Chapter 18.1 – An unlikely assignment.
“Command Five Orlen Osyrian.” The doctor calls out. Orlen opens his eyes lightly. He was still in the medical room that he had been brought to, the secondary emergency medical station on Farash. The doctor looks at a monitor above him content with the results it was showing.
“Orlen, can you hear me?” The doctor asks again.
“Yes I can hear you.” He responds a bit exasperated turning away from the doctor. The doctor sighs a bit not quite ready for this kind of thing. Orlen can tell the doctor was new at this. The doctor turns and walks back to the door where another person was standing.
“I understand you are a General but he is my patient and he was on a hostile planet for 14 to 16 milli-cycles, most of it without an active immunoshield to protect him from local diseases. That’s not even mentioning he has spent most of it without food and is in a weakened state. Procedure says he gets another six milli-cycles of recuperation under your own regulations.” The doctor explains to the other person, but it was obvious by the tone that the doctor was pleading with them more than making a solid case or standing his ground. A seasoned doctor from the primary medical station would have evoked far more command of this situation. The man whispers a response to the doctor but it was too quiet for Orlen to make out the words. The doctor finally relents and leaves the room only giving the briefest look of worry to Orlen.
“How are you doing soldier?” The gruff voice comes through as the man comes to stand at the side of the bed. The thin and tall Farasha was unknown to Orlen, and his rank bars showed at least a commander rank, but he was unable to see the exact bars from his position lying on the medical bed.
“I was stabbed in the lung, had a piece of a building lodged in my side for 11 milli-cycles. Nearly shot by primitive projectile weapons and had to fight two of the local inhabitants hand to hand. I had better times before I went to sleep sir.” Orlen responds, his voice giving off obvious displeasure.
“Well soldier that makes this a bit harder on me then.” The man looks around a bit before returning the attention to Orlen lying on the table. “I am fleet General Quoris. I can tell we’ve never met before. I was likely just a fresh Fleet General, as were many of us when you took this position. I am sorry what happened to your team down there. I hate to do this but with your experience and training, you are one of the most senior trained soldiers we have in the military now. The trauma doctor says you’ll be healed and combat ready by tomorrow morning. This would mean you would be capable of joining a special team on a critical mission.” General Quoris says.
“I assume that military command has decided this because the last 20 milli-cycles wasn’t enough sir?” Orlen responds his question and tone bordering on insubordination for most command staff.
“I’m sorry soldier, they wouldn’t have asked me to do this if it wasn’t important. For your service of 50 cycles on earth you were already pre-granted the rank of Command eight, due to the retiring status upon completion of the command nine and eight that were with you. For your service on the ground, quick thinking that saved your life, resourcefulness in escaping, and adherence to all of the masterful training in dealing with survival in a hostile environment, command has promoted you to commander.” Quoris finishes placing the commander insignia on the bed sheets above Orlen’s chest. The words shocked Orlen speechless. He moves his hand and grabs the commander insignia holding it up to look at it. The thought of his parents missing this nearly moved him to tears.
“Thank you sir.” Orlen choked out. A small warm smile formed on Quoris face.
“When you finish this mission your commander entrance expectance to the command academy will be moved to immediate entrance. In less than a third of a cycle you would begin your first classes. In a few cycles you could gain a General one rank. Given your on ground training, I would say you would make for an easy candidate for a task force. Fleet General Siszero climbed the ranks in a very similar fashion. ”
“Sir, I don’t know what to say.” Orlen responds each bit of news more unbelievable.
“Say yes or no, but it is up to you. The mission does carry a risk, though it might seem less so than facing the two on that primitive planet. I don’t want to catch you any more off guard here. The team is searching for a very powerful weapon that could turn the tide of war on several fronts. It would save tens of millions of soldiers.” Quoris responds pausing a second to let it all sink in before continuing. “I know tens of millions of soldiers seems like a lot, but we are at war now on three fronts. The weapon didn’t seem credible at first, but now it looks like it is panning out. At this point all of us at fleet command wish we could send a massive fleet to ensure a success for us, but a strong advanced team with escorts is the best we could give.” Orlen looks down calculating everything about the situation. He fights between what he had seen on earth and why he originally joined up for. This opportunity was exactly what his parents pushed him for. Remembering his parents he looks up quickly as Quoris had turned and was walking away.
“Sir! Is there any word on my parents?” Orlen asks, wondering if either was still alive. Quoris turns his face a bit somber.
“I’m sorry soldier. I checked before coming, your mother died eight cycles ago and your father 12 cycles ago.” Quoris responds, knowing the words would cut deep. Orlen clenches his eyes shut in sorrow, but eventually decides.
“I accept the mission, they paid a huge sacrifice for me to get this opportunity and I’d dishonor them by turning it down.” Orlen replies, the strength Quoris expected of a soldier of his caliber returning to his voice.
“Very good. Your commanding officer is Adjunct General Roark. He will be at the transport center of the hospital to pick you up tomorrow.” Quoris says pleased to be adding Orlen to the search. Orlen watches General Quoris walk out of the room. Something in Orlen was confused by his interactions with Quoris, he had always had a weak sense of gate being an Eiris, but he sensed something so clearly from Quoris, something that even he could only put into words as an aura of hidden power. He looks over to see a file that Quoris had left on the stand next to his bed. He wonders if Quoris had left that the first time he went to walk out. As he grabs the file he can tell it has five or six crystal sheets in it. The doctor opens the door coming in to check on Orlen causing him to hold the folder shut until he was done talking to the doctor.
“Good you are here, I will be returning to duty tomorrow. I need a large meal and an injection of K 19 B 29 accelerant or better if it’s been finalized.” Orlen orders. The doctor is completely taken back by the change in behavior.
“I don’t recognize that accelerant, there is a K 21 B 12 metabolism accelerant, but that is extremely powerful. I can’t authorize.” The doctor says but is cut off by Orlen waving him to stop.
“Under my orders Commander Orlen Osyrian, you will issue the medication or you will get a trauma doctor in here to fight me over it.” Orlen orders. The doctor nods and leaves the room. Looking through the glass he can see the doctor walking down the hall to the trauma station. The doctor looks to be in a verbal match with the trauma doctor on station. The doctor stops briefly looking up something on a computer before he finally gives in. Orlen can hear the dispenser on the machine click as the screen displays the K 21 B 12 dose being added with three infusions of fortifying nutrients and minerals. After the information passes another screen with a meal order is presented. Orlen reaches over and accepts the order on the screen. Picking up the folder finally, he opens it up to see a list of team mates. He flips through them stopping on the final page which housed the destination. His eyes go wide, unsure if what he was reading was a figment of his imagination.
Chapter 18.2 – Conflictions
The ship rocked hard. The seven occupants in the transport section hold on to anything trying to calm themselves but they had been unlucky. They had passed into Neerkin space while the increased patrols were able to respond quickly. The three fighters and troop transport of the Coalition had shown as the size of a frigate eliciting a much more hostile response. Now they run hounded by the border guard still fresh with anger over the encounter with Hocdin. Their sole purpose in mind; redeeming themselves in the eyes of the military leaders.
“So why is this ice fossil here?” The man at the rear of the cargo hold says. He looks between Orlen and Roark waiting for an answer. Roark eyes the new recruit before looking at the group a bit unhappy before turning to look at Orlen. Orlen stared at the man, but could see Roark out of the corner of his eye knowing that the General would not intervene for him.
“You know, right?” Orlen responds calmly looking at the man.
“Know what grand dad?” The man replies sarcastically.
“That if we weren’t on a mission we’d throw down our gear and I’d beat you nearly unconscious. Now move on to the next thing to complain about.” Orlen responds. The younger Black Guard soldier chuckles with a few of the others, though Roark and the older Black Guard said nothing.
“General!” The transport pilot calls to Roark from the cockpit. Roark gets up moving past Orlen and the Ling at the front of the cabin. The Special Forces were hard pressed for good soldiers, even though they didn’t have the mortality rate of normal soldiers they still suffered losses from the campaigns the coalition waged. After what happened to General Rustin with Hocdin, it was now the Special Forces that were sent against encamped Vino lairs. This is what led the loud mouthed Ling to replace Jira when she fell to the Energy Siphoners.
“Captain?” Roark asks poking his head into the cockpit.
“Two of those three explosions were two of our escorts, our third is doing his best to keep those Neerkin off of our backs but it isn’t going to last. As we slip out from this planet our target will be ahead. At that point he is going to break off and engage them and hope we can make the planet before they catch up.” The pilot says. The statement was clear at how dire the situation was to them.
“Very well, have him do whatever it takes to keep them off our backs.” Roark answers back.
“He already is.” The pilot answers as they clear the pull of the planet. Ahead of them Roark can see Sear. Roark looks up at the screen above the pilot which shows the rear display. It magnifies to show the Coalition advanced fighter weaving in and out of enemy fire nearly leading to the Neerkin vessels colliding.
“Wow he is really good.” Roark says taken back by how impressive the maneuvers were.
“The best, in fact.” The pilot says a bit of sorrow in her voice. The relief was short lived as the Neerkin split up, one concentrating on the fighter while the other accelerates to intercept the transport. The pilot sighs and continues. “You and whatever gate users we have are going to have to help shield. I know it is very intensive but to survive this we are going to need everything we can.”
“Don’t we have a good lead?”
“Their ships are still faster, and despite being a bit larger than us they pack significantly more weapons then our defenses can handle. Even with intercepting lasers we still won’t stop half their weapons fire.” The pilot responds. Roark steps back into the cargo hold.
“Orin you’re amplification for fuzco, you can handle that right?” Roark says stepping into the middle of the cargo hold. Orin nods vigorously happy that he wasn’t being called on to actually use abilities himself. Roark continues. “Fuzco, the commander, and I will have to generate shielding and barriers to stop the excess Neerkin weapons fire.” A constant humming starts as the rear defense lasers open fire to intercept the Neerkin attacks.
“Any time General.” The pilot yells back, a nervousness creeping into her voice. The three get up moving to the back of the transport. The rest of the soldiers move forward to give them more room. Orin stands behind Fuzco putting his hands on the man’s back. Energy flows out through the metal into the space behind them. None of them had done this before so they quickly realized such primitive methods would be ineffective as the energy twirled out of their range faster than they could use the energy. Fuzco having a much more pronounced sense of energy with Orin’s help was able to manipulate pockets of energy in space as they passed them, transforming the mass of white and black energies into shields and barriers. The commander and Roark take his lead manipulating what was passing the ship rather than trying to gather amounts and dispersing it into space. The shielding and debris generated begins to stop a significant amount of laser fire from the Neerkin vessel.
Taking a bit of an initiative Roark attempts to create a spear of metal. The spear forms but the Neerkin vessel was at such a long distance in space that he was unable to maintain control over the energy at that distance. Displeased at the result Roark goes back to shielding the incoming laser fire.
“Entering atmosphere in 10 nano-cycles.” The pilot yells back. The rest of the team looks happy but the three in the back knew it would still be close as their shields and objects weren’t stopping enough. The interception blasts get within feet of the hull as the ship rocks. The three breathe heavy sighs of relief before the whole ship rocks violently.
“Thank you atmosphere for the save.” The younger Black Guard says. The group chuckles a bit realizing the planet’s atmosphere had dampened the lasers capacity greatly before it hit the hull.
“General!” The pilot yells. Roark vaults to the front of the hold sticking his head up into the cockpit. He can see the vast jungle covering the planet and in the sensor screen the base overlaid in the distance.
“You have 15 nano-cycles. Fast and heavy drop. I’ll try and join you, no guarantees.”
“Gear up!” Roark yells into the hold before putting his head back in.
“You have 30 micro-cycles until a rescue frigate and escorts arrive.” The pilot finishes. Roark squeezes the pilots shoulder realizing she may not make it. Roark jumps into the back grabbing his rifle and armor. The seven stand in the center of the cargo hold. The transport decelerates fast, the artificial gravity able to offset it for the pre-set parameters. The bottom of the cargo hold falls open in a split second as air gusts from above send the seven rocketing downwards into the courtyard of the base. The group can do nothing but watch as the transport explodes from laser fire from the Neerkin vessel. The inertia from the transport sends the wreckage flying several miles into the jungle as the Neerkin vessel passes over in an instant. Landing gel hits the ground and walls as the group hits it going nearly 120 miles per hour. It was obvious the Neerkin had pounced the second the transport had dropped down from maximum velocity.
The group realizes the Neerkin will be back as they pop packets of disintegrating material causing the green gel to fizzle into a slick green liquid on the ground. They run into the base as the now familiar sound of the Neerkin engines comes back into range.
“The map is accurate?” Roark asks.
“Yes.” The commander replies as he leads the pack through the base.
“Orin, Fuzco, Orlen and the commander will head to the weapons resting site, and hope it’s there and not at the proposed firing chamber. The two Black Guards will be with me activating the weapon safety release. Do not touch the weapon until that is released. It will activate automatically and fire due to defense protocols.” Roark says. The older Black Guard goes to say something but is silenced by the gaze Roark gives him. The two Black Guards had held back greatly for this mission but they knew if things got out of hand they could silence Roark and finish the mission themselves.
“Those stairs up ahead, you go up then the second right goes straight into the command room.” The commander says pointing to the stairs in front of them. A second set of stairs goes downwards as the base splits into two levels. While Roark and the commander pay little attention to the surrounding piles of bones the rest of the team quickly becomes unsettled by the mass of death. As the groups separate several explosions rock the base emanating from where the command post would be.
“Do you think they are ok?” Orin asks between heavy breaths, not thinking that they had just separated.
“Probably not, we’re all going to die here.” Fuzco replies through even more labored breaths. Getting angry about the breathing Fuzco continues. “Sorry piece of dung Ling who can’t even generate a shield, why are you here?”
“Shut It. Soldier.” The commander says displeased with the conversation.
“They’ll be fine.” Orlen says looking up at the ceiling as if he knew where the other group was. Fuzco and Orin turn and look at him calmly running without any heavy breathing.
“Hey commander, I think the thawing process messed with his head.” Fuzco says. Coming to a right turn the group slows to a stop in front of a door. The commander stares at Fuzco with a disapproving look. Fuzco nods and decides not to make any more comments as the three gate users breathe heavily.
“How can you be so sure?” Orin whispers to Orlen.
“The Black Guards are hiding their true power.” Orlen responds in a normal tone as he looks in the distance sure that the other group was there. The other three look at each other a bit skeptical.
“How do you know?” The commander asks.
“Something in me says it, something that awoke when I survived the attack by the woman on earth.” Orlen answers truthfully.
“Well when we get back to fleet you might want to not say such crazy things out loud. Might find that commission you survived to get stripped from you.” The commander says pointedly.
“I don’t think it’ll matter what I say.” Orlen whispers to himself. The three pace around the door keeping a watch on the hallway. After several unsettling minutes pass the communication system buzzes lightly as the channel between the two groups is resumed.
“The security system is down. A dampening system was activated by a security escape protocol nearly 22 milli-cycles ago. So let’s hope the weapon is there.” Roark’s voice finally comes through the communication channel.
“22 milli-cycles could be the Draia the Vino talked about on Sornin. He could already have the weapon!” The older Black Guard says angrily.
“Watch out!” Roark says as the base shakes lightly. The communication channel goes down but the group can feel the Neerkin fighting Roark and the two Black Guards. The commander turns to look at the shut door. He sighs and punches the door angrily.
“That wasn’t there?” Orin says pointing down the hall to door way with no door on it.
“Maybe it was an illusion field to prevent the door from being found.” Fuzco adds. The commander pats both of them on the shoulder. The group jogs down the hallway to the door.
“Stop.” Orlen whispers causing the group to stop just shy of the corner. Fuzco peeks around the corner to see another group of Neerkin running down the stairs that they had come from several minutes prior.
“Two reds, a purple and a green.” Fuzco whispers.
“How far?” The commander asks.
“About a micro-cycle.” Fuzco replies.
“Orlen, Fuzco take the two reds and purple. I’ll take the green. Orin jump through the door and get the weapon. We go when they reach the corner.” The commander says. With the door being visible the Neerkin had been shaken making them careless as they ran to get to the lab. As Fuzco and Orlen jump out at the group, Orin runs and slides through the door way distracting the green Neerkin. She jumps to the side dodging the first strike by the commander but in her attempt to stop Orin the commander lands two solidified icicles into her shoulder following into a kick. The commander thinks he has the fight won quickly but hits nothing as she teleports backwards a few feet. With the knee pulling the commander forward the green soldier teleports back to her original spot which was now in the commander’s blind spot. She unloads several rounds from her pistol but the commander is able to stop them with a small barrier but misses the gust of wind she had generated behind him. The ability sends him into his own barrier before it shatters. She goes to strike him again but is knocked off balance by a kick to her side by Orlen. Turning to see Orlen she can see one of the red armored soldiers already dead and the purple armored soldier not doing well.
Orlen happy at giving the commander back equal footing goes back to attacking the other two Neerkin. Charging the purple soldier Orlen realizes too late that the soldier had already generated an illusion and had moved behind them. Turning Orlen barely dodges a few shots from the red soldier while aiming and opening fire behind Fuzco. The rounds hit the invisible purple soldier shredding his armor and dealing massive internal damage. As the soldier falls Fuzco moves his position trying to protect Orlen from further fire by the red soldier but leaves himself vulnerable. The purple solder with his last moments of life generates a spear through Fuzco’s chest. Two more rounds hit Orlen as Fuzco’s shield sputters away with his life. Orlen opens fire on the red soldier unloading all remaining ammunition his rifle had into the red soldier who had no real defense.
Turning Orlen can see the commander on his hands and knees, several metal spears jutting out of his stomach and chest. A few moments pass before the green soldier turns to look at Orlen. She raises her pistol firing off the last of her rounds. Orlen jumps out of the way slamming into the wall suddenly. Disoriented slightly he pushes forward to an attack unsure of why he hit the wall at such a high speed. She reloads her pistol quickly but only gets two more rounds off each blocked by Orlen. Her eyes go wide at seeing the energy rounds blocked like that. She drops the gun materializing a short sword and swings it at him. Orlen ducks the blade strike and is ready for a downward strike by her but instead instinctively kicks backwards hitting the green soldier in the stomach the moment after she teleported. He pulls in his leg to hit her again but he moves his left fist forward, the attack hitting her in the stomach after she teleported back in front of him.
Orlen didn’t quite understand what was going on but not only was he able to instantly detect where her attacks were coming from but where she was teleporting to. As she stumbles back from the hit Orlen can see how extensively he had damaged her armor from only two attacks. She stumbles backwards firing off several metal and water spears at him. Orlen dodges forward into a roll, grabbing the commander’s pistol from the ground. The green soldier hits the corner of the hall with a loud thud but continues to send spears at Orlen. Orlen rolls up to his feet, grabbing one of the metal spears she had just generated and fired off. Orlen shoves the spear back into her armor and through her shoulder. She generates a shield but Orlen shoves the commander’s pistol into the shield shattering it easily. He fires several rounds which easily go through the shattered armor at her stomach. Her grunts of pain startle him.
She slides down the wall her breathing labored. Orlen reaches down to her helmet pulling it off. The solid green helmet comes off slowly as the straps and data connections disengage. She looks up at him with contempt but cannot do anything to stop what he is doing. She tries to weave energy to heal herself but she can’t manipulate well from the pain emanating from the holes in her stomach combined with her shackles. Orlen looks down at her face, the blank look on his face causing her some unease. Orlen studies every curve of her face, at first only seeing the face of Barbara, the wife of the rancher who helped him on Earth. The shock of it wears off and he begins to notice the subtle differences. While her nose, eyes and hair were almost identical her jaw and mouth were a bit smaller, her skin more pale.
Orlen went through the attack on earth, the escape from the city, getting to the downed fighter, coming back to military status and nearly being shot down by the Neerkin vessel. Now with an almost identical face to the woman of earth looking back at him, Orlen’s stomach rolled around threatening to eject its contents. Orin comes to stand at the door the nearly four foot long and two foot tall weapon nearly overwhelming the five foot tall Orin. He looks at Orlen then down at the commander and Fuzco. Some tears come to his eyes but he shoves the emotions aside. He notices Orlen’s odd facial expression and walks out of the hidden laboratory to see the female green soldier.
“She looks kind of like a Draia.” Orin says a bit angry about it.
“Let’s go, we have to complete the mission.” Orlen says waving for Orin to move forward.
“But she’s still alive.” Orin says anger getting to him.
“Move.” Orlen orders forcefully. Orin nods, shocked by the statement. Orlen gives one glance back to the face of the Neerkin, an odd longing showing through his face. She responds with curiosity unsure of why such mercy is being shown to her. The two run up the stairs in the distance finally coming to the original split point, they climb the second set of stairs coming to a large blast hole through the ceiling, the sounds of a battle in the distance echoing.
“Come on.” Orlen yells leading the way past the open roof and to the command room. Orlen stands there seeing the two Black Guards sitting on a row of consoles, their feet on the chairs. A red and two green soldiers lie on the floor dead, Roark still fighting with a white armored soldier. Roark seemed to be handling the situation easily, but it still surprised Orlen that the two Black Guards weren’t joining in. Sensing Orin standing at the edge of the command room Roark easily takes the white soldiers attack with his left arm while striking with his right destroying the soldiers shielding and cutting through the white armor and into his side. He falls to a knee in pain looking up to see Roark’s blade coming down at him. Roark’s arm stops suddenly, Orlen’s hand gripping it tightly. The two Black Guards look at each other briefly but say nothing.
“One Micro-cycle.” Roark yells out to the other three as he stares at Orlen. Orlen returns his stare. Roark nods letting the blade and shielding disintegrate as he pulls away from Orlen. He joins the two Black Guard and Orin as they walk out of the command center. Orlen looks down at the white soldier as he wheezes beneath the helmet still on his one knee. He studies the normally smooth and blank helmet, but now it was tarnished with burns and cuts, as was most of the suit. Orlen wonders if he would look like Joe the farmer. Realizing the white soldier would fight to keep the helmet on Orlen turns and jogs to catch up with the other four.
Standing at the giant hole in the ceiling the group of five watches the Coalition frigate descend through the sky. The dozen fighters twirl about ensuring no surprise attacks occurred. At the base of the frigate a pad disengages and is lowered by two metal supports. The pad shrinks slightly to fit through the hole in the roof. The five move out of the opening to allow the pad to come down. The pad moves a bit unpredictably due to wind and rotation of the planet but the five are able to jump on with ease. The pad lifts up and out of the building. Orlen walks to the edge of the platform expecting to see something down through the hole. He sees the white soldier hobble out into the hole with the green soldier’s arm slung over his shoulder. The white soldier leans his head down taking his helmet off and letting it drop to the floor of the hall.
Orlen smirks, the man looked nothing like Joe the rancher, but the man was very old, all of his hair was nearly whiter than the armor he wore. His face was hollow from advanced age. Orlen removes his helmet saluting the two. The two raise their hands to their heads in salute back. The Black Guards see Orlen and move to the edge but the pad slams back into the ship robbing them of seeing what transpired.
“This is our salvation.” Roark says, his hand hovering over the weapon Orin still carried. The Black Guard turns to look on, unhappy their questioning of Orlen would have to wait for another time. Orlen looks at the mass of metal Orin carried, his stomach once again turning.