Authors: Aer-Ki Jyr
Now it shown as a wide base that narrowed up to the point where it had been above ground and broke, with those support struts making the connection and housing rebuilt lift tubes that connected the shipyard ring, through the column, to angled lifters that extended down to the flat bedrock where the rivers of material fed into them.
The pieces that Dak had delivered were shunted up those lifters like an escalator, then were shoved into one of the lift tubes and hit a null gravity field with energy shield segmentors that then pushed the material in batches up the tubes, giving them enough acceleration to continue on a ballistic path upwards without any further assistance.
The mix/mash of junk began a long journey up the 26,000 miles of column, now configured for one way transit only, eventually being caught and slowed by receptor segmentors on the other end of the column. The debris transitioned into the ring at slow speeds and was separated out into new rivers being sent in numerous directions within the facility. Most went to within 100 miles in either direction where the pieces were dumped into a sorting facility.
From there more rivulets of material were sent out, each by their kind, to recycling facilities that Star Force had rebuilt the ring for. Some of the native machinery had been repurposed while others had to be constructed on site, the materials for which came from previous recycling activities. Dead as the planet was becoming, it was also a treasure trove to any serious mining operation and the ring operated as the perfect place to begin processing it all in a way that wouldn’t take more than a millennia to complete.
This wasn’t Star Force’s first reclamation project, but it was by far the densest lizard infrastructure encountered to date and the planet was covered in it, making for a huge endeavor…but Star Force had a pension for huge infrastructure projects, so this was right up their alley and as long as the lizards were eventually removed from the planet without incident they would have as many centuries as needed to finish it all.
When those sorted materials reached their destination they were disassembled and processed, resulting in a much more efficient mining process than mining ore would have garnered. The junk material wasn’t present here, meaning that nearly all of the material being sent up to orbit was valuable in one fashion or another, even if it did appear to just be junk. Using the ‘lego’ method, Star Force pulled it apart and put it back together again, first sending the pure processed materials off through the ring on even more rivers…though this time they were carrying neat cubes rather than rubble.
Those precious materials arrived in warehouses and were stacked up with plenty of room for more to come while a smaller flow left the warehouse as crews came to pick up what they needed to feed the factories within the ring. The cubes of raw material were sent down even more artificial rivers to even more remote sections of the ring hundreds of miles away through the innards of the structure, eventually arriving at small parts factories that built the bigger ‘lego’ pieces that the shipyards required.
And those shipyards that Star Force had set up within the ring, full Star Force shipyards, were using those materials to build the equipment being used on the surface of the planet. The more material came up, the more harvesting mechs and ‘river’ conduits they could produce, along with flocks of dropships, speeders, trucks and trains, small arms, toothbrushes, etc. Some special materials were having to be shipped in for select items, namely arc elements and solari, and there were constant, yet small convoys coming in from the ADZ bringing those in to supplement the mass of material that the lizard legacy was graciously providing them, from which a small Star Forge was also being to be constructed to directly supply the rare materials in coming years.
On the ring that the lizards had used to make warships to attack and kill others, an increasing number of Star Force drones were being produced as more and more Star Force-grade shipyard nooks were being built across the ring. Those drones were going to replace others lost and refill the fleets that had taken the first three lizard core worlds, easing the strain on the ADZ in building enough to pursue yet more invasions.
They weren’t ready yet, not even close, but every year that went by the captured ring was growing more powerful. Right now it was barely operating on life support, but over time that would change and the very instrument of industrial oppression that the lizards had so carefully crafted for their own use was being turned against them. And the very infrastructure that the lizards had built to house and grow their power on the planet below was going to be used to fuel that endeavor.
The rings in the other two systems were also being converted, even as some of them were still engaged in internal combat. Some might think that was reckless, but based on the history of the capture of the first lizard ring, Star Force knew what it needed to do and wanted a head start on the conversion so that when they did get a ground reclamation site established they could hit essentially hit the ground running.
But Tess was the forbearer in what was going to become standard protocol. The rings would not be destroyed. Not dropped down on the planets to cause massive destruction as many people had argued, especially those civilians in the ADZ that came from races destroyed or forced to flee the lizard advance. Many couldn’t understand why the planets were being taken with such kid gloves, and that sentiment had only doubled since the assaults on the three core worlds were made public.
What they didn’t understand, along with a lot of other things, was that civilization wasn’t something that you abandoned during war then picked back up afterwards. Star Force fought the way it did because that’s the way Star Force chose to fight, and they didn’t feel like dropping bombs and just blasting everything to rubble. They were going to fight the lizards head on, offering surrenders constantly, and always keeping their deaths to be
Stripping away planetary defenses then just ‘nuking’ it was a whole lot of destruction after only asking perhaps one person if they wanted to surrender. Taking the planet piece by piece gave people who weren’t in charge the chance to surrender directly when the fighting got to them.
And it didn’t matter that never in the history of Star Force had a lizard surrendered. They were going to give them the chance because each of them was a different person than they’d encountered before. No one expected any different results, but they weren’t making assumptions. Sovereignty of the individual meant you might predict what someone would choose to do, but you never let someone else choose for them.
Killing everything in sight was always an option, as were different methods, but therein lay the trap. True civilization did not become uncivilized to save itself, for in doing so it would destroy that which it was trying to save. Without honor there was no civilization, no matter how many cities or ships you built, and the lizards had shown time and again that they had no honor. Fighting their way would mean abandoning honor, which was why Star Force would never do it and they were going to keep painstakingly slaying the lizards the hard way.
They didn’t use chemical or biological weapons because, one, they were nasty and, two, they didn’t offer the option of surrender. Sending an Archon in with death sabers to kill thousands wasn’t pretty, but it was honorable. Facing the enemy one, two, or ten at a time offered the enemy a chance to run away, throw down their weapons, or just say ‘I quit.’ Star Force could kill a lot of lizards and had gotten very good and experienced at doing so, but it was always because the lizards would not yield and if they were not stopped they’d go on to kill others.
Bombing a planet into rubble and sending in ground troops to kill all the inhabitants still ended up with billions, if not trillions of dead lizards, and from the outside it looked to accomplish the same thing, but in truth they were vastly different ways to conduct warfare.
And Star Force not taking the darkside route, not employing the same tactics, not decrying that every single lizard must die was also a way of insulting their enemy. Star Force was going to remain Star Force and, in defeating the lizards, show up their misguided and ill-advised philosophy and tactics. The fact that they’d defended the ADZ against them initially, then had taken thousands of star systems from them was a major blow to the ‘inevitability’ of lizard dominance, now multiplied exponentially with the fall of the first core world.
And taking that world’s shipyard ring intact, a very real symbol of the lizards’ power and superiority over the other races of the galaxy, and using it to transform the rubble of their planet into the means of further conquering their empire was an irony that was altogether typical Archon.
They weren’t just defeating the lizards, they were mockingly schooling them in the process.
That wasn’t lost on Dak and the other construction crews, who were paying attention to the war front in this system and others closely. They weren’t too worried about their security, knowing that Star Force had the situation well in hand, and that wasn’t just a Human perspective. The vast majority of the construction crews were Kiritak and Bsidd, and they had similar thoughts concerning their role here and the irony of it all.
So as Dak went back to another pile of debris and dipped both mechanical hands into it like scooping up a clump of prickly snow, he realized that what his mech was holding had been lizard material that would soon be recycled into Star Force material. They weren’t just taking out the trash and dumping it in a star, they were correcting a massive wrong. Taking the infrastructure of a murdering race and turning it into the infrastructure of a protective beacon of light in the galaxy.
That gave the mountains of lizard undercity around them different meaning, even as larger mechs were walking up the banks of those piles to tear up more exposed levels and add to the loose material that Dak was picking up. He and the others were but an army of ants chewing away at what looked like an insurmountable challenge, but then again that’s what most races thought of the lizards themselves. That they couldn’t be beaten, and even when you did manage to best them in one system they simply spread out to 10 new ones. It couldn’t be done, many had said, and still said, but here they were, bit by bit chipping away at the lizard empire and doing it in an honorable and civilized fashion.
Dak and the other ants would do their part, day in and day out, knowing not to look at the big picture, daunting as it was. No, all they had to do was worry about their individual tasks and let the Monarchs and Archons worry about coordinating and planning everything. That’s what they did, and had done from the beginning, and they hadn’t led Humanity astray, let alone the other races and individuals that had joined the Star Force empire.
And with each addition came more ants, and every year that passed saw those ants reproducing in even greater numbers. More and more people like Dak had grown up within Star Force, grown wise, strong, and experienced, contributing their tiny individual power into the greater whole and trusting in their leadership implicitly.
For as Dak was literally seeing around him, an army of ants large enough could move mountains, and give Star Force enough time to grow even larger and those mountains would become little more than warmup exercises. If people thought the lizards were intractable, they were going to find a new definition to the word once this war was won and Star Force had time to put down firm roots, for it wasn’t going anywhere, and this light of civilization was going to shine so bright that the entire galaxy would see it.
Dak glanced up from his controls as his mech was walking in line with a full load and looked out across the thousands of others mechs around him, knowing this was but a tiny dot on the planet now covered with Star Force worker ants and took pride in that fact. They were tearing down the corrupt and building up the light, one scoop of debris at a time, and daring the races of the galaxy to say it couldn’t be done
one more time
April 2, 3137
Anchess System (ADZ)
Paget passed through the airlock on the ground floor of his residential building, waiting impatiently for it to cycle out the nitrogen/oxygen air and replace it with the ammonia/oxygen that would allow him to breathe properly without his suit. It took forever, as usual, but the doors eventually parted and allowed the Gnar to walk out and begin heading down the hallways seeing a mix of armored and unarmored kin in passing.
He didn’t remove his armor until he got back to his domicile, then pulled off the various pieces and removed his mask, setting it all in a specialized nook and hooking up the tank to the refiller. Paget stretched his stubby arms out, feeling the fresh air on his purple, wrinkly flesh but it did little good to improve his mood. He’d just gotten finished with another futile attempt to negotiate with Star Force regarding the acquisition of new planets in what they called the ‘lizard occupation zone’…except there were no more lizards in it. There was no one in it. But they were stubbornly denying anyone else access, and those bold enough to try to put down colonies in the region were forcibly removed when they were discovered, not to mention hit with severe economic and sometimes territorial penalties.