The King – Chapter 12

Chapter 12.1 – Surprised

The fleet of ships had been a surprise. Deep in his head he told himself he shouldn’t be, being a member and now the head of the illusive cast Njecki had grown up working on a builder ship. His caste had been the ones to start project bloom and to spend the last 70 cycles building this fleet. To see so many Vino in one place was still hard for him. He hadn’t been at a temporary camp for more than a milli-cycle at a time, usually just long enough to sleep before being forced to pull bounty hunters away. To see 20 or 30 Vino in a room was a guaranteed slaughter. Such a target would almost warrant a full Coalition fleet. A ship of 100 Vino might warrant a primary battle fleet. This fleet of 20 battleships dozens of carriers and a full 150 troop transports was enough to draw the entire coalition armada.

He looks around at the men and women working in the cargo bay, still assembling more space fighters to fill out the carriers. He feels a pang of fear gnawing at his stomach. These men and women hadn’t known the hunt. Million’s had fled hunters and fleets while these people worked. Surely not a single worker had escaped from loss, but what they had experienced wasn’t the same as the runners. The senses of feeling cornered and alone in the galaxy as you spend cycles without touching another person. Watching as another runner is driven into gravity of a gas giant just so the ship that hunted it would be kept occupied so you could get away. Njecki wondered if plan bloom was the hope that would end the days of running.

“Leader Njecki.” A man says bowing. Njecki turns to see the man, a bit surprised that the man had bowed so much he practically touched his own feet.

“Yes my brother, what is it?” Njecki replies to the man noticing he was from the same caste.

“The other leaders have recalled their runners. Should we as well before we strike?” The man asks still bowing.

“As much as I would like to, our runners are more valuable being runners than soldiers. They will lead astray other hunters while we solidify our forces at the targets. The other castes are not as good at running as ours. We must show them all what it means to be true runners. Send out a signal to all of them. Tell them we depend on them to trick our enemy, lull them into a false sense of security and when bloom has been under way, the hunters will become the hunted.” Njecki responds his tone strong and commanding, something he hadn’t expected to come out of his mouth.

“Yes my leader!” The man replies the pride in his voice overwhelming. Njecki turns to look back at the fighter bay. He is unhappy but also prideful that they would have a few more fighters ready. Finally realizing he has to go command his portion of the fleet he turns and walks out of the bay. The other man had already vanished with his orders.

Making it to the core of the ship Njecki is greeted by a communications person. He hands Njecki a data pad with messages on it from the other Vino leaders. The pad was old, looted from coalition hunters a long time ago. Njecki takes the pad without a second thought. He had grown accustomed to using repurposed Coalition technology. He had even spent some years using a Coalition transport to evade fleets before he was able to get his current fighter. Njecki scans through the reports as he sits down at the rear of the room. He pulls at the console to the left of the chair. It swings around to lock him into the seat while giving him access to command the ship right in front of him. As it clicks to lock the display on the console comes to life displaying the same reports on the pad.

“Illusive caste in position.” Njecki says after hitting the communications screen.

“About time!” Kildeo comes back through. A snort and laugh is heard from Durosis.

“Silence!” Kuren commands through the channel. Njecki is unhappy with the altercation but holds his tongue. The holographic display updates to show the system and the fleet passing the eighth planet. The projected flight path illuminates through the system showing them going by the sixth and fifth planet before finally striking the support and barricade craft around the fourth planet. Once the channel had gone silent for a minute Kuren finally continues, “Have all pilots begin preparation for launch. We have 14 micro-cycles until we fire. Njecki have your ships setup the nets?” She asks. Njecki finishes scanning through the reports before answering.

“Yes, the system has been blanketed. As has General Borheag’s fleet.” Njecki replies concisely.

“Good Njecki, did you receive any reports of attacks or sightings from the deployment of Borheag’s fleet?” Kuren asks uncharacteristically. Njecki is shocked by the question, cocking his head to the side unconsciously. Njecki goes to answer back but is cut off.

“Of course they wouldn’t. Why even ask? That race is a sacrifice.” Kildeo says slight arrogance in his voice, almost happy that another race will die for their plan.

“For whatever purpose you ask, the scouts said they could feel the vibrations of gate use from the outer edge of the system. I would guess they had to deploy at least 100,000 gate users during the attack to have that kind of range in vibrations.” Njecki replies, his tone giving away his unhappiness discussing the topic. The other leaders were a bit shocked by the reply. Ashk housed the largest force the Coalition contained at this point, and even during intense combat the vibrations wouldn’t reach the edge of the system. Njecki switches his response channel to his attack squad.

“All combat pilots to your fighters. Projectile crews load long range ordinance. Priority targets for slip bombers are battleships and carriers. Fighters will protect bombers and engage enemy fighters and frigates. Be mindful of firing coordination. Boarding parties gear up for attack, enemy fleet first followed by surface deployment.” Njecki yells through the communication system, his voice is pushed to every ship under his command. Mere minutes are left until they will exit the influence of the fifth planet and be seen by the coalition barricade fleet. The monitors on Njecki’s console pan the fighter bays of his battleship. Dozens of pilots finish with their suits and begin diagnostics on their ships. Njecki’s own fighter sits idle in the closest bay to the camera. Most fighters begin sealing and toggle their ready switches for launch. A display lights up in the center with a countdown of the final micro-cycle.

“Launch fighters!” Kuren orders. In a split second the bays empty as the fighters are controlled out by their computer systems. Looking ahead Njecki can see one of Kuren’s battleships will be the first around the planet. It wastes little time firing off long range artillery rounds. Though unlikely to hit, the chance of confusion could end up with the shells hitting fighters or frigates during their two micro-cycle journey to the forth planet. As each ship clears the pull of the fifth planet they each release their own salvo of projectiles. Finally at the furthest tip of the fleet he can feel the ship rumble from the firing of the projectiles. The fighters take up a pursuing course behind the projectiles.

In the Distance the battleships and carriers can be seen turning and scrambling to right themselves to face the massive fleet coming against them. Four Battleships and 13 Carriers seemed a trifle of a fleet to Njecki. He had escaped fleets three times its size. Now aware of the battle, coalition cargo ships can be seen scrambling to flee the system but are soon called back to the fleet by the General in charge. The coalition fleet empties it’s fighter bays putting everything out to help fight off its enemy, but notice to late as the first several salvo’s fired from the Vino ships take out a dozen fighters and two frigates. The Vino fighters pull back out of firing range of the Coalition fleet to let their slip bombers catch up.

The Coalition unloads its own projectile but the Vino systems detect it right away and compensate directing all of their ships around the enemy fire. The remaining Vino projectiles manage to destroy two frigates and the only Coalition Bombardier as it maneuvered into position to fire. The Bombardier smolders from its ammunition going off. The Coalition fleet edges away from the ship knowing it will explode eventually. Using this weakness of positioning the fighters enter firing range of the Coalition fleet. The lasers batteries of the Coalition battleships rain on the Vino fighters, but with so few Coalition battleships the Vino fighters are able to evade most of the incoming barrages. The Coalition fighters engage the Vino as quickly as possible once it was obvious the battleships didn’t have the superior numbers to deal with the Vino craft.

“Each of the leaders will take a battleship. Have your senior soldiers lead the carrier assaults. Njecki you only get two carriers. Have your scouts head down to guide the Vesicia against the base perimeters.” Kuren orders. The happy yells and screams of Kildeo and Durosis come through the speakers.

“Yes Kuren.” Njecki answers as he hits the button on his display causing the panel to unhook and swing to the side. He stands up looking at the front display. It shows the slip bombers careening through the shields of the capital class ships and releasing pulse bombs. Hitting the side of the ships they overload the shielding and weapons across large segments of the ships. Njecki takes a step forward as the ship rocks threatening to knock him from his feet. The familiar sound of the main energy weapons resonate through the ship. With a good amount of the Coalition Carriers and battleships disabled and a majority of Coalition fighters destroyed nothing was stopping the more powerful energy rounds from hitting against the remaining frigates that desperately tried to eliminate the slip bombers. Njecki realizes he was behind as he sees Durosis ship being ejected from the battleship ahead. Scoffing he opens the door and runs down the hall.

The Final door to the fighter bay opens showing his fighter in front. The side door of the craft opens and waits for him. Jumping into the door he guides himself into the seat with bursts of air. He pulls on a helmet as the fighter initializes its full array. One of the Vino workers bows to him in the distance. Njecki stops for a second bowing his head at the woman. The bay shielding buzzes as his ship is ejected into space. Tumbling out of the battleship he pushes his engines to full spinning away from the path of another carrier. With the two fleets now in close proximity Njecki unloads barrages of disruption fire into the few remaining fighters and some of the enemy battleship systems that had been missed by the slip bombers. Closing in on his assigned battleship Njecki realizes ones of the main energy cannons is still online. It moves slightly pointing at Njecki. Putting up his hand and generating black energy he activates it. The beam slices through the area where he had been. His ship appears 15 feet to the right. Njecki gasps slightly, the strain of using the ability hitting him hard. Pulling the trigger he fires his entire array of disrupters hitting the cannon area. The cannon sits overloaded from Njecki’s weapons. He pilots his ship into the fighter bay of the battleship. He looks on as the bay floor is strewn with Coalition and a few Vino bodies.

Njecki sets his ship down, and exits slowly. He had only used that ability on his fighter a few times prior and each time it had seriously hurt him, just as Kildeo’s ability did to Kildeo. He falls to his knees the second he steps out onto deck, sweat pouring down his head. A group of Vino run over to check on him.

“Sir, are you ok?” The first soldier asks helping Njecki to his feet.

“I’ll be fine I just need time. You three will accompany me straight to the bridge. How has the assault gone?” Njecki asks his legs still shaking a bit.

“We gained control of the engine room and vented the top half of the ship before the bridge regained control. The security check points have slowed advances but we are cutting through. We were going to head up the port side of the ship as it’s shown the least number of soldiers but has the most emplacements for heavy gunners. Also since we have door controls locked down they can’t vent us into space.” The soldier responds.

“Well done my soldiers. Let us make haste, we will show Kildeo and Kuren how it’s done.” Njecki says inspiring his soldiers a bit. One of the three soldiers runs behind Njecki pressing his hands onto the back of Njecki helping stabilize his gate and replenish his stamina. The group runs down the hall along the port side of the ship. They pass barricade after barricade with fallen Coalition soldiers and occasionally a fallen Vino. Weapons fire ahead echoes through the hallways. A heavy laser gun unloads its clip down the hall ahead.

“Shield until we are at the defense station.” Njecki orders. The front two put up shields overlapping them at the center. Njecki closes his eyes placing his arms on the shoulder of the two in front feeding his own power into them. The clear shields become increasingly thicker distorting light as the combined power of all four feeds into them. Finally turning into the hall of the weapons fire, the heavy laser rifle puts dozens of shots per second in to the shield but is unable to drain much from it. The two soldiers manning it get up to defend with rifles but are stabbed from behind by the two invisible Vino that had slipped by when they stopped firing. The two Eiris bodies are pulled aside along with the gun allowing Njecki and the other three to continue running past. Coming to the final post before the command room four Farasha, a Ling and an Eiris sit ready for battle. With another heavy laser gun opening fire first the group continues to run at the defense. Two Farasha lift their hands using their nullification ability on the shields. The two Vino at the front dodge to the right and left instantly kneeling to the ground and activating sphere barriers as several of the Coalition soldiers open fire on them. The rear Vino immediately kneels creating his own barrier as Njecki activates black energy at his feet instantly.

Activating the teleport Njecki appears two feet into the air right at the front of the Coalition soldiers. He instantly creates a barrier in front of himself while forming a hardened blade attached to his foot. He cuts the heavy laser gun in half with his foot before charging to attack the Ling on his right. The Ling being formidable in shielding easily blocks the attack by Njecki. The third Farasha activates his ability dispersing the barrier that Njecki had made. Njecki flips backwards pulling more black energy dispersing his image in a haze of mirages. The Coalition open fire into the mirages he had created but they are unable to land a hit. The two Vino coming from the previous defense post fire off a fireball. The final Farasha disperses one of the fireballs, while the Eiris leaps in front of the group taking the other fireball head on. The blast is substantial but is unable to break the hardening of the Eiris gate resistance.

Njecki teleports past the barrier the Ling had created to stand in directly in front of him. In an instant the Ling dismisses the barrier and generates multiple shields a few inches above his forward body for hand to hand combat. Having the initiative Njecki is able to drive a knife in to the side of the Ling but unable to do much damage as the Ling generates an enclosing shield in his own body to stop the blade from penetrating deeper. The Ling reinforces the shield preventing any heat that Njecki had woven into the blade from damaging his internal organs. Njecki pulls the knife out before kneeing the Ling in the stomach sending him backwards a few feet into the wall. He blocks another attack from Njecki as the remaining Coalition trains their weapons at the back of Njecki. They open fire at him but the energy rounds are stopped by a barrier generated by one of the original shielding Vino. The barrier stops the fire but leaves the Vino who generated it vulnerable. He tries to dodge the flachette round fired from the Eiris but is unable to. The metal flechette cut through the flesh, organs and bone of the Vino soldier killing him instantly. As the barrier he was generating crumbles the other Vino to the right of the hall regenerates it to keep Njecki protected. The Eiris turns his gun on that Vino pulling the trigger. The flechettes shatter as they hit the reinforced shield that was generated by the two Vino that had been invisible after they had fired the fireballs previously. The two Vino kneel down concentrating on keeping the barrier stable so the Vino who was protecting Njecki was kept safe.

Two of the Farasha train their guns on the group of Vino. The Eiris drops his gun pulling two short blades from his holsters before he charges towards the Vino group. He drops his shoulder knowing when he hits the shield his natural resistance will disrupt it leaving the three Vino vulnerable. The Vino that had followed Njecki and kept out of the battle finally regains enough strength to push forward. He disbands his dome shield while generating a shield in front of himself and charges the group of Farasha. As the Eiris hits the barrier of the two Vino the other Vino hits the group of Farasha stopping them from opening fire. The two closest Farasha are knocked back. The charging Vino drops his shield cutting into the chest of the closest Farasha killing him. He spins and kills the other Farasha that was caught off guard. The two Vino drop their barrier right as the Eiris hits it causing him to stumble forward. The stumble mistimes the attack by the Eiris allowing both Vino to dodge the attack while each of them deal a killing blow to the Eiris.

As both Vino turn to reinforce the attack of the fifth Vino that had charged the Farasha the left Vino is hit in the head with an energy round from one of the remaining Farasha. The fifth Vino turns to attack the Farasha but plunges right into a dagger the Farasha had in his right hand. The Farasha moves to his left to continue firing on the remaining Vino but notices that the Farasha soldier behind him that was supposed to fire on Njecki had fallen silent. He glances to his left seeing the body of the soldier on the ground, a knife sticking out of her head and the barrier protecting Njecki was gone. He pushes himself backwards to the wall hoping to get his rifle turned around enough to hit Njecki from behind but is struck in the head by an ice spear before he is able to pull the trigger.

Njecki stands over the Ling who gasps for air. The Ling bleeds from many of the deep strikes that Njecki had dealt him. The three Vino watch as he falls forward his shielding disappearing with his last breath. Njecki pulls a stun grenade from a Coalition pack and begins to form black energy around it. The other two Vino move forward generating a domed barrier against the wall. The grenade disappears as Njecki teleports it past the command room door. Njecki quickly steps behind the barrier of two Vino. A moment later the grenade explodes in the command room causing the door to fly down the hallway. Njecki and the other two charge in to the room executing the command staff. The commander charges Njecki but after only crossing swords a few times one of the other Vino runs him through from behind.

“Our battleship is done.” Njecki radios. Kildeo comes through with a scoff.

“To quick you didn’t enjoy anything!” Durosis says.

“You even beat me. Well done Njecki.” Kuren replies. A flood of Vino soldiers comes through the port doorway to the command deck saluting Njecki and waiting for orders.

“All of you flank the other corridors from behind. Be quiet taking out the remaining blockades that are tying up our forces.” Njecki says handing out orders. The groups split up and exit quietly through the other doorways out of the command deck. The groups move down the halls taking out whole blockades without any other sound but that of knife to flesh. Only slight fighting is heard before each hallway goes quiet. The doors open a little as one Vino gives the clear sign to Njecki. A group of Vino techs enter the command room each bowing to Njecki before they go to the various consoles on the command deck and begin pulling out electronics from the consoles and replacing them with Vino parts to gain full control.

“Sir” The sound came from behind Njecki. He turns to see the same man that had greeted him earlier bowing.

“You seem to be wherever I am my brother.” Njecki responds

“I am happy to serve our caste my leader.” The man responds still bowing. Njecki smiles a bit happy that his caste had fostered such a strong following among its members. For many years it was often the illusive caste that was looked down on. To see such pride in it was a welcome sight to Njecki.

“What did you need soldier?” Njecki asks the man as he turns his attention to the view screen showing more Vino troop transports descending to the planet surface.

“Our scouts have led the Vesician armies through the Coalition defenses. The Coalition ground bases have almost entirely fallen to us. A meeting between the leaders and the Vesicia Urjis is expected in 33 microcycles” The man responds. Njecki looks around at the deck seeing the other two Vino that he had fought with still on the deck.

“You two will come with me, you shall fight by my side from now on.” Njecki says pointing at the two soldiers.

“Yes my leader!” One of the Vino says as they both stand up a bit wide eyed from the declaration.

 

Chapter 12.2 – An Honored Agreement

Njecki walks into the dim room. A thin Vesicia woman fanned a much shorter Vesicia male who sat in a chair. At seeing Njecki he waves off the woman and stands clasping both arms at the wrists before bowing his head to Njecki. The man raises his head smiling at Njecki. Something nags at Njecki but he is uncertain what it is.

“You do not remember, I think. I guess I was but a boy at the time and I didn’t have most of these scars either.” The man says still smiling before pointing to a large number of scars on his face and arms. Njecki looks deeply at the man’s face trying to remember his time on the planet nearly 15 cycles prior. After a few moments Njecki puts his hand up to block out the left side of the man’s face, with the majority of the scars. A look of realization hits him. With the look of surprise on Njecki’s face the man smiles and laughs before continuing. “I see it finally came to you.” The man laughs a bit and walks up to give Njecki a close embrace, something not often done by the Vesicia since it gives great vulnerability to both who do it.

“I see you still trust me” Njecki laughs a bit as they hug.

“No one in my village would think any other way. To fight for several days to hold off both Coalition and Aronaru from attacking our village while our warriors were out. No, no one would ever dishonor our village by not trusting you.” The man says patting Njecki on the shoulders. The sincerity in the man’s word gives a glimpse of the debt they owed Njecki for what he had done.

“And you, you were just eight cycles old. You had just barely started your training.” Njecki says smiling at the man.

“Yes, I know! We were so small and frail. All of us little students wished we could have fought by your side, and we would have, had you not told us to stay, but you protected us. You fought so we could grow up and make this future. Your plan is going well. Your other leaders should be back soon.” The man says turning to walk back to the chair gesturing grandly.

“Oh yes! I am sorry I am late for a meeting with Urjis.” Njecki replies. The man stops clicking his feet together before turning to face Njecki.

“Well then, you are not late at all!” The man replies a broad smile on his face. Njecki sees the woman in the corner smiling as she stares at the man.

“No, it couldn’t be? Could you be Urjis? You were just a Dunuo when I left” Njecki asks taken back by the thought. The man responds by smiling while nodding energetically.

“I didn’t get these scars for just any reason. Nearly one scar for each campaign I was in and had no sooner gotten my third scar and I was the one leading the raids against the Coalition and the damned Aronaru. Now with your troops and the combat suits you have given us we are driving off the Aronaru in vast droves. Did you hear them as they climbed the energy fences of the coalition bases trying to get away from our extermination squads? The cackles, clicks, and hisses yet they run from us none the less!” Urjis says in pure excitement ending with a boisterous laugh that fills the whole room.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone from your race so happy.” Njecki says still shocked by Urjis. Urjis sits down and waves for the woman to continue fanning and waves for Njecki to take the seat next to him. With that motion Njecki now notices the three other chairs had been arranged around the room. He sits down next to Urjis getting a little comfortable.

“Njecki, my good friend, the Aronaru have plagued my race for our entire recorded history. At one time they nearly exterminated my entire race before the first of the Gifted Ones.” Urjis bows his head in reverence when mentioning the name given to the gate users that were born to the Vesician people. “Near extinction when the first gifted one was born. You know the history, only a few thousand of my people were alive. The great city was formed and my people once again grew to millions, hundreds of millions, a billion! Then the coalition bombed the great city. I wish you could have been by my side earlier when my village warriors and I rushed the coalition base they built on the site of the great city.” Urjis is moved to tears recalling all of it.

“So do I Urjis.” Njecki says patting the man on the shoulder. A rustling can be heard in the compound as a large group of people can be heard marching toward the house.

“From this day forth the Aronaru beasts will no longer be the threat they ever were!” Urjis exclaims standing up as Kuren, Kildeo, and Durosis walk in.

“Well said dear Urjis.” Kuren says standing near the entrance to the room. Urjis looks up at her still smiling.

“Please be seated my guests.” Urjis says bowing. The other three sit each giving Njecki a look. Urjis sits down after all of them were seated. He continues. “I assume you have seen my special assault troops in action. You’ve seen the training and are happy with them?” Urjis asks his voice betraying the pride he had in the troops that had trained the hardest for this day.

“They kill so quickly I get no enjoyment” Durosis says a bit depressed.

“They are troops after my own heart, ignore Durosis. They are exactly what we need and want. For you, are the weapons everything you want?” Kuren asks leaning forward in her chair her elbow resting against her knee and her head on her hand. Urjis laughs wildly.

“Beyond expectations! The beasts fled from us by the tens of thousands! We are already mining the richest of Dorn deposits and the rarer metals you have taught us about. Of course we still hunt down the Coalition troops that have retreated into the forests but with the Aronaru fleeing from us I suspect the two will help kill each other. Especially since neither will ever harm us again.” Urjis says his fist hitting his arm rest violently in triumph. The four leaders each smile. The plan had turned out so well for their alliance. Standing once again Urjis takes on a much more sincere voice. “You have upheld not just the agreement we had but the spirit of the agreement which goes much further than just words on a paper or an embrace of friendship. I have talked to all of the clan leaders and as I am Urjis, leader of all Vesicia I give this gift to you in the name and spirit of all my people. Your people shall from this day forward be considered our people and our people are your people. We will treat you as we treat our Gifted Ones. This world is now a home to any who wish to make it so. We will protect you all with every life we have.” Urjis finishes getting on his knees and bowing his head till it touched the ground in front of them.

The words and gesture were greatly unexpected. Even Durosis, the battle loving fighter of the group was taken aback by the thought of settling down on a planet, taking a wife and raising children himself. While the mating call had been fulfilled by him three times, he had never known his own children. Likely such a gesture to the breeding masters would be impossible to understand. The gesture granted their race a chance to raise a grand civilization once again. Even if the breeding masters maintained their constantly moving fleet in preparation for war again, most of their race could live a constantly prosperous life on this planet.

“Please Urjis, rise.” Kuren says her voice softened greatly by the man’s words and actions. “You have offered something no other has. Nothing in my heart gives me reason to believe there will not be those among my people who will come here to live in peace with your kind. Even the reverence of the gifted ones is, while a nice thought to think, too much. We go into war tomorrow as equals. We all fight for those who stand with us and those that have fallen behind us. We have lost many today and will lose more tomorrow, but those that will not see the end of tomorrow will do so securing our future together.” Urjis raises his head, tears still streaming down his face from the impact of her words. Njecki was the only one who could see her face but it was unmistakable, a tear of compassion and understanding flittered down Kuren’s cheek. She wiped it away quickly while helping Urjis to his feet she pretends that nothing had happened.

For the first time since the meeting on the dead planet Njecki understood why his predecessor had started this. He had met a race long ago that he had never told anyone but him about, a lost planet that housed a people that had shown him the power that can be gained by protecting your own kind. He had seen the fire that burns to protect and fight for your home. We had long lost that thought, that motivation. Now though, these people had given them this. This token had soothed and tamed the hearts of Durosis and even Kuren. It had even given pause to Kildeo, though only a pause. Njecki realizes such a man and his caste were doomed soldiers. Bound to hatred, despair, and loss had given rise to their kind. The Hoinok: the caste of vengeance. They desired no home world, only blood of the enemy. Very few were born to the Hoinok caste. They were raised on fighters or assault ships, raised with nothing but revenge in their hearts.

Kildeo stands and walks out of the room. The other three knew why but Urjis is a little hurt by the reaction.

“Do not take his actions seriously Urjis.” Njecki says putting his hand on the man’s right arm.

“He is the leader of the Hoinok. They will do whatever is necessary to exact their vengeance on the enemy that has hurt them so deeply. They have no love or happiness left. They cannot even think of what your gesture of a home world would be like, because such a gift holds no future for them.” Kuren explains.

“I don’t ever recall hearing of such a caste. I thought you only had three?” Urjis says, looking around at the rest of them confused.

“They do not train others. They care little for plans or patience. If a coalition troop were dying in a fire, they would jump into the fire to deal the killing blow simply so the fire wouldn’t steal such a trophy from them. They have grown to be our largest caste because so many of our kind have given in to the hatred after losing everything else. In our future world of peace there is no place for them, so hearing of it will only bring them anger that we aren’t killing our enemies.” Durosis explains, slightly introspective of the situation. Njecki sits mouth agape, eyes wide at the speech from Durosis. He looks down, confusion filling his face as he is uncertain if he had been transported to an alternative universe that had begun to warp everything around him.

“Njecki, prepare the fleet.” Kuren orders, her voice back to the steely command it often exuded. Njecki stands and walks toward the door before Kuren continues with an almost angry tone. “And remind Kildeo that his caste is expected to perform in accordance to plan bloom. If so much as one ship captained by his caste breaks formation it is to be decimated. We will not have a misstep endanger anything.” She looks at Njecki from the corner of her eye as he nods in agreement to her orders. He pushes aside the heavy curtains that were used as doors. They were designed to block out sound but also easily entangle and drag down the front paws and heads of the Aronaru if they were to attack through the door way. The bustle of the large village and dozens of troop transports ring in his ears. The construction of the Urjis’ house was considered formidable but to think it had dampened so much sound. In the distance the large tree’s that often grew around the sites of Dorn deposits were being torn out, the nests and eggs of the Aronaru destroyed. Every few moments that pass a few blasts from an energy rifle can be heard as hiding Aronaru are uncovered and killed.

Many of the nearest Dorn deposits were being worked on by large swathes of Vesician civilians, doing their part for the war. Each deposit had at least a dozen Vesicia soldiers with energy rifles guarding from possible attack by Aronaru or Coalition troops. The training that had been laid out slowly during the last 20 cycles served the Vesicia well. These people had become as well trained as standard Coalition soldiers. Njecki looks down one of the rows of cut trees seeing rows of suited Vesicia armed with battle armor and rifles waiting for a troop transport to land. Just a hundred of the nearly 10,000 Vesician soldiers that were specially trained to continue the forward movement of plan bloom.

“Leader?” One of the Vino soldiers asks as he stands next to the door. Njecki had forgotten the two soldiers he had told to wait for him.

“Oh, thank you for waiting there.” Njecki replies turning to the two.

“It was our pleasure to serve the leader.” The two say in unison, each bowing.

“Please get a transport, we must return to the fleet at once.” Njecki turns and stares as more machinery is taken off of transports. Parts of Dorn refineries are setup at the edge of town. Another transport that had finished offloading parts was loading lines of Vesicia soldiers to ferry them to a ship in orbit before it would start another equipment run for the encampments and defense posts the Vesicia will be setting up to counter any Coalition attempts to regain control.

“If this is too bold I apologize greatly but where are we going, we just freed the planet?” The remaining Vino asks still staring at the back of Njecki.

“Has night division checked in?” Njecki asks ignoring the question by the soldier.

“Yes sir, right before leader Kuren entered the chamber. The response only said yes.” The other Vino squeaks out barely able to overcome the anxiety of speaking to the leader of his caste.

“Good, then the traitors among our people have been dealt with. She surely gave a large smile at that right?” Njecki asks looking back at the man. The man stands stunned for a second before replying.

“Yes, but traitors among our own people? How is that even possible? After everything the coalition has done?” The Vino says, the topic of traitors causing him severe anger issues.

“Not everyone who loses greatly gives in to the Hoinok caste. Some become battered and see trading in brethren to the Coalition as a way to live out their lives in peace on a rock somewhere. Since they have been dealt with I can talk openly.” Njecki responds turning to look at the soldier. He smiles lightly as he continues. “We go to take the head of General Mirhee.”