- by Malrock
It was a beautiful morning. Khelin has just finished a morning meal with his family and now standing on the porch he was looking over the fields. He was glad that Daren has given him new harvest drones, he had a lot of work to do. Harvest needed to be collected and processed before trade ship arrived and there was only one week left, if he misses it then he will have to wait another 2 months for traders to return, and he needed that money now. Marden, the village manager had sent out a message just few days ago. It seemed that State had passed new tax laws, demanding more money even from such remote places as Yoma XI.
Yoma was a small system on the fringe of State space, it was mainly known for its ice fields, given the proximity of lawless space capsuleers liked to use it for ice harvesting to power their stations and warships. Yoma had no stations or other points of interest aside of ice and being just a waypoint for travelling ships.
This how ever did not stop State demanding its tribute. State was in the war and during such times everyone was forced to commit in one way or another. Khelin did not have the money he was demanded to pay, if he missed the deadline he would eventually loose his lands. Produce of the fields was used to make spiced wine, for years he wanted to scrape together some money to open his own distillery so he could make a little more than the pitiful handouts the traders offered him. They always told him that Spiced Wine price is low and demand is lacking, that he should be grateful to sell produce at all. He was born on Yoma XI and had never been in space, besides, even if he would know different he would still have to trade with them – no one else ever visited the small village sized settlements on the planet, they weren’t important enough for anyone to care.
He drank quickly his tea and walked in. Ahena was feeding Lena and looked up as he entered the room.
“You will be away for a whole day today?” She asked.
“Yes, I have to calibrate new drones and I thought to test them on northern fields. If they work as well as Daren is saying we should have all fields collected in two, maybe three days.” He replayed.
“Will it be fast enough? Maybe you should reconsider and accept the loan from Laiden, maybe traders will pay a little more this time…” she said.
“You know as well as I that those greedy bastards won’t pay more, no, we will have to pull through, we can’t afford that loan, besides, i don’t trust Laiden.” He said while picking up his data pad and walking to the door. “Just send Jelin to bring me some food later, we will be all right, don’t worry.”
He stepped outside and started walking to the garage where 7 new harvest drones waited to be released on rich fields.
Daren was in his office, looking at the militia officers reports. Before he moved to Yoma XI he served as security officer for Ishukone on Isinokka VI –moon1 logistics support station. Job was lousy, pay even worse. After some troublesome fighting he decided to ditch the job as fast as possible. Through lucky even he met a couple of space traders running a small line to Yoma and made arrangements to leave the station quietly. Small village colony was just perfect for a fresh start. But he didn’t manage to ditch his career choice. His skills were noted after he kept resolving some bar brawls and when Gheina finally resigned as security manager for the colony Marden offered the post to him. Pay was still bad but at least he didn’t have to dig in the mud all day long – so he accepted the job. Most of the days he had nothing to do but to spend some time in local watering hole, things were quiet and he liked it that way.
“Sir, we have unknown ships entering planet orbit”.
Daren frowned. This was something new – traders who made the run weren’t due for another week, and even so they used only one busted up Badger I as it was enough for them.
“Do we have ID’s on the ship types and to whom they belong?” he asked over communicator.
“No. Our scans are being deflected and it seems they are jamming all communications.”
“All right, sound the alarms and assemble our men.” He sighed as he stood up and went to weapons locker to take out his body armour and a rifle.
Arwin stood in the middle of a landing platform. It was small and not in a very good shape. Marden assigned him to over watch some basic repairs so platform would be ready for the trade run next week. Few workers he had did the best they could but colony was small and everything they had was worn and mostly useless. He had just yelled on two man team who were responsible for fuel cable repairs when colony alarms went off. It was actually the first time he had ever heard them, colony was worthless and nobody cared to attack it so there was never any need for defence. He was shocked and intrigued at the same time, he looked up somewhat eager to see what had caused the need for the alarms.
There were 5 fiery trays moving on the horizon heading toward the landing platform, one big one in the middle and 4 small ones, 2 on each of the side for the big one. He recognized middle trail, it belonged to industrial class of ships, but traders never used escorts before. Nor were there any need to sound alarms when they approached. He turned his eyes down and started running toward colony control centre. Men who were assigned to him were half way there already. He had managed to enter through the doors when 5 ships touched down on the landing platform; he turned to take a look but doors closed to block the incoming shockwave of dust and hot gasses from the engines.
Daren took a lift down and walked through a corridor leading out from command centre. As he was half way through a team of local militia men armed with basic rifles and light armour joined him, they looked nervous.
“Sir, who are they? Are they Gurrista or Gallente?” Asked one of the younger men.
“We don’t know son, just keep cool and let’s try to find out who they are and what they want from us.” He replayed trying to look confident, there was no need for panic, not that it would help anyway.
Automatic locks clicked open when dust and hot gasses from ship engines dissipated and he led his men cautiously to the landing platform. Those weren’t the traders; he understood it as soon as he saw the ships, on the pad stood Impel escorted by two Claws and two Hawk’s. Ships were in perfect condition and seemed heavily armed. He had seemed glimpses of such ships on his time in the station but he couldn’t stop wondering – what prompted 5 capsuleers to land on such remote and pointless planet? They were gods, barely aware of other small people around them, controlling wealth and power above any imagination of planet dwelling people. While space station workers managed to get glimpses of them they were almost never seen on the planet side; space was their domain and concord rules prevented them meddling in planetary affairs.
With a loud hiss of decompression cargo doors opened on the Impel. After secondary doors opened Daren saw officer in front of a very large squad of space marines. Daren’s face went white as he looked at the number of marines now marching down from the ship, there were thousands of them! All heavily armed and armoured. If they are hostile we have no chance of survival, he realized.
Officer walked up to Daren. “Are you in charge here?” he asked sharply.
“I am Daren Kurin, security chief for the colony.” He replayed.
“Take me immediately to colony manager” replayed the officer not even acknowledging his presence.
“Right this way”, he replayed and started back on the path he had come few moments ago.
Marden was sweating. Unknown ships, industrial escorted by military ships, marines pouring out of the industrial vessel, no markings. Could it be that he missed some note from State, could it be that the colony had broken some law without him knowing or was it some power struggle for the mega corps? Such displays of power dint mean to end well, not for a remote colony on some worthless system. He saw the officer walking away with Daren and entering the building, whatever it was he will know soon.
He tried to calm himself down and took a seat. Doors to his office opened and tall officer in dark leather uniform entered the room.
“Hello! I am Marden Uldrine, manager of the colony here on Yoma XI” he blurted jumping up and rushing forth offering his hand for a shake. Officer stopped, he had no intention to offer his hand and instead he stared directly into Marden’s eyes and said in a sharp commanding tone.
“You have one hour to assemble all men, women and child below age of fifty years on the launch pad for immediate relocation. If anyone thinks to resist we will use deadly force to enforce it.” Then he turned around and walked away.
Marden stood silent, he felt like he just had suffered a hard blow to his head, he looked at Daren, who stared him back, both men knew – something really bad was about to happen, but what?
Half an hour later most of colony grownups were assembled in main hall of the structure. Marden had just finished conveying the message from the unknown force now standing in full glory around the ships. There were around 1 000 marines, escorted by a hundred of heavy combat vehicles; force that could easily wipe out this whole colony. People stood silent while listening, and then they stood silent looking at each other.
“This can’t be happening! We are Caldari, State won’t move us in such a manner, we need to contact Concord or State and ask for help, this cannot be allowed to pass.” Sounded a shout “We can’t contact anyone, all communication is jammed” replayed another. “Then we should try and fight, maybe if we manage to damage that industrial ship the jamming field will drop and we can send out a distress, or maybe we can rig something to send it out on orbit?” suggested another
“Are you crazy? Fight? Have you seen what firepower stands outside? We don’t have a chance, not even a remote one” yelled another one. “Still, not all of us need to fight, and if we use buildings for cover we may cause big enough of a delay for help to get here” said Daren. People turned toward him “But how do you plan to get the signal out? Where we will send our families and how long can you keep the fight up?”
“We have some survey probes and a launcher, we can modify one of the probes to become a beacon and the gate is not far from here, if we fire it toward stargate we may have a chance – it is always patrolled to keep capsuleers under control.”
“So,” Marden spoke up “How many men will you need to make big enough distraction?” he asked.
“I’d say maybe a hundred or so, rest can help to hide our people into the caves”. For a while there was a myriad of low voice conversations between people and then slowly some men started moving toward Daren, there were about 40 of them, others were just too scared of the force outside.
“So be it” Marden looked at the few who stood by Daren, he hoped it would be enough, “Awrin, please take some engineers with you and go deal with the probe, we are running out of time, the rest of you – follow me, we need to move quickly”
Mjorn Lene was looking toward the colony control centre. People went there a while ago but the time was running out. There was about 15 minutes left for the deadline he announced to the manager. He hoped that terror factor was enough and people would come quietly so they can leave this piece of rock and move on. He looked over the assembled force, all of the men were battle hardened, running on best gear possible, pod pilot who sent them was generous but why he needed so many people? Mjorn hoped that it was not something sinister, then again, given the money he was paid he didn’t care much. Time was running out, soon they will load them into cargo ship, one way or another.
Daren looked through the window. “Everyone ready?” he asked over radio. “yes…” came replay from all the men he had positioned behind make shift fortifications, ready to break windows and open fire on soldiers down on the landing pad.
“Right, try to take out commanders, this will cause confusion and win us some time, now, be ready, 4… 3… 2…. 1… FIRE” he yelled as he squeezed the trigger.
His aim was still true, the tall officer at the landing pad fell, his head smashed by the round from Daren’s rifle. But that was the only casualty; heavy armour that soldiers were using reflected the civilian rounds that Daren’s men were firing toward them. Second’s later soldiers opened fire and Daren understood that this little diversion is useless. High calibre weapons that soldiers were using ripped structure apart, rounds passed through walls and make shift barricades killing most of Daren’s men in few opening salvos. Those who managed to run inside of the structure were quickly hunted down and executed. Daren and a small squad of 6 men managed to run away and headed toward second set of caves, trying to lead soldiers away from the places where colony people were hiding.
Soldiers were following them on vehicles, raining artillery fire around them. Only Daren and two men arrived to the cave that served as shelter from large hurricanes that devastated the land every 500 – 600 days, the door was a massive thick block of metal able to withstand the punishment of soldier’s weapons. Daren hoped they would leave soon as shelter lacked everything, there was neither food nor water, but at least there were a basic first aid supply so they could treat the wounds. Through external cameras they saw soldiers retreating and leaving the place.
Daren sighted “I think we won, it is better if we wait for at least few hours before we leave here” he stated to his remaining companions, they nodded, too tired and devastated to reply. And then there was nothing.
A big mushroom shaped cloud was rising up from where the shelter had stood in the mountain. Everything that was around it was wiped out and levelled.
Khelin had managed to get Ahena, Jelin and Lena into the second cave shelter, this one was older one and was weaker, but it was more hidden. They hoped that soldiers won’t pick up a trail and will concentrate on the few fighting militia men. There was no communication means with the colony or with the second shelter where militia men were supposed to fell back.
But at least they were safe. Out of a sudden everything started to shake like a violent earthquake, dazzled colonists were looking around, women and children were crying and some were yelling in panic. “What is going on” thought Khelin before inner sealing of the shelter collapsed on the people taking refuge there.
When the first shots were fired Arwin lead the 2 engineers on top of the colony centre and prepared to launch the probe. They worked efficiently and managed to remain unnoticed. He saw Daren running off with few men into the forest and heading toward the second shelter where they were supposed to hide, pursued by armada on invaders soldiers and being constantly fired upon. Artillery from vehicles was levelling most of the forest they were running through.
He hoped that they will make it and give him enough time to manage his job. About twenty minutes later they launched the probe and hurried to hide themselves as they soldiers still on the platform started running toward structure, alarmed by the probe launch.
They split up so they can hide in different places, Arwin choose a maintenance ventilation shaft that was big enough for him to crawl into. It also gave him a view toward the second shelter, he planned to keep eye on it and climb out of the shaft when Daren’s men would return.
Minutes passed and then he saw something felling down with a white tail, in the next moment a very strong explosion ripped apart the mountain that housed the second shelter, in his horror he watched as mushroom cloud was forming out of the impact zone and then the explosion shock rushed down the forest toward colony structure, few second later the automated defence doors sealed the shaft to protect it from impact. He felt as structure shakes violently but then stood still, the aftershock from the missile impact was over and shields opened again, only to show him a sorry view of devastation – sad remains of once beautiful mountain side.
He lost all sense, all reason, and when he climbed out of the shaft and wondered down he felt a sharp pain in the back of the head and plunged into darkness.
Khelin pushed himself upward through the debris of fine rock and dust, he dragged his family with him, he could barely see through all the dust around him, many lights were broken; he had glimpses of hand lights flashing around from men who managed to crawl out and were now helping others. Dust was everywhere making it hard to breathe, shelter door was broken open and survivors poured out of it, trying to escape and get some fresh air. He and his family were lucky, they had no injuries aside some bruising but many of the colonists were bleeding, he knew they need to go back to colony centre and get the first aid kits from there, otherwise many people would just bleed to death, they had no choice but to risk the capture, slowly a band of bloody and dusty stragglers started their march toward colony centre; only to be greeted by soldiers who without any mercy or compassion pushed them toward cargo containers packing them like some commodity. When they were sure that nobody was moving outside they marched up to the ship and sealed the containers. Few moments later ship engines began to roar and they flew up, leaving behind a ghost town.
They weren’t sure how much time passed. Few people, those who were badly wounded had died, but most of them were still alive. As the container doors opened they had to close the eyes as the bright white light was hurting the eyes. People in white clothes wearing medical masks and gear helped them out, they were taken to clean rooms, all injuries taken care of and it seemed unreal, like a dream and the survivors, quiet, unable to speak or comprehend, walked around like ghosts. They were guided to lie down and sleep, one by one all of them fell into deep sleep unable to feel anything – gas that was pumped in the rooms took away all the emotion they had.
“It is time”
Khelin opened his eyes. He felt good, really good, like he had a very long a fruitful vacation. He turned his head and saw Ahena waking up beside him, Jelina was still sleeping on the bed at the far end of the room and in the other corner there was a small crib where he could see Lena sleeping. He stood up trying to remember how they got here, but he couldn’t. All he could remember is that they are here.
“It is time – come to me” he heard again from the speakers in the room. The voice was soft, deep and compelled them to go. They woke Jelin and picked up Lena, then opened the door and walked into big room that looked like a big cargo bay, he saw people around them, all dressed in white like they were, some faces seemed somehow familiar but he couldn’t remember who they were. More and more people were coming. It seemed like there is tens of thousands of people here.
“Welcome children” they heard the voice again; it was coming from a platform above, all of them turned toward it.
There stood a man, he was dressed into black Caldari uniform, he was tall and seemed like he was glowing. To his right stood another Caldari man in a similar uniform, smiling gently while looking over the gathered people. To his left there was an Amarian woman dressed in red, she was observing people with much more reserved expression and seemed to hold a book in her hands.
“All of you are chosen, special.” He heard the voice, but the man in the middle did not move his mouth to talk, how could this be?
“While you were casted down to mud, you lost all knowledge of the God who brought you into this world, down in despair you lived you pitiful lives until God led us to you – and doing so helped us to rescue you” the voice continued.
“The universe has lost its way a long time ago, but the blessed union of Amarr and Caldari will cleanse it, we will wash away the taint of Gallente and Minmatar, silence the fires of the hatred and sin and bring peace to the eve.”
“But before we can do that we need to feed the hammer of the God, we need the resources, the technologies long lost and that’s why the God leaded us to you – so we can free you, enlighten you, and then take you to the worlds long lost through the gates of heaven that unbelievers mistakenly call wormholes – and claim what God has granted us.”
“The way is not easy – the unbelievers have crated demons that they call Sleepers to guard the cradles of Gods gifts – but we will destroy them, with your help we will build new colonies in those holy places and we will smite the taint that will try to deny us this.”
“Rejoice children of the god – as today we embark on the holy crusade to cleanse the galaxy of taint”
After those words the middle Caldari man raised his hand and Khelin saw a view of space in front of the ship they were in. Right in the middle of it was a pulsating sphere that looked like a bubble. The ship began to move toward it and then there was a flash of light.
When the flash dissipated they weren’t surrounded by the bluish hue of space they were before, now they were in the system with an emerald green hue that remained them a glow of forest, the ship went into a short warp and stopped by the planet.
He was out of breath, it was beautiful beyond words, they marvelled at this gem that was given to them by the God, and then they dropped to the knees and prayed to the three prophets who took them there – for they were made in the image of god – immortal, all knowing, all powerful – the masters of space and time – the Capsuleers.