In The Beginning.
Deaths and Malone were both on the bridge of the resource collector. Both men now worked with a new excitement in their lives. They had both been in the advanced salvage teams with Misty that had done a thorough survey of the ship. Once they had completed that Deaths and Malone along with six other People had powered up the two collectors from the factory and had used the collector cutting beams to cut large holes in the shield door to be able to move the ships out. Zulu and several pilots also manned the couple of fighters that had also been completed. They had moved the collectors out into space and attached the fighters to their outer hulls and hypered them out to the asteroid base.
In the two months since they had brought the collectors back Death and Malone with two crewmen had operated one of the collectors while a team of four operated the other one. The collectors usually operated with a crew of ten but all-available personnel were working on the salvage mission. Death was piloting the craft around the asteroid, they had been collecting for only a day, but the tanks were full. Usually a collection mission would last, for three to four days however the resources in the system were incredible dense. Looking out the bridge windows they saw the base come into view. On top of the cliff were the hanger doors were paranoid had set up a collection control pad. This is where Death would attach the bottom of the collector to so they could unload all of the raw minerals they had collected that day.
Deaths settled the ship onto the collection pad. Automated tubes came and connected themselves to the ship and started draining all the resources from the ship. The entire process took about an hour. Normally the two of them would have hated being on resource duty however this was different. They were helping advance the cause of the SF (Soban Force). They couldn?t wait to get back out to resource some more.
They had enough stored resources for about a dozen ships. Just as they were finishing up the communication screen winked on. Paranoid?s image appeared on the screen; as usual he was very dirty however lately he always looked very tired. With ninety percent of his crews on the salvage, everyone left on the base was working like crazy. ?What?s up Paranoid? Malone asked? ?Coitster asked me to contact you guys. Doom?s ship will be docking in about twenty minuets, Coitster thinks you all should be present. Besides all our collection storage tanks are now full.? Paranoid said.
?OK we are on our way. ?Deaths responded and the two walked down to the bottom hatch. Making their way through the airlock tunnel and the base corridors to meet up with Coitster outside the hanger bay airlock. They all watched as Doom?s crawler made its way in and stopped. Once Doom was inside they all said their hellos and made their way down the halls. Instead of going to the conference room they went to the cafeteria to eat. Once they all had their food they sat down to eat and talk.
?So Doom where have you been, in the two months we have only seen you once? Coitster asked? ? Well all hell has broken loose on the boarders of the Republic and Imperial Taiidan Empires.? Doom said. ?The Imperials have decided its time to reclaim the republic worlds back into the Empire. We in the Republic are hopelessly outnumbered. We have some ships but the most we can do is delay the Imperials. There are also many systems that have no fleets guarding them. ?Doom paused for a moment to let what he said sink in.
?How many systems have you lost so far?? Deaths asked? ?So far we have lost three systems, the only reason we haven?t lost more is because our ground forces have been able to dramatically delay Imperial forces. Our fleets have been decimated in all three systems. You do realize that once they are done with us they are going to come after you and exterminate your species!? Doom responded.
? Why would they do that?? Coitster asked we beat them once and even reclaimed our homeland we could do it again.? As Deaths and Malone heard the last statement they about fell out of their chairs. ?I don?t think you understand? Malone directed his statement at Coitster. ? The only reason we won is because at almost every battle we were the ones that chose the time and place. We avoided almost all of there main fleets. If we would of ever had to fight the main fleet of Taiidan empire we would have been brushed aside like insects.?
Coitster sat back and thought if for a few minuets. He responded. ? We have to go to the high council and convinced them to help the Taiidan Republic in some way.? ?Easier said than done? Deaths responded. Most of the members of the council are so wrapped up in the internal politics of their Kiiths that they probably couldn?t agree on anything, but you are right we must try.? ? We can use on of the freighters to hyper to Hiigara so we can see the council, we are going to need to get right on this.? Malone said. By the way Doom what are you doing now that war has broken out??
?I am helping transport weapons to the systems near the border that haven?t been attacked yet. The Republic is really in a bind right now, trust me if you can convince your high council to help it would only help yourselves to. The Imperials have sworn to eradicate the Kushan from existence. They blame everything that has happened on your people. They want revenge, and they have the strength to get it.? Doom finished.
?There is another reason I came? Doom said. ?I have a friend in the Taiidan Republic high council he has asked me to make sure this message makes it to your high council? Doom took out a data crystal and handed it to Malone. ?Don?t worry we will leave right away.? Deaths responded. ? Maybe I should go back with you Doom and meet with some officials in the Republic?? Coitster said. ?Good idea, lets go? Doom responded.
Within the next hour both Doom?s ship and deaths and Malone?s ships had left the asteroid base each intent on their destinations. Right as Doom?s ship entered hyperspace Coitster wondered what Misty was doing at that second.
Misty slammed her hands on the console. ?Damit, why won?t this blasted thing work?? For nine hours she had been trying to decrypt a section of the computer core from the Taiidans mothership. When the salvage teams had first discovered that most of the computer core was still intact Misty had them supply power from her freighter directly to it so she could get as much data retrieved as she could. Over the past month that she had been working on it she had discovered tons of data. She had already downloaded schematics to almost every ship in the Taiidan Empire. She even had the designs to most of the civilians type ships to.
This section she had found though was highly encrypted. From what she could tell it was an ancient history file; from about the time of the Great War they had lost four thousand years ago when they had been exiled to Kharak. She couldn?t get any further though. Why would a history file be so damn encrypted she thought to herself. Normally she wouldn?t have given this much effort into something like this but when she had found it something had piqued her curiosity. She just couldn?t stop working on it.
Her temper though had reached a boiling point, not able to contain it anymore she picked up a data pad next to her and threw it at the wall with all her might. Just as the pad had left her hand the door to her office opened. The pad hit the wall right next to the door and shattered into a million pieces. Zulu and Mantis came into the office; Zulu had his hands raised above his head. ?We surrender? Zulu said with a sheepish grin on his face. ?Besides what did that little data pad ever do to you.? Misty couldn?t help but smile Zulu was a scoundrel but a charming one. She could never stay mad around him.
?Oh it?s just this section I have been trying to decrypt, it?s giving me a really hard time.? Misty responded. Zulu and Mantis sat across from Misty at her desk. Mantis had been a huge help, he was extremely knowledgeable when it came to helping the crew examining the wreckage and where to put shape charges all over the hulk. Mantis had left his job on the Kushan mothership so he could help the SF get this job done. He was very excited about the prospect of being such an important member of a Kiith.
Before he had left the Kushan Mothership he had made sure to download all the designs and weapons information for all the ships in the Kushan fleet. The SF wanted to be able to build all their own ships and with this data and the factory section they could.
Zulu had just gotten back from the asteroid base and was looking to help with the salvage operation himself. ?So tell me how goes the operation?? Zulu asked. ?Actually we are way ahead of schedule, it seems that most of our salvage team members have been sharing the fact that we are resurrecting the SF with their friends on Hiigara. I am getting dozens of messages for people who have no Kiiths that are volunteering to come help us in whatever we need them to do.? Misty exclaimed. ?Our numbers have swelled from two hundred thirty people on this mission to over one thousand people and if I keep getting these messages our numbers could swell even more. The more people that join us the more inquires I get and it?s getting to be almost a full time job keeping up with it? ?I have teams on almost every level around the factory using plazma cutters to cut away floors and support structures. We are now already almost a month ahead of schedule. I have already sent a message to Paranoid to get ready to send all the freighters here for when it?s time to jump this back to the asteroid. He has assured me the section next to the landing bay will be ready if we are early.? Misty finished.
Zulu is seeing his chance to help spoke up. ?Let me take all these messages for you Misty so you won?t be distracted from your duties. I can go down to the surface and meet with people who truly are interested besides I have a few people I would like to talk to anyway.?
?Oh thank God, that would be great.? Misty said she grabbed another data pad and handed it to Zulu. ?Here you go, it?s all yours.
?What are we going to do with the rest of this hulk when we are done salvaging it?? Zulu asked. ?Well we won?t be able to cut the ship up and use it as scrap, it?s to big and that would take years and years.? Misty said ?We have actually thought about planting, about a couple dozen thermonuclear warheads around the inside of the ship and detonate them.?
?That would probably do it? Mantis added. ?How long do you think its going to take to get this factory operational once we get it back to the base?? Zulu asked ?Not long, all we really have to do is tie our base computer systems into it and get the power supplied to it from our new generators and we should be ready to go.? Mantis replied. ?That?s fantastic, I can?t wait because, then we will be a force to be reckoned with.? Zulu added.
?Well I am going to get going I have a lot of people to talk to so I guess I had better get started.? Zulu said referring to his new assignment. ?I want to also look up some old war buddies and see if they would be interested in joining. Zulu got up and left the room after saying his good byes Misty and Mantis got back to work. So much to do and so little time.
Deaths and Malone both sat in silence in their seats in the great hall. They both very nervous, neither of them had ever been before the great council before. They where still a little anxious about going before the council after all these where the leaders of all the Kushan people. To make matters worse this gathering was being broadcast all across Hiigara. Most of their race was probably watching the video feeds.
?You ready for this Deaths?? Malone asked. He himself had knots in his stomach. ?Well regardless of if I am or not this has to be done. Our whole future is at steak.? Deaths responded back. Malone was still in shock at the fact they had even been granted the right to address the council. Usually it would of taken months just for them to even of been considered, however when they had first approached the high council?s relations department they had informed him that this was a matter that involved the survival of the entire Kushan people. The relations officer would of normally thrown them out of his office but he had recognized Deaths from during the war and had remembered him to be an important person so had decided to grant them an allotment of time for the next council session. Granted they would be the last to speak, but that didn?t matter they had done. They would get to speak and warn not just the high council but the entire Kushan race.
The session seemed to go on forever. The petty bickering between the council members dragged on for an eternity. Malone wondered to himself how they ever where to get anything done. He also wondered if the impending threat of a full-scale war with the Taiidan Imperial forces would be enough to get the council to unify together and help in the struggle. Finally the time had come it was there turn. The announcer called them forward to stand in the center of the great hall to address the council. The short bald announcer followed them to the center and announced their names and that they had come to speak about the fate of Hiigara. The hall became silent as all eyes turned toward them. Most in the council already knew who the two men where. Their exploits and defense of the mothership during the war were very well documented.
Deaths was the first to raise his voice and address the council. ?Honored fathers and leaders of our people. Malone and myself have come with urgent news. Two days ago we received information that a Great War has broke out between the Taiidan Republic and Taiidan Imperial Empire. We come to tell you that the Imperials have already announced that after they are done with the republic they are coming after us, not to defeat but to exterminate us.? Deaths paused to see if anything he was saying was making an impact then continued ?We must help the Republic, for in helping them we are helping ourselves. ?Without our assistance the Republic will surely fall.?
A murmur ran through the delegates as they all started talking amongst themselves. ?Rubbish? came a shout from the right to Deaths and Malone. A lean man stood up. He was wearing the robes of Kiith Nabaal, one of the larger and more powerful Kiiths. Malone recognized him as Lights, he had never talked to him before but everyone knew who he was. ?I say let them fight each other, the only good Taiidan is a dead one after what they did to Kharak.?
Many heads nodded after the statement was made, many Higarans would never forgive the Taiidan people as a whole over what had happened to Kharak. In one attack ninety five percent of the Kushan race had been killed another person stood up wearing the robes of the Somtaaw Kiith. ? You know that most of the Taiidan people didn?t support what they did, hell it sparked a civil war and split the Empire.?
The Nabaal man had flames in his eyes that someone would dare to challenge his opinion. ?I don?t care let them all burn.? Shouting started to erupt in the council chamber. It was very obvious that the people against the Republic for outweighed the ones who wanted to help. Deaths and Malone knew that this was not going to go their way. The council announcer slammed his staff down on the floor which made a very loud noise that seemed to quiet the room down for the most part.
?Our guest have one more announcement,? he said motioning for Deaths and Malone to continue. Malone stepped forward this time to address the council. ?As most of you know our Kiith Soban Force was nearly wiped out in the great burn. Deaths and I are the only members still alive. We have decided to exercise our rights to re-energize our Kiiths so we can make our own destinies again? Almost as soon as Malone stopped talking the room erupted into yelling and screaming.
Lights was infuriated. ?How dare you act without the council permission. We have not authorized the forming of any new Kiiths.? Lights was so mad it looked like his eyes where going to pop out. ?They don?t need the council?s permission, they aren?t forming a new Kiith they are just reactivating the one they where in before.? The Somtaaw man replied. ?Outrageous this is a new era, the old ways don?t apply, I forbid it.? Lights said. ?You have no power to forbid something like this, I think you have become so drunk with your own power inside your Kiith that you think you can dictate what everyone else does.? Came the reply.
The volume in the room became defending. Almost everyone in the room was shouting at each other, sensing it was time to leave Deaths and Malone walked out of the council chambers. ?Well that went better than I expected, at least the part about the SF? Deaths said. ?Yea I thought they took it pretty well? replied Malone. As they left the building they only hoped the people of Hiigara had gotten the message. They didn?t find out until later but over the course of the next twenty four hours over eight thousand messages came into Zulu?s communication pad of people who wanted to talk to someone in the SF about joining or fighting the Taiidan.
?I got it!? Misty shouted. She had been working on the encrypted message for weeks. She had been doing a great job getting technologies integrated with the factory. She still spent about ? of each day working on decryptions, especially this one file in particular. She had been having such a problem with it, fortunately she had finally broke the encryption. The screen in front of her started to fill full of data. She spent the better part of the day reading the files becoming more and more shocked at what she read.
?This can?t be true!? she muttered to herself. The gravity of what she was reading started to sink in. Grabbing her data pad she decided that she needed to talk to someone about what she had just learned. This was way too big of a find to not let someone know. She walked along the corridors making her way to the bridge. As she finally got to the bridge she went over to the communications department and punched in the communication channel she wanted to talk on.
?Zulu come in, this is Misty.? She knew that he was probably busy but this couldn?t wait. Ever since Deaths and Malone had addressed the High Counsel and had revealed the Imperial Taiidan threat and the reformation of the Soban Force Kiith, messages had been pouring in so fast it would probably take over a 6 months to get back to all the potential people who wanted to join the Kiith.
Deaths and Malone had even decided to help Zulu out full time. The Kiith was growing at a phenomenal rate. Since the now infamous High Counsel session the Soban Force had grown by another 2,000 people. At this rate their base would be full. They already had enough Kiith mates to man a fairly large battle fleet. Also they had been surprised to find out that many existing ship commanders also supported them in the idea of fighting the Imperials. Those captains who had contacted them understood the dangers to the Kushan race the Imperials represented.
After what seemed like an eternity Zulu?s face finally flickered onto the screen. Misty could see he was very tired. The bags under his eyes were very pronounced. Every one had been working very hard. They were less then a week away from finishing the factory and hypering it back to the asteroid base. Once that was done the true future of the Soban Force Kiith would begin.
?What?s up?? Zulu said over the comm. channel. ?I need to see you, make sure Deaths and Malone come too, this is very important? Misty replied back.
?OK we can take a shuttle up to the mothership and use Deaths and Malone?s light vet to get there. We can be there by noon tomorrow if it?s that important,? Zulu said.
?It is, beside our main portion of the salvage is almost complete, we should be done in 7 days. I have all our freighters scheduled to be here then. See you tomorrow.? Misty closed the channel off and went back down to her office to continue reading from the files she had decrypted.
Unbeknownst to any of them a man who had been listening in on the conversation shut down his spy monitor. Kiith Nabaal had the best listening devices on all Hiigara. They weren?t supposed to use them on their own people but Lights didn?t care. As a matter of fact one of the main reasons he and his Kiith had become so powerful was because of all the secrets he had on other Kiiths. As long as his Kiith could control a lot of the power on Hiigara. Imagine the impudence of this little clan to do anything without the counsel?s permission. Besides one day he would rule the counsel and they would set up their own empire with himself in charge.
He was very curious about what they meant when they talked about the main part of their salvage being done in seven days. He knew that Coitster was in the process of salvaging the old Taiidan Mothership but it looked like they had some kind of secret agenda going on. Whatever it is he was going to check into it because if it was a big find he had to find a way to use it to his advantage. He was after all the most deserving person. Besides if they didn?t like it who cares he is after all the one with the power not them. Deaths and Malone and their whole Kiith would regret the day they defied him in the High Counsel in front to the entire Hiigaran peoples. Yes they would regret it he thought to himself.
As Zulu had said, Deaths, Malone and himself arrived around noon the following day aboard their light corvette. The three of them meet up with Mantis and all of them went down to Misty?s office. When they walked into her office the noticed she was fast asleep with her head resting on her arms on the table. As the four men sat down Mantis made a coughing sound that brought Misty awake.
?Oh sorry, I was up all night reading this file,? Misty said.
?Is that the one you have been working on the last few weeks?? Mantis asked.
?Yep sure is. I finally got it decrypted. I now understand why it had so may encryption?s placed on it and it?s also the reason I wanted to see you all? Misty responded.
?It?s actually a history file from thousands of years ago. It?s all about the history of both the Kushan and Taiidan peoples. How the Great War originally started and why. I also understand why the Emperor wanted to keep it a secret.? Misty stopped to let what see said sink in. It was very apparent she had their attention. She continued.
?From what I have read it turns out the Kushan and Taiidan people have the same origins. Thousands of years ago the Kushan and Taiidan where the same people and we developed here on Hiigara. As we first started to develop technology that would let us reach for the stars we used sub-light engine drives that would take decades to reach our closest neighbor star systems. That is when like we did when we where on Kharak that our ancestors developed ships that had hibernation chambers in them for those long voyages. Our ancestors expanded out this way for many hundreds of years and about a dozen other solar systems where colonized in that time.
?Because of the amount of distance between systems and the fact that old methods of communication used radio signals messages took years to reach colonies. The empire fractured and split. Many colonies declared themselves independent states and formed their own governments. Misty continued with her history lesson. ?It seams that in the 567th year of the expansion a colony ship entered a new star system and came across a huge alien vessel that offered to trade with them. It was our first contact with an alien race and they were the Bentusi. The Bentusi offered a new type of drive system we today know as hyperspace travel. The settlers colonized the star system and built themselves a very strong society. However because they realized they now had a huge advantage in travel they conquered a few other colonies and started to form what is now the Taiidan Empire.?
?Word finally reached Hiigara of what had happened and the government at the time decided it was time to declare war on the new breakaway colonies. They built large fleets of war ships with thousands of troops suspended in sleep chambers along with most of the crews also. Most of those fleets never made their destinations because Taiidan fleets would appear out of hyperspace and destroy them before the crews could be awakened from their sleeps. Some of the fleets did make it through and a few colonies where literally whipped out from orbital bombardments.
?This literally turned into a generational conflict. This war went on for nearly 700 years. The Kushan?s didn?t have their first encounter with the Bentusi for 460 years after the war had started. By that time it was too late the Taiidan had spread and colonized over 90 worlds. They simply out grew the Kushan people. Here on Hiigara our world can only support about 9 Billion people so our population didn?t grow anymore. However the Taiidan with so many worlds to populate, had they population explode unchecked and they grew into an empire in the 100?s of Billions.
?It finally all ended in the 697th year of the generational conflict when the newly crowned emperor of the Taiidan Empire decided to end the war once and for all. His father the old emperor at the time had raised him to hate the Kushan people. He was taught we were an old race of people corrupt in our own thirst to regain control of our race power and destiny. He assembled the largest fleet the galaxy has ever seen even to this day. Thousands of ships hypered into Hiigaran space and destroyed every ship and orbital station. They started systematically destroying out cities one by one from high orbit. All messages of our surrender we sent were ignored.
?When it was apparent they meant to annihilate us as a race down to the last one of us a number of other races lead by the Bentusi intervened and persuaded the Emperor to exile us rather then commit genocide. The emperor made an official decree striking all references to the Kushan people to be destroyed. Only the Imperial family would know the long history of our people and how the war started. He didn?t want us to have any sympathy from his people in the Empire or for them to know we were once one people. That knowledge could be a threat to his power base. You know the rest of the story.? Misty stopped talking and watched for any reactions.
The four men sat there thunderstruck. The Taiidan and Hiigaran people had the same origin, no wonder they looked alike. It sure answered a lot of questions. Malone was the first to speak up. ?You realize that if either the Taiidan governments or the Kiith high counsel were to find this out it could mean peace could be found once and for all.?
?I personally think they would kill anyone who was going to come out with this, it would be a threat to their power base? Deaths replied.
?Well there is so much bad history I don?t know if the galaxy is ready for this? Mantis commented.
Before anyone could talk anymore the comm. speaker in Mistys office came to life. ?Pardon me Misty but we have a urgent message coming in from Doom. He says he needs to talk to you right now, it?s an emergency.?
?Put him through to my office.? Misty replied. The screen in front of her came to life and Dooms picture filled the screen. Deaths, Malone, Zulu and Mantis all walked around the desk to hear what was going on.
?Thank God I am able to get through to you guys. I have just come from the Taiidan Republic Capital System Deveron 2. Your husband Coitster had just gotten done with negotiations with the Republic when a large fleet of Imperial Taiidan ships hyper spaced in and put a blockade on the planet. The Republic forces are badly outnumbered and Coitster was able to get me a burst transmission. I couldn?t run the blockade, but he wanted me to get this message to you all no matter what. He told me right before I hypered out that he was going to try and run the blockade with some others but he didn?t know if it was going to work? Doom said.
Mistys heart sank into her stomach at the news, Zulu started talking with the other 3 men in hushed tones. ?Can you send me his last transmission?? Misty asked. ?Yea transmitting now? Doom replied.
The data was transmitted and Misty ran it through the decryption sequence when it was done the image of Coitster appeared on the screen. It appeared he was in a great open square outside the capital building of the Republic. People were running in all directions behind him. Sounds of explosions from out of the view of the recording could be heard. Coitster spoke into the camera very quickly.
?Misty I hope this message reaches you. This system has come under heavy attack by Imperial Taiidan forces. Almost no ships are getting through. The Republic fleet in the system is going to try and punch a hole in the blockade so most of the senators will be able to make it off world. No one would of thought that the enemy would of made such a big move to strike the capital so soon. They are going to let me pilot one of their fast transports with a group of their senators aboard and some of their high ranking military strategists. I am going to try and make it out please send someone to the Golad system to meet us, that is where we are going to go if we can get out. Wish me luck.?
At that last statement a large plazma beam came from the sky behind the view of Coitster and hit a 40 story building 6 blocks away. The explosion knocked everyone to the ground. The building was vaporized along with most everything within a 4-block radius. The shock wave knocked out windows for miles in all directions. Coitster picked himself up off the ground and looked back at the camera.? That?s if I get out alive.? He then reached up and ended the recording and Misty?s screen went blank. Misty was nearly in tears. Zulu walked up and turned the viewer off.
?Don?t worry we will get him, I have a fried who commands a light task force. His name is Zero, and he owes me a few favors. We will go out there and bring him back.? Zulu said and with that Deaths and Malone ran after Zulu as he left the room down toward the light corvette leaving Misty and Mantis in her office.
The Kushan carrier Vengeance exited hyperspace with a bright flash of light. Her escort?s ships followed and took up positions around her. 2 Destroyers and 6 Ion Frigates created a large protective sphere formation around the larger carrier. Zulu stood o the bridge next to Zero. Zero had always liked the brash fighter ace. He had owed Zulu more then a few favors, back during the war Zulu?s fighter squadrons had saves his carrier more then once from certain doom. When Zulu had called and let him know he needed a favor he was all for helping him out. The bonus was he might actually get to shoot at some Imperials made the favor all the more attractive.
The Golad system was a twin star system. The primary star was a Blue Giant with a smaller Yellow star in a very large orbit around it. Around the yellow star orbited 5 planets, 2 of them were even habitable. The system in the past had been a great pirate haven because of all the electromagnetic interference the binary star system created. Over the centuries most of the pirates had left the system because it was the first place they where usually looked for at. There where thousands of places someone could hide in the system though.
Zero told the hanger bay officer to launch all squadrons and set up patrols so that if any Imperial ships were out there they wouldn?t surprise the task force. ?I hope he made it? Zulu said out loud. ?I guess the only way to find out is to send the signal? Zulu finished talking. Admiral Zero nodded in agreement and told his comm. officer to send the signal. If anyone were in the system they would know right away there was a Kushan fleet in the system now. The pulse signal went out in all directions. If Coitster were here he would respond they hoped.
?Sir we have an incoming transmission? announced the comm. officer. ?Is it him?? Zero asked. ?Yes Sir? came the reply. ?Well patch him through.? The image of Coitster in a pilot seat came on the main view screen.
?I was wondering if Doom got my message through to you guys? Coitster said. ?Look I have a total of 5 ships with me. We have all the Republic Senators on board that could escape. We have been hiding for over a day now. The Imperials sent a fleet of ships to track us down. We have been able to avoid them but its just a matter of time until they find us, I am setting course for your position.?
Zulu looked over at Zero and asked ?Mind if I take a couple of squadrons out to escort them in??
?Go for it, besides I would feel better with you in a fighter anyway. Zero responded.
?Our ETA is 45 minutes, I am sure that every Taiidan ship in the system knows you?re here now. Watch your backs? Coitster said.
Zulu ran down to the hanger bay and got suited up. The bridge apparently had told the hanger bay technicians that Zulu was coming because they already had a ship waiting for him. Out of habit Zulu did a quick check of the fighter and found everything in order. Climbing into the cockpit he started the engines and hit the afterburners launching him into space. Forming up with the 2 squadrons they throttled them up to full speed and headed too the 5 transports.
The flight out to the little convoy took about 15 minutes. Just as they where coming into visual range Zulu noticed that 30 little red dots appeared on his scanner display. ?Attention all pilots? Zulu said into his mic built into the helmet he wore. ?We have 30 fast movers approaching, Alpha squad, continue on to the convoy and protect it at all cost. The rest of you follow me, we have some Imperials to kill.?
Project had been hunting these damn rebel scum when he had picked up the Kushan carrier signals. He had no idea what was being said between the rebel scum and the Kushan dogs but he really didn?t care. Because of the signal he was able to home in on the rebel ships. His entire squadron was flying with him today. They were the best the Imperials had to offer. The elite, the best of the best. Every member of his squadron was hand picked by him because of their ruthlessness in battle.
As Projects fighters group neared the rebel transport?s he saw 25 dots come onto his scanner screen. He watched 4 of them breakaway and move to the transports. The rest of them, 21 interceptors were coming straight at them. Good he thought to himself, he had always wanted to fight the Kushan. He had heard their pilots were extremely well trained. Well trained or not he was the best. Project had never meet his equal. An evilish smile overcame him. ?Come to me my prey.?
As the two opposing groups of fighters came into weapons range space filled with flashes of light from weapons discharges and explosions of fighters being destroyed. Project could see right away that the Kushan pilots were indeed very well trained. They were better then most Taiidan fighter pilots he thought to himself after he had destroyed his second enemy fighter. They are still no match for me though Project thought to himself. ?Red 5, 8, 9, 12 and 15 break and go after the rebel scum, I want those ships destroyed.?
Obeying his orders the 5 fighters broke off and went straight for the Republic transports. Even though his pilots had an edge in numbers the Kushan pilots were holding their own. Project was slightly surprised when he saw one Kushan fighter effortlessly dispatch his second in command. His XO was one of his best pilots he had ever trained. ?What have we here an opponent with some skill? How nice for me.? Project purred to himself as he took off after the Kushan fighter.
Zulu loved being in the thick of things, these where the times that he felt truly alive. He was very pleased with how the other pilots were taking care of each other. Even though he had never flown with these two squadrons before he was impressed with how well they flew like a team. He didn?t seam to notice any glory pilots, which was very typical of most squadrons. When they got back he was going to have to compliment Zero on the professionalism of his fighter wings. When one pilot got into trouble a team mate would be right there to bail him out, even if it meant giving up a potential kill. He also noticed the enemy pilots were far better then the run of the mill Taiidan fighter pilots. They had also been well trained.
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a Taiidan fighter with a picture of a Raptor on its tail kill 2 of his fellow Kushan pilots. He had blown through them like they weren?t even there. This all happened about the same time he destroyed a Taiidan fighter which had shown some potential of being a good opponent. The one fighter was headed straight for him. This was someone he was going to have to be doing some of his best flying against. This was obviously a pro.
Both fighters closed the gap between them very quickly spraying mass driver rounds at each other, however neither ship was able to score any hits. Both pilots seamed to realize this would be a hard fought fight. Projects fighter did some very high-g turns keeping his guns trained on Zulu?s interceptor. Zulu countered by spinning his ship to avoid the fire and came back round to return the fire.
With both of the ace?s concentrating on each other the rest of the fighters battling each other the advantage seamed to shift back and forth between the two groups of fighters. However over the next 10 minutes both squadrons were taking loses. Only about half the pilots were left in each squadron. Many of the pilots even noticed the intense dog fight going on between Project and Zulu. Both pilots refused help when their fellow pilots asked if they needed assistance.
Project was beside himself; no one had ever challenged him like this before. No matter what he did he couldn?t gain an advantage on this Kushan pilot. His flying skills where amazing. At the same time Zulu was also not able to gain an advantage either.
Zulu was surprised when the signal came in to break and return to base. It was time to get out of the system. Zulu hadn?t realized how much time had passed; he was so engrossed with this exceptional opponent. ?OK team, let?s get to the carrier. Full burn.?
The fighters broke loose and headed for the carrier. Zulu opened up his comm. channel to the main Taiidan channel and sent out a non-encrypted message in the open. ?Whoever you are we will meet again, I promise you that.? Then Zulu was gone. Project had heard the transmission. ?Oh yes we will, and next time you won?t be so lucky to survive an encounter with me? Project said to himself in a low hiss. He had finally found a worthy opponent.
Zulu?s team returned to the carrier, when the last fighter was aboard the whole task force entered hyperspace. Zulu being who he was, made sure he was the last one aboard. As he climbed down from his fighter Deaths and Malone were waiting for him. Zulu could tell right away that something was wrong.
?What is it?? Zulu asked.
?We only were able to save four of the five ships. During the fight two Taiidan salvage corvettes sneaked in and attached themselves to Coitsters transport, they took it away. There was no way anyone could stop it. Right before we lost contact with Coitster ship, he said to tell Misty he loved her.? Malone said with a sad look on his face. Zulu was furious, he was going to exact some kind of revenge, he didn?t know what but he would do it somehow.
For the rest of the trip back to Hiigara the 3 men hardly spoke. Non of them wanted to tell Misty what had happened. The worst part was they didn?t know if Coitster was alive or dead.
?Are we ready?? Mantis asked over the comm. channel. ?Yes Sir, all teams are at safe distance? came the reply. Everyone in the SF had been waiting for this day. The chance to have the most modern factory in this entire quadrant of the galaxy was a prize to big to ignore. For months teams of people had been laying charges all around the factory section of the Taiidan Mothership. The hardest part had been all the crews that had been using large plazma torches too cut away all the hallways and other parts of the ship were it was impossible to use the shape charges, or they would have been ineffective. Paranoid was standing next to Mantis, he had came with all the freighters because that?s how they where going to generate a large enough hyperspace bubble to move the factory section to the asteroid base and its new home.
Paranoids crews had also been working around the clock to prepare for the arrival of the factory. They had finally gotten the base generator into its proper place so that as soon as the factory was in place they would be able to supply power to it, and the factory would then start producing ships.
?Lets do it? Mantis said with a big smile on his face. He reached down and pressed a button on his computer terminal and as he watched the floating dead Taiidan mothership flashes of lights came from all around the bottom section of the ship. The charges had started to explode and because of so many of the charges had been set the entire length of the battered hulk?s hull shook violently. After about 10 minutes of continued explosions it was finally over. Mantis gave the all clear and a dozen salvage corvettes moved in and attached themselves to areas of the factory that had been exposed to space and in unison they put their engines up to full power. After what seamed like a few moments a large section of the hull seamed to start to move away from the rest of the gigantic hulk.
Mantis watched the factory being pulled away from its original home. He could see that the salvage teams had done a great job, no damage from the charges had penetrated into the factory. Granted once they hypered it back to the asteroid it would probably need to orbit the asteroid for a week or two while the teams cleared away all the excess matter away from the outside. That would be easy because they could use the salvage corvettes for that task. Once the factory was a good distance away from the rest of the mothership the four freighters pulled up and on all four sides attached themselves to the factories outer hull. Computer estimates had already shown that with the combined work of the four freighters jump engines they would be able to get the entire factory in the jump bubbles radius.
Mantis had been assured that everything would be all right by the engineers but he was still a little nervous. Before he could give another order the comm. officer said he had an incoming message from the Nabaal Carrier that had been in the area watching what they had been doing for the last few days. Mantis told his comm. officer to put the signal through to his terminal.
Mantis was very surprised to see the image of Counsel member Lights appear on his screen. Not only was he probably the most powerful man in Kiith Nabaal but also one of the most powerful members of the Hiigaran High Counsel. Mantis felt a little out of place talking to him but it would have been unforgivable to ignore him.
?How many I help you your grace?? Mantis bowed his head down but couldn?t help but notice the utter look of disdain on the face of Lights. ?We are here to confiscate the salvage. You will have it moved to these coordinates immediately.? Lights said as he transmitted a set of coordinat4es to Mantis?s terminal.
?What? Sir we have exclusive rights to anything we salvage here. We only have to share any new technology we find? Mantis responded.
?I know but if the counsel would have known what you are salvaging here, they never would have given the authorization to you small little nobodies. I am just correcting a mistake. Now do as I tell you!? Lights finished saying.
?Sir I am sorry but we will not, we have put our entire Kiith on this project for months now. We will not relinquish control of the salvage without a vote of the entire counsel which is our right.? Mantis responded. He had to drag this out for another 10 minutes; they would be able to jump then.
Lights face turned a deep shade of red, how dare someone refuse his orders. Especially a person like this. ?No you listen, and you listen good. I have told you what you are to do. If you don?t do as I say then I will destroy your ships one by one until you are nothing but space dust.?
?You can?t do that!? Mantis?s face turned white. ?Your grace, Hiigarans do not fight Hiigarans. You know the law, what you are doing is illegal.?
?Son, people like me are above the law, you have 1 minute to stand down or we will attack.? Lights said and then closed the comm. channel down.
Light?s looked over at the captain of the carrier. The captain couldn?t believe what he was hearing but he didn?t dare defy the orders from the head of his Kiith. He gave the order to launch all fighters. Down in the launch bay Drew and his squad launched into space with the rest of the fighter squadrons. They had been told a group of Taiidans masquerading as Hiigarans where trying to steal technology from the old Taiidan mothership. They where going to try and get them to surrender but if that didn?t work they would destroy them.
Drew?s fighter closed the gap to the freighters with Higy, Split, Exile and Pit in formation with him. In the last few months all of the pilots had come a long ways. Drew was happy to see that Higy had started to curb some of his youthful exuberance and had started to listen to Drew. The kid had some of the most natural flying ability he had ever seen. The five ships flew around the old freighters and the chunk of the mothership but didn?t fire. After about a minute the orders came down, they where to fire at the freighters but not their salvage.
?OK guys form up on my wing.? Drew said and the 4 other pilots followed him in. Just as he was about to fire his comm. channel came alive with a familiar voice.
?Stop! Don?t fire, this is Kiith Soban Force. We don?t have any weapons please don?t fire.? Mantis replied. Drew gave the order to hold fire. ?What is going on Mantis, we were told you were Taiidan pirates posing as Hiigarans trying to steal our property? Drew said. ?No we have been authorized to salvage this ship, Lights is trying to take it from us illegally? Mantis replied.
?Like hell he will,? Drew said. ?All ships hold fire, these are Soban Kiith brothers. Do not attack.? Before Drew could do anything else Lights voice came over his channel. ?Drew you will obey your orders and stop these thieves. Otherwise you will never pilot a ship again other then a garbage hauler.?
?Sir you can?t mean fire on our own people?? Drew asked. ?Don?t question me mister, do as your told or you are finished? came the reply. ?Listen up guys, I am not going to fire, you can do what you want but I won?t.? Drew said to the four men in his squad.
?Sir we are with you no matter what.? Pits voice came over the comm. channel. ?All right guys lets see if we can run some interference against our own pilots? Drew said. Over the next few minutes Drew and his squad messed up the attack runs of the other fighters. They never fired any shots but they would get in the way of other fighters so they couldn?t fire. The freighters did take some slight damage but nothing serious. It seamed to Drew as if the attacking fighters were going out of their way to not hit any vital areas.
?Drew you and your guys better come with us, I would hate to see what would happen to you guys if you went back to the carrier. We are jumping in 45 seconds, attach your fighters to your hulls.? Mantis said over the comm. channel. Drew and his 4-squad members each attached their fighters to the hulls. Just as Exile finished the space around them seamed to change. All the ships and the carrier that had been attacking disappeared. They had entered hyperspace. Drew had heard the Soban Kiith was looking for new members anyway. He might as well he could never ever go back to Nabaal.
Over the next month the factory was finally put in its new home right next to the hanger bay on the asteroid. As they had predicted once the factory was supplied with power it started producing ships at an amazing rate. Drew and his companions Higy, Split, Exile, and Pit all become some of the first fighter pilots in the new Soban Force Kiith. Zulu handled all the training of new pilots and the small Kiith started to grow.
Mantis was able to take over all the operations in the factory and made sure everything ran smoothly. Misty on the other hand was a complete wreck. Not knowing if her husband was alive or dead took a heavy toll on her. Most everyone left her alone.
Deaths and Malone took complete charge of the new fleet. The first Destroyer off the factory line was named Reapers Revenge and was made the flagship of the Soban Force fleet. Deaths took command of her. Malone took charge of the Carrier Independence and her small task force of frigates becoming the fleet admiral. The SF had to keep Coitsters deal with the Taiidan Republic. They were to raid the Imperials supply lines with hit and run tactics and help support any calls for assistance from the Republic defense forces if they needed it. The Republic also promised to help look for Coitster and their missing Senators, they had just started developing a modest spy network and were starting to use it. One way or another they would find him.
And so began the Great War that would set most of the Galaxy on fire. No one could of known the terrible price that the Soban Force Kiith would pay in helping keep the Galaxy free from Imperial rule. Or the lose of so many of our dear friends. The war would drag on and Billions would be consumed and killed by it, but then again???.. That?s another story.
In The Begining Chapter 4
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