(Author’s note: if you haven’t read the earlier parts of this story, you should read that first before enjoying this story. Start with "Rek'narash : Arrival”.
An alarm went off in the room as the hologram shifted to reveal a fair amount of the blob’s size had disappeared and re-appeared on the border of Grilja’s system. Half a dozen people around the hologram had started running to their stations to see what was going on.
“What happened?” questioned the commander.
“I… I don’t know, sir. A large number of ships just appeared on the edge of the system. They jus-… They’re jumping again. Four hundred strong. Three targets per defensive platform.”
“Dammit. Relay it to the other platforms and the fleet. We’re under attack.” Barked the commander, an order that was relayed almost instantly to the rest of the orbit. “Where are they?”
The hologram shifted again to reveal an image of Grilja and its orbiting platforms being taken out one by one.
“Commander. A report from the fleet. They say… Unknown enemy. Shields are powerful. Call for help.”
“Dammit. How many ships are at the edge?”
“Huh… Around two thousand units, sir. Too many to get an accurate reading at this time. We’re managing some counter-fire, but as we take out one of them, another jumps from the edge and joins the attack. They’re just clearing everything in their path. They are definitely NOT Asterion, nor anything we’ve encountered yet.”
“Could they be rebels?”
“Negative, sir. Fleet reports say they have some sort of beam-based weaponry, energy projectiles, no plasma scoring. If they’re rebels, their weaponry is far more advanced than even Asterion beam technology; they’re tearing through our fleet’s ranks and defensive platforms like butter.”
“Contact the capital on the surface. Tell them to take cover and prepare for evacuation. Also contact Dromen. Tell them to get over here; this won’t be a walk in the park.”
A cold-hearted, chilling male voice answered her:
“Your forces are taking too long.”
“I am aware. The planet is heavily defended; these… primitive structures are taking somewhat of a longer toll on our side than we had anticipated.” Yama spoke with a disgusted tone upon speaking the word ‘structures’.
“How many more do you need?”
“The incoming flow is more than sufficient, but those… star gates they have will bring us problems in the near future.”
“Their numbers will rise. The teams are standing by. You needn’t worry about the gates.”
“Of course, Deva. Shall I hasten the Culling?”
“No, you’ll spread your forces too thin. You will have your reinforcements. Proceed as planned for the time being.”
“Certainly. I will have my men force the engines if need be, Deva.”
Removing her fingers from her neck, Gehenna stared at the hologram, tapping her foot repeatedly. Hours passed and the invading ships were already halfway around the planet, still taking losses, but nothing compared to the Aynrin side. A warning sign appeared next to a small object on the hologram’s orbit and, with a wave of her hand, the hologram enhanced that object to reveal a gate, ships slowly pouring out of it. Tapping her neck again, she spoke clearly with an authoritarian tone:|
A female voice spoke from the other side of the comms, young-sounding, but with a reinvigorating and aggressive tone:
“They are coming through the gates. Join the fray, blockade them.”
“At once, Deva.”
Releasing the pressure on her neck, Gehenna forced her eyes to a squint only to notice a few dozen small dots all around the civilian station layer on the planet, feeling the invading ships. Waving her hand, the hologram shifted once more to focus on one of the vessels, only to reveal it was full of life signs. Her face beamed as she let out a smiling breath and bit her lips. Pressing her neck again, she spoke in a hasted tone:
The same childish, giggling voice answered her:
“You are observing the Culling, I assume.”
“Indeed I am. And I have noticed they seem to be evacuating the planet.”
“Good. Intercept those vessels. Start gathering the offerings.”
Kumari let out a laugh of sheer happiness as she heard the order.
“I have been expecting that order since we jumped. Gratitude, Deva!”
Releasing the pressure on her neck, Gehenna waved her hand again to focus on the planet itself once more, now with a large smile on her face.
“Just as planned.” She whispered. “Come forth and embrace the Redemption you so deserve.”
“Commander!” yelled one of the crew to the man’s far left. He seemed highly content about what he was reading on his console. “The fleet is here.”
“Finally some good news.” Answers the commander, putting on half a smile as he stared at the hologram in front of him shifted, enhancing near the gate. “Tell them to pick their targets and fire at will.”
Another warning sounded and was immediately associated with several red tinted objects in the hologram. These seemed to be all around the gate, by the hundreds. The commander’s face went pale as his jaw dropped at the sight and he let out a whisper: “No…”
Outside, the missile explosions and the beams were providing a beautiful, yet grim spectacle to those that had just exited the gate, a total of twelve ships, so far, more coming through by the dozens, from small Corvettes to large Battleships. Aynrin ships were strange, yet easy to handle, as they are mostly mass-produced modular designs, quick to replace and manufacture, albeit weak in armor and shield coverage. Excelling at long range confrontations, hurling their characteristic “Drifter” missiles at their enemies, throwing confusion into the midst of the enemy lines with their tactics, the Aynrin excelled in combat, provided the enemy stays at bay.
Inside one of the larger ships that had come through, the circular bridge was all turned towards a large view screen on the opposite side of the entrance. Standing between two centered consoles, a middle aged man with a large amount of cybernetics strapped around his bare head, some of which bore the Unity’s stars and a few symbols which seemed to indicate he was the ship’s commander were also engraved onto the metal. He spoke with a resolute tone as he watched the invading forces over the planet.
“Right. Let’s throw these mongrels off our home. Target the closest ship and open fire at will. Move away from the gate to let others pass through.”
“Sir!” spoke out one of the crewmen behind a console. He too had some cybernetic links on his head, but on a much lesser extent than the commander. “Signatures appearing all around us. IFF reads unknown, similar to the attacking ships.”
“What!? Open fire at them, no-…” his voice was interrupted as a high energy beam crossed through his ship, slicing it in two, causing secondary explosions to destroy the ship.
On the area around the gate, dozens more of the invading ships, both Capital and Cruiser classed were shimmering into existence before the fleet’s eyes, taking out the ships as they crossed the gate. It didn’t take the Aynrin long to counter this and ships were firing at enemy lines right off the gate exit.
Shuttles were starting to leave the planet’s surface, along with other shuttles from the civilian structures orbiting it, all heading towards the gate, at first, but once the invading ships appeared all around the gate, the shuttles veered away towards Aynrin colonies in the system’s asteroid belts, and hopefully, away from these invaders. Little did they suspect that another set of a few dozen ships shimmered into existence all around the fleeing shuttles, much to the horror of everyone inside them, but these did not fire. Instead, they connected the ships with a blue colored beam which started to pull the ships towards the innards of each and every ship around the shuttles. A tractor beam that pulled the shuttles into, what every person inside them must have thought, their death.
Inside the station’s C&C, the commander watched in despair as the events unfolded around the planet. Red colors adorned the once clear blue hologram, more flashing red dots now placed over unprotected civilian stations. With a croaked voice, he questioned in a low tone:
“The fleets from Dromen?”
“They’re re-routing to Wovirek, but won’t be here for another day, commander.”
Another alarm sounded as the hologram shifted towards the surface and made the commander take a deep breath:
“High energy signatures on the surface, commander.”
The hologram showed one of the cities as small spherical energy signatures appeared on the surface directly above the city’s central square. Several more were appearing all over the planet, most over cities, others over military defense structures.
“What the hell is going on down there!?” questioned the commander.
“Sir.” Answered one of the crew behind him, making him turn in a snap. “It’s the larger ships. They’re firing those energy spheres down on the surface… They… They’re singularities.”
The commander’s face turned pale as he let his back set against a nearby console.
“This is just… Who in the Heavens are these people…”
“Initial reports, Deva. Highly positive.”
Upon grabbing the stick, she threw it into the planet’s hologram and a large number of windows opened up around her, all with strange symbols resembling letters that she read through as she spun the windows around her.
“Fifty ships, five Capitals. Too many.”
“With all due respect, Deva…” spoke the man, still staring at the ground. Gehenna huffed and looked at him in a disgusted look:
“Speak your mind.”
“Losing fifty ships to such an advanced planet is notably low, Deva.”
Gehenna promptly made her way to him and grabbed him by the neck, her eyes glowing red, her face showing clear signs of anger.
“Losing ANY ship is a sign of weakness! I want this over with now!!” she finished by tossing him to the ground. She spoke on as the glow on her eyes subsided: “Contact the House of Gods. Tell them to proceed with the next phase as we clear the citadel areas. Jump the armada into orbit.”
Down on the planet, the cities had been turned into a warzone. The singularities hitting the caverns’ ceilings and domes were dragging the noxious atmosphere inside the inhabited areas and causing panic on an unprecedented scale, comparable only to the Fall of Grilja, nearly eight hundred years ago. As shuttles desperately tried to escape the planet and its orbit, they were all captured, one by one.
In the C&C of what was now one of the few military installations, the station’s commander was starting to evac the station. He was speaking in a near desperate tone:
“All personnel evacuate immediately. This is not a drill, get to the shuttles.”
“Commander.” Answered one of the crew. Everyone else in the room was leaving for evac, except for him and the commander. He spoke in a nervous tone, as if more bad news were rising.
“What is it? Not like it could get much worse, at this point.”
“It’s… the ships.”
“They’ve stopped firing on some of the cities. Some large energy signatures started appearing on the plazas.”
“Oh. More singularities?” he asked while rubbing his forehead.
“No, sir. The energy residues… It’s… They’re wormholes.”
“What?... A wormhole? You mean like a… A gate?”
The crewman just nodded silently at the commander’s desperate face.
“One per city they bombarded. This just won’t end.”
The commander’s response was sufficient for the crewman to understand:
“There’s just nothing left to do.” He turned to the hologram, now swimming in red blinking dots. The hologram shifted to show one of the cities and, sure enough, the large sphere was there where the statue used to be. “Just… run away. Grilja has fallen.” The commander made a swallowing motion and finished in a defeated tone: “For the second time.”