In The Beginning.
Dooms freighter exited hyperspace outside the asteroid field. Zulu watched as the pilot set course for the asteroid. Their trip in hyperspace had taken almost a full day. By hyperspace terms they could have been anywhere up to 10,000 light years from Hiigara. Seeing that all was going as usual Zulu got up from his co-pilot seat and went down to the passenger section. The whole section was over flowing with refugee?s from Hiigara, near the back Deaths, Malone, Mantis and Doom where sitting together talking.
?We will be in visual of the base in 39 minutes? Zulu said as he walked up and sat down next to Malone. No sooner had he sat down when a disturbance from up the hallway caught their attention. Daisy the monkey scampered past them down the stairway with about 6 Taiidan children in close pursuit. The look on Daisy?s little ugly face was a sight of pure terror.
?Aren?t you going to do something about that Doom? Mantis asked. ?Why? If they catch him he deserves whatever they do to him,? Doom said as if it was a joke. ?That little creature has been a huge nuisance since I took him in? Doom added. The 5 men chatted while the freighter made its way through the asteroid belt.
When Zulu figured 35 minutes had went buy he brought the group of men up to the cockpit area. He wanted them to see the base from above the facility. ?It?s dark,? Deaths said with a little bit of shock in his voice. ?Well it is space? Doom laughed back.
?No you don?t understand, we must have jumped a long ways, back in the Hiigaran system we where fairly close to the galactic core, even space was lit up pretty bright. We must be at least 10,000 light years from the galactic core at least,? Deaths said.
?Well give or take a few hundred light years yea. I can?t give you the coordinates because it is a secret unless you come to stay here? Zulu replied. As the ship rounded the asteroid they noticed the colony construction ship right away. She was incredibly big. ?What is that?? Malone asked.
?That is a Colony Construction Ship? Doom responded. ?I am surprised to see one here, they are very rare, the Imperial Taiidan fleet only has a few of them, they can set up an entire colony by themselves. They are great at building everything a colony needs to survive. Whether on a planet or in deep space. Looks like Coitster and his group have been very busy. I would hate to be the person who commanded that ship because they are considered more valuable then a carrier.?
As they watched they notice several very small ships moving from the colony ship down to the base. Each of them where towing large modular components with them. They slowly moved them into the hanger bay and disappeared from site. ?My they have been busy? Zulu replied. ?Take us down to the landing site? Zulu told the pilot.
The ship descended down to the surface. Malone, Mantis and Deaths all watched with eager anticipation of what they where seeing. This was all set up by a person that was without a Kiith. The idea of being back out in space making their own destiny was extremely appealing to them. They didn?t know how or why but this place seamed to call to them in its own way. They made their way to the cargo bay.
?I will not be going with you Doom said to the four men. Zulu I am not going to need you for the rest of this run, if you like you can stay here until I return? Dooms said to Zulu. ?Sure, that would be great, Coitster always told me I was welcome here, you know he has been trying to get me to work for him? Zulu responded. Dooms laughed and said his good-byes. The 4 men got their EVA suits on then stored their gear on one of the crawlers. As the crawler moved out onto the rock of the asteroid and made its way to the hanger bay, the Freighter ascended back up and moved out of sight leaving the 4 of them.
As the crawler approached the side of the rock cliff Zulu pointed out the hanger bay to his three companions Zulu said "The base is a lot bigger than it looks, most of it is underground." As the crawler came within 25 yards of the hanger the large doors came to life and parted. Deaths, Malone and Mantis where quite amazed at the size of the hanger. Zulu noticed at once that the power generator he and Doom had delivered the previous week was set up in the back corner of the bay. Large power cords the sizes of tree trunks ran across the floor and were hooked into it.
"I see they have already started using the generator,? Zulu said over his headset built into his helmet. Zulu knew that Deaths, Malone and especially Mantis were probably in complete shock at what they where seeing. Zulu himself always liked to come here. Once the crawler was powered down in its usual parking spot the four men made their way threw the airlocks. As always Zulu noticed Coitster and Misty were waiting for them. "Hey Zulu, I see you brought the guests you said you were going to." Coitster said commenting on the transmission that he and Zulu had had two days previous.
After the introductions were made the group of six walked up to the conference area. "I see you finally got the generators up,? Zulu said to Misty. "Yea but that's only a temporary spot for it. We set it up so the diggers could be used. You wouldn't believe how fast those things dig." Misty responded. Coitster went to the cabinet area and brought back a round of drinks.
"It's always good to meet new people,? Coitster said. " Especially the two of you. I have read all about your accomplishments during the war. It's too bad they stripped the both of you of your commands because your Kiiths were gone rotten bastards." Coitster finished as he addressed Deaths and Malone.
"We have already met" Coitster said to Mantis "you were the one who brought me out of hibernation."
"Zulu tells us that you also lost your Kiith in the burn of Kharak" Malone commented back. "It's amazing all that you have built here." Deaths finished for Malone. "Without having the support of a Kiith backing you." All three of them Deaths, Malone and Mantis nodded in unison.
"Well I wish I could take the credit for all of this but I can't. You see when we woke up from hibernation and were told of what had happened. A lot of people just gave up. I realized that if I could pull some of those people together that had lost there whole lives, we might be able to work together and make something great to replace what we had lost. That's actually when I met Misty" Coitster said as he thought back to that time with a smile.
"We discovered quickly that we could get the work that no else wanted. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about" Coitster said to Deaths and Malone. "Yea we found that out the hard way" came the reply.
"We chose salvage for a few reasons. First one was the government was willing to supply us with any ships that we needed to do the job. They thought salvage was beneath them. So we had plenty of equipment to do our work. We are left alone to do what we want, and no one bothers us. Actually truth be told they go out of their way to avoid us. Which is fine with me. Sometimes I think those members on the council have poles stuck so far up their a**?s; it makes me sick." Coitster continued.
"The second reason was it gave us plenty of building materials. This whole base has been and continues to be built of salvaged material. The council just wants us to get rid of it; they don't care what we do with it. Hell they even gave us four old Taiidan freighters; they seized during the war so we could haul the salvages away. It always continues to amaze me what people will give you if you do the stuff they don't want too."
"One of the best parts though is the new technology we get in the process. I don't think people have really stopped to think how advanced the Taiidan really are. Yea we got their weapons technology and ship schematics during the war from capturing their vessels, but that was it. The Taiidan have had nearly four thousand years to advance in general technology. We are far, far behind them. Also because we are left alone I have been able to excel in lets say the more outside the law terms of trade.
"You see I don't mind doing business with the Taiidan. Most of them are great people just like us. It's there government that is bad. I am one of the only Kushan who will deal with the Taiidan and because of that it has made our group here extremely profitable" Coitster finished talking.
?My husband has asked me to go over the layout of our base schematics with you and show you what we have planned." Misty said. Misty moved over to the front of the table and pulled out a keyboard. The projection was in two colors. The first color was blue which must have been the completed sections. It showed the launch bay and a series of tunnels leading to different sections. The area that had already been completed was very big. It looked as if a small community could be settled there already. The second color was all in red. It made the blue section seemed miniature by comparison. Sensing the question before it was asked Misty brought up a measurement comparison chart for the three men to get a complete understanding of the size of the base and yet to be built areas.
The red sections seemed to stretch on for miles in every direction. You see now why we captured the colony construction ship and why we wanted some diggers. If we hadn?t it would have taken us many years to do what we have planned.? Misty said to Zulu. Still in shock from what he was seeing Zulu could only nod. " We are wanting to build something great for ourselves and we need good people, but more than that. We want a family, people we can trust and that can trust us." Misty said
"We have lots of plans but its going to take time to achieve them. I know I have probably told you too much but I trust Zulu and he trusts you three." Coitster said "Please feel free to walk around our facility. We will show you to your quarters for while you are here, so you can get situated and let some of this sink in."
Zulu, Deaths, Malone and Mantis were lead to the guest area of the facility. They were expecting small little military like compartments but were pleasantly surprised when they were shown into suite style rooms that were decorated and the size of Kiith leaders quarters back home. When Misty saw the look of surprise on their faces she merely smiled and responded "If we are going to live here we might as well do it in style."
Over the next three days the four guests made their way all over the base. Talking to people and trying to get a feel for the type of people that lived here on the asteroid. They were surprised at how unified everyone was. They all seemed to share in the same goal. If Malone and Deaths hadn't of know better they would have thought this was the tightest Kiith they had ever seen. They knew though that all these people were without official families.
On the fourth day as Zulu was checking in on his three companions they were in deep conversations with each other. Seeing him Mantis waived Zulu over to come join them. "We need to talk Zulu" Mantis said with a very serious look on his face. With that Zulu sat down and joined the conversation. Most people didn't notice that the four men didn't leave there suite for two days except to go and get food to bring back and eat, but then again everyone on the base had a lot of work to do.
Coitster and Misty were watching the new diggers at work when the call came in. "Sir your four guests have requested a meeting with you and Misty in their quarters. The communications officer said. "Tell them we are on our way." Coitster responded
Coitster and Misty made their way down to the guest quarters. Both Misty and he were very curious as to why they had been called. Coitster secretly hoped they had decided to join the operation. These people in particular were the right kind of people that he had liked to work with.
Zulu was the one to open the door as they knocked on it. "Come in, we were hoping you would come." Zulu said. "Well there is no reason for us not to" came the reply. Malone, Deaths and Mantis were sitting on the couches in the middle of the room. Coitster pulled a cigar out of one of his pockets and lit it up.
?I hope all of you have enjoyed your stay with us" Coitster asked. All four of the guests nodded, it was Malone who spoke up. "We have, I wanted to thank you for being so up front with us and not trying to hide anything. This last year has been very hard on us, Deaths and myself sometimes wish the journey to Hiigara had never ended. We lost everything like you. We really like what you have built here. Your people are very loyal and they all have a purpose."
Deaths continued for Malone " Your entire base acts like a Kiith already without actually belonging to one. Malone and myself were both high-ranking members of our own clan before the burn of Kharak. That?s actually what we wanted to talk to the two of you about."
"If the four of you are talking about forming a new Kiith we have tried that already. The council has to give permission for any new Kiiths to be formed and they wouldn't let us do that." Misty responded
"Yea that?s right, the council doesn't want any more clans to have to deal with. Its also another way, for them to consolidate power for themselves" Coitster added. "Don't get me wrong myself and anyone else would do practically anything to be a member of a Kiith again."
At that comment Deaths and Malone looked at each other and smiled. "What am I missing?" Coitster asked "You dolt " Zulu said with a grin. "Don't you remember those two saying they were high ranking members of their Kiith before the war? For all intensive purposes their Kiith was destroyed but not entirely."
"You see because they are still alive and because of their status as council members of their own Kiith back from before the burn of Karak they could accept new members and restore the Kiith without the acceptance of the council." Mantis said
"We haven't ever considered the option until now because we had nothing left. We didn't have a place to meet and what did we have to offer. Our Kiith was dead, but now it may have a chance to live again." Deaths added. Before anyone could say anything Malone started to speak. " We have talked a lot about this, if you think any of your people would be interested we would like to reform the Kiith.
"Are you kidding? Of course everyone would be, including Misty and I. that would be like a dream come true. You two were in the Soban Force Kiith right,? Coitster asked? "Yes we were, we had a long and respected line. Even Zulu and Mantis would join if we could use this base for the Kiith." Malone said.
"WOW you guys must be serious if you both are ready to leave your Kiiths for the SF" Coitster said.
"Well its simple really" Zulu said. I don't like almost any of the bastards in my Kiith. They don't care about anything except their own grabs for power, or about anyone who gets in their way. I don't want to be a part of that, besides you are all my friends and I would rather be with bastards that I trust." Zulu finished and everyone laughed.
?So you would want to be a member of the Soban Force Kiith then?? Malone said, it was more of a statement then a question. ?Hell yea! I would turn over this whole base if need be. Our whole goal here is to create something that would last? Coitster responded. ?I do have a question for you though??
?When we are done building this base we will have room for over 10,000 people, we only have a little over 250 now. We have planned on recruiting other people without Kiiths to join us. We estimate that over 40,000 people on Hiigara where left Kiithless. If we become part of the Soban Force would we still be able to do that?? Coitster asked. Zulu, Deaths, Malone and Mantis all exchanged glances. After a moment Deaths and Malone nodded to each other.
Deaths was the first to speak. ?Well we would pretty much have to bring people in. I mean a lot of people. What I am about to tell you is very important. If we reform the Soban Force it would probably make us the single strongest Kiith of all.?
?On our last survey mission we went on board the remains of the Taiidan Mothership in orbit of the Hiigaran system. As we suspected most of it was in complete ruins, however we made an incredible find. We discovered that the entire factory section of the ship was intact. It was buried far enough inside the ship to be protected. We also found two completely operational resource collectors and a destroyer 2/3rds of the way finished. There were even a few fighters that had been completed.? As Malone finished speaking he watched as Coitster & Misty?s jaw collectively hit the floor.
?Are you telling me we could salvage it and bring it back here and have our own complete shipyard for us to use?? Coitster asked the shock on his face made it seem as if he was dreaming. ?Well you tell us, could your group salvage something this big and get it back here?? Deaths returned the question. He also took out a small electronic holographic projector and placed it on the table. A 3-D model winked into existence and showed the images Malone and Deaths had taken back in the factory.
?Well from what I am seeing here we are talking about an area of over 2 miles long, almost 2 miles wide and a mile high.? Misty said as she ran through the schematics of the recording. ?If we strip this place of everyone but the excavation teams and worked double shifts I think we could plant enough shape charges to get this section free in about 4 months.?
?I could also use all the salvage corvettes to cut away the outer area?s surrounding the factory. This is a monstrous undertaking, don?t get me wrong we could do it, its just the biggest job we have ever attempted? Coitster added.
?We could have Paranoid use the diggers to cut a large section next to the launch bay for the factory to sit in, that would be the most logical place for it to go? Misty said.
Everyone huddled together for the rest of the day. An air of excitement hung in the air like a thick smoke; non-of them had ever been this excited in a very long time. After they had all finished it was decided that the factory would have two main doors. One leading into the hanger bay for all the fighters, corvettes and small ships. The second would be for all capital ships to super capital sized ships. They also agreed that Mantis would get all the designs from all Kushan ships from his computers on board the Kushan Mothership. They would then be brought back so that they could make their own fleet of ships. Once that was done he would resign from his post on the Kushan Mothership to help with the salvage and integration of the factory section of the base. Also once it was up and running he would run all the production of ships back at the base.
Zulu decided that he wasn?t going to work with Doom anymore, he had found a place where he really belonged. Besides with all the fighters and corvettes that were going to be coming off the assembly line someone had to train and command the squadrons. Deaths and Malone were to get the resource collectors back to this system so they could start collecting the vast amounts of resources that would be needed to build the Soban Force fleet. Also because of their experience during the war they would run and command all fleet actions.
It was also decided that Misty would run the salvage operation of the factory and integrate it with the Kushan technology. Coitster would help her with the salvage and once that was done he would continue to run the finances and all trade negotiations for the Soban Force. He would also run the day to day operation. Everyone felt extremely well at the end of the day, they where about to make history together.
The Taiidan Republic fighter was on full afterburner. It was the only surviving fighter out of a squadron of 21 fighters. Squid knew that if he didn?t get back to the carrier he would be finished. It had been a desperate fight. Squid was lucky just to be alive. Yesterday at this time had been very peaceful; Squid had spent most of his free time trying to hit on a pretty young ensign who worked on the bridge. They seamed to get along pretty well but for some reason she just couldn?t commit to a relationship. They had both been in the galley having breakfast when the general quarters alarms had went off.
When Squid had arrived in the fighter bay he learned that a massive Imperial Taiidan fleet had just jumped into the system. Probes had reviled the Imperials had assembled a very large invasion fleet. There where over 100 capital sized ships and 15 super capital ships including 3 carriers. Everyone in the Taiidan Republic had known that the fragile peace they had with the Imperials probably wouldn?t last very long. A small group of systems had broken away a year ago during the end of the Kushan trip home.
In all 87 systems of the Empires 1,000 system strong empire had declared independence and united together to form a free Taiidan Republic. They all knew that eventually the Imperials would return and try to enslave them again.
It seamed that time had finally come. Squid had been assigned to a small defense fleet of 11 ships. 9 Frigates, 1 Destroyer and the Admirals flagship the carrier Vespa. The orders had come down to try and delay the attack fleet long enough for as many civilian ships that could, would be able to leave the system. Everyone knew they had no chance of stopping a fleet of that size.
This was Squids fourth sortie against the enemy; the three previous flights had done well. They had attacked advanced frigates and had destroyed 5 of them. Things had gone well, that was until the combined enemy fighter squadrons had found them from the 3 enemy carriers.
His entire squadron had been wiped out. Squid had even seen one enemy fighter destroy 4 of his fellow pilots by it-self. The fighter was marked with a picture of a flying raptor bird on its tail. Only Ace pilots ever put decorations up like that. Squid had been lucky, he was able to evade into an asteroid field and hide, otherwise he would have been dead too.
His carrier still had 1 squadron left so he would fly with them but they would have to make their escape soon. Only the carrier and one frigate were even left from the 9 original ships. Squid could see on his scanners his carrier up ahead. He could also see a large formation of enemy fighters about 5 minutes behind him.
As Squid came into visual range he could see the carrier was heavily damaged. One whole side of it was on fire and venting gas into space. The carrier was still operation but in very bad shape. Space around the ship was littered with floating wrecks, many of the wrecks where civilian transports. They thought they would have been safe by the carrier not realizing that it would have been the primary objective of the Imperials.
Squid wondered to himself how many civilians had made it out. This system had over 6 Billion inhabitants, if 20,000 or 30,000 made it out it would be a miracle. He didn?t envy the grunts on the surface; they would not be able to be reinforced. Squid landed his fighter in the landing bay and was pleased that the bay Forman was too busy to yell at him for all the damage he had on his fighter. Crews swarmed around the little craft rearming and refueling it.
Admiral Hal sat on the command deck of the Imperial Servant. The Heavy Cruiser bristled with armaments. Hal watched the tactical display and monitored the movements of the invasion fleet as it made a path of destruction across the solar system. The pathetic rebel Taiidan s would regret the day they rebelled and broke away from the glorious Empire. Hal had been pushing fleet command for months to get the invasion started. This system was just the first step in retaking and returning the Empire to what it was before those damned Kushan had turned up.
Hal licked his lips at the thought of someday being able to lead a fleet to Hiigara and retaking the system for the glory of the Empire. He would be a hero and his name would go down in history books. He had always been upset that he had never been able to engage any Kushan ships. He knew that if he had commanded the Emperors fleet they never would have lost Hiigara. Watching his displays he saw his squadrons advancing on the two remaining rebel ships.
This would be over soon; he had requested the greatest fighter pilot in all the Empire to lead his attacks. Project like himself had never engaged any Kushan before, once they dealt with these damned rebel worlds they would eradicate the Kushan.
?Prepare the landing craft, I want all the troops on that damned planet by the end of the day? Hal barked the orders out.
?Yes sir? came the reply.
Just a moment later Projects image filled his display. Project had always been a menacing person; a long deep scare ran the length down the side of his face. The man carried an air of utter ruthlessness about him. ?Yes admiral? Project said with his emotionless voice.
?I want you to let the carrier escape, I don?t care how many of their pilots you toy with but that carrier must live. I want word of what has happened here to spread across the rebel worlds. They must know their fates for betraying the empire? Hal ordered.
?What about the civilian ships sir?? Project asked.
?Destroy as many as you can? came the reply. A menacing smile came back over the monitor. Hal almost felt sorry for the rebels. Here was a killer without mercy or restraint. Indeed Hal had chosen the right man for the job.
Alarms again went off on the carrier; Squid was ready to launch. Just as he was about to hit the afterburners to launch him from the bay a plazma burst entered the bay and hit the wall beside his ship showering it with damage. Alarms went off on his little fighter. He knew what was going to happen, jumping out of his fighter he ran all out to the protective blast barrier. Just as he reached it, his fighter exploded and sent pieces of his ship everywhere.
Several people hadn?t gotten to the barrier in time. They fell to the floor completely engulfed in flames. Several other fighters were put out of commission. Only 12 fighters in all managed to launch. Squid wished he could join them they where hopelessly outnumbered and it was probably a suicide mission anyway.
?Good luck gents? Squid said, he then turned around to help put out the fires that where raging across the entire flight deck.
Project had seen the shot fired by the bomber that had hit the flight deck of the carrier. That stupid pilot could of started a chain reaction and destroyed the entire ship Project thought to himself. With no sign of anger on his face he angled his fighter in behind the bomber and squeezed the trigger to his mass driver guns. For a split second Project could see holes appearing all over the bomber then it suddenly erupted into a ball of flames and debris expanding into all directions of space.
Project didn?t like to kill his own pilots but if they didn?t obey his orders to the letter they knew the consequences. Examples had to be made. The rest of the bombers made short work of the rebel frigate escorting the carrier. Three of the rebel fighters that made it out of the damaged carrier seemed to understand by seeing his painted tail that he must have been the squadron leader for the Imperials.
Project smiled to himself, this was always the fun part. Going to full afterburner he kicked his ship from side to side with his thrusters so that the 3 rebel fighters couldn?t get a bead on his ship. His first pass he dispatched one of the fighters. The fighter disbanded into a fireball, Project pulled his fighter into a high-G turn and quickly destroyed another fighter effortlessly. The remaining pilot realized he was way out of his league and tried to evade.
Project let out a cold laugh and tailed the fighter. After about a 30-second chase Project filled the tail of the fighter with mass driver rounds. The pilot realizing what was happening and pulled his ejection lever. The cockpit disconnected itself from the fighter as it exploded. Project moved his interceptor in front of the floating cockpit and could see the terrified look of fear in the pilot?s eyes.
Project not showing any emotion pulled the trigger and exploded the cockpit. He had considered letting the pilot live but reconsidered it when he realized that his men would think he was getting soft. He was without mercy. The remaining 9 rebel fighters where dispatched by the sheer overwhelming numbers of the Imperial fighters.
Project could see on his sensors about 2 dozen civilian ships fleeing in the distance. Turning his interceptor he took off after them with his squadrons tailing him in full pursuit. They didn?t stand a chance.
The Taiidan Republic admiral sat on his bridge trying to ignore all the smoke that was assaulting his senses. His ship was in complete ruins; it was a wonder they still had the hyperspace generator still working. He was stunned that they where still alive. He watched as the Imperial fighters intercepted the civilian ships and destroyed them one after the other. The comm. channels were filled with screams and pleas for help.
The admiral only wished he could help them. His flight deck was in ruins, and he had no fighters left and all his weapons systems where destroyed. Knowing there was nothing else he could do he gave the order to jump. The carrier winked out of sign as the last of the civilian ships where destroyed. News of the attack spread through the Taiidan Republic like wild fire. Everyone had feared this day might come at long last it had. No one knew how they would be able to stop the overwhelming might of the Taiidan Empire.
In The Begining Chapter 3
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