Man's mistakes come back to haunt them in a gripping tale of revenge and deceit.
Chapter 1: Steel Trap
Andrem'el was motionlessly perched atop a reddish mesa looking out, as solar winds whipped dust across the rigid crater laden panorama. Looks like the Gobi Desert back home. He mused. This planet was much like any other he'd visited in the past. Only this one was quite a distance from Earth. The sky a hazy yellowish green flecked with orange tinted clouds with gray centers. Compared to home's azure blue sky and milk white clouds, this place looked like a giant sky of lemon sherbet
Two golden yellow suns marred the sky. One midway on the horizon line slowly chasing its counterpart. The other resting north east of the first, teasing its partner like the tortoise and a hare. Not a soul in sight. What was this planet called again? He thought he would call it Temoria. It sounded way better then Planet Z7-632b. Besides, Temoria reminded him of his wife back home on Earth. Temora. After losing his train of thought pondering what his wife was doing at that moment he quickly bounced back to the task at hand.
Effortlessly, he bent down in his space suit to pick a casual rock from its nest of dust and debris. The suit was quite bulky and dampening on his mood. Normally, his suit is more fitting to his build, however a recent accident on another contract made use of that one near impossible. For now he was stuck with an over sized , hardly mobile variant. Gaining as much feeling as he could through his thick and not-so-nimble gloves, he rubbed his fingers together crushing the soft silvery brittle rock into dust. As he released the rock, the surface winds quickly claimed another dust cloud to its bellows emphasizing the emptiness in Andrem'el's stomach. He wanted to finish fast so he could enjoy a well deserved hot meal. He hadn't had anything to eat since the journey out to this planet.
Is there anything here?
Echoes of that one particular thought pranced through his head. Strangely comforting compared to the normal routine of solving complex problems. A smirk quickly glanced the corner of his mouth.
“It's perfect.” He mumbled aloud.
“What was that boss?” came a brutish voice through the earpiece in his helmet.
“Nothing Felgore... Get the mobile construction mechs prepped and underway. We have our site.”
“Roger that.” Was the response that resounded in his ear. After, a swishing noise of electrical static and components humming was quickly heard and then silenced as the large invisible voice disappeared over the com.
Andrem'el was accustomed to having orders followed to the tee and his current crew emphasized their loyalty by obeying them quickly. His orders were quick and to the point. No sense in wasting time was his motto. He was of a medium build with broad shoulders and his gait was more of one with purpose rather then whimsical. The style of facial hair suggested a man no more than 40, however the crow's feet under his eyes told the whole story of a wisdom not easily earned. Being in his mid fifties was taking its toll on his body. His knees would give way randomly and the salt-and-pepper style hair was becoming more salt then pepper. He was largely a stern sounding individual, but those who knew him better would say he had a rather large heart and the callousness was only a ruse. More was to be said of his wit then anything else. Problems quickly dissolved in the steel trap of Andrem'el's mind. No problem was beyond his particular creative solutions. His many years worked to his benefit here, where he could draw upon his myriad of experiences. But. . . that's why they hired him.
With intent and vision in his mind, Andreme'el set himself in motion back toward camp and crew. Not to mention that hot meal. His stomach's roaring was becoming near deafening. A thousand orders quickly maneuvered in his mind, but the puzzle had to be solved just right. While on his stroll back to camp, he laboriously filtered the thoughts into logical succession fighting off the persistent thoughts of hunger.
“Sir!” quickly intruded on the deep process of thought organization. The voice was female and in a hurried tone.
“Go ahead...” Andrem'el acknowledged.
“I think we are having an issue with the natives.”
Not wanting to sound too annoyed by having been disturbed, Andrem'el understood that the natives could possibly be a serious issue and there was plenty of opportunities to solve the puzzle later.
“What kind of issue Ferra?”
“Well sir, they are eating our food...more specifically, just the water and attacking the ore reserves.” Great. Looks like that meal will have to be postponed. His stomach grumbled in disagreement with the news.
Weighing the severity of consequences that could arise, he made a snap decision.
“Proceed to secure the water stores. If the natives get too close, our stomachs take priority for right now. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use deadly force if you don't have to.”
“Understood.” Ferra quickly responded.
Now, where was I...Ah yes, the power conv......food...
Slowly losing himself in thought again, Andrem'el continued his journey back to camp. This time, uninterrupted for the rest of the way. Outside of the occasional grumblings of his barren gullet.
Chapter 2: The Real Target
Opening the window to her New York apartment window, she let in a rush of sounds from the frenzied street. These same sounds of a bustling city had put her to sleep night after night as a child like a dull background lullaby. For a time, she thought she would have gone absolutely berserk at the constant ruckus rearing its head at her. After realizing she is no longer at the corporate office on Terra, she welcomed the all too familiar pleasantry. Like a sweet melody remembered from a more simple time long since past. She made a mad dash toward her elaborately adorned bar for a night cap. Her drink of choice was the Uranian Sunset. Calmly she lifted the decanter of purplish liquid. After casually pouring out the sweet smelling liquid, she topped it off with a dash of cherry liquor. The cherry slowly blending in with purple looked like the sunset on Uranus giving the drink its name. Needing a fix from the drudgery of the day, she gulped the first serving and proceeded to arrange the next in her rock glass. The ice, barely even having been melted. Ah, the sweet, sweet taste of home.
The wall screen sensing motion in the room, abruptly turned on and was chiming away about the latest implant that you needed to purchase. “Improve your memory! Now only 2000 credits!” She wanted to throw her Uranian Sunset clear across the room at the screen for destroying that little piece of solitude. The powerful drink is known for the byproduct of increased endorphins and aggression while giving off a tasteful high in the back of one's head. Her demeanor, however, was one of a professional. Irritated only on the inside at the incessant chatter box. She quickly searched for the remote.
Her gaze was penetrating to the core and complimented her seductive lips. She had the kind of look that would tear right through you and still entice you in for more. The look of a real succubus. Her fiery red hair was cropped up in a fashionable bun holstered together with a diamond studded hairpin. Once she located the troublesome remote, drink in hand, she focused on the acquisition of her savior from the squawk box. Her black dress barely covered her knees while she made a hastily retrieval of her electronic friend, and was very form fitting with a matching blazer accentuating the slim waste line and curvy bust. Most men would consider her an attractive woman and much gossip at the water cooler stood testament to her beauty. Those who knew her well though, dare not speak out in public around her about it.
After remedying the the wall screen predicament, she slouched into her arm chair of imported brass studded Italian leather. The chair and drink together swallowed away her cares of the day. She sat there content while listening to the hustle of the city that never sleeps. While slowly melting her cares away, the calm was disturbed not more then thirty seconds into the reverie. Her communications terminal, that was standard in every room, began to invade her realm of attention with a blaring audacity.
“I just got home! Can't you give me five minutes to myself!?” The question was futile once reason kicked in. She knew the responsibilities she had taken on when she accepted the position. In the end, it was the paycheck that sealed her fate of never being able to be alone again with her thoughts. A very sought after commodity by her.
Quickly she gathered her composure and pressed the touch screen to activate on voice only mode from the remote panel embedded in the arm of her chair. She did not want her caller to see the drink in hand slouching in her comfy chair while carrying on a conversation.
“Yes?” Not wanting to give away her irritation, or her unprofessional position, she projected her voice with an overtone of authority ready to take on any adverse condition she was to be made aware of. It was more of a statement then a question.
“Ca'lara. We have a problem. Seems the construction team on the surface is running into some local rabble.” The voice was male and in a hushed tone. She knew immediately it was her assistant on the other end of the terminal. She was half halfheartedly expecting complications with this type of project.
“How much of a setback is this going to be?” Ca'lara demanded, swirling her drink over the ice cubes.
“Depends on how soon he can quell the natives. He is capable. I don't imagine it will take long.” Not wanting to arouse her anger, the answer came across in a tone both subservient and fond of its master.
“Well....get him on the horn and find out. I need answers. We don't deal in unknowns.” She took another gulp of her purplish pleasure.
“Yes ma'am.” The terminal silenced and the call ended message displayed.
Kicking off her heels, she began to probe the possibilities of what a rebellion on the surface would cost and how much of a set back it would be. She took another sip of her luxurious medicine and arose from the chair to pace the length of her living room. Her piercing stare going inward now to ponder. Neither the financial burden of an uprising nor the wasted time to quell it were acceptable to her. Not liking any of the outcomes, she began to furiously work out a resolve that would appease the investors and her temper. After all, they were her real target. With a triumphant humph , she set her drink down and proceeded to stroll over to the communications terminal on the wall. With a cool head she began to search for that one contact she relied on so much in the past. The terminal beeping away at each press. Success.
“Ya.....” The voice on the other end answered in an off handed way. Neither seeming to care, nor appearing to be uninterested, yet unmistakeably not human.
“The project is experiencing a minor set back. I need you to get down to the surface and get me some real time intel. I can play this one better when I know exactly what's going on....” She purred after the emphasis was placed, happy with her plan.
“And don't worry. The usual price will be credited to your account.”
“No.” The response was quick and well thought out. Straight to the point. “I know what this one is worth to you. My price went up half a mil....non-negotiable.”
Furious at the notion she was being blackmailed, her cheeks flushed a deep red to match her well groomed hair. Gritting her teeth and keeping her anger in check she politely answered.
“Fine....” The word was thick with contempt. “Just make sure you contact me as soon as your there. Andrem'el will undoubtedly be reporting in with the gate under construction. It shouldn't be too much longer after that for you to jump in unnoticed.” Biting her tongue to hold back a plethora of insults and insinuations of inferiority...her cheeks returned to their natural rosy color.
“Agreed. I will be in contact.”
She was envious and loathing at the same time toward the voice, however, her purple delight quickly reclaimed her attention again. Once again a cunning smile crossed her lips.
Chapter 3: Just Gotta Stop And Smell The Roses
After nearly breaking an ankle and twisting a knee hundreds of times on the foreign planet, Andrem'el was ecstatic at the site of camp. Elation quickly gave way to curiosity. And curiosity quickly giving way to a penetrating real time assessment of the damage that he would have to clean up. He could only surmise at this point about what exactly had been done, but his mind was fit enough to make a relatively close hypothesis toward the actual outcome.
“Ferra. Report.” His thoughts first went to his companions. Then the equipment.
Ferra was a Tengurian who stood tall and slender. They rarely stood under six foot tall and held fast to their slender frames. None of them weighing more then 200lbs. Ferra was of the female variety for her race. Judging by the looks of Tengurians, it was exceptionally hard to tell the opposite sex apart. A common mistake most often made while having a few drinks at the local pub. Which in turn would lead into an all out brawl as soon as someone couldn't hold their liquor. Luckily, Andrem'el was a married man and didn't have to worry about such nuances. He knew she was a female and the only Tengurian around.
“We lost about three quarters of our water supply and a couple ton in raw material..Our mechs will have to replace that ore... Why the hell would they go for the ore?”
“Good question. What do we know about our new friends? Have you checked the on board database against threats in this quadrant?”
“Well considering we were sent to a relatively new area in space for humankind, our info is limited at best. We're flyin blind here. The best I can give ya is the optic feed we got from the mechs and perimeter cams. We got some signature analysis scans too...but...”
“Spit it out Ferra. We don't have the time for your Oscar winning drama performances.”
“The analysis came back human sir.”
“We checked and double checked sir. The results were human. I ran a diagnostic on the sub systems.... came back same.”
“Do we have any rogue colonies out this far or clandestine military ops?”
“Not that I know. As far as I can remember, this section of space was uninhabited period. We just recently got the intel from the survey drones. Those scans didn't show anything about intelligent organic life. Just your typical small varieties here and there...or, that that life was human even.”
“Well, this certainly puts a spin on the things then. What about the MCB's? Did Felgore get the construction bots up and running?”
“Yes sir. A squad has already set up mining and refining ops at your target location.”
“Good, at least we can start moving around some of the pieces of this puzzle. Felgore come in.”
“Yes sir.” Felgore's response always made Andrem'el take a step back at the impact it made.
“Felgore, dispatch another squad of mechs asap and have them start building the jump gate. Ca'lara is going to want results and a status report shortly. Get them working on that site immediately. The sooner we get that gate open, the sooner we can reinforce our supplies. We won't last too long out here without water.”
“Already on it.”
“Ferra, I will be there momentarily and I want those prelim scans sent to my helmet's heads up display. Give me what optic feeds you have, I want a closer look at 'em. I need to find out just whats going on here with our new found friends.”
“Yes sir. Patching through now...Sir? If I might inquire here...why didn't you take a rover or buggy out there? Why walk all that way?”
“You know Ferra, when I was younger I would have thought the same thing. 'No sense wastin' time.' When you get older, sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the roses. It's not everyday we get sent out to a new piece of rock in the universe. Guess I just wanted to take it all in. Plus, Doc back home says I need the excersize.”
Chapter 4: Playing it Close
Ca'lara knew the value of what she had stumbled upon as soon as she had read the fragmented research data. Being a professional business woman gave her the opportunity to develop her insight, and gather connections that would later prove invaluable toward her personal interests. Having an ivy league education played a small role as well. She marveled at the implications it would mean if the data could be reconstructed to its original form. She never in a million years would have guessed organic life was created before the mecha era. Much less created by humans. Not just created, but harnessed. Her mind danced with the possibility of having an endless supply of servants that would do her bidding without question. And for free! She drooled at the possibilities of owning the patent on creating life.
To make sense of the process, she would need a live specimen. Did such a thing even exist? Surely, they must have created at least one to validate the process, or refine the product. And so her search began for the ever elusive walking experiment. Wanting, needing to know more, her endless pursuit of all the research data across the globe, had cost her a small fortune. A price she was willing to pay. Her resources were not endless, but having held very high positions within mega corps most of her life afforded her certain advantages toward materialistic possession. Whenever stumbling blocks presented themselves, she often reminded herself of the prize to be won. The ability to create life. She was fed by her obscene fantasies and images of being on a throne before her creation. It pushed her to great lengths to acquire the data in its entirety. Sometimes in blood. Other times, at the expense of her bank account. The ends justified the means to her. No matter the ends.
When she finally came across the possibility of a live example on a distant planet, she pounced on the opportunity. After nearly going broke a dozen times over, wisdom had afforded her an intellect to contrive a plan in which all parties would benefit and yet still achieve her personal goal simultaneously. She would have her live specimen, and the other parties exclusive rights to new avenues of revenue generation. What she needed now was a proposal to hide her goal and a board of investors to foot the bill.
The mythical texts disguised as research data pointed to a star system just barely within the grasp of modern day technology. The Osirian system. Here she would find her prize. So many moons populated the system and how to justify a roaming search party? Ore mining was her solution. Each planet and moon would have to be surveyed and a gate constructed to jump the materials back. It was perfect. Now, the only thing that was missing was an ore that would solidify the investors backing. Fortunately for Ca'lara, one such ore did exist in that system. Numerous scouts and probes were sent before hand to gather intel on the Osirian system. There, Chromite was found in excess. Chromite was used back on Earth for many systems within the mecha. Most often it was used as a lightweight durable plate on the exterior mounts of mechs. It's high heat resistance properties made it ideal and cheaply produced in quantity. On a smaller scale, it was often found as a solid conductor for the printed circuit boards. Chromite was strip mined from the planets surface, however it became more rarer then gold once mech production boomed. Needing a longer lasting source, companies trying to maintain dominance in the mech market often sent out survey drones to remote systems in search of Chromite. All Ca'lara had to do was convince her particular board that Chromite was extremely abundant in the Osirian system. Once the investors were on board, the rest fell like clockwork.
Fortunately for Ca'lara, Osiria had large quantities of Chromite on the surface. This made her selling point even more appealing. If mines did not have to be constructed it would increase the profit of collected Chromite a hundred fold. Surface harvesters were substantially cheaper to operate, and only required a single jump to their destination for production to begin. Mines that needed to be constructed, had to be parted out, and each part jumped then assembled costing companies a great deal of time and investment.
Eagerly, her plan was coming to fruition. The only bit so far she was having a hard time chewing on was the jump gate construction. Mecha did not possess the creative solutions that sometimes were needed. The devil, as they say, is in the details. She needed a competent crew that new how to get the job done and not ask too many questions. It was here, she stumbled upon Andrem'el and his entourage. An ore merc for hire. His reputation was certainly the caliber Ca'lara was looking for. Most jobs on his resume touted being brought in early and under budget. Three words Ca'lara absolutely loved.
Having her map, finances, and crew for hire all in place, Ca'lara tipped the first domino over and watched as the rest tumbled down. Her newly discovered creation would soon be within grasp.
Chapter 5: A Swirling Rainbow
The optic feeds Ferra piped over were cryptic at best. The attacks certainly didn't look organized and he found it particularly hard to believe that what he was looking at was even remotely close to being human. What he was watching was nothing more then a whirlwind of chaos. Plain and simple. Any attempt at a logical explanation was pure fantasy at this point. He reviewed the feeds meticulously one by one and from every conceivable angle that was recorded. It just made no sense. How could these little creatures have shown up on the scanners as being human?
Many questions swirled inside his mind as to what exactly was going on. The further questions that arose where why the ore? A primitive looking race like this clearly wouldn't know what to do with ore. Would they? Water, was easily understood. All living creatures need water for sustenance. That's a primitive instinct. Albeit a necessity. But ore?
Andrem'el decided in no easy manner that a scouting party to find the little enigmas would be necessary. He really didn't have the time to sacrifice, but if he didn't quell the issue now, or at least find out what he was up against, it could prove to be disastrous in the long run if left unchecked. With a firm resolve the decision to launch a scouting party was forged.
“Ferra, Felgore.” Andrem'el had a steel in his voice now.
“Sir.” Felgore was the first to respond.
“Sir?” Ferra quickly piped up.
“We need to launch a scouting party. We can't have these types of intrusions any more. Ca'lara will have my hide if this project doesn't come through on budget. Rendezvous with me at the south entrance to camp. Felgore, if we can spare a couple of mechs, I don't think it would hurt. Ferra, I need you to recalibrate those scanners again. Double check, and then double check again. We need to make absolutely sure of what we are after. I can't have malfunctioning equipment on this one. Have the scanners hone in on the dna signatures from the previous scans.”
“Yes sir.” Felgore's brutish voice boomed over the com.
“Alright cap.” Ferra's response was concise and almost melodic.
Gathered at the camp's south entrance the three stood locking down equipment and making sure the suits were fastened tight. Andrem'el still having his bulky suit was a little more then upset at not having his regular now.
Felgore was a giant in comparison to the other two. If one would want an analogy, Felgore and Ferra looked like Laurel and Hardy from Earth's comedic history. Andrem'el looked like a kid in the presence of the other two. Felgore looking much like how his voice sounded. Massive. He stood roughly equivalent to ten feet tall by Human standards. His girth was no less impressive. Hulking around, he could easily have caused the ground to shake under his weight. He was a portable sized elephant coming close to two ton by himself. Ferra in stark contrast looked like a twig when standing next to the brute.
His home planet was only recently discovered, but because of their polite attitudes, Azorians were quickly befriended by the Terrans. Azorians were widely known for their calm almost jovial demeanor. Upon first appearances, Earth thought they had found an infamous war like race inhabiting their neck of the woods. Much to their surprise, and relief, this was not the case. Azorians lived in a fierce surrounding on their home world, forcing mutations to occur out of necessity. Their hides were thick and scaly, much likes Earth's dinosaurs and roughly the same hues and colors. Earthy browns and fauna greens flecked their naturally occurring armor. The scales themselves resembled diamonds. Both incredibly hard and majestically faceted at the same time. Because the Azorian's hide was so thick and their ability to not have to breath Oxygen, space suits never even crossed their minds making them able to traverse even the toughest of terrains. A wise choice for any ore crew in Andrem'el's mind.
“I am sorry sir, we couldn't spare any mechs. What reserves we had, had to be dispatched to ore mining to replace lost material.” Felgore hoped this wouldn't upset Andrem'el.
“Alright. Guess we will have to make due.” Andrem'el understood that the jump gate took precedence at this point. However, he still didn't like the fact of not being able to take at least a couple of the hulking body guards. Granted Felgore could hold his own, he really wasn't much of a fighter. Preferring the quite solitude of a book any day of the week.
Having their orders and supplies in check, the three set out on their journey. Not long after following the bleeps and blips of Ferra's re-calibrated equipment, the outfit came across what looked like an empty door frame made of stone in the middle of nowhere. No vegetation. Just a whole in the foliage out of nowhere. Ferra's scanner was going berserk at this point.
Andrem'el stood hovering over the stone portal intrigued by it's design. While searching over the sigils inscribed on door, a notification popped up on his heads up display. Taking precious time away from his attention, he proceeded to read the message. The jump gate was well under way and almost completely constructed even amidst the setback of missing material. He quickly addressed the new message and forwarded a copy off to Ca'lara to keep her abreast of the situation. Soon, that paycheck would be deposited into his account. A fact that always made him more calm. Not because of the money, but the peace of mind it brought with his wife, Temora. If she was happy, he was happy.
Here we are though. He thought. The possibility of human life light years from home on a remote planet's moon. The question alone begged so many questions. But for now, Andrem'el had to contend with what looked like a see through door frame made of stone.
The door itself was made of what looked like sandstone and mortar. The smaller stones that the frame was set upon were fashioned in a radiating pattern. The stones on the ground themselves resembled pavers of Earth. The design of the rocks however were unmistakeably alien. The enigmatic shapes were not of Terran design. Andrem'el was completely fascinated with the construction of a doorway in the middle of nowhere. As he pondered the alien design, he absent mindedly traced his fingers over the weather worn sigils on the stones surface.
Not moments after tracing the alien patterns, a humming noise whirred from under the rocks. Andrem'el, Ferra and Felgore all backed away from the now active portal. Life seemed to flow into the once ordinary stones now. The doorway soon fell away to the earth below, and was swallowed whole by an earthy abyss. The abyss being darker then pitch black started to muster what looked like a small rainbow within its center. Growing in size, the rainbow light show engulfed the expanse. Once the radiating colors came to a stand still, Andrem'el gazed in horror at the sight below.
He, the brutish hulk and the slender Tengurian were all awestruck and frozen with fear as an ocean of war machines stood motionless at the entrance. The little skittish creatures that were seen in the optic feeds gave their ingenious disguise a toss and began to adorn silver armor and walk upright. Ferra's scanner beeping continuously in the background. Their faces as they appeared on the video surveillance were mere masks. Standing straight now and walking on two legs, recognizing their humanness was quite easily achieved.
Impossible! The thoughts screamed in Andrem'el's mind.
The master's of disguise moved to form ranks directly in front of the sea of endless mecha. The last creature to undergo a transformation stood at the fore front and pierced Andrem'el with its murderous gaze. Clearly if there was a leader among them, this was it. His gaze was filled with hate and malice, contorting his once human eyes to something even more fiendish. The leader slowly peeled away its mask with a slow deliberateness as to emphasize it's coming out. With an air of contempt and wrath, he threw the mask to the ground and fashioned a silver breastplate to his torso. Breaking the steadfast gaze with Andrem'el, the lone creature turned toward the others and the mass sea of mecha. With a baleful cry reminiscent of a Viking warrior, one word tore throught the air around them.
Andrem'el wanted to run, and run now! That long gutteral howl paralyzed him.
The lone menace's arm flew in the direction toward the three and his hand pointed out toward the lemon Temorian sky. His index finger singling out one of the two sons as if to blame all his hatred on that lone star. His mouth frothing. The vein in his forehead protruding with the pulse in his hate filled heart. Eyes bloodshot. With that one motion, the mecha came to life in a whir of servos and pistons. Their eyes lit an eery bluish purple as they powered to life at their master's hair raising wail. The other sectarian humans responded to their leaders cry with a howl of their own. A true symphony of malevolence. The hate twisted faces molded even more with his bellowing. And with that , the whole mass started to march toward the opening. The distinct sound of energy weapons powering up was unmistakeable. Once on the move, the thunderous sounds of the millions of feet synchronously pounding the earth beneath them, made Felgore's heart drop and Ferra's stomach wrench with fear.
Andrem'el and his companions stood no chance. A fact that hammered him in the face again and again as his eyes searched for the end of the army. There was none. They had to get out of there to warn Earth. To warn Ca'lara to get the word out! The three regained their composure at the ensuing onslaught. With an ability to think and move again, the companions took off at a full bore run back toward camp. Scurrying through the brush, another message displayed on Andrem'el's heads up display. The gate was complete. No! Not now! For once Andrem'el cursed the efficiency of the construction bots, and had nothing but thorough disgust for the engineer's for not embedding a remote shutdown command.
Chapter 6: Awaiting the Prize
When the last construction mech had placed the final bolt and flicked the power to the gate, an automated message was sent to Ca'lara's personal messaging system. Nothing fancy, just a simple 'Surface Gate Operational'. This was excellent news to Ca'lara. She knew Andrem'el and his crew would not fail her. Quickly enacting on the message, she hurriedly placed a call on her com system to the shadowy figure. Another domino falling into place.
“Looks like I don't need your intel any more. Andrem'el's reputation is well deserved. Pity. I do however, require your expertise still on the surface. The gate is complete. Get their and get back quickly. Make it clean and untraceable.” With that Ca'lara ended the conversation. She sat anxiously awaiting her victory trophy sipping another Uranian Sunset while absent mindedly shutting off her messaging system for the night. Tomorrow was going to bring excellent news.
Chapter 7: Small Details
Nearly out of breath and completely exhausted from running, Andrem'el needed to get the message out. Earth would not survive an ambush of this magnitude. Just who were they!? But there was no time to ponder the thought now. His heart slowly choked up to his throat at the thought of his wife having to face such an enemy. The horrid visions now plagued his normally calm mind. Snapping back to reality, his first thought was to let Ca'lara know to shut down the gate from her end. No response from Ca'lara's end. Wait, he could shut the gate down from his end! Destroy it an that would be the end of it. The three however would probably not escape the serpent's trail of metal not far behind them. So be it. If he didn't know what true courage was before, he sure was getting his fill now. Trial by fire.
Finally, having a moments rest after reaching their destination, the three stopped momentarily at the south entrance to get a drink of water. In that brief instant of a pause, eternity had set in. The rules of the game had quickly changed. And none for the better. Andrem'el bent over to grab the container of water near his feet. In that single instant he heard a pain filled cry booming from Felgore's throat. They had been double crossed and Andrem'el new exactly by whom.
Felgore had been struck in the center of his chest with some sort of beam weapon, leaving a gaping cavity where his heart should have been. Probably plasma, seeing how the wound was characterized by the cauterized wounds. It didn't take long for Felgore to meet his maker there after. Next came Ferra. Two more shots were fired and landed squarely on their mark. Ferra didn't even have time to let out a wail. The first of the shots landed dead center of her esophagus rendering her larynx obsolete. The second severing her head clean off. Andrem'el was the last of the assassin's targets. Pictures of his wife's hair swaying to an fro were the last images he would ever see. His eyes rolled in the back of his head as the third shot still sounded echoing off the trees nearby.
“It's done Ca'lara.” The assassin's message was short and sweet. Knowing her com was off, the standby service would have to suffice. The assassin went over the evidence with a strategic prowess. All looked in order according to his many years of experience. With the last of the evidence destroyed, he set the construction bots to make the jump back to the corporation platform and proceeded to eviscerate the rest of the three's personal affects and ship. No trace of this incident was to ever cross that data logs. Neither from Ca'lara's end , or Andrem'el's. Once he was back on Terran soil, he would take care of the small details that were left. Namely, Andrem'el's wife. After planting the last explosive he caught a rustle in the brush. The rustle became a loud patterned thump. The thump became a crash as the first of the war mechs broke through the foliage. Images of a silvery breastplate and sounds of plasma rounds being fired off were imprinted on the assassin's mind as it was splattered across the local fauna. Having dealt with the last moving target, the serpent's tail of metal approached the now active jump gate.
Chapter 8: Pinnacle Of Achievement
Terran history was part myth, part fact and part human heart. But one thing is quite certain: It was not without its mistakes.
Not long ago a thriving civilization was on the precipice of it's greatest masterpiece. Emulation of the divine. Terran's having long sought after the divine's power, slowly progressed to a point of being able to create life. Creation alone wasn't enough. After creation came creation with a purpose. In the history and plight of Earth's inhabitants, war and servitude were the two factions of thought that proved most lucrative to both bill folds and egos.
Having a goal in mind of one, a subservient race; and two, a race to conquer nations at the mere cost of resources, the Pri' Ja-ere were born. They represented the flaws that humanity held worked into perfection. They were immune to disease, had great strength, and an endless fortitude. Resilience was the blanket that kept them warm at night.
Mankind marveled at its newest creation. Doting heavily on the first step, the first walk, the first syllable as a father to his own child. They toasted and patted each on the back as their creation came to fruition within laboratory walls. Now, the meaningless work would have a laborer. The soldier in the field could be one born of a test tube and not a Terran womb. No more folded flags to mothers. The helium three mines on the moon had workers aplenty. As did the coal and salt mines of Terran soil. At last. Peace and prosperity could be found on the lips and in the pocket books of every Terran and on the back of every Pri' Ja-ere.
Not long after the celebration of a new creation in Earth's soil came the question of all sentient life forms. Independence. In mankind's abhorrence of natural law, one thing was forgotten. Creation's right to free will. Whether created or naturally occurring, life should be able to choose for itself.
The Pri' Ja-ere quickly recognizing the bondage they were placed into started to raise the usual questions of a logical mind. Why can't I have a place of my own? Why can't I choose my own path before me? Why must I die for another's cause? Is it not my right to live my own life the way I see fit? What makes you so much better than I to tell me what to do without question? Why do I labor for your profit? Should it not be my own?
Mankind did not agree. In their eyes the created were to obey the creator on the simple premise: you are the created. Sensing a change in their new found pets obedience, mankind quickly sought a solution to quench the problematic thoughts before they were acted out. However, the Pri' Ja-ere having an extremely agile mind were expediently enacting a plan to gain mastery over their oppressors. Mankind seeking to correct it's own shortcomings had developed an archenemy unknowingly. Not long after, nations banded together to seek a way to expunge the new determined blight.
The war did not go as planned. Mankind conceived every possible extermination tactic it could toward the Pri' Ja-ere. Having been created to be as resilient as a cockroach, it was all a futile attempt. One idea did come to pass, thankfully. A gas was to be created to knock them out and at least buy mankind some time to figure out what to do with them. While the numbers were in the Terrans favor, a world wide round up of the created abominations was enacted. The next step was a little more tricky. The issue arose of what to do with them once again came to pass. One idea that was favored was planetary exile. But where? And so, the loading of the new found space junk was under way. Once the last of the last were rounded up, the mass jettison took place. Mankind offered a giant cheer once again as the plumes of warp drives bent the clouds on planetary exit. The destination was a remote sun. Many, many light years away. It was theorized that the warp fuel wouldn't even be able to take them that far, but man didn't care. All seemed on point. The sun would deal indifferently with man's mistake.
Once the Pri' Ja-ere awakened from their intoxicated sleep, they made quick work as to figure out how to survive. The few that woke in time to realize their demise were able to avoid extermination. Most of the others were not so fortunate. Those that survived sought a planet of their own to inhabit. Their numbers were greatly thinned during the exodus. Once locating a suitable planet, the plan was simple. Gain numbers back in their ranks and seek revenge against the creators.
Upon developing a culture all their own, the Pri Ja-ere's technology now rivaled that of their Terran creators. They were able to genetically reproduce themselves. The downside to the procreation process was the excessive amount of water and materials that it took. Not being constructed with a womb or reproductive organs led to quite a few setbacks. Noticing the planet scape they chose, there was barely enough water for survival and food stores were at a minimum. So a new plan took place. They would salvage what they could of Terran technology to fashion an incubator to replicate. Most of the ships remained in tact and the rest of the technology could be deciphered with time. Here was their means. Revenge the motive, and time was on their side. It was no longer a question of if they would invade, but when.
Man however, thinking all was back at peace with the universe, quickly forgot about it's self created nemesis and was already on to bigger and better things. Remembering enough of their first mistake, they set out now to build a better version within technology. That in turn led to the mass mechanization of the Terran culture. After all, machines were more easily able to be controlled.
In the wake of that joyous moment when the planet was ridden of hostiles, almost all data on the Pri' Ja-ere was erased from history. Not wanting to admit their mistake, mankind quickly forgot about them and let the tides of time wash away their sins. Numerous wars and petty squabbles over shiny metals and ideas, made haste of their now recognized unruly error. Only fragments of their existence remained in research data within companies scattered throughout the Earth. Here, they patiently awaited to be discovered yet again.