Read Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series) Online

Authors: Aer-Ki Jyr

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Colonization, #Galactic Empire, #Military, #Space Fleet, #Space Marine, #Space Opera, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages)

Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series) (4 page)

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
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“You put your faith in strangers.”

“They are not strangers to you. You have had dealings with them before. Has something occurred that you have not told us?”

The Sety was hesitant to answer, but was saved as the Chamra spoke in his stead. “He is concerned about Star Force having too much leverage and is making the same mistake as the Trinx. Whatever problems may or may not arise afterward, they will be far less dire than a Hamoriti running loose.”

“Not if they send it against our own systems!” the Sety complained.

“As I have made clear,” Riley interrupted, “I can do that whenever I damn well please.”

“Then perhaps the Trinx are right.”

“By attempting to destroy the only means to control the Hamoriti?” the Bpret challenged.

“They cannot be allowed to maintain control over it.”

“Have you all gone mad?” the Domu suddenly blurted out. “A solution exists. A solution! How long as we searched for one? How long have we painstakingly researched and found nothing on our own and no trace of what became of the Ancients. This is our only chance and we should be grateful for it, but you greet those who bring it to us willingly as enemies before they have done anything to warrant that label. Be glad that someone can control the Hamoriti. Our nightmare is nearly over, yet the Trinx seek to destroy our salvation and the Sety are poised to support them in this insanity. Anyone striking against the ship that carries the solution will have to go through the Domu to get to it from this point on. Do I make myself clear?” he asked, looking directly at the Sety.

“The same goes for the Chamra,” the cyborg agreed.

“They cannot be trusted,” the Sety reiterated as the last of the Trinx ships stopped firing, either do to being disabled or destroyed. “And the Trinx will not let this incident pass.”

“So be it,” the Jonstar said reluctantly. “All our races swore an oath long ago to guard and secure the Hamoriti. We must fulfill our oaths now that we have been blessed with an opportunity that our ancestors did not have. We dishonor them by even speaking of squandering it.”

One by one the other races chimed in with similar sentiments, not all eager to turn their back on the Trinx, but in the end that was what even the Sety were forced to do.

“Very well,” he agreed reluctantly. “We proceed without the Trinx with regard to the freed Hamoriti. This promised solution will be given a chance to be tested. The Sety fleet will guarantee that much, but we will not grant anything else at this time.”

“I don’t need your permission,” Riley said defiantly, but then he looked around at the others and softened his expression, “but thank you for it. Please begin sending ships to pick up survivors. We will pull them out of the wreckage, but we prefer not to take them prisoner.”

“We will see that they are returned to a Trinx world,” the Chamra promised. “It is the least that we can do.”

“Same goes for those on the surface.”

“We’ll take care of it.”

“Thank you. Once we clean up here be prepared to leave for the rogue’s current position. We need to stop it before it kills anyone else. What becomes of this one can be dealt with later.”

“It’s still in a Li’vorkrachnika system,” the Yisv pointed out. “Will that be a problem?”

“We give them a chance to surrender all the time. Tell them to run away and we won’t shoot them on the way out. Our task is with the Hamoriti.”

“I will send a ship on ahead to so instruct them. On behalf of us all, I apologize for the ships and people you lost this day.”

“We lost ships, but we didn’t lose any people. Only the Trinx did.”

 

4

 

 

February 3, 3255

Ulinard System (lizard territory)

Inner Zone

 

The
Zeus
exited its jump into the glare of a bright white star following the arrival of some 54 ships sent by the other 7 races in The Nine to escort them into the system with the Yisv being absent. Following him immediately came the
Excalibur
, then the line of warships began to arrive one by one as Riley got his first good look at the system.

There were ten planets, two of which had been inhabited by the lizards, and one of those had been either evacuated or destroyed according to the Chamra feeds that were being sent to the Star Force fleet. The Hamoriti was currently located on an uninhabited planet…or rather
in
an uninhabited planet on the outskirts of the system where a large fleet was blockading it.

But here at the star there were thousands of ships, all of which were waiting for the Star Force vessels to arrive in order to protect them both from the Hamoriti and from the Trinx, whose fleet had already learned the details of what had previously occurred. Everyone here had, for couriers had been sent out by all parties announcing their upcoming arrival, and given the numbers here, Riley guessed that Star Force no longer had a strength advantage…definitely not at the moment, with only a handful of their ships having made it out of the jump thus far.

But there were no attacks. No chases. No activity at all other than for the waiting ships to move in sync with the new arrivals and provide a screen for them in all directions. They’d been told of what Riley’s ship carried, and the trailblazer didn’t doubt the assertions previously made that these races would die defending the ‘solution’ without hesitation if called for. And it was for that reason that he guessed the Trinx fleet here had backed down, though they were still in a position around the planet the Uriti was within, though having taken a higher orbit than the other races’ vessels.

“I can feel it…just barely,” he commented from the command nexus on the
Zeus
.

“As can I,” Nefron agreed from another nearby compartment, linked to him through the communications system and appearing as a hologram beside the Archon. “It is faint, but irrefutable.”

“That is Namishta?”

“It is.”

“I’m just going to call her Nami.”

Nefron sighed, but didn’t comment.

“How close do you want to get?”

“This is adequate, but I would prefer sending a stronger signal. High planetary orbit would be preferable.”

“Does that put us within weapons range?”

“No. The only ranged weapon it has is spherical discharge. Its range diminishes precipitously.”

“You can do this,” he asked sarcastically. “Right?”

“Even if I can’t,” Nefron responded deadpan. “You’d want to be here taking pictures.”

“Careful,” Paul’s voice advised. “Your Protovic is showing.”

“Trouble?” Nefron asked.

“The Chamra have promised to keep the Trinx at bay and are going to clear our way over the planet. They said they’re spoiling for a fight, but no additional ships have arrived. This is what they normally have here.”

“Meaning there could be more on the way?” Riley asked.

“That was the impression I got. Have you noticed the lizards?”

“There are none in space,” Nefron answered.

“Rather than depart the system they’ve pulled all their ships down to the surface of their surviving world. Apparently the Uriti hasn’t stepped on it yet.”

“Pulled for it or us?” Riley asked.

“Us. The Sety want to know if we’re going to stick around and remove them.”

“That’s up to you,” the Archon scoffed. “I’m going to be busy.”

“We,” Nefron corrected.

“Yes…
we
,” Riley allowed.

“I think we need to hurry,” Paul said, playing The Nine’s liaison this time after having a very long talk with the 8 races regarding security for this mission. “The way the Yisv said the Trinx would react isn’t holding true, and the local representatives are acting odd. I think the Trinx are going to make a move, but they don’t have the ships here to do it. We need to get the Uriti and get moving.”

“Is that coming from them or your gut?”

“Mostly my gut. And I get the feeling that the hammer blow might not happen in this system. We need as much head start as we can get.”

“Pick up us and the Uriti in one attack? Overly ambitious of them.”

“If they have dedicated their entire civilization to this endeavor,” Nefron added, “then we are destroying their reason for existence. They may do illogical things to try and preserve it.”

“Or go the other way and step it up a notch,” Paul differed. “If they possessed you, I get the feeling it might be them that used the Uriti as a weapon against others. Possibly to go hunt down the others throughout the galaxy in order to contain them.”

“Ouch,” Riley said, seeing the twisted logic in that.

“We need this Uriti out of their grasp. I’m assuming we can’t have it help us against an enemy fleet at close range?”

“Not with its larger weaponry,” Nefron agreed. “It does have the ability to target select ships at close range, but that would require a discipline that Namishta has never demonstrated before. You can point it at a target and say kill, but you cannot specify how you want it killed or what you don’t want destroyed nearby along with it.”

“What happens if the Trinx attack when it’s nearby?”

“It will either ignore them or wipe us all out in the response. We can survive at decent range given the upgrades to the shields, but in close the power levels will be too great to overcome.”

“Right,” Paul said with fake cheerfulness. “So let’s hurry, shall we?”

“You want to go on ahead?”

“With our friends here we don’t need to wait for the rest of the fleet to arrive.”

“If they are friends,” Riley pointed out, though he was in agreement. He set a course with a thought and coordinated with Paul as the two command ships tugged along several warships towards the jump point for the distant planet. When they arrived there they headed out along with a sizeable chunk of the defending fleet while the rest stayed at the star to act as a backstop for anyone else entering the system…Trinx or otherwise.

It took a few hours to get all the way out to the edge of the system to the fat, cold planet the Uriti had dug itself into. The holes in the surface were large enough to be seen from orbit, some of which were surrounded by mounds of crushed rock from it coming back to the surface and pushing the material up and out rather than further down as it descended.

“Worm in the apple?” Riley asked as they settled into their preferred orbit and the defending fleet surrounded them, with most of the 7 races’ ships interposing themselves on the side facing the somewhat distant Trinx fleet that was stoically holding position as if nothing had changed.

“Lizards on the planet,” Paul replied, noting many landed cruisers and transport ships. “They’re down there fighting the minions beneath the surface.”

“Why haven’t they evacuated?” Riley asked, then checked himself. “Never mind, it’s obvious. They answer to the Trinx and the Trinx didn’t want to pull them out.”

“Bingo.”

“Can we get the Uriti out without smashing them to bits?” Riley asked Nefron.

“It will come out where it likes. We can only summon it.”

“It’s not near them right now,” Paul pointed out, getting the Chamra feeds of its approximate position that the Star Force sensors were beginning to back up despite their altitude thanks to the upgrades Nefron had made specifically to track the Uriti within planets and stars, though there were limits to both. “If it was they’d be dead anyway. Normal procedure is to drop minions in its wake and let them grow in numbers. The lizards go down and attack them after the Uriti moves out of range.”

“But we could see a lot of splattered lizards if it chooses an odd path out?”

“There is no way to minimize the risk,” Nefron insisted, “other than to wait until it is located away from their current position, which it is now. It could return and kill them at any moment regardless.”

“Alright, let’s do this,” Riley said, connecting through the system with Nefron. “Watch our back.”

“Always,” Paul said, his voice and hologram disappearing but his presence within the system still lingering as Riley entrusted him with the fleet and his own ship’s security again.

“Are you ready?” Nefron asked.

“I’m just going along for the ride. This is your show.”

“So be it,” the Chixzon said, touching a few controls around him as he telepathically linked his full focus into the transmitter that amplified his thoughts and aura many millions of times in intensity in the narrow profile that was used to contact the Uriti. Using the knowledge granted to him through his genetic legacy, he sent the recall order that had been bred into all the Uriti and selected a point in orbit away from both their ship and the Trinx fleet for it to travel to.

The feedback was intense and immediate as the Uriti responded with a simple acknowledgement order. It was the first time Nefron had ever felt such power, and linked in with him to the system Riley felt the same. This was not a mindless beast, but a being of such great magnitude it chilled the Archon to the bone just to hear that single thought from it.

“You underestimated them,” Nefron said simply.

“Apparently I did.”

“My memories were insufficient as well. I did not expect that…presence.”

“How can you control something like that?”

“It was not an easy process to learn, and must be ingrained in them from origination. You cannot tamper with an intellect that large once it is formed. Not with any powers that we possess.”

“And the Hadarak are bigger?”

“The Klamensh are greater in every way. Only the weapons we designed for the Uriti make them superior.”

No wonder the V’kit’no’sat are scared of these things
, Riley thought to himself, making sure not to transmit that thought to Nefron. He still hadn’t been told of the V’kit’no’sat, though no one doubted his loyalty to Star Force. Davis wanted to keep the Chixzon knowledge separate in order to keep the different perspectives distinct. Nefron had already begun to shed light on some of the V’kit’no’sat’s shortcomings as far as genetics were concerned, and he’d done so by not thinking in a V’kit’no’sat way with regards to genetic challenges presented to him and Vortison’s team. That untainted Chixzon mind needed to stay that way for now, so other than some information on the Hadarak, Nefron didn’t know anything regarding the V’kit’no’sat or their considerable database of knowledge…though he’d already deduced that there was some source and had been pleasant enough not to inquire about it further.

“And if they fought each other?”

“I have no idea what the outcome would be. It is possible they would not fight one another.”

“Despite the Chixzon programming?”

“It was never tested, for they had only one Klamensh and no aspirations about confronting the others,” Nefron said as they watched the track the Uriti was taking upwards through the planet on their monitoring equipment. It took some time before it finally breached the surface, smashing apart a cold mountain ridge as it emerged like a mole coming out of the dirt. The dirty blue, six legged behemoth was well over a mile long but far smaller than Bahamut. That thought alone made Riley cringe, wondering what power the larger Uriti’s mind could possibly contain.

When Nami broke into the airless exterior of the planet, ‘she’ rose up on her biological gravity drives with a slow, but nimble ease heading for the orbital coordinates sent to the Uriti.

Riley blew out a slow breath. “So far so good. Can you inquire as to this one’s status with the transmitter?”

“I can do a great deal more than that,” Nefron said, suddenly shifting his mental view to that of the Uriti and looking through its ‘eyes,’ save for it had none in a conventional sense. Sharing the link, Riley could see every ship in orbit and even those far away near the star, though they were mere echoes compared to the very vivid, yet odd image of the
Zeus
that he was seeing from afar and the cluster of ships around what looked to be his stone ship.

Then far below on the planet, even subsurface, he could see the minions in clusters.

“Are they people or machines?” he asked bluntly, already having had this discussion previously.

“Those produced by the Klamensh are people. But people can make choices, and the Chixzon could not allow that. These bastardized creations are biological machines that perform exactly as intended. If there is a person trapped inside somewhere, I do not know of it. And if there is, it would be best to free them of their slavery.”

“I really don’t care for that answer.”

“I don’t have another one to give. Even the Chixzon have not been able to isolate a physical component to the core of a lifeform, only recognize its presence through its actions. These minions do not act as if they were capable of making choices, so to the best of my knowledge the Chixzon succeeded in changing the Klamensh minions into biological war machines. I cannot say for certain if a person comes along with them in a tortured form. My memories suggest that telepathically linking to them offers no contact with anything other than predictable programming.”

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
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