EYES IN THE DARK CONCLUSION
The moon in orbit of Arikus III has been a bee hive of activity in the last month, ships have been coming and going bringing in supplies and personnel to one of the largest asteroids in orbit of the moon. Blasting and drilling into the large rock encountered no problems and everything has gone according to plan, with the exception of high level VIP’s arriving in the form of Vulknor, Grand Primus of the Vanguards with his head of the Severun Intelligence, Primus Kash’tic.
As the five ships make their slow trek to relay station after dropping out of phase space, T’oph enters the bridge with Vulknor, Kash’tic and Ve’Lar in tow. As the bridge staff stands at attention and return to their duties, Lord Vulknor seats at the command chair looking at the forward display.
The others stand while Kash’tic seat himself at a tactical station, while the new arrivals are staring into the view screen, the bridge crew are intently checking their readings and flight path due to the density of the orbital debris around the moon of Arikuis III.
“High yield of debris for the location of the relay platform isn’t it?” Replies Vulknor.
“Most came from the construction of the platform and will be cleared after the relay goes online,” said T’oph. “With the exception of bulk carriers, it was not necessary to clear a path for large vessels like a Jarrasul to get close to the station.”
Kash’tic says, “Well, if it is necessary we can shuttle to the relay station, there is no point endangering the Overlord if safety is a concern.”
“Nonsense, I’ve have complete confidence in your bridge crew Kash’tic,” Vulknor continues. “If a bulk carrier can maneuver in such tight confines, the Overlord and it’s escorts should do fine.”
“Thank you my lord for your confidence in us.” Says Adm Lor’tet.
“Don’t make me a liar admiral.”
Lor’tet eyes widen in shock of the comment made by Vulknor and responds, “Of course not my lord…Never.”
“Of course not, as I said, I have full confidence in you and your subordinates under your command. You will not endanger the ship or crew and it’s passengers, just as you trust me to lead you into battle, I trust you as well, it is a cooperative to better us all.”
T’oph looks around to the other members of the bridge crew and she can visibly see the crew respond to what Vulknor said. “He truly inspires his subordinates to do better, no wonder there is no shortage of volunteers to join Vulknor personal units when positions are available. His father would have been proud that he was listening to all those boring speeches.”
As the ships clear a semi-large rock to a clearing, gasps can be heard throughout the bridge.
Vulknor says, “For those of us that do not have personal screens in front of us, on main display.”
The screen now shows the relay station, it quite literally fills the screen.
“Most…impressive.” Says Vulknor.
Vulknor turns to see Kash’tic with his mouth wide open and says to him, “I’m going to assume you did not know this was going to be…, that big.”
“My lord, that is an understatement.” He begins to input commands into the tactical station he is sitting at and waits for the information to be displayed at his terminal. “It is three times the size of an Orkulus.”
Vulknor looks back at the screen and he sees something near one of the arrays, “What is that dot next to it? Magnify.”
The screen changes and the small dot is actually a bulk carrier in close proximity to the relay station.
“Kash’tic, I do believe your calculations are a little off.”
T’oph walks to where Vulknor is sitting and replies, “I will tell War Master G’nash that you all are pleased by his creation.”
An audible chirping begins to come from the main com station, a tech who is seated says, “Receiving a hail from the relay station Adm Lor’tet, it‘s both video and audio being received.”
From the bulk carrier and the relay station that was displayed on screen, it blinks to that of an older looking Vasari with a slight scar on the left side of his face wearing a heavily decorated red duty tunic, many ribbons and badges decorate the right side of his chest. On his shoulders is the Vanguard sigil embossed in the color of platinum with several stripes before and after while the sigil is in the center.
War Master’s are the equivalent to fleet admirals, usually in command of an task force or more depending on the situation. War Master’s are known for their strategic planning on very large scale assaults such as multiple stellar invasions into large areas of space. Also, multiple strategic constructions projects for long term siege operations. Not only is War Master G’nash one of these high ranking officers, but he is also an engineer by trade. Responsible for all and any important construction projects to the Vanguards, their clan has been the go to for engineers since the days of the emperor on the home worlds of the Vasari.
And ten-thousand years later, this has not changed. In a loud and deep throaty voice he says, “Grand Primus Vulknor, Welcome to the Astirka Relay station.”
“Acknowledged War Master G’nash, I am thoroughly impressed by the sheer scope of the project you have presented, very impressed.”
“Thank you my lord, it is a honor to serve the interest of the Vanguards. I do hope Adm T’oph has not been too….bothersome in your trip thus far my lord.’
“On the contrary, she has been most beneficial on bring us up to date thus far on what you have done here in this system. You should be proud of her G’nash.”
“Coming from you my lord is praise enough, we await your arrival. And Primus Kash’tic, you should be pleased on the final outcome of the relay station, I took liberty on the design parameters you gave and do believe this station will support all of your needs to gather information conducive to your operations.”
“War Master G’nash, I can only say this is more than adequate for the Severun Intelligence.” And in unusual move, Primus Kash’tic bows toward the screen featuring G’nash.
Vulknor, taken aback by courtesy from Kash’tic to G’nash speaks, “Very well then, we shall see you in a few moments War Master G’nash, Vulknor out.”
Vulknor rises from the command chair and says, “ Lor’tet, have a shuttle stand-by to take us to the station.”
“Already on stand-by my lord,” said Lor’tet
Personal forces already enroute my lord,” said Ve’Lar.
“Adm T’oph, would you join us to see your father onboard Kash’tic’s new toy.”
“As you wish my lord.”
As Kash’tic, Ve’lar and T’oph make their way toward AG lift Vulknor heads toward the lift as well and announces, “Adm Lor’tet, you have the bridge.”
“Very good my lord.”
As the three wait as Vulknor joins them, the lift doors open and Vulknor goes in first followed by the others, the lift doors close followed by a rapid descent in the bowels of the Overlord to the main hanger where a shuttle is on stand-by, waiting for them is his personal guard at attention. After a few moments, Vulknor and the others arrive and board the shuttle with the guard and make their way the almost completed rely station in orbit of the moon of Arikus III.
After several moments of traveling through the debris field of the asteroids surrounding the relay station, the shuttle and fighter escorts arrive at the main landing bay of Astirka station, which is midway down from where the main transceiver towers are anchored into the very large asteroid which the base is made from.
As the shuttle’s landing gear extend as it slowly glides and hover’s over it’s designated landing point, hundred’s of Vasari are lined up in rows ready to great the head of the Vanguard’s, Grand Primus Vulknor. Also arriving with him, the head of the Severun Intelligence, Primus Kash’tic. Even though they had short notice of their arrival, they manage to have as much pomp and circumstance as possible. The landing bay is decorated with a sea of Crimson and Platinum with all present wearing their formal dress uniforms.
Armored troopers at the ready with polished combat suits and weapons waiting to impress not only their Grand Primus but their commanding officer, War Master G’nash as well. The shuttle lands with a soft thud on the deck plates of the landing bay while at the same time, the landing ramp deploys and it too makes a light dud on deck. The first out of the ship are Vulknor’s personal troopers which make two rows on either side of the landing ramp. Next is the head of Vulknor’s security detail and special operations forces, Captain Ve”Lar. Next is Rear Admiral T’oph, commander of the local fleet in the Arikus system and daughter of War Master G’nash, follwed by the head of the Severun Intelligence, Primus Kash’tic. And finally the head of the Vulkoras clan and leader of the Vanguards, Grand Primus Vulknor.
Vulknor walks down the ramp onto the deck floor of the landing bay, as he passes each of his troopers, their rifle butts hit the deck of the floor to match his footsteps as a sign to strike fear in his enemies and signal to the very heavens to prepare to receive the dead from our glorious leader, he walks to the end of the Crimson carpet that has a large Vanguard sigil in Platinum at the end to where War Master G’nash is standing with the others from the shuttle, without warning Ve’Lar signals the troops to salute, they all extend their left arm and bring to their chest with their fist closed.
At that moment, every one inside of the landing bay drops down and kneels before Vulknor, as he looks out to see everyone show their respect to him, he is satisfied and says in his deep voice, “Rise my Vasari.”
Everyone stands back at attention awaiting orders form their leaders. War Master G’nash steps forward and says, “On behalf of my forces Lord Vulknor and Primus Kash’tic, welcome to Astirka.”
“War Master G’nash, on behalf of Kash’tic and myself, we are overwhelmed by your mastery of construction of this base, you have truly outdone yourself old friend.”
“I do what I must to serve the Vanguards my lords.” Said G’nash.
“Most impressive War Master G’nash, this is truly beyond my scope when I supplied the requirements of what the Severun needed, most impressive indeed.” Said Kash’tic.
“I’m an honored with your high praise Primus Kash’tic, all for the glory to the Vanguards. My lords, if you will, let me fast track you both to the heart of Astirka, the main operations and control center.”
“If you wish G’nash, please lead the way and impress us more by your handiwork,” said Vulknor.
The entourage being led by G’nash walks through the cavernous landing area to the far side through a set of heavy duty blast doors to a passage way which leads to other parts of the station, as they make their way the AG lift which will take them to the main control center of Astirka, he tells them of crew compliment and power usage of the station from the three fusion reactors needed for power and the sensitivity of the sensors.
As they travel in the lift, he tells of combination of phase sensors and stellar cartography to give pinpoint readings of any ship in a giving area. As the doors open, the group walks out into a corridor which leads to a large recessed area, in a half a stadium configuration, there are four rows that go down in descending order with sensor tech operators arranged with their backs to the VIP’s who now stare in awe of the various floating screens arranged in the area.
In the center of the complex is a huge holographic matrix which could produce images in the largest detail when called upon. Various screens flash on then off as the operators cycle through data, most is just in test mode as they scan the Arikus system and it’s various planets.
War Master G’nash sits in a command chair with a large multi function control panel in front of him and ushers Vulknor and Kah’tic to sit at either one of the tactical stations next to him.
“As you can see, we are still running diagnostics of the systems before we bring main power on line, even at low power we can pinpoint our scanners anywhere in this system.”
As G’nash begins to type into the console his is sitting at, the large holo array begins to power up as various lights come on at the center of the complex, there is a momentary flash and flicker with some static until a huge purple gas giant envelops and dominates the center of the room. Vulknor, Kash’tic and Ve’Lar are taken aback by the huge image is created before them.
“It… is as if…I’m in space right now…viewing this world.” Said Ve’Lar.
“By Vrong’s shadow,” said a wide eyed Vulknor.
Kash’tic is just speechless by what he sees, the holo image shows Arikus V with a couple of gas collectors and a Astrakarr breaking orbit of the planet.
“This is the fifth planet of the system, abundant gases in this giant necessitated the construction of the collectors, this is two of the six in orbit now, and this Astarkarr arrived here yesterday and is now heading back to prime.”
“Most impressive G’nash,” said finally by Kash’tic, “the holo array is just impressive, the detail is….just impressive.”
“War Master G’nash, remind me to give you an commendation for making Kash’tic speechless.
They all begin to laugh and without warning, Kash’tic joins in and says, “I will personally sign that commendation Grand Primus for he has just did as you say.”
G’nash taps the controls and the image changes to a bright white ice covered world with a lot of asteroids in the back and foreground.
“This must be Arikus IV,” said Vulknor.
“Yes my lord, initial surveys have shown a heavy abundance of crystals, very pure for energy manipulation, focusing beam emitters for weapons, shield related and other crystal related technologies. We will soon begin construction of crystal mines of a few of the large asteroids in orbit as well as a matter processor in orbit of Arikus IV. ”
“I can see the ice flows and the channels carved into the rock, the resolution on this holo matrix is just incredible G’nash. Said Ve’Lar.
“Yes captain, the holo matrix is tied in with the most powerful listening, transmitting and sensor platform ever created. With this station we can get real time information from our ships as it happens and respond without haste, also when the station is at full power, we can track any ship in the Distant Stars region traveling through Phase space and counter any fleet movements with our own.”
“With this station overlooking the sector, the Severun’s eye will truly never close.” Said Kash’tic.
“Agreed,” said Vulknor, “Is the station ready to handle a simple test G’nash.”
“What do you have in mind my lord,” as he turns toward him.
“I want to focus on the Finley system to learn of any intel coming from there after our mission.”
“Very good my lord, stand by.” As G’nash turns back to the controls, he increases the power to the station, the image of Arikus IV disappears and replaced by hundreds of stars the make up the Distant Stars region. He begins to tune to a small yellow light and it expands and shows what information is relevant to the Finley system.
It has almost been two weeks since the attack launched against the trade port in orbit of the ocean moon of Finley IV. As information is displayed, it shows a number of trader fleets have entered the system and it reads a system lockdown until further notice. As G’nash is processing the data something catches his eye.
“My lord, where their any more assets in this system?”*
“Not that I’m aware of, one scout ship was definitely destroyed.” Said Vulknor.
“Well my lord, this latest intel is less than ¼ rotational period and another scout shows it was destroyed in the star’s grav well.”
“What!!?” Said Vulknor. “Did the ship auto burst it’s data logs?”
As G’nash processes the data he brings up the scout’s transit information before it was destroyed in the star’s grav well.
“The data shows the ship was detected around the ocean moon from a recently constructed starbase, it proceeded to Finley IV where other ships where able to track and attack before it jumped into the star’s grav well to escape but was destroyed as it was trying to use Advent convoy for cover.
“Advent?” Said Vulknor. “Be that as it may, Kash’tic, was you aware of another scout ship in Finley?”
“No Grand Primus, however I knew there was an overdue ship and I assumed it was destroyed right along with the other one during your mission.”
“Judging by the size of the data burst, it has been surveying the entire system since after the attack before it was discovered. Since it was in orbit of the ocean moon, they may have been able to track the scout because radiation from the device you used. Either way, I can‘t tell using these logs my lords.” Said G’nash.
“Kash’tic, until we can confirm the humans can detect the scouts drop the ships back from Finley until further notice. Stay clear of the Advent systems as well since they may be able to detect our ships just by sensing the crews thoughts. G’nash, using the information from the captured trade vessel, display the current social political map for the Distant Stars sector.”
As G’nash operates the controls like a master musician on a piano, the system of Finley recedes back into the background of hundreds of stars as various hues light up and borders form to show what faction is in control of what system or group of systems inside Distant Stars. As Vulknor studies the large star field in the middle of the complex, he is fixated by two factions, he presses the control where he is sitting to highlight the two factions.
“These were the two factions that had combat operations in Kyrene correct?” Said Vulknor.
Kash’tic responds‘, “Yes my lord, our scouts recorded excellent video of the battle, however, I found it odd of the Advent trade ship convoy inside Finley.”
“As do I, for now, it does not matter, have the next wave of scouts begin to survey these two factions followed by the survey near the singularity, home of the pirates if the intel from the trade vessel is correct, these are the most powerful traders in the Distant Stars space. The pirates of Black Five Sector, the High Gryphons and the United Explorers Corporation.”
“It will be done my lord,” replied Kash’tic.
As Vulknor turns toward G’nash he asks, “Do you have a Kortol nearby War Master?”
“Yes Lord Vulknor, it can be here in a matter hours.”
“Could you instruct it to rendezvous at Arikus III with T’oph’s flag ship, I want to meet the natives of the planet, I want to see if they will be helpful in our cause to unite the peoples under Vasari rule.”
G’nash begins to smile and say, “Yes my lord, it will done and they will be waiting for you.”
“Just out of curisoty, how much power are you using?”
“¼ my lord.”
“And full power?”
As G’nash begins typing commands into his console, he speaks, “This will be a full power test, stand by.”
As the rows of tech operators begin to ready the station sensors for full power, the holo matrix powers down briefly only to power back up as icons light up everywhere, dozens of smaller screens appear showing various ships in transit in Phase Space throughout the whole sector. The sensor tech operators begin calling out various information on ships moving including Trader, Advent, other Vasari clans and unknown ships which are classified as pirates. As they look on, mere moments ago it was just a static map showing various systems and other information has now turned into a mass of moving, coordinated near overload of the visual senses that is now assaulting them.
“By Vrong’s shadow, there must be thousands of ships transiting Phase Space,” said Ve’Lar.
“Right now Seventy-five thousand six hundred and ninety two, as we survey the systems or collect up to date star maps and begin to receive transponder codes from the virus that was uploaded to their Trader network, we will know everything about individual ships other than their Phase displacement which is how we can tell what is what right now,” said G’nash.
“Once again G’nash, most impressive,” said Kas’htic.
Vulknor stands and says, “War Master, continue to entertain Kash’tic on his new toy, T’oph can show Ve’Lar and myself the rest of the station before we leave for Arikus III.”
As G’nash begins to dial down the power of the sensors he says, “One more thing my lord, just glancing through the reports, one was from Esta, three of the four Kostura cannons are operational.”
“That is excellent news, Kash’tic, try not to have too much fun with G’nash.”
“They same can be said to you Grand Primus on Arikus III.”
“Well done, Kash’tic. G’nash we will take our leave, will be in contact prior to and after we make contact with the natives.”
“May Vrongs shadow protect you three on Arikus III,” said G’nash.
“T’oph, will you please show us some more of the station before we introduce ourselves on the planet below, said Vulknor.
“Please my lord, this way,” said T’oph.
As the three leave to command control room of Astirka, Kash’tic begins to quiz G’nash on the various functions of the controls and capabilties of the station and once again he can be heard saying, “impressive.”
To Be Continued...