The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part One – First Encounter
(This is a practice in writing. Very little editing has been done. To find out more about this sci-fi space opera, see my previous post on the introduction.)
“Sir. We’re getting a distress signal from the Melna sector.”
“Report,” the captain of the Core Alliance vessel directed as he became suddenly vigilant. Almost nothing happened out here on the edge of the Alliance territory. Captain Robert Arden and his crew had been cruising the borders for ten days now with absolutely no activity. It was usually like this, but to not monitor the borders was to invite trouble from their enemies. Today, it looked like trouble was inviting them.
On the other side of their border was free space, where peoples from all over the galaxy gathered at the nearby space station for trade. Anyone coming into Alliance space were supposed to go to the Melna check-in post, but every once in a while someone would sneak through.
“It’s a Tredon ship, Sir,” the communication officer said with confusion.
“A Tredon ship?” Commander J.T. Hapker queried. “It could be a trap.”
Robert silently agreed. For the Tredons to send a distress signal when they weren’t even supposed to be here was indeed suspicious. The Tredons were enemies of the Core Alliance. They were a dangerous warrior race and the primary race which his crew was supposed to patrol against.
“Sir,” the communication officer added with incredulity in his voice, “They state they are being pursued by the Grapnes.”
Curious, Robert wondered silently. Why would the Grapnes pursue the Tredons? It was foolish to the extreme. Even more curious, why would the Tredons run? “Forward Jensin the coordinates,” he ordered. “Jensin, intercept.”
“Something doesn’t sound right,” Hapker said, voicing Robert’s concern out loud.
“Handly,” Robert called. “Can you identify the makes of the two ships? Perhaps this will help make sense of this odd situation.”
“It’s still a bit far, Sir. But we’ll be in range shortly, Captain.”
A slight jolt in the ship indicated their vessel’s change of direction and speed. Jensin called out the speed increments and indicated they were headed towards the nearby solar system, Hellana. Robert Arden and his commander monitored.
“The Tredon ship is just a small Serpent. The Grapnes ship is actually an Angolan Cougar,” the officer reported.
That explains it, the captain thought. The Serpents were small ships intended for quick and silent travel. Since almost all Tredon ships had weapons, the Serpent was basically a fighting cargo ship. It was versatile and quick, a great cargo ship for hit and run pirating, but not for sustained battle.
The Cougar, on the other hand, was a full-fledged fighting ship. Generally, the Grapnes used smuggling ships. They weren’t much of a warrior race at all – more like scavengers. They no doubt pilfered this Cougar and made it their own.
Despite having a fighting ship, the Grapnes rarely attacked other ships unless they were certain they were going to succeed. The Tredon ship must have been considered vulnerable and valuable enough for the Grapnes to risk such an attack, Robert thought. Still, they are Tredons. What could be so valuable for the Grapnes to risk attacking such a fierce warrior race?
“We’re in visual range, Captain,” another officer announced.
“On screen,” Robert replied.
The front window of the ship flickered to a new scene. The black and sleek Serpent ship zoomed into view pursued by an older model Cougar. Both ships were firing upon one another. The Cougar was yellowish, like its animal namesake. And despite its older model, it was keeping pace with the Serpent ship. No doubt, this Cougar model had an upgrade. Robert briefly wondered how the Grapnes had managed it.
The Serpent raced towards Pensla, a small virtually uninhabited planet. Although this planet supported life, humans could not stay on it long and survive. Sure, they could survive a few weeks. But eventually the air would poison them. Therefore, it was simply a small mining planet. It had some necessary minerals that were mined by specialists, but was not permanently inhabited.
“Brenson,” the captain called to the communications officer, “Open a channel to both ships.”
“This is Captain Robert Arden of the Core Alliance ship, Odyssey. You are in Alliance territory in violation of the Ornman Treaty and committing criminal acts by use of your firepower. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon.”
“We will be within firing range in less than 20 clicks,” Jensin said when the com channel was closed.
As Robert’s ship followed the intruding ships and awaited a response from their captains, he and his crew watched the pursuit continue.
“What are they doing?” Commander Hapker asked out loud but more to himself as the Serpent raced directly towards the planet.
“It looks like they’re going to try a skimming maneuver,” Jensin offered.
“They’d better be damned good pilots to try that,” the commander replied. A skimming maneuver ignited a planet’s upper atmosphere. Doing so would blind the pursuers and the fleeing ship would be able to change direction and hopefully lose their pursuers as they hid on the other side of the planet. The danger was that if not hit just right, the explosion could ignite the very ship setting it.
The captain watched in amazement as the explosion filled a large portion of the planet’s upper atmosphere. Did it work, he wondered?
“Where’s the Serpent?” the commander demanded.
The Cougar fired chaotically in and around the explosion. They couldn’t see the Serpent either.
“There it is!” an officer yelled. The screen focused on the Serpent as it flew away from the inferno. Amazingly, it had succeeded in pulling off the skimming maneuver and was making its way around the planet.
Suddenly, a stray shot from the Cougar hit the Serpent just before it went out of range. The ship that had just successfully performed an amazing tactic now spiraled out of control.
“Cougar ship!” Robert yelled. “You will fall back at once!”
“The Serpent’s going to crash,” Commander Hapker said as the Tredon ship wobbled below into the atmosphere of the planet.
“Arm torpedoes!” Chief Security Officer Bracht ordered now that the Odyssey was within firing range.
As soon as the torpedoes were armed, the Cougar obeyed the Alliance order to fall back.
“The Cougar is hailing us, Captain. A Captain Seth.”
“Open Channel,” Robert ordered. “Captain Arden here. What are you doing firing your weapons in Alliance space?”
The main screen changed to the image of a Grapnes. He was a typical Grapnes in appearance. His body was thin and wiry, and in Robert’s opinion, sly-looking. Grapnes were notorious deceivers, although luckily not very smart.
“Captain Arden, we apologize for the intrusion,” the Grapnes entreated in a groveling tone. “We were in pursuit of these thieves and didn’t have the opportunity to seek permission.”
“I do not have any reports of thieves, Captain Seth,” Robert replied impatiently. “Protocol states you are to report it to the proper authorities. You didn’t even do this much. I can only assume you are here for a personal vendetta rather than an ordinary pursuit of a thief.”
“I assure you, Captain, my intentions are honorable.”
“I doubt that,” Commander Hapker muttered.
“Nevertheless, Captain Seth, you will stand down and await disciplinary action,” Robert commanded sternly. “Is that understood?”
“Yes, Captain Arden,” the Grapnes said meekly.
The screen switched back to the full view of the planet scene. The Serpent was nowhere in sight.
“The Serpent has crashed,” one of the officers on the bridge reported.
“Unknown. The atmosphere distorts our scans.”
“Commander, take a team of medical personnel down to the surface. And two teams of security as well.” They were dealing with a warrior race, after all. And they were likely to be very angry about being shot down.
“Yes, Sir,” Commander Hapker replied.
“Sir!” the officer called, “It looks like the Grapnes are sending a team down as well.”
“Hurry,” Robert admonished the commander as he was leaving the bridge.
Commander J.T. Hapker and his team landed just outside of a firefight. It was four, no three Grapnes as one fell, against one Tredon. And not just any one. It was a child. Hapker would have been stunned to immobility if it hadn’t been for his training.
He and his team raced towards the scene, weapons in hand.
“Deflectors up and hold fire,” J.T. yelled to his team.
In the few moments it took them to reach the scene, all four Grapnes were down. A boy of about ten cycles of age turned to them with his phaser aimed right at them.
“Hold fire,” J.T. reminded his team as he came to an abrupt halt. The Tredon child had not fired at them yet. He looked determined enough. His dark eyes glared intently. Despite his youth, he looked every inch a warrior in his black armored uniform; the way he stood defensively and threateningly with the phaser. Yet, he hesitated.
If they boy fired, Hapker and his team would be safe because of their body deflectors. But he had a feeling that it would still be a hell of a fight if the boy decided to try it.
“We’re here to help,” J.T. said as he holstered his weapon. He motioned the security of his team to do the same and signaled the medical team forward. “I have three medical officers with me. Do you or your crew members need medical attention?”
Hapker slowly let out his breath as the Tredon boy lowered his weapon. The youth had blood on his forehead and his other arm was completely broken, but he didn’t seem to notice. Painfully injured yet still fighting, Hapker thought in awe.
Without a word, the boy turned and walked back towards the crashed ship. Hapker motioned his team to follow.
The ship was a disaster. Fire, smoldering metal pieces, smoke everywhere. Just inside the gaping door of the ship were bodies. Twisted limbs, blood, pieces of tissue, and the smell of burning flesh. That anyone had survived this crash was amazing.
The boy led them in silence straight to one of the bodies. It was greatly broken, but J.T.’s scanner showed he was still alive… barely.
“Here!” J.T. yelled to get the attention of one of the doctors.
Dr. Jerom came to J.T.’s side and knelt by the body. It was another boy; older, but still young.
“We need to get him to the medical bay immediately,” Dr. Jerom said.
J.T. put a detector onto the boy and the body of the other youth.
“Put down your weapon, son,” J.T. said to the boy, “And we’ll get you both some medical attention.” The boy gave a short nod and set his weapon down. Hapker noticed with alarm that the phaser was a Tredon Star Fire. This weapon doesn’t have a stun setting, just a powerful kill setting. If this boy had fired it at them, J.T. realized, he would have penetrated their body deflectors and killed them too.
J.T. shook off his unease and focused on the situation at hand. “You three,” he pointed to the three nearest security personnel, “escort them to the medical bay.” Slapping his com, he called to his ship above, “Five to beam up, two for immediate medical attention.”
As the team disintegrated with the boy warriors, J.T. briefly reflected on what had just happened. That boy single-handedly took out four Grapnes and seemingly without emotion. J.T. wasn’t certain, everything happened so fast, but he thought he recalled the boy only firing four shots. Four Grapnes and only four shots. J.T. didn’t think he himself could have hit his marks so quickly and accurately, and under such distress. Was it a mistake to put the boy on his own ship with only three security officers to guard him? What are we getting ourselves into? J.T. wondered.
(This story is protected by copyright) Copyright August 8th, 2014 by Dawn Ross
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