ground. The lurching must have come from the auxiliary engines turning on to keep the palace airborne. They wouldn’t hold the palace up for long, but at least they would allow it to land instead of crashing down to the ground.
A second set of explosions rang through the night. Olivia yelled out as the sudden movement of the falling Palace threw her up against the ceiling. She fell back to the floor as the Palace’s second set of back up thrusters kicked in. These, however, couldn’t keep the Palace airborne for any extended period. All they would do was slow its fall.
Her back hurt from being thrown around during the explosions, but she’d avoided hitting her head, so she would be fine as long as she strapped herself in before the Palace impacted with the ground.
She struggled back up to her feet and ran to the straps dangling from the wall. Her hands shook as she worked to make the buckles go together around her. As the safety straps finally clicked together, she glanced out at her balcony to see that her view screen had fallen over the edge during the violent shaking that the bombs had caused. She couldn’t see what was going on anymore, but she could still hear the gunfire.
Are they still fighting the one man? Or are there more?
The gunfire outside stopped.
Did it stop because the V.A.L.O.R. soldiers had killed the attacker? Or was it because the attacker had killed them all? That thought made Olivia shudder.
A loud knock sounded from her bedroom door.
“Princess!” A voice from the hallway yelled out. “The Palace isn’t safe for you anymore; we’re taking you to meet your father in the hangar for evacuation.”
Olivia recognized the voice. It was Kaleb, the V.A.L.O.R. soldier assigned to protect her for the night.
“I’ll be right there!” She yelled out as she fumbled to undo the straps that held her against the wall.
She struggled to make her way across the shifting room as it fell toward the ground. When she arrived at the door she punched in the code on the small number pad next to it. It slid open just in time for her to see the intruder run his short sword through Kaleb’s neck.
Olivia couldn’t help but let out a scream as her bodyguard dropped to the floor, and the intruder stepped into her room, locking his eyes with hers. They looked as red as the blood that stained the blade of his sword.
Olivia’s mind raced. What options did she have for escape? The balcony was too high up; a jump from there would kill her. The windows had the same problem, and the vents were too small for her to fit through. Her only chance of escape lay behind the demon in her doorway who had just massacred an entire army to get to her.
Tears flooded Olivia’s eyes as she balled her hands into fists. She knew that she stood no chance against this man, but if he came at her then there was no way she would go down without a fight.
The intruder stepped forward. Olivia burst into a run straight toward him, swinging her fist wildly toward his face. He caught her fist with almost no effort and twisted her arm behind her back. Olivia dropped to her knees as pain shot through her arm and back.
“My employer does not require me to hurt you,” the man said. releasing her arm and moving his hand up to cover her mouth. “But I have no qualms with doing so if you struggle,” Olivia made no attempt to respond. All she could do was sob as the man pulled her up to her feet.
How could this have happened? She thought as she watched the room fill with terrified soldiers trying to protect her from a man that none of them knew how to stop.
The attacker’s face remained emotionless as the captain of the guard ordered him to release the princess or be shot. Without saying a word he moved his finger to pull the trigger on his strange arm-mounted device. The soldiers watched, not knowing what to do, as the attacker and their princess both vanished into thin air.