by D.L. Glenn
Extraterrestials introduce themselves, by warring with each other in the skies above us.
|THE TREVELLA COUNSEL
Noosh Foolavo, Third Arbiter for the Obsidion, rose slowly to his feet when the proximity alert symbol flashed briefly on the liquid monitor that materialized in front of his eyes. On his home world, he would have never needed to tolerate having to rise before what he privately considered a substandard entity but of course, he was on Trevella.
There was decorum to follow.
Steadying himself on hoofed feet not used on such a solid floor structure, he wondered whether his arriving antagonist would do the same if the roles were reversed.
"Probably not." He said low to himself.
Aloft in the safety of a particle bubble, he awaited the Kruk to join him. Foolavo took a final tasting of the untainted air around him through his sensory bristles. The scents suspended within the confines of the sphere were only those of his body. That would change in an instant. For better or worst, he and the Kruk were about to enter the forniusk sphere for the 367th Trevella Counsel.
Noosh had been Arbiter on a mere four of the Counsels- all peacefully reconciled, an accomplishment which brought him praise and personal gratification due to the rarity of the occurrence. The Kruk he would square off against would be a novice. It was a fact of the counsels; few experts existed due to the atypical circumstance of needing a Counsel at all.
The Obsidion Trust had used Trevella as a respite from the eyes, ears and telepathies of the denizens of the trade stars for eons. It was a planet orbiting the star known as Clel, a huge gaseous monstrosity that emitted radiation constantly in waves that had long since doomed Trevella to an forlorn existence of non-habitation. The planet itself was a tiny liquid ball of a carbon-hydrogen-zinc composite whose peculiar structural mixture- constantly boiled over by Clel's fiery solar eruptions, causing limitless cascades of litium plasma to erupt into space- only to be brought back to the planet by the gravitational field and superheated by the solar effects of the parent star. The effect was a peculiarly orange-colored world that looked as if it were a pot boiling over but slurping its contents back before the fiery slurry spilled out into the spatial abyss.
For early Obsidion astronomers, their names were lost in annals dating back four hundred thousand annuals before the Obsidion, Trevella's spectacular vision in their optical viewers had seemed like a beautiful impossibility of physics. Its agreed-upon name in the Obsidion basic language was Aesthetic Constancy. It never changed and was uniquely pristine in both its hostility to life and planetary grandeur.
Only when the first Obsidion starcraft dared to explore the planet and its five equally desolate moons did the potential for Trevella as a gathering place become known. The peculiar properties of the litium plasma wrapping the planet could be thwarted by elemental-level bubbles of forniusk common throughout the planetary systems making up the Obsidion. Long used throughout the galaxy for force fields aboard damaged starcraft and- in the days before the Trust came into being- reflective shields for warriors, scientists learned the forniusk could be molded into a stasis sphere that could withstand the vacuum of space or, in the case of Trevella, hold at the altitude specified by those who wielded it. The bubbles could only be penetrated by another forniusk sphere that could meld itself into the other- the result being a larger sphere.
Magnetic pulses from devices imbedded within the sphere itself controlled the bubble's movement and atmospheric stasis. The all-encompassing plasma and the physical properties of the sphere -when on Trevella- guaranteed no eavesdropping of any kind was possible from outside the sphere. Outside of its novel use on Trevella, the forniusk held limitless applications.
Communication between spheres was a necessity, made possible by the magnetic attachment of transmitters to the outside of the sphere. The breaching of the sphere by the communication wiring going into it had been a problem for early prototypes but eventually overwhelmed by determined engineers.
Given the communicative oddities and self-important issues arising between the thousands of interstellar species, the benefits of a finality resulting from one on one debate loomed large in the formative years of the Trust. When in the Chambers of the Arbiters, parties with the persuasive allure of mutual trade interests or the partisanship of historical alliances or the uttered bigotries formed over the span of eons usually bickered to no avail, with point against point juxtaposed against pros and cons yielding endless offers and counter-offers traded secretly in the racial cauldron of astral negotiations.
The Decree of Stasis overrode all issues within the Obsidion Trust and was paramount to the confederation of the galaxy. It was this singular truism that trumped all manner of discourse and was the final binding on any conclusion. In the Chambers of the Arbiters, dissolution often reigned due to alliances and guild members’ personal ranting.
A final order of arbitration was needed. The boiling world of Trevella had been utilized as a secure meeting ground for the most serious of issues. The ambassadors sent to the Counsel were completely inapproachable from outside influences.
Those chosen to meet in such an auspicious circumstance were not chosen lightly. Only after much public debate of interplanetary issues within the Trust would the final verdict of a Trevella Counsel be invoked by the Trust. Such meetings assuaged frayed nerves usually. The Trust emphasis on stasis above all other considerations always took precedence, yet the Arbiters tried earnestly to satisfy the assaulted party lest the issue simmer until scorching all those standing around it. With the glut of interplanetary weapons technology swirling about the universe, an issue that percolated into war could indeed be costly to planetary stases and lives alike.
Another peculiarity of the sphere when on Trevella was that only when another sphere's stasis field began to meld with his own could Noosh's instrumentation stowed in the sphere detect the visitor. As the field parted itself and warped around his sphere, Foolavo readied himself for the emergence of the envoy. The issue for the day was a tiny carbon-rich world known in interstellar traveling circles as Gol'Lotbu. The Obsidion Trust had been monitoring the tiny planet for many eons and recent events on the tiny planet had yet again called into question the dealings of a wily race known as the Kruk.
Noosh resolved to call Gol'Lotbu by its nomenclature recognized by the indigenous beings on the tiny planet, Earth. With its eccentric biological blending of lush flora and fauna and the peeking emergence of a civilization transcending their basic predatory instincts, the planet should have been a dubious reason for the meeting with the Kruk.
The Kruk, he fully expected, would mention Gol'Lotbu as merely a backwoods world where their trade fleet could find fuel amid primitives who had only a lackluster interest in evolving. It was a fundamental gripe of the Kruk during the public Arbitration. Other issues between the Kruk and the ignorant humans on Gol'Lotbu would be discussed away from the Obsidion as well. The Kruk were fierce traders and had few moral qualms when it came to the wares they peddled. This was a sincere problem for many within the Obsidion, but Noosh hoped to keep others’ issues at bay.
The stasis bubble finished its merging and immediately Noosh felt the fresh influx of the inert-gas atmosphere critical for the Kruk to continue its life functions aboard deep-space vessels fill the enlarged area and stabilize. The Kruk stood motionless, its body adjusting as well to the neutral atmospheric conditioning peculiar to the forniusk sphere. When he acclimated suitably, the large, oval, black eyes opened fully and gazed upon the Arbiter. The Kruk and Foolavo dipped their heads slightly to each other in the standard Obsidion greeting.
The two members within the Counsel sphere could scarcely have been much different. Foolavo was a Gwi'chidard. A burly race of herbivores whose existence was predicated on the over-abundance of tuber-like twolt, protein-rich plants that filtered Gwi'chidard wastes like bi-valves filter sea water. Their husky ox-like faces contained four dark blue optical orbs that stood out slightly from their earless skulls and could extend several centimeters from the sockets and peer about freely. Their mouths had a tapir-like snout of dark, freckled flesh that flared uncontrollably as they spoke and exposed the grinding palette beneath. Gwi'chidard stood three meters tall, quadrupeds with fleshy folds of mottled loam-colored skin and odd patches of needle-like, hollow sensory bristles covering their bodies. They hailed from the planet Veylor, a boggy world that orbited a star known on Earth as Wasat.
Gwi'chidard were one of the first known species to conquer the long distances between the star's numerous inhabited bodies. The triumph of their galactic travels was nearly overshadowed by their naiveté when they encountered hostile races. They were nearly conquered by the savage Solwigs from Celerelus before their pleas for help were heard and weapons acquired from friendly neighbors. Their gravitas within the Obsidion was substantial and it was solely because of this stature that a Gwi'chidard had been sent to counsel the Kruk on the serious matter. There were other races tasked as Arbiters of course. They were a calm race, prone to long days of contemplation that was shared telepathically at will between the species when on their home world, a peculiarity due to the evolutionary aspect of the herds on Veylor. Away from their planet, telepathy was not possible.
Especially on Trevella.
The Kruk was much smaller than the Gwi'chidard. Hailing from the second planet in the orbital order of the eighty rocky planets and inhabited moons of the star Lovos, the diminutive humanoids stood at best a meter in height, usually slightly smaller than that. They had lidless black, oval eyes paired atop a nasal slit that gave them a doe-like appearance and two elf-like dorsal appendages with tiny-fingered hands that belied their ferocity. They were tunnel dwellers, and a lack of pigment gave them a pasty, grey pallor.
There was a small hole below the nasal slit that held inside an extendable sandpapery proboscis the Kruk used to scour the stones of their world for ingestible minerals. The Kruk would not admit it, but as a race they would rather be caught dead than be seen hunched over on all fours scourging a stone for potassium kibbles or licking fervently at a dusting of the lead that kept the radiation of Lovos from extinguishing the race. Whereas the Gwi'chidard lived in a world of botanical excess and could spend endless hours grazing, in ponderous bliss, if they wished, the Kruk's desert world held nothing but hardship for them. The harsh environment shaped the Kruk into a feisty species, to put it mildly. They were scrap gleaners and hustlers. Before joining the Trust they were known as aggressors, provoking several interstellar skirmishes over the most trivial of insults. It was hoped that the inclusion into the Obsidion and the guarantees of environmental stasis that came with inclusion would tame the Kruk, give them some measure of ecological comfort that would in turn tame their most desperate of outlooks on their race's future.
Those hopes had proven erroneous.
Apparently, once a Kruk, always a Kruk.
This particular member of the Kruk was young. Noosh noted. The chitin-like exoskeleton surrounding the Kruk was thinning and artificially polished- signs of a coddled upbringing. Noosh expected nothing less; the Kruk's nepotistic system was never known to send a non-royal to a Trevella Counsel. When the Kruk were born, the evolution of the species provided the newborn with the hardened exoskeleton for protection against the harsh desert-like world far above the damp caverns where the main worker force lived. Only after a sufficient time above ground growing and surviving the natural foibles would a Kruk be allowed to descend below the sands into an easier existence.
It mattered not if the Kruk was a royal or not, all Kruk had to prove they were worthy of descending. As the exposure to Lovos's x-rays abated when underground, the chitin sloughed off, leaving behind a leather-like grey skin that gave the Kruk the appearance of tiny leather dolls as their black eyes grew wider in the dim artificial light beneath the surface.
The Kruk had labored long against another race of humanoids on their home world of Dogmae- another planet orbiting Lovos- called the Ishiven. The Ishiven were no longer in existence. Their history was crushed by the ruthless Kruk, who swept away their annals of existence as one would sweep away an intrusive dusting of lunar grime. It was the Ishiven who dug the extensive caverns below the sands of Dogmae and pioneered early exo-atmospheric flight. The erudite among the Ishiven took pity on the feral Kruk struggling to survive in the bleak environment above them and offered to cohabitate below-ground with the beleaguered species.
Once below ground in enough *******, the Kruk thanked the Ishiven for their charity by slaughtering them and devouring them. They then took the Ishiven's technological accomplishments as their own, twisting their finely crafted mechanical evolutions intended for exploration and interplanetary communication into a war machine that rivaled the best weaponry the Trust had to offer. The Kruk soon set about tasting what the universe away from their desolate world had to offer, finding the menu too delectable to deny themselves such rich spoils.
Only the sheer number of systems conglomerated into the Obsidion kept the outright plunder of nearby systems at bay. The Obsidion did not ever forget that the Kruk had that fact in their demeanor. Members of the Obsidion swore to a charter of non-aggression between members and those races who brought undue civil disorder or physical harm to any member within its ranks was subject to complete annihilation. Unless the Trevella Counsel was successful in resolving the Gol'Lotbu issue, the potential for the Kruk to face the full wrath of the Obsidion was certain.
Noosh hoped to contain the threat. But one on one with a Kruk was daunting.
"The greetings of all descend on the all." Noosh clasped his hands in front of him as he uttered the standard greeting. The emotionless face of the Kruk reciprocated the words and the armored hands clicked when they clasped together.
"I trust your travels were uneventful?" Noosh waved the Kruk to a seat.
"A comet was uncharted by the Obsidion. I had to divert or by crushed. I see the Obsidion has been neglecting the Porax Corridor yet again." He vocally sneered slightly at the stab against the galactic mappers of the Obsidion, who prided themselves on keeping any orbiting debris that could destroy a speeding starcraft noted on the navigational charts or, if necessary, destroying them to avoid calamity. An unfortunate reality of the Porax corridor was the gravitational nudges of five huge stars pushed millions of asteroids into the flight paths annually. The Porax corridor was a main trade artery for the Kruk, naturally. Hundreds of other pathways each from thousands of stars and billions of planets were patrolled less frequently than the Porax- just so extra eyes could watch the otherwise minor trade route lest the Kruk envoys lodge a complaint of discrimination. The Kruk loved to scream of racial insult on the floor of the Trust.
"A pity. With the current collusion of the twin stars it is impossible to know of every little ice ball. Not all things are perfect."
"Perfection is not sought where I'm from, Arbiter. Far too negligible in lieu of the pain brought from the search for it. I am Huut Nimbly. Fifth in the Line of DeQue. First Protestant for the Kruk." Noosh noticed the flourish in the swaggering tone of the Kruk. He was clearly a product of the royal oligarchy, eager to proclaim his stature- the significance of which was nil to a Gwi'chidard. He was immediately concerned by the lack of respect the Kruk was paying to the state of affairs. A degree of contrition was generally understood in this most serious of circumstances. It was, after all, a matter of planetary life and death in a Counsel.
Immediately, Noosh's bristles began detecting the raised scent of oxidized endorphin. He knew the smell- human endorphins. The Protestant had ingested the endorphins before a Trevella Counsel, an egregious affront to the solemnity of the event. Inhaling the illicit substance flista was not unheard of within the Kruk circles, but when one's entire planet and every member of its race was subject to possible annihilation, a clear mind and degree of professionalism was expected as par.
"I am Noosh Foolavo. Third Arbiter for the Obsidion. Utmost in the Chambers of Fact for the Gwi'chidard. We are here to discuss the varium issue raised by our travelers to the planet known as Earth to the human race living there. I believe you call its star Xeros and your word for the third planet is Gol'Lotbu."
"The Kruk recognize no issue with the Obsidion over Gol'Lotbu."
"Indeed. That is an unfortunate tact, Protestant. This counsel has not been convened lightly. The issues are substantial."
"Spare me the words of Trevella exultancy, Arbiter. List your grievances." The pale impassive face gave no indication of the ire that was apparent in even the monotone voice. The black eyes peered emotionless at the towering Gwi'chidard. The tiny digits of it hands almost appeared to drum impatiently against the Kruk's torso.
The sensory bristles on the Gwi'chidard tingled as excited pheromones released into the stasis sphere found their sensitive ends. No creature whose body functioned by any electrochemical processes could hide their attitude from a Gwi'chidard for long. It was a seminal reason why members from the Gwi'chidard race were consistently chosen as Arbiters.
Some races throughout time had attempted to hide their true intentions from the Obsidion. Trevella Counsels were designed to be a sincere attempt by both sides to work through galactic issues that could not be resolved within the Trust. Subterfuge in the stasis sphere was cause for shunning, or worse. One race from a moon of Castor planet Guntae had once plotted insurrection and sent an envoy with false pheromone emitters. For the transgression, the moon had been eradicated- its debris herded by gravity ships into orbits that would ensure their incandescent meeting with Castor's superheated surface. A sphere of forniusk injected with gravity plasma was calibrated to the approximate gravitational characteristics of the moon to ensure the continuity of ellipses of the surrounding worlds and left as a permanent reminder to passersby of the seriousness of the Trevella Counsel. That was not the last time gravitational weapons had been used to such a horrific effect but such occurrences were rare.
Shunning was the usual punishment for a wayward species. The usurpers would be put on notice by the Trust, a sort of blacklisting that meant they were not worthy of any form of trade or more importantly, protection. If a race cohabited a stellar system with a hostile species that had no say in the Trust, that race was protected from pilfer or damage. Cross the line in a Trevella Counsel, and the prodigal Protestant would be scourged piecemeal by opportunistic raiders that abounded in the cosmos. Given their war apparatus, the Kruk obviously assumed that even shunning was no big deal, since no rinky-dink pirate clan from Nubu or a Celerelus ore-looting party would dare try to steal from the Kruk. The Kruk had to know he was giving all kinds of negative signals to the Gwi'chidard. He merely did not care.
It worried Noosh Foolavo from the outset. There was much to discuss and the immediate prognosis was grim. Sincerity was superior to animosity within the sphere. Rage, fear, over-confidence, ego- all of these were welcome as normal emotional reactions to confrontation and could be worked with by an Arbiter. The Obsidion relished peace and would readily work around fiery rhetoric and racial bombast that often bordered on insurrection- if need be.
Most races however, when called to a Trevella Counsel, realized they had transgressed and capitulated immediately when an Arbiter had been overly accosted. But then, never had any of the Kruk's oft-banal issues been held over to a Trevella Counsel
"The grievances are these. Kruk starcraft have been replenishing their varium in the Gol'Lotbu atmosphere in amounts that are unacceptable to the Obsidion. Kruk pathologists have been illegally studying humans with nefarious intentions. Kruk battle units have mapped out Gol'Lotbu for colonization and are readying biotoxins for use against the indigenous. These actions are to cease."
"Gol'Lotbu is not a member of the Obsidion. The Kruk reserves the right to travel wherever they wish when not in the Obsidion's realm. The varium is necessary. You know all of this." The Kruk impassively folded his spindly grey arms. "Are we to understand that all travels outside of the Obsidion must now be sanctioned by the Trust? Four hundred and twenty billion civilizations within the star belts can be traveled to and colonized- outside of the Obsidion mind you- yet one little aqueous world manages to have us dragged into a Trevella Counsel. Forgive me, Arbiter, but the Kruk are less than thrilled to be called here as Protestants for such a triviality. Surely a Gwi'chidard research guru has more to do than insult the Kruk over the third planet of Xeros."
"There is no need for insolence, Protestant. We each know the Kruk has colonizing intentions on at least seven uninhabited worlds outside of the Obsidion. The Trust has no grievance against this. When the Kruk overran Folo for their varium volcanoes, the Trust did not interfere, even though the primitive indigenous now face eventual extinction on their world. The Earth race is at the cusp of the Determination Trials. The Trust agrees that they may lack basic humility and of course until they prove themselves worthy of the Forniusk Gift they will stay in their own solar system. The Trust now believes they are worthy."
"The Trust's standards seem to be diminishing then. The humans are far from ready for interstellar travel. They barely try to learn about the world outside their foraging habitats. It will be a mistake to let them run loose among the stars. They are bound to upset the pirates and then what? The Trust is going to protect them?"
From you, most definitely, Foolavo thought.
"If they join the Obsidion, of course they will receive the benefits."
"Sheer lunacy. You've seen them. They are idol worshippers, easily guiled and completely feral. Unworthy of even the fission power they so clumsily use today. For a body that relishes stasis so much, you have poor insight into whom you choose to give the gift. It degrades the stature of the Forniusk."
“Nevertheless. The Kruk will stand down. Find another source of varium. The Trust will help the Kruk...to a detriment, mind you...in that endeavor."
"That planet makes plenty of varium. It is why we stop there for fuel. We ask nothing from the Trust except the right of free travel."
"Nothing is free, Protestant. The humans are beginning to notice your presence. The varium depletion is already a topic of concern on their planet and sightings of your vehicles have raised their awareness of you and therefore the Obsidion." Noosh left that fact dangling. Worlds rich in the varium oxidizer needed to refuel long-range starcraft were not especially common in the Obsidion Domain. Planets with stores of the rare triple-oxygen molecule usually had the added plus of an atmosphere cool enough for the hulls of long-range ships to safely release their frictional build-up in the form of iridescent heat waves.
Life forms existing on varium-rich worlds free of forniusk were generally primal and rarely knew the travelers were even in the galaxy. The vole-like guatos of the planet Folo who migrated to the huge volcanic varium vents every few weeks for life-sustaining varium baths now found Kruk refueling platforms straddling the rims of the gas-ejecting mountains. Given the fact that the tiny quadrupeds displayed zero evolutionary tendencies and their species could be kept alive in zoological catalogues throughout the galaxy, the Kruk's dominion was unchallenged but not looked upon favorably. Gol'Lotbu was a different subject.
Most of the varium planets had floral organisms to replenish the minimal inhalation of the varium the occasional traveler needed. Implied in his tone was the assertion that the Kruk has broken stasis, i.e. they had gotten greedy and Gol'Lotbu was beginning to see the ramifications of their gluttony. The commonality between inhabitable planets was always a stable, modestly self-sustaining ecosystem. One of the charters of the Obsidion was the Decree of Stasis, which ordered that no race could irreparably harm the ecosystem of another without the Order of Disposability- that was rarely issued. It was the alarming gap in the varium field surrounding the southern pole of the planet that raised the alarms on both Gol'Lotbu and within the walls of the Trust. Geo-stasis was in decline and the Kruk were to blame.
"Arbiter, you are aware that we have claimed Gol'Lotbu many eons before we entered the Obsidion. We are not the only starcraft operators that use the planet for varium." Huut looked side to side in faux search of a co-conspirator. "I see no other races here to stand to the charge of pilfer."
Noosh's four eyes extended slightly to peer in unison at the tiny Kruk.
"Protestant, you're representing a member of the Obsidian. If you wish to see why there are no other Protestants, here is why." He waved a hand at the near wall of the sphere and a liquid screen grew into perfect square measuring ten by ten meters.
Immediately the pair knew they were looking at Gol'Lotbu from an orbit just spaceward of the frictional zone of nitrogen-rich air encompassing the planet. Thousands of bright yellow streaks bore down into the planet as the frantic scrolling of numeric symbols in Basic indicated over time the amounts of varium inhaled into the Kruk starcraft before they rocketed away for new destinations.
Occasionally a Kruk contrail would dip down haphazardly through the atmosphere to land on the planet's surface. The Gwi'chidard winced with the sight of each one of the Kruk ships descending to the surface- obviously visiting the humans to tap some unlucky individual for his endorphin secretions. The inhumane methods used by the Kruk on what they considered galactic chattel could not be disputed, since those affected could only complain psychotically amongst themselves and could not park a fleet in Obsidion space to challenge the Kruk. It was plainly an exploitation of a defenseless race.
The occasional red streak of a Heretabu starcraft or the tale-tale green plume of a Gwi'chidard skimming for a few tons of varium on their way to Hela was paltry in comparison. Unlike the Kruk's starcrafts' oxidizer-heavy propulsion systems, nearly all of the Obsidion's ships gave off a basic bi-hydrogen/oxygen mixture that broke down into elements helpful for Gol'Lotbu's atmospheric stasis.
Over the centuries, Obsidion members had taken pity on Gol'Lotbu's inhabited areas suffering from a lack of seasonal condensation and had nudged the atmosphere gently into dropping stasis-sustaining water on the afflicted. When an extreme polar event threatened to push the fledgling new generation of the bipedal into extinction, it was the Gwi'chidard arm of the Trust who pushed for the Obsidion to interfere and provide some respite from the cooling of the planet.
The Kruk knew all of this. The Gwi'chidard's soft spot for the feral humans, which, attested to in the Kruk's public positioning, did more to disrupt any emerging notion of the species' sentience than the Kruk could ever do in an eon. Perhaps it was the herd mentality they could relate to.
The Kruk discovered the human species had a hidden source of value. The endorphins humans secreted when sexually stimulated could be tapped and refined into the gaseous narcotic flista. The Kruk toiling deep within the stifling caverns of Dogmae were not very top-heavy in the means of entertainment. Any means of stimulation was a prime source of capital. The DeQue had been using flista as currency for years.
For the first time, Noosh sensed apprehension in the Kruk. The visual evidence, coupled with the listings of tonnage absorbed by the starcraft, could not be denied.
"Stasis has not been breached. Even if it had..."
"If it had," Noosh cut him off. "This conversation would be conducted much differently. This planet will join the Obsidion. Sooner now rather than later."
"Based on what?"
"Based on the Kruk's actions noted before and noted here today. Meaning its stasis will be maintained."
"But our varium..."
"Will be found on another world. The Trust guarantees you that. It shouldn't, but does. Varium is not as rare as the Kruk have indicated."
"We have...other...interests in Gol'Lotbu."
"Your biologics will cease as well. The endorphin trade is distasteful. It is shameful to the Obsidion that the Trust has ignored your heretic appetites but they chose to look the other way because of the Kruk's initial resistance to inclusion. The Trust did not want to make another issue to arbitrate given the Kruk's attitude toward Obsidion inclusion. Now that Earth is destined to for inclusion, the Kruk will stand down."
"This is unseemly!" The emotionless face cocked to the right. Noosh's bristles exploded with the scent of angry pheromones as the euphoric began to wear off. "The Obsidion have told us since the inclusion that so long as the Kruk left systems within the realm alone we could operate as we pleased! We would never have joined had we known the charter would be nothing more than a diplomatic noose used to slowly choke our citizens to death!"
"And the Kruk have not fallen in line with the charters. The Kruk's pernicious dabbling in the stasis of Deb Huon, Folo, Sep Hunto, and Xylant has been noted as particulars but are not issues for this Counsel."
"Their world is fine! There is nothing done to Gol'Lotbu that will not correct itself in time."
"The indigenous are industrializing now. Stasis cannot be continued with your overzealous intrusions and their own stasis-damaging means of existence."
"The DeQue have promised their citizens the endorphins."
"They will have to renege." Foolavo could taste the panic now. The Kruk was going berserk with his scents.
"The clamor for the euphorics will not be easily quelled by a paltry statement indicating the royalty has deferred to the wishes of the Trust. The workers need something to strive for now. Besides mere stasis."
"The Kruk survived for eons without the narcotics of Earthlings. They will have to find a new way to pass their time. I suggest internal genuflection."
"All this...because of a miniscule gap in the varium field on a tiny aquatic planet with humans on it? This is more than just unjustified. It is insulting!"
"All this because the Kruk have no respect for the weak. Or for stasis."
"We assert the right of free travel. To order us to refine more varium would disrupt our stasis. The refit of our starcraft alone would constitute an escalation of industrialization on Dogmae that is not conducive to stasis. Do we have no more rights in the Obsidion than any other mundane system outside the Domain in the trade routes? Gol'Lotbu varium has been scooped for eons."
"But no longer. Not without their consent."
"The Kruk will not stand for it. Never! We will accept shunning before we yield Gol'Lotbu and its primitives the grandeur of the Forniusk Gift. There are enough problems in the galaxy to deal with without human chattel added to the fray."
"The issue is not for yielding. The Trust has decided this. The Trust is prepared..."
"To deny the Kruk their rightful trade and pursuit of life!"
"To help the Kruk find varium elsewhere."
"What we find on Gol'Lotbu cannot be found elsewhere. I do not have to spell out what I mean."
"Should they pass the Determination Trials and be included, the humans will learn of your endorphin needs. They may give them freely, who knows? They are a very endorphin-driven species. The entire planet is rife with reproductive endeavors. The more sexual endorphin they are encouraged to have, the better for you. To demand it will only enrage them. The Kruk have never learned to ask for much," Foolavo smirked.
"And if they don't? Then what? The workers depend on the narcotic. The demand is far beyond what the DeQue had ever believed possible. You speak of stasis. It would end the Kruk forever if the war fleet ran out of flista. They would mutiny and kill every thing in their way on their way to Xeros. Or die trying."
"That will not be allowed to happen. It is unfortunate that the DeQue have yielded their once formidable power to the whims of narcotic whiffs."
"It will happen, Arbiter! We would rather leave the Trust than yield to these foolish notions of humans receiving the Gift and telling us when and how flista may be acquired." The scent lingered onto Noosh's bristles- Fear. Unmistakable paranoia-induced fear fueled by the flista's waning effects. Nimbly was realizing now as he regained full conherence that things were about to be very bad for the DeQue.
The Kruk could see a checkered future ahead that could culminate in a civil war between the workers and the royals- civil war that could spill out into the galaxy. The lack of defense the humans outside of the Trust would have against raiders alerted to their vulnerability and varium stores was also a factor. Though the Kruk could be barred from visiting Earth, they could easily turn to the outlaw Drews on Celerelus to interdict on their behalf. Drews operated outside of the Trust and if the humans declined the Forniusk and inclusion, celestial raiders would plunder the planet most definitely. The Drews excelled in attaining that which was illicit.
The die was cast for a horrible breach of peace solely due to one's race's dependence on chemical enslavement and sheer greed. Having a Kruk war fleet running amok through the trade routes searching for clueless Earthlings new to space travel, or worse, blasting through the eventual Obsidion's protective blockade thrown around Earth if they did join the Trust and scourging the world beyond repair was not a plausible solution. It was in Noosh's power to keep the status quo as tidy as possible. The Obsidion Trust's curiosity over whether the humans could rise to the challenge of the Forniusk Gift trumped the need for keeping the disreputable Kruk around. They simply were incapable of being anything other than Kruk. The noble attempt to civilize the uncivil had failed.
Noosh made the decision in an instant. Stasis trumped all other considerations. A moment in time had come for the Kruk.
The final moment.
“There must be another course of action, Protestant. A synthetic flista may be worked out.”
“Unnecessary and probably impossible. The matter of Gol’Lotbu is not up for discussion any longer. We must have varium. We must have flista. There can be no other alternative.”
"That is unfortunate."
Noosh waved his hand ever so slightly and immediately the stasis bubble shortened by two thirds. The unfortunate Kruk Protestant was immediately left suspended without protection in the swirling hot gases of Trevella, his remains vaporizing by the millisecond into the boiling plasma. Noosh Foolavo raised his arms to the ceiling, ordering the stasis bubble to rise.
It was several long minutes before the magnetic ascension brought him into the hold of the Arbiter's starcraft orbiting the planet. Immediately, a Gwi'chidard gravity driver de-cloaked aft of the ship, charging its magnetic displacement arm. The Kruk crewmen aboard the DeQue-class sloop barely had time to fire off a distress beacon before the crushing wave of magnetically charged electrons ripped the ship apart and forced its remnants into Trevella's uncaring cauldron.
Eighty million light years away, a flotilla of Obsidion gravity drivers materialized all around the planet of Dogmae. Within seconds, the massed assault of powerfully focused magnetic waves splintered apart the tiny planet and herded its crumpled remains toward the awaiting white-hot surface of Lovos. All of the Kruk trapped on the surface were killed immediately.
Such was the verdict of the Trevella Counsel.
Stasis was maintained. For only a half hour.
Immediately the Obsidion began hunting the Kruk battle fleet. Based on a bevy of reconnaissance beacons, their location was fixed constantly. Either sensing trouble before the Counsel or planning some form of assault for later, the DeQue had spread out the main body of the fleet over six star systems, each formation a potent force of troop carriers, gravity skiffs, and heavy-proton dispenser-laden dreadnaughts. Obsidion casualties were heavy, but four of the battle fleets were quickly decimated by gravity drivers and radiation projectiles.
The remaining two fleets, numbering some fifty warships of various description, fled the scene, rendezvousing near the Heretabu stasis fleet hurriedly placing a new gravity sphere in the place of their disintegrated home world. Enraged by the destruction of their planet and the sight of their world being replaced with a ball of cold matter by hapless heretics, figuratively whistling while they worked, the DeQue commander Dolo, aboard the flag ship Silont, decided to make his animus known to all. The slaughter was immediate for the defenseless Heretabu. The forniusk gravity sphere was then deliberately pushed into a trajectory that took it squarely in Lovos's path. The star's gravity field and hydrogen fission was irreversibly ruptured by the dark-matter force as the sphere impacted its surface.
The ensuing chain reaction forced the giant star to shred itself into a supernova that destroyed star systems thousands of light years away. Tens of billions of aliens from countless meticulously nurtured and evolved worlds were eradicated in the span of less than an hour. The cost was staggering, most of the core systems forming the Obsidion Trust obliterated along with a sizable number of cargo ships and personnel transports. It was a huge victory in light of the stunning collapse of the Kruk dynasty that had ruled Dogmae for eons.
The loss of a large portion of the Trust battle fleet was especially alarming. The hapless fleet pursuing the Kruk armada emerged from hyperspace suspension just as the blast wave was enveloping the area. They never had a chance.
The Kruk watched the eradication of millions of years of Obsidion Trust civilization from a safe distance, drowning their sorrows in the gluttonous inhalations of endorphin while triumphantly knocking aside heroic attacks by lone Obsidion ships desperate to whittle down the remaining enemy and buy time for whoever was left standing in the Realm to finish off the remaining Kruk.
With the Obsidion reeling and their stores depleted, the remaining Kruk set course for the initial source of their woes. With depleted engines needing refueling for further vengeance and their addicted crews needing both a fix and unfettered revenge, the battle fleet set course for Gol'Lotbu.