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Co-Writer Kwelio Largo*
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
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GENESIS
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#2
Book 2
Kwelio Largo
Mar 12, 2018
0
0
31
230 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!Z1u4dxE3y1tWF5bdmkGIposted on PENANA

BOOK 2copyright protection31PENANApZxnj9voki

CHAPTER 1copyright protection31PENANA1jkvnx22AB

THE PLANET CHICAGOcopyright protection31PENANA44yJ9KWw4D

Homecoming copyright protection31PENANAetDMQWWmkg

“Whatever happens here do nothing.” Katya said to the four Polrobs circling above her in a wide radius.copyright protection31PENANAEmAYRYwU06

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAv4a4NkOKQS

She strolled down the path, enjoying the fresh early morning breeze. She wore her short leather skirt and top and decided that this was to be the only attire she would ever wear. |She ordered twenty sets. She rubbed the bark of a tree and thought back to the last time she had rested her weary head against it. The old Japanese had pushed her particularly hard that week. She had been sweaty, tired and close to tears. Glancing up, she stared at a thick branch. “What would the height be from the ground to that branch?” she asked her bodyguards.copyright protection31PENANAo4l1RcYNyi

FOUR METERS ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE CENTIMETERS SIRE.copyright protection31PENANA4dEEbwCIqD

A CITIZEN APPROACHES SIRE. AN OLD MAN.copyright protection31PENANAOWIZ0wjOga

ONE GRAHAM IKOBAYACHI. HE HAS A DAUGHTER, ONE MIRRIAM IKOBAYACHI.copyright protection31PENANAHFf2H6fFUN

BOTH ARE UNDER SUSPICION OF TRADING IN THE BLACK MARKET BUT HAVE NEVER BEEN CAUGHT.  TWICE BEFORE THERE WERE INDICATIONS THAT GRAHAM IKOBAYACHI MAY HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN CERTAIN UNDERHAND DEALINGS.copyright protection31PENANAYY0DDcafUA

She turned to the Polrob, “Listen well. I don’t care what you have on this man or his daughter, you will leave them alone. Unless a capital crime has been committed they are off limits.”copyright protection31PENANATJxBJx73mo

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAd33s6Lylrt

She waited by the tree and stared up at the  branch that had cost her a lot of skin and the odd finger nail. She smiled at memories and thoughts of the time she had succeeded in beating the  thing. It was a fluke, but the overwhelming joy and satisfaction she felt then, returned and enveloped her.copyright protection31PENANA9ps935mdlg

“You were always a hard one to teach, daughter.”copyright protection31PENANAOeZlPJTWMf

She turned and smiled at the old Japanese. “Master.” She stepped forward, knelt on one knee and bowed her head.copyright protection31PENANAkZjorq90MB

“Rise child. I am your master no more for the student has surpassed him.” He fell to his knees, but she stopped him. “Never bow to me, master. Never show deference.” She held him up and hugged his frail body. “I could never have succeeded were it not for you, Master.”copyright protection31PENANAuV0W441rim

“I merely showed you the path. You walked it.” Pride shone in his eyes. “I must admit, you took your sweet time learning to overcome that particular obstacle.” He nodded at the large tree behind her.copyright protection31PENANAH6AHrqqkmc

“Only because you exaggerated the height of that branch,” she laughed. The joy of being home surged through her.copyright protection31PENANAAHcU5DlfE7

“Exaggerated. I beg to differ.”copyright protection31PENANAQ82R47W6ye

“You said the branch was not high, that a person with my training could reach it. That branch is over four meters high. No wonder I struggled.”copyright protection31PENANAtfk3XMun7Q

“And what did it teach you daughter?” he asked.copyright protection31PENANAAIyMDDqYT5

“That anything is possible.”copyright protection31PENANA5Ke7CifypN

“So simple a thing.” He shook his head. “And it still took you two weeks to …”copyright protection31PENANANS37W0Uqo2

“One week master. One week,” she laughed gaily.copyright protection31PENANAhZKPMnscmm

“Come. Let us go home,” he said. “Your sister will be unhappy if you did not say hello. As far as I can remember, it was two weeks. Come, we can argue about it later over warm Saki.”copyright protection31PENANAir7wzJPOie

CHAPTER 2copyright protection31PENANAC56Fd2G7t5

      Vengeance Is Minecopyright protection31PENANA9K5UzRi24E

“Mrs. Walters, good to see you. Please, take a seat. What would you like to drink?”copyright protection31PENANAom6vTGfIux

“Water’s fine thank you.”copyright protection31PENANAW7C3NP6uXz

“Billy, if you please?”copyright protection31PENANAz7kE2TwkVA

 Billy left the room at once.copyright protection31PENANAZkW5QPL5yg

“I do hope you have what I`m looking for?” the young woman asked.copyright protection31PENANACvofzb5FF2

“I actually have two children that fit your category, Mrs Walters,” said the matron, her hulking, corpulent body quivered as she sat down. “Both highly intelligent and about old enough to leave us.” She smiled at the young woman. “By law you know, all children over 18 years of age must venture out into the world and make something of themselves,” she sighed. “We try to help with education and training but it is most difficult when the government cuts our grants. We have to rely on donations most of the time to get by. Then, of course, along comes someone like yourself who offers permanent positions to our children and it is most gratifying.”copyright protection31PENANAffazUcsqwo

“Of course. I understand.”copyright protection31PENANA0wIXBzNnEl

“One can only hope that the new Emperor deems it appropriate to help us.”copyright protection31PENANAEhQ2xpdC5T

“I`m sure the new Emperor has plans for your establishment.”  Jezebel Walters nodded her thanks as she accepted the glass of water from Billy. “I take it for granted that both have completed I.Q. testing?”copyright protection31PENANAFl9PU31nty

The matron nodded. “Yes. Here they are.” She removed three cheap brown files from a drawer and placed on a pair of reading spectacles. She opened the top one. “Jason Mc Alistair. Tested four times in six years. An I.Q. score of 127. It says he will do excellent in the engineering industry.”copyright protection31PENANAMu4urG3e4I

“The matron passed the file across the table. After a few minutes of browsing the young woman nodded. “He will do. And the next one?”copyright protection31PENANAAI0qKxQY9W

“With this one we have a small problem,” she laughed softly, almost disparagingly. “Jack Princeton. I.Q. tested five times in seven years. I.Q. score 139. Brilliant if I may say so but generally lazy and prone to causing problems with the other children. Says he should be sent for further specialized training. With our funding at a bare minimum what can we do?” she handed the file over.copyright protection31PENANASOh1Eb4Gzy

The young woman studied the file with interest. “Good. It seems I can relieve you of both young men, Matron.” She watched as the large woman beamed her happiness. The mounds of fat jiggled and her jowls slopped from side to side. “But first I need to have a few minutes alone with both of them to make sure that they are suitable.”copyright protection31PENANAfl2kQt0UI4

“I`m sure that would be fine,” she said. “Billy, please show Ms Walters to the wing office.”  She turned to the young woman, “would you like to see them together?”copyright protection31PENANACiNCJyaAxj

“At the same time would be fine, thank you. Will five thousand be fine?”copyright protection31PENANAwp8NrNZvty

“Perfectly fine, Ms Walters. You are most generous. It will go a long way in covering our expenses.”copyright protection31PENANA4IU62KA3Fi

“Good. And the paperwork?”copyright protection31PENANA8iBWUku5U1

“Will be ready when you return.” The matron tapped a third file on her desk.copyright protection31PENANAorrxeSleoO

“I will have your funds sent in a short while, but first, the two young men if you please.”copyright protection31PENANAMsxHzAs9E7

The wing office was much smaller. Walters was still gazing at a framed painting of a pastoral scene when there was a soft knock on the door.  Billy entered, ushering two young teenagers in before him.copyright protection31PENANAsNp4Jkpdpk

“Thank you, Billy,” she said. “This will not take long.” She tapped her right ear and said one word. “Guardian?”copyright protection31PENANAfOLHmZzHdY

SIRE. TWO DEVICES IN BOTH OFFICES. ALL HAVE BEEN DISRUPTED TEMPORARILLY. YOU MAY CONVERSE FREELY.copyright protection31PENANAw0r4I0Faaj

“Thank you.” She turned to the two who were taken aback by an older woman who was talking to thin air. “High there Froggy. Stalk… I hear you two have been giving the Pig some gray hairs. Haven’t you learnt anything?”copyright protection31PENANAiD6IHP263s

Froggy or Jason Mc Alistair. 17 years old, short curly black hair, sporting buck teeth and a mouth that reminded one of a bullfrog. He had mournful blue eyes, was well built and always hungry and would be a large man when his frame caught up to the latest growth spurt.copyright protection31PENANAqihbZDbzlp

Stalk, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Beanstalk tall and just as skinny. Ash blond, lanky hair continuously brushed from his smoldering black eyes. He learnt quickly to hide his intelligence but could never quite get out of the habit of scorning a helping hand as he believed it came with ulterior motives. They glanced at each other and then back at her as she removed her blond wig to let her short dark hair spill out.copyright protection31PENANAyRqZV90Akb

“Katya? What? How?” Stalk glanced at the door and noticed the silent man standing guard.copyright protection31PENANAUCO0lwQoDT

“Is it really you, Katya? You sure have gotten older,” said Froggy.copyright protection31PENANAQ4c7fcLrL6

“It’s me and the two of you have grown up too, it seems.” She hugged them quickly. “We don’t have much time.” She tugged on her blonde wig and set it straight.copyright protection31PENANARjXijTrjuM

“Listen carefully,” she whispered. “It’s payback time. Remember how we used to promise to come back and kick butt?” she stared at them with grim eyes. “Well, I`m back and it’s about to happen.”copyright protection31PENANAuopjpKQf8t

“It is?” they both chorused in hushed excited tones.copyright protection31PENANA9Zxm7NySfk

“Yeah. I need you guys to do something. Get all the kids off to the playing fields. Every one of them. You have about twenty minutes. I`m sorry that’s all I am able to give you. If we take longer somebody’s bound to notice what’s going on outside and send word. Now get out there and look unhappy or something. You are, after all, supposedly being taken away from here on  short notice.”copyright protection31PENANAZ7DXpXQRgk

“There are ‘visitors’ Katya. What about those kids?”copyright protection31PENANAELJ358NWoV

“We know, Froggy.” She indicated the silent man at the door. “That’s Perris. Sneak him into the dorm where they are and then get the others out of the way.”copyright protection31PENANApxUXT1KsU0

“Perris, you know what to do?” she asked.copyright protection31PENANAMT7qQxnHpE

“Sire.” He nodded his head slightly as he removed his clothing. Both boys stared in wonder as the man stripped and seemed to disappear before their eyes.copyright protection31PENANA23qL6wTTsh

“Hey. He’s wearing one of those combat chameleon suites.” Stalk said. He turned from the man who was busy enclosing his head and face. “You’re not shitting us are you?” he asked Katya.copyright protection31PENANAPRPKPJMzbG

“You have about 15 minutes Stalk. Get out of here. All of you.”copyright protection31PENANAAXzHnqeK8D

“Ok. Ok. We`re gone. Where …?” he turned to find Perris. “Damn but he`s good. I want one of them suites.” The boys trooped out looking suitably unhappy and morose about leaving the orphanage sooner than expected.copyright protection31PENANApaHPVNlPHO

“Did they meet up your expectations, Ms Walters?” asked the matron.copyright protection31PENANA7wFWhuF34Q

 “Yes. I`m sure my family would be most pleased with them.”copyright protection31PENANAJEOjmbKBWS

“Now about the ah…”copyright protection31PENANAfl2WbYJxNq

“Your donation? As soon as my bodyguard returns from his ablutions. He carries my credits and what-not,” said Katya sweetly.copyright protection31PENANAlUX1RewwhB

Katya turned to Billy who hovered about the door . “Would you be so sweet as to tell him to hurry? I sent him to the boy’s restroom. The one down the hall and up the first landing. The one with the cracked door that can never seem to get repaired because there is never enough money,” she said.copyright protection31PENANAn1gblCn5ek

“Now the…,” she turned to the Matron who clasped a hand to her large bosom.copyright protection31PENANAXtG0pRY9pL

“What did you  say?”copyright protection31PENANAALFxMwMj34

“I beg your pardon?”copyright protection31PENANAUr5aDqN0v1

“What did you  say to Billy? Where did you send your man?” the Matron’s eyes grew wide.copyright protection31PENANAktv0tUSr3i

“The bathroom. The one down the hall? With the cracked door? Come now, Matron, surely you haven’t forgotten already? I mean it’s only been over six years since I left and again, surely you haven’t developed amnesia in such a short time?”copyright protection31PENANAcE3SbPpY8t

“Who are you?” the matron squirmed on her chair.copyright protection31PENANA23U8exz1y5

“Don’t you recognize me matron? Probably not. Maybe this will help.” She removed her wig.copyright protection31PENANA3TyyU2tNtx

“BILLY...BILLY….”copyright protection31PENANA5Gb8znYZl6

“Oh, don’t bother matron. Billy won’t be able to hear you as I`m sure he is slightly tied up at the moment,” Katya said.copyright protection31PENANAsoanwoV5qu

The Matron struggled to her feet as a disembodied voice said, “It is done Your Highness. We can proceed.”copyright protection31PENANAatnJ2iLv5f

“What do you mean it’s done? Who said that? Your Highness? Your Highness? Just what is going on here? What have you done to Billy? BILLY.”copyright protection31PENANA2aVdivBguW

“My sword, Perris, if you please.”copyright protection31PENANAnXkxlRWhXm

 A face suddenly appeared floating in midair and the matron screeched. She took in the short sword that seemed to slide out of nowhere and to pass towards Katya. The matron passed out and slumped to the floor. Chair and table shuddered and scraped across the carpet.copyright protection31PENANAL7P9RSrCnw

Katya pressed a finger to her ear. “Guardian, go.”copyright protection31PENANASqGNEZjffO

In a split second the huge window behind the matron’s desk shattered into a million shards as four Polrobs simultaneously crashed through. Polrobs crashed through windows and closed doors. Commandoes entered from the roof and broken windows.copyright protection31PENANAbDMwb7o7pl

The roundup had begun.copyright protection31PENANAtatjkkbLXy

The matron groaned as she came out of her funk.copyright protection31PENANAiPYZDDYWSe

“Get up, or die where you are.”copyright protection31PENANAL4SxA3FYa4

“What? Where?”copyright protection31PENANAkDfNWz88l6

“Perris…,” Katya pointed at the fat woman.  Perris helped the matron her into a chair.copyright protection31PENANAGDVFDzjBwb

“Do you know who I am, Matron?”copyright protection31PENANAQhfIOPLuOV

“Katya. Katya Berotivich. Oh, my word, you are the new Emperor,” she gasped.copyright protection31PENANAy9zNXwn5EI

“Your death, Matron, is a formality,” she twisted the short sword to catch the light from the overhead lamps. “For your crimes throughout the years, for the pain and sorrow you caused. For the hurt and damaged lives that lie squarely on your shoulders, I sentence you to …” she paused and looked at Perris. “I`m still new at this, what would you suggest?”copyright protection31PENANAbll71ZGkAc

Bowing his head, he said, “I have read all there is about this place Your Highness. I have read about what happens to the children here. The disappearances. The punishment should fit the crime. A list should be drawn up of all the crimes this monster performed or allowed and returned in favor.”copyright protection31PENANAvruL9iBUNp

“Now thát, Perris, is something I would never have thought up.”copyright protection31PENANAQlzq9wXwBB

The matron fell out of her chair and hit the floor hard. Katya addressed the Polrobs circling above. “See that the sentence is carried out.”copyright protection31PENANAeNXAUZzBja

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAOPBiAKBbFo

“And make that the standing sentence to all those found guilty here and at the other orphanages. Then have the bodies strung up naked outside all the towns or cities where these deeds occurred. I want all those involved,  even if they only knew about it but never did anything to stop it. The guilty must suffer the same fate, male, female, young or old.” She breathed harshly, and sweat poured down her face as her thoughts went back to the atrocities performed on her. “Perris, I thank you and your men for all you have done today. Today you have honored all children. Be proud of an accomplishment well done. I will not forget this.”copyright protection31PENANABwJbWSHToj

“Sire,” he bowed his head. “It is our duty. We serve Sire for I believe we are all created equal in the eyes of God. It is what we make of our lives that define us. I have one request, Sire if I may?”copyright protection31PENANAvC6td1sMDL

“Anything Perris,  ask.”copyright protection31PENANAWrBxJcikoX

“Should you have any more of this type of work in the near future, please notify me. We will be honored to stand by your side.” He blushed and lowered his eyes as a peal of laughter erupted from Katya.copyright protection31PENANAI0urbrkSlI

“Forgive me Perris,  I am not laughing at your words, you honor yourself and your men. No. Its… it’s …oh, never mind.” She laughed softly, nudging her chin at something behind him. Turning about he saw a large mirror and in the mirror he saw that the Matron had fainted.copyright protection31PENANAbQlijzkMlX

“There is something else I require from you Perris. That combat suit, can it be adapted to fit Polrobs?”copyright protection31PENANAyio9Q7l8rK

CHAPTER 3copyright protection31PENANA69KBBV2VNn

The Annularscopyright protection31PENANAEZe0hxzBjV

They came in their tens of hundreds. copyright protection31PENANAyRdW144ndv

Single craft that buzzed about a disturbed hornets’ nest. copyright protection31PENANA7kFRVgNXbA

Two mother ships disgorged their young in a constant stream that broke up into groups of 100 strong. Destroyers circled the mother ships and sniffed about like hunting dogs protected by their own torpedo boats. copyright protection31PENANAkQAyQR6ptq

A second group of destroyers passed and headed for the killing grounds.copyright protection31PENANAk2iyZjC3HP

The mother ship’s young, all 4000 of them, surrounded the destroyers. copyright protection31PENANAyPadH5tu2F

Death approached the Galactic Empire on wings of grayvite.copyright protection31PENANA4nvFVlw2L0

***copyright protection31PENANAs62LE14h4M

Claxons resounded throughout the aircraft carrier Prolit.copyright protection31PENANA7CBhQimkMp

BATTLESTATIONS. BATTLESTATIONS. copyright protection31PENANA0RMvwIR3KD

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. copyright protection31PENANA3dJ5Yo73Fb

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. copyright protection31PENANAPMOr4FJqZw

ALL PERSONEL ARE TO REPORT TO THEIR POSTS. copyright protection31PENANAPZnCvUknX5

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. copyright protection31PENANA11iK7g8ekO

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. copyright protection31PENANAq9BeAFUk6T

ALL PERSONEL TO THEIR POSTS. copyright protection31PENANAQWTeyp8TN6

BATTLESTATIONS. BATTLESTATIONS.copyright protection31PENANAYO7gzexIsR

Panic. copyright protection31PENANAwT187BN1VU

Fighter crews ran pell-mell to their stations while dragging on flight suits or over-alls. Some hopped about trying to get boots on. Some tripped over bootlaces or discovered that the wrong boot was on the wrong foot but ignored it and stumbled on. The sirens forced them to move faster. Gun crews fared no better. Each knew what to do, where to be.copyright protection31PENANAVMQP0pe8i2

Two more aircraft carriers, the Perimeter and the Empire, ten thousand  kilometers apart, were under duplicate conditions.  They disgorged their Bulldog fighter craft simultaneously.copyright protection31PENANAehQmyqA583

Five hundred heavily laden fighter craft per aircraft carrier sped towards the enemy from three diverse angles.copyright protection31PENANAXFWYO4zC6v

“This is Vulture leader. Vulture pack, break to heading one-five-zero-hotel-three-four on my mark…. Mark.”copyright protection31PENANAw1inRiM6r5

25 Bulldogs broke away from the pack.copyright protection31PENANA8FmZ2UpC0y

“Eagle leader…Eagle pack break to heading….” More groups broke away and spread out to designated positions.copyright protection31PENANAGXeDV2HvEO

Hundreds of fighters jockeyed for position.copyright protection31PENANA1bPjyHClN3

Training, training and more training had perfected this horseshoe attack formation. Both ‘tips’ of the horseshoe were almost two thousand kilometers apart.copyright protection31PENANAqVJNULIkoI

The twin-seater Bulldogs flew on.copyright protection31PENANAS4G7HBap7P

***copyright protection31PENANAd803szK4Ux

“Admiral on the Bridge. Bridge over to the Admiral.”copyright protection31PENANA8ltR8oCRI0

“Thank you, Mr. Quiney. What do we have?” Admiral Isak Blair asked. 42 years old and with a slight stoop to his shoulders, he was the youngest admiral ever in the Empire’s navy. The youngest and the grayest. Almost overnight, his dark brown hair had turned gray.copyright protection31PENANAAB5gINRScY

The timing could be traced back to the moment that Emperor Katya Berotivich kicked out his old and pompous predecessor.copyright protection31PENANAHq7IuAheEc

Admiral Isak Blair, wracked with fear and self-doubt, took three days to come to the decision that the Empire’s safety rested on his shoulders. Billions of lives depended on every decision he made. It took three days of self-searching and coming to terms with his own weaknesses and fears. He had to trust the faith his Emperor had in him and had to trust in himself.copyright protection31PENANAMMxgEGEgxm

Three days, three days is all it took for his hair to change color. Stress had etched lines on his forehead and around his mouth. His shoulders, on the other hand, had always been slightly stooped.copyright protection31PENANAh7XmoG9fzm

It was his eyes, ice blue and hypnotic. They caught and held any they happened to rest on. The eyes reflected extreme capability and intelligence.copyright protection31PENANAehNmZhWhwB

“Up screens,” said Captain Quiney.copyright protection31PENANAtjo1z2Hdjf

“Up screens, sir.” The answer came from one of the four Battle plotters centre of the Bridge. In the centre of the rectangular plotting table, length-wise across and three inches thick, a colorless, almost invisible comp screen rose to the ceiling. To the left of the screen, hundreds of red blinking blips converged towards a slower moving and ever widening green blinking horseshoe shape of lights.copyright protection31PENANAzAnxXLe71N

“Enemy placement in the Panache quadrant as usual, Admiral. Red blips for enemy and green for our own. Initial maneuvering completed.”copyright protection31PENANAug4hC4yzl4

“Admiral, sir.”copyright protection31PENANAaPnzQXByaU

“Excuse me, Mr. Quiney. Proceed, Number Two,” he said, turning to the senior Battle Plotter who handed him a slip of paper.copyright protection31PENANANKvbisXwAY

“Aggregate total 2000 plus. There are indications of larger craft,” the senior Battle plotter stopped as his attention was caught by one of his juniors who indicated something to him on the plotting table. He hesitated a few seconds. “Sir, it seems we have two mother ships.” He looked at the plotting comp screen and pointed at two small square blocks flashing red on the far left. “Ship complements 2000 apiece, and they have only sent out half. There are larger craft, a total of,” he checked his hand held comp, “seventeen. Tonnage indicates destroyers. We can expect six to eight torpedo boats per destroyer.”copyright protection31PENANAj4folRsUqO

“Thank you, Number Two. ETA?”copyright protection31PENANAZBDnaukM2u

“Four minutes, twelve seconds and counting, sir.”copyright protection31PENANAHQfc2xFZ3f

“Computer, notify all flight leaders to cancel Operation Horn-Lock and to commence with Operation Spear.” His voice was calm on the outside but inside, his heart beat like a trip hammer. Two mother ships? Two?copyright protection31PENANAYnkdMG4eBv

MESSAGE AWAY ADMIRAL, said the ship’s computer.copyright protection31PENANA3A7HXibh4d

 The admiral watched as the two groups of blinking lights converged.copyright protection31PENANAML41Y6zD5C

Pointers, hundreds of them, suddenly appeared from the green blips that moved faster, much faster. Each blinking pointer was a single torpedo triggered from every Bulldog. The centre of the horseshoe moved faster and other green blips fell in behind.copyright protection31PENANAT40ehMUm1v

“ETA. ONE MINUTE AND COUNTING ADMIRAL,” said the senior Battle Plotter, excitement coursing through his voice. The Admiral stared at the Battle Comp with bated breath.copyright protection31PENANAS46ZL3hXlm

“Thank you, Number Two. Computer, open the Battle-net channel. One way please. Let’s hear what the pilots are saying.copyright protection31PENANAa87fa6lJJr

BATTLE-NET OPEN ADMIRAL.copyright protection31PENANAmDvmRM9L9a

Flight pack leaders occupied the bridge, haranguing their chargers into position to keep the maneuver tight.copyright protection31PENANAh1en10rjXM

***copyright protection31PENANAF8UNn4TIOD

“…to Swift pack. Ok, people. You heard the man,” said Captain Billy O` Ryan. “Fall in line and move your arses. Keep your distance, maintain focus. Co-pilots engage Battle computers and remember your training. Wing?”copyright protection31PENANAaagFw7sFTB

“Here, Skipper.” Something sounding like a yawn came over the ether.copyright protection31PENANAQaC5yE5ZX3

“Stay glued to me Wing, and try not to fall asleep.”copyright protection31PENANALDbGqzLkiz

“Who me, Skipper? Never. This is where I want to be.”copyright protection31PENANAXsJe7gmzWg

Wingman Lieutenant Paul Singh was the best Bulldog trainee Pilot Captain Billy O` Ryan had seen in a long time. Perpetually complaining of fatigue and listlessness after a thorough medical examination detected nothing abnormal, Lieutenant Singh was a devil behind a Bulldog’s controls. A lone wolf, he had a flair for getting into the thick of things with a ‘never-mind-me-I`m--passing-through’ attitude. It would, O` Ryan knew, get him killed if his excess spirits weren’t tempered, and tempered pretty damned quick. “Ok, people. Here we go. Choose your targets and fire torpedoes. Make the bastards pay!”copyright protection31PENANAbMrNRZsXYp

***copyright protection31PENANA0K2crtLdO3

Operation Horn-Lock was to be an enfolding maneuver that would have kept the enemy to its center while in the first stages of the battle. Thereafter it could be picked off piecemeal. This did not work as the Annulars not only brought two mother ships, but also only sent out half their compliments.copyright protection31PENANAMLvw0DNmdJ

Although Operation Horn-Lock failed in its initial stages, it did succeed in its second objective to have the Annular more widely spread out. Operation Spear, on the other hand, would cleave through their centre after three thousand torpedoes had punched gaps in their ranks.copyright protection31PENANACov3cn3Ek1

They did, only not as many as was hoped for.copyright protection31PENANA3kM6wdAhqo

Hundreds of Annular strike craft disappeared silently and spectacularly as torpedoes locked on to their targets and destroyed them. As the first targets vaporized, the horde of enemy fighters started with evasive maneuvers, that for some were far too late as one, then a second and a third torpedo locked on. Emergency evasive maneuvers had fighters ducking and diving to escape and for some it was disastrous as they smashed into other fighters or torpedoes not meant for them.copyright protection31PENANAldaRKauxxH

For a few moments, the killing field was total carnage.copyright protection31PENANAha5Mdh9hVu

Five destroyers erupted into white hot plasma within seconds of each other, before they could get their force shields up, leaving their surviving torpedo boats momentarily in disarray. Maybe the Annulars always knew that the Empire’s attack craft came in one huge wave. Maybe all their plans were developed for that maneuver. Maybe they were caught off guard and unprepared for the torpedoes and then the spear thrust down their centre as more of their number vaporized in ever increasing numbers.copyright protection31PENANAiZO56ljGCJ

Laser beams from the Bulldogs cut them down and when they turned to retaliate, the Annular discovered that the ‘spear thrust’ was also a ploy for right behind the attacking human craft were…copyright protection31PENANA5YXfPHqjfX

***copyright protection31PENANA1w76jlotCj

“It seems this may work,” the Admiral said softly to himself. On the outside, it seemed as if he was relaxed as his body rocked slightly backwards and forwards on his heels. On the inside, he was as rigid as tempered grayvite steel. With eyes closed, he listened to shouts of fear and anger from the Battle-net. The screams of passion and voiced despair at the destruction and killing of friends. The short clipped guttural instructions of flight leaders to their teams. A picture of the battlefield with its twists and turns had formed in his mind.copyright protection31PENANAXVjL0q6j7J

“Mr Quiney,  a double broad side of EB`s* if you please. 5 seconds apart. Setting zero-one in series Perimeter, Prolit then Empire.copyright protection31PENANA3cI1rxIRRY

The sounds of warfare emanating from the speakers muted automatically.copyright protection31PENANAPSuWYNhmgU

“Aye, sir.” The captain tapped out a sequence on his wrist control pad.copyright protection31PENANAGdP0ZQq6ax

“Guns?” came a soft questioning voice from the wrist control pad.copyright protection31PENANAQdJyeb6X3X

“Standby guns, instructions following. Computer, transmit instructions Perimeter and Empire. Double Broadside EB`s in series with Prolit. Setting zero-one, five seconds apart. Delay for mark.”copyright protection31PENANAVSPqPOe7bu

SENDING ACKNOWLEDGED…PERIMETER…PROLIT…EMPIRE…DELAYING. copyright protection31PENANA1RIRSIHiPR

“Mark!”copyright protection31PENANAQF5AekMkhP

Perimeters first salvo of 24 Energy-Buster missile torpedoes erupted from their launch tubes, reaching Mach 10 in twenty four seconds.copyright protection31PENANAidI7ExWSE7

Five seconds after the first launch, the second 24 missile torpedoes followed.copyright protection31PENANAnGZ5xSOfbD

Five seconds after, Prolit sent its first salvo. copyright protection31PENANA71jcCyxoTP

***copyright protection31PENANAeb2XjHvfza

The most important reason for a Bulldog co-pilot was to take some of the pressure off the Pilot. The pilot flew his craft and manned the weapons while trying like hell to notice all incoming missiles and lasers while the co-pilot was lumped with everything else. Everything else included monitoring electrics from the ionized drive to all systems and back-routing the electrics from damaged pathways.copyright protection31PENANAnWQn2ofQDq

The battle comp A.I. helped, but its main reason for being was plotting attack and defense and notifying the pilot accordingly. Placing the co-pilot’s helm over your head had you plugged into the Battle comp.copyright protection31PENANAuLsOX4mvtf

The co-pilot saw and ‘felt’ every shiver and groan of stress, every laser burst that penetrated the ship’s hull and felt the explosive release of lasers and twin EB`s. The co-pilot was the only human to `feel` the deathly cold emptiness of space and survive it. The co-pilot was there to help keep the ship operating at peak capacity and to minimize damage. Ingeniously complex circuitry ran throughout the ship, layer upon layer of micro-thin conduits of micro channeling circuits, of chips, gyros, levers, and conductors. The co-pilot’s reason for existence was to keep him/herself, the pilot and the ship alive. It was their job to notice and she did.copyright protection31PENANAkIqnFK4aZD

“Incoming EB`s Billy.”copyright protection31PENANAlnAbKCAZte

“Got em, Mike. Swift leader to Swift pack. Here come the ECHO BRAVO`S. Break. Break. Break.” He grunted and jerked the Bulldog into a back roll as sizzling violet beams sliced passed his undercarriage.      copyright protection31PENANAqYZSMXW9sp

“Swift leader to Swift pack. Break. Break. Break.” from all over the killing field the order to break hostilities went out over the Battle net.copyright protection31PENANAoM7PaNAeYA

Bulldogs pulled up short from their attack runs and dogfights and fled the immediate vicinity of the oncoming conflagration. The Annular were again caught flat footed as their human targets suddenly became as predictable as they should have been since the beginning and as historically they had always been. The Empire had always come in a cloud of fighter craft and fled as one.copyright protection31PENANASjXsvI55Hz

 The Annular were still consolidating their strength when the EB`s registered on their own battle screens. Their costly mistake was deadly as the friend/foe transponders of the Energy Buster missile/torpedo notified the A.I. as to the closest enemy`s position. The A.I. locked onto its target and delivered its relatively small 160Kg load in a blinding destructive flash.copyright protection31PENANAk7xjZkhWtJ

Silent destruction rained down on the Annular from every direction. Enemy pilots that were able to maneuver their fighters out of the of the oncoming EB`s path survived as their crafts sensor arrays confused the EB`s targeting systems and of those,  even less survived and most were damaged by near misses. They limped back as best they could to their mother ships.copyright protection31PENANAmSwuIGhiVg

***copyright protection31PENANASNzQg4ylag

The Bridge of the Prolit erupted into applause and cheering. The same happened in the two other aircraft carriers.copyright protection31PENANAUuosOnN5kh

Admiral Isak Blair, hands behind his back, nodded at the applause but kept an eye on the plotting comp screen. The two mother ships had not budged. “I have a feeling, Mr Quiney that we are not out of the woods yet,” he said calmly. “Have half of the squads return for rearmament of EB`s. Notify all carriers to have multiple ordnance *ready, level setting, medium zero-one. Maximum to zero 5. Once again double broadside on my mark.”copyright protection31PENANAPG9maS3sbY

The Captain glanced at the plotting comp while relaying the orders. Half of the Bulldog fighters broke away and returned to their carriers. “Why are they still there? They never wait around.”copyright protection31PENANAI4MiV2mtox

SENDING…ACKNOWLEDGED PERIMETER…PROLIT…EMPIRE …DELAYING the ship’s computer acknowledged.copyright protection31PENANAJj27LQvyWQ

“I believe, Mr. Quiney, they are waiting for our next move. Hopefully they will not become too impatient.”copyright protection31PENANAPMwZ8HSb94

On the plotting comp could be seen some Bulldogs returning from being refitted with the small EB torpedoes. “Send half of the next fighters back for re-armament as soon as possible Mr. Quiney. I have a feeling time is going to be of the essence, and we do not want to be caught short handed. Round two is going to commence shortly.”copyright protection31PENANAaS8Wa3Zxxn

AWAY… FLIGHT LEADERS ACKNOWLEDGED…SECOND PHASE OF REARMAMENT PROCEDING.  copyright protection31PENANA4gG7orYU0V

“Sir.”copyright protection31PENANAKQHhQQZI28

“Yes, Number Two” the senior Battle Plotter handed him a slip of paper.copyright protection31PENANAMc1V9bY8Iv

“Casualty list sir.”copyright protection31PENANAvNMbVbDT6E

The Admiral took a quick glance at it and passed it on to Captain Quiney. So many deaths. So many wasted lives.copyright protection31PENANAOQuv8lm73o

On the slip of paper, marked in pencil stood the following tally:copyright protection31PENANAgQAhLKsKSb

308 pilots dead.copyright protection31PENANAgoZ3AUeeNk

154 fighter craft destroyed.copyright protection31PENANASCbn8jIurM

3 fighter craft damaged (repairable)copyright protection31PENANASHDtZoer97

97 pilots wounded = 31 minor – 66 serious.copyright protection31PENANADpvCt6xHkl

On the large plotting comp screen hundreds of Annular craft, their lights blinking red.copyright protection31PENANA2dXdB6xkAZ

The calm and steady voice of the admiral nearly caught the Captain by surprise. “If you please, Mr. Quiney, initiate that broadside.”copyright protection31PENANA6tGJXF8b7i

“Aye sir. Computer send signal to all ships. FIRE.”copyright protection31PENANAiLIOobUVSe

AWAY.copyright protection31PENANAgVse93kHnU

“Number Two, give me the stats on the second Annular wave asap.”copyright protection31PENANAGtondl3mwa

“Sir. Still computing, sir. Coming up now…5 Destroyers with their complement of Torpedo boats per 800…1200…2752…That’s it…2752 Annular attack craft plus 5 destroyers, sir.” Glancing up, the man caught the nod from the Admiral who`s eyes were glued to the plotting comp. “We have a situation sir, indications are that the mother ships are retreating.”copyright protection31PENANAEPWnDkyxfr

“And so they are Number Two. So they are.”copyright protection31PENANAMvmeJvh3cE

 The barrage of EB’s, Triplets* and Demolisher Torpedoes* followed by Layers* swept passed the Empire attack craft on their way to the Annular. This time, the enemy was prepared as evasive action saw torpedo after torpedo fly by their targets, their internal A.I. `s searching aimlessly.copyright protection31PENANAYT8mgmIjJf

It was the EB`s that scored the most hits being small and compact, they moved at astronomical speed. The EB`s and the Layers shot out their auto-spider-mines in a wide swath before the enemy, were taking their toll. Undersized and solid, the silent, deadly and invisible killers wreaked havoc within the enemy ranks. Enemy destroyers and their torpedo boat compliments, this time with their force shields up, were simply overwhelmed as the Spider mines broke down the shields so that Triplets, Demolishers and EB`s could get closer and destroy them.copyright protection31PENANAuo4qLIKjgZ

Hundreds of torpedoes were destroyed  before reaching their targets while hundreds more flew aimlessly seeking and sniffing for the enemy that had long since left the specific area, self-destructing after a certain time. The breakthrough came when the Empire`s Bulldogs let lose their own compliments of EB`s to add to the conflagration. Dogfights ensued and so, for the first time in history, it was now the enemies turn to be pursued and harassed.copyright protection31PENANAK2v6gfCyjP

Another wave of layered Spider mines completed the job.copyright protection31PENANAciIlFYHnhr

CHAPTER 4copyright protection31PENANADMPIcAqWUG

Old Earthcopyright protection31PENANAWEIrLZHnx0

The White House, Cape Town. South Africacopyright protection31PENANAdKiV5XTNlb

“Houston? We have a problem.”copyright protection31PENANAfYY4GaF67z

Sayed looked up as Blondie walked into his office. “Just the man I`m looking for,” he signed a document with a flourish, and dumped it into the ‘OUT’ tray. “What’s this about Houston’s problems?” He sat back in the comfortable chair and stretched out his legs.copyright protection31PENANAN3ewvZvcn3

“A joke Say. And a corny one at that. Still, we do have a problem,” he said, pulling a chair closer.copyright protection31PENANAcANvwTsqHN

“Problems? You want problems? Let me show you problems, Blondie.” Sayed stretched across the large desk and plucked a thick pile of forms from the over-stuffed ‘IN’ tray. “Listen to this will you; ‘Permission requested to purchase 40 thousand toothbrushes from Colgate. It then goes on to give a tally of how many soft, hard and extra hard brushes are required. Oh, and they want 40 thousand toothpaste tubes of all makes and sizes. Forty thousand? I ask you with tears in my eyes, where the fuck did this dumb shit come up with that total? Forty thousand fucking toothbrushes when we are sending half a fucking million men and woman to kick some Galactic Empire butt.” Sayed threw the papers into the bin beside his desk. “Here`s another; ten thousand kits of – wait for it,” he glared Blondie, “Combrosias Nail Polish Remover with one set of false nails.” The forms followed its predecessor to the bin. “I frankly believe somebody out there is trying to make a quick buck.”copyright protection31PENANACWMA1sKGyR

Blondie smiled grimly, “Well, at least you have your fingers in the pie Say. You wanted everything to go through your office. The idea was to cut out the possibility of too many loose tongues.”copyright protection31PENANAfmVuSqunCR

“But this?” Sayed threw the ‘In’ tray with its contents across the room. “I`m not going to accept rubbish like this.”copyright protection31PENANAqPsekY8NoP

“Then get a couple of guys and have them sign the relevant secrecy documents and have them sort out all the chaff, then give all those chancers a hefty fine. Have the F.B.I. backtrack all the documentation to their sources and fine every person involved.” He thought for a while. “The fact that a lot of these purchases may be ‘in-house” needs to be determined and hefty fines issued for dereliction of duty or plain laziness.”copyright protection31PENANAB1MnBNQmtp

“Well, that was easy,” said a chuffed president. “Problems sorted. Now, let us see what we can do with this Houston guy’s problem. Who is this Houston by the way?”copyright protection31PENANAdJL8eDzI1b

“Forget Houston Say, it was a lame joke. The problem is rather more serious than a few tubes of toothpaste.” He tapped the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. “We have a teenager in the interrogation room.”copyright protection31PENANAzs12Gm1P9q

“The interrogation room? A teenager? Why does this sound like it’s got absolutely nothing to do with Sayed of the United Confederate of Nations?”copyright protection31PENANAELrr92eZoI

“Because Sayed of the United Confederate of Nations is not thinking.  Because if he was thinking, he would realize that his top advisor would not bother him with such a problem if it were not serious. Because Sayed would …”copyright protection31PENANApCsaLGNkoP

“Ok.Ok. you made your point for fuck sakes. So why is this teenager my problem?”copyright protection31PENANAvYhx0YT1N3

“Let me see if I can get this across in as few words as possible.” Blondie said, thumbing his tired eyes. “He came to us requesting to see you personally and by us I mean the Secret Service. He mentioned something about a ‘war’ and they promptly took him in for questioning. Him and his mother and sister.”copyright protection31PENANArsOTTYV8Yk

“War … ? Mother and shit, Blondie. What’s this about?” The President sat forward in his chair and glared at the ‘IN’ tray that lay some meters away. Application forms, invoices and other unknown as yet documentation lay strewn across the plush carpet.copyright protection31PENANAQnWjxHZl2o

“Satanism.”copyright protection31PENANAaxms5nqYpd

“Huh?”copyright protection31PENANA1RGPKzOGIM

“The bugger and his sister are Satanists. He says the devil sent him to help you wage War on the Galactic Empire.” A weight had been lifted from his shoulders.copyright protection31PENANA0z9XSHFS3H

“What?” Sayed leaped out of his chair in a flash. “Who blabbed? Find the fucker and cut his fucking tongue out. Who the fuck is responsible, Blondie? I don’t have time for some nutcase and his sister.”copyright protection31PENANAgefDGk06ip

“Mike, dammit.” Blondie slammed a fist on the table. “Will you shut up and listen?” Sayed blinked in surprise. “He knows, Mike. The little bugger knows. Get it through your thick skull. He knows things nobody should know. Like we are planning a war. Like you only sent five probes out to look for the Phoenix Planetariums. There’s more Mike, much more.”copyright protection31PENANAkjg090AXGi

“How, for fuck sakes? Who told him?” Sayed shouted.copyright protection31PENANAKHRUFKCkCF

“That’s the point Mike. He says Satan told him. He says the devil speaks to him.”copyright protection31PENANA1TUhwABwHU

“Can we get rid of him? You know, bribe him? I`m thinking mind-altering drugs or torture. Deep holes somewhere in Kimberly?”copyright protection31PENANAW2dc2ndDlU

“I give up.” Blondie threw his hands in the air. “This is no time for jokes Mike. This could sink us”copyright protection31PENANAW5CN0hyCBa

“Do you see me laughing Blondie? Satan you say?” he did not wait for an answer. “What else does this prick know?”copyright protection31PENANAiD4cUANw7u

Above them, silent and forgotten, hovered the Galactic Empire’s messenger.copyright protection31PENANAq4xEhz1udn

“He knows you plan to go with the War fleet. Only you and I know this Mike and I for one told nobody. And he knows about your horse.”copyright protection31PENANAp9t2Xtjv5V

Sayed stopped his pacing and stared at his friend. “ Raven? Are you sure we can’t drop the lot of them off in some deep well or something? No? Then what does the fucker want Mike?”copyright protection31PENANAGozKAtln0t

“He says the devil has been helping our scientists here and there but because everything has to be tested over and over and then corroborated and correlated and then retested this prick says the devil is getting impatient and wants to speed things up.”copyright protection31PENANASrxp5OZ7jc

“Crap. Now I’ve heard it all.”copyright protection31PENANAuImXKjr4Ow

“There’s another wrinkle Mike, he’s Ming Toa`s son.”copyright protection31PENANAZuVyfv2AT3

“Ming Toa? That fucking Chinese liberal?” he exploded.copyright protection31PENANA3MuAcApbHI

After a while, Sayed calmed down. “This situation is becoming a bloody nightmare.”copyright protection31PENANAocrLac4BgT

“And then some,” Blondie said.copyright protection31PENANA8go3ODzRet

***copyright protection31PENANAUhfpSrZhDG

“So what’s the story here?” Blondie asked the two Secret Service members who kept watch over the three occupants through the large one-way mirror. Sitting side on to the mirror with their mother on the opposite side of the table, the two kids ignored her as much as possible.copyright protection31PENANA02TrN3DSFU

“Mr. President, Advisor.”copyright protection31PENANALNa9RZNqR1

Both pairs of eyes flicked towards the flying disk that darted in behind them, hovered off to one side, and stopped before the mirror. The top half of its greyish body swiveled backwards and forwards as it sent different wavelengths through the mirror.copyright protection31PENANATMj9bcBatf

Removing her headphones, the female operative began describing what she knew. “Mrs. Toa is roasting them over the coals sir. Says she is disappointed they are Satanists and wants to know whether they tortured and killed animals. This has been going on since they arrived. The kids are doing what kids do best, they aren’t saying a word.”copyright protection31PENANARuhLV5OzXu

Blondie leaned forward and flipped a switch against the wall.copyright protection31PENANAtJhET9DGzu

A teary female voice filtered through the speakers. “… am I to tell your father? Huh? Just what am I to tell your father? This could destroy his political career. If any of this should ever come out, that you have being torturing cats and dogs… oh my goodness.” Mrs. Toa stopped as the enormity of the situation sunk in.copyright protection31PENANAItg1CsdeCH

She was not a beautiful woman but she still managed to turn heads with her exotic Chinese/American features. The pair of slightly uplifted dark-brown eyes matched long brown hair that fell to the middle of her back. A short stubby nose and pert mouth offset by a body going to fat.copyright protection31PENANAtubKf7Q4GO

“Mother pleeeaase get over it.” The young girl said, giving her morose looking brother a quick, sidelong glance. “There has never been anything like that. No sacrifices or animals, although I must admit there has been some really great sex.”copyright protection31PENANAyayQOrZs8y

“Sex? Sex! What sex? Incest? Oh my God!” The sound was cut off abruptly as Sayed flipped the switch.copyright protection31PENANAWQ2dSFF6Ti

“This is getting us nowhere,” he said, opening the door and stepping into the interrogation room.  Mrs. Toa, caught mid-sentence, swallowed whatever she was going to say. The Polrob zipped through the doorway and took up station to one side.copyright protection31PENANANmNZ726Y6N

More sedately, Blondie stepped in and closed the door .copyright protection31PENANAMFXkvMMueU

“Cool,” Timothy Toa said as he watched the Polrob with huge eyes. “Is that a Polrob?”copyright protection31PENANA3bK5oDL4JE

“Yes it is,” said Blondie, cutting him short. “We are not here young man, to chat about our visitor.”copyright protection31PENANAnw1aw8dD7k

“Oh, but we are,” Timothy said, eyeing out the silent disk.copyright protection31PENANAqTZoeua0Zp

“We are here to determine, young Timothy,  how you are able to have state information bouncing about in that head of yours?”copyright protection31PENANAU2AF8ZiT32

He pulled out a vacant chair beside the children’s mother. Mrs. Toa, who had covered her tear stained face with both hands, nodded. “What Blondie, my colleague meant to say young man, is how do you come by the information you and your sister have?” Diplomacy dripped like honey from his voice.copyright protection31PENANAxrzzB5IPIP

“Tell him Timothy,” his sister said.copyright protection31PENANA99J8yXDIYD

Nodding his head, Timothy said, “Loki told me.”copyright protection31PENANA7TFIyOHRHL

“Loki?” the President asked with a frown. Blondie threw a raised eyebrow at the mirror. The two operatives would be getting onto that piece of information.copyright protection31PENANAUfctOOywDh

“Yes, sir. The devil, sir. He is my master,” he said proudly.copyright protection31PENANAmMr5VZ2zH0

“The devil calls himself Loki?” Sayed asked, puzzled.copyright protection31PENANAcPTRysGfkn

Timothy nodded his head excitedly, “Oh, he likes to be called Satan and Lucifer too, but he now wants to be called Loki.”copyright protection31PENANA0eDdHs1gZE

“Then Loki it is. So tell me Timothy, this voice in your head, it tells you things?”copyright protection31PENANAylrZqnYtWG

“No, it’s not like that, sir. There is no voice in my head. I’ve read about nutcases like that. This is different. He tells me things. I can see him.” Timothy bent forward across the table and whispered loudly. “He’s big.”copyright protection31PENANAt8vn04QGja

 “Oh Lord.” Mrs Toa exclaimed.copyright protection31PENANA4kpHx69yn8

“So you say you can see him? Describe him to me?” Sayed sat back against the uncomfortable metal backrest.copyright protection31PENANAdVtEUU1SnY

“Massive,” the boy indicated with arms held wide apart. “His head goes through the ceiling,” he looked upwards as if describing what he could see. “He has no shirt on and has a lot of muscles. I want muscles like that when I`m grown up. He’s wearing light brown trousers that come to his knees.” He grinned at Sayed. “Looks funny but I don’t think he’ll be happy should I tell him that.”copyright protection31PENANAyQ64e684Ns

“Don’t worry too much about his trousers. He has his own reasons for wearing them like that.”copyright protection31PENANAfRMEyjKIR8

“He has funny long hair. Almost like gold. It’s long and comes to his shoulders. He also has a beard. A sharp one. It comes to a point,” he indicated with splayed fingers near his chin. As his hand dropped away, his fingers closed.copyright protection31PENANAR43lJXfLQC

“Like a goat’s beard.” His sister chipped in. “And his eyes are yellow. Tell him Timothy.”copyright protection31PENANAJptPuIWCMK

Timothy turned to his sister with a disgusted look. “That’s what I`m doing, Moa.”copyright protection31PENANA41BRFaaqT1

“So tell me about the things the devil, I mean Loki, told you Timothy.” Sayed quickly came between them. A family spat right now would do irreparable damage.copyright protection31PENANAyK6C5QAkBq

“He says you like playing golf.”copyright protection31PENANAXlQrak97XV

“He said that did he?” Sayed smiled at the boy.copyright protection31PENANAR1XtSDD34w

“Yeah. And he says you’re not good at it.”copyright protection31PENANA5Dhbfm2QHD

“Timothy.” his mother said whilst digging through her handbag for tissues.copyright protection31PENANAhEY769rfho

“What? It’s what Loki said. He said if Sayed followed through with his swing more often he would have better results.”copyright protection31PENANAb9q9CjMgmR

The President laughed softly. “It’s fine, Mrs. Toa. I’ve been wondering about  that problem as it is.” Turning to the boy, he said, “Carry on Timothy. What else did Loki have to say?”copyright protection31PENANANru4DKqFA8

“Well, he said that he knows you are only going to the Galactic Empire because then you will be known as Sayed-with-the-most-balls.” He looked quickly at his mother. “Loki said that mom, honest. He also said that you will have statues made in your honor and you would be rev… rev…”copyright protection31PENANAjRNiYTsq8J

“Revered, I think is the word you are looking for.”copyright protection31PENANAOjSfsvyfLV

“Yes, sir. That’s it.” The boy smiled and nodded.copyright protection31PENANA6ynAD1k3GU

The smile on the President’s face was strained. “Now, how has Loki been helping our scientists? This is good news but…” he stopped and stared at Timothy who was gawking in wonder at something off to one side. Everybody turned to see what he was looking at but whatever it was, they could not see it.copyright protection31PENANAc0LZiKSKa1

“Wow! Did you see that?” he asked excitedly, nearly leaping off his chair.copyright protection31PENANAuZkneNSN2E

“What was that, son,” the hair on the back of the President’s neck stood on end.copyright protection31PENANAI9d6KQ74UO

“Loki shrunk.  He’s not so big anymore. He…” the boy nodding his head. “Yes master,” he said and looked at Sayed. “Loki says that he has been trying to help you by giving advice to certain people but that they don’t want to listen and when they do there is too much time spent on going off in the wrong directions.”copyright protection31PENANAZ6OL57wYSG

“Yes, well, he is the devil after all and come to think of it, why would he help us in the first place?” Sayed refused steadfastly to look in the direction the boy was staring.copyright protection31PENANAZmFkKU7CHa

The boy was quiet and seemed to listen for a while. “My master says that usually he does not interfere with humans as we tend to enter hell on our own accord. Did I say that right?” he gazed towards the open space between Sayed and his mother. He nodded and continued. “My master says that he has noticed a shortage of souls for a long time. This is so cool man – there is a shortage of souls and he wants to find them. That’s why he will help us. Only if we will let him.”copyright protection31PENANAhqjuw4kE8e

“Son. There is so much wrong with what you said that I don’t know where to start.”copyright protection31PENANAs8lhUqoqph

“I`m telling you it’s the truth, he’s standing there behind you.” He pointed.copyright protection31PENANA7oENIoHQ1p

Mrs. Toa jerked about in her chair, a hand clasped to her breast in fright. “There is nothing there Timmy,” she squeaked. “Now look, don’t you think you have bothered Sayed enough? He is Sayed, Timmy, leader of the world. What must he think of us?”copyright protection31PENANA1iQlMnp61y

Timothy Toa`s attention was elsewhere and he did not hear a word his mother said. “I`ll tell him.” He nodded. “My master says that you can go faster than the speed of light.” He frowned, “Just how fast is the speed of light?”copyright protection31PENANAltGGLB791x

President Ahmed Daniel Sayed sat glued to his chair.copyright protection31PENANAq9V4WEtDvu

He had been  about to call this whole episode a waste of his time when the kid dropped the bomb that made his heart skip a beat. He had to physically make an effort to get his lungs working again. “Son,” Sayed said gravely, his face pale. Voice strained. “How do you know that we are experimenting with faster than light travel? Who told you? This is a state secret and you realize …” a hand clamped down on his shoulder.copyright protection31PENANA3wMTRyggFh

 “Just a second Mr. President,” Blondie smiled at the boy and his family. “Please carry on Timothy. You gave us a scare, as this information is top secret. Please, carry on.”copyright protection31PENANAO1LvHw6PG8

Timothy got over his fright and swallowed the lump in his throat. It suddenly dawned on him that he may be in serious trouble. He looked at the visible, solid looking Loki with his arms crossed and glaring at Sayed.copyright protection31PENANAm7hiceXFRs

“Tell that fool to bite his tongue,” Loki said, “or I will increase the severity of the cancer he has in his pancreas. As it is, he has only ten years to live. Ask him if he would like to have the honor of meeting me sooner than determined?”copyright protection31PENANA9UZVOQu469

“Sir, my master says you have cancer in your pan …pancris or something and …” his eyes flicked away and back to Sayed. “Sorry … pancreas? He says that you have ten years to live and if you do not listen he will make it worse.”copyright protection31PENANAlVa7rSDxIk

His mother gasped in horror and tried to shrink into her chair while his silent sister stared wide-eyed at her brother and then at Sayed.copyright protection31PENANAG5rYoDcli4

Blondie’s hand tightened like a vice on Sayed’s shoulder, stopping him from bearing upright in shocked anger. “There is no need for your master to get angry Timothy. Please understand that this is all new to us, especially because you are a child, excuse me, a young adult. Please proceed. We are listening.”copyright protection31PENANAOsZNnNERRL

The boy smiled timidly, aware that a line had been crossed. His heart beat heavily in his chest, a hollow feeling had suddenly opened up in his stomach and he needed to pee. All of a sudden, this did not look like the game it should have been. “Loki says that you barely have the use of faster than light engines. That’s why you could not find the Planetariums. He says he will show you how to go faster.”copyright protection31PENANA1dGck75YFN

“How much faster?” Sayed asked.copyright protection31PENANAilTKkhnwDG

The boy hesitated before speaking. “I don’t know how to say those words Master. Please, I`m trying to. Yes, Master. I`m sorry, Master. My master says that at the speed of light, the nearest stars could be reached in decades. He will show you how to make an engine that will take you into another dimension. Instead of taking decades or hundreds of years to reach anywhere, you will be able to do it in only one or two years depending on the distance.”copyright protection31PENANAAs8zfvnUne

“And what does your Master call this engine, Timothy?” asked Blondie. His grip on the Sayed’s shoulder had slackened, but it tightened slightly as he waited for the answer.copyright protection31PENANAFprlBMtGL8

“My master says you call it a Hyper-drive.”copyright protection31PENANAu3uoNOGblk

CHAPTER 5copyright protection31PENANARVMZv2vSWT

Pegasuscopyright protection31PENANA7BizXUlqA7

“I could kill that piece of shit,” President Sayed seethed. “The effrontery.” He stretched forward in his chair to punch a button on his desk pad.copyright protection31PENANAz5b4uZSaae

“Sir.” A female voice replied.copyright protection31PENANAu2ah2Fjxyg

“Get me a doctor Joan, on the double.”copyright protection31PENANArFRJePDAge

“A doctor Mr. President?”copyright protection31PENANAHPkSTOSMZ2

“Right now Joan! Tell him to bring his portable goodies with him. And bring me the file on that liberal prick Toa.” He released the button and it cut off his secretary’s astonished reply. “And?” he looked across the desk at his friend.copyright protection31PENANA1t4bL7Q4Fp

Blondie said softly, “I think we are about to become Satanists.”copyright protection31PENANAk65cQk2uUi

“You realize that should word of this get out, we will be hounded out of office and flayed alive?” Sayed said. Stretching forward he pressed the intercom button again.copyright protection31PENANAJC83v2SnPR

“Sir?”copyright protection31PENANAqQlv16CSbh

“Get me Marcom. Tell him I want the interrogation vids right now.” Again, he cut the reply short. “Just how the hell a kid, a fucking kid mind you, how the hell…” His voice petered out and he shook his head numbly. He looked up at the Polrob across the room. “What have you got to say my silent friend.”copyright protection31PENANAhvnmIeHLIC

SIRE. THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF ANY INVISIBLE ENTITY. INDICATIONS OF RESPERATION, BODY LANGUAGE, VERBAL COMMUNICATION AND HEART RATE INDICATE THAT THE YOUNG CITIZEN TIMOTHY TOA, BELIEVED WHAT HE WAS SAYING. I HAVE ACCESSED CITIZEN MING TOA`S FILE AND ALL INFORMATION ON HIS FAMILY FROM SCHOOL RECORDS TO KNOWN FRIENDS AND ENEMIES.copyright protection31PENANA3rebuKdn82

“You have?” Sayed said. “Now that’s interesting.”copyright protection31PENANAezTA4UGGNR

THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT CITIZEN FAMILY TOA, HAVE ANY AFFILIATIONS WITH ANY RADICAL GROUPS EITHER OF THE LEFT OR RIGHT WING. BOTH CITIZEN CHILDREN ARE CLASSIFIED AS AVERAGE FROM THEIR LATEST I.Q. AND B.Q. TESTING. THUS, ALL INDICATIONS ARE THAT CITIZEN TIMOTHY TOA COULD NOT HAVE DEVISED THIS WHOLE INCIDENT BY HIMSELF.copyright protection31PENANAY4nlr6z8Rh

HIS SISTER, CITIZEN RAVI TOA, HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT HER BROTHER KNOWS. INDICATIONS ARE THAT SHE IS JEALOUS OF HIM. THERE ARE INDICATIONS OF SACRIFICE THOUGH I COULD NOT READ YOUNG CITIZEN RAVI TOA IN ALL ASPECTS AS THIS UNIT WAS STILL BEHIND THE ONE-WAY MIRROR AT THAT TIME.copyright protection31PENANALUJZ6eKkBT

LASTLY, THE KNOWLEDGE THAT CITIZEN TIMOTHY TOA PRESENTED TO YOU WAS NOT HIS. ALL INDICATIONS ARE THAT HE WAS BEING USED AS A CONDUIT TO RELAY SAID KNOWLEDGE TO YOU SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAnQsgqxb6dY

The President sat as if made of stone, his mind totally blank at the prospect that he had  been in the presence of Lucifer.copyright protection31PENANAXb3lxur7Di

“So let me get this straight,” Blondie turned towards the Polrob. “Are you saying that everything in that room was above board? That it was real?”copyright protection31PENANApod8okm9EY

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANA31Ovie2tkg

“I was afraid you were going to say that because I have come to that same conclusion.” He turned to Sayed. “Say? The shit is about to hit the fan. Get everybody that saw the Toa family into the interrogation room ASAP. If anybody  hints that Satan paid us a visit …”copyright protection31PENANArisuE0Z57D

PLEASE STAND BY…NOTIFICATIONS SENT…ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS… RECEIVED. ALL SECURITY SERVICE PERSONEL NOTIFIED AND ARE EN ROUTE TO THE WAITING ROOM. SCIENTIFIC PERSONEL WILL TAKE A WHILE LONGER AS THE TOA FAMILY WILL HAVE TO BE PLACED UNDER QUARANTINE FOR THE DURATION.copyright protection31PENANAow2BFrV1BA

“Damned efficient what?” Sayed said with a smirk. “Imagine. A visitor from our enemy shows up and throws dust into our eyes. Just wish the rest of this place would learn the trait.”copyright protection31PENANAZECNaU2dnn

SIRE. INFORMATION JUST RECEIVED.copyright protection31PENANAuPFWkjWkp4

LOKI EXISTS.copyright protection31PENANAYNA0pfslh3

“What?” both men looked up at the Polrob as the secretary knocked and walked in carrying a two-inch thick file. The doctor was in tow, wheeling a thinly padded half-meter wide bed on wheels into the large office.copyright protection31PENANAVhIx5Ss76Q

“Out. Out! Leave the file and get out!” shouted Sayed as he stared at the Polrob. “And you.” he pointed at the surprised doctor. Do not think of going too far. Wait outside and Joan,” he lowered his voice slightly. “… No interruptions until I`m done.” When the door closed, he said, “Give it to me.”copyright protection31PENANAuAGaw0ttlT

“Not yet,” said Blondie. “This is going to take time, lets get everything else out of the way first. There are quite a few people waiting for us in the next room.”copyright protection31PENANAxjG8k6nMrF

“Damnit all,” said Sayed, getting up from his chair. “Nearly forgot that part.”copyright protection31PENANAQnWzV1rn8y

They left the Oval office and walked silently towards the interrogation room. The place was packed with security personnel and scientists. “Ok people,” Sayed said as they entered the room. “We have a situation here. Not a word of the Toa family’s presence here today gets out. One word and you are all shipped out to Antarctica. I hear there are some places in Russia this time of the year where a snowman would not like to live. You lot,” he pointed at a scientist. “Have the Toa family sign the relevant documentation to keep their mouths shut. I do not want them telling daddy anything, never mind their friends. I wish we could keep the Toa family locked up tight but this thing is bigger than we are. It is much bigger than anything this administration has ever handled before since the devil knows when. Get as much info as possible from that snot nosed kid as you can, have mommy go home alone, she can tell that liberal prick his kids are visiting friends or something. I want both kids kept here, that will assure her silence. By the way, are you getting anything worthwhile from the kid?”copyright protection31PENANAeD8UNFUh9f

“Mr. President, sir.” The man frowned. “I don’t know how this is possible but it’s as if the whole blueprint is in his mind. It’s taking time.”copyright protection31PENANAaGzROTXcFp

“Good.” Sayed said. “Get it all. Every ounce of it.” He turned to the silent crowd. “We are making history people, that’s why I want a clamp on it all. Not a peep.” He turned to the Polrob. “Make it happen, ship the first one who blabs out to the middle of Afghanistan or something.”copyright protection31PENANASwMO5IPx5Y

SIRE. AS YOU COMMAND, SO SHALL IT BE.copyright protection31PENANA5jBdepT8G2

“That’s it people, and get rid of mommy. The sooner the better.  She will probably want to come back in the morning.”copyright protection31PENANAoRIXIxRFKx

“It has already been handled sir,” said one of the secret service personnel.copyright protection31PENANA5C3Rq9zgGF

“Good. Carry on people.”copyright protection31PENANAfLZRZdgSmW

Relaxing back in his chair, he looked at the Polrob, “Let’s have it.”copyright protection31PENANAULNDJwbAcV

SIRE. LOKI ALLUDES TO NORSE MYTHOLOGY.   THIS IS THE MYTH OF THE VALKYRIE.copyright protection31PENANA7hya9ZkJg0

“Valkyrie?”copyright protection31PENANAovMomMBCEY

IN ADDITION, THE VIKING THAT BELIEVED IN THEM.copyright protection31PENANAzzKnctTo35

Sayed sighed, “I take it that somewhere in all this Loki will pop up?”copyright protection31PENANAjbnSmwRGf7

HE IS ONE OF THE AESIR GODS DEPICTED IN BOTH EARTH AND THE EMPIRE’S MYTHS.copyright protection31PENANAGEDt20fEDU

“A god? A god?” he stood up and glared at the Polrob. “This is reality my friend. We do not have time to listen to childish tales.”copyright protection31PENANADctnAGQt4U

SIRE. THE FACT IS THAT THE DESCRIPTION CITIZEN TIMOTHY GAVE OF THE ONE HE CALLED LOKI, CORRESPONDS TO THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS GOD IN BOTH EARTH AND EMPIRE MYTHS. ALSO THERE IS ON RECORD THAT EARTH’S SPACE FLEET CAUGHT ON VID A FEMALE RIDING A WINGED HORSE COMMONLY KNOWN AS A PEGASUS.copyright protection31PENANAzo5Whrt87I

“Wait.” Sayed sat with his hands in his hair. He wished it were long enough so that he could pull each hair out one by one. “You say the fleet has caught a female on vid riding a winged horse? In space? Were they smoking their collective socks?” he said in disgust. “It seems to me somebody needs to get his ass fired.”copyright protection31PENANAgOnUhqUx4x

SIRE. ACCORDING TO THE MYTH, THE PEGASUS IS THE PREFERRED MODE OF TRANSPORT FOR THE VALKYRIE.copyright protection31PENANArHKV5kBVOG

“Ah crap.” He sat back and observed his silent advisor. “And you? Why so quiet? Does this sound as if it makes sense?”copyright protection31PENANAQn5VkmnNvv

“I do believe we should hear him out, Say. What have we to lose?”copyright protection31PENANAwMjUGBkB9o

“Brilliant. Now both of you are ganging up on me.” He pointed a stern finger at the Polrob. “The short version please.”copyright protection31PENANA8A6Svcd771

SIRE. FROM A.D. 800 TO AROUND YOUR 11TH CENTURY, SEAFARING WARRIORS FROM SCANDINAVIA LEFT TO SEEK THEIR FORTUNE. KNOWN AS THE VIKING, THEY RAIDED MANY COASTAL SETTLEMENTS FROM THE BRITISH ISLES TO RUSSIA, ICELAND, GREENLAND AND NEWFOUNDLAND. VIKINGS WERE A MIX OF NATIONS FROM WHAT IS KNOWN AS DENMARK, NORWAY AND SWEDEN. THERE WERE QUITE A FEW MORE BUT WHAT MADE THEM EXCEPTIONAL WAS THAT THEY ALL CAME FROM A FAR-OFF AND DISTANT LAND. THEY WERE NOT CHRISTIAN AND BROUGHT THEIR OWN BELIEFS AND CULTURE WITH THEM.copyright protection31PENANANYpTTJfhxK

For some hours, the Polrob regaled them with a tale of murder and rape, of pillaged monasteries, raised villages and death dealing hordes. Entranced by the tale, time passed by unnoticed and unheeded and when the end came they sat and reflected a few minutes more.copyright protection31PENANAM4w6YdIjOR

“That was the best damned story I’ve ever heard,” said Blondie stretching the kinks out of his back.copyright protection31PENANAIXsPQX1359

“Agreed. So tell me, what are the possibilities that these Aesir gods are actually alive and kicking?” asked Sayed.copyright protection31PENANA4T7tM0d1hL

Blondie said, “What makes me nervous is that should they be real, then this Loki character is interfering where he and all the other gods were ordered not to. He is stepping over the line and nothing good can come of it.”copyright protection31PENANAM4QjaPwS8l

“If it is true Blondie. If it is true.”copyright protection31PENANAJQicF89Hbf

“Lets get that Vid from the Fleet and have a look at it.” Blondie turned to the Polrob, “Send word to them that we want a look at it ASAP.”copyright protection31PENANAQg8XKUYYWg

SENDING…RECEIVED…STANDBY…STANDBY …copyright protection31PENANAJIkz2uoynx

The President’s intercom buzzed. “Yes Joan?”copyright protection31PENANAU7ocj3ltLx

“Mr. President? I have Fleet Admiral Juan Ponce de Leon on the Vid. He says he needs to have a word with you immediately.”copyright protection31PENANAIBNQzyLxwI

“Patch him through, Joan. Thank you.”copyright protection31PENANANgq7QsCe1Z

Against the far wall, a huge vid screen activated automatically and a bald headed, white suited no-nonsense looking man stared at Sayed through steel grey eyes. “Mr. President. Advisor Salvatore,” the Fleet Admiral began without hesitation. “I have received from your office a strange request from a strange entity called LAW001/SAIPR. The information requested is highly sensitive and classified as top secret. The question is, Mr. President, did this request come directly from you? For if not …” he stared woodenly out of the screen. The time lapse, over almost one million kilometers, was minimal.copyright protection31PENANAMV6a8qetTZ

“It did Juan, so breathe easy there old friend.”copyright protection31PENANA1BBOsaneHT

The fleet admiral breathed a huge sigh of relief. “I was under the impression that some damned terrorist group got hold of your call sign.” He moved his head closer to the inbuilt camera of his own Vid. “And who is this LAW001/SAIPR?”copyright protection31PENANAWvanD0QgfR

“That’s our new friend Juan. Surely, you must have seen pictures of it by now? The whole damned world has found a new craze. Can you believe that some idiot has gone and made an infernal fuzzy imitation of it for kids.” He grunted his disgust. “Juan, meet yours and my new best friend.” He beckoned the Polrob to move within view of the camera.copyright protection31PENANAf1NmbWMqqF

“Impressive. You say that there is a fuzzy teddy-bear toy lookalike down under?  Could be I may get one for my son. Think he will like it?” he asked, smirking.copyright protection31PENANAprh0gJbDYS

“Bugger that pal,” Sayed laughed. “Tell me about a winged horse you people found out there in the vacuum of space. A vacuum mind you, where nothing can live.”copyright protection31PENANAxUoHh1I7hX

“Mr. President, what’s made this so important? This incident took place on November 23, almost eighteen months ago?”copyright protection31PENANAZxZNUbJHBa

“Because we believe that it has something to do with a situation we have here. A serious situation.”copyright protection31PENANAn0BE1Socvm

“I’d rather  show you. By the way, you have copies and transcripts of all we have. I sent everything via diplomatic post soon after this situation occurred.”copyright protection31PENANA53gtLyvtFN

“You did?” Sayed said, surprised. “Was it flagged?”copyright protection31PENANArFkqsfBcWc

“No, it wasn’t flagged. I did not want to wave a red flag about for the wrong person to see. Especially with this, one can’t be too careful.”copyright protection31PENANAnjdZYfRnrn

“I`m surrounded by incompetent people,” Sayed threw up his hands.copyright protection31PENANAJxq01bywFe

“Nope.” Blondie cut in. “I kinda remember the time period,” he said thoughtfully, squinting at the Polrob. “Round about when our friend here pitched.” He tapped the table thinking. “You told me to put it in the safe for later consideration. With our friend here popping out of nowhere and the fleet buildup, it slipped my mind.”copyright protection31PENANAj6TExmU8zQ

“Ok. Ok. Fess up, Juan. All of it.”copyright protection31PENANAlWayV9NMwf

Juan nodded. “We have about two minutes worth of recordings and it does not make sense whichever way I look at it. There is no sound mind you. We were a tad busy right about then to worry about a small thing like sound.”copyright protection31PENANA9fMAgNMOkr

The picture blanked out and suddenly turned black.copyright protection31PENANA3EyXj5jddS

Space. In all its glory.copyright protection31PENANA4yPe7KnUxU

Black with millions of pin pricks of light. Above and to the left of the Vid screen ran a series of numbers counting off digits. The camera panned to the left and the pinpricks of light whizzed across the screen. As the camera stopped, so too did the pinpricks of light. They grew larger as it zoomed in on one specific spot.copyright protection31PENANAaH9XipK4e5

“Fuck. This is making me sick.” Groaned Sayed as the camera stopped.copyright protection31PENANAwhJ4e3aygo

And there it was in all its glory.copyright protection31PENANArlXgz41XZz

 A Pegasus.copyright protection31PENANAR9h16zrRDF

White with caramel markings over chest and rump. Its wingspan was enormous; approximately six times its body length. Starting from  below its withers they tapered sharply outwards from its body in a wide lazy ‘S’ shape, each wing was in perfect symmetry as they ended almost abruptly except for what looked suspiciously like a single wide feather sticking out almost two feet from each wing tip.copyright protection31PENANAX9XHecKoL1

A female, dressed in chainmail and leather guards, sat comfortably on the Pegasus’s back. She wore on her head, a metal looking helm like a Spartan foot soldier. Long black hair flowed from beneath the helm and waved  about as if by a small breeze of air. Leather guards protected her thighs and shins while open Roman sandals covered her feet.copyright protection31PENANAMcmJtWOvUN

In her left hand she carried a round shield with a bolt of lightning engraved on it, and in her right hand, she carried a long and sharp spear. The spearhead repeatedly drew the two men’s attention as the rider pointed it threateningly towards them. The spear’s tip crackled in a blinding white light. The knowledge that the camera was mounted within one of the navy’s war ships, sent a chill down the President’s spine.copyright protection31PENANA5MXmO4WfWz

 They watched dry mouthed as the rider lifted the spear point away from its target and … disappeared.copyright protection31PENANAVTJSBX5lmQ

The two men blinked and glanced at each other. “Just like that?” asked Blondie.copyright protection31PENANAn83JSxGG3A

“I would have thought the buildup would lead to some sort of fireworks.” Sayed said.copyright protection31PENANAu8nrvbwrqs

Juan’s stern face appeared. “I have studied this clip over and over with my Number One and we have come to some conclusions. Firstly, whatever this person was wearing, be it clothing or that weapon she pointed at the Pyrenees, it was strong enough to register on our scanners and for the gunners to get a target-lock on. Two… her chainmail, shield and helmet would not have registered such a strong target to get a lock-on over a distance of four hundred thousand kilometers. That left her spear-like weapon and where point number three comes in I want you to think about it for a second or two gentlemen. Would you point a bow and arrow at a tank? The answer is an unconditional no. Unless you are cornered and feel the need to strike with anything at hand, and this creature was not cornered. This was a warning. Simple and to the point. But a warning of what? Not to proceed further? To turn back? Both or neither one? On the other hand, what if that bow and arrow was not what it seemed to be? What if that spear was not a spear but some sort of lance that could shoot out a laser beam? A laser that could possibly penetrate or destroy a war ship? You saw the energy radiate from around the spears point? Well gentleman, that energy buildup was monitored by our sensors, it’s what attracted us in the first place. That  buildup went off the charts and it tells me that, whatever its origin, that spear or lance is not what it seems.”copyright protection31PENANA0lmKeXHkj4

“Right then,” Blondie sat forward and leaned his elbows on his desk. “The fact that you are both not entertaining the idea of calling the loony-bin down on us, tells me that you believe this to be true and factual.”copyright protection31PENANAbGceq5M6LP

The President said, “I agree, against all that I hold dear. I agree. Too many things are going down right now that doesn’t make sense. I heard somebody say once that if you eliminate all the crap and hearsay, what you’re left with is the truth no matter how illogical. You implied something about having more?”copyright protection31PENANAHgX4HsfdTG

“Yes. If you thought some female riding a winged horse in space was weird, then this will rock your marbles. I want you to think back. Can you remember anything about a destroyer called the Crystaal?”copyright protection31PENANAGU22Eh0mBj

“Nope.” Both men shook their heads. “Since when do we have a destroyer called the Crystaal?” asked Blondie with an uplifted eyebrow. “I thought I knew all the names of our ships.”copyright protection31PENANAqMZD1pJNwu

“Actually you are both right and wrong. We do not have a destroyer called the Crystaal but,” he stared at them silently for a few seconds. “We did have one and we lost it close on three thousand years ago, a destroyer called the Crystaal, disappeared with all hands.”copyright protection31PENANACdKAhs2xGW

“Are you serious?” asked Sayed. “Have you seen it recently?”copyright protection31PENANAenQgpvxqS8

The Admiral nodded . “In a manner of speaking. A few days before we encountered this Pegasus, we were ensconced in a series of war games when our scanners picked up a faint signal from the dark side of the moon. Faint but worth investigation. On our approach, the ship fled before us. Needless to say, the war games disintegrated as all available vessels gave chase. On checking our data base, we found that we were chasing the Crystaal. A three thousand year old destroyer that should have been turned into dust by now and not leading millions of tons of war ships on a merry chase all over the universe. Take a guess where we lost the thing?”copyright protection31PENANAJjVIXW8GKE

It took a few seconds for the two men to grasp his meaning.copyright protection31PENANAbmRWW9oZH5

“That’s right gentlemen. The same place our fair maiden sat thumbing her spear at us.”copyright protection31PENANAVVsMbSiJib

“What else is there?” asked Blondie after a while.copyright protection31PENANAR1uNKsKS8u

The Admiral, stoking a huge Beechum pipe, looked askance at the two men. “It’s all there in the Diplo` bag. Photographs, recordings, witness statements you name it. I would suggest that you get some people onto this sooner than ASAP. I have to go gentlemen,” the Admiral said as a melodic chime sounded from the Vid screens speakers. “It seems the three battle ships I’ve been waiting for have arrived. However,” he pointed the pipe at them. “There is one point I have to make; these incidents are happening in space but are close to home. My way of thinking is that where there is smoke there is a big fire smoldering somewhere.”copyright protection31PENANAxjRpfOyENg

“What do we look for? This will not be your average request.”copyright protection31PENANAJJbbwn4P6m

“No idea Blondie. Probably something in the line of unauthorized entry into government buildings and .institutions. Anything out of the ordinary, or highly unorthodox. I do not believe these … things have heard of keys or pin numbers.”copyright protection31PENANA0YovL8Xv15

“Before you go Juan,” Sayed said. “What’s your situation like out there?”copyright protection31PENANA0zpRYFFxjt

“My situation Mr. President? Let me see; other than four hundred thousand pairs of pink bootlaces, eighty thousand sewing kits and ten parachutes, oh and one or two other items that are raising the male contingent libido, all’s well. A few delays because of service delivery problems but nothing serious yet.”copyright protection31PENANAN2dZeKmizt

“What’s this about parachutes?” Asked Blondie with a grin.copyright protection31PENANAFAr36dc4Ie

“Nothing much,” the Admiral placed his white cap on his head and repositioned it to his liking. “Can’t  very well use a  parachute in space now can we? So I sold them off to some sky diving enthusiasts we have here and dumped the money back into the kitty.”copyright protection31PENANA9INzALegix

“Thank you Juan,” Sayed looked up. “Appreciate your time and patience. Send whatever rubbish you have back to the suppliers. I`m having that small problem sorted out, quickly.”copyright protection31PENANAK5AX4OIr7i

“Gentlemen.” The admiral nodded and the Vid screen went dark.copyright protection31PENANAUMSlQZy23h

“Well that was enlightening,” Blondie said.copyright protection31PENANAgd04MAP1R7

“Too enlightening if you ask me,” the President stabbed at the intercom.copyright protection31PENANAzBd9ziYhJ6

“Mr. President?”copyright protection31PENANAzESsZJsyMv

“Joan. Get me the F.B.I. the C.I.A. the KGB. In fact get me the whole  alphabet. Every country, every nation. I want heads of every secret service department at the Pentagon in five days. That includes any authoritative figure, professor, scholar and what have you on Norse mythology.”copyright protection31PENANAP3IQ7vrWwi

“Norse mythology.  No quacks mind you. Only accredited persons. Get them security clearances, accommodation, food . You know the deal. Everybody to be at the Pentagon in five days. No excuses. Top secret authorization.”copyright protection31PENANA46UhftAeLk

As he took a breath, it gave his Secretary a chance to get a few words in. “The doctor is still here, sir.”copyright protection31PENANAklYdNXWfwI

“Good. Have him wait, I`m nearly done here.” He turned to his friend. “Blondie, get a hold of the Minister of Defense, General Crewe. Bring him up to date and have him kick those white coated idiots in the butt for me. I want daily reports of their activities. Have him pamper the kids and dump the mom if and when possible …but I guess that parts out of the question. Tell him to do what is necessary. I don’t want daddy knocking on my door and causing an international incident,” he groaned. “The bastard will probably storm in here declaring war on all UFO`s”copyright protection31PENANALmLtcTZDPw

Blondie nodded. “And you …,” the silent Polrob descended towards the president’s desk.copyright protection31PENANAWUCQcSkM65

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANA6qr4Ee2Auy

“Collect and correlate all information relating to our discussions here today and whatever else you can dig up. The condensed version if you please and have it all ready in five days. If they thought you were the news of the century, this is going to blow them out of the water.”copyright protection31PENANAjgU5K7ZJKO

CHAPTER 6copyright protection31PENANAgHISxUKSHR

Asgardcopyright protection31PENANAYNipSWEVx9

Gladsheim – the hall of thrones copyright protection31PENANAtRpoX9vWTg

 “You are here my fellow Aesir,” Odin said as he gazed at each of the gathered High Kings. “Because once again my faith and trust has been misplaced.”copyright protection31PENANAK9Xt1voMn5

“And  the truth and nothing but the truth.”  The only woman amongst them said.copyright protection31PENANADlTVKLSoHp

Odin turned to her. “Do not let me regret another, woman. Having you removed from our presence would be much simpler and effortless.” He glared at Queen Freya who uncharacteristically was chewing on a thumbnail. The only indication of the turmoil she felt inside her breast.copyright protection31PENANAxagXzd6490

Odin turned once again to the seated ‘Higher Aesir’ “Loki as we have all come to know, has escaped his imprisonment and …”copyright protection31PENANAlU9iobNMXb

“We should have killed the bastard.” Thor grumbled, as he tapped Mjollnir’s* plain leather wrapped handle.copyright protection31PENANASBwLxhxpGe

“Unfortunately,” Odin sighed. “The Norn’s* decreed otherwise. We … I, could not  well go against their commands. Now, the Trickster has begun to medal in the affairs of Midgard and is assisting the humans in some endeavor or other.”copyright protection31PENANAPdp5bYji3t

“What.?” Vali shouted as he leaped from his throne in anger. He flicked his untied, shoulder length black hair every so often behind the ears. “How is this possible? We have carefully deleted any knowledge of us from the minds of the human’s eons ago. That is … if the time difference you explained last week to us is still relevant?”copyright protection31PENANAioorGMDuyB

Odin nodded.copyright protection31PENANAFqcbcKtJa9

“Then how? And what about the immutable decree that none could approach the humans unless they are worshipped?” an idea penetrated his mind, “Was there a loop hole?” he stared at Odin with an uplifted eyebrow. All the High Kings stared inquiringly at their King. This was something none of them had thought to question.copyright protection31PENANAYZnn5ylpQp

“None that I could determine and  the vexing part in all this,” said Odin. “For centuries we each used the humans to fight our wars. None of us, myself included, could break this edict. Loki on the other hand did not partake of these wars as he preferred to work behind the scenes.”copyright protection31PENANAS8NgAu3dYB

“Could it be that he has somehow discovered a way to by-pass this decree?” asked Vali.copyright protection31PENANAOD21PeMiYW

“Clearly he has,” Queen Freya said. “The way I see it gentlemen, is not how he did it but how are we  going to stop him?”copyright protection31PENANArWVOk1nGqd

“Freya is correct and let’s not take this lightly.” Odin said, “For the Trickster is planning for the first time ever to be involved in human affairs and to bring about chaos. Chaos I must add, that will inadvertently bring about Ragnarök.”copyright protection31PENANA5jlSAWnD9l

“Kill him and be done with it.” rumbled Thor. “I will do it and hang the Norns and their wishes.”copyright protection31PENANAeYZh0OwM7u

“May I say something?” Queen Freya asked, standing up from the throne that was hastily brought and inserted amongst the others before the assembly began. “Simply put, I agree with Thor. Should Loki die, all our problems would disappear as mist before the sun. But, I have a suggestion. As we all know, there is a new prophesy and unfortunately, it is not complete. It is a most uncommon prophesy and does not make much sense but is tantamount to suicide should we ignore it. It goes like this:copyright protection31PENANAIzrEoMFLs6

 In the days of time and beyond time, copyright protection31PENANAYypkrZgODq

Midgard shall declare war on Middle Earth beyond timecopyright protection31PENANA9Sp89pXFb5

And the metal Einherjar shall bring death to them both and then be one with the one.copyright protection31PENANAaUFCy3oePR

The new god shall be witness to all and Ragnarök shall be,copyright protection31PENANAlNpL8QLpEo

When Aesir intercedes.  copyright protection31PENANAPOgeXqEV6P

The new god shall…copyright protection31PENANA0gJFTiJhxy

The gods listened to her as she recited the prophesy.copyright protection31PENANA8SmxDunpT2

 “My suggestion is this; do nothing.” she held up her hands quickly as some got to their feet in anger. “Listen first to my words High Kings, then decide, for a mistake here will cause our demise.” They grumbled between each other but made themselves comfortable on their thrones.copyright protection31PENANANJQ3YNtCIz

“Thank you. As we know, the Last prophesy of the Beginning of Ages has stated many times of this so called time beyond time. We did not know what it meant. But now it seems we have an answer. Peace, High Kings. All will become visible.”copyright protection31PENANArJQbpJu811

They sat down as she continued, once more voicing their opinions loudly. “It seems the humans have trekked across the stars, the  cosmos, and populated one or more planets. This in itself is completely unprecedented and something we should have foreseen or at least known about before it happened. But, like the prophesy says; we slumbered in our halls with wine and song. Now it is too late to do anything about it. There are indications from spies placed close to Midgard’s governing body, that these same humans have lost contact with those that left to repopulate the stars and wish to find them. This, is where the Trickster comes into the picture by the way. He is also anxious to find them.”copyright protection31PENANAH9U3Hyx5Xr

“For what reason?” Odin asked, his one eye glaring at her.copyright protection31PENANA7KbYO9MiMv

“That, my King, is still to be determined and maybe between us we can come up with an answer. What we do know is that he has somehow made his presence known to a human child and through this child, is attempting to advise this so called governing body on  how to find the lost humans. I can only surmise that he is attempting to seek out these humans and in some way meddle in their affairs without our knowledge and in this way create strife and conflict between them and Midgard.”copyright protection31PENANASeeIpDsUMt

“That is not much of a problem Freya. The Einherjar will simply land up in …” Thor rumbled but stopped as a thought hit him between the eyes. “…they won’t. That’s it. We ourselves do not know where they are so cannot send the Valkyrie to collect the Einherjar. The devious, deceitful, underhanded, conniving …”copyright protection31PENANAVtDQxko5qm

“He will collect and use the Einherjar against us,” Freya nodded her agreement. “And in such a way hasten Ragnarök.”copyright protection31PENANAwy6IwVRidE

“He must be stopped immediately.” Odin ordered, getting to his feet.copyright protection31PENANAN5S2OhGgbs

“No my King,” Freya said, stepping to the middle of the floor. “That will cause untold harm. Remember we of the Aesir may not intercede.”copyright protection31PENANAJ7WnYtHmy7

“Do you expect us to do nothing.? Where is your balls woman? This Loki is going to be stopped, this I command.” Lightning rumbled in the heavens as Gungnir* changed shape to become a blinding lightning bolt in his hand. Odin was fully armoured now and magic blazed and crackled about him.copyright protection31PENANAJ5FQOcLGvZ

“My King, wait.” she noticed all the High Kings on their feet clutching their weapons. Weapons of untold magnitude for destruction.copyright protection31PENANAki4clTt19F

“I think, Odin, you should listen to her,” said a voice all heard. A voice that although softly spoken, cut across all the shouting and bluster. It was the only voice ever to guarantee the silence of any Aesir, Vanir, Elf or Giant. Queen Freya gasped as she turned around to stare at the Norns.copyright protection31PENANAtTNqgLTY8s

Three old women stood clutching bundles full of silvery life-strands* in one hand as the other carefully nudged a fine silver scissors between the strands and snipped a single one here, two there, another one …copyright protection31PENANA5RyLHmXs2s

Beside the women stood a small child of approximately 7 years of age who stared all about him with wondrous eyes as he took in all the sights and sounds.copyright protection31PENANAsnLwz6q38z

The speaker of the Norn’s turned to the boy, “Go play out there in the field, Harash. I will call you when it is time to go.” Without a word the small boy dashed off and it wasn’t long before all could hear his gay shrieks and laughter.copyright protection31PENANAJBtw2KiWIq

Silence had descended as a shroud amongst the Aesir. None said a word although all watched as silvery threads appeared as if by magic above the heads of the Norn to be collected and included with those already being held fast. A scissors snipped here, another there.copyright protection31PENANAoOiXzZkxsn

“New life,” said the speaker who plucked a thread out of the air and placed it carefully with the others she held. She then searched between the billions of threads and withdrew one. “A young one,” she held it up for all to see. “Still with its life ahead of it. A life still to be lived.” She brought the scissors closer and snipped it.copyright protection31PENANA0VKMrjTSn1

Out on the plain, the sudden silence brought the Aesir to stare at the forlorn body of the small boy as he lay where he fell when death claimed its prize. They turned to her as one, fear mirroring their faces as all three women held up almost unseen silvery threads of life. They let go of the threads which floated before them. “Have we made our point or should we …” they each brought a delicate scissors towards the threads.copyright protection31PENANAr6DVDFFVBn

“Stay thou hand Mother,” Odin cried. “We have no need for more death.”copyright protection31PENANAm0bEYLEij7

“True, Odin my child. For Death is coming of its own accord. I have spoken to him and he is  now preparing for the influx  surely about to happen.”copyright protection31PENANAGk2r6uL0m8

“We are only trying to find a way to stop it, Mother.” Thor’s voice grumbled from behind her.copyright protection31PENANA1OeFJSkpNW

“Even more true my son. But what is, is. What must be must be. The old must ever make way for the new and neither you nor I can stop it.”copyright protection31PENANAM9WYOVKte3

“But we have to try Mother,” Queen Freya said. “We have to try something. No one wants to die.”copyright protection31PENANAAUnDlu86uu

“Die you shall my child. Eventually we all must die. Even me and my sisters. All must die so that we can allow the younger to learn by our mistakes and good fortune. Your death Freya, and many here, have been foretold since time began. Death is permanent child. Life is a fleeting existence, something to be enjoyed while it is there and then to regret when it has passed us by. Most of you are in the twilight of your lives. Do not allow regret to be all powerful when death comes knocking. You will regret going after Loki. For not only will you best him but allow the path to be open for the metal Einherjar who know of your existence and will attempt to destroy you and all your creations once you have shown them the precise location of Bifrost. They wait for one small mistake. A small mistake from you that will have them invading Asgard and destroying all within. Do not mistake them for humans my children, for they are not. They are only part human. The other part, the most important part, has died. They are soulless. Lifeless.” She was now looking at Odin. “Do not be impetuous my son, seek knowledge for therein lies your strength. I have spoken to Death, the Fates and Time himself. They all agree, change is coming. The only advice I can give you, my children, is to prepare. Prepare for war. Prepare for Ragnarök.”copyright protection31PENANAfwjub3mvsa

“Why?” the cry came from Freya. “Why must it be so?”copyright protection31PENANArekod8jXCy

The speaker turned once more to her with a look of sadness, “Because it is an immutable fact my daughter. Because since the day of creation, everything advances. Everything grows old and dies. Everything has to make way for the new.” The speaker pointed a finger at her, “Even you, my daughter, must eventually make way for those who are to come after you are gone.”copyright protection31PENANA0dsoQOSYVn

“Oh Mother,” she cried, “We, I, do not want to die.”copyright protection31PENANAtaTMF5Q1Ai

“I know my child. Neither do I, but now the one who is to take my place is being born. I too, do not want to die. There is one possibility though,” she said into the fearful silence as she held up a single forefinger. “Just one. Remove the prophesy. Remove it and all may change.”copyright protection31PENANAb2xvrKELHg

“What does that mean mother?” asked Thor with a deep frown. “How do we remove prophesy especially when it has been so much a part of our lives?”copyright protection31PENANAjIuM6kAZjw

“I do not know Thor, but what I do know is that time stands still for none. Our time is almost up. It’s what we are going to do with the last moments that will eventually count. Make the most of yours. Make the most of yours my children,” she said, looking at each and every one of them, then  all three Norn’s faded away into nothing, leaving the Higher Aesir staring in fear at each other.copyright protection31PENANAnNHgAmmqoX

“Most enlightening,” said Odin thoughtfully. “So what should we do, other than standing around doing nothing?”copyright protection31PENANAIA0f6rZKdH

“Follow the humans.” Freya said after a while, a voice that turned hard and dangerous. “Follow Loki. Find these other humans. Find the metal Einherjar and then destroy them all. Once and forever even should it hasten Ragnarök!”copyright protection31PENANA1xpvjwQUwa

Odin stared at each of them. No words were spoken but at each nod of acceptance, he turned to the next. “Then so be it. I would advise you all to make your plans. Notify all that preparations for Ragnarök is on a permanent footing. All must be ready at a moment’s notice for I believe we only have a few hours left. Heimdall, you and Freya stay behind. This meeting is adjourned.”copyright protection31PENANAqTX8ayuwYS

The three stayed behind as the Higher Aesir left. Thoughts milled about as they stared at the small body of the boy called Harash. “Who do you think he was?” asked Odin.copyright protection31PENANAtHttXzVXj8

“I do not know Father but I do know he is one of the lucky ones.”copyright protection31PENANAElG4RZAIU7

“And how is that my son.”copyright protection31PENANASl0QtaoXGn

Heimdall said wearily, “He is dead Father, and we still have to die.”copyright protection31PENANAQa5jD2SzZc

“I see.” Odin turned to Freya beside him. “You are a daughter of my own heart. Never let any deny it.  Prepare my daughter. Prepare so that we may not be caught off guard. Prepare and destroy all who oppose us. I want you to take a few million of your Einherjar and have them cross the cosmos in search of these, these metal Einherjar. Find them and destroy them. I too will send out my own to search for this so-called god Vigrior, whatever and whoever it may be. We have only a short time, hours, perhaps or  minutes. Go my daughter. Make haste.”copyright protection31PENANAIEyoJpnk7i

Queen Freya stared at Odin and stepped forward. She took him in her arms and hugged the one eyed god. “You ask that the Einherjar commit suicide Father, but none the less, they will jump at the chance. I will look for you on the battlefield, Father.” She swallowed hard as she hugged Heimdall. “Take care brother.”copyright protection31PENANAr0DrQ6Cf4j

“And you sister, I will watch for you as well.”copyright protection31PENANADVtIf7L7GL

Father and son watched silently as Freya walked away, her magical fish-scaled armour starting to glow as her anger mounted.copyright protection31PENANAkoqSN9iatq

“I would not like to be the one to come up against her,” said Odin with a smile.copyright protection31PENANAtVq6mhdZwh

“That would be tantamount to a death wish Father.” Heimdall agreed.copyright protection31PENANAiacMTrTFzA

“And so it comes down to you my son.” Odin nodded as he turned and looked at him. “Only your eyes and ears will give us sufficient time.”copyright protection31PENANAqUZRNM05Xu

“I always believed it would be us against them. Never once did I actually ask myself who ‘them’ would be. We have a short time my Father. For I hear the enemy preparing. I hear the blades of grass being trampled by their feet. We have a short time Father. But not too long.”copyright protection31PENANAvqpWwMdJLK

“And what of this prophesy thing? How do we remove it?”copyright protection31PENANA14UeQOFKtf

“Could she have meant that we should change it?” Heimdall asked.copyright protection31PENANAkT9kKW7L24

Odin snorted in disgust, “Then what the hell is prophesy good for if it can be changed whenever it suites us?”copyright protection31PENANAgyuFu1sHLe

“Aah… Now there father, is the question.”copyright protection31PENANAsNin19bHTE

CHAPTER 7copyright protection31PENANAWey6yj3F55

Weaknesscopyright protection31PENANAKlDf18htQ2

“Commander?”copyright protection31PENANAIiQ0FRaRy3

“Yes?” The Cyborg commander looked up from where it was fiddling with an augmentation of its right arm.copyright protection31PENANAvui4BRnEws

“We have information received from our scout units near the Rainbow Bridge,” its advisor said. “There is also more on Old Earth. It has been uploaded for your perusal.”copyright protection31PENANAJhNnwOvNim

The commander turned from his advisor, lifted its right arm and pointed it down the passage. A soft ‘click’, a silent blur of something small moving with astronomical speed. “Good.” It turned its Grayvite skull towards the advisor, eye orbs glowing red in the gloom of the shadowed workshop. “Then let us proceed and find out what there is to know.”copyright protection31PENANAQ0EG1kybb6

Behind them, the workshop rocked and vibrated with a resounding explosion.copyright protection31PENANAfHBxLco9QV

Report: Quadrant: 15#9 Rainbow Bridgecopyright protection31PENANACAcpXJetxx

1530907//2 Time:6573=19sec and recording.copyright protection31PENANAPnyu4zOCL0

Commander; at 6497=03sec precisely, a count of six million Einherjar and one million Valkyrie appeared from all directions from this unit and dispersed into space. It was noted that the Einherjar dispersal covered every direction in an ever widening circle that expanded at an ever increasing rate. Clearly the Einherjar and the Valkyrie are seeking something.copyright protection31PENANAI0IkxtwWDm

It must be noted that at no time was the precise location of the Rainbow Bridge determined.copyright protection31PENANARfW3ETNTnk

This unit remained and still remains unobserved.copyright protection31PENANArcIZHMywpk

Karlin Beautrix out.copyright protection31PENANAw8kesSIYOl

The Commander pressed a button on its console and the next report came up;copyright protection31PENANAlGAhJfbx9y

Report: Quadrant: 15#5 Earthcopyright protection31PENANARALzztm8ZM

1530907//2 Time:6761=51sec and recording.copyright protection31PENANAsvVNKnGtmu

Commander; at 6317=09sec,  a count of 1, 300,702  Einherjar and 14, 624 Valkyrie passed within the vicinity of this unit in an ever widening circle. The reason for this is unknown.copyright protection31PENANAOHapZUEasN

Unit reports that it has been discovered by the Valkyrie and termination of this unit is thankfully a matter of seconds. This unit …copyright protection31PENANAJjovTYYg6X

The Commander looked up at the advisor. “How many did we lose?”copyright protection31PENANA3ztYnel3HI

The advisor scratched its Grayvite skull in an unexpectedly human fashion. “That is the surprising part of this entire situation Commander, only eleven outposts have been discovered  by the Valkyrie. None have survived. As you will see, some sent messages while others have failed to report in. The m.i.a’s*, we surmise, are also destroyed.”copyright protection31PENANAyvpJUoEzz6

“I agree that this is considerably fewer than we expected. Send word that none are to retaliate. Information as to the speed, quadrants reached, and overall dispositions of these abominations are of paramount importance. The further they travel, the less likely they are in discovering anything. It is the Einherjar where the problem lies. The Valkyrie can be destroyed.”copyright protection31PENANAnjqLOjJNAQ

Commander; at 4110=06sec.copyright protection31PENANALDqeBNtXRa

The Earth armada was joined from the outer planets with three more battleships, nine destroyers with full complement, seventeen mine sweepers and  at 3136=57sec precisely, what is termed a ‘Goliath’ battle cruiser. From Earth itself, at 2992=15sec, one battle cruiser and two hospital ships were launched. Military maneuvers have commenced all over the planet in unpopulated areas. Preparations for military invasion of the Empire is well underway.copyright protection31PENANAGpG59BuNa4

This unit reports that Valkyrie to the total of five, are keeping watch. None have interfered or approached Earth or unfortunately, this unit.copyright protection31PENANATynkjbE3Ze

Catharine Carmichael out.copyright protection31PENANAUKSkZu7ssZ

“There is another item of importance, Commander.” The advisor said as the Commander scrolled through the reports. “As you know, re-animation of destroyed units can only occur four times and then we lose close to 23% due to self-termination. At the fifth we lose close to 97%.  Few have reached the sixth and none the seventh.”copyright protection31PENANAC8oidyUIl4

“Your point?”copyright protection31PENANAMfC9zWldZk

“We have one unit that has been re-animated nine times.”copyright protection31PENANAsT4ke3Omwg

“Nine? Who is this unit?” the Commander asked. “Why have I only now been notified?” its red glowing orbs stared intently at the advisor.copyright protection31PENANAl8oJrChlkD

“Two reasons Commander. We do not keep a tally on the re-animations. It is extremely difficult to know what Cy fit into what Borg. Especially when they are retrieved by the Sweepers* after any combat situation as it is always an untidy mess. We terminate any Cy on re-animation when it is discovered to be suicidal. We do miss the odd one or two but they are quickly discovered soon after and then terminated and another Cy inserted into the Borg. The second reason is that this Cy has never once left base but always joins the ‘Queue’”.copyright protection31PENANAq7S3gsZCGZ

“The ‘queue’? who is this Cy?” it asked again, this time with considerable more interest.copyright protection31PENANAW8T1t75itB

“Our Creator.”copyright protection31PENANAyOKXycAQyV

“Emperor Cerebos?” The Commander abruptly stood up. “My. My. Royalty at last. And where did you find his corpse?”copyright protection31PENANAtY2m2jP1Vv

“The Sweepers, Commander. They were prowling deep space and came upon his coffin. For some reason beyond us, the corpse was frozen solid.”copyright protection31PENANA1SDUU72Zpw

“Clever.  Clever.” The Commander mumbled, tapping thoughtfully on the metal table. “It seems to me advisor, that you have been remiss in your duties. This affaire should have been brought to my attention simply because the Cy had reached the fourth re-animation.” It stared silently at the advisor. “Could it be that that you hoped for a termination order from me, advisor? A termination order that would have you leave this existence?”copyright protection31PENANABYlmVTywK6

The Cyborg advisor lowered its head. “It is as you say Commander. You have terminated Cy’s for less. Please. I have been animated five times already. I have paid my dues to the human race. My time is up Commander. I wish to depart this existence.”copyright protection31PENANAre5uB7Oq9K

“As do we all Advisor. As do we all. But not yet.” The Commander lifted a skeletal Grayvite arm and placed his hand on the advisor’s shoulder. “I need you my brother. Only you have the wherewithal and stamina to help me see this through. You, me, all of us were created for one purpose only. A short time more, is all I ask for. A year or two, possibly three and then you can self-terminate. I will do the termination should you request it. Stay with me brother, a short time longer. That is all I ask.”copyright protection31PENANAVaDz5xG8x5

The advisor lifted its head, “So be it, Stephan. So be it.” It turned and walked to the exit then turned back. “I have often thought about our parents. Do you think they are amongst us?”copyright protection31PENANAE830uZU3wE

“In that direction Carl, lies madness. Do not think such things.”copyright protection31PENANA9YTftunhUx

“It is too late Stephan. Far too late.”copyright protection31PENANA2QIFqOd7WK

“Come brother,” the Commander said, “there is work to do. I wish to see our Creator as I have a few questions I long to have answered.”copyright protection31PENANAdBShBmhwqN

The two Cyborg brothers walked side by side down the wide and empty metal corridor. They soon came upon a silent queue of waiting Cyborgs. None spoke, none stopped checking their weapons. Weapons that ranged from simple bow and arrows to grenades and lasers. Weapons that were stripped and oiled and then replaced only for the action to be repeated, over and over. Quite a few had swords or simple throwing knives and so it was that the advisor stopped at one specific Cyborg. “This is Emperor Cerebos, Commander.”copyright protection31PENANAbzL4Pfydwt

The three Cyborgs stared at each other for a time. “You honour us, Emperor.”copyright protection31PENANAKzkteKhrSd

“The honour, Commander, is all mine. For I knew that the sweepers would find my coffin and bring me back here.”copyright protection31PENANAb5P4mrrDXR

“You knew? How so?” The Commander asked.copyright protection31PENANAr8rddhsLuZ

“Well. Knew would be too strong a word, Commander. Hoped for, on the other hand, seems fitting. I hoped and prepared my coffin for that reason. Space is a large place to be in would you not say? And a rotten, decomposed brain is  difficult to work with I should think.”copyright protection31PENANAffyzINkZfc

“I see. My Advisor has notified me that you have been re-animated nine times. Why? Why would you wish to come back? What makes you come back?”copyright protection31PENANAdqh3vEvWis

“Is it not obvious?” the late Emperor asked. Indicating the long silent queue, he said, “Just like these poor fellows, I wish to find a weakness. Any weakness in the enemy.” The late Emperor turned away and stared ahead towards a far doorway sealed by a glowing neon blue light.copyright protection31PENANAOKBfXPwpA1

Powerful electric currents crackled continuously within the light, promising a painful and sudden death to any that ventured too close. As it was, a Sweeper was already in the process of clearing away two lifeless Cyborgs. The Sweeper dumped them unceremoniously onto a cart and waited silently for more. Just then, the blue neon light winked and the sweeper stepped through the doorway. He reappeared moments later carrying another lifeless corps. A Cyborg stepped forward and the neon coloured seal sprang into existence.copyright protection31PENANAoQgXpYKKYZ

“It has not tried to escape?” the Commander asked his advisor. “That seal is open for quite some time. More than enough time for it to …”copyright protection31PENANAWcqefWTKSb

“No. It does not get tired and is destroying us at an alarming rate. Why should it escape when its enemy comes to it? It does not have to seek us out.” Another almost human like shrug. “I believe it is toying with us and enjoying itself.”copyright protection31PENANAdHWPWTEtjf

“Have we determined what era it comes from?”copyright protection31PENANAuI5LFvJpfI

“Definitely Viking, Commander,” said the late Emperor. “Definitely Viking.”copyright protection31PENANApcUQr9MkUF

“And how many times do you believe you will be able to be re-animated Emperor Cerebos? You cannot go for much longer. Even now you have reached far and above the normal tally, and the Cy brain, especially yours, must deteriorate. There is only so much we can do.”copyright protection31PENANAw7msWilBME

“As long as it takes Commander. It’s only a question of time. Time and patience. The Einherjar is like a ghost. Semitransparent and completely and utterly dangerous. But it has a weakness.”copyright protection31PENANAQgmW12rLsH

“It does?”copyright protection31PENANAuSUoIlyuGs

The late Emperor said, “Like any apparition or wraith, one can pass through it quite easily without any noticeable reaction. It’s kind of difficult though …” a muffled explosion sent vibrations all along the metal corridor and they watched silently as the Sweeper brought out the junked Cyborg. Another stepped forward immediately and the seal winked silently.copyright protection31PENANAaczwEwP07B

“You were saying Emperor?”copyright protection31PENANAFXS2UU4lFx

“I was explaining Commander, that I have determined that the Einherjar definitely has a weakness,” the long-sword the late Emperor effortlessly carried, swept up and the point stopped inches from the Commanders head. “It must become tangible to kill.”copyright protection31PENANA39pYy7j6CZ

“That’s it? Are you sure?”copyright protection31PENANAyMc7iRD8SL

“I have died eight times already Commander, how exact would you wish me to be? The only problem is that it takes but a second or two for the Einherjar’s sword to pass through its enemy and kill it. It is those seconds that one must use, for then it is in our realm. Our ‘space’ so to say. It can be killed. That is the time to strike. The important factor is to judge when to strike because your strike will also be your last. I have tried and come to the conclusion that it would be better to approach this creature with at least three or possibly four opponents. For this reason I have asked the advisor to allow two or three others to enter the cage with me.”copyright protection31PENANAJxIBACvFYb

“Another oversight, advisor?” the Commander asked. “I do hope there are no others that you have forgotten to mention? I hope you are correct Emperor Cerebos, for I am tired of this Einherjar using up our resources. Resources that could be implemented elsewhere.”copyright protection31PENANAc2lC0TKkZm

“There is one smaller problem though,” the late Emperor said. “The problem of life. Should I die, whether I succeed or not. I wish to stay dead this time.”copyright protection31PENANAky9xFrojzg

“Your wish is granted Emperor Cerebos. To change the subject, I have one or more questions I would like answered.”copyright protection31PENANA5jOOVprq5p

“Should I have the answers Commander, I will supply them.”copyright protection31PENANACisXUtQEOQ

“Oh you do Emperor. Only you have them. You created us after all. How did you discover the Valkyrie. How did you know that Earth would seek out the Empire? And lastly, why this method of retaliation? Could you not have found a better, more feasible way?”copyright protection31PENANA18oaG4C4oc

“All  important questions my friend. Questions you will find answered in a secret file in your information banks under ‘Children’s Rhymes and Tales.’ An innocuous enough heading but a file that requires my name to open it.”copyright protection31PENANAltvahqAIRF

“I do believe I have seen it Emperor, and as you say, innocuous indeed.”copyright protection31PENANA8tXBqS4hxS

“And now Commander, if you will excuse me, I would like to prepare for my demise.”copyright protection31PENANA7y1wIHAkMZ

“So be it Emperor. Though know that we of the Cyborg have no love for you. You have placed us in a hell of your own making and although most knew not your name, all have cursed you from the first moments of awakening.”copyright protection31PENANAx8s2jKtTsl

“I know Commander.” The late Emperor said softly. “I took the path of the lesser evil. It was either have the Empire destroyed by Earth or total annihilation of the universe by the Valkyrie. My hobby of folklore and an inordinate fund of liquid cash and time, lots of free time I may add, had me discover the truth. A truth that was so astounding at the time, that we infiltrated Earth and stole artifacts of immense importance to my investigations. Artifacts that after further analysis, only confirmed my fears. Was I to leave it all to be destroyed? I could not notify the Empire. It would have self-destructed in the panic. Another means had to be found.”copyright protection31PENANAzBOxcfphxW

“In one sense you failed Emperor Cerebos. You failed to ask our permission for this non-existent existence. For that reason, you will be cursed into eternity and beyond.”copyright protection31PENANA9EvbbdTMyG

“As you said previously, Commander,” the late Emperor stepped towards the neon blue sealed doorway. “So be it.”copyright protection31PENANAL6Od98XC2q

“A brave man would you not say, Carl?” the Commander asked his brother as they walked away from the long ‘queue’. “Ingenious and brave.”copyright protection31PENANAXB1M9d2yuz

The silence from his brother was all the answer he receivedcopyright protection31PENANAvEe1QpeKbN

CHAPTER 8copyright protection31PENANAqWTf93n7Fq

I NEVER ASKcopyright protection31PENANAxD1zqaNsJi

They sat in a sparsely furnished waiting room. Two chairs and a desk off to one side in front of an open window. No carpets. No pictures. No potted plants unless one considered the short leather skirted female warrior with a naked and  shiny sword resting in the crook of her left arm.copyright protection31PENANA1fWfgNFvxQ

“What do you think boss, we in for the chop or something?”copyright protection31PENANAjXMddWgB4W

Captain Billy O’ Ryan. Large. Brawny and completely at ease, stopped cleaning his thumbnail with the business end of a combat knife and glanced at Mike. “Or something. Just play it cool and we’ll have that drink you owe me afterwards.” His chair creaked as he shifted his large frame.copyright protection31PENANA1CA3b0dYtX

“You may go in now.” Tobor said. She moved a few feet from the door. There had been no noticeable communication between her and the occupants in the office and Lieutenant Michelle Hendricks looked inquisitively at the woman’s ears but did not notice any listening device. “A warning,” the woman said softly. “Your life at this moment is counted in seconds. Under no circumstances approach the Emperor with ulterior motives. They will be your last.”copyright protection31PENANAgucdKt0pZy

“Is that supposed to be a threat?” Mike asked stopping in front of Tobor and glared at her.copyright protection31PENANAgiw3vJZMk4

“A warning only Lieutenant. A fair warning. There are no others,” she said softly.copyright protection31PENANAImGipRiDQL

“Enough Mike. Let’s get this over with,” Billy said as the door opened wide from the inside.copyright protection31PENANAA7gNk1hlrg

“Please, sit down people,” Emperor Katya Berotivich said as they entered the office which was  as sparsely furnished as the waiting room. Two empty chairs awaited the pilots before her large desk. On each side of her stood a warrior woman in short leather skirt and halter with the inevitable naked sword in the crook of the left arm. Dressed similarly as the two warrior women, her eyes were hard and forbidding.copyright protection31PENANATHypK49KQu

Katya watched as their eyes darted about the office.  Mike looked up and noticed the four Polrobs floating silently in each corner of the ceiling. She had no idea what to expect.copyright protection31PENANAOyQuQgm9Td

“I have asked the two of you to this meeting as the time has come for us to discuss some serious issues. I take for granted that you are sticking to the story of this so called Vigrior and the events after your crash landing?”copyright protection31PENANAVtkchFdy0E

They both nodded their agreement. “Then please, both of you stand up and move away from your chairs.” Frowning in consternation, they looked doubtfully at each other and moved behind their chairs.copyright protection31PENANAOUmmk6rtRh

Two silent but deadly laser beams from the two furthest corners of the ceiling struck them in the centre of their foreheads and exited diagonally from the side of their heads. The two Pilots were dead before their bodies hit the floor.copyright protection31PENANAYFPPaG5xQY

BOTH CITIZENS HAVE EXPIRED SIRE.  ALL VITAL SIGNS HAVE STOPPED IN BOTH CITIZENS. MONITORING…copyright protection31PENANAKLs5XKKbiL

The two female warriors stepped up to the bodies and rolled them onto their backs. Tobor McIntosh, War Princeps of the clan Centurion, looked back at her Emperor. “This is too much of a risk Sire.”copyright protection31PENANAQ6FctZiUt9

EKG INDICATES BRAIN ACTIVITY SIRE. MONITORING…HEART BEAT IN BOTH CITIZENS HAS COMMENCED. VITAL SIGNS ERRATIC. KIDNEYS, SPLEEN…ONE…SIRE THIS…ONE  … IS MOST UNUSUAL…THIS DEFIES…LOGIC. HEART RATE STEADYING. HEART RATE NORMAL AS PER PREVIOUSLY LOGGED. BRAIN INJURIES FROM BOTH CITIZENS ARE MINIMAL AND HEALING. EKG AND BRAIN STEM MONITORING INDICATE THAT BOTH CITIZENS ARE IN A COMA.copyright protection31PENANAcrP2hZJmxz

“Sire?” The War Princeps asked urgently, her eyes wide. Two sword points rested lightly against the pilots throats.copyright protection31PENANAlikOniy7uQ

“I know. I know Tobor.” Katya answered. She too stared wide eyed at the pilots. “I have this huge feeling that… if they die, we all die. Damn it all. I have this strong sense of doom. I don’t understand it. It’s like a physical…. I don’t know” She held her hands over her face and mumbled to herself.copyright protection31PENANASkXywryPm1

INDICATIONS ARE THAT BOTH CITIZENS ARE SLEEPING SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAZytOALOj7l

RAPIDLY SHIFTING EYE MOVEMENTS INDICATE REM SLEEP. SIRE…THESE TWO CITIZENS WILL AWAKEN SHORTLY. TIME SINCE DEATH TO AWAKENING ONE MINUTE TWENTY-THREE-SECONDS AND COUNTING.copyright protection31PENANATtDeh1xQ81

“Sire?” the two swords had not moved and both warrior women stared questioningly at their Lord and Master.copyright protection31PENANAH1lEAR68Gs

“Stop.” Katya got to her feet as she came to a decision. “We will see what happens next and judge from there. Be ready.” She glanced at both women who nodded imperceptibly but kept their sword points where they were.copyright protection31PENANAaF1EtBpiVx

MARK. ONE MINUTE FORTY-NINE SECONDS. BOTH CITIZENS HAVE AWAKENED. ALL BODILY FUNCTIONS ARE NORMAL AS PREVIOUSLY LOGGED ON THEIR ENTRY TO THIS OFFICE.copyright protection31PENANAEP0i3ijA8s

“Hi there, sunshine.” Tobor said to Billy as he stared uncomprehendingly at her.copyright protection31PENANABPuWu4NAdu

“Let them up Tobor.” Katya instructed.copyright protection31PENANA2n931DFrWB

“Slowly people. As if your life depended on it, which it does by the way. Slowly.”copyright protection31PENANAYArZSuhc5q

Both warriors stepped back  as Billy and Mike rose unsteadily to their feet. Billy glanced at his partner but noticed nothing untoward except for a single line of blood drying on her forehead. He felt his face and immediately felt something sticky. “What …?”copyright protection31PENANAEGf8DKcrkq

“Be seated,” said Tobor, her sword aimed at his heart.copyright protection31PENANAVnN5rPI7gF

“Before we proceed. How do you feel?”copyright protection31PENANAJffae8EvkK

“A headache but other than that, fine,” Mike said helplessly. “What happened Sire, if I may ask? Why were we lying on the floor?”copyright protection31PENANAVYqb73Wkvg

“You died,” Katya said. “You felt nothing, you say?” She glared at Billy. “I have no time to ask your pardon or forgiveness for what transpired here people. To be frank, I had to know, it’s as simple as that. Now I do and it’s a scary thing watching two people die and within minutes, come back to life none the worse for it. I have half a mind to kill you again and have you dismembered and chopped up into itty-bitty pieces and then dumped into the nearest incinerator.”copyright protection31PENANAKqEyv6nedE

“We died?” Mike said, turning to face her partner. “Billy?”copyright protection31PENANATXU978hMEC

“Steady, Mike. Let’s hear this through before we ask questions?” He gripped her arm  to give her strength.copyright protection31PENANAwABXMI1I2w

“Wise words, Captain,” Katya said. “Both of you are an enigma. I have no idea what to do with you. Do I let you go or do I cut your heads off?”copyright protection31PENANAZMWDksKIHY

“Sire?” said Tobor, her sword ready.copyright protection31PENANAnBVhK2p2O4

“You want to kill us?” Mike asked in horrified surprise. “Why? What have we done?”copyright protection31PENANAElEfiqXj80

“Relax, Mike,” Billy said. “Remember what Vigrior said? He said we cannot die and this bitch  proved him right.”copyright protection31PENANAP8MMM7ewPW

“Bitch?” Mike looked at him aghast.copyright protection31PENANAucxptisTkg

“Like she said Mike, she killed us. The fucking bitch killed us without batting an eye,” He said angrily. He turned back to Katya. “You have lost my respect and my trust for you. We resign with immediate effect.” He got to his feet and stopped suddenly when the cold blade of a sword pressed against the back of his neck.copyright protection31PENANAXZCCfU2ddb

“Sire?”copyright protection31PENANAd3j0P674CW

“Hold.” Katya said to Tobor.copyright protection31PENANA068xwCPYwa

She stared unblinkingly at Mike. “Sit. Down. Captain. Now stay.” She stared at him for a few seconds. “Do you believe I care what you think of me, Captain? Do you believe I care what the Empire thinks of me? Do you for one minute believe I will have sleepless nights worrying over trivialities when I have enemies by the dozen who want to destroy our way of life?” Her dark eyes blazed as she stood up, her body rigid with anger.copyright protection31PENANAft9R5pL8CZ

“What you think or believe means nothing to me. I will destroy you and all like you in the blink of an eye if I knew that it would spare the Empire. Your anger. Your hate. Is nothing compared to what is coming Captain. Get that straight in your head. We are doomed. Sold out by traitors and idiots that believe Old Earth will be lenient and that their politics will be better for us in the long run.” She paced along the uncarpeted floor.copyright protection31PENANAkP2EPSKWWm

Billy O’ Ryan saw an agitated young woman in the grasp of something most fearful. It was difficult for him to follow her movements for the sword blade still pressed forcefully against his neck.copyright protection31PENANATWt2uZFkYb

“Then we have the Annular who  don’t let up with their attacks,” she continued.  Its making a hash of our plans for the coming invasion.” She turned sharply and stared at them both. “And believe me when I tell you this. Old Earth is NOT going to be lenient.” She breathed deeply and tried to compose herself.copyright protection31PENANAudEE5K3RTG

“Withdraw,” she said to Tobor.copyright protection31PENANAQevTSlLCiH

Billy sighed with relief as the blade was removed.copyright protection31PENANAZcEte9tTtr

“We have another player Captain. Who he or they are we have no idea, unless one believes in the gods. I do not know who they are or what they want from us. Are they somehow in cahoots with Old Earth or the Annulars or both? Have they been keeping us weak so that Old Earth can walk all over us without a sweat?”copyright protection31PENANA4YFJDLuHCo

She slammed a small fist onto the desk. “And where do the two of you stand? And let us not forget some  planet with a funny name.”copyright protection31PENANAntCTnuf87x

She stared deeply into his eyes. “And. You. Think. I. Care. What. You. Believe?”copyright protection31PENANAQ7KvAYE3S8

She turned and sat down. “Don’t flatter yourself. You aren’t that important, Captain. Not in the scheme of things and not to me. I am keeping you alive to find out how I can use this ‘undying’ ability the two of you have? Can I use it? Where can I place you that you can do the most good without scaring the be-jeeses out of the Empire? Can you be trusted? Will you attempt to overtake the Empire or worse still, be a god? Are you the viper in the nest Captain? Must I terminate you?”copyright protection31PENANAvX6bHJWbry

She watched him digest all that she said. She watched as the cogs meshed in his brain.copyright protection31PENANAAO2cIpGXyO

“I have no answers for you. Do what you want. Nothing I say or do will make any difference.”copyright protection31PENANAvoVfTweyz6

“You are correct Captain and because of that answer, you and Lieutenant Michelle Hendricks live.”copyright protection31PENANAG53NgLxcXY

“Sire?”copyright protection31PENANALxNNJvcqsL

“A whim Tobor. A whim and a feeling. It is difficult to explain, but …” she stared at each of the pilots in turn. “Should you prove me wrong, I will have the whole damned Empire grind you and your blood relatives into the ground for all time. I will seek out any and every male, woman and child with your DNA and terminate them. You get my drift.”copyright protection31PENANAeX9ad3GrCg

“You have me over a barrel. We will do as you command…Sire.” The last word came out with difficulty.copyright protection31PENANAxilB5BmCOj

“I’m so glad we have come to an agreement, aren’t you?” Katya said sarcastically, relaxing slightly. “Now then. I have a mission for the two of you. It’s the only thing we can think of that will get you out of my hair and although it’s a long shot, you may be able to help turn a bad situation into something more or less workable. Time is of the essence.”copyright protection31PENANAAAQnnATA0l

“Let me get this straight,” Mike said as she stared incredulously at the Emperor. “First you have us killed … without our permission. And now you want to send us on a mission without a by-your-leave? Oh. I  wanted to make sure you’re telling the truth. No harm done. You are still alive are you not? No excuses. No apology. What would you have done if we had died?”copyright protection31PENANAlfjvpwz6Xb

“Exactly Lieutenant. I am your Emperor by right of arms. Your life is mine to take or leave. You believe I am harsh and forbidding? Well let me prove you wrong. Guardian, kill him.”copyright protection31PENANAmvtH7zjub8

A single, silver-white laser beam struck Billy in the forehead.copyright protection31PENANAOMIFa6f3Gg

His head jerked back. His huge body crumpled to the floor.copyright protection31PENANAp2vIxVf71d

“No.” Mike screamed and fell to the floor cradling Billy’s head in her arms. The entry and exit wounds were cauterized with the result that there was minimal blood loss.copyright protection31PENANAinIM5Qlpkx

“Do not make the mistake of underestimating me again Lieutenant. For I am neither harsh nor forbidding. On the other hand, I am a formidably cruel master and I will do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. Do you understand, Lieutenant?”copyright protection31PENANAx8kgNum2y2

The silent tearful nod was the only answer.copyright protection31PENANAiY5OHDJWKK

“Time?”copyright protection31PENANA928SOdI9C3

THIRTY-FOUR SECONDS SIRE AND COUNTING.copyright protection31PENANAHab1qZwM14

“I do believe this is something I will never be able to get used to. Fascinating.” Katya said.copyright protection31PENANAPk3V8KySGi

THREE…TWO…ONE.copyright protection31PENANACQlKJ9YsjB

Billy opened his eyes and stared questioningly at Mike. “Tell me she didn’t do it again?”copyright protection31PENANAv0LH2cGyZH

“Oh, Billy. I’m so sorry.”copyright protection31PENANADP2GKbqj37

“It’s okay, Mike.” He grunted as she helped him into the chair. “I believe you have proven your point madam,” he spat at Katya. “Is torture included in your arsenal as well?” he asked as Mike wiped blood from his forehead.copyright protection31PENANABGYXqH6paq

“That and more Captain. Now, can we get back to the serious issue at hand? I’m sending the two of you on a mission that could turn the tide in our favour should you succeed.”copyright protection31PENANA0FrLmtY32X

“To put it bluntly madam,” he said dangerously. “You have a remarkably interesting way of asking.”copyright protection31PENANALFMNmxZMQ2

“I’m not asking, Captain. I never ask.”copyright protection31PENANAUsITp9BwyL

CHAPTER 9copyright protection31PENANAWyrokOSjRU

PEACE ACCORDcopyright protection31PENANAgCA3pWBoJr

A squadron of twenty-five brand new, and extremely advanced Bulldog fighters, were parked side by side in the battleship New Age’s deployment bay. Their fighter crews discussing the mission objectives and arguing good-naturedly over trivialities. They had all been handpicked. Volunteers all. The best of the best. From all walks of life. A farmers son. A thief. A cat burglar. A high ranking government official’s daughter. All exceptional. They outflew and outfought like no other. Their crafts an extension of their limbs.copyright protection31PENANArETaxjj8PS

The tension in the air was palpable. The same tension of excitement combined with fear  before engaging the enemy. A fluttering of the stomach. Heightened eyesight and smell. Testosterone. A simple clicking of the tongue would lead to a brawl. Some sat and stared silently at the New Age’s bulkheads. Some slept. Some prayed for the first time in their lives.copyright protection31PENANAUMrlbM9350

A warbling siren cut through all the soft chatter and startled every person throughout the New Age into sudden, mind numbing attention.copyright protection31PENANAYmCyq2u1re

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE.copyright protection31PENANAtTSn3pGnyw

YOUR ATTENTION.copyright protection31PENANAfsiHOttXxz

DECELERATION WILL BE COMPLETE IN FIFTEEN MINUTES.copyright protection31PENANAYvVB3mEyn6

ALL FLIGHT AND GUN CREWS ARE TO REPORT TO THEIR STATIONS.copyright protection31PENANANRZFe35VqE

ALL CREWS TO YOUR STATIONS.copyright protection31PENANArG7KoVdRTL

CAPTAIN O’ RYAN TO THE BRIDGE.copyright protection31PENANArRgntkJ7S7

CAPTAIN O’ RYAN TO THE BRIDGE.copyright protection31PENANAdGYdldhr8H

“It’s that time again when we all have to justify our salary. Get those ‘dogs’ warmed up and be ready,” Billy said.  “I want you all prepared for immediate enemy action and I repeat what I said previously: Do not return fire unless you have no other choice. Takeover Lieutenant,” he said to Mike, “I’ll be back shortly.”copyright protection31PENANA5AodkM8yE1

“You heard the man you mothers, why the heck are you standing about dawdling like a bunch of girly flies around a heap of excrement?” she shouted. “Move it!”copyright protection31PENANAj6TztmTduM

She darted down the deployment bay towards her own fighter craft.copyright protection31PENANAkItjWOwdgF

Minutes later, all twenty-five fighters swarmed about their mother ship like angry hornets looking for a fight.copyright protection31PENANAVmfjzA6H8L

“This is it people,” Billy said into his microphone. “I want as much chatter as possible. Talk your heads off and hope the enemy hears you. Flight Leaders, take your units and move to your quadrants. Once there, give us fireworks. Remember, no retaliation. Their scouts must report back to their masters and if we kill them off, you and I will have to spend that much longer here. We want to talk a peace deal, not have our own little war on the side.”copyright protection31PENANAJsRD2lZWyu

The Bulldogs split up into units of five and scattered.copyright protection31PENANAISccc80Jlh

Not long after, silent explosions occurred thousands of kilometers away as each fighter let off a salvo of multiple ordinance.copyright protection31PENANAogDEAcfHUn

“Billy?” Mike said. She switched her microphone to silent mode. He didn’t hear her so she extended a hand and tapped his shoulder.copyright protection31PENANAtEQlhSGhOf

“Yeah?”copyright protection31PENANALx8XJk6K3s

“How come you didn’t say anything about the two Polrobs? Wouldn’t it be better to have told everybody about them?”copyright protection31PENANA1sJF6kSl1N

“Mike, a secret weapon is not a secret when everybody knows about it. The fact that the things are invisible and close by would make all of these guys jumpy knowing that every word and action will be recorded. It would interfere with every judgment call made. I need these guys to be on their toes and not looking over their shoulders before making a decision. In any case, a secret Polrob or two in your back pocket is worth any spy in the cupboard.”copyright protection31PENANAJvrzQIsx0g

“True. But it’s scary knowing the bastards are out there and not being able to see them. And another thing, they are made of grayvite steel right? So why doesn’t the Battle computer pick them up? Do you think they have found a new way of designing the buggers?”copyright protection31PENANANLNVJxgQhj

“Maybe. The invisibility thing may be easier to explain. I asked a buddy in the marines and he said the scuttle-butt doing the rounds is that the government – that means the bitch by the way – is experimenting with Chameleon Cloth. Says they have made quite a few combat suites out of it and the stuff reflects light to such a degree that the one wearing it is literally invisible.”copyright protection31PENANAiiM1XSlQen

“Must be a bitch to make if you can’t see what you’re working on.” Mike quipped and laughed softly.copyright protection31PENANADYT4yKN0hN

“Yeah. There’s that. Never thought to ask. Maybe it has something to do with the light spectrum? You know, like infra-red or whatever?”copyright protection31PENANAh5z40jCh9T

 “I just had a thought. Imagine planning a robbery and here’s this invisible Polrob recording all your plans and nailing you when you believe you have gotten away. Seems a crappy deal to me,” she laughed out loud. “I wouldn’t put it passed the Emperor to think of something like that.”copyright protection31PENANABrcntagO0u

Billy was in deep thought as silent explosions occurred at set intervals. To be in the near vicinity of any of those conflagrations would mean certain death. “Have you ever heard of a Polrob venturing into space, Mike? ‘Cos I haven’t and I have a sneaky feeling this mission is not what it seems. Oh, yes, we will try to convince the Annular to make peace for the duration but, and this is a big but by the way, the bitch has an ulterior motive for sending these things along. First, let us say they somehow manage to slip aboard one of their ships or follow them to their base? Can you imagine what her next move will be?”copyright protection31PENANAcDt5H1Pv17

“Sneaky.  Two flies with one stone if you ask me. Should we fail, then those Polrobs have to…”copyright protection31PENANAijcSodb0uk

Their private conversation was overridden by an all channel broadcast. “Contact in quadrant Delta. I repeat. Quadrant Delta. Two craft of the Annular fighter class have been picked up by our scanners and are approaching at speed. I believe we can halt the fireworks for now. Captain O’ Ryan? This is your call.”copyright protection31PENANAT5L5sffI3f

“Standby all units. Stand down with the fireworks. All Bulldogs stay in position. Keep a watch on your sectors and…”copyright protection31PENANAdgSGlAHa5J

“Contact. Contact. Sector Bravo. Two Annular fighters converging on this sector.”copyright protection31PENANAio3ugrIsrc

“Contact. Contact…!”copyright protection31PENANAMkiyqKNGtR

“Ok, boys and girls,” Billy said harshly cutting through the frantic calls of alarm. “This is it. It seems the enemy does not do things in half measures. Get out of there before you are isolated. Converge on the New Age and do not let anything through. Replenish arms. I repeat. Replenish arms. Unit Alpha, you four follow me. We have contact. Two enemy craft converging on this position. I want radio silence as of now people. Let’s see if we can talk our way out of killing each…” He stopped talking as his eyes took in what registered on the Battle computer.copyright protection31PENANAVG7Onsp5Du

“It’s been a gas Billy,” Mike whispered as death approached in the thousands. Behind the enemy scout craft flew hundreds upon thousands of Annular fighters.  She blinked in dismay as her own battle screen registered the approaching red enemy dots. Even her Battle computer stuttered as it tried to lock on every approaching fighter.copyright protection31PENANAPWTSq9j8BK

They came from all directions.copyright protection31PENANAlo5DWwoKcS

“No firing. For fuck sakes. Do not fire!”copyright protection31PENANAB8zJWWcl1P

The Annulars encircled the Empires ships.copyright protection31PENANAQQMJIcT1lv

All it required was one fool to try and make a break for it. Everything depended on the next few seconds. Seconds that stretched into sweaty, fearful minutes. Silence dominated the airwaves as every Bulldog pilot realized that death was only moments away.copyright protection31PENANAMHURlRnJBA

Silence.copyright protection31PENANACdIbWE7809

Stomach muscles clenched in expectation.copyright protection31PENANAYRZKBIXvKi

“I have a question.” The sudden metallic voice that came over every ships radio caused one and all to jump in fright and alarm. “…question is, if I may be so blunt,  how long are you soft skinned humans expecting to remain uncommunicative?”copyright protection31PENANA1w0VolMM5o

It took a few seconds for the surprise and tingling fear to fade under the surface and when it did, Billy licked his dry lips and unclenched his fist from around his craft’s flight-stick. “Uh…who am I speaking to?” he asked roughly keying his mike, trying to moisten his tongue.copyright protection31PENANAmHB4TxJ0FK

“Ah, someone in charge at last. Let us  say that I am called Commander, shall we.”copyright protection31PENANA9EB9ocRlHB

Sarcasm dripped from every word.copyright protection31PENANAEJ7EEw0ri6

“I take that you sir are the leader of the Annulars?” Billy asked.copyright protection31PENANAPEOqJHYsHE

“Leader? Annulars? I get your meaning of the first, human, but Annular? What pray tell, is an Annular?”copyright protection31PENANAcRiO0G1R1J

Pray tell? Billy mouthed with an uplifted eyebrow. His fear dissipating. “It is the name we have called you for thousands of years.”copyright protection31PENANAtGsBk67lxp

“The significance of that word does seem to describe certain aspects that I am familiar with, especially since our craft are circular in shape.”copyright protection31PENANArn4fONXMgF

“If you say so. Look Commander, I have come here on behest of the Emperor of the Galactic Empire. Could we meet privately? Say in your…”copyright protection31PENANArtwJhxqipr

“…Privately? You have not introduced yourself human and you want a private consultation? What is more private then space?”copyright protection31PENANA1S8utsAAO8

“Please excuse my blunder, Commander. I am nervous and I seemed to have forgotten the niceties of etiquette. I am Captain Bill O’ Ryan, sent by her majesty the Emperor of Overlord to discuss a peace settlement between us. Would this not be best face to face, sir?”copyright protection31PENANA0fw4vkSs79

“You are forgiven your blunder Captain O’ Ryan, and to put you at ease, you seriously do have reason to be nervous. I'm big you are small. I’m many and you, human, are few. So why should I waste my time negotiating a peace agreement when I could simply erase you from this existence? And no, we shall not be having this chat face to face.”copyright protection31PENANA7yCEiUbIdA

Billy held his head in his hands and tried to fight the anger welling up inside him. “We humans, as you put it Commander, are willing to offer you whatever you want, within reason of course.” He stared out at the silent enemy craft and wondered which one of them the Commander was in.copyright protection31PENANAafsiJWLjxz

“My. My. You are serious. Let me see now. Credits? We do not require such mundane means of  payment.  What about jewels or gold or land ? I am terribly sorry Captain Bill O’ Ryan, for you have nothing we require. Except…” the voice stopped and an expectant hush fell over both the Annular and the listening humans. “…Except death of course.”copyright protection31PENANAsxPYBljuNq

Billy’s breath hitched in his throat. “Death?” he said helplessly.copyright protection31PENANADVZfzhaL0n

“Now that, is something we can negotiate.” copyright protection31PENANAlaCOsmKeGi

“Are you nuts?  Sorry,  please excuse my outburst Commander, but  what game are you playing sir? I am trying to save lives and you…you…” He had no words to describe the pent up feelings in his chest.copyright protection31PENANAN8PD7rYqVM

“My. My. Have you forgotten to be nervous Captain? I'm still many and you are still few . And while we are on the subject, whose lives do you want to save, Captain? I’m asking because I was attempting to discuss the terms of the peace negotiations. Because my terms are quite the opposite of yours and I’m not sure we are on the same page.” copyright protection31PENANARyHROh9Y29

“I frankly have no idea of what you just said. We want peace, Commander. Between us. We have a more pressing situation than the continuous fun and games you seem so fond of. Give us ten years of peace, sir. That is all we ask and then I’m sure we can start killing each other all over again.”copyright protection31PENANAmojZcMlX11

“Interesting, I’m sure. So tell me Captain. Just why do you so desperately require this so called peace between us?”copyright protection31PENANAfOa4shvqIr

“Because Old Earth is coming.” Billy said furiously.copyright protection31PENANAcAZUrObBNd

“And who may they be?”copyright protection31PENANAKaB49ORvMS

“We originated from Old Earth a few thousand years ago, Commander.” Billy explained. “And one thing led to another and now they are coming here and as far as my knowledge goes, they have declared war. That’s it in a nutshell, Commander. I’m a fighter pilot sir. I leave the politicking to others.”copyright protection31PENANAw1HG69YCzH

“Interesting. You cannot survive our small forays into your so-called “Airspace” and now you have both us – Annulars – you say? And your big brother giving you headaches. My. My. This of course begs the logical question do you not think?”copyright protection31PENANA3Mh3GJSRkF

“Oh, brother,” he said. “Okay, I will play along with you Commander. You have me. Just what logical question am I missing here?” Billy’s huge frame was slumped back into his ejection seat. He had given up trying to work out the rules of the game ages ago.copyright protection31PENANA55PH9Zv0uh

“You can ask for our help of course.”copyright protection31PENANAT0jAHpJG2j

“Wait. What did you say?” Billy jerked upright in his seat as a bombshell went off in his head.copyright protection31PENANAn56F9Mo1EJ

“You could ask us for help. I hope this is not going to become a habit, Captain? I do so dislike repeating myself.”copyright protection31PENANAHKOxrYwXZ0

“Are you saying that you would help us against Old Earth? Why that’s…that’s…” Excitement coursed through his body like electricity.copyright protection31PENANAfS1ztJZdp1

“Do not get ahead of yourself Captain. Remember that you have not asked for our help yet.”copyright protection31PENANAwM7DrgpQi4

A hand shoved hard against Billy’s shoulder and he nodded silently to Mike. “Oh, hell! Commander, will you and your forces help us, the Galactic Empire, against Old Earth?”copyright protection31PENANAA0Ppxgn3en

“Why, Captain. This is so unexpected. Let me think.” A heart beat later. “Yes. We will help you Captain.”copyright protection31PENANA4ug53JO2Wd

“This is all so strange to me Commander. I’m not sure I understand what your motives are but I realize that there will be provisions to this help you so generously will provide us?”copyright protection31PENANA3t0a6srwiK

“Tell me, Captain,  are you humans any good in a fight? Not a skirmish like in the past when we sent our troops to bloody your nose. I’m talking about a rough-and-tumble-free-for-all-fight where it comes down to the survival of the fittest. In other words, Captain, are you humans exceptional? Because it is not only Old Earth that has a score to pick with you. It seems those of the Valkyrie are also intent on dishing out punishment.”copyright protection31PENANAASKpihGFlV

“Look pal,” his anger came rushing through at last. “We bloodied your nose these last few years and you know it. So don’t come here with your high and mighty bullshit. I have taken about enough of this crap from the bitch and I’m not about to swallow any more. Not from you and not from her. So get over yourself.”copyright protection31PENANA3ppjus2juY

“Anger. Such a useful tool. Surprisingly Captain, you humans stood up for yourselves. Too little too late but there you go. One cannot have an omelet without breaking a few eggs, now can one? There is one condition to this help we so generously offer, but it does not concern you.”copyright protection31PENANAxysxIy0a4j

“Excuse me? We come to you to offer a peace accord that suddenly turns into an allied agreement subject to one provision and you say that provision has nothing to do with me? Are you totally out of your damned mind?” for the first time in Billy’s life, he seriously wanted to kill somebody.copyright protection31PENANAVFcF5uXL9i

“Quite so, I’m afraid. It was nice having this chat Captain, we must do it again sometime. But now I have things to do, places to go. And another thing, please notify your nasty little friends that should they be anywhere other than at your side after this meeting, I will personally rip their wormy insides out and incorporate them into domestic dishwashers. Good day to you Captain.” copyright protection31PENANAGcH6vcyyw3

“What nasty friends are you talking about, Commander?” Billy asked but received no answer. “Commander?”copyright protection31PENANAx3BZBkxBuC

CHAPTER 10copyright protection31PENANAUph65mA28K

GHOSTScopyright protection31PENANAkPX2Vtet1K

She sat with her legs folded comfortably beneath her.copyright protection31PENANAxzO8yps51X

Though the term ‘sat’ was not entirely correct for there was no chair to sit on nor ground for the chair to rest on. For days, or was it weeks or months? She had stared at the distant stars. Some stars – she guessed they were closer – were brighter and larger while others mere pinpricks. She had never realized before that beyond the enclosure of sky and clouds there existed so much darkness while yet so much colour.copyright protection31PENANAHWnZ2slDvu

Stars, singular and others, hundreds and thousands of others clustered into circular colourful groupings while beyond them,  more groupings and  more after that. She learnt to travel by  thought. She learnt to stop on a dime and to use her long sword the way Tobor had taught her. She travelled vast distances in mere moments but was too afraid to venture too far from the position that Vigrior had designated for her. Should she have had more time, she would have travelled to the nearest star to see what it was and why it did not ‘twinkle’ as it did on Overlord. So far, the infinite vastness of space had produced more questions than answers.copyright protection31PENANAoPjmReP6IR

She sat with her legs comfortably folded beneath her.copyright protection31PENANARfqFnZ5Q46

Her long sword lay across her lap. She was at peace with herself and her surroundings. She looked down at her large hands. Large, uncomplicated hands. Hands normally suited for men so large were they. She wiggled her fingers and brought them to her mouth, blew on them. Felt nothing.copyright protection31PENANANM2aM5D8J8

Did the dead breath?copyright protection31PENANAC8YVuPajWT

She held her breath and hours later came to the conclusion that breathing was not going to be an issue.copyright protection31PENANAbN8CtwBynG

Was there air in space? copyright protection31PENANAFatIlfNZnx

So many questions with no answers.copyright protection31PENANA70F5W9V6tS

Was she dead?copyright protection31PENANAZEF8h9FSI2

She could remember the sharp knife entering her body.copyright protection31PENANAynd25yhTxF

The pain. The release of death.copyright protection31PENANAqFF5KCeGII

Was it death? Did she die? If so, what was she now? A ghost? A wraith? A phantom? One or the other, or none at all?copyright protection31PENANAyImeREnww6

She was instructed to kill but how could she if she was dead already? Her thumb brushed lightly over the sharp edge of the long sword to suddenly press down hard. She looked at the cut on her thumb and watched with astonishment as the cut healed without so much of a twinge of pain. Bringing her thumb closer, she looked for any sign of bleeding.copyright protection31PENANAz5tM7zlpsT

Totally weird.copyright protection31PENANA5TyLYjndZ6

Time passed and she meditated.copyright protection31PENANAVxOiMFW9ct

Time passed and she practiced her swordsmanship.copyright protection31PENANAgLzKyHjT6M

She had known from the beginning that she was not any good with the sword. She thought longingly of Katya and Tobor. She thought often of the friends she had made along the way and wondered frequently whether Katya had become Emperor. Her blade came to rest as she caught a glimpse of a small meteor shower some ways off. Another thing with being convincingly declared dead, her eyesight had improved tremendously. She stood and stared at the meteor shower, lost in thought.copyright protection31PENANAMcFkXEDlRD

At any other time, it would have been the death of her …copyright protection31PENANArNaf5WV168

“Aye. Ye be a sight for sore eyes lass, although what ye be staring at in this darkness is beyond my ken.”copyright protection31PENANAvnU47sLqlS

Adelia Montgomery froze.copyright protection31PENANAd74Ts1x6mp

Surprise and shock travelled up from her stomach.copyright protection31PENANAJOcU4hRZjY

Slowly her head turned to survey the area behind her with trepidation. She brought her Long sword up and rested the blade in the crook of her left arm for not five feet away stood what looked like a bear with a human face and body. On closer examination, and with wide fearful eyes, she realized that the figure was human and wore thick fur coverings from neck to toe. On his head, a fur hood that closed his ears against the elements.copyright protection31PENANA8Pl2TsvETQ

“Aye. Correct I was. Thou art truly a comely lass,” the bear of a man said through a tangled beard. His sword she noticed, hung by his side. A strung bow held lightly in his left hand. She glanced down at the unfamiliar looking sword thrust through a leather belt tied around his hips.copyright protection31PENANAx6YBZrDxx0

“Reminds me of the time I crept up on this lass hiding in the bushes.” He laughed softly at a fond memory. “Hiding she was. We raised this village to the ground. Ravished and killed all who came before us. Man, women and snot nosed child. We plundered and pillaged all along the Steppes and all feared us.”copyright protection31PENANAWhO9bSr2SL

“Interesting, I’m sure,” Adelia said. Not moving an inch. “So what happened to this woman you caught?” Her heart beat so  loudly in her ears that she thought he may hear it too.copyright protection31PENANA10Am3tPy8I

“She stood like you did lass. Attention to the fore and nary a mind for what may come aft. The past is long gone now lass. Long gone.” His penetrating gaze moved passed her. “And what, pray tell, caught your attention these last few minutes before I interrupted?”copyright protection31PENANApFPohPQUmn

“I thought I saw some sort of movement in that direction.” She nodded with her chin in the direction where the meteor shower had been.copyright protection31PENANAUjFJtQBUTt

“You did?” Excitement coursed through his voice as he stepped closer. “The Valkyrie should be along shor …” his words came to an abrupt end as the long sword’s blade sliced his head neatly from his thick neck.copyright protection31PENANAFUufhyJ66S

Adelia swore she saw a surprised look in the man’s eyes as his head toppled to one side. It rolled and tumbled away in the weightlessness of their surroundings. A cascading fountain of multicolored lights suddenly erupted from the headless man and then vanished.copyright protection31PENANAOwyDVPtLKP

“Well now,” Adelia said while blinking her dazzled eyes. “At least that’s one question answered.”copyright protection31PENANA8F9OoCEZwy

 “And what question might that be?” A female voice said from close behind her.copyright protection31PENANAtcsXrKvbQC

Adelia swiveled on her left foot while extending her sword arm.copyright protection31PENANA3F9Ci4rMPc

The force behind the wild swing took the Valkyrie under her breast plate, the long sword lodged against her spine. Surprise and elation coursed through Adelia as she jerked her sword free from the stunned and dying woman sliding off a winged creature.copyright protection31PENANABYRLMgorgU

Adelia swung again, her sword passing cleanly through the creature’s large neck. She stood, breathing hard, watching in awe as blood spurted from both to become globules that floated off in every direction. She quickly dodged some that came her way.copyright protection31PENANAZJ7sHzcdK3

Stepping around the twitching, headless monster as its huge wings flapped desultory causing its body to move in unpredictable directions.  She sidled over to the dying woman and watched dispassionately as she bled to death.copyright protection31PENANAQOI0q14SNU

“The question was whether the dead could kill? It seems they can,” she saidcopyright protection31PENANA5pTXaGdy7u

CHAPTER 11copyright protection31PENANAt7eBAWaN9U

MOBILISATIONcopyright protection31PENANAQ0Jy0az52n

“Impressive. Even if I have to say so myself.” Sayed said as they stared with fascination out of the flagship’s Bridge.copyright protection31PENANA08MT5WAjvI

 Billions of tons of war ships jockeyed for position.copyright protection31PENANANZQ1AqXKd7

Cruisers vied with battleships in their numbers as far as the eye could see, dwarfing the smaller frigates and destroyers while hundreds of gnat sized Corvettes patrolled the perimeters. They twisted and turned and slipped between their oversized brethren, sniffing and seeking out anything that could give  a hint of danger.copyright protection31PENANAF48pC8zceC

“It took a while,” Blondie said, but we got there.copyright protection31PENANAzfKl9QiJ9O

“Damned right. So tell me Juan, how long before weighing anchor and to get our butts out of here?”copyright protection31PENANArWNhYoIV9W

“In about a week, Daniel.” Fleet Admiral Juan de Leon said as he keyed a switch on the consul before him. “Right. Number One? Give us a taste of your secret weapon.”copyright protection31PENANA2O0beCkNPy

“Aye-Aye sir.” Came the reply from the ship’s speakers. “Three…Two…One…we have full systems operational. Power being diverted…Shields up. I repeat. Shields up and holding. Cloaking countdown has commenced.”copyright protection31PENANAqoNaKW03Ga

Power throughout the ship suddenly dipped and dimmed.copyright protection31PENANAS76Gp4480d

“What the hell?” The President cried as he stared out at the sight before him. Even Blondie took a few moments to get over the shock as ship after ship suddenly seemed to vanish before their eyes. Where moments before Warship upon Warship seemed to crowd upon each other, now there were none except for the Corvettes that still seemed to dance to a tune of their own.copyright protection31PENANA4324egHy4w

“I thought you would like a demonstration of our secret weapon,” the admiral grinned at his two stupefied visitors. Foul smelling smoke from his huge Beechen pipe wafted through the air.copyright protection31PENANA6uVUFGRFJx

“How?” Sayed cried again.copyright protection31PENANAQBFWh51md1

“The devil made me do it,” the admiral said with a glint in his eyes.copyright protection31PENANAAh4CmiT3QX

“Loki?” Blondie asked as he stared in wonder.  “Hang on a minute. Something’s happening.”copyright protection31PENANAzXsuS7aJNU

“Automated power diversion in three…two…one. Power divert cancelled. All systems operational. I repeat,” the voice from the speakers said. “Shields down. Cloaking terminated.copyright protection31PENANAhDwWAO1Baf

“Cloaking shields? Loki?” Sayed gaped in wonder as the warships suddenly reappeared and the ships lighting returned.copyright protection31PENANADKwHnS0gVR

“Loki.” Affirmed the Admiral. “Only lasts for thirty-two seconds, but it’s a safe bet that when the time comes, quite few lives will be saved because of that invention.”copyright protection31PENANAevPG0HObrB

“Why does it only last for a few seconds?” asked Blondie.copyright protection31PENANA6IeCEOqGqA

“Electricity. Simple as that. Power. It uses a prodigious amount of the stuff and can only be used in emergencies. It runs the backup batteries dry in seconds. I’m told that by the time we return, the boffins who know more about this stuff than we do, will have made some impressive advancements in this direction and we will have to replace obsolete cloaking equipment on every ship.”copyright protection31PENANAV3lsLIkLYg

“So why then did those …” Blondie pointed at a fast moving gnat sized ship that had come into the view screen and  as suddenly disappeared around the curved hull of a huge warship. “I’m trying to… Corvette I think?” He glanced at the Admiral for confirmation who acquiesced. “Why were they not cloaked?”copyright protection31PENANADdMsTM9HYA

“A matter of space, Blondie.” The admiral puffed on his foul smelling pipe. “The Corvette displaces five hundred and fifty tons and is too small to have a cloaking device. The thing displaces close to a hundred tons of dead weight. The other option was to make the Corvette larger but then other, more practical problems arose so we decided against it. They are our sniffer dogs. Fast on the rebound and deadly as a viper. Brimming with fire power and have absolutely no space in them to fit a fly.”copyright protection31PENANAj4iyGXn6DN

“They seem awfully fast.”copyright protection31PENANAHzR21CLmoJ

“Another reason for keeping them the way they are Blondie. Small. Compact and extremely fast, they can slip through spaces no normal sized ship can. Given enough time and luck, Corvettes could take out a million-ton warship. Give me fifty Corvettes to guard a warship Daniel, and I can guarantee you nothing will get through.”copyright protection31PENANAD1WptQcCya

“Nice to know Juan, as I’m sure you realise that I’m quite fond of my lilly-white arse and do not intend to have it blown off or shot to pieces.”copyright protection31PENANAdRewqUtN17

“Quite so, Daniel. Now, to business.” The Fleet Admiral changed tact. “Just what the hell is this that I am hearing about a horse on one of my ships?” He glared at Sayed through a cloud of smoke. “A ship mind you, that I did not commission to have built In the first place.”copyright protection31PENANABJHsMI4x5s

“Just a fancy, Juan. When we hit groundside, I’m going to ride Midnight straight down their throats,” Sayed said with an evil smile.copyright protection31PENANAgIud7X4jAC

“You realise that’s the craziest thing I have ever heard you say? And I have heard you say some whacky things these past few months.”copyright protection31PENANAtNuHkUCOIE

“Oh? Like what for instance?” Sayed bristled.copyright protection31PENANAVjnCL9lQGq

“Let me see now.” The Admiral glanced up at the bulkhead and wiped his bald pate. “Like placing that Chinese liberal prick - as you are so fond of calling him – as presidential elect once we, or should I say you, leave earth. Could you not have picked somebody else for the love of god?”copyright protection31PENANAjX8NbgKfzl

“Hey. Hang on now buster. That was a purely political maneuver from my side. The bugger found out I was uh…” Sayed glanced at Blondie for help. His advisor raised a mocking eyebrow and sauntered off to watch something that caught his attention.copyright protection31PENANAS39mLthohZ

“Well, bless my soul, Mr. President Sir.” Juan laughed. “Do tell. This I have to hear.”copyright protection31PENANA2djqQ5zbVg

“Bastard.” Sayed said.copyright protection31PENANACfeL2p1NFB

***copyright protection31PENANA8xFhUrLcP2

It took nine days to be exact.copyright protection31PENANAcRfvi5AShw

Nine days in which to have the last of Earth’s naval command outfitted and declared ready for war.copyright protection31PENANA8ULnFONHBs

 A war that seriously depleted Earth’s population  recuperating from the last Planetarium to have left for the stars.copyright protection31PENANAiK0Y2VpN8e

Aboard the Flagship Pyrenees, three men stood staring out at the endless vastness of the universe.copyright protection31PENANAQk65Qobrgt

Three men who were going to bring justice to the natives. A justice that would have far and reaching consequences to all involved, for death followed swiftly on the winged Pegasus, tracking them, shadowing their every move no matter how fast they travelled. copyright protection31PENANAXpnIM3wAK8

***copyright protection31PENANA32T30VZqJ7

Report: Quadrant: 15#5 Earthcopyright protection31PENANAEzsKEi9QJp

1530907//2 Time:0061=11sec and recording.copyright protection31PENANAkHOHpBLWbv

Commander; at 9931=43sec precisely, the Earth fleet proceeded to leave this quadrant on a heading of K#9012//637613-(1275) via a slingshot trajectory. copyright protection31PENANA5eyYizUiZD

It was noted that a force comprising of an unknown total of Valkyrie inclusive of Einherjar followed in close pursuit. As of timed message, a compromised total count was reached of 102 000 Valkyrie and 20 000 000 Einherjar. copyright protection31PENANApDcSoRbxIU

Warning. Warning. Warning. copyright protection31PENANAX2BLK1nvYz

Earth fleet capability of unknown origin clashing with known technological advancements; 97.573% of Earth fleet vanished for precisely 32 sec 4186msec and 17545micro secs. copyright protection31PENANA04Ny367Xo6

Invasion force displacement was still present indicating some sort of invisibility force field or cloaking shield. copyright protection31PENANAAOKNG8FRFn

Earth Invasion force comprising of the following units; Battleships of various tonnage and armament; 106. Corvettes of 550 tons, total; 776. Armament;12 x 15mm ‘White Hot’ laser; Interceptors x2 fore and aft. Patrol boats of the Seiko class: 523 with tonnage of 1305 tons. Armament; 1 x Howick 80mm dual purpose rail gun.2 x EKH 20mm autoloader cannons. 2 x 32 cell Mk4 surface to surface and air to ground missile tubes. Mine laying and detection capability. Cruisers of various tonnage and armament;176. Destroyers…copyright protection31PENANAMCpooaqMFp

***copyright protection31PENANAlGt9fwfmuD

“We have found Loki.”copyright protection31PENANAt5sdS9mx12

“Where is the miscreant?” Odin said as he strolled through Asgard’s streets for what he believed, would be the last time in his life.copyright protection31PENANAVNFlc3vCQb

“He is being brought to your hall under guard father, but I fear it is far too late.” Queen Freya said as she fell into step beside him. “He came willingly enough it seems. The bastard only killed a few thousand of my Einherjar.”copyright protection31PENANA1bRvk62ztw

“A few thousand?” Odin looked askance at her. “He must be slipping.”copyright protection31PENANAdWBGauPw2Q

“We have a more pressing problem, one of the Valkyrie have not reported back?”copyright protection31PENANAyXDdiQhOs7

“And this leads you to believe what?”copyright protection31PENANAZujRZDX1dr

“She is dead.” the finality in her voice brought Odin to an abrupt halt. “The stead?”copyright protection31PENANAyrn97yEW5G

“Not returned.”copyright protection31PENANAMEDqSWg9LJ

“Could she be captured do you think?” he asked but then dismissed the idea with a shake of his head. “Have you any idea which section she was investigating?”copyright protection31PENANAhKdABdezfs

“None, father. Once again we are left in the dark it seems,” she said.copyright protection31PENANA0NToW1WBX2

“Send word daughter, none to travel alone. One Valkyrie is near to impossible to overcome unless trickery of some sort is used. It will be that much more difficult where two or three are involved. Have her family been notified?”copyright protection31PENANAhKGVbyRsID

“Aye, Father. I notified them myself.” She looked off into the blue sky. “She was my first cousin father. Sadim Razzilie. She was better than most, and I cannot believe she would be easily bested.”copyright protection31PENANAbZnpAZCPzR

“Aye, daughter. Our revenge will be that much sweeter. Come. Let us get this over with. Payment methinks, should start as of now.”copyright protection31PENANAhzEbYBcVca

Silently they strolled in the direction of Odin’s hall.copyright protection31PENANAXuVDp6bhyT

Often lingering over something that caught their attention. More often than not, trying to delay what had to be done while all about them, preparations for war continued.copyright protection31PENANAUKTi9uhLjR

***copyright protection31PENANADBqiMpTZk6

“You are a disgrace to the Aesir. To the trust we placed in you. You above all other Jötnar found favour in our eyes and were elevated into our domain. You and only you.”  Odin breathed hard, squeezing his temples as a headache pounded away in his head. A headache he could have removed by a thought had he wanted to. He did not. “What do you have to say for yourself?”copyright protection31PENANAahA5V0c7hL

“Nothing much, except that I have been waiting my whole life to punish you and your so called Aesir. This is it. Ragnarök is finally coming and although you have me, the humans will complete the rest.” Loki said as he glared at Odin.copyright protection31PENANA1bvUtEoLqI

Being in chains and held down on his knees by the Queens Own, left him little space to be comfortable. Odin sat on his golden winged throne and glared down at the Jötnar giant. He had magically removed Loki’s powers and all the giant had left was his own enormous strength.copyright protection31PENANAC3j3l6sf5N

Strength held in check by the two swords pressed against the sides of his neck. Behind him stood another Queens Own with a sword blade pressed against his spine while four others trained lethal and taut bows at him.copyright protection31PENANAmf5Wl0Xx8e

“With your own words, you condemn yourself Loki.” A sadness descending upon him. “What have we done to you that your hate is so strong? Why would you do such an abomination? Do you not realize that we will all perish because of what you have done?”copyright protection31PENANAi9qO4TstFT

Loki laughed menacingly. “You who have oppressed us Jötnar throughout the ages and you ask me why? The answer, Odin, lies before you.”copyright protection31PENANAbhXvliBOyH

Odin turned to Freya. “Get me Thor and Heimdall, daughter. I require their advice.” He watched as she left the hall and caught the snide grin on Loki’s face. “You believe this is a matter to smile about Loki?” he asked. Tapping a forefinger against his throne’s armrest. “Let me abuse that idea my Jötnar giant. For you are being judged. The crime is genocide. The punishment is death.”copyright protection31PENANABUXGRjHOQQ

“Genocide?” Loki burst out with the vehemence of long pent up rage. “Genocide? I call it retribution. Retribution for years of war and oppression against my kind. Retribution for countless years of being tied up underneath against a sheer cliff face where a snake’s corrosive poison ate through flesh and bone. For the pain and suffering. So what do I care what happens to you? So long as each and every one of you perish.” He struggled mightily against the chains as three immovable swords cut deep wounds in his neck and back.copyright protection31PENANA29ZsX3mqx1

Odin shook his head sadly. “Once again, Loki, you did not think things through. We always overlooked your pranks and trickery, when they caused us much harm. Some got you into trouble, but this? This is no practical joke Loki, for you have inadvertently destroyed your own kind. Not only will the Aesir perish, but every Jötnar too.” Odin slumped back into his throne and stared sadly at the giant he had adopted as a young boy.copyright protection31PENANAkIjheEzQs8

The only giant able to cross the Rainbow Bridge with impunity.copyright protection31PENANAy42vLTPtHF

“Your threats are wind Odin,” Loki said. Rivulets of blood caused down his back and sides. “For years you and your people have tried to destroy us. For years we have fought back. Try as you might, Odin, you could not overcome the Jötnar Empire.” He laughed at the thought. “We too have magic, Odin. Magic harnessed over the ages. Magic we will use against your armies of Valkyrie. Have you forgotten the prophesies, father? You and I will die on the battlefield. You and I and every Valkyrie, every Einherjar, every man woman and child. And in the end, only the Jötnar will survive.”copyright protection31PENANAjKPjcNnzeU

“And the metal Einherjar? What of them?”copyright protection31PENANAByDUQRzqI2

“What metal Einherjar?” Loki stopped his futile struggling and glared up at his adopted father.copyright protection31PENANAyg6AMSuBlb

“The ones that have been dogging our heels for the last few days and  now have discovered the whereabouts of the Rainbow Bridge and are preparing to attack us in force.”copyright protection31PENANAhFV6Y8UlH8

“Is this a joke?” Loki asked, frowning. This was the first he had heard of any Metal Einherjar. “You lie. There are no other Einherjar. This is a trick!”copyright protection31PENANAgiHTdyLMYt

“The metal Einherjar, Loki my son, have no souls. They are part human but mostly machine. Where they come from we do not know, except that they have one agenda; our total destruction. They will show us no remorse. They will destroy everything and everybody. Do you think they will stop at the Aesir? Do you believe that their blood lust will be appeased?”copyright protection31PENANAPwJW7wOB7a

“I have no idea of what you are saying. This is all a jest.” Loki shook his head in denial. “This is to get back at me for the things I have done in the past.” He looked up at Odin and saw that which he thought he would never witness.copyright protection31PENANAMoPIvORpaz

Odin trembled in fear.copyright protection31PENANAyqSgk5O5SM

“It is true?” he whispered, shocked. “Where? How?”copyright protection31PENANAzHijEqPs1W

“My son, you have not only destroyed us as was your intent, but you have also destroyed every Vanir*, every elf, dwarf, human and most of all, you have destroyed what you term the Jötnar Empire. Your hate has destroyed everything we had hoped to preserve.” Odin continued. “In this you have succeeded. None will record your deeds. None will record your triumphs and failures. None will record your crime for there will be no survivors. You have sealed our fate with admirable perfection my son. Now it is only to decide your fate. A fate that this time will be permanent.”copyright protection31PENANACOlsxQgofr

“No.” Loki struggled with his bonds. “This cannot be. Release me and I will stand by your side and defeat this Einherjar. I beg you father, release me and we will fight them together.”copyright protection31PENANAXORP4bVShN

“It is much too late for that Loki.”copyright protection31PENANAERvXa9o0Bp

Thor burst into the throne room and approached the throne. “We have been discovered Father. The metal Einherjar have spied out the approach to the Rainbow Bridge. Heimdall has destroyed three of their scouts who approached too close.”copyright protection31PENANAWedhHK8Y9n

“Release me father. Release me. I beg of you.” Loki implored as thunder and lightning rumbled throughout the throne room. It crackled and jumped about from ceiling to floor. Lightning ran along the walls to dissipate against Odin’s golden throne. Where once stood a man wearing a Roman toga, now stood a god clothed for battle. A battle he knew could only be won by the slimmest of margins. With Gungnir in hand, Odin stepped down from his throne and walked across the shiny floor towards Loki.copyright protection31PENANAp7bhWgsR8K

“Could you not have  been happy Loki? Could you not have accepted things as they were? For so long my son, we tried to make peace with your kind. For years we had tried to accept the Jötnar as they were. You, my son were going to be the first of many that we were going to allow into Asgard. You were going to be the test. A test we all hoped would succeed. A test that would have ended the continuous war between us. A test which you failed.” Odin rested a hand softly on Loki’s head for a time as he bowed his own in regret.copyright protection31PENANAFNCaLMk9MW

“Please father. I will make up for everything. This I swear. A chance. Just one chance is all I ask,” he whispered urgently.copyright protection31PENANAzJbM1SxaQH

“The time for second chances is gone my son.” Odin stepped past and continued towards the throne room’s doorway as the sound of Heimdall’s immensely large Gjallar-horn* sounded throughout all the Aesir worlds.copyright protection31PENANAxgOJxLZ0D8

The long awaited call to Ragnarök had finally come.copyright protection31PENANALiWntHaORX

Odin stumbled at the sound of the horn, tears of remorse coursed down his cheeks as he turned back and gazed regretfully at the struggling Loki. He looked at the expectant Queens Own and nodded silently, “Have done with it.” he turned away and gripped Thor’s wrist. “Marshal your forces my son. For we face a battle like none before.”copyright protection31PENANAKqGVdIOLSF

“They are ready, Father.” Thor answered as he cocked his head to listen to the last forlorn echoes of Heimdall’s horn.copyright protection31PENANAtqVhas2atG

As they left the throne room behind, a Jötnar giant lay bleeding the last of his life’s blood out on the floor.copyright protection31PENANAieZfBsXLgP

He died moments later and unbeknown to any, changed the course of every prophesy made regarding the future.copyright protection31PENANAI1fpWt8Kf0

***copyright protection31PENANApIrl0BO3Mh

Report: Quadrant: 15#9 Rainbow Bridgecopyright protection31PENANAJ5vIk7bhTs

1530907//2 Time:0233=10sec and recording.copyright protection31PENANA6Btm1pQ9a5

Commander; at 0229=53sec precisely, one individual known as Loki was seen to be brought into close proximity of this unit. Three Valkyrie guard him, and they are escorting him towards the approximate gateway of the Rainbow Bridge. After careful tracking and observation it has been determined that the precise location of the Rainbow Bridge has been determined and mapped for your perusal. See attachment. copyright protection31PENANAaAOCWOeKS0

It must be noted that this unit did notice the being called Heimdall allowing access to the above mentioned individuals and although said being quartered his immediate surroundings, this unit was not detected. copyright protection31PENANA1B5xkpFvHy

The opening and closing of the Rainbow Bridge occurred within 0.002137th of a micro second and is recorded as such on the attachments sent with this message.copyright protection31PENANAXOaqbbQ2l1

This unit remained and still remains unobserved.copyright protection31PENANA7vBW7yLliD

Karlin Beautrix out.copyright protection31PENANAmkfrSzRx4z

“That’s it.” shouted the Annular Commander as he swiftly interfaced with the computer before him.copyright protection31PENANA51nfszriBM

His surroundings suddenly vanished as his essence slipped along the multiplicity of the matrix pathways to the mother ship waiting for him kilometers away.copyright protection31PENANAjJiVFqtrLM

“Standby. All Cyborgs. Standby.” He calmly sent the call out, although  in his metal heart, he felt elation bubbling to the fore. “First fleet standby. Mobilization in 30 minutes. Second fleet, standby. Mobilization. ETD* Two hours and to proceed to Quadrant: 15#9 Rainbow Bridge. Engagements predicted – Valkyrie and Einherjar. Engage when necessary but otherwise await further instructions. Third fleet standby. Mobilization. ETD Two hours and to proceed to Quadrant; 183#261 Overlord. Engagements predicted - Valkyrie and Earth. Engage when necessary. Protect Galactic Empire from invasion forces at all costs. Further instructions en route. Cyborgs standby. Cyborgs standby. The time has arrived for us to complete our missions. Missions that we were created for. Our time of death, destruction and our ultimate revenge is at hand. At long last, we will slumber in peace.”copyright protection31PENANA476jzYTqwX

The stage was set. The chessboard laid out with its pieces jockeying for place.copyright protection31PENANA0BZoRsXjKz

War on a level never before witnessed, was fast approaching.copyright protection31PENANA54in0YNupz

CHAPTER 15copyright protection31PENANAguHnOhlHIR

CHECKMATEcopyright protection31PENANAFItF6l74ES

The first casualties of Ragnarök were three Annular scout ships who joyously volunteered for a suicide mission.copyright protection31PENANADJXW7XUVsk

The Annular required only one more piece of information;  how long would it take for the Rainbow Bridge to lower its protection fields  and destroy an enemy approaching from three differing angles and at varying speeds.copyright protection31PENANAvIPc5Etrmc

The god Heimdall conveniently answered that question with a swift and deadly grace that left the echoes of silent destruction to blind eager staring eyes.copyright protection31PENANAj1UMH07O5M

“First fleet standby. Second fleet; on arrival, guard Rainbow Bridge gateway. Divide and conquer. Teams of two with one as decoy. Destroy any who wish to pass through or offer resistance. On my instructions retreat as planned maintaining decoy teams. We want them in the open where they are weaker. Standby for further instructions.copyright protection31PENANAGIvDEDBzz3

First fleet; Engage on my instruction.copyright protection31PENANAU4LJgRnKjK

Mother ships, first phase of support fire on my orders. Second phase commences as soon as Einherjar attack. You have received your instructions. Vengeance has arrived.copyright protection31PENANAXCLRosSwhX

First fleet…copyright protection31PENANAiYFOBksdT1

…Attack!”copyright protection31PENANAgN52xmUV7d

Fifteen Mother ships disgorged their young as one.copyright protection31PENANAF4PrWeUOLb

Annular fighters grouped together in their hundreds and attacked an unseen foe. A foe mighty in stature and heart that stood his ground and blew on his horn to notify the Aesir worlds that Ragnarök had commenced.copyright protection31PENANAL49rTLMlYG

A foe whose only mistake was to retaliate where non-aggression would have left the Annular kicking its heels in frustration as the Rainbow Bridge remained closed.copyright protection31PENANAnfuth1QcXX

This was not to be, for the direct assault was tantamount to waving a red flag before an angry bull.copyright protection31PENANApC2e3YtYNe

Heimdall released the protection of the Rainbow Bridge as magical lightning enveloped his long sword and like an angry Viper, it lashed out to destroy any Annular fighter ships that got too close. Silent multi-colored conflagrations rained down like hellfire on the heads of the defending multitude. The Rainbow Bridge was being crossed in-mass.copyright protection31PENANAazij1b5Nx4

Elves, Dwarfs, Valkyrie and Vanir died in their numbers.copyright protection31PENANAtUjXnBYdNV

Shafts of blue light flashed upwards from the Elves and Dwarfs as they released one arrow after another at the attacking enemy. Arrows that did little more than blind eyesight. Vision became impaired and mistakes compounded. Fighter ships flew blindly across the attacking fields of their brethren and suffered the consequences or flew into the ground and disintegrated in plumes of fire, smoke and debris.copyright protection31PENANAbcyerCdUA0

Shrapnel from the exploding craft cut swath after swath through the ranks of the defenders. Laser beams scythed Valkyrie and Pegasus alike from the air in such abundance that droplets of blood and bodies fell like rain on those below, crushing some and maiming others that were too slow in avoiding them. The Annular mother ships added to the inferno and pumped round after round of explosive solid shot 100 meters into the air that exploded and rained shrapnel in all directions. Shrapnel that cared little for friend or foe. Shrapnel that was indiscriminate in its destruction.copyright protection31PENANA8Kzq4BC9o9

For the Valkyrie, this sudden and total destruction came as an unwanted surprise. Never before had they fought a foe that cared little or nothing for themselves. Never before had they met a foe whose plan of attack was  just that; attack.copyright protection31PENANAdR3xOr8NFV

Attack.copyright protection31PENANAJQ8i5zUitv

Attack.copyright protection31PENANAjCgT3luFuS

No subtlety. No right or wrong. No finesse. No tact. The defense crumbled as fighter ship after fighter ship swarmed through the open gates of the Rainbow Bridge.copyright protection31PENANAOIJSgykomZ

Alone on his mount, Heimdall directed his long sword and blew ship after ship from the skies. He was tiring from blood loss and fatigue as his sword drew energy from his being to clove through two attacker’s hell bent on slamming their machines into him.copyright protection31PENANAk6QtoV2jew

The two fighters exploded as one, raining fire and destruction on those still able to care. A large piece of ruptured gray looking steel hull slammed into Heimdall’s steed, slicing off its two front legs below the knees as if they were butter.copyright protection31PENANAOx85qbqURV

Horse and rider plummeted to the blood swept ground. Only one stood up again.copyright protection31PENANAMGEwzU4Tjr

Valkyrie flew like they had never before. Outmatched for speed, they relied on their steeds ability to cross dimensions and reappear behind the attacking fighter to throw their spears or shoot with bow and arrow. Both weapons, although archaic in fashion, had untold power. Power that disrupted the  molecules of whatever they chanced to hit. fighter ships blew up at the merest touch of these weapons and at times took one or more unlucky Valkyrie with them. For those on the ground, death came from all directions at once. The earth was churned up by laser and exploding fighters to mix with the dead and the screaming living.copyright protection31PENANATDxJ6VF9fT

And still they came.copyright protection31PENANAF4qO9Q0AKR

Fighter after fighter screamed across the once beautiful meadows bringing death and destruction in copious, unstoppable amounts.copyright protection31PENANAvwy927471n

A single staggering figure, like a light beacon on a wave-washed outcropping at sea, stood amidst the broken, dismembered and bloody corpses of friends and family. Rivulets of red, congealing blood flowed unchecked and unheeded while at his feet lay his sorely wounded Pegasus steed, neighing unheard its pain and shock as it tried unsuccessfully to stand up.copyright protection31PENANAyU16E82jih

Through the violent melee of shouted instructions, curses and explosions, a voice that was clear and calm. “Brother. I am arrived,”copyright protection31PENANAcXmDMvtN5e

“And I my son,” Odin said with an outstretched hand that rested firmly on Heimdall’s shoulder. Refreshing, healing strength flowed through that hand to heal ruptured armour and flesh and to replenish life giving blood.copyright protection31PENANAEBKdLNkPVl

“What kept you?” Heimdall asked, his exhausted body straightened. His armour once more glowed brightly with magic and strength. With an offhand gesture, Odin swatted an attacking fighter out of the sky. It lost control as an invisible force smashed through the gray steel hull as if it were a mere irritation.copyright protection31PENANAdugfAUnDdF

“A small matter of justice long overdue,” Queen Freya said with a shrug as she stared heartbroken at the dying and dismembered about her. Elves with their once beautiful blond hair and fair features stared open eyed in death at the horror about them. Dwarfs with their stocky, almost ugly frames and hard, course features.copyright protection31PENANAUqDg4qMxdS

Valkyrie. Vanir. All laying amidst the bloating soft-hearted Pegasus with their broken wings, shredded and lacerated bodies. She stepped to one side and touched Heimdall’s steed Gulltoppr on its thrashing forehead. Immediately it slumped back against the gore spattered earth and with a huge ‘whuff’, and died.copyright protection31PENANALSuw5fkq5g

“I thank you, sister,” Heimdall said hoarsely. “For I could not.”copyright protection31PENANAMjK2ykWWXa

Freya’s chainmail armour suddenly burst into life as anger mounted in her breast. “The Einherjar are here father.” She pointed with her glowing sword. Behind the continuously attacking enemy fighters, rank upon rank of Einherjar marched at the double through the sky as they seemingly disregarded gravity. They came like an unstoppable wave and swamped the suddenly retreating fighters. Freya elevated into the air, threw back her head and screamed. “Revenge. I will have revenge for this day.”copyright protection31PENANABSBf9FFVdS

She took a vengeful swipe at an escaping fighter and watched with satisfaction as it disintegrated in midair.copyright protection31PENANAOZKiwQyQgD

“Thor?” asked Heimdall lifting his visor.copyright protection31PENANA62WR5uc1qa

“Trying to get the Jötnar to help defend us,” Odin said, watching proudly, fascinated at the glowing ball of pure light that had become his daughter. She was everywhere at once. Striking this fighter out of the sky. Assisting Einherjar there to overcome an obstinate, more devious one there.copyright protection31PENANAc22OicuX8H

“Father.” Heimdall pointed with his sword. “What?”copyright protection31PENANAQWHBedrM4H

“Death my son, and more death.” They watched as fifteen large ships approached. A field of light surrounded each ship. Fighters swarmed about them like angry hornets around a disturbed nest. The Einherjar attacked in their hundreds, thousands, millions. But still the inconceivably large ships approached untouched. Unstoppable, they approached and Einherjar burst into sparkling light as they died one after the other. The light encircling each ship protected them but did not stop the ship’s rapid firing laser cannons that ripped Einherjar apart as soon as they attacked.copyright protection31PENANAqbKm2PReRi

 One Mother ship taking damage as the Einherjar, assisted by the glowing sun that was Freya, disrupted the force field around it. The ship was inundated with Einherjar defenders and listing off to one side.copyright protection31PENANAo4lrSDDmBL

Small explosions here and there ruptured her grayvite steel hulls. The miniature sun darted towards the next ship and within seconds, it too lost its force field. She went from ship to ship and in her fury, destroyed all she came upon. It was while she was venting her anger that the remaining six mother ships suddenly broke up of their own accord.copyright protection31PENANA4rIM2XZuJ4

Freya, hesitating in surprise and breathing harshly through a dry mouth, watched as a ship tore itself in two and then in two again. She glared about her in anger as ship after ship copied the other and large chunks fell away. She approached one huge piece of gray looking metal inquisitively to suddenly realise that it was contorting and twisting this way and that as if it were alive.copyright protection31PENANAbafVxiKowB

As she watched, suspicion became conviction as the chunk of metal suddenly became roughly oval in shape and divided slightly into two equal pieces. In the interior of the divide she saw gears mesh and lock  as the two outer hulls sprouted long and sharp looking blades.copyright protection31PENANAHVF3nyH1Vi

Seconds later the outer hulls began spinning at high speed and she  managed, in her astonishment, to clip the huge ball of death with the edge of her sword as it darted away. It was enough. Her sword cleaved through the gray coloured steel and damaged something on the inside.copyright protection31PENANAN0KvMMsMhc

The gray, spinning oval of death, changed direction and with sparkling flames, zig-zagged across the sky and imploded in the distance.copyright protection31PENANAQsm6oTo9iU

She quickly glanced about her and saw more oval shapes churning up the ground where they hit. Deep runnels of seething earth fountained up behind each one showing the paths they travelled. Pathways littered with crushed bodies and stinking offal. The ovals were extremely quick and responsive to movement and plowed through the defenders as they tried to escape.copyright protection31PENANAL0Qr3eZKfV

She saw Odin walking calmly up to one that seemed to spin violently in one place. He looked at it from all directions until he seemed satisfied, stretched out a hand, and suddenly it was gone. Where once spun an enormous oval of death, now there was nothing. The sudden sound of a large detonation startled her.copyright protection31PENANA33VNyIA1uR

Thor held out his hand as a gleaming Mjollnir* suddenly appeared in his grip. He threw the glowing hammer again and seconds later another spinning Oval disintegrated with a loud explosion. Now it was a matter of time as the surprised Valkyrie rallied and threw spears and shot arrows at the gray balls to destroy each and every one.copyright protection31PENANAekkBqIvPRO

The sudden quiet caught all by surprise as the survivors stared at the carnage about them. A sudden ragged cheer went up only to be cut short as first one, then another pointed up at the sky. Einherjar were silently vaporized in sparkling shrouds of colourful death as thousands upon thousands of enemy fighters caught them off guard.copyright protection31PENANAKCOA3SP3D4

“Enough.” shouted Odin as he called forth his magic and rose mightily into the air towards one fighter ship that approached.copyright protection31PENANAYG7UuGC5I6

It did not attempt to alter its course or fire on him as he approached it. In his anger, he threw a lightning bolt at the ship and watched as it exploded with a loud thunder clap. He looked behind the explosion and saw another approaching in the same manner and frowned. This was not what he expected.copyright protection31PENANAWWrhySZ3HR

“Desist godling.” A loud voice echoed through the sky. “Desist or you will be destroyed. Each and every one of you.”copyright protection31PENANARruF2yyRBb

“You would threaten me.” Odin shouted as lightning crackled and thunder clouds grew dark and menacing.copyright protection31PENANAVAS3unK6ss

“I would, godling for you are defeated at this moment,” the metallic voice said. “You  do not know it yet.”copyright protection31PENANAcppEGXwG0d

“Hah! Here is my answer.” He waved a hand and the ship imploded.copyright protection31PENANAxSE2yHA6yc

Another ship broke away from the fighting Einherjar. “And here is mine,” said the same loud metallic voice from the approaching fighter. “Seek out Yggdrasil* godling, and see if I lie.”copyright protection31PENANAiuMbxhzio1

“How do you know of the World Tree?” Odin asked. Fear bloomed in his stomach.copyright protection31PENANAKBraf87LO8

“How did I know of YOU, should be the correct question? Be of haste godling, for your creation is dying  as we speak.”copyright protection31PENANAZm1EozlZGT

Odin turned and looked at his sons, “Heimdall. Thor. Seek out Yggdrasil and see what this is about.” He turned back to the single ship before him. “You would destroy all of creation? How? Why?”copyright protection31PENANAcYnZaVgJdE

“I would godling. For no other reason than revenge.”copyright protection31PENANALYfc8ukgg9

Odin stared at the fighting going on some distance away; the Einherjar and Valkyrie stood their ground and took the enemy craft to task. Explosions dotted the sky, as dogfight after dogfight came to a violent end. “What have we ever done to you that you seek revenge on us? We have lived our lives far from any and not interfered.”copyright protection31PENANAofwpUVZfUF

“Oh, but you have godling. Due to your interference, we were created by one of your so called creations. Death as you see before you has no meaning to us. Can you prevail against those who welcome it with open arms? Seek it out with abandon? How many of the Aesir do you have to throw away? Thousands? Millions? We have destroyed in  minutes, one million seventy six thousand four hundred and fifty one. Make that fifty two no … fifty three…fifty four, of your defending Einherjar. The total is changing by the second. Do you wish to know how many Aesir we have destroyed? Sixteen thousand …”copyright protection31PENANA86Dw5OrmxF

“Enough, alien.” Odin shouted. “These are my friends you so casually speak of. You believe you can vanquish the Aesir so easily? Then you have another thing coming.” A quick glimpse of a group of Einherjar were destroyed in a show of scintillating, dazzling light.copyright protection31PENANA0iDgvLLQ11

“Godling. Look into the distance. Not with your eyes but with what you term your magic. Look and know that what you see is of no import for now Yggdrasil is dying.”copyright protection31PENANA0qhwQbrPqm

Odin cast his eyes outward and with the aid of his magic, saw the might of the enemy arrayed against him. Thousands upon thousands of alien craft waiting to unleash death upon the Aesir and waiting for the orders. “That is not enough alien. That is but a drop in the ocean. In the end …” he stopped and looked back at the alien craft.copyright protection31PENANAvzs96yXyUu

“Yggdrasil,” the voice said softly. “Do not believe for one moment godling that this war has not been planned to the smallest detail. The choice is yours.”copyright protection31PENANAdVNQbjCWaD

“Father.” a voice behind Odin.copyright protection31PENANAYa4gGUr8KS

He turned and saw Heimdall and Thor approaching with haste. “It speaks the truth. Yggdrasil is dying. The Norns are doing what they can to stave off the inevitable but they say it is only a matter of time. Creation is being destroyed.”copyright protection31PENANAufsXoyvl6q

“How?” Odin asked.copyright protection31PENANAQjlEaxYMt8

“A simple matter of poison.”copyright protection31PENANAqsiuIZpa8a

“HOW.”copyright protection31PENANA2CpuAO36a9

“Every ship that has been destroyed is designed and built with a certain metal. Grayvite. And Grayvite is inimically poisonous to Yggdrasil, the world tree. Every piece of Grayvite, no matter how small. ”copyright protection31PENANAw0tSFDpDqT

“You will destroy us all alien. For revenge?” Odin asked as Thor joined a dogfight to destroy two fighters chasing a tired and exhausted Valkyrie.copyright protection31PENANALQl4l44Kec

“That is only one outcome godling. There is another.”copyright protection31PENANAUgPkLq8Owj

“That being?” an angry Odin asked.copyright protection31PENANAY3ksVZ6kDw

“Withdraw. You have eight Aesir worlds in which to interfere. The humans and their worlds are off limits. No more interference. No more collecting Einherjar. Your creation has outgrown you. Withdraw and Yggdrasil will be healed and the poisons removed.”copyright protection31PENANAdpnztIDytR

“What guarantee do we have?” the fiery Thor asked as he swung his hammer back and forth looking for another target. He took aim and another alien craft exploded in a ball of flame and shrapnel.copyright protection31PENANALo8BJT1SIx

“We wish for a policy of none interference young godling,” the voice said unperturbed. “And enforcing this is of no consequence. Every piece of grayvite to touch the soil of Asgard poisons the World tree that much more. You of the Aesir have been an easy study godling. You have been lax in your power. Sloppy and careless. I do not taunt you but tell you as it is. Withdraw and the war ends.”copyright protection31PENANAbHAv9wufQ8

“Do you have any idea as to how vengeful the Aesir can be, alien? Do you realise  what you have awakened? Do not think for one minute that you are safe, for we will hunt you down for all eternity and cast your black souls into hell.”copyright protection31PENANAL4x9D1Rhzl

“It is of no concern to us godling, for how can you kill the undead? I warn you, be quick with your decision for soon we will release the hound Fenrir.*”copyright protection31PENANA8lKgWtaXlS

“Fenrir?” more surprise. “What has he to do with you?”copyright protection31PENANAvwz62ICxYs

“This war godling, as I said before, has been planned, for as the World tree dies, we will initiate Ragnarök. The real Ragnarök. Not this little spat you see about you. Why… Even Loki will be there.”copyright protection31PENANAFJxcSaeKrO

Odin laughed sarcastically, “he is dead Alien. Dead. The first to die in this war of yours.”copyright protection31PENANA5A9QQ5j02F

“I beg to differ godling. It was not our war although you made it so with your interference. Loki is one of us now. An undead and one filled with hate and immense power. Should we unleash that power godling? Should we start Ragnarök? My time is up. Make your decision.”copyright protection31PENANATybtEebgL9

“So be it.” Odin said, he looked towards the death and destruction wrought throughout Asgard then turned back to face the fighter, “For now alien, you have won.” An unheard signal passed throughout the attacking survivors of the Alien First Fleet and they immediately stopped and withdrew. “At every turn you seemed to have outwitted us.” Odin continued, “Your deviousness and guile have been your own undoing for when next you see us, we will strip you bare and lay your guts out for Fenrir to eat. You will never die, for your soul will be forever in the palm of my hand. I, Odin swear this.”copyright protection31PENANAJrTgEMrSwT

“So be it,” the voice said, “Remove also those you have sent after the humans. Otherwise, they will perish.”copyright protection31PENANAGCtPtkVMlY

“That we cannot do alien, for  I do not know the route they travel.”copyright protection31PENANArewDHaRTrD

“But I do godling. And  at this moment, their deaths draw nigh.”copyright protection31PENANA3b4XrIJTBg

“Tell me,” Thor cried. “And I will recall them immediately.”copyright protection31PENANAMhTg7mA28V

“The universe young godling has expanded and outgrown you. Your complacency has no bounds.” The contemptuous voice rang in their ears. “I will not. In time, you will discover the whereabouts of the other humans. But not yet. They are still too young for the likes of you and under our protection. You will, I predict, in the end, ignore my warnings and send scouts to seek the humans out. Those scouts will die. Never-the-less, an attempt must be made to stop your Valkyrie for now.”copyright protection31PENANA0AawdSH5M9

“How then?” Thor Frowned in equal contempt.copyright protection31PENANAIPkNNMvwF7

“A word. Or object. Anything that I can present before them.”copyright protection31PENANANsoGIv3jyc

Odin thought for a few seconds then turned to Thor. “My son, a demonstration of our power is called for. Do not destroy it but place your mark for all to see.”copyright protection31PENANAfyMp50iN64

“A welcome pleasure father,” Thor said as his war hammer spun in his hand.copyright protection31PENANAXPUhCH48eK

He released it and it flew in a blur of light to smash into the fuselage of the fighter. Grayvite steel plating buckled and warped as if made from some flimsy material. The glowing hammer reappeared in a grinning Thor’s hand. Where it had hit the fighter, an unforgettable image of itself was imbedded into what was proclaimed to be an almost indestructible metal.copyright protection31PENANAf1cEIVaLeI

“All who see that will know that you speak the truth Alien. ”Odin said. “For none who know Thor would believe that your craft could escape his wrath unless he had wanted it so. But  to make sure…” In Odin’s right hand a glimmering lightning bolt radiated and as he threw it, it left an after image in everyone’s eyes. The bolt struck the fighter and it suddenly glowed with iridescent shards of light that faded slowly. For all to see, beside the hammer impression, the sign of a lightning bolt glowed brightly.copyright protection31PENANAXthKTnLbaR

“Clever,” A metallic voice said from another fighter as it peeled off from the waiting alien force. It stopped beside the damaged and silent ‘icon of peace’.copyright protection31PENANAg8GaqjRur5

“I am tired of your words alien.” Odin said. “The World tree.”copyright protection31PENANAeH7rlPnvAB

“It is done godling. The poison is removed.”copyright protection31PENANAey5viYT3a4

“Just like that?” Thor asked. Surprise in every word.copyright protection31PENANAVqcBACVs6n

“We too have magic, young godling, it is called nanotechnology. Yggdrasil lives.”copyright protection31PENANAyl4FNquaW4

A tractor beam shot from deep space to envelope the dead fighter. Slowly at first and then with ever increasing speed it was withdrawn from the gathered gods.copyright protection31PENANALaDRGVQzZ0

“It is not over between us, alien.” Odin warned. “To assume that we are forgiving will be a mistake.” He said to a silent and retreating fighter. For a while longer they stared at the departing forces, and then turned silently away to pick up the pieces of a short-lived war that had been wrought on Asgard, the home of the gods.copyright protection31PENANADVrPx1rsuy

“Father?” Freya said.copyright protection31PENANAP2UUIHkcRg

“We must clean up this mess, daughter. We must get the Jötnar into the fold.” He stared at the departing alien forces as anger coursed through his body. Clothed in full armour, Odin rippled with magical power. “We will call a council of war and learn by our mistakes. The alien was correct in one thing, we have become complacent. No more. For we will take this war to them. We will learn from them all there is to know. Their strengths and weaknesses. We will plan far ahead and when the short lived have forgotten and this war becomes a myth with which to scare their children, we will have vengeance.”copyright protection31PENANAhDqUu7QlGQ

“Well,” smirked Freya. “That shouldn’t take too long then will it? I would think not more than a few days or so.” Already she was planning her strategies. Strategies that required more information unseen by the retreating alien forces.copyright protection31PENANAljLN9iPBLj

 Several dozen Valkyrie on their Pegasus steeds followed them and gathered that information. copyright protection31PENANA9Am4u4LOgD

Silently and invisibly, or so they believed.copyright protection31PENANA5ygwsLDj7j

CHAPTER 16copyright protection31PENANA9sDVgMe5oZ

ON A WAR FOOTINGcopyright protection31PENANAoyzKC4PoT6

“Remember. The world has changed and is changing continuously.” The Sensei told the group of one hundred female warriors. “The enemy is fast approaching and seeks to utterly destroy our way of life and it is you, only you that have the knowledge and strength of arms to sway his intent. We were created for one reason only; to protect the Emperor. Though I tell you that an Emperor is nothing if her Empire burns to the ground about her. You will protect not only the Emperor but her Empire. Every man, woman and child falls under your protection. Honor must always dictate your thoughts and actions for without honour you are as nothing. It is because of our  way of life that we have been given this high accord. It is because of who and what we are that we have been honoured above all to be the first and the last recourse the Emperor will turn to for help, for her  safety.”copyright protection31PENANA1YEiv748rb

One hundred female warriors stood at attention on an open meadow where the grass had been churned up for the last year into a fine irritating dust. Over thirty thousand women had volunteered and more were doing so every day from every clan imaginable. They came in singles or pairs and  groups of ten or more. They came from every corner of the planet Hades. Some were as young as twelve or thirteen while others were deep in their thirties. They came for the prize of clan pride or standing, for the respect and accolades they would earn amongst their kindred. They came for the honour of protecting for the first time ever, a female Emperor. A young woman who had outfought and outthought many a better opponent to grab the prize, the ultimate prize of becoming the first female Emperor in the existence of the Galactic Empire.copyright protection31PENANAsBE6wUTKZh

Out of the many thousands that came that first year and the years after, a total of five thousand succeeded in the rigorous training. Training that had many would-be warriors dejectedly leave for home to try again the following year. Clan Centurion, the first War clan to be initiated in over a thousand years of Hades history of turmoil and strife, had succeeded well above expectation to such a degree that two more War clans, the clan Delta, who had almost reached its five thousand quota and clan Williams, a clan that had reached its first one hundred Warrior status, came into being.copyright protection31PENANAKnPk8soYQi

This was the first time in planet Hades’ history that clans trained for war against human opponents, for in the beginning, Hades was at war with itself. As a young planet, still in its terra-forming stages, it had taken hundreds of years to reach a stage where humans could tentatively get a foothold on it and a thousand years and more would pass before they did not have to war continuously with an ever-changing and violent nature gone mad. The years had passed and the clans fought nature and its fauna and flora in equal amounts. From storms ranging from sleet to snow to gusting winds of hundreds of kilometers per hour to hot, broiling days that had the humidity raise to such a degree that the air became liquid and uncomfortable to breathe.copyright protection31PENANA4RhJ9MQdVh

To make matters worse, insects, plant life and animals transformed and adapted and re-transformed from generation to generation as their DNA altered. Species died out as their young clawed their way out of wombs or were sterile. Teeth developed where once there had been roots. Roots where once there had been lichen.  Nature in upheaval. The smallest pond held horrors unimaginable.copyright protection31PENANApoS3upXnaW

This was a planet not yet ripe for human population.copyright protection31PENANAFUkuftWErM

But come they did.copyright protection31PENANAWvEdeO052W

For reasons unknown and only to themselves, the first of thousands upon thousands of settlers volunteered and set foot into hell’s kitchen and never looked back, for Hades had become for whatever reason, their last refuge from the Empire’s own stifling laws and decay.copyright protection31PENANAnrkguOFscQ

To survive they banded together to form clans with strict laws of effect, for survival depended on learning about their environment and its temperament. A temperament that changed its character from one moment to the next for what could be eaten today with relative enjoyment would take great pleasure in eating them six or seven months down the line.copyright protection31PENANAoRLJm0cjED

Retain what worked and discard that which did not, became the rule of thumb.copyright protection31PENANA6A9LOozPuB

The consequences for failure, no matter how small, almost always ended in death. None walked alone. None ate anything unless it had been tested and examined thoroughly. None took anything for granted for here, assumption ended in death.copyright protection31PENANALR257xUMZ7

 Time passed and the small became huge as it competed with its brethren for open space and sunlight. Every change was recorded and memorized. Information passed from word of mouth and faithfully passed on again. Information, learning and understanding and above all, acceptance of their lot as a quick and easy meal for creatures great and small, had the settlers quickly discard the old ways of life as a good way of getting oneself killed and sucked dry or possibly flayed alive by skin eating moths.copyright protection31PENANADoZo7mokF2

The settlers adapted or died. Hades was not for the weak or timid for one fought it day in and day out and either succeeded and received great honour or died and became a lesson for others. Nothing on Hades was taken for granted even from the mistaken soft rustling of the wind through the leaves of a tree hundreds of meters high, one could become a tasty morsel as millions of flesh eating aphids descended in a swarm to envelope the unlucky.copyright protection31PENANAYMD8xrx7h1

This was Hades, a world of extremes.copyright protection31PENANAI2SL8Zj2Mj

A world none but a few cared to come to.copyright protection31PENANAapH9NPvcab

A world none wished to leave. copyright protection31PENANAf8YShvkOCB

As the weaker sex, women were overly protected as sooner than expected, word reached the Empire and the flood of settlers became a trickle and then stopped. There were fewer women than men willing to come to this new planet on the outskirts of the Empire but  this changed as the years went by for more men than woman ended up as quick and acceptable meals.copyright protection31PENANAPlEH7MHqPt

Men were willing to risk hair and hide instead of using brains and common sense.copyright protection31PENANAJZTq8HgETq

Women became the foundation upon which the Haddenites, as they called themselves, clung to. New laws came into being. They were tried and tested and either discarded or incorporated into a universal collection of rules imposed by the Authority of the ruling Princeps. A woman, carefully chosen because of her knowledge of the dangers and pitfalls of their planet. She was chosen for her strength of arms, by each and every clan,  to rule over Hades much like an Emperor would, but without the destruction, for life here, was a precious thing.copyright protection31PENANAP9zO1RjmFW

A Princeps who made mistakes, did not last long. A Princeps who showed weakness or hesitated, was soon removed, usually with a sword to the neck.copyright protection31PENANAYuhCcopTPe

Life was too valued for the leader to abuse. A Princeps only stepped down on three occasions; old age, or if she capitulated and resigned her post, usually with a suicide not long in the offing for her honour would also be destroyed totally. The third, when challenged and losing where head and body parted from each other. Needless to say, old age was something few Princeps aspired to.copyright protection31PENANAnydgZmXg0R

Every Princeps tried for one or more daughters who were taught from a young age, the rules of the game. For every Princeps hoped to maintain at least a rudimentary hold on the addictive power she had once fully controlled. The daughter would compete against one or more applicants with the knowledge that one mistake was forever something to be regretted.copyright protection31PENANAGQ0gE27YpN

Politics on Hades played no part in the selection of a Princeps. It was a case of not who you knew, but what you knew. Information, learning and understanding what was learnt and being able to put that to use in a meaningful and acceptable manner was everything, for it brought  accolades and honour which strengthened one’s position to such a degree that small, inconsequential and trivial mistakes could be overlooked – as long as nobody died.copyright protection31PENANAVnhd0tCpnr

Losing a limb for whatever reason was always regarded as the individuals own fault or that of chance. Dying due to following a Princeps’ instructions brought forth an immediate court of law with a guilty verdict that would have one’s head removed. Every Princeps always studied her surroundings and gathered information like a sponge and took great care to have the right advisors, for they too, having given the Princeps the wrong advice, would die - before she did.copyright protection31PENANAEKZR0ZeYff

On Hades, information was the cornerstone of survival.copyright protection31PENANAQW6QcLTkJj

And so, three War clans had been created to withstand the might of the attacking forces that soon would launch their attacks on the Emperor herself. How large that force would be could only be guessed at although all knew it would be a formidable one.copyright protection31PENANA7EHpRHTt7g

War clan Centurion was already in position to protect the Emperor. There had been much complaining in the halls of society that one could not move two feet without stumbling across a warrior woman ever ready to cut a throat. They were always watchful, evaluating with judgmental eyes. They were in every department, seen entering or leaving shops, on every street or corner. They had free-of-way and never paid for any sort of transport. They helped those in need. Always seemed to arrive at a situation  after or before a Polrob*. They enforced the law to such a degree that for the first time in history, the criminal element packed their bags and left for better, easier and much safer pickings elsewhere.copyright protection31PENANAVL0UD0TSY9

Crime statistics, like murder, drugs, fraud or housebreak and theft, dropped astronomically as civilians or loved-ones once again walked the streets hand in hand at night without fear of being accosted and robbed. The law had been upped by a notch too many for the criminally minded who felt fearfully around their sweaty collars.copyright protection31PENANA7O5eFiZzCI

This was to be the legacy of all warrior women to the Empire; peace and prosperity or crime and death.copyright protection31PENANASKnz9fh2Jp

War Clan Delta, just short of its five thousand quota, had already been dispatched to Overlord due to the possibility of imminent war. They had, on landing at a Spaceport on the outskirts of the city, broken up into groups of ten and patrolled the countryside. They dug fortifications with Overlord’s marines, who ogled out the lithe and supple warriors but kept their hands to themselves. They helped cache weapons, food and water in certain demarcated zones. They learnt to handle laser pistols and to strip landmines and became proficient in hand to hand combat.copyright protection31PENANAiEbizPjtHi

They became in essence, the Military policeman’s police.copyright protection31PENANACP7H3MZ2mC

War Clan William on the other hand, was only one year old.copyright protection31PENANALfm8Owo6z7

It consisted of only one hundred qualified and extremely proficient warriors. They stood silently in a dusty meadow and listened to their Sensei as with a firm and steady voice, she dropped a bomb on their heads.copyright protection31PENANAvSMGblvuOd

“You who have become the Emperor’s first and last recourse of protection, have but one goal.” Continued the wizened and shriveled looking old woman. She stood on a large tree stump to gain some height, and watched her latest responsibility take in everything she said. “That goal is to protect. Protect each other, protect any person of the Empire and most of all; protect the Emperor. The Emperor who has chosen you for a singular and most important duty. That duty is to be the first out of all the War clans to make contact with the enemy.” She stopped and watched as the ripple effect of her words coursed through the stunned group of warriors.copyright protection31PENANAMq2T85G783

Slowly the Sensei held up a hand for silence. “There is more but I would rather leave that to the one best served to provide you with that information.” Without preamble, she turned and pointed.copyright protection31PENANAJTi627Drec

“Warriors. Your Emperor.” she pointed over their heads and as one they turned about and stared in surprise as the Emperor strode towards them.copyright protection31PENANAyJ4lqfGWJv

Katya Berotivich smiled as she walked between them towards the Sensei.copyright protection31PENANA9wWcq4i7cq

“I thank you, Sensei,” she said. “You have shown much honor to yourself, your War clan and to me. For that reason I have asked another Sensei if he would be kind enough to provide extra skills and knowledge to your next group of warriors. He professes an interest Sensei, especially since seeing a demonstration of your ability to teach the War Princeps Tobor McIntosh.” She bent forward slightly and whispered, “He wants to learn certain positions and movements, a kata he says that has been lost for ages.”copyright protection31PENANAbWkt3mBGNP

A smug smile  crossed the Sensei’s face.copyright protection31PENANASmzXH0coWW

“He saw them from the demonstration the War Princeps did and became excited indeed. Will you Sensei, take on an old and cantankerous fool of a man and exchange knowledge?”copyright protection31PENANAU6tRjUVB28

The old warrior Sensei  straightened and beamed her delight. “I will do this for you, my Lady. For this upstart of a man who professes to be a Sensei? Time alone will tell.” She nodded in thought, “So be it Sire. I look forward to this meeting with interest.”copyright protection31PENANA1d4lH8IiOv

“Thank you Sensei.” She bowed low. “And now …” she turned to the silent warriors behind her and frowned when she saw that they had all been kneeling silently, blades glinting as their sword tips were forced into the soft ground by both hands that were placed ceremoniously over the pommel.copyright protection31PENANA7HSHEAHRZE

“Rise, warriors.” She said. Each got to their feet and slid their swords back into their sheaths. “I have chosen you for your training is still fresh in body and mind. You have overcome every adversity your Sensei placed before you. Out of the thousands that came, only you few have had the will and inner strength to succeed. You have shown me and the clan from whence you came, much honour, and I thank each and every one of you for your dedication and commitment to me and the Empire.copyright protection31PENANAOTKiK4cGFe

“War is fast approaching and according to our strategists, Old Earth will attempt and probably succeed, in making landfall on Overlord before or during the first engagements in space. As Hades is on the outskirts of the Empire, one can only hope that they mistake this planet for Overlord.” She gave a small spiteful laugh and grinned as she saw the warriors before her grinning as well.copyright protection31PENANAPGsU292LrR

“I require a small force,” Katya said climbing onto the tree stump. “A small group to do reconnaissance and bring back information on strengths, weaknesses and placement of whatever troops and vehicles the enemy may have. This information will be compiled and added to the information we receive from our spy satellites and navy scouts and will help in determining our response. With your knowledge of Hades and its hazards, its deceptiveness and snares, you will be able to, I believe, have a better chance of circumventing many of the enemies strategies. But …” she looked sternly at the warriors. “Do not become overconfident. Consider the enemy as  another Hades. One that surely will have other means of detection which can only be guessed at for they will have weapons of untold power and strength.copyright protection31PENANAgzy9gdJY5J

“Do not group together. LISTEN to your platoon leaders. Follow instructions and think for yourself. There will come a time when you are alone or cut off from the rest. Lay low and conserve your strength. Become one with the land around you. If you are able to, make your way back to your units, if not, go to ground and as quickly as possible, remove yourself from the immediate vicinity of the enemy for Overlord will retaliate with or without knowing of your presence amongst them.copyright protection31PENANACTDnbnro47

“There is one other reason for choosing you above all others and that reason is your group, being small, has become a close-knit family and family always take care of each other. Once we have as much information as possible, Overlord will strike and strike hard. It is then that you will be unleashed to wreak havoc on those that have survived. In this, you will be aided by two secret weapons.” She watched them closely as she pointed upwards to the sky.copyright protection31PENANADUO5OQeQCG

“Behold, warriors of Hades.”copyright protection31PENANAISfg2wuMvz

Where once there had been a more or less normal cloudy sky, it now held Polrobs in their thousands that hovered and dipped slightly in the considerable breeze. All looked alike. Their gray undercarriages glinted and gleamed in the afternoon sunlight that shone through the clouds.copyright protection31PENANAv8s8vEwX3B

“The only way to beat a superior unknown force,” Katya continued. “Is to come up with one’s own little surprises don’t you think?” Relieved smiles and laughter echoed her words. “There is one other I would like you to see. You will instruct this group, in the ways of Hades and its pitfalls and they in turn will help provide you with other, more relevant knowledge that could be of great benefit to you when approaching the enemy encampment. Behind you,” she pointed again.copyright protection31PENANA5GvTMjK0am

“Another weapon that will have the enemy tear its hair out in despair.” Tobor turned about and at first saw nothing but an open meadow until suddenly something flickered and wavered in the air near the ground and a man appeared holding a weapon. Clothed from head to toe in a one piece gray suite, the man stretched up and removed the hood from his head. He nodded to them,  enjoying the moment of awe and wonder his appearance had solicited. He  lifted one hand and all about him as if by magic, more and more soldiers appeared wearing identical gray clothing. The warriors realized that they were outnumbered by grinning soldiers.copyright protection31PENANAGTfW9hsD4X

“Meet your counterparts. The cream of my elite forces on Overlord. They have not chosen a name or how should I put it, a clan name. They have decided that you should have that honour.” warrior after warrior turned back to her but kept a wary eye on the men behind.copyright protection31PENANAcz5FIBkfzo

“First comes the knowledge that you both must impart and learn. Ladies and gentlemen we are at war. Our tacticians have indicated that landfall will be within one to two months Overlord time. You have three weeks to gain as much understanding and expertise of each other’s chosen field and then we leave for Overlord. Time is of the essence. Due to unforeseen circumstances, three weeks is all you have.”copyright protection31PENANAQE4myQFiRQ

She stepped off the stump and  took the Sensei gently by the elbow and led her away towards an old Japanese man whom she called Father.copyright protection31PENANAEyJTuTbXxf

CHAPTER 14copyright protection31PENANAVKP1qyDKNd

Landfall – D hourcopyright protection31PENANA8DRdZq4FIW

A STATE OF WARcopyright protection31PENANAwnuggZ9sWH

The first drop ships made landfall on a blistering hot afternoon.copyright protection31PENANAISrxTR5xCT

The forward teams of enemy fighters and scout ships entered Overlord’s atmosphere unmolested.copyright protection31PENANAKLwCZw23bK

Field workers were the first to be taken as prisoners of war.copyright protection31PENANAZI7uYot8Rp

“Are you willing to lay your life down for this decision Admiral Blair? Not only yours but all of ours?copyright protection31PENANAQzhh7b9dIM

“Sire.” He bent his head, self-doubt sent tentacles down his spine and into his thrumming heart. Shaking his head in frustration, he looked at the comp screen. “Sire. This is a trap. A  clever trap to draw us out into a killing field of their own making. Should we engage, and everything about it tells me that we must not, then we will be severely at a disadvantage.”copyright protection31PENANA6syC4x97Al

“Let me get this straight Admiral,” the Emperor said in an agitated voice. “You are telling me that I must not attack and that neither must you. To allow the enemy to get a foothold on our Capital planet and to allow them to dig in? Is this what you are advising me?” the anger in her eyes burned across the thousands of kilometers.copyright protection31PENANARA3Z42oxbf

“Yes Sire. They have already done the unexpected by splitting their forces. Our people made the mistake of thinking that this war would be similar to that of the Annulars with their frontal attacks. I tried many times to convince YOU that-that attitude would be disastrous. These are, in the end, humans and, like us,  just as devious. We cannot, must not attack yet, Sire. A day. Three at most. Allow complacency to set in. Allow them to become impatient. They have travelled countless distances to arrive at this moment. There is only one thing they can think of right now and that is to bring the war to us as soon as possible. They will in the end Sire, spring their own trap and then …” His icy blue eyes begged her to understand.copyright protection31PENANAX1OfjWqt98

“To my way of thinking Admiral,” the Emperor said, as she looked off-screen in deep thought. “Is that outer space is  that; space. Surely you can find them out there? One cannot hide a large enemy force where there is no hiding place? Where could they have gone?”copyright protection31PENANAffBNSGk1NV

He smiled to himself as he heard her words. It seemed she had forgotten that her own navy including the might of the Annular, were at this moment in hiding, themselves. In hiding in an area where there was no place to hide at all. “We have tracked them since the first indications of their arrival Sire and with the Annulars help, we know for a fact that the two forces we know of, although large, are not all there are supposed to be. A third force has somehow eluded us.”copyright protection31PENANAmFwqEBs28E

“And the spy satellites? What of them?”copyright protection31PENANAi6F7lY3Mrc

“Again Sire. The Satellites first registered minor movement and soon after failed to respond which to me, indicates that they were destroyed. If you would follow the picture on your screen …” he tapped on the screen before him and a diagram of Overlord appeared on both screens. “The green flashing lights are our spy satellites Sire. Now watch.” Seven lights turned red, one after the other.copyright protection31PENANAVHswvkcPm0

“How?” she asked simply.copyright protection31PENANALJFi9jTCm2

“If I were a man prone to superstition Sire, I would have to admit to magic being the only way. But as I’m not, I’m leaning towards Old earth has found a means to avoid detection. Though, and this is my best bet, they have not completely got the hang of it yet as indicated by the satellites which picked up some sort of anomaly  before they stopped responding. We are evaluating the data right now Sire and hopefully will have the answers soon.”copyright protection31PENANAgE8WLuVOgn

“Are they there? There where those red lights are blinking?”copyright protection31PENANA1b4tIzOUpa

“Yes Sire. Like us, they are in hiding beyond Overlord itself. And yet, we cannot attack because we have nothing to attack. We will be seen coming and will be destroyed without  catching a glimpse of the enemy. We may  fly right past them and not notice. We require more information. Attack now and we may not only lose men and fighters but also lose our main advantage; surprise.”copyright protection31PENANAUbUzt3TmGg

“I take it the moon’s satellites are also destroyed and included in this?” she asked but did not wait for an answer. “My scouts and Polrobs have been reporting a lot of movement down there Admiral. The enemy is making a move on Kargo City it seems. They will be knocking down buildings and killing my people in a  short time. Do I do nothing?”copyright protection31PENANAoXUxTG1Pvi

“They want us to attack. We dare not. That second group Sire, ships of extremely heavy tonnage and…” he tapped on the screen again. The green and red blinking lights disappeared and two large cluster of red lights appeared a few thousand kilometers from each other. “This is the first enemy cluster” he pointed to a group of lights, “They are nosing about trying to draw us out but notice how close they stay to the second group Sire, which is positioned right above their ground forces. The first group is the muscle. The second, devoid of their human cargo has nonetheless, the ability to deliver serious fire power. Their fire power alone will destroy our forces in moments. This is going to be a space war Sire. Let us do what we are paid to do. Let us fight this war out there where we have the advantage. Then and only then, do we mop up the ground forces.”copyright protection31PENANAcxtg0bQP6f

“But, my people.”copyright protection31PENANAZ1rUBUYvgE

“Will die whether you respond or not,” he said harshly. “Sire, we have a small window of opportunity. A very small one. First we discover as much as possible about this invisibility trick and then …”copyright protection31PENANALFCFcwmelR

“Invisibility?” she asked. “Admiral. Just a moment.” She said excitedly and disappeared from the comp screen as somebody came up behind him. copyright protection31PENANAwxo0OpcEej

“Admiral, sir….”copyright protection31PENANAUekl8Wg7rw

“Excuse me Mr. Quiney. I’m  busy at the moment.”copyright protection31PENANALccoSpUeEf

“Sir. Pardon me, sir. But the results. We have the results, sir. It’s the mass. We were looking in the wrong place.”copyright protection31PENANA6bNvbBVoga

“Mass? What mass, Mr. Quiney.” The admiral frowned, trying to change from one subject to the other in his mind.copyright protection31PENANAHbp2xyYNFp

“The third enemy force sir. Look.” He passed over a batch of printouts. “The enemy may be invisible sir. But they could not do anything about their mass. And according to these figures,” he pointed out to a table of random numbers on the sheet of paper.copyright protection31PENANAkrBxPuWJJA

“Mr. Quiney, what am I looking at?”copyright protection31PENANAZQLMlXohlE

“Here, sir.” The admiral’s number one pointed at a section of a graph that peeked upwards. “This shows the information received at 15H46. There were no sightings of the enemy. And here,” his finger moved to the end of the graph, “Is the time of destruction; 15H46, 5753. But if we go here,” he paged over, “16H04 and time of destruction; 16H04, 5236. And here …”copyright protection31PENANAr3QR5np3b4

“I get the point, Mr. Quiney. So it took them  under a minute to destroy each satellite. The question is how the  satellites knew the enemy was there in the first place unless a large mass approached from off camera and disturbed highly sensitive apparatus.” His eyes followed the pointing finger. He turned the page and noticed that the figures matched the previous ones, he whistled softly.copyright protection31PENANAtvv52kzZ4i

“They all match, sir. Every one of them. That’s a serious amount of fire power out there waiting for us to make a mistake.”copyright protection31PENANAz38lPuidLE

“Thank you, Mr. Quiney.” The admiral said as he noticed a silent and  excited Emperor impatiently waiting for his attention. He smiled at her, “We have found them Sire. Sooner than expected it seems. The answer is that they may have found a way to become invisible but not how to hide themselves completely.”copyright protection31PENANASdHI4N6tQh

“Shall we discuss  how we are going to attack all three forces at once, or do you still plan on waiting for three days while they kill my people before my very eyes?”copyright protection31PENANAyjM4oPoYOt

CHAPTER 15copyright protection31PENANAhowpJmU2AG

Landfall - plus 18 hourscopyright protection31PENANAHtTobYchs2

First contact – spacecopyright protection31PENANAz1ml5LbuJZ

“So  where the hell are they?”  asked President Sayed of the United Confederate.copyright protection31PENANAX0ouq7Rkar

He turned to his friend, Fleet Admiral Juan Ponce de Leon. “This waiting is getting to me, Juan. I say we go in hard. Attack their Capital and be done with it.”copyright protection31PENANA0RUUg6Tsom

Anger burned in the de Leon’s eyes as he looked up from the tablet in his hand. “Just like us Daniel, they are waiting for the first move. The one who moves first, is in all likelihood, the one who is going to lose. Hours. Days. Who knows? We wait. They are out there and all we have to do is find them.”copyright protection31PENANAvXnRjsCuWm

“So find them damnit.”copyright protection31PENANAuUnSoN0f8b

de Leon ignored Sayed as a Petty Officer came towards him, excitement pumping through every bone of his body. “Contact sir. Two of our scouts were destroyed … here.” he pointed at the flat screen of the hand held tablet.copyright protection31PENANAH82C3jIXL6

“Hmm. Section six in quadrant four. That’s what, two moons circling that poor excuse of a planet the size of tennis ball? Give me all the data you have on that planet and those moons. I do believe we have found our missing targets. Get me some scouts out there and have five destroyers and the Margrave standing by. Notify the scouts to send in a couple of UTD’s* first. If they are destroyed, get me Commander Ashram.”copyright protection31PENANAjh4G8n8LR5

***copyright protection31PENANA8mZvfoifDq

The Petty Officer returned two hours later, “Sir, we have Commander Ashram on screen sir.”copyright protection31PENANAqlztXDMFAy

The Admiral glared at his Petty Officer. “The UTD’s were destroyed?”copyright protection31PENANAMUPQAYdJK5

“No sir. They are still fully operational sir. It’s the scouts. They were destroyed, sir.” The admiral’s mind went into overdrive. “What you are telling me Petty Officer, is that the enemy somehow knew that the UTD’s were drones? That they were unarmed and therefore not a danger? That they went for the scouts instead?”copyright protection31PENANAPSsOoHdHXR

“It looks that way, sir.”copyright protection31PENANA8ncIR9lEPW

“Let me speak to Commander Ashram.” He grabbed the tablet and found the weather-beaten face of Commander Ashram displayed on its flat surface. “Commander? Find out  what in blazes is going on in Section six, quadrant four will you? Take five destroyers that are standing by for your orders. Four scouts have been reported as destroyed in that area but for some reason not one of the UTD’s have been touched. Unscrambled signals emitted from the UTD’s will not affect you. Do not destroy them. Should you make contact with superior enemy forces, hightail it out of there and report back as soon as possible.”copyright protection31PENANAcBQ2sr1GaM

“As you command, sir.”copyright protection31PENANAMZFeO3V1KS

Commander Ashram had done it all.copyright protection31PENANASTg5B7eXM4

He had been beaten by snow storms in the Himalaya’s. Tanned by one desert after another. He had experienced exposure to sun, sea and biting cold, extreme heights to unplumbed depths, spelunked into caves and minor known grottoes,  and dived into the depths of almost every ocean. An adrenalin junky and speed freak, he was quite the hero and leading figure on many subjects ranging from Bungee jumping to the best way of starting an ant farm. He had become the navy’s most decorated and formidable senior officer it ever had.copyright protection31PENANATZGK28b3Pm

A question once asked by a reporter summed up his outlook to life and its dangers. “Mr. Kistnasamy, to what do you owe your success? You have made millions from discoveries like the Atlantis scroll you found off the Dead Sea, and according to our resources, spent millions on equipment that in the end you didn’t  utilize. How is it sir, that you are able to be so successful in all your adventures?”copyright protection31PENANAQBmvPbyLdj

“I didn’t force them to pay me all that money you know,” he had answered in a jocular fashion. “Seriously now. It is a simple fact of life my friend, that when something can go wrong, it has done so already. I plan for anything and everything and usually end up patting myself on the back for outthinking fate. Now there was this one time when …”copyright protection31PENANAE6cUbO2qLO

Commander Ashram Kistnasamy was prepared for anything…copyright protection31PENANAuFNapQjBT8

Fight or flee, he always went into a situation well prepared. Two thousand three hundred and six fighters prepared - thank you very  much and every single one of them top notch and chewing at the leash. A painstakingly careful man, but not averse to taking a few chances.copyright protection31PENANAYJJkfzwNkJ

Experience had taught him that to draw out the enemy one had to show him a target or two. With the Margrave tucked neatly between five hungry destroyers, it moved towards the targeted area some nine hundred and thirty-seven thousand kilometers away.copyright protection31PENANA7YQkT18VsT

“Get me some fighters out there Number One. Three squads should do it. Recon only and not more than five thousand kilometers ahead. Have the Kremlin and the San Antonio on their heels.” He glanced at the four tacticians sitting in their permanent huddle off to one side of the Bridge, “And get me an update on that planet.”copyright protection31PENANAKWyy7Yoqzi

“Aye. Aye, sir.” His second in command acknowledged and giving orders over the ship’s intercom.copyright protection31PENANAyy2iThRp5c

From the Bridge, the Commander watched as ninety of his fighter pilots and their craft maneuvered into position. A few seconds later he blinked as their afterburners kicked in leaving blue red images on his retina. He smiled grimly as the Kremlin and the San Antonio followed on their heels. It would take his fighters seven hours at their current velocity, to arrive at their destination, and with the main recon force only half an hour behind, Commander Ashram Kistnasamy felt in control of the situation.copyright protection31PENANA9caZx41F0t

A situation that unfortunately for him, changed drastically as five hours later, still hours from their destination, his well laid plans went down the tubes.copyright protection31PENANAzLq8jx6IYG

 “Sir, reports of unidentified enemy engagement.”copyright protection31PENANA1xe3Q7kHxq

“Unidentified Number One?” he turned and raised an eyebrow. copyright protection31PENANAUGC5G99HP9

“Sir, both the Kremlin and the San Antonio are under heavy fire. I don’t understand sir, there is no enemy.”copyright protection31PENANAboUBwe9DX8

“Patch me through.” he grabbed the earpiece and put it in his right ear. “Captain Grover? A Sitrep* if you please.”copyright protection31PENANAkYFy2vGmdd

“Get me a  target. I want something to shoot at dammit. Find me something.”copyright protection31PENANAM8UpdAzmip

“Captain?” The commander stared through the large view port into the pitch blackness of space. Sudden large flare-ups of light in the distance faded away to be replaced by two smaller ones, then two more and then another. copyright protection31PENANAwtNr4kFeYC

“Commander. We have…” a loud explosion reverberated in his ear.copyright protection31PENANAmiB2RDyx0L

“Mayday. Mayday. All channels. We are abandoning ship. This is the Destroyer Kremlin. I repeat, the Destroyer Kremlin.”copyright protection31PENANALNUFc7gMty

A loud warbling siren came over the fearfully controlled voice. “Mayday. Mayday. Abandoning ship. Unidentified enemy have destroyed the San Antonio. Our position is …”copyright protection31PENANAb01Zr6k6ki

“Scramble all fighters Number One and recall those squads. Get me somebody on the horn. I want to know what the hell we are dealing with here” he said calmly as he removed the earpiece.copyright protection31PENANAJHAlJrYhZY

Strident alarms echoed throughout the battleship as over two thousand fighters scrambled. “Tacticians,” he turned to the four men urgently conversing around a tactical screen two meters wide by two meters high. Onscreen, a mass of small, ever changing green blips swarmed around a larger one. Reminiscent of the old sonar equipment invented in earth’s halcyon days, a dark green light pulsed from the centre outwards every three seconds. Where the enemy would have shown red, there was a distinct emptiness.copyright protection31PENANA3KLXqY4HLy

“Situation report if you please.” They nodded to each other coming to some sort of agreement. “It seems, Commander, that we are in the most unenviable position of not having enough facts.” One said. The speaker was deep in his forties with short gray cropped hair that did nothing but enhance his receding hairline.  Intelligent blue eyes regarded the Commander.copyright protection31PENANAgXyhWZog6J

“Sir. Report’s coming in,” his second in command tapped lightly on a tablet. With a cold and professional voice, he interrupted the tactician. “The San Antonio destroyed with all hands. The Kremlin has lost over eighty percent of her compliment and is breaking up. Further information pending. No sightings or descriptions of the enemy. Thirty-four fighters either destroyed or heavily damaged and are being escorted aboard ship. Preliminary debriefing in twenty minutes.”copyright protection31PENANAyQq9b9B9qA

“Thank you, Number One. Proceed Mr. Clark. You were saying?”copyright protection31PENANA8ulTrLSwtE

“We need more information, Commander. What we do believe is that the enemy has lured us into a position whereby they can pick us off one at a time. First they ignore the UTD’s and take out the scouts. Now they ignored the fighters and went for the Kremlin and the San Antonio. This tells us that we are dealing with a decisive and intelligent mind. Take out the biggest threat and then decimate the leftovers one by one.”copyright protection31PENANA4JBC1xCpOI

“Agreed Mr. Clark. I only have one  large problem. Just where the blazes is the enemy in the first place. I have lost two  large and  capable destroyers and hundreds of lives within minutes of each other.” He glared at the four men.copyright protection31PENANA9nyzwKJ7Ta

One stepped forward. “A possibility has occurred to us that seems farfetched, but nevertheless, we have an enemy tha…”copyright protection31PENANAH1E2V5OOBi

A loud explosion rocked the Margrave.copyright protection31PENANAsG14j2CVsq

Seconds later clamorous alarms whoop-whooped throughout the battleship and had everyone looking up with fear registering on their faces. If there was the one alarm that sent cold chills down spines and set knees trembling, that would be the alarm for a hull breach.copyright protection31PENANAEBNdbkXUrQ

Confirmation came seconds later. The ship’s computer proclaimed the bad news.copyright protection31PENANA49SJcNP1Cr

MULTIPLE BREACHES FORE AND AFT.copyright protection31PENANAj57k9qnLmP

BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTIONS 003CHARLIE AND 082YANKIE.copyright protection31PENANAb0rZdDjbxK

“Kill those  alarms,” roared the Commander. “I can’t hear myself think.” He nodded with satisfaction as they were abruptly silencedcopyright protection31PENANA2CUUl6Ib7k

“003CHARLIE?” Tactician member, Clark Brooks whispered aghast, his face gone a pasty white. “That’s two airlocks from the Bridge.” He turned to his three equally fearful comrades. “Where is 082YANKIE? Find the thing guys.”copyright protection31PENANACqpKLza8kx

They scrambled to their seats and began tapping on tablet screens.copyright protection31PENANAYwxqvL3PXA

The results paralyzed them.  Engine room.copyright protection31PENANAAZduTzABKI

The commander ignored the man. “Report Number One. Did some stupid pilot fly into my ship? What have you …?” he stopped as he registered the blank face of his most trusted friend and Officer. “What?”copyright protection31PENANAWn9m7UVi2g

“Sir…Sir...that was no accident, sir. All fighters accounted for. It’s a wasp’s nest out there and …” another explosion rocked the Bridge and the immediate whoop-whoop of a breach alarm sounded. It was killed almost instantly.copyright protection31PENANAP1Mnri9u86

BREACH. FORE. 002BRAVO. BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTION 002BRAVO.copyright protection31PENANA5I5jcYSNAD

“What the hell?” the Commander shouted. “Shields up Number One. Full strength.”copyright protection31PENANAww1FT8zOqC

“All destroyers under attack, sir. Same situation.” Number One said in a slightly firmer, yet trembling voice. “Squadron fighters report no enemy or enemy fire.”copyright protection31PENANA5gESD5aMAi

“Sir.” A tactician grabbed his attention. “We must retreat. Now, while we still have the chance.” A slight tremor vibrated through the ship’s deck plating.copyright protection31PENANASG1YZeWS2x

“Get us out of here Number One. ASAP.” His mind calculated events at high speed. “The bastards breached our shields somehow. Send out every type of scan we have, the enemy is bound to leave some sort of trace of itself. Anything. Anything and everything is to be reported to me at once.”copyright protection31PENANAvy4wdXFNM6

“Aye. Aye. Sir.” The deck plates groaned as stress forces coursed through the ship’s hull. “And get me a bird’s eye view on the next breach. I want to see what we are dealing with. Shields down, they are of no use anyways.”copyright protection31PENANAqRm4J0aUNK

A  scared but determined Petty Officer handed him a portable tablet. “Visuals, sir. A possible breach in section 467MIKE. Just aft of the airlock.”copyright protection31PENANAdGqeEqtAiv

The Commander stared fearfully at the display on the tablet as a small section of the ship’s hull glowed orange and then red with heat. “Have the pilot fire at that spot. Now, dammit! Fire!”copyright protection31PENANA8O3clh905V

He blinked when the sudden flare of a short burst of laser fire and the resultant flash of a small explosion burst across the screen. The tablet froze and he tossed it back to the Petty Officer. “Get me another one, on the double.”copyright protection31PENANA7vNuAwuKrh

The Petty Officer grabbed one lying at his workstation. He thumbed the screen and handed it back to the Commander.copyright protection31PENANAuEXVTClmdE

“Get me Comms* with that pilot.” He dug in his breast pocket and pulled out the ear piece. The hotspot had cooled down and as he watched, it went from cherry red to orange to metal grey.copyright protection31PENANARlsVxOcGPi

“Captain Rogers reporting,” the voice said.copyright protection31PENANACWOqqoXV8o

“Captain Rogers? Commander Kistnasamy. You did good Captain, now get your arses into gear and patrol the hulls of all the ships. Look out for hotspots and fire at them. The enemy has some sort of invisibility shield or cloaking device. Use light and sound scanners and video record all action. Get to it Captain. By the way, what does my battleship look like where your laser fire hit it?”copyright protection31PENANAdD2bzVNUi0

“Not too bad, sir. A little longer on the trigger and it may well have been another story.”copyright protection31PENANAz9l25SQizG

“Just you give that bit of information to the other pilots Captain. Try not to blow us up will you?” He removed the ear piece without waiting for the reply.copyright protection31PENANAAcCoC3MzZV

“A costly discovery sir.”copyright protection31PENANAXcy0n7Wa2e

He turned and smiled at his Number One. “True. But one we can expect from now on and have an answer to. Send word to the Pyrenees. Report enemy contact. The use of some sort of small and cloaked device that burns through the ship’s hull. The Kremlin and the San Antonio destroyed, including forty-three fighters either destroyed or severely damaged. Give them the low down on all we have of the buggers.” He frowned thoughtfully. And continued, “Am returning for survivors. Awaiting further instructions. And get me a sit-rep* from the destroyers.”copyright protection31PENANAaBowEtouLY

“Aye. Aye. Sir.”copyright protection31PENANAbmaNKNRxmQ

CHAPTER 16copyright protection31PENANAsk30lq8hBb

Landfall - plus 27 hourscopyright protection31PENANAwMMViroGWa

Overlord – the beginning of the endcopyright protection31PENANAE7wPVgCMOZ

“Sergeant Sir. I’m not feeling too well.”copyright protection31PENANADgkGhF7pXI

“What do you mean you are not feeling too well you horrible little man? Move from that position and I will show you how unwell you can really look you funny-man you.” The Sergeant unsympathetically vowed his wrath at the soldier whose face twisted in pain.copyright protection31PENANAAuunpMONtL

He snapped off a grass stem and chewing it only to spit it out and grimace in disgust. “Damned stuff tastes like crap.” He mumbled as a sound from behind had him glance back. He caught a glimpse of Lieutenant Volos, ass in the air and leopard crawling towards his position through the long grass. “At them in ten Jackson.” The lieutenant said by way of greeting. “Right and left flank has thirty tanks each with a few mobile flamethrowers thrown in for luck. Mortars and cannon in …” he glanced at his wristwatch, “Four and a few odd. Will stop in five and then it’s our lots turn.”copyright protection31PENANAY8SuYNLAzz

“Remind me  why we are attacking a city Lieutenant? This isn’t war and it’s going to be a massacre.”copyright protection31PENANAAdQVU7A1wy

The lieutenant said, “Doing as I’m told Sergeant. Just like you. But I have been notified that the scouts have seen an exodus of civilians. Seems that there are only a few stragglers still on the roads. Any more questions?”copyright protection31PENANAK72fvr1kfv

“A whole dang lot of them Sir. One of them being where the enemy is, but I guess that question can wait.”copyright protection31PENANA5dDXICKtck

“Sarge? Hey Sarge?”copyright protection31PENANA3NxTIs0jtx

 “What the hell is it now Kowalski?”copyright protection31PENANAReFTtakvuz

“Just to let you know Sarge, Bowie over here  crapped himself and it stinks kinda awful like. He actually crapped himself Sarge and I don’t think he looks great.”copyright protection31PENANA0zNEwvggZt

“Fuck.” the man turned and glanced about. “Medic. Yeah you, you dumb shit. Get your ass over here and check up on Trooper Bowie there. If the fuck is shamming it I want to know ASAP.”copyright protection31PENANAB2g9WZBXi5

“Sure thing Sarge.” The Medic answered crawling towards the indicated trooper  as the crashing sounds of Cannon sent high explosive projectiles overhead. Mortars thumped and sent their own projectiles straight up into the air to burst open at one hundred and thirty feet to swiftly drift towards the waiting and silent town not half a kilometer from the waiting ground troops. Shell after shell slammed into buildings, tarred roads and  a duck pond. Dust, raging fires and collapsing walls added to the melee. First hundreds then thousands of mortar rounds kept being sent overhead to burst open and drift towards the killing grounds. The first rounds of suspended death exploding, sending hundreds of miniature explosive ball bearings down on the unsuspecting enemy below. Then more and more exploded and a rain of death lashed the city in a rolling, creeping thunder of detonations. A pall of dust hung in the air above the city and the sound of falling masonry went unheard as homes, offices and buildings came crashing down. The spearhead attack on a major city of Overlord had begun. An attack that was calculated by the tacticians to bring out the enemy forces from wherever they were hiding.copyright protection31PENANAuaj93MkohO

“Heads down you bloody idiots.” shouted the Sergeant over the reverberating Cannon shot. “Jumpers next.” The word was carried by Sergeants and their Corporals as all ducked and tried to dig their shallow trenches deeper while cursing the hard ground and a lack of covering.copyright protection31PENANAYinLWUhdbg

Jumpers. A metaphor if there ever was one. Take a  large Mortar tube, say with a radius of approximately 375mm and drop in another  large looking ball bearing that weighed next to nothing and had what looked like a skirt of charges attached around its circumference. Stand well back and press the remote. The name Jumper was derived from the fact that every time the ‘ball bearing’ hit the ground, it would simultaneously release one explosive canister and then bounce straight up into the air at ever decreasing heights. Five canisters, five bounces. Each canister could, and more often than not, level half a city block. The nightmare of bouncing death was bad enough, but determining  where the next hit would be was terrifying and unpredictable. In this way, many an attacking force was cut to shreds by its own weaponry as without warning, a jumper hitting the ground at an angle would bounce in their direction.copyright protection31PENANAGMjXVfXxcf

“What the fuck?” the sergeant jerked about in surprise as he felt a hand plucking at his shoulder.copyright protection31PENANACHqVRtIbS0

“Sarge. Look.” The lieutenant said over the now loud and distinctive popping sound of the Mortars sending their cargoes into the destroyed city. He pointed off to one side.copyright protection31PENANAZQinCfhTss

“And  what am I supposed to be looking at Lieutenant?” He asked in irritation.copyright protection31PENANA99fs6bI3IU

“A woman. A goddamned woman.”copyright protection31PENANAjkCJgtdZF5

“Where?” asked the sergeant with more interest this time as he watched the lieutenant fumble at his side to bring forth an old and much dinged binoculars that looked as if it belonged in a museum.copyright protection31PENANAZFWi2yxkr0

“I knew it. A goddamned woman.”copyright protection31PENANAMB913gdLkV

“Let me have that.” The man cursed as he trained the glasses in the general direction. “Well what do you know? A real life beauty should you ask me. Just standing there and watching us. Hey lieutenant. I do believe she is carrying a … yup. A bow and a sword. Yup. And a quiver full of arrows on her back. Man. Would you look at those legs and that  skirt is as short as anything I have ever seen.” he passed the binoculars back to the Officer who grabbed it and confirmed the sergeants sighting.copyright protection31PENANAGEgjnxNBws

“Now why do you think a next to naked looking woman would be standing in the open and staring at us?” asked the Lieutenant with a frown.copyright protection31PENANAHw7EOacmuE

“Bugger that. If you would pardon the expression Sir.” The Sergeant said as he stared at the small figure in the distance. “The correct question should be whether there are any more of them?”copyright protection31PENANAmgfwiiMv46

 The Officer turned to the Sergeant and frowned  as the Comms* unit on their breast pockets buzzed softly. Instantly the woman was forgotten as they surged to their feet and exhorting the men about them. “On your feet soldier. Spread out and move out. Don’t bunch there you dumb fucks. Spread out. Move. Move you prick. You there, Corporal, get those men on their  feet and I want those portable flamethrowers as far from me as possible.” the Sergeant was everywhere. Exhorting and cursing his men who, bent almost double, stumbled over the uneven meadow as they streamed towards the smoking, blasted city. Hundreds of similar clad soldiers moved out from their positions under shouted instructions from their NCO’s. Small, after explosions could still be heard as roiling, billowing clouds of black smoke rose into the air from various locations that had taken direct hits.copyright protection31PENANArLKH48eSKL

And behind them, left to their own recourse, a medic was struggling furiously to make their first casualty breathe by himself.copyright protection31PENANAkshs65Cjs6

***copyright protection31PENANAXPnclGv8cA

 “Wait for them to enter the city. When they find nobody to shoot at, they will become complacent.” Katya said.copyright protection31PENANAfEl0lq8AiT

“As plans go Sire. This may not be such a bad one at that.” Grinned an invisible Special Forces Officer at her side. “I would say in the region of five hours tops. It will be night then and the enemy will have set pickets, patrols and be thinking of one thing only Sire; sleep. That is when we should strike”copyright protection31PENANAlDlD5sJILb

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAPI0dVmUqu6

She glanced upwards but because the Polrob wore a specially designed plastic coated cloaking shield, it was invisible to the eye and metal detectors.copyright protection31PENANA0JKmJ6MSH5

SIRE. THREE OF THIS UNIT’S FAMILY HAS PERISHED. ANOTHER IS GREATLY DAMAGED AND IS BEING ESCORTED PLANET SIDE.copyright protection31PENANAM3I8GOAqxl

“Three?” she gasped in surprise. “How is that possible? Will the injured survive?”copyright protection31PENANABm4CA0Yuqt

A LACK OF RESPECT SIRE, FOR THE ENEMY AND HIS DEDUCTIVE REASONING. A MISTAKE THAT WILL NOT EASILY BE REPEATED. SURVIVAL OF THE WOUNDED IS IN QUESTION SIRE. TIME WILL TELL.copyright protection31PENANABrcmNWsAOa

“I am sorry my friend. I feel for you and your people. Send my condolences, and notify all that from now on, any who would fight or perish in my name would be honoured amongst my people for their selfless bravery, and restitution to your whole nation will be done. I request the names and affiliates of those that have gone before us. Ask of me whatever you wish and it is yours. This I promise.”copyright protection31PENANAFAdoIUdjkK

THE WURM AS A NATION THANK YOU SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAFW7JzHKyca

“The mistakes that were made, will they affect us here?” She asked, ever the stratagem.copyright protection31PENANA1NCe9qaC0Z

THE ENEMY IS A CLEVER ONE SIRE. WE WILL CHANGE STRATAGY EVERY FEW MINUTES. NEVER IN ONE PLACE FOR MORE THAN A FEW SECONDS. BEGINNING WITH AND ENDING WITH EVASIVE ACTIONS WHICH WOULD INCLUDE HEIGHT, SPEED AND FIRING-IN-MANAUVER. LOGIC SAYS THAT MANY MORE OF THE WURM AND ITS ALLIES WILL PERISH BEFORE THIS WAR IS OVER. THIS ACTION IS WELCOMED BY THE WURM FOR IT IS SUPPLYING US WITH KNOWLEDGE THAT WILL BE MUCH IN DEMAND IN THE FUTURE.copyright protection31PENANAMGz05iViBg

“Are you and the warriors in position at the base camp and over the city?”copyright protection31PENANA2gc90MRKk3

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAVmRyA0YLDZ

“Then it is only for us to wait.”copyright protection31PENANAKqGkrLDm3f

CHAPTER 17copyright protection31PENANAC6wPgxB7iW

Landfall – plus 29 hourscopyright protection31PENANAbdj2MU3KFG

OVERLORDcopyright protection31PENANAKq7qLycoUf

His stomach churned. A headache pounded where once upon a time he prided himself in being one of the few lucky ones to never be afflicted with such a minor affair. Could this be what was termed a migraine? Without knowledge of such mundane affairs, it could be a toss-up. What he did know was that the pain was getting worse. Even his joints were painful. He moaned his distress as he tried to ease his hipbone into a more comfortable position on the hard ground. The insulated self-heating sleeping bag, professed to being the infantryman’s best friend being half a step behind his Lasgun, did not seem to be doing a good job of supplying body warmth as he was shivering his butt off. Cold sweat covered his entire body and was running in rivulets down his face. Could he have picked up some flu virus or something? Should he get a medic?copyright protection31PENANAExmamCHYKZ

Still wondering what he should do, Trooper first class, John (Johnny-boy to his friends) Carlton Young, slipped into a coma, defecated in his military trousers and died soon after.copyright protection31PENANAVWdeYZ82KO

Of the eight thousand troops encamped in the demolished city of Fordsburg, close to two hundred others of his brethren showed the same symptoms. Unlike him, a diehard to the last, many of them called for unsympathetic medics who believed that the troopers tried to shirk their responsibilities. It was only when one unfortunate soldier happened to die while trying to convince said medical practitioner, that the alarm was raised. Word spread. Rumors abounded. The bush telegraph was reinvented.copyright protection31PENANAJvfQV0o7pj

The Empire had unleashed some sort of germ warfare against them. The food/water/air was poisoned. The only edible food was what could be found in shopping malls or stores. The kind still with wrappings on. (Company cooks had foraged and supplemented fresh greens and fruit to dwindling stocks of freeze dried and bland rations - there was a war going on after all and it took time to have food stocks delivered. Time that the infantryman was not prepared to wait for) The word spread, stay far away from running water – what there was of it, and drink only bottled water or  better yet, water supplied by their own military –  that is of course if the bastards had not taken a short cut and refilled their tankers from some close by stream or dam. Within minutes the word went out that any person with symptoms of pains or headaches should report to their NCO’s who took down particulars and sent them off to the medics who erected a hospital dome in a relatively undamaged park where the only casualty was a duck pond. By the sixth death, alarm bells their persistently clanging in the heads of surgeons who called in Evacs* to remove the afflicted to a quarantine ship for further scrutiny and investigation. copyright protection31PENANAn3QJedmVc6

“There is nothing wrong with this man.” The coroner said, removing skin-thin and blood covered gloves. Flicking a foot pedal with the tip of his shoe, he dropped the gloves into a bin marked for incineration.copyright protection31PENANAV728m18u3S

“You mean other than him being dead and all his insides laying on every conceivable surface?” Major Skinstead ironically asked.copyright protection31PENANAjNnyDjz2rZ

“Other than that Major, there is nothing wrong with this man.” The Coroner smiled grimly. “Appendicectomy as a child. Relatively fit. No malnourishment. Seems he had eaten not so long ago. Bit mushy though and requires more testing to see just what he ate. No puncture wounds and aside from a few abrasions on knees and elbows, there is nothing I can find that can determine cause of death. This fellow,” he clapped the corps lightly on the shoulder. “Is a prime suspect for the human race.”copyright protection31PENANAmO2dygrUcD

“I’m not following.”copyright protection31PENANA07K3f64nB8

“And neither am I, I’m afraid.” Quipped the Coroner. “This is definitely a curious situation.”copyright protection31PENANAgVWEtAX3Cp

“Curious? Situation?” the Major stared with astonishment at the white cloaked man before him. “Just to remind you sir,  in case you have not noticed , but we are invading the so called Empire with close to half a million troops and I cannot have men dropping like flies for no other reason than curiosity or because they feel like it. Find something.”copyright protection31PENANA2Zd5dLmEFy

“Oh. I will Major. If I may say so, my curiosity is piqued.”copyright protection31PENANAhGF2JV8OjK

The Major stared at the coroner with disgust. “I do not believe I like you sir.”copyright protection31PENANAXAFTe9tcd6

“Not unusual. Now, do you mind? I have work to do.”copyright protection31PENANABf6PkjBGXg

The Major turned on his heels and left the theater. He had a report to type out. A report that positively, with one hundred percent certainty, would have the top brass descending on his not so large shoulders  shortly.copyright protection31PENANAfeXVgHQpva

CHAPTER 18copyright protection31PENANAatKQmZZQcc

Landfall - plus 32 hourscopyright protection31PENANAXOs3DNmeuj

The game of chesscopyright protection31PENANAvJysEP9vfF

Space.copyright protection31PENANAFp8qfvpfmB

It is not the final frontier.copyright protection31PENANAsjpUm3IJic

Death is.copyright protection31PENANA2NWBfAqp6F

It has always been death.copyright protection31PENANA5M5eclJBB6

Death. On a collision course, descending with ever increasing speed, an unstoppable and vast multitude of half human and half machines approached a scrambling, surprised armada who were prepared for war. Prepared and ready for anything.copyright protection31PENANAd3pDYMHGvZ

Anything except suicidal maniacs.copyright protection31PENANATyMP92qAsw

***copyright protection31PENANAgximLvHv7i

  Shrieking alarms.copyright protection31PENANABkm1YkOF1j

Weapons trained and firing. Lasers. Torpedoes. Photon cannons. All firing in one direction; towards the approaching enemy still thousands of kilometers away.copyright protection31PENANAEUSrK2taCW

Battleships and their compliments. Destroyers. Cruisers and frigates. All jockeyed for space. Space that was now of urgent need. Space, legroom between each ship and the more of it the better. Fighters deployed to the flanks and waiting for the enemy to come into range.copyright protection31PENANAHSt0eevWKD

Excitement. Fear and rage. The body wanting to shut down due to panic. The sweat of fear and thumping hearts. Bulging, staring eyes and dry mouths. Loose bowels and the immediate urge to urinate; and still the enemy approached head on.copyright protection31PENANAfmXBnWWbCY

Fleet Admiral Juan Ponce de Leon clenched the armrests of his comfortable command seat. Flare-ups of exploding enemy craft could be seen in the black emptiness of space, thousands of kilometers away. He glanced at the screen before him and swallowed the rising stomach acid. There were so many.copyright protection31PENANAvgToIDqcO3

“Number One.” He said hoarsely and swallowed again, his eyes never leaving the screen. “Notify all ships; fire at will.” He did not hear the acknowledgement as before his eyes, a destroyer erupted in a staggering flame of destruction. Its hull broke open as large cracks tinged with bright red and orange flames of internal explosions ran across its exterior. The engines vaporized man and metal. Large and small chunks of half molten metal hull instantly became speeding shrapnel that clove into defensive force fields and were in turn vaporized or deflected to go speeding off into space. The abrupt and unanticipated destruction of the destroyer left the Admiral speechless as he struggled to come to terms with the impossible.copyright protection31PENANA8wWBxbQ37A

“Sir. We have multiple attacks on the Gregorian, Chamberlain and the Stalin. Sir.”copyright protection31PENANAGmWDYkAVwc

Admiral Isak Blair shook his head trying to dislodge the numbness that enveloped his brain, looked up at his Second in command. “Multiple attacks?” his quick glance at the screen before him confirmed what he already suspected. “Are there indications of those hotspots Commander Kistnasamy reported?”copyright protection31PENANAT2tMqbpQne

“Negative sir. But enemy fire is coming from unknown sources amongst our own forces. They’re amongst us sir. And we can’t see them.”copyright protection31PENANAUvKQ7h1Xk9

“Get me two fighter squads circling those ships. Have them fire short bursts of lasers as close as possible to each ships force shields. In all directions. The bastards are up to their tricks again. Have them keep an eye out for hotspots and anything out of the ordinary.” He turned to his personal screen and froze in disbelief. Relatively small in size as such screens go. Nevertheless, a 20 inch credible definition flat screen goes a long way in bringing factual events to life. Arrayed bottom center of the screen were his forces of ten Battleships, forty-six destroyers, cruisers and frigates. Lesser units of missile and torpedo ships filled the gaps while minelayers and sweepers lined up the rear. The flanks held over ten thousand fighter craft respectively. To the forefront of the screen, friend or foe transponders had difficulty in depicting and separating the magnitude of approaching enemy forces. Great swaths of red blinking lights depicting enemy ships stopped blinking as they were destroyed, and yet, still more came. Targeting computers were being strained to their utmost speed and efficiency and yet, the enemy had not fired one shot in reprisal or defense as with grim, unrelenting numbers, they swarmed headlong into shrieking sudden death as one enemy ship after the other met up with mines, missiles, torpedo or laser fire. Death was abrupt and immediate. Death most often took handfuls of the approaching enemy fighters in one white hot inferno after the other. Several others were so damaged by their close proximity to hell that they floundered into the paths of those behind thereby creating their own minor nightmare of confusion and destruction.copyright protection31PENANAy1wvFuPfpm

Yet still they came on.copyright protection31PENANArjoV5O6vFu

“We cannot maintain this rate of fire for much longer sir.”copyright protection31PENANAJzZuq7Mr57

“What?” the Admiral peered at his second in command. His vision blurred slightly from concentrating too hard on the screen before him. He had tried to think. To bring his thoughts in line. To somehow come up with a countermeasure to the approaching storm. copyright protection31PENANABD879NCZ22

“Torpedo and missile ships are running out of ordnance and requesting replacement of munitions.” His second in command said in a high pitched voice that trembled in fear and agitation. “I have instructed them to commence with distribution and replacement.”copyright protection31PENANAlulKpqywVe

Fleet Admiral Isak Blair nodded distractedly, his eyes already drifting to the screen.copyright protection31PENANA0FO0ae7XGd

“Sir. Admiral sir.” his second in command urged desperately. “Your instructions, sir. We have only moments and are waiting for your instructions. What must we do sir?”copyright protection31PENANA4iQdp001Z3

“Do?” the Admiral looked up and stared at the frozen President of the United Confederate of Nations who stood off to one side and silently stared out of the Bridge viewing port at the multi-coloured destruction heading inexorably towards them. “Do?” the Admiral repeated to himself unconsciously. “There are a few moves Number One, which can end a perfectly winnable game of chess. Due to whatever reason one can call a stalemate, a standoff or check,” he sighed heavily, “And this is neither. This is checkmate. We have been out played and out maneuvered by superior forces.”copyright protection31PENANA3lyp5YPEuL

“And the weapons sir?” not fully comprehending his superiors words. “We cannot maintain this rate of fire for much longer. The photon cannons are reaching excessively high temperatures. Two gunner placements have reported meltdowns of firing blocks. Laser cannon barrels are …”copyright protection31PENANASvrHvBWDyC

“Number One?”copyright protection31PENANAQDVHQkIRmI

“Sir?”copyright protection31PENANAUq3sP8qEMV

“Have a look at this,” the Admiral indicated the flat screen and waited for the man to approach. “See this?” he pointed at the enemy swarming towards them.”copyright protection31PENANAqFqRmWtjA2

“Sir. Yes sir.”copyright protection31PENANAWrFR9vbRnx

“And you want me to stop firing at them so that you can do maintenance?”copyright protection31PENANAzhYCKNLbsy

The man shuddered and his eyes looked up from the screen. “What do we do sir?” his plea a cry from the heart.copyright protection31PENANA6SexKBtdU4

“Unless there is a miracle,” his eyes drifted once more to the screen then to the Bridges large viewing port as by now, the enemy had become visible. Moving the screen aside on its axis, he calmly stood up and walked towards his friend, Sayed of the United Confederate of Nations. He stopped suddenly and turned about; “Unless there is a miracle Number One, and I do not see one lying about, do you?” the silent shaking of a head was all the answer he received. “Well then,” he smiled calmly. “Prepare to meet your maker.” A nod of dismissal and a few slow steps brought him to stand beside Sayed. “Pleasure knowing you Daniel.” He said calmly and gripped the man’s shoulder with a firm hand.copyright protection31PENANAgQvVHErSwO

The Presidents eyes flicked towards him then back to the view port. “I could do with a cold beer right now.” He watched as one particular enemy fighter seemed to grow larger and larger in the view port.copyright protection31PENANAq66oJQcu1F

“Your epitaph?”copyright protection31PENANA38xhGiS9wM

The “Sure, why not?” was cut midsentence as the mass of Annular at last opened up with a barrage of prolonged laser and torpedo fire.copyright protection31PENANAeMDJIkoadV

CHAPTER 24copyright protection31PENANAZD152KWffY

Landfall – plus 32 hours and countingcopyright protection31PENANAUi6sAMLtWh

OVERLORDcopyright protection31PENANAfa4TUMdjXq

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAfW4g171Xng

“Is it time?” she looked up into the darkened sky.copyright protection31PENANAVhz2K9PvCL

NOT FOR A SHORT WHILE YET SIRE. REPORTING CORRELATION OF INCONSISTENCY AMONGST THE INVADING FORCES. ONE THOUSAND AND NINETY-TWO MEMBERS HAVE REPORTED SOME SORT OF ILLNESS.copyright protection31PENANANSWRLREZbC

“An illness?” she asked in alarm, “What sort of illness?”copyright protection31PENANAqqyuHACIxZ

UNCONFIRMED AS OF YET SIRE. SPECIAL FORCES HAS DETERMINED THAT IT IS BETTER TO WAIT FOR MORE INFORMATION BEFORE ATTAINING ONE OR MORE OF THE REMAINS FOR FURTHER LABORATORY ANALYSIS.copyright protection31PENANAZthyw2Ilyl

She thought this through for a moment, “Agreed. Though I notice you said remains. Are they dying?” she asked truly alarmed now.copyright protection31PENANA7le3dZVSZ6

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAupx2UeCwXa

“This could be an outbreak of some sort of … of trauma they developed after traveling such vast distances. Or maybe it’s an outbreak of some disease they brought with them. Have any similar reports been made throughout the Empire?” she worriedly got to her feet and dusted her skirt off.copyright protection31PENANAwWEOvaRewp

NONE SIRE. IT SEEMS THAT THIS MALADY IS RESTRICTED TO THE INVADERS AT THE MOMENT. ALL REPORTED CAPTURED ENEMY ARE IN RELATIVE GOOD HEALTH EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHO REFUSED TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS. THERE ARE THE TYPICAL RESULTANT BROKEN APPENDAGES OR INTERNAL INJURIES ATTAINED WHILE QUESTIONING, BUT NONE SHOW SYMPTOMS OF THE ILLNESS.copyright protection31PENANAzDKNHXNCPM

“I do not like this new illness. It scares me. We have not had any break out of illnesses for …When was the last time a disease of this magnitude was reported?’copyright protection31PENANAJkbgn6vZDs

NINE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN YEARS AGO SIRE. SEVEN CITIZENS PERISHED.copyright protection31PENANAa9pPYUZP8w

“Nine hundred …? How many of the invaders have died so far?” She had not grasped the number previously mentioned.copyright protection31PENANAeI9ZvQWitM

OUR TOTAL IS UNCONFIRMED SIRE, THOUGH WHAT IS, COMES TO A TOTAL OF ONE THOUSAND AND NINETY-TWO MEMBERS .copyright protection31PENANA5d7huunZu0

“That many?” she gasped in surprise. “Well it sure cuts down on the overall count we have to kill.” She breathed deeply as fear got a foothold on her imagination. “No.” she shook her head determinedly. “Get me somebody suitable out here to attain one or more of the dead and if at all possible, a few sick prisoners. Have them start with investigations into this outbreak. Oh. And remind me about those prisoners when this war is over.”copyright protection31PENANAsEaRu8MuYU

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANA0dD9c809ru

“How long before we attack.”copyright protection31PENANAWxH3Ocxbb1

“Twenty minutes Sire,” a voice at her side made her jump as she peered into the darkness. “You are a  quiet man Colonel.” She said.copyright protection31PENANAcEGmvaviEt

“Part of my makeup Sire. We are ready.”copyright protection31PENANAdEHQOTYP2q

“Are you positive Colonel that we cannot bring our big guns into play? Our armed forces are twiddling their thumbs and screaming to be involved. There is quite a lot of the enemy spread about my world and I frankly cannot keep our forces underground for much longer.”copyright protection31PENANAjYX12MdzYp

“As I live and breathe Sire.” He removed his head covering so she could see his face in the gloom. “I agree completely with Admiral Blair, the moment we show our tanks and mechanized units, they will be destroyed. We have to wait for him to give us the go ahead but I must add Sire, there is some good news. We are bringing some of our heavy guns forward in ones and twos. Nothing much  and at a snail's pace I agree, but should we speed things up now, the enemy would lay waste to all our forces. We have not prepared ourselves for a ground-to-space war. It’s either up there or down here where it gets dirty. In the future …”copyright protection31PENANABa4ixzs2S7

“In the  near future Colonel,” she abruptly cut in. “I guarantee military installations with missiles and what have you. In space and on the ground!  I will not be caught out like this again. This war would be lost from day one were it not for the Polrobs and the Annular.” She watched as he replaced his hood and his head vanished. “We have much to be grateful for Sire. But now, a short distance from us, our own war is about to begin without us. Shall we?”copyright protection31PENANAw5MdVA7Uq9

War Clan William, eager, fearfully chomping at the bit, moved out silently into the night. Hundreds of invisible Special Forces glided wordlessly, effortlessly amongst them. Above, unseen and just as silently, hundreds of Polrobs skimmed towards their unsuspecting targets.copyright protection31PENANAlJ8iLa5ZJ3

The first to die were the pickets. Meant to keep watch for any un-anticipated event, they nevertheless died in their numbers with un-anticipated regularity until an over-eager warrior woman made the mistake of setting off a perimeter alarm that had sirens blaring their harsh and strident noise for all to hear. The immediate detonation of a claymore mine put an abrupt end to her recriminations as flares shot up into the night sky and illuminated the immediate area with its otherworldly shimmering light.copyright protection31PENANAoldsDK26NV

The fight began. Short bursts of laser fire erupted from every direction. Bodies crumpled. Shouts, screams of wounded and dying. Stunned and disorientated soldiers erupting from their sleeping bags were laid waste from above  before they could get a finger onto a trigger. Half destroyed and gutted buildings were entered where long and  sharp swords cut the life from confused defenders screaming for help on comm sets suddenly awash with  more screams. Tanks jerked to life as crew members piled into them. Switches were flicked and sudden harsh light illuminated the immediate area around each tank that had the defenders as well as their attackers blinking as they hesitated.copyright protection31PENANAdj0ZxVAEQ0

Inside the tanks, the crew gaped in astonished awe at the half naked women that had attacked them. The glint of a sword. A rolling head and the killing commenced.copyright protection31PENANAObKWtv6yuQ

“It’s a damned lot of women.” shouted the driver of a tank who gunned the tanks electric/H²O 350.5 liter engine.copyright protection31PENANABTbPmOApUn

“What’s a damned lot of women?” asked the machine gunner as he checked the load on his weapon. “Rotary locked and loaded... Fuck!” for the first time he noticed that it was only the two of them in the tank. “Here. What happened to Michelson and Pieter’s?” he asked. Glaring down at the driver in his seat. The driver turned and looked up. “A bunch of fucking women wearing skirts attacked us with swords man. The whole fucking camp seems to be in the crapola. And don’t  ask about Michelson and Pieter’s ok. They were behind you. Right behind you.” he turned back to his visual plate and stared in wonder as he caught a glimpse of a pair of naked thighs as they clambered onto his tank. “Shit.”copyright protection31PENANAk8Hk8fgIT6

“Seems we have somebody hitching a ride,” the gunner looked up. His eyes following the loud scuffing sounds of the woman . The tank was sealed shut and short of a direct hit by anything larger than a 235mm Howitzer shell, the hitchhiker was plumb outa luck. They did not call these tanks the Corrupters for nothing. “Crap with that. Give me some targets.” He jerked a lever and the turrets servo motors whining as its long 155mm barrel swung down from its vertical position. Placing his gunners helmet over his head, the internal situational screen lit up and in its green glow he saw the outlines of buildings and moving figures. The sharp, short bursts of laser fire caught his attention but he could not discern enemy from foe. For that he would have to wait.copyright protection31PENANAJIhuEL0Kkv

The driver having vacated his chair in a rush, darted over to the battle-ops-computer, flipped a switch and waited impatiently for the  thing to run through its prelim diagnostics. “Ok. Hang on. This is going to take some doing. Got one. Another. Fuck you. Got you. Here comes three.” He said breathlessly as he punched the keyboard. Three targeting crosses depicted themselves on the gunner’s situational screen and he immediately jerked the machine guns trigger three times. There was no time for satisfaction on a job well done as more and more thin white crosses appeared. Suddenly the tank rocked on its air cushions and the driver cum plotter was slung to one side. “What the hell was that?” He groaned as he wiped blood from his face. Struggling to get up from where he lay wedged between his seat and the tanks hull, he made it half way when the tank was rocked again. The sound that reverberated through the tank had him clench both hands awkwardly over his ears. It was as if somebody had taken a gigantic sledge hammer to the hull. “Get us out of here,” he screamed forgetting for a moment that he was the driver. Something butted his head from behind and he swatted at it only to have it butt his head again. Turning around, he did a double take as his eyes registered the gunners dangling blood drenched arm, his eyes followed it upwards to the slumped body entangled in the safety straps that neither of them had thought to use. With a mind gone numb, he stared at his seat and tried to think of what to do. That thought never had a chance of becoming a reality as his whole world abruptly became a nightmare of sound, flames and shrapnel.copyright protection31PENANABWoMLLBlbw

Silent, swiftly moving and invisible death descended on the out-world foe from all directions. Where the enemy regrouped, sudden death erupted in their midst. Where the enemy tried to reorganize their failing flanks, death from above blew holes through their ranks. The enemy had long minutes to realize that the foe they saw – women to the last one – were not the only attackers to fear. It was the invisible ones that brought implacable fear for how could one fight that which one could not see? The wounded, the dead, piled up. Some stood their ground and died heroically. Others called for their mothers or sweethearts or cursed while spraying laser fire in all directions only to join those that had fallen before. Here and there, a single soldier - after seeing many friends being dismembered by screaming half-clad she devils, or floating combat knives sink into pliant flesh – would shove his hands up in the air and stand trembling at the destruction wrought against him and his comrades. Here and there, a harsh commanding voice from above declared that they were encircled and that death would be the only outcome should they continue fighting. Usually a swift and accurate laser shot would convince those diehards hiding in basements or office buildings that life was preferable to sudden death. First one. Then another. Then in groups of two or three, they came out of hiding. Weapons discarded and hands held up high, they stepped forward and either glared their hate at their captors or hung their heads in shame as they were defeated.copyright protection31PENANAJvErQNG6vA

A machine gun nest hastily erected on the second floor apartment sent out its deathly message cutting down friend and foe alike. Warrior women and invisible Special Forces keeled over alongside their enemy as laser fire swept the area. Unseen by all, two Polrobs darted forward and unleashed their own brand of death and the whole building burst into flames and rubble as miniature Torpedoes designed for naval warfare punched through walls and exploded. When the dust cleared and settled, a large space where once a whole office block stood, now glared like a missing tooth.copyright protection31PENANAdfiuKWfKHA

Polrobs darted about taking out defensive positions with accuracy. A bell tower used as a snipers post vanished in a pall of dust and debris.copyright protection31PENANAfiwE5ipGDA

A warrior woman stared uncomprehendingly at the small egg shaped object that rolled from a slack hand after she turned a corps over. The resultant explosion ripped both living and dead into shreds.copyright protection31PENANAdn6SOWFu3b

Another warrior woman, enjoying herself tremendously and laying waste to her foe with sword and knife, turned to seek out more enemies and came face to face with a tank barreling out of control in her direction and died as it crushed her soft body against a building wall. The tank suddenly erupted and blew apart as a well-aimed miniature torpedo slammed into its open and forgotten hatch.     copyright protection31PENANA4grmLbj1V0

Two hours later, after the mopping up had been done and the last foolish sniper had been eliminated, Emperor Katya Berotivich stood off to one side and stared at the gathered prisoners of war. “One hundred and seventy three? Is that all?” she asked in surprise.copyright protection31PENANABai7Oope53

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAOiqVbfRQKV

“Out of eight hundred? Did we kill so many?”copyright protection31PENANA1ObsbWEuXz

THAT ASSUMPTION IS INCORRECT SIRE. THERE ARE ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN COMBATANTS IN THE MEDICAL TENTS UNDER QUARANTINE. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOUR COMBATANTS WOUNDED AND TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SEVEN FATALITIES.copyright protection31PENANAvyJOGyc5Mh

“In other words my friend, we caught them napping in more ways than one.” She turned to the unmasked and visible Special Forces Colonel that stood silently beside her. “Get me their superiors Colonel. I wish to converse with them immediately.” She gazed about and pointed at a huge tree that still stood  although its trunk had been split in two by an explosion. One section had come crashing down to destroy a park bench and lamp pole but nothing much else. The other half, raw, splintered and leaking sap would still provide some shade when the sun had reached its zenith. “Can somebody arrange seating and some sort of lighting for us?” she asked as she watched a duck in the semidarkness waddling towards a water filled bomb crater.copyright protection31PENANA9BAAwLPoBz

“I will see to it Sire,” he said whispering into a miniature comm unit stuck into his uniform collar.copyright protection31PENANAjDov6ArK5p

“Guardian?”copyright protection31PENANAkBY4pECCKp

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANATT0utxfjWR

“I have a feeling that a show of force may be required. Can you …?”copyright protection31PENANATfviKCTcnY

Minutes later, two soldiers with stars and Laurel wreaths on their breast pockets were led towards the waiting chairs where a Signals unit was jury rigging a string of globes attached to electrical cabling that led off a small distance to a field generator.copyright protection31PENANABHzALZeoBZ

“Sire?” the Colonel said as he stepped closer to her, his cloaking shield deactivated. “We seem to have fortune on our side.” He indicated towards the two men that stood undecided at the chairs. “The small chap is Major General Piet Labuschagne while the black gentleman is Lieutenant Colonel Zulu Mntuli.” He chuckled softly. “Quite a catch if I may say so. Our intelligence chappies will be itching to get hold of these two.”copyright protection31PENANANvTOZmmfGi

“They can stand in line Colonel. Me first.” She turned and stepped towards the two Officers with the Colonel a few meters behind her. “Gentlemen?” she held out her hand and they automatically stepped forward and shook hers. The surprised and astonished looks on their faces notwithstanding, they introduced themselves. “My name is Katya Berotivich and this gentleman behind me is Colonel Hadim. Please. Be seated. We have much to discuss.”copyright protection31PENANA7AxDSifLuD

“Please pardon me madam.” The General said, removing his cap. “But  who are you that an Officer in the armed forces would follow your orders?” He glanced at the silent soldier beside her for emphases. “I am only asking, madam. I am not too familiar with your culture.” He finished lamely.copyright protection31PENANAK6kkH6kWuV

Katya grinned at him as she seated herself. An early morning breeze brought goose bumps to her exposed skin. “You can rightfully be excused sir. I am the Emperor.” She finished. Cocking her head to one side, she watched them intently for their reaction.copyright protection31PENANAVirO7rbtHS

“Emperor? You? But you’re a wisp of a girl. Why my daughter would be your age right now.” stated the General.copyright protection31PENANAMOskslCI67

Katya held out a warning hand to Colonel Hadim as he stepped forward to admonish the prisoner. “At ease Colonel.” She glanced at him. “We can but only forgive these small misunderstandings.” She turned to the General. “Do not be mistaken sir. I am the Emperor. I govern all twenty-nine of the planets that make up the Galactic Empire. I govern by right of arms. My word is law.” She kept silent for a few seconds to allow her words to sink in. “You have entered my domain bent on conquest. Have captured, killed and tortured some of my people. I take umbrage General. I resent your being here. But … that to one side, you have brought with you an enemy that cannot be killed with weapons of destruction. You have brought with you an enemy that must be stopped and stopped right now before it infects my Empire.”copyright protection31PENANAlReGcVNwRh

“The malady  infecting my men? Is that what you are … we thought it was some sort of germ warfare.”copyright protection31PENANAsNATBIlNb2

“We may be backward by your terms General. But we are not into genocide and never will be.” She answered. “I would like you to instruct your men to be compliant with my medical staff. This malady as you call it must be stopped before it goes further.”copyright protection31PENANAFYR7ijsU1z

“Agreed madam. I will pass the word along. Now what about food, shelter and …?”copyright protection31PENANA2nrg4EcRa4

Katya’s laughter echoed through the morning light. “In due course General. First things first. My people will provide the necessary. Liaise with Colonel Hadim here, and we will make your stay as comfortable as possible.”copyright protection31PENANA9DRJxssSgD

“You do realize madam that as prisoners of war, we are honor bound to try to escape?”copyright protection31PENANAUVCL3U5vP7

“Escape General?” she laughed once more. “Where too?” she lifted a hand and pointed off into the morning gloom, “Out there? And then what? Try to make contact with your forces and take the sickness to them? Then again, they  may already be infected. Will that not be defeating the whole purpose of this meeting sir? You are all under quarantine sir. Even myself. None that are here will be allowed to wander off for any reason. Death will be the outcome of any endeavor of that nature I assure you.” She glanced upwards, “Guardian? Pass the word. None to leave. Get every exit and bolt hole covered. Neither prisoner nor any of our own will have permission to leave this city under any circumstances. Not while this malady is still with us.”copyright protection31PENANA5Ruw8zblqm

SIRE. INSTRUCTIONS SENT. MEASURES NOW BEING CARRIED OUT.copyright protection31PENANApzZgjwJLpZ

The two Officers stared upwards in alarm and tried to see who she was talking to. Katya ignored their astonishment as an idea came to the fore. She bent down and picked up a small pebble the size of a pea. “Just to make sure you understand exactly what will happen General, should one of your people decide to wander off.” She gave him the small pebble, “Hold it between thumb and forefinger please. Now hold it away from your body. Yes. That is perfect. Guardian. Show our guests  how precise your aim is.”copyright protection31PENANApkV15YVauL

Before the General could think of jerking his hand away, a short burst of laser fire disintegrated the pebble. The man jerked his hand away with a yelp of surprise. Glanced at his slightly scorched fingers and stuck them in his mouth.copyright protection31PENANAhzCM6Llh6L

“That General was but a small example. Now see what you and your men have to contend with… Polrobs… Be visible.”copyright protection31PENANADwlDNFawqz

The wind was knocked out of the two Officers as countless Polrobs became visible above their heads. The morning sun’s rays glanced off carapaces that  drifted backwards and forwards in the slight breeze. Both men turned about and stared open mouthed at hundreds upon hundreds of flying miniature saucers. “We could have killed every one of you General, with  a simple order.” Katya said softly as the two men brought their attention back to her. “But out of deference to my own forces, I decided to offer you mercy. You are after all only following orders from those higher up the chain.”copyright protection31PENANAwQTrRZqNaU

“You could have saved many of your own forces lives Madam Emperor.” The up to now silent Lieutenant Colonel said.copyright protection31PENANAyrubeAXAS4

“I could have sir,” Katya said with a grin, “But then I would have had some  angry soldiers who would never have forgiven me. But for now General,” she stood up and they followed hastily. “Our first of many discussions is over. I thank you for your time.” Without another word Colonel Hadim escorted the two Officers away and returned shortly after.copyright protection31PENANAlwAH9nmkUN

“I believe they in turn believed everything Sire.” He said as he stood beside her and watched two ducks swimming in the shell crater.copyright protection31PENANATqDNSvNijX

“They had no reason to doubt my words Colonel. Sometimes what one sees is not always what one should believe. Now to business. I have been notified that the enemy has attacked three more cities.  Ohara, Campdon and Midas. All with relative success. Loss of life has been minimal but the damage like here is phenomenal. What are we going to do about them?”copyright protection31PENANAdSpH3Di1da

“That Sire, I believe is up to Admiral Blair. I believe he may be correct in the assumption that from here on out the enemy will have eyes on any movement to or from this city. We stay put. They cannot fire on us for fear of their own people. But that’s not to say they will not lay waste to any force moving towards those three other cities. As soon as word is received from him, we call up our own forces and attack those three cities and get them back into the fold. In fact, it is possible that their ground forces may regroup and attack us here to reclaim this city.”copyright protection31PENANA5zHFgR3DbX

“Exactly my thoughts Colonel. Let’s take some precautions shall we?”copyright protection31PENANAq5o4ShzFAT

CHAPTER 25copyright protection31PENANACNL2vOFNPT

Landfall – plus 32 hours and countingcopyright protection31PENANAYVsFAJxEnI

In the opencopyright protection31PENANABON0SFislS

Admiral Isak Blair stood on the Bridge of the Pyrenees and nodded to his Number One. “Notify all forces, converge on the enemy. All Bulldogs to wait further instructions.”copyright protection31PENANAlYG60bUGZK

The vast Empire fleet at last came out of hiding. They came from behind distant planets and moons. They lifted off from clusters of massive blocks of ice that circled one of the home planets. They came from all directions and converged on the enemy from a distant solar system. And amongst them, invisible to eye and electronic scanner, coated in thick, plastic enhanced chameleon cloth …, the Polrobs.copyright protection31PENANAzXF2DgMaU9

“The enemy has seen us Admiral.”copyright protection31PENANATwXGxPmPiH

“Thank you Mr. Quiney, although I’m positive they noticed us the moment we moved from hiding and now they are kicking themselves for not sending out probes sooner. Their mistake, our fortune. The fact that a third of their force has been utterly destroyed  may have something to do with it though. A shock like that to the system can be utterly disorienting to say the least. So. Now it’s our turn. Have all our forces link up Mr. Quiney. As of this moment we are at our weakest.”copyright protection31PENANAIDGoJHAEnz

“It will take at least an hour sir. Though those furthest away have been able to leapfrog from hiding place to hiding place. But the general consensus out there is an hour.”copyright protection31PENANApXx5ZblLmg

Admiral Isak Blair stared at his Number One with a steely eye. “An hour? Not five? Has something occurred in the meantime Mr. Quiney that somehow passed me by? Something that nobody thought to notify me of? Because the last time I checked my salary slip, it said in bold black lettering that I was Admiral Isak Blair; Naval Commander of the Galactic Empire. I could be wrong though as my eyes definitely are not what they were.” He finished off with sarcasm dripping. “That was an idiotic, brash thing to do.” He hesitated. “Just who may I ask gave that instruction and how did they accomplish it without setting off the enemy alarms and come to think of it,” he turned to the Navigation and Plotters section of the Bridge. “Why did we not notice anything on our own screens?”copyright protection31PENANAVfNSVkIha1

“Uh. To be honest sir.” His number one hesitated. “The maneuver was accomplished some three hours ago although I only found out from Captain Bill O’ Ryan twenty minutes ago.”copyright protection31PENANAZSEGgnnR2K

“Twenty minutes? Twenty minutes? And you only deign to noti … and  who the hell is this Captain Bill O’ Ryan that he … why does that name sound familiar Number One? I seem to recall something …” a finger clicked as it returned to him. “Ah yes. Our esteemed Annular negotiator none the less. Well you can notify Mr. O’ Ryan that he is up on orders as soon as this fiasco is over. I will have him against the  wall for this, negotiator or no negotiator. I will not have any person doing as they please in my Navy. And by the way, consider yourself on orders as well. Twenty minutes.” he turned away fuming.copyright protection31PENANAqrHYwH9Stw

“Uh. Sir?”copyright protection31PENANA8oLVhHg0Yq

“What now, Number One?”copyright protection31PENANA1YiFEz32q5

“A message from Captain Bill O’ Ryan sir.” He handed over a slip of paper with pencil scribbling’s on.copyright protection31PENANAMRxuQ3cZWF

After a few seconds of reading and rereading the message, Admiral Isak Blair looked up at his Second in Command. “And notify the Emperor that she too is on orders.” He said as he stumped away.copyright protection31PENANAv43h0lYgmX

There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians in this goddamn navy. It was high time that some of them departed right smartly.copyright protection31PENANAGnVY3Ax7CY

***copyright protection31PENANAdpQKUGO6FK

Two vast armadas approached each other tentatively. fighter jets and Bulldogs swarmed amongst their respective bigger brothers. Battle ships and Aircraft Carriers with their companioned and assorted war craft squared off and jockeyed for position. Once more death was but moments away as eager fingers hovered above firing buttons or triggers. Almost equal in numbers and fire power, the end result of this conflagration in waiting was going to be determined on skill and experience. Both sides were confident of the end results  although one had lost almost a third of its forces which included its Admiralty AND its Supreme Commander in one foul swoop. The strength, the will to carry out previous orders and the conviction that a wrong had to be righted was foremost in the driving force of Old Earths Navy. Come what may, they were going to teach this back stabbing rabble a lesson.copyright protection31PENANALbOPtPbr5x

“Sir. We have a communication from the enemy. It seems they would like to enter into deliberations with our Commanding Officer.”copyright protection31PENANApLVlJYVh6y

“Thank you Mr. Ferguson. Patch it through to my chair and bring up visuals.”copyright protection31PENANAgjY63SMSYs

“This is Acting Fleet Admiral Brookes. Who may I have the pleasure of speaking to?”copyright protection31PENANACKErz7gLzl

“Admiral Isak Blair sir.” A female Signals Officer said, “I’m patching you through now.” the picture changed and of a sudden, he was staring into a pair of hypnotic icy blue eyes. The blue, almost colorless eyes and the relative youth of the man were inconsistent with his grey hair.copyright protection31PENANAiY7djRcf8i

“Fleet Admiral Brookes?” the face asked. “I am Admiral Isak Blair of Her Majesties Naval forces of the Galactic Empire. It is my most fervent wish to end these hostilities between us without the further loss of life.”copyright protection31PENANANpBMvFEhxD

“And how do you propose we should do that Admiral?”copyright protection31PENANAKaooCYwSJ5

“Well,” Admiral Blair grinned suddenly, absurdly. “We could  turn around and go our separate ways. That would be the easiest and most convenient way.”copyright protection31PENANAe14lendrCl

Admiral Brooks caught himself before he too smiled at the absurdness of the suggestion. This man, under different circumstances would be somebody he may get to like. “I’m sure it would be sir. But under what contractual agreements would this cease fire exist?”copyright protection31PENANAJqLldg1Syy

“Ah. The crux of the matter. As you know sir. The original contract was made over four thousand years ago and it is highly improbable that we of the galactic Empire can pay a debt that originated before we were  born, never mind the interest incurred.”copyright protection31PENANAviJTHlSdeB

“Be as it may Admiral Blair. The contract, although of lengthy duration, is still binding and to all intents and purposes valid.”copyright protection31PENANAitCmPRK2in

“That sir, is not under dispute here. What is though, is Earth for whatever reason, decided to instigate force of arms instead of entering into peaceful negotiations. Frankly sir, with all due respect, I myself and in fact, the whole Galactic Empire for that matter, had no inkling that we owed such a debt nor that Earth still existed.”copyright protection31PENANAo2O9n1poTY

“As you can see Admiral, we exist.”copyright protection31PENANAXphGjY2bbh

“True. But for how long is the question.”copyright protection31PENANAMuKpRzgCCy

“A threat? So early on the negotiations table? I am to put it plainly Admiral, quite disappointed to say the least.”copyright protection31PENANAZ0AN9YPzmI

“No threat sir. Fact. I’m sure you have noticed that there is another player in this game? A player that cares nothing for money, power or whom it may destroy?”copyright protection31PENANAyk8P0rN3DZ

Admiral Brooks frowned, “And who may that be?” his attention was suddenly caught by an aide. “Please excuse me Admiral …” he read a slip of paper; HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND THE SECOND FLEET. SCOUT SHIPS REPORTS ARE NEGATIVE IN ALL QUADRANTS. ADVICE; THIS IS A TRAP TO LURE US INTO COMPLACENCY. RECOMMENDATION; RECOMMENCEMENT OF HOSTILITIES.copyright protection31PENANAlpu5OlF5Xi

His answer was short and concise; NEGATIVE. FIND THEM. Dismissing his aid with a hand gesture, he turned back to the screen before him. “Pardon me Admiral. Some things cannot wait. Where were we? Ah yes. The third player, not so?”copyright protection31PENANADXieLscA1z

Admiral Blair waved the interruption away. “You brought with you sir, an affliction, a plague, one  as we speak, is decimating your ground forces. Our medical staff are as we speak, trying to fathom the nature of this misfortune but we require time.”copyright protection31PENANAjATrpUTdYw

Suspicion crossed Admiral Brooks mind but he dismissed it as irrelevant. That second fleet made it irrelevant. Why try to stop a war with tales of plague when there was another large naval fleet ready to pounce on his forces? They would be out numbered  quickly and the tables turned. He decided to throw a stone  to muddy the waters. “All this talk of a plague Admiral, is humane of you, although to my mind and way of thinking it’s all immaterial. You are simply at a disadvantage and waiting for the rest of your forces to arrive so that you can commence with the destruction of Earths Navy. And I for one will not allow you that time.” Well, that turned out to be more than one stone, he thought.copyright protection31PENANAdjWHpL35Q1

“Logical assumption sir. Though should you look closer, you will determine the simple fact that I do not have to wait for, as you so eloquently put it, my second fleet. My second fleet has been amongst your forces all the while and is waiting for the go ahead. Secondly, your assumption sir is based on the fact that I only have two fleets where in fact I have three.”copyright protection31PENANAnuYFJJ7Wk9

Stunned, Admiral Brooks  stared at the screen. “Impossible. We would have …” Admiral Blair interjected by holding up a hand and shaking his head.copyright protection31PENANAvDJp59kZmi

“Not impossible, sir. Just the truth.  The moment you give the order to attack, your forces will be destroyed. This is no boast sir, simply a reality of war. From the beginning your forces were out played and out maneuvered. Unfortunately. A show of force had to be entertained  to prove the sincerity and authenticity of my words. I humbly ask you not to commence with hostilities and help us to help your ground forces. On the other hand, my third fleet is  beyond scanner range, oh, give or take a few hundred thousand clicks and  waiting for the right word.” Admiral Blair watched his counterpart with bated breath for the next move could have disastrous results all round. The man’s face had  turned red as his eyes blazed with anger. “You could investigate this of course, by …” Admiral Blair said with a sad look on his face as he shook his head . “… Sending out some of your unmanned units to see and record whether I’m being truthful or not. They will not be harmed.”copyright protection31PENANAwzBth1ek65

“That will take some time Admiral. A few hundred thousand clicks takes some time to cover. It is a vast distance and that without a proper designated destination.” He glared at the face on his screen. “Or will you conveniently supply that as well?”copyright protection31PENANAltzk9i4gfo

“Certainly sir.” Admiral Blair smiled thinly. “That I will. Send out four unmanned craft to the four corners of the compass and program them to head out as the crow flies.”copyright protection31PENANAqK29a8ju7F

“And in the mean time? While my probes are being sent on a wild goose chase? What will be happening here? I believe you are bluffing Admiral.” Suspicion that was minutes before irrelevant flamed to the forefront as his eyes narrowed in mistrust and skepticism.copyright protection31PENANANEfp7wqlRw

“Well.” Admiral Blair said, as he scratched an itch behind an ear. “While we have been deliberating here, some of your people have died while others have  become violently ill and should nothing be done and done soon, more and more people will be infected. Come now sir. This is no time for procrastination. It is a time for doing. Should you not wish to negotiate peaceful terms, we will be forced to negotiate with your successor. We wish only to help while on the other hand, we will destroy you should you not declare a peace between us. You have been dealt the cards sir. Now play them.”copyright protection31PENANAqd00x9jBqy

“The second invisible so-called fleet of yours Admiral.” He leaned forward in his seat, “Just where are they? In fact Admiral, these negotiations are terminated as of immediate effect.” Before he could terminate the connection, Admiral Isak Blair grinned wolfishly. “It behooves one at time not to call a bluff sir. But as you have, I wish you to take note, you and your successor, that none of my forces will fire a shot, although you will  soon, within moments, have a few alarms going off all over the …”copyright protection31PENANAZQj20tajYh

Alarms clamored. MULTIPLE BREACHES FORE AND AFT. The ships computer proclaimed in its metallic voice. BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTIONS 011CHARLIE AND 080YANKIE.copyright protection31PENANAZLVea2LAoC

“I am  sorry sir.” Admiral Blair said softly as he stared at his counterpart.” You have left me no choice. You have  killed your people.” He terminated the contact and bent his head in despair. “Signals.” He said softly as he tapped his throat mike. “An open link to the enemy if you please.”copyright protection31PENANA7PP7Pnh8YH

“Cut those  alarms,” Acting Admiral Brooke shouted as he turned towards his Signals Officer. “Send out …”copyright protection31PENANAGYxZ0xtaRr

“Link open sir.”copyright protection31PENANAsQdn4nqPYP

Alarms clamored once again. MULTIPLE BREACHES FORE AND AFT. The ships computer proclaimed once more.copyright protection31PENANAs6EieuFvCE

“This is Admiral Isak Blair …”copyright protection31PENANAcjDJjDhNO8

BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTIONS 013CHARLIE AND 082ZULU.copyright protection31PENANAfgYsE3Q5TP

“… of Her Majesties Naval forces of the Galactic Empire.”copyright protection31PENANAUlVyE93kFF

BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTIONS 014BRAVO AND 083XRAY.copyright protection31PENANAYRZBBifT53

“I beg of you. Please listen. We have forces amongst you that although you …”copyright protection31PENANA2kj0NY4D3X

BREACH AND FIRE CREWS TO SECTIONS 013ALFA AND 089 WHISKY.copyright protection31PENANAsXjowXyzhd

“… cannot see them, are there none the less. They will destroy your ships with all crew on my instructions.”copyright protection31PENANAfg5eRGx7AD

Time had suddenly run out for Acting Admiral Brookes as unseen Polrobs lasers penetrated the ship’s hull in strategic places. Emergency crews tried vainly to close one breach after the other. Where one breach was closed another three were made until as one, Polrobs fired a single unseen miniature torpedo through each. Slowly, imponderably, the battleship slewed to one side as its engines were targeted and destroyed. Explosions and their resultant after explosions rocked the inner recesses of the Battle ship. Emergency personnel were decimated. ship engines and their crew were slagged or they simply vanished in the white hot heat of intense explosions. Huge balls of roiling, billowing fire rushed down one passageway after another and left an aftermath of death and destruction in its wake.copyright protection31PENANAaCYuDLsHov

“Please listen. We wish to end these hostilities with immediate effect. There has been too much loss of life.”copyright protection31PENANAERsXgZUPzc

Emergency life pods suddenly fled the dying ship. A ship that once had stood proud in its might and glory now leaked red and orange flames from its cracked and disintegrating hull.copyright protection31PENANA2Os83kOArp

“There will be no prisoners of war. There will be no more deaths. I beg you. Listen to my words. You are outnumbered and only death will be victorious here. We wish to negotiate, not have a war with own people. These will not be negotiations of surrender but of peace and prosperity between us. I request you to send out probes to see my other forces, forces that have encircled you. Forces that await my signal that will invariably destroy each and every one of you. For these reasons I give you two choices. Negotiate or die.”copyright protection31PENANAdB1c6EXylm

CHAPTER 21copyright protection31PENANA3ZewXuwSj5

Three months latercopyright protection31PENANA4mTwuWRjxi

OVERLORDcopyright protection31PENANAILUKX0pVyK

SIREcopyright protection31PENANAhCKv8H0FAk

“Yes?” she looked up at her ever present shadows.copyright protection31PENANAKEGDbbA2u8

DOCTOR SICHEM AND PROFESSOR NANTAO OF EARTHS MEDICAL FORCES WISHES TO HAVE AN AUDIENCE. THEY ARE  AGITATED AND HAVE ENHANCED BREATHING AND HEART RATE. INDICATIONS OF TENSION AND EXCITEMENT ARE VISIBLE AND PRESENT.copyright protection31PENANAldTfYRfnMO

With relief, she pushed away the recent batch of documents she was perusing and stretched her back. This was the only part of being Emperor that she hated; the paperwork. “Send them in then.” She glanced with disgust at her large desk that was piled haphazardly with files and paperwork. The  things seemed to accumulate  by looking at them. Maybe she should hire some help? Now that was a thought.copyright protection31PENANA74rSzAAAfa

Seconds later, a warrior woman opened the door and bowed to her Emperor. “Sire. Doctor Sichem and Professor Nantao.” The two men stepped into her office and bowed solemnly. “Madam. Uh …Sire.” One of them said immediately. “We have good news.”copyright protection31PENANAUZOBD0Nd2i

“Please gentlemen.” She stood up and stepped around her desk. “Please sit down. Thank you. Now sir, what good news are you talking about?” she asked as she took her chair.copyright protection31PENANAmnvgDt7TRU

“Sire.” The man said again. Forgive me. I am Professor Nantao and my colleague is Doctor Sichem. We … we have found the cure. The cure to the plague.”copyright protection31PENANAIYY9RyJr8Y

The Emperor was back on her feet instantly. “How? What is it and why has it only affected Earths personnel?”copyright protection31PENANAC3XrFBrsPu

“Overlord is still terraforming Sire. That’s the answer. The water, the food, in other words your fauna and flora are still in the process of change right down to the molecular level which is the simplest structural unit of an element or compound. The simple fact is that as soon as our people ingested anything from this world, the Nano technology which was developed right from the beginning, starts to change the DNA of the host. It invariably kills that host due to too much change at once. That Sire, is the most simplified way I can describe the battle going on in the affected human body.”copyright protection31PENANAKbSgrvKzpB

“Can we stop it?” she asked excitedly.copyright protection31PENANAu7zsgr10Ta

“Yes.” He nodded with a smile that  changed to a frown. “But the afflicted, and there are thousands now, will die.”copyright protection31PENANAYvdWXSxolm

“I’m not sure I understand sir.”copyright protection31PENANAT5yLlZh5zG

“The human body Sire, is to put it mildly, a machine. A  complex machine. Should one part be damaged it will affect the other. Oh. It can lose a leg or arm or eye with no discernable problems and adapt accordingly. The resultant psychological factors on the other hand, would on the other hand, be up for discussion. But start messing around with the DNA and you will have catastrophic results.”copyright protection31PENANAH3Ngw4Ix4B

“So what do we do?” she asked. “We cannot have people dying like flies all over the place.”copyright protection31PENANAH37VZ4Oxt9

Doctor Sichem leaned forward, “We have done a few tests Sire with some excellent results. We have re-programmed the Nano-mites to slow down all adaptation.”copyright protection31PENANAUmfs7AsoG1

“That’s it? That’s all you have to do? Could you not stop it all together?” she was shocked.copyright protection31PENANA5n5SEBXn91

“There are only two wrinkles Sire. Two large wrinkles I may add.” He said with a frown as he steepled his fingertips. “The Nano technology should have de-activated countless of years ago. Once terraforming was complete to such a degree that humans could survive on this planet, the Nano mites were programmed to de-activate. Now according to our tests which are inconclusive by the way, one of two things happened. One; they never deactivated or two, they did and somehow were reactivated and have now started, to put it plainly, begun changing our DNA. Changes which should they be halted, will kill the person because they cannot be reversed.”copyright protection31PENANAYQ46L4aACD

“Impossible sir. We do not as far as my knowledge goes; have the relevant technical knowhow to reactivate this …”copyright protection31PENANAJwZYZ7zrvg

SIRE.copyright protection31PENANAtAEytjarGj

She looked upwards. “Yes Guardian?”copyright protection31PENANAsF9xLVCVve

WE WISH TO RECTIFY THAT RECORD SIRE. WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD THAT TECHNOLOGY. JUST NEVER IMPLIMENTED DUE TO IT NOT BEING REQUIRED. ACCORDING TO OUR RECORDS, THIS INCLUDES VISUAL AS WELL AS FINGER PRINTS, EYE SCANS AND DNA SCANS; NONE HAVE EVER REQUESTED THIS TECHNOLOGY WITHIN THE LAST THREE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS.copyright protection31PENANAzfKydJFNbb

“Thank you Guardian. Well …” she said looking at the two men before her. “That’s put paid to that idea. Just what would the reasoning for reactivating these Nano mites be and who would do such a thing?”copyright protection31PENANA3EMHcg1nHH

“That Sire is part of the problem we have,” said Professor Sichem, “The second and most disturbing problem is that we cannot, must not, be allowed to go home.”copyright protection31PENANAGamPH7Lj3h

She stared at them both, “Are you saying what I believe you are saying sir? That you are afraid of infecting your own people?”copyright protection31PENANAxCwibK1Rxc

They both nodded. “Our prelim investigations lean towards the time we reach home,  on the slower rate of transformation in our DNA,” Professor Nantao said, “We will be outcasts and viewed as a potential threat. One that possibly would have only one consequence.”copyright protection31PENANA3BRPj46krO

“Have you notified your Admiral as to these investigations and to your recommendations?”copyright protection31PENANA17YoXGwJ0z

“We have Sire.”copyright protection31PENANA0xcxQohSfP

Katya Berotivich, Emperor of the Galactic Empire had an instant flash of inspiration. One that made her eyes gleam with excitement. “Guardian. Get me the Treasury. I want that stuck up Idiot of a man in my office on the double. And notify Admiral Blair and Acting Admiral Princeton to be in my office not later than one hour from now.” she sat back in her seat and grinned at herself. This may  be what they needed.copyright protection31PENANA5irW8K0f5r

SIRE. INSTRUCTIONS SENT … RECEIVED … ACKNOWLEGED.copyright protection31PENANA37z2vwI2fI

“Gentlemen. Please converse amongst yourself. Refreshments will be on their way and extra chairs will be brought in. I require a short while to think things through.” she glanced upwards. “Privacy,” she instructed and sat quietly in her small cocoon and wondered whether she was going to do the right thing. She had to think things through first.copyright protection31PENANABggON6c5Ys

SIRE. THE ARRIVAL OF ALL THREE REQUESTED MEMBERS IS IMMENENT.copyright protection31PENANAU3Ll0U609b

“Good. Let them in. Do you realize Guardian,  what is about to fall into our laps?”copyright protection31PENANAsdi1fOyXQO

SIRE. YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS IS NOT DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW AND IN YOUR POSITION, WE WOULD POSSIBLY DO THE SAME. THERE IS ONE POINT OF NOTE; IS THIS NOT ALL DESIGNED TO HAPPEN BY THE ONE WHO REANIMATED THE NANO MITES?copyright protection31PENANAFs4WhR2uX0

“I do not know the answer to that Guardian, but inside my heart I know I am doing the right thing. And like you, I am taking it for granted that these Nano mites were reactivated. Always believe in the worst I say, then be happily surprised when things turn out better than suspected.” She breathed deeply, “Privacy terminated.” She looked at the five seated men in turn. “Gentlemen. I take it introductions have been made? Good. To business then. Admiral Blair,” she nodded at him and looked at Earths Acting Admiral. “Admiral Princeton. As you both know, there can only be one Admiral in charge of a Navy.” She noticed that they steadfastly refused to look at each other. “Due to some unforeseen circumstances of which we are all up to date with, it seems that Earths forces cannot go home for fear of being ostracized, banished or simply hunted down and terminated once this affliction becomes known. And it will happen because too many of your people know of it and most know it intimately. Fear will be rampant no matter what. You sir,” she never took her eyes off Admiral Princeton. “Have but limited choices, they being that you either join us. Live on Overlord or whatever planet in our Empire strikes your fancy. Become part of the Galactic Empire with all its rules and way of life. Or … go back to Earth with all the above mentioned results. There is a third option, that being that you and your forces leave our shores so to speak, and disappear into the outer recesses of space. The last two options I’m sure will – after you have explained all this to your Navy – will inadvertently bring on mutiny if enforced.” She stared at him like a shark and saw his hesitant nod. “On the other hand. You are welcome here. Every single one of you will be welcome. Now it is your decision and only yours to make sir; and I require that decision now.” she sat back and watched his shocked face. He was young, maybe too young to be an Admiral, even if he was only an Acting Admiral due to the unforeseen demise of his predecessors. Cold black eyes regarded her with a frankness not seen in many young men with so many lives hanging on to a life threatening decision. The stress was telling as he closed his eyes.copyright protection31PENANAWR4Id4Ck5L

“You force me into an untenable position Sire. I must first notify my Navy of this and see what the general opinion will be before I can …”copyright protection31PENANAvyZOzeD8ct

Katya held up a hand to stop him, “Not so sir. Once you decide to stay, we will then notify your Navy as to  what they stand to lose should they go home. In any case, they will still be relatively young while those left behind on Earth will either be dead or firmly on their way to old age. The new generation that now exists or that will exist by the time you get home, will not understand or  attempt to understand your plight. Fear will ultimately rule. We can join forces sir, and become a Navy to be reckoned with. Your people will have the same rights as our own. With the same pay and privileges. They can  go on retirement or change jobs for all that it matters.”copyright protection31PENANAWRW1NdTQHQ

“We would have to iron out one or two factors Sire before any decision of such magnitude can be made,” he said weakly.copyright protection31PENANARDIVmV0Yg5

“And those being?” she asked as her heart thumped loudly in her chest.copyright protection31PENANAKMDJAdXem9

“I do not know, Sire. But I take it for granted my naval personnel will ultimately think of something.” He said lamely.copyright protection31PENANAHj1DkPRdGy

Katya burst out laughing. “Well said sir. Well said. So. Other than some factor or two that may or may not come into play once everybody knows  what they are getting themselves into, I take it you will stay?”copyright protection31PENANA3xcMtyItwY

“I will Sire,” he nodded agreement.copyright protection31PENANAzhKc0lqYzM

“Perfect. You sir, will then hand over all personnel files and what have you to Admiral Blair who will do the necessary as he sees fit.” She turned to her Treasurer. “And you Mr. Harold Jones. Just how does our Treasury look? How are we doing in the money department?”copyright protection31PENANA8h5aVqZMDG

“Uh … “caught off guard, the man sat up straight. “We are doing well Sire.” He said in an unconvincing manner.copyright protection31PENANAkHdxtG5c9C

“Good. Admiral Blair will hand over certain documents notifying you as to our massive recruitment strategy. Problem being sir that we are behind in salary payments by a few years is my guess. Please make these funds available once you have done the relevant adding and subtracting so that I do not have any mutineers on my hands.” She stared in wonder as his face froze in shock. It changed colour so many times she almost believed he was having a stroke. “Sire.” he spluttered for a few seconds. “That would most certainly bankrupt the Empire.”copyright protection31PENANAaJTVWUgmSQ

“Well then sir. I’m sure you will volunteer your own measly pittance of a salary to the cause?” she asked sweetly. “You can of course include mine into the kitty. Oh. Sorry. I forgot I do not get one do I?” she fingered her ever present sword. Her caressing fingers drew his attention and he blanched. “Do not disappoint me sir. It would be  detrimental to your health. You are excused.” She waited for him to realize that he’s meeting with the Emperor had come to an abrupt end. The door of her office closed behind him so quickly she couldn’t hide her bitter smile. “Are your Tax collectors as despicable as that man Admiral?” she asked of Earths representative.copyright protection31PENANA917fb3FbPj

“Some are worse madam,” he laughed,  he had enjoyed the show. “You have my admiration and respect Sire. You offer more than I would ever have been able to bargain for.”copyright protection31PENANARa04IuLOHV

“That is why I required you to firstly join us sir. It is a prerequisite of mine to have a platform to work with. Without that platform, I tend to make mistakes, and that brings me to my next subject. I require you, Admiral Princeton, to relinquish your post as Acting Admiral of our combined naval forces and to sign on as my Senior Military Advisor. This post will of course make you the second most powerful person in the Empire. What say you?” she was convinced he would argue that he was being demoted and his immediate answer left her openmouthed in surprise.copyright protection31PENANAqREkMAe3X7

“I accept madam.” He bowed his head. “When and where do I start?”copyright protection31PENANAU682mk51vV

“Well … umm. That went quite smooth I must say.” She blushed and looked away. Suddenly lost for words.copyright protection31PENANAkm6lrOQdCx

“Oh. I wouldn’t be all that surprised Sire,” interjected Admiral Blair with a knowing look at his ex-counterpart. You do have the ability to inspire trust and affection.” He smiled at her.copyright protection31PENANA83pNncnCfl

She quickly glanced at her new advisor and then back to him. “Admiral Blair.” She glared. “It seems sir; you do not have enough work to keep you busy. You are promoted to Fleet Admiral with immediate effect as your naval forces have  doubled in size and I’m sure you will have much to do. Why. I can  imagine all those Navy personnel waiting impatiently in the wings for their own promotions.” Getting to his feet with a grin, he bowed deeply to her and as he left her office, he laughed softly, but not softly enough and she colored once more. “That is an infuriating man,” she said to no one in particular. “Can you imagine, the bastard put me on a charge for interfering with naval operations? Me? His Emperor?”  She caught herself before she stamped her foot and had to breathe deeply a few times to calm herself. “So gentlemen.” She turned to the two medical professionals and changed tact suddenly. “If  that is all, I would like to discuss events with my advisor.”copyright protection31PENANAKasTcOdhPI

“There is one more item that requires your attention madam,” the professor said as he slid a hand held tablet across the table with deliberate reluctance. “Please look at this.” He finished.copyright protection31PENANAda5jwx7nKJ

“And  what is this … this beast Professor?” she asked as she took the tablet and turned it this way and that to get a better idea of the picture it showed.copyright protection31PENANAUTNjGav4NL

“Slide your finger across the tablet’s face Sire, from left to right. That’s it. What you are seeing madam, is a horse. A black horse. It once belonged to our President who uh … perished along with our Fleet Admiral a few uh … months back.”copyright protection31PENANApxVRq8FEpv

“So this is what a horse looks like? I always wondered. And it has wings too. How interesting.” She flipped through one picture after the other.copyright protection31PENANAmCGsWc03zL

“That’s just it Sire. That horse was born without wings.”copyright protection31PENANANuEAOlLkpz

She  looked up and frowned as she remembered something someone had told her a  long time ago. Her frown deepened as she fought to remember. A finger tapping on the desk suddenly stilled as it returned. “Beware of the black horse.” It was the Metal Worker that had warned her about the creature so long ago. She glanced upwards at the circling Polrobs. “Find me that Metal worker. Now.”copyright protection31PENANA5O71Gx9lbz

SIRE. SEARCHING … SEARCHING … SEARCH …copyright protection31PENANARycx18K1ck

“And now? what is the matter?” she asked, startled at the pause. Something like this had never happened before.copyright protection31PENANAMZOrACMmWb

SIRE. THE METAL WORKER IS INVOLVED WITHIN A WURM MEGA-BOND. THIS IS SOMETHING UNHEARD OF IN OUR HISTORY. AN INTERRESTING SITUATION. WE WILL HAVE TO AWAIT THIS BONDS CLIMAX BEFORE WE CAN NOTIFY HIM OF YOUR INTENTIONS.copyright protection31PENANAV2024HAd2M

“So be it.” She turned once more to the three men before her. “Just what is going on here gentlemen? Why does a … a horse suddenly have wings?”copyright protection31PENANANUlZsm8cok

“Sire,” her advisor looked up from the tablet. “I … we cannot explain this. The only thing I can say for a fact is that this creature looks one hundred percent like a Pegasus steed.copyright protection31PENANAxbkmCVZpiW

CHAPTER 28copyright protection31PENANABdYBg3iRhl

Asgardcopyright protection31PENANAE4gZ4ImdVK

Valhallacopyright protection31PENANAxtVSPyNOX5

High king Odin’s hall Lidskjalfcopyright protection31PENANAKyjJaANts4

“And?”copyright protection31PENANAP6955dOrqK

“Thor is well on his way to convincing the Jötnar it would be better to join forces with us than to have those Aliens first pick at their natural enemy. A case of my enemy’s enemy would have to be my enemy until his enemy is destroyed. Then I can go back to fighting my enemy.”copyright protection31PENANAcYd8R3GESD

“What are the chances of them not joining us in the upcoming battle?” Odin asked.copyright protection31PENANAKCc4mnF9Q7

Queen Freya smiled at him. “Slim to none, Father. Odin has promised them … in fact, he has given his word that things would return to normal once these aliens have been destroyed. Them and their human counterparts.”copyright protection31PENANAeGdnMjBAL1

“And they have agreed?” he asked in astonishment. “I would not have believed they were so stupid.”copyright protection31PENANAlY0z6RCMwu

“Thor can be  convincing at times, Father. I believe they are now discussing concessions.”copyright protection31PENANAqh7CluZ1EQ

“Concessions? What concessions?” a deep frown settled on his brow. “What do the Jötnar know of concessions?”copyright protection31PENANA8SwmgiGRTs

“They have one or two ideas as to that.” She smiled. “The best one I could gleam from Thor’s few spare minutes where I was able to pull his attention away from the conclave was that they demanded the High King Heimdall should allow them to at least place both feet onto the Rainbow Bridge before he killed the perpetrator. There are others but I do not want you to die laughing.” She laughed,  enjoying the serious joke. “Thor is giving ground  and I believe the Jötnar believe they can actually win ground in their eternal struggle to destroy us.”copyright protection31PENANATfqTOwLrih

Odin shook his head and grunted. “If they weren’t so massively strong and bullishly lacking in intellectual acuity, this war between us would have ceased years ago. As it is, we need their strength. Their bodies can absorb punishment like sponge water. And our allies?” he asked.copyright protection31PENANAWJy4mUzmWd

“All the Aesir worlds are preparing for war father. High King Heimdall’s horn saw to that. Only Midgard has for obvious reasons been left out of the loop. That is one can of worms we do not I believe, want to open.”copyright protection31PENANAc56Jrn28eW

“Truer words have never been spoken my daughter. There is  too much that can go wrong there.” He thought deeply for a while. “Once these Alien creatures have been dispatched, we can turn our attentions back to Midgard.”copyright protection31PENANAA8c020xNsQ

“We have one vexing problem father; that of the Aliens and their human allies. We cannot find them. All who seem to come close disappear. We have lost twenty-two Valkyrie and for some reason or other, their Pegasus steeds as well. In the beginning they would mostly return. Some with wounds, some  covered in blood.  Now none return. It is as if …”copyright protection31PENANA4pzDuVy3iu

“As if the enemy either destroys them or has found a use for them.” Odin interjected.copyright protection31PENANAhvzoe1Lh90

“There is that.” Queen Freya said.copyright protection31PENANAdK8qLaqiYT

“How long will it take to muster our forces daughter? I wish to show these upstarts what a god is capable of doing once he is royally pissed off.”copyright protection31PENANA82jHGNDeQW

“Two. Three days at most father. On the other hand, it will be over two or three and a half thousand human years for them.”copyright protection31PENANAJ8riwFkhXt

“A nice total that will surely have them forget about us and be ripe for destruction.” Odin said as he closed his one eye and planned the destruction of the Galactic Empire and those infuriating Aliens.copyright protection31PENANAiberBZB2hA

If he could only find them.copyright protection31PENANAWpDf7j2LyT

To be continued…copyright protection31PENANAHh18AyOUQM

54.162.239.233

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