The King – Chapter 10

Chapter 10.1 – Too Late.

“Have we made contact with the fleet?” Lieutenant General Kirii asks. She looks over at the communications center at her left.

“No General, we still haven’t received any word from General Borheag.” The communications officer says.

“Tactical, anything on sensor or optics?” General Kirii asks beginning to be frustrated.

“General we are coming away from the asteroid belt in a few moments, we have some optics of the area but we can’t make out anything until we get past the interference.”

“Very well.” The General responds. Tapping several buttons on a pad she engages the channel for her commanders. The channel beeps letting her to know to continue. “We are coming in on target, prepare drop ships in 25 micro-cycles. If we are needed you can expect there is likely heavy casualties already. While I think this might be pointless, I want you all to be prepared regardless. Borheag had the majority of the higher ranking gate users so he may very well not need us for the main battle but we will likely be starting a massive eradication campaign.”

“We’ll have the soldiers ready.” One of the commanders responds, each of them holding their arms to their chest saluting the General. The screen goes blank and ready alarms can be heard through the doors behind her letting the troops know to report to be deployed.

“General.” The tactical officer says turning to Kirii.

“Yes soldier?” She responds blinking a second to notice the main view screen had been switched over to the front optics. The screen is mostly blurry with portions at the top clear but within a few seconds the rest of the screen begins to clear up as the ships exit the gravity field of an asteroid. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris float in space. The bottom section finally clears up to show the crippled Eiris Eye helplessly adrift, much of its aft is in hundreds of pieces. Her heart sinks deeply and suddenly worry sets in. Finally coming to some grips she turns to the communication team who stare at the view screen as well. “Communication, anything from Borheag?” Kirii yells at the crew. They turn quickly back to their stations frantically seeing if they can reach anyone.

“Nothing yet.” The officer responds. The command crew watches the screen as the optics continue to zoom in and clear up the view of the Eiris Eye. Eventually the computer system overlays the schematics of the vessel over what is left letting them all know that where the long range communications systems and its backup would have been was completely missing from what was left of the ship. The crew watch as more of the debris is classified as various battleships, carriers, frigates, and transports. Once past the path of Mars the communication team starts getting stronger static from the channel.

“We expect close range distress locators any micro-cycle now.” The communication lead adds. As if on cue the Eiris Eye being the first hit and now furthest from earth was the first locator beacon to show up.

“Do we have any confirmation of troops on the planet?” The General asks. The tactics officer looks back shaking his head. She looks down slamming her fist on her chair. She pulls up a communications channel to her commanders as she tries to find the words.

“Commanders, the initial assault looks to have failed, completely. I want all men off of the transports immediately. Have them stationed in the bay, they may only have a few micro-cycles to get back on the ships before they disembark, but as of this moment, all attempts to assault the planet by General Borheag have failed.” She says into the video screen to the commanders.

“Is this a rescue operation now?” One commander asks in a shocked tone.

“If there is anyone even alive.” The General replies, her voice filled with sadness, her words nearly leaving them speechless.

“We can strike! They will be weakened and vulnerable. Surely they have been fighting.” Another commander adds.

“Negative commander. All debris is stagnant and in the gravitational wake. This battle ended some time ago. We save what we can and get any information that we can back to command for assessment.” The General says forcefully cutting off any further questioning. She sits there for a minute waiting for any communication that might come through as video of the cargo bays show fully armed and armored troops march out of the transport ships.

“General, we’re getting Eiris Eye.” The communication officer says looking back at her.

“Put it through to me!” She commands hurriedly as if lives depended on it.

“General Kirii, do you hear us?” General Borheag comes through slightly distorted.

“Yes General, do you hear us?” General Kirii replies moving to the edge of her chair.

“I don’t hear anything, what’s going on? Make this work!” General Borheag yells obviously frustrated that he isn’t able to hear anything.

“Try again.” Another voice comes through the speaker a bit clearer.

“General Borheag?” Kirii asks again.

“Ah General Kirii, good I can hear you now.” Borheag replies his voice filled with relief.

“What do you need General?” Kirii asks.

“The planet has turned away so we don’t know what all is going on, but last I heard the local militaries from the various factions on the planet are fighting over rights to salvage our technology from the ships and abduct any of our soldiers. We need minimal security on planet with as many combat medics as possible. I don’t believe more than 5% of what made it down survived.”

“Do it!” Kirii says turning to the tactics console. Within moments the screens of soldiers standing in the transport bays come to life again as packs of 5 soldiers each jump into the transport, helping stow packs of cleaning and healing gel. Half of the combat medic’s abandon the ship they were assigned to and move onto other ships. Shielding around the transport bays go up as the doors release allowing the ships to exit.

“The ships are on their way, next thing?” Kirii asks.

“The ability that the primary target used was very thorough at destroying the fleet, but there may still be some soldiers alive on sealed pieces. Though it has been over two milli-cycles since the end of the battle, if anyone is alive in the debris they will be lucky.” Borheag answers, a lot of pain and hopelessness reflected in his tone.

“As we get closer life scans will show anything still out there, I assume yours are down?” Kirii asks as she points to the tactical officer again. He turns and speaks into his headset in a hushed voice. On queue the screens of the bays show the remainder of the ships power up and sets of four soldiers rush onto them carrying heavy metal cutting equipment.

“We had to salvage what we could from various systems to keep our environmental situation stable. We have been without gravity systems since the first moments of the battle. I have nearly 35 people in the command deck because we’ve had to seal off the majority of the Eiris Eye to keep us alive.”

“Can you open up area’s to your forward escape hatches? We can bring in the Phantom to hook up and offload your crew.” Kirii says referring to her own flagship. Borheag chuckles a bit.

“I forgot that was the name of your ship. Yeah we’ll start the process here. It will cost us a lot of breathable air so the connection has to be done quickly.” Borheag replies. Kirii nods instinctively like Borheag is in the room with her, before a realization hits her.

“You said over two milli-cycles?” Kirii asks curiosity getting her. She can hear Borheag sigh. What he saw weighing on him heavily.

“Yes, the battle in space didn’t last more than 15 micro-cycles, the ground battle maybe another 15. 700,000 dead in 30 micro-cycles. Our shielding went down in the first strike, blew out the back half of the ship. We likely lost half the crew immediately, another quarter in the next 30 micro-cycles as power fluctuations would cause environmental barriers to fail, exposing micro-fracture’s which would rip stressed metal apart and kill another 100 here and there. After a few hundred micro-cycles we had to give up on finding routes to area’s without power anymore, since we knew everyone in them was already dead from lack of air. We have a little over 2000 crew left here of the original 20000.” Borheag answers going into frightening detail, the events leaving Kirii speechless.

“Um, uh, we are almost to you, our crew is preparing the attachment base to hook up. We’ve received word from ships in the main section that we have portions of battleships and carriers with crew still alive. The bombardiers and frigates.” Kirii stops choking back tears and a slight sob, before continuing. “They’re all gone.” After finishing she can’t hold back the tears, several other crew breaks into tears as well. A wail can be heard from Borheag’s ship, likely a member who had a loved one on one of the frigates or bombardiers. The light click of boots on the metal floor intrudes on the sobs of the crew from the Eiris Eye.

“Uh, General, we have communication from our team on the surface. A situation is developing.” The communications officer says standing to the left of General Kirii. She wipes her tears and waves for the officer to continue. Clearing his throat he continues with a look of discomfort from bothering her. “The native population believes another attack is occurring they have managed to find several weaknesses in the shielding and have destroyed two of our transports after they fired on their ground forces. Even though they are very primitive in nature, their weapons have advanced to a level that is capable of penetrating our armor. A squad sent down attacked and killed what looked to be a reconnaissance team from their military. After that our squad was killed at range, any squad that has exited from cover on the ground has been targeted.” Kirii’s eyes go wide, her Farasha skin going bright red as her anger rises.

“Where is commander Uni!” She screams.

“Um” The man says pausing and stuttering a bit as he continues. “He was in charge of the squad that attacked, he’s dead. We have no more transports on board.” This answer makes Kirii angrier.

“Commander Hoczy!” Kirii yells into the communications at her right. A second later the image of the commander appears on the screen at attention, his salute rigid.

“You will take your six carriers, remaining frigates, and transports into the middle of the debris field and align them with drop points to deploy the full load of pods in a protective sphere of the rescue zone. You will go down with two more squads. If another coalition soldier opens fire against the natives during this operation he is to be executed on the spot for disobeying high command rescue protocol. You are to assume a full defensive position as you save as many soldiers as possible. You will not attack.” She orders yelling the entire thing at the communication screen.

“As ordered General.” He replies letting his salute fall and the view screen going blank. She looks up at the monitors which now show a video of her crew working on the metal escape hatch of the Eiris Eye. Ahead of their ship they can see the six carriers and group of frigates move over head and into the debris of the previous fleet. Fighters and transports frantically grab pieces of debris that contain signs of life and dragging them into the cargo hold of the nearest frigate, carrier, or troop transport that had open space.

“We have a negative pressure in the area on our side of the escape hatch. You’ll need to put up a solidified damper around that area for us to get out.” Borheag comes over the communication line. Kirii nods to the communication officer to relay that to the rescue crew working against the side of the Eiris Eye. The officer nods back that it had been relayed.

“The crew has been notified of it, it looks like they are mostly through the outside hull. It seems even the latch system there was damaged.” Kirii responds her face getting darker as her anger fades.

“It surprises me the ship hasn’t blown out every port or seam we have.” Borheag responds, his voice that of a broken man.

“They are through the latch and are starting to setup the internal dampers. Do you have active communication with the data port there?” Kirii asks. She looks around after a bit of silence on communication. The communication officer looks back and nods that the channel is still open.

“The data port is functional, but the emergency power port isn’t and we will need more power to ramp up the computer to transfer off any data. The nearest functioning power port is at the very top of the ship. Our power system is barely keeping our life sustaining systems running.” Borheag answers. Kirii was half shocked and half expectant of the answer, this ship was really on its last leg. Had her fleet taken any longer, it’s possible they’d all be dead. Kirii mutes the communication line.

“Can we power their systems while connected? Our system will be heavily scrubbing the air at first but if we power their system it’s going to take that load off of our systems.” Kirii asks. A communications technician turns to answer.

“Engineering says the ship can, but we’ll have to dump power from main engine and fields which will risk alignment issues with the personnel transfer arm.” The communications technician answers.

“So no. Get commander Hsco on the line” Kirii says. The main screen flickers as a picture of Commander Hsco saluting appears as he stands on the bridge of one of the carriers.

“General, orders?” Hsco asks, it was obvious the yelling she had done had spread fast among the ranks and would prevent any others from crossing her.

“To get the Eiris Eye systems up we need a power hook up. It has to be without the possibility of a buildup and back channel.” She says.

“General, I may have something in 26 micro-cycles, but currently pulling a carrier out of rotation to do such a thing would mean offloading troops and survivors to other ship to get our power usage down to power that large of a ship.” The commander replies. Kirii is unhappy with the response, but she knows rescue operations should take priority over getting the combat data, which is why she is not doing it herself.

“Understood commander. What are the estimates on survivors?” Kirii asks hoping to get good news. The commander looks around the command deck. His mouth moves a bit as he orders people out of frame of the screen. A data pad is handed off to Hsco. He sighs lightly before answering.

“From short, long range scans and reports from planet approximately 3.2 percent of total fleet survived. However with mortality rate of those still being pulled in from various ship debris is pretty bad. Medical personnel are predicting it will drop to between 2.9 and 3 percent of the fleet. Only about 20,000 out of 700,000.” Hsco replies. Knowing the conversation is over, he switches the channel off. The image of Hsco disappears from the screen. Kirii bites her lip, anger once again filling her. A communications technician approaches Kirii and stands at attention waiting for Kirii to acknowledge her.

“Yes soldier?” She says looking over at the timid technician.

“Commander Hoczy is on the line, it is coded G1 urgent.” The technician replies before turning and walking back to her station. Kirii sighs looking down at buttons on her chair. Tapping several buttons a holographic image of Commander Hoczy appears in front of her.

“General.” The communication scrambles a bit as a large explosion is heard in the distance. The General’s head turns somewhat before looking back forward and continuing. “We have all of the serious wounded out. We are expecting to have all other troops out in the next run of transports.”

“That’s good commander, but what is going on?” Kirii asks another explosion going off, this time it is muffled as it had impact against a shield, making her realize the previous explosion had gone through the shield and hit a target. The head of Hoczy seems to duck slightly before the screen readjusts.

“We’ve lost another two squads of soldiers. We haven’t attacked, but with us lifting people out their military is unleashing remote piloted attack craft. Their explosives are extremely powerful, and they are getting more accurate at slipping through shielding to destroy our defense pods. I’ve had Hsco deploy more pods to strengthen our perimeter but gaps are forming as wreckage prevents accurate replacement. We’d move the wreckage but it helps buffer the explosions when one of the pods is destroyed. If possible we may need support strikes from space.” Hoczy finishes.

“I will need to confer with Borheag on strikes from space.” Kirii answers ending the channel. She sighs heavily. The rescue hadn’t been going on long but the stress and loss of life was getting to her. She taps a few buttons pulling up the communication channel to the Eiris Eye.

“General.” Borheag comes through on the channel.

“One of my commanders wants support from space. He wouldn’t ask for it unless he suspected he could be over run during evacuation.” Kirii says.

“No.” Borheag responds.

“Is there a good reason not to?”

“The gate users aren’t paying attention to the rescue operation there. If you start open firing from space, they may well decimate the fleet and anything near it.”

“It is the gate users attacking the rescue operation.” Kirii responds bluffing to see the response. Borheag scoffs at the attempt.

“If that were true, then your troops are already dead and you have no need for a ground rescue anymore. Your troops are fighting off the rest of the native population, less technologically advanced but different than other races we’ve fought. If you bring in extra support for them, you will see what it’s like to lose a whole fleet in front of your eyes, knowing that helplessness.” Borheag answers a slight indignation in his voice, just giving way to a depth of sadness that she had never heard from a General before. The statement had really put a fright into Kirii. The channel closes from Borheag’s side. She waits a moment thinking things through. On the main screen she can see a carrier turning and heading towards her ship and the Eiris Eye.

“Tactical, has it been 26 micro-cycles since my communique with Hsco?” She asks looking at the right toward the tactical station.

“No General, 19 micro-cycles.” The tactical lead answers back. The implications of the time table moving up are clear to Kirii. There aren’t many more pieces to salvage out there with people left alive.

“I see.” She says her voice saddened from all the bad news. She sits back in her chair thinking briefly as the carrier angles up to the top port of the Eiris Eye. She clears her throat briefly before continuing. “Contact Hoczy, and put up a counter for the number of personnel left on the Eiris Eye to evacuate.” The tactical and communication stations tap out commands quickly to follow her orders. The channel for Hoczy comes up on the holographic display in front of her shortly before the counter appears showing the remainder of the Eiris Eye at 1,009 people left to be evacuated. She was happy at the rate the evacuation was preceding.

“General?” Hoczy asks his voice a bit more frantic. Kirii pauses a second realizing she would have to deny a request that could kill soldiers during a rescue operation.

“I’m sorry commander. While I don’t have the data from the attack, Borheag says support of that nature would cost us the entire fleet.” Kirii says.

“What about the stuff here, we can bombard it as we leave to keep it out of their hands.” The commander says, the motion of him pointing comes through in the hologram, but the destination he points to doesn’t.

“No, our priority is survival of the soldiers. Not equipment” Kirii orders.

“There is almost a full carrier down here! We can set the core to destruct after we leave.” The commander responds anger coming through in his voice.

“Will it take more time to do then it would to evacuate?” Kirii asks her voice getting sterner as she is displeased by the commanders’ refusal to acknowledge the orders.

“Yes, but not by much.” The commander responds, a bit of pleading in his voice.

“You care about the soldiers first. Borheag is positive that anything else will result in a counter attack.” Kirii orders forcefully. Hoczy growls lightly as he cuts the channel off.

“It’s not an easy thing to do.” General Borheag says standing a few yards back from General Kirii’s chair. She turns to see him, his uniform unbuttoned, his green undershirt smudged with dirt and chemicals. His face cut in several places. He takes a deep breath before continuing. “Not easy, but the right thing.”

“The final transports are massing on planet for the final retrieval. They will disembark in 3.5 micro-cycles.” The tactical officer says before turning back to his screen. Kirii looks back to the main screen, a countdown showing the time left till evacuation is at the top, below that the data transfer coming from the Eiris Eye

“If you get to see the recording of the battle, you’ll feel better about the decision.” Borheag says putting his hand on her shoulder for a brief moment before turning and walking toward the back exit of the command room.

“Where are you going?” Kirii asks turning to face him.

“I’ll be in the primary communications room starting the secure transmission to command.” Borheag replies before opening the door at the rear and stepping through it. Kirii sighs, unhappy with how things are turning out. She pulls up the database for the Eiris Eye on her holographic display. She navigates from section to section until she finds the folder containing the combat footage. She furls her eyebrows as she sees some footage marked for General authentication and above. She taps on one of the data files and it pushes the replay to her arm chair display. Looking down at the small display she can tell the video was combined from several different recording devices. Several seconds into the video the colorless beam cuts through the two ships and into the Eiris eye. Background data at the bottom of the video dictates the names of the ships lost and casualties of the single strike.

“If I had known I would see such a beam so many times over a dozen milli-cycles I don’t know if I would have accepted your promotion.” A man behind Kirii says. She turns to see where the familiar voice had come from. There stood the weathered Farasha captain of the Nexus, Wiss Tinaro. He chuckles lightly before continuing. “But if I hadn’t. Who knows? Perhaps I’d have ended up dead. I have survived two attacks by those two humans. I guess my luck isn’t so bad.” He shrugs a bit looking at Kirii.

“Oh Wiss, I am sorry for everything, I know you took several people you knew with you on your mission.” Kirii responds standing and giving him a hug, a very uncharacteristic thing for her.

“I appreciate the sympathy, but my pain.” He stops briefly shaking his head a bit as she backs away from him. “No, our pain, all of the Coalition’s pain, will not be quenched so easily.”

“We’ll regroup and make them pay.” Kirii says both a kindness and anger in her voice.

“These two knew us, our tactics, our capabilities, it’s almost like they fought against us on Vesicia, or any other race we’ve warred against. You haven’t seen the next video.” Wiss says stepping past Kirii. He presses a button on the display to go back to the previous screen, hitting another of the General locked replays. Kirii rolls her eyes and sighing as she crosses her arms and waits for the replay of the recorded video to error and say he isn’t permitted. Two seconds go by as the video loads then plays. She is startled and looks at him. He continues as he turns back to her. “I was granted commander status for how the initial contact played out. She opens her mouth to congratulate him but he stops her then points to the screen. She watches the video from the disabled Eiris Eye as Jason activates the dual-octagon attack on the fleet. He moves his finger to the bottom to show the gate meter at the bottom showing 110% of gate use. She gasps raising her hand to her mouth, but her eyes show the horror she felt just as handily as her gaping mouth would.

“We do not have long range transmissions, what is going on?” Borheag echoes loudly in the command room through the speakers.

“Communication?” Wiss asks turning to face the communication team.

“Um sir, there is some form of interference. It’s gotten stronger the further we traveled into the system. With how bad it is we likely won’t be able to do any transmission until we are out of the system entirely.” The communication officer responds.

“General, we’ll” Wiss goes to answer but is cut off by the Borheag.

“I heard, set course for outside the interference as soon as possible.” Borheag says. Wiss turns to the tactical station and nods in affirmation of the orders. Kirii stands there watching the end of the replay of the fleet’s destruction.

“General Kirii.” The tactical officer says coming up to the General. Kirii stares at the screen in stunned confusion. He waits a moment before asking again. “General Kirii, I have something.” His soft voice gets her to focus. She blinks a bit looking down as if recollecting her thoughts before she looks up at the tactical officer.

“Yes soldier, what is it?” She asks still a bit scattered in thought. Wiss looks to the side, fully understanding her feelings at the moment. The Tactical officer closes his eyes to avoid her gaze briefly before opening them as if ready to deliver bad news to her.

“During the final evacuation an unmanned craft from the native population veered into Commander Hoczy’s transport through the shields. The transport crashed at high speed into the planet. Two pilots, a medical soldier, and 25 combat soldiers, including Commander Hoczy and his adjunct are dead.”

 

10.2 – A Plan?

 

Standing once again at the door looking back at Roark, Siszero turns to look at the two black guard soldiers. They seem a bit more nervous constantly looking over at Roark. The door finally opens allowing Siszero into the room. He stands there looking at the large hexagon table of the General’s room. A room that only rarely housed more than a few General’s at a time. Siszero growls a bit looking around the room at the other Generals assembled. It seems this time he was the last to arrive.

“Ah Siszero! How fine of you to be the last one here this time.” General Letum says cocking his head to the side while smiling.

“I’m sorry to keep everyone waiting. I didn’t expect to be called back.” Siszero responds bowing to the other General’s looking at him.

“Bowing now, perhaps you wish to be dismissed?” The supreme commander says, his voice booming suddenly in the room. Letum keeps smiling at Siszero, feeling especially happy at knowing Siszero finds such comments displeasing. Siszero stands at his point of the table, not wishing to comment back. Perhaps his lack of response will bestow a lack of respect for the other General’s and he can be dismissed to continue his normal duties. Siszero often disliked grand standing after victories.

He looks around the room seeing the various Generals, noting the holographic display of General Borheag with his torn and open outfit. General Kirii stands behind Borheag in the display. He ponders when the last time he had seen the General was. She had been happy to relegate herself to a resupply fleet instead of taking a place as a full Fleet General. Perhaps it was the stories her father had witnessed during the great battles of Generals 70 cycles ago. Now however she looked as tired and run down as Borheag. Perhaps the battle was harder fought then originally intended.

“General’s I will release the floor to Borheag.” Letum says letting his right arm unfold to usher the group to focus on the hologram of Borheag. The group stares at Borheag as he continues to look ahead. A few seconds pass with nothing occurring before the various monitors around the room light up showing a dozen different file names.

“I will assume these are ready.” Borheag stops and sighs before continuing. “The targets positioned themselves in the middle of a semi-vast desert on one of the land masses. They waited there for our attack and were able to sense our gate users from beyond the outskirts of the system. I wish I could thank Siszero for his advice. Had things not gone the way they did I assume it would have worked well.” Siszero looks at Borheag a bit confused, and a little scared. He wonders if his advice had actually attributed to a worse attack. The pause gives Borheag a moment to activate the first video. The video displays on the screens and table top. The replay had been slowed down to give a more accurate display of what happens. From several different views the first beam cuts through a frigate and bombardier before striking the Eiris Eye disabling it.

“101% of gate use detected. Exiting the atmosphere and striking our ship. To do the kind of damage it did, 101% is the lowest a gate user would have to be able to use to accomplish that. The Eiris Eye was disabled between the planet and its moon.” Borheag says, again pausing once more to open a second video. The video begins playing, showing the fleet continuing forward at a sped up rate until it stopped to show the enhanced view of the atmosphere of the planet where the shielding had stopped a significant portion of the transports. The video speeds up again for a few more seconds before returning to normal as Borheag begins to talk again. “At this point, we had lost 60% of our vehicle forces and 10% of our ground forces to the shields. Five of our carriers split off here.” Borheag says pointing upwards, the General’s look on as the video is pulled out then refocuses on the five carriers. The video pans back out and the gate usage meter spikes to 110%. The room gasps all at once. They watch on speechlessly as the twin octagon cylinders form around the remaining fleet which is left decimated.

“You were able to kill the boy after this right? He surely must have used everything in such a large attack.” General Mirhee says. General Borheag shakes his head. No sound comes through but they can tell Borheag sighs as he changes his stance.

“The boy was easily able to continue fighting after using this ability. His gate use never spiked above 101 percent after that ability.” Borheag responds.

“Based on theory, a gate user capable of 110% would only be using 9% of his total power at 101%. When you have that kind of power available to you.” Siszero butts in but trails off obviously a bit distraught.

“Even going above 100 percent was theoretical, no gate user has ever written about attempting it. In fact most strive their entire lives simply to open it to 100% and they all fail.” General Quoris says, his calm tone fooling all of the General’s that he is terribly frightened. The General’s fall silent, the news of it all is shocking. Siszero looks around briefly before shutting his eyes. He desperately searches for anything in his mind that would give some hope. He knew there was something, one thing that would be perfect. A half-forgotten secret his mentor had taught him. Schematics and secrets on various planets drift through his mind, each as long forgotten by the Coalition as the next. He pushes the thoughts aside looking for the one secret, that one secret he sought. It had been one of the oldest he still had.

As he thinks intently his ears pull him away. A conversation had started in the back ground discussing fleet strengths and possible bombardments. Siszero ridicules the bunch in his head. The clueless and sad group had risen to power fighting societies that were very weak compared to their predecessors. They didn’t understand this kind of threat. It’s amazing how the Coalition had advanced technologically yet they had lost something along the way. That something had created the most amazing weapons and combat systems, stuff lost when those stupid Generals had ended the war of Generals 70 cycles before. He hears the Supreme commander in the background talking to another General so he pays it little attention, wanting to hear the Supreme Commander’s voice even less than any other General there.

He hates the distraction of the group. He tunes them out focusing on his thoughts. He goes through secret weapons, planets, bases, emptying everything he knows and not finding what he wants. He wants to yell out in anger at being unable to pull what he wants from his memories.

“Unless the coalition is falling, do not ever use this.” The message rings in Siszero’s head as he remembers the coordinates that his mentor had quizzed him about for nearly 10 cycles. He had said that secret could only be used once. “If you go to it now you must be prepared to use it, once you leave, there is little guarantee it will be there again.” The patronizing words from his mentor rung in Siszero’s mind. Siszero contemplates that option for a moment but the specific situation his master put on that secret didn’t warrant it. Deep down he knew of something that would be perfect here. This memory, wiggled around his mind, darting out of reach of his hands. However he soon noticed a pattern, his mind knew what he wanted; it presented a puzzle of places, interconnected, secrets within secrets. It clicked! He had never known the resting place of the weapon just the starting point of it! He opens his eyes and looks up.

“Good, it seems you have found an answer for us Siszero. Please tell us. Now!” The Supreme Commander’s voice was loud silencing the rest of the room. Siszero looks around at the Generals who stare back at him. Quoris next to him appeared to be in a stance ready to strike at him if he tried to flee. Siszero got angry for allowing such known mannerisms to be used against himself. He looks up at the screen where the Symbol of the Supreme Commander sat. He grinds his teeth knowing he had been outplayed. The sound echoes through the room. If he refused he knew he wouldn’t leave the room alive. He punches the table cracking it. The unusual display of strength from Siszero had a desired effect as many of the General’s understood that while he was old he had not lost enough strength to be defeated easily were he attacked. The other Generals relax wishing to see how things turn out, however Quoris stays ready to strike. The man’s allegiance to the Supreme Commander hadn’t been questioned in some time.

“There is an old forgotten weapon, I don’t know where it resides, neither did my mentor, he gave me only a starting point to the riddle.” Siszero says to the group.

“We have many weapons, so what?” General Mirhee says unhappy the conversation had been stopped over this.

“Silent Mirhee.” Letum hisses at him. Mirhee glares back at Letum unhappy by the man and his smile.

“Please inform us as to what kind of weapon this secret is” The Supreme Commander says, his words seeming elegant as if they danced around the room and into everyone’s ears.

“What I was told was it was capable of killing a whole army at once.” Siszero answered. The Generals were left standing there shocked by the claim. Siszero looks around knowing this shock would wear off soon. He continues in the lull “Under the General’s code of the coalition, I claim the rights of successor.” The second comment leaves the group even more shocked.

“A bold move, but what if we choose to ignore that.” Letum says smiling.

“I’ll kill you first Letum. The other Generals not standing here will know perfectly what is at stake if they ever get into a room with you again. I suspect Aldorin there would join my cause in squeezing the life out of you.” Siszero says pointedly. The response sours Letum’s smile.

“A true tactical mind!” The supreme commander says with a laugh. Siszero does not smile keeping his stance ridged and ready for Quoris. The supreme commander continues. “It is ok if you wish to start your final cycle to retirement now. Don’t expect that your little successor standing out there will be able to stand in your boots.” Siszero looks up at the symbol.

“Roark will lead a team to follow the clues and retrieve the weapon. Upon his return I will do the formal ritual and departing of knowledge to him.” Siszero says.

“It seems you have chosen the path of most resistance. You leave me little choice, your promise of salvation with a single weapon is too great to ignore. To acquire that I must leave this in your hands.” The Supreme commander says, his voice trying to give off a placating tone, but the vailed undertone of unhappiness of the situation was obvious to the seasoned Siszero.

“He should have a team of special operation soldiers to lead. Several gate users, a few Farasha, an Eiris or two.” Siszero says trying to keep the team both small but versatile to fight against anything they might be up against, even if it is their own Coalition forces.

“I’ll have two of my best Black Guard go, that should serve to complete the Farasha requirements you stated.” The Supreme Commander says.

“I shall go and inform Roark now if there is no other business?” Siszero says before turning and walking out the back door. The door shuts behind him, still leaving the room stunned. Borheag looks around at the others through the holographic display.

“I have another matter. It’s probably best that Siszero wasn’t here anyway.” Borheag says. The other Generals are puzzled as they look back at the hologram of Borheag.

“Please.” Letum says his voice giving off obvious displeasure at the meeting not ending with Siszero storming off.

“I give my resignation. Immediately.” Borheag says. The group is shocked. Even General Kirii who stood behind Borheag in the hologram looked genuinely unknowledgeable that this would happen.

“General, you are far from the age to step down, and the coalition needs you.” The Supreme Commander says.

“I have served this country for 55 cycles. I have watched uncountable commanders killed under my command and have had three adjunct General’s die. Just a few milli-cycles ago I watched my fourth and final one go. Be it the rights of successor I hand over all of my secrets to the coalition govern. I will take whatever ship maybe spared and return to Farash to live out the remaining cycles I have left.” Borheag finishes. He turns, and walks out of the communication room. His voice, stance, and even walk had been that of a truly broken soldier. The other Generals understand his sorrow, for that had been the only thing Borheag had experienced. While others were spared that pain, his command had always been the first on the field. In three separate attacks on planets, he lead, and lost, great soldiers under his command. Finally this loss was too much. To witness an entire fleet and longest surviving adjunct wiped out so easily. It had been too much for Borheag to continue forward.

“I hate to say this General Kirii, but you are the next in command to gain a combat fleet. Even though Siszero led a fleet, his adjunct has no experience. You do.” The Supreme Commander says erasing the shock from those Generals present. Kirii looks back at the door Borheag had left through. She blinks slowly looking back forward at the display.

“I understand Supreme Commander. I will take my place as a fleet head until such a time that Siszero’s adjunct proves himself capable of leading the fleet.” General Kirii says knowing the words would put her in the hunter’s den. She wasn’t happy watching the strategist Siszero be outplayed and blatantly threatened by the Supreme Commander in front of all of the highest Generals in the military. As the other Generals smiled and nodded at the good idea, General Kirii breaks those good feelings by interjecting again. “One thing Borheag forgot to mention that is of great concern. We actually spent some time leaving the target system because of a very large communication disruption field had been placed to prevent long range communications. We were able to track down one of the devices emitting the field and found out it was of Vino construction.” She finishes standing there. The Generals were once again speechless

“How could they have known?” General Aldorin says finally adding to the conversation.

“General Borheag believes this may have been done to prevent his fleet from being pulled away to reinforce another position.” General Kirii says

“Generals I want full checks to all our forces. Find out what the Vino are up to!” The Supreme Commander yells.