Authors: Aer-Ki Jyr
“Agreed,” a Council said after a few seconds of silent conference.
“Well then, Commodore. Welcome to the Hradeiti.”
“I look forward to assisting you with building the fleet.”
“As do I. Renkor, I’m appointing you to my personal staff for the time being with the rank of Commander. There are presently three others with an equal title, but you and I are going to be reworking everything as we brainstorm better ways of fighting the lizards on the ground, so consider it temporary. We don’t have any other former Knights, and though it may rub some people the wrong way you’ll have eventual command once we shake everything out.”
The Calavari nodded, but said nothing in reply.
“As for you, Tikkito, you’ll also be on my staff, but at the same time be coordinating with the Council. Odd as that may be, your duties will affect both of us and therefore you’ll be something of a go-between.”
“Acceptable, so long as I have the freedom to make the decisions required.”
“We haven’t had a position suitable for your skills yet, so we’ll have to create one on the spot. I think Quartermaster will suffice?” he asked, checking with the Council again and getting nods in return.
“Quartermaster I am, then.”
“Good. Now, are there other recruits for me to sift through?”
“A long list,” a Critel answered. “We did not want to admit them before you conferred with these three. At present, there are too many applicants for us to accept, therefore we did not make any choices on our own other than these obvious ones.”
“Alright then,” Tyree said, clapping his glowing hands in front of him once. “Let’s get to work. My command ‘den’ is this way.”
“You’re dismissed,” the Lacvamat councilor said jokingly as the four of them were already on their way out the door.
Davis pulled up the recent report of the Hradeiti along with the others regarding the non-Star Force races in the ADZ. There was always something happening there, movement occurring beneath the public awareness, but never visible in an overt way. They couldn’t challenge Star Force militarily or economically, but they were always trying to find an angle to increase their powerbase at Star Force’s expense or by infighting with each other. The blatant wars had ended long ago when Star Force cracked down on such behavior by their ‘guests’ but the sentiments still ran hot and were worthy of keeping an eye on.
The Hradeiti had now become a lightning rod for those undercurrents. Offering them an opportunity to show freely despite Star Force’s involvement in the protection of the newly conquered system. Without that they wouldn’t have dared take a lizard planet, let alone put down business assets there, but with the security assured and Star Force’s gleaming record regarding such things the rats were coming out of their holes and setting up shop for a resumption of their power games now that they had an avenue of expansion that didn’t rely on staying within Star Force’s good graces.
As for the Hradeiti themselves, they were an experiment. Seeing what a non-Star Force race could do against the lizards. It hadn’t been Davis’s idea, though the protection of their systems within the 50 lightyear radius of his border had been his brainchild. It was a way of helping them to get their footing, but if they should ever push beyond that line they would be totally on their own.
If that might happen, and Davis knew it was a big if, then they’d have an ally eating into the lizard systems on the other side of the no-go line, and that concept had interested him enough to allow this reckless enterprise to continue with his blessing. The Hradeiti had been sloppy and lost a good number of ships and people in their assault, but he knew that their having ex-Star Force personnel among them had undoubtedly kept them from completely falling apart. Star Force could easily have taken any system along that border if Davis wanted them to, but if the coreward half of the lizard empire was to be pushed back it was not going to occur by them.
Nor would it be by the Preema, which had apparently wised up to the fact that the lizards were expanding into Skarron territory and elsewhere faster than the Preema were able to cleanse them from the other systems. Combined with the Skarrons’ inability to hold the majority of their lines without Preema assistance, it had led their powerful ally to implement a no-go line of their own. They were burning back the lizard systems to a new border that would keep them well away from Preema territory, but they’d given up on the hope of ever eliminating them all.
That said, the help the Preema had been giving Star Force and the Voku had been invaluable and saved them centuries of fighting, despite their earlier bailing in the assaults on the core worlds. Even now the Voku were hitting one themselves, along with a small advanced warfleet commanded by Paul, but the Preema were keeping well away and going after the smaller lizard worlds and making it clear that the enemy would not be allowed to encroach on the spinward border.
Maybe if they kept on burning out every lizard colony that popped up there the lizards might get the message and focus on other areas…though Davis wasn’t going to put any credits on that.
In comparison, the Hradeiti was nothing more than a blip on the radar, and one so small they weren’t even worth noting, but Davis knew that small blips had the potential to grow and he was going to keep an eye on this one. He’d provided them with the shelter they needed to hold the planets they took, if they were able to take them, now it was just a matter of waiting and seeing what they made of it.
He didn’t expect much of them, but their competence to this point had urged him to give them a chance and see what they made of it. Their first step had been shaky, but they’d pulled through and were now drawing the support of the ADZ in numerous forms. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing, but the report he was reading indicated that they’d acquired the services of one Tikkito, a Bsidd that Davis was familiar with. He’d never met him before, but he was on a list of potential Monarchs that the Director was monitoring. Him leaving Star Force had scratched him from that list, but it would be interesting to see how he handled this situation.
And with his involvement, the Hradeiti might just have a chance of building themselves into something less clumsy. Time would tell at this point, but no matter how many ex-Star Force personnel they acquired Davis was going to give them no help. They were not going to become an offshoot of the empire. If they wanted to hit lizard systems, then they were going to have to go through the growing pains and figure out how to make it work on their own. Davis hated to see people throwing away lives and ships out of ignorance, but what happened beyond their borders was largely out of his control, and already mercenary groups were seeking out the range of Star Force’s reach in an effort to exceed it.
Better to have the focus for the ADZ’s efforts nearby and under his scrutiny than them leaving to potentially harass native populations when Star Force wasn’t there to insure there was no bad behavior on their part. And while it hadn’t been his idea, Davis found the concept of them taking worlds from the lizards useful in two ways. It hurt the lizards a tiny bit, and Davis didn’t have to worry about the attacks wiping out the indigenous populations…because the lizards always fought to the death no matter what.
If there were reports of torture going on Davis would intervene immediately and shut the Hradeiti down by force, but other than that he was going to take a step back and let them succeed or fail on their own merits. If they wanted to be stupid and assault too strong of a world and got themselves all killed…well, Davis might want to stop that from happening, but he knew that any ally they ‘grew’ on the border had to be smart enough to fend for itself, and that wouldn’t happen if Star Force had them on a leash and kept tugging them away from danger.
The Hradeiti had asked for a chance, so he was giving them that…as well as being able to keep an eye on ADZ activity that would be drawn directly under his ability to monitor. He didn’t want to watch as people got slaughtered trying to attack the lizards, but so long as all these people were volunteers and not forced into this in any way, and they had a safe haven to run back to, then he was going to permit it and see what happened.
Though he always had the ability to send his fleets in to stop it if things truly got out of control…though he hadn’t told the Hradeiti that.
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