Authors: Eric McMeins
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #Military, #Space Opera
Hal programmed the mining ship with the extraction method used by the Pures to separate the diamond from the mineral they needed. The ship slowly sunk into orbit around the planet and finally settled onto the sparkling surface.
Over the next few days, a quiet group of humans, Worlders, Nomads and one Kin watched as the shell that had protected the world and its inhabitants for tens of thousands of years collapsed down onto the world below. Everything was shattered and destroyed. The temperature began to decrease dramatically and without the help of the shell, the atmosphere bubbled off into space.
All told, it took a week for the miner to excavate enough of the mineral to make the required amount of radiation attractors, and they pulled it back into space. The planet was ruined. Hunks of the fallen shell covered the entirety of the planet. Nothing would ever live there again.
turned and left the system in silence. It warped and the last Kin went with her.
Cole was less than a foot from the final shield that separated the city defenders from the enemy. They had retreated here en mass. They had left nothing of use behind for the Roche to seize. What they had left behind was death. Explosive charges, old school pit traps, fire traps, basically anything that could be tripped, triggered, or timed so it would inflict maximum casualties was set up and left behind in those final few blocks. He had watched as the city burned, exploded, and disintegrated as the Roche marched forward. They had no way to tell exactly how many of the enemy were killed in their movement through the minefield. There were a lot, but not enough.
Cole had spent all morning looking at reports from his field commanders around the globe. All reported drastic reduction in the opposing forces. In fact, some had fallen so low the Nixa were sallying forth and wiping out the small encampments. His Worlder units were working hard to help the Nixa wherever they could, and the boost of manpower was welcomed by every native commander on the ground. Especially when the Worlders broke thousands of years of secrecy and showed the Nixa how they could turn almost nearly invisible. It didn’t hide them from the seeking minds of the Esii, but it hid them from the eyes of the Roche.
Cole had smiled at the level of cooperation between the two races and hoped they all lived to spread the newfound sharing of closely guarded secrets and camaraderie with the galaxy at large. Living was the key to that, and they were slowly being boxed in. Though Cole had come up with an idea to boost their shield strength by almost a thousand percent. The leadership of the Nixa had a tough time in coming to a consensus on his plan. But in the end, with the amount of Roche being shifted to this front, it had merit.
The populace below the capitol had packed up and been shipped to the other underground cities. They had taken food and supplies, as much as they could carry or load onto the underground, for lack of a better word, railroad system that linked the cities together. Now all that was left were a few humans, thousands of Worlders and the local Nixa defense force of a few hundred thousand.
After everyone had left, they shut down the power to the majority of the underground complex and hooked the massive generators that had powered a city of a million civilians to the shields. A tech team working fast had to modify the shields to handle the new load of power, but it was accomplished in a small amount of time and the newly strengthened shield was up and humming. In fact, it had so much power roaring through its systems that’s all you could hear with your helmet off above ground. The near deafening hum of the shields as they protected the city.
Now here he was, just a day after their outer shield fell, and the Roche had thrown themselves time and again into their traps. At the end of a lonely street, facing a glowing shield, and watching as the Roche hauled away rubble to give them clear lanes of attack. Cole had found the widest gap between buildings under the shield, so he could have a wide view of what was going on. Roche swarmed all over the rubble, blowing up the big chunks and crating away the smaller ones. They had no fear of attack. Cole’s forces couldn’t fire through the shield any more than they could, so they worked openly and tirelessly to clear the new front line.
Cole watched in his HUD as a being he had been waiting for finally arrived. He was tall, taller than Cole, and more heavily muscled. His body was sheathed in the radiant armor his people made from the small insects of his homeworld, and he carried a sword openly in one hand and a blaster in the other. Where his skin was exposed, he was covered in dried blood. The natural properties of the silk armor repelled any and all dirt from sticking to it, so it still shone with brilliance. And his downy soft wings were folded neatly behind him.
“Is your mission over?” Cole asked. He noticed that while the Kin did not wear a helmet, he did have on hearing protection that had communications gear.
“Yes,” Uriel spoke as he drew up even with Cole and peered out into the wasteland on the other side of the shield.
“How many did you find?” Cole asked.
“There were a dozen or so in every stronghold, plus those who were duped into fighting with them. They are no more, and our positions should now be safe from any further sabotage.” Cole pondered the angelic being for a moment.
“Can you protect everyone from the Esii that still remain out there,” he said referring to the area beyond the shield.
“Yes, this is a small enough area. I can protect our forces from the minds of the Esii. I have heard that the slime that serves the enemy have redeployed their forces here from around this world.”
“Yes, our forces have struck out and counter attacked where they can, and have had some momentum shift in their direction,” Cole replied.
“Do we know why this has happened? Is this place that important to these beings that they would shed oceans of blood to take it?” Uriel asked.
“This place? No, not this place, but there is someone who is here now that I know they want. They are here for me. When we attacked their positions from the secret tunnels, they must have found out I had come to help the Nixa. It wasn’t long after the redeployments started,” Cole answered. Uriel snorted.
“Why would you be that important?” he asked in return.
“There is something about all of this. A feeling of déjà vu, that I have been here before, doing this, and it feels right.” Cole turned to look at the big Kin. “I have a feeling, a sensation like a river pushing me faster and faster to some great end. It thrills me, exhilarates, and scares the hell out of me at the same time. I,” he paused, “I can’t describe it, but something is coming and this is all a part of it. When this war ends, it will decide the fate of this galaxy.” Cole thought of the old motto of his unit in the Army, rendezvous’ with destiny. During WWII, the 101st made that rendezvous and came out the other side a legendary infantry unit. Cole hoped he would do the same.
“I feel it as well. Something big is coming, some kind of end.” He gave Cole a big smile. “Something for the historians. Songs will be sung, books written, and stories told about what is happening here and now.” He turned his face skyward and held his arms out wide. “And we get to be center stage.” He shouted into the air and let a booming laugh roll out of his mouth. Jesus, this guy is a little nuts, Cole thought to himself. Uriel’s head snapped down and he scanned the ruins to their front.
“Look,” he pointed to a lone figure walking across the cleared area to their front. Cole watched as the being moved closer until he came to a stop just a few feet from the shield. Cole shivered in his suit when the being lowered its deep cowl from around its head. Pyndingum, some had survived it seemed. “It wants to talk to you. I am blocking it though,” Uriel said.
“No, let him talk. They have no power over me anymore.” Uriel glanced at Cole and hesitated for a moment before releasing his mental block and allowing the Esii to attempt to enter Cole’s mind.
“Not a chance,”
Cole thought at the creature.
“I know your tricks and have defeated the best of you. You would not survive if I let you in my mind.”
“So be it, defiler,”
the Pyndingum said to Cole’s mind.
“Defiler… I like that but I would also accept, World Killer, Esii Bane, or any other nick name that describes how badly I have kicked your asses since I showed up in the galaxy. So tell me, have you been very hungry since I killed your main course?”
Cole said in reference to the massive living entity that existed at the center of the Esii home world for eons and fed them its life force as sustenance. Had fed them until Cole killed it. To be fair, he hadn’t meant to kill it. He had been going for a distraction to keep the Esii off himself and Split as they had made their escape from the torture chambers of the Pyndingum on the Esii homeworld.
“We make do.”
Pyndingum had great poker faces. Nothing showed on their faces, eyes and mouth sewn shut, and nose removed and plugged faces. Their existence was one of constant agony. It wasn’t just their faces, their bodies were all completely skinned, and pain was a constant companion for them. They had been a race of gentle, almost human like beings, but had been warped in the past into the cruel and evil race that was attacking this planet now.
“I am here with an offer. Turn your shield off and surrender yourselves and the Nixa population of this world, and we will let everyone live as our slaves. You, of course, will be killed but the ones you fight for will live.”
“That’s no choice at all. These people would die rather than be salves to you and yours. This war is going badly for you and you want to end it now that your fleet is more than likely gone. You know that as soon as it’s safe, mine will be back and will destroy you from orbit unless you can breach the shield and make it into the underground. How about this, you surrender. We kill every last Esii on the planet, and dump the Roche onto some world that they can never leave again? Or you keep fighting and the only ones left alive on this world are the rightful owners and their allies.”
Cole countered his offer.
“You are in no position to bargain. I will take your refusal to my masters. They are most eager to see you disemboweled, slowly. They wish to also remind you that this ends here on this world. Only one side will walk away alive, no matter the outcome of the fighting our two forces do.”
“Don’t tell me things I already know. Now go the fuck away and I will see you one day through the sights of my weapon.”
Cole grabbed the Esii’s mind with his own and sent a powerful jolt of mental pain into the Esii’s mind before violently breaking the connection with the being. The Pyndingum took the mental hit and staggered back a few paces as he sought to reorder his mind and shut off what Cole had done to him.
“It seems the Esii are in agreement with your assessment of the situation. They are here for you,” Uriel said.
“You heard all that then?” Cole asked, watching as the Esii slowly made his way back through the rubble and out of sight.
“Yes, you have great mental prowess and can do things I have never witnessed, but your control leaves something to be desired. You were practically shouting at him. I couldn’t help but overhear,” Uriel said.
Cole turned and began to walk away from the shield. Uriel followed him but remained silent. The weight of the galaxy seemed to rest on Cole’s shoulders and it grew heavier with each step. He bypassed all the hustle of the defenders as they built up their final positions outside the main building. They would fight as long as they could in an attempt to hold the Roche out for as long as possible. If the enemy breached the underground and got a strong enough foothold before the ships could come, they would have safe haven from their attacks and the war would drag on much longer. The commanders had their orders and they had a month, hopefully, before the shield would fall to the massed fire from the invaders, so Cole left them to do their jobs. He needed Sky and he needed to see Jeth. Familiar faces would help wash the stink of the Pyndingum from his mind.
Split was on the VR bridge of
overseeing the mining drone as it melted down the material taken from the Kin homeworld, and formed them into the spheres that would eventually clean the area around Nixa of its radioactive dust. They had a bit of good news today. A stronger generator was put inside the metallic bubbles, so they didn’t need to be as thick. Now they had enough material to make one hundred of the spheres and they had adjusted their plans accordingly.
The massive open area where the drone was melting and forming the spheres was zero gravity and void of atmosphere. The balls had to be perfectly round and rapidly cooled. The room would keep them just at the point of liquidity until all one hundred were finished, then it would turn of the heat and open the giant exterior doors. The cold of space would rapidly fill the chamber and cool the spheres without so much as rippling their surface. The next sphere was just coming out of the melting furnace and into the holding room.