|The Enemy of my Enemy|
Holbenilord, Pinguinis and Toothless100
Lar 'Ar Krar scanned the section of space that had appeared on the screen. It showed what was ahead of them: a black void, dotted with a few white, shining stars. A darker dot was visible in the shadow of one of the stars - Lar assumed it was a planet.
"Head for the planet orbiting the largest star," he commanded, and felt the ground shift as the spaceship changed course. Now it was heading straight for the planet.
Lar 'Ar Krar had passed many planets in his time. Some lifeless, some not - but he had never found sapience. Some creatures had shown beginning signs, and he had picked specimens from the planet. They were now in a laboratory on board. The Lentaa scientists were trying to genetically modify them to become sapient.
So, Lar expected the same disappoint on reaching the next planet. It grew on the screen as they got closer, and Lar thought he could detect a hint of green, like his home planet, Skogland.
"Perhaps this planet will have intelligent life after all," one of his guards commented. Lar wanted to ensure his safety, even on board a ship filled with his own species.
"Perhaps," he replied. "But even a forested land does not neccesarily contain intelligent life. We can hope, though."
In the lead ship, its captain was checking all was in order.
"Are the wings out?"
"Check the rear scanners. Are the others following us with wings out, in full formation?"
"Then speed up. We must reach that planet and be gone quickly. We do not belong in this sector of space, and we do not know who else travels along these routes."
The whine from the engines grew louder as they were made to work harder. Their ship pulled away from the rest, but soon they all increased their speed, and caught up again.
"The planet is straight ahead," one subordinate informed the captain.
"Slow down for the landing. But instruct the other ships first! We do not want them colliding with us."
The entire fleet slowed to land. But, before they could, the captain got a message from Lar 'Ar Krar himself.
"What is it, Grand Lentaa King?"
"We have an incoming message from an alien spaceship. We have found sapient life at last."
Asalin, captain of the Lutrian ship Kiromos, grinned. A new sapient species! He'd get congratulated for this.
"Make sure the other ships are behind, weapons unprepped." The comms officer nodded and got to work.
Their ships cruised gently towards those of the Lentaa. The atmosphere below was lined with white, shifting clouds over brown earth and blue ocean. It was a beautiful place to meet.
"Almost within video range, captain!"
Asalin grinned again, teeth poking over his lower jaw. He adjusted his chair, and faced the screen.
"And hailing now!"
The screen became a fuzzy blur, but swam into focus. Before it stood an enormous reptilian creature, maybe a dozen feet tall. Its wings were ornately patterned and it regarded him curiously.
Asalin bowed respectfully. "Welcome to this sector. May i know who you are?"
"I am the Grand Lentaa King, ruler of these people you see before you. And you?" The translation software was doing an unusually fine job, noted Asalin. Usually it made loads of bleeps and whines.
"I am Asalin, captain of the Kiromos, my lord. And leader of reconnaissance in this sector."
"It is good to meet other sapient life at last."
Asalin stood up, shocked. "This is your First Contact?" He had expected this to be simply another formality for them. But this evidently meant a lot more to the Lentaa than the Lutrians...
"Indeed. Are you threatened by this?"
"No, my lord. It is just surprising." He sat down again. "We look forward to co-operating in this sector.
The Lentaa King nodded his great, crested head, and the image fuzzed out.
Larol dismally looked at the computer screen, and sighed. So this is what he had to do? While people like Nutay ***** Rinkam got to talk to Atrenids and Zyrothans all day long, he was stuck here on the Depression. It was a good name for the ship. Apparently, it had been built by some Zyrothan manufacturers, who had burned the name of the ship into the hull. They had translated it wrong; they thought they were naming it the Joy.
Larol shook himself. Another bad thing. If you're job was to sit in some chair all day listening to every ***** pip and ping that goes through space, then you were bound to get bored.
Suddenly, a radio signal detector began to make mysterious noises. Not just the random crackles that regularly blast through space; this was organized, with set patterns and frequencies.
"Quick!", he yelled, "Get into FTL! We've gotta find out what that noise is."
Their efforts were well rewarded. In orbit around a temperate world, there were two ships, with designs quite unlike any they had seen yet. Shaking with excitement, Larol turned on the Intercom. Apparently the two ships were already communicating with one another; all he had to do was transmitt into their conversation, making a three-way hololink.
Once communications were set up, two faces came up on opposite sides of the screen. The first was some form of furry mammalian; the other had a beak, and some sort of headcrest.
Not just one new sapient, but two. He'd get a promotion for sure.
"Greetings from the Salsene Grand Fleet," he said, with as much dignity and sophistication as he could muster, "I am Larol Lunaray, captain of this ship."
"Greetings, Salsene," said the crested creature, "I am Lar 'Ar Krar, ruler of the Lentaa."
The mammalian spoke up. "I am Asalin, representative of the Lutrian race. It is good to find two new sapients in this area. Perhaps we can all forge an alliance, to learn more of each other, and to explore new worlds."
"Perhaps," said the Lentaa, "In time."
"In the meanwhile," said Larol, "Let us discuss each other, and learn of our ways and history."
And so the three races met each other, and began to learn much about one another.
The Aian screamed in pain as the burning whip seared into his flesh.
"You see," said the Keraran commander, "Do you see where obstinance gets you? Be honest. Are there or are there not habitable worlds in this region of the galaxy?"
The Aian glanced up, and spat in his face.
The Keraran smiled. "Take him into the Torture Bay. Flay him." Soldiers dragged the Aian kicking and screaming down the hall.
"Sir," said a technician, "We have a visual on three alien ships in orbit around a planet. They are communicating with one another."
"Let me into their conversation," said the commander. A few moments later he saw three alien faces on the holodisplay.
"Greetings," said a green, amphibious one, smiling, "It is good to find more sapients in this part of the galaxy..."
"Cease with your prattle, amphibian. This area is ours, by the Right of Superior Strength. You shall give yourselves up to slavery this once."
All three aliens made indignant noises. "We shall not surrender!", all said in near-perfect unison.
"Very well then," said the Keraran, "We shall take you. Your ship shall be boarded momentarily."
The Hololink shut off. A large fleet of small fighters came from the Keraran warship, heading towards them at a great speed.
"Prime the weapons!" ordered Lar 'Ar Krar, as the Lentaa Fleet accelerated towards the attacking Kerarans. They were flanked on either side by the Lutrians and the Salsenes.
All three ships had their weapons primed, as the Kerarans drew nearer. The Kerarans fired the first shot. A Might Launcher mounted on one of the fighters launched a volley of shots.
A Lentaa and a Lutrian ship fell to the barrage. Angrily, both shot back. The Lutrian missiles landed hits on the first Keraran fighter, but they did not completely take the ship down.
The wings of the Lentaa ships were open, and they fired their plasma cannons. The first Keraran fighter went down. The Salsenes then fired their own plasma cannons, and the second Keraran fighter was destroyed.
The fighters swerved for another attack run.
Lar Ar'Kar's voice suddenly sounded in the other allied ships. This kind of link was far less easily interceptable. "Quick, dispersed formation! Prepare full broadside!"
The fighters came again, straight into a barrage of plasma, missiles and shells. Several fell under the concentrated fire, but more came through. They sped over the dozen ships that faced them, blasting them point-blank with Might Launcher salvoes.
A Salsene and a Lutrian ship exploded in a burst of light and molten metal.
Asalin frowned. "Okay. Prepare the nuke."
He sent a comms to the other ships- "I'm going to fire an H-bomb. See if it can blind them or stop them."
The fighters closed again, but their shapes vanished in a thick white blaze. Another group had been destroyed, and the remainder had been put off by the attack. They wheeled away again, but the Lentaa barrage caught many.
The Keraran leader's face appeared again. "Did you not understand what I said? Or perhaps you all have a belief in ritual suicide."
Asalin bristled with anger. "You stuck up little nothing!"
"How dare you insult the Kerarans, your masters and superiors! Taste our wrath!"
The Keraran ships began to move, slowly but ominously, towards them.
Larol put his face into his hands, trying to think of a solution. People like Nutay Rinkam made it look so simple. Just invite the aliens over to your ship, treat them nicely, and voila! New friends. But what if the aliens weren't being nice?
"We'll never beat them in a fight," said the Lutrian captain, "I strongly recomend retreat." He looked around at the other leaders.
"He's right," said the Lentaa King, "We have enough energy for one last space-jump. A small one. Salsene, your race has explored more of this part of space than any of us. Are there any planets in this part of space we could go too? We need a place to hide, until we can get communications back online."
"Well," said Larol, "There is one, but it's far too dangerous to land on. The last team we sent were all killed..."
The Hololink switched on again, showing the sinister face of the Keraran commander. "We are a merciful race," he said, "We give you one last chance to surrender before we board your ship."
"Never!," said all three leaders at once.
The Keraran frowned. "Very well then," he said, "we will board your ship, and take you all into slavery." He paused, and muttered, "We'll have to augment them heavily. I can hardly understand what they're saying." The Hololink switched off.
The leaders glared at Larol. "OK," he said, "I'll give you the coordinates. 3896390."
And so they made the jump.
Lar 'Ar Krar surveyed the area around him.
The planet the Salsene commander had led them to was rocky and mountainous. A large moon, or perhaps a small planet, hung in the sky, obviously a natural satellite.
"Where are we?" he asked Larol.
"This is Oread Major. The other planet, Oread Minor, exerts a strong gravitational pull on this planet, which is why..."
"Which is why this planet is so mountainous. I wasn't born yesterday," Lar interrupted crossly.
Just then, Asalin came up to them.
"What do we do now?" he asked.
"We'll have to reorganise, then mount a full-scale attack on the Kerarans," Lar said.
"There's just one problem," Larol said. "This planet is home to Necrosaurs. Sapient pseudoanimalians."
"Why should we worry about them?" Lar snorted indignantly.
"They killed the last Salsene exploration..."
"Last time you didn't number millions!"
"This isn't getting us anywhere," Asalin remarked. "I say we go with Lar 'Ar Krar's plan, at least as far as reorganising. We can deal with the Necrosaurs if we find them."
"Or if they find us," Larol replied, half ominously, half uneasily.
Even as he said it, a tribe of Necrosaurs burst out from a clump of bushes. The leaders turned to face them, and some of the others ran forward. As they did so, a Lutrian and a Salsene fell to the ground. One had a bullet hole in its chest, the other a bullet hole in its head.
"That's Salsene technology!" Larol exclaimed, staring at the firearms carried by the Necrosaurs.
Lar 'Ar Krar ignored Larol's outburst, and dived towards the Necrosaurs at the edge of the group. One Necrosaur fell headless to the ground, and as Lar swooped back, the same happened to a second.
Two other Necrosaurs shot at Lar in retaliation, but he was protected by his armour. By then, the Lutrians and the Salsenes had come to join the fray, and their firearms tore up the Necrosaur ranks. The Lentaa provided aid by using the small firearms mounted on spaceships.
Once they were all dead, Larol picked his way through the bodies and retrieved one of the Necrosaurs' guns.
"This is definitely Salsene technology," he said. "They must have gained it from the last encounter."
"Well, that's all the more reason to leave as soon as possible. We have to reorganise now," Lar said.
They began to move off to their respective armies, but Asalin called Lar back.
"How did you do that with the Necrosaurs?" he inquired.
"Razor-wing edges. Every adult Lentaa is fitted with razor-sharp, aluminium wing edges, for use in combat," Lar explained. As he waddled off, Asalin could see the metal glinting.
"Where are they?" roared the Keraran leader.
"We don't know, sir. They've vanished from the scanners."
"This is an outrage! Locate them at once!" Quieter, he murmured, "And when I find them, they will regret ever standing against the might of the Kerarans!"
Oread's star sat on the horizon, gentle rays coming through the darkness. The sapients could see it, framed by a pair of grey mountains, as its comforting radiance died gently away.
Asalin came out of his ship, and turned to the other leaders. "Looks like more of those Necrosaurs coming. On the radar, looks like dozens and dozens."
Lar'Ar Kar sighed. "Haven't they learnt?"
"Could be part of their culture or something. We have no alternative but to fight, the Kerarans are being very active in orbit. They'll detect us within the day."
Larol pulled out his rifle. "Right, let's get ready."
Asalin glanced at his translator. "You're both getting fuzzy. I'll turn this off for now." With a beep, the device was deactivated.
"Kalamen tirin losf, sere. Hashiis!" Responding to their language, the Lutrians formed up behind the hastily erected barricades.
Larol glanced at the scanner. "50 metres."
The bushes were beginning to rustle. Lar'Ae Kar motioned, and the turret-mounted plasma cannons began firing.
Amongst the plants, great explosions appeared, blasting vegetation and soil into the air. Necrosaurus could be heard screeching, and the defenders tightened formation.
The first group of the skeletal creatures emerged from the shadows, and were met with a withering volley of projectiles. The Lutrian ships' searchlights danced across between stems and roots, allowing glimpses of the tribes behind.
"Mark your targets!" Laror cried, as the next mob appeared. They had learnt, and came out with guns blazing. The defenders were forced into cover, and Asalin gestured at an engineer- no voice could be heard over the din.
The Lutrian ship's nose-cone opened, and a fearsome-looking cannon appeared. With four claps of thunder, the bush was now a firestorm and screams filled the air.
The searchlights continued scanning, and the soldiers clutched their guns, but no enemies appeared.
Asalin walked back to the centre, and re-activated his translator. "No more coming, for now. I advise we come up with a plan quickly."
Larol sadly gazed out the window, out onto the surface of Oread. Suddenly, he saw a troop of Necrosaurs marching towards them.
"Red alert!", he yelled, "Lutrians, Lentaa, Salsenes, get down here!"
Asalin and Lar 'Ar Krar came bounding down towards him. "The Necrosaurs are here," said Larol breathlessly.
"Prepare to fire", said Lar 'Ar Krar.
"Wait", said Asalin, "it looks like they're holding something... like a sort of flag. And there's one dressed in robes... that might be their leader."
"Well, what do they want?", asked Larol.
" I don't know. Maybe they want to negotiate."
Lar 'Ar Krar laughed. "I'm not going out there," he said.
"Neither am I," said Larol.
Asalin sighed. "I'll go", he said.
With an escort of Lutrian guards, he stepped outside with the Necrosaurs. He carried an Aian translation device.
"Greetings," he said through the machine. The Necrosaur chief stared at him menacingly, and growled harshly.
"I am here to make a pact with you", translated the machine.
"Oh yes?", said Asalin, "Why? And what sort of pact do you want?"
"Today, a giant ship from the stars bombed our village. It killed men, women, and children. We would like to fight them, but we do not have the resources to do so on our own. We must make a pact with you, if our pact is to survive."
Asalin thought for a moment. "I agree to your proposal," he said at last, "Now, what kind of aide can you give us?"
"We have three starships."
Asalin paused, confused. "But I thought the Salsenes only sent one here. Was I wrong?"
"Since then, we have built even more of our ships, with the help of our god."
"Ahh, so there are native divinities involved. Well, I'm gonna get the Lentaa and the Salsenes out here. It's time for war!"
The fleet of spaceships, now consisting of Lentaa, Salsene, Lutrian and Necrosaur ships, rose to the skies to oppose the Kerarans. Upon entering range, the various ships opened fire, shaking a Keraran battleship with the combined power. The Kerarans quickly retaliated, proton beams slicing through the opposition.
The Necrosaurs, acting less on tactics and more an anger, began to dive-bomb the battleships, using the various spaceships they had been supplied with. There were crashes and enormous explosions as they collided, but for the time being, the battleship walls held.
More Lentaa ships fell from the skies, but the Necrosaurs finally breached the walls. They poured into the ship, but Kerarans were on the scene with remarkable speed, shooting them down.
"Come on Lentaa," Lar 'Ar Krar said through his communicator. "Show them who they're messing with."
Skillfully avoid the proton beams coming from all angles, a large number of Lentaa ships headed for the breach in the battleship walls. They poured in, a seeming endless stream of Lentaa, but were met by hordes of Kerarans, firing forceguns. The bullets had no effect.
Lar boarded next, and if Lentaa could laugh, then he did. The Kerarans fell back, dying from the various forms of attack used by the Lentaa. Meanwhile, the other ships were focusing on other battleships.
Lar flew through the carnage, heading for the main control room, with just his escort for company. They dispatched Kerarans left and right on the way, until they reached the door, which was knocked down without too much effort.
On the other side, the strongest Kerarans barraged them with forcegun fire, still to no effect. When they were all cut down but their leader, Lar spoke to him through a translator. Just one word.
"Never!" came the roared reply, as he assaulted the Lentaa viciously. They flew out of the way or, if they couldn't be bothered, just took the blows, which still did no damage. Several minutes later, the commander was subdued.
"One last chance," Lar said bluntly. He got no spoken response, except the commander struggled more vigorously, but still to no avail.
"Throw him into space," Lar commanded his escort, and they left to do his bidding.
Lar had hoped, now the commander was gone, to be able to use the ship against the Kerarans, but he was dismayed to find he could understand its working. Through his communicator, he ordered his lead technicians to report to him immediately. Before they arrived, he recieved news that most of the Kerarans were dead or captive, and that they had suffered few casualties.
"It's the main battlecruiser next," Lar said to himself, "As soon as I can pilot this."
"They've taken a ship," a Keraran reported to the main commander.
"Fighters can be replaced."
"No. A battlecruiser."
"What!? A battlecruiser! You incompetent fools! How on earth did they get control of a battlecruiser?"
"Well, the truth is, we don't know. Those Lentaa, were unaffected by all forms of our weapons."
"But it's true."
"Shoot the battlecruiser out of the sky. It is a great loss, but we have no choice."
The Keraran ran off to obey.
"How? What are your dark secrets, Lar 'Ar Krar?" the commander said to himself afterwards.
The Lentaa-piloted Battlecruiser turned ponderously towards the Kerarans. Around it swarmed the Necrosaur ships, and lines of fire streamed between the two fleets.
The Lutrians and Salsenes swooped down, then accelerate up, towards the bottom of the Keraran fleet.
The Keraran commander sneered. "I want full proton beam sweeps, and a time-fused Might barrage! Target the battlecruiser!"
Space lit up with volley after volley and sizzling laser connections. Silent explosions surrounded the Lentaa battlecruiser, but it ploughed onwards. The wings of the Lentaa ships behind it came down, and plasma shots traced blue in the darkness.
Asalin narrowed his eyes, searching the screen for a gap in the Keraran line that came closer and closer. The communicator bleeped, and Larol was online.
"We're going to send a missile volley port as a distraction, then swerve right to attack their bays and engines. The turning force will black us out, even with suspensors, but we should regain consciousness within a few seconds."
"I hear you. We'll assist from below."
A proton beam appeared to their right, and one of the Salsene ships was gone.
Now, the fleets were within ten miles of each other. The necrosaur ships began to speed up, straight at the Keraran command ships.
Dozens of the charging ships exploded in the volley of Might shots and proton beams. But for every one that was destroyed, two surged through, and they were on the foe.
The Keraran commander clenched his fists in rage. "WHY ARE THEY NOT DEAD?"
The fleets were now amongst each other. The rogue battlecruiser was going straight for Keraran command.
Proton beams came from both sides, dissipating angrily over the shields. Lar Ar'Kar had an idea.
"Evacuate the battlecruiser. Accelerate to FTL. Nothing can stop a spaceship at 100 times the speed of light!"
As the Lentaa ship was evacuated, the Keraran commander came back online.
"It won't work, you know," he said flatly.
"What won't work?" asked Lar Ar'Krar.
The Keraran commander smiled. "Your ship. You're gonna turn on its FTL drive, and then ram it into us. It won't work."
"How did you know?"
"You're radio transmission isn't as secure as you'd like to believe it is."
And with that, the commander went back offline. The Keraran warships issued a fresh volley of missles.
"There's only one thing left to do," said Asalin, "A last minute charge. If we're going to die, we can at least go down fighting."
"Agreed," said Larol.
Lar Ar'Krar thought for a minute. "Agreed," he said finally. But just as they shook hands/wings, a bright flash occured out their window. "What was that?" said Larol, speaking to a technician.
"Well," said the technician excitedly, "It's a fleet of Aian vessels!"
The voice of an Aian came over the intercom. "This is Commander Traen, of the Aian ship "Aisor. I've been tracking this fleet of Kerarans for days now. Shall we destroy them?"
Lar Ar'Krar smiled. "Yes", he said.
All of the ships, Aian, Salsene, Lentaa, Lutrian, and Necrosaur, swiveled, and began to fire at the oncoming horde of Kerarans. Ships exploded on both sides, but still the battle continued. After a while of intense aerial combat, the evacuated Lentaa battlecruiser took off in a flash of light. In a fraction of a second, the Lentaa ship plowed through the Keraran command ship, destroying it. At that moment, the dying scream of the Keraran commander could be heard over the intercom. Pieces of command ship flew in all directions, destroying small ships that had been stationed near it. In unison, all of the remaining Keraran ships took off in the opposite direction, reluctant to face the oncoming armada.
On board a small Salsene ship, Larol, Lar Ar'Krar, and Asalin cheered along with their crew. They'd won.
Another transmission issued forth. "We have destroyed the enemy," said a Necrosaur, "Now, leave our world, or you shall be destroyed."
"What?", said Lar Ar'Krar, confused, "But we're allies now!"
"We never said that you were our allies. Merely that you were necessary to our survival. Now leave."
Although the Salsenes, Lentaa, Lutrians, and Aians could have easily destroyed the Necrosaurs, it was decided that they should not waste the lives of their men. Each race agreed to stay in contact with the others, and they all turned around, and went back to their worlds.
Larol lived happily for the rest of his days, after recieving an enormous cash bonus from the Salsene Grand Fleet.
Asalin was promoted to a much higher rank, and commanded many Lutrian ships.
Lar 'Ar Krar, however, ordered the fleet to return swiftly to Skogland. They would see if disaster really had befallen the planet, and then... then he had plans.
Meanwhile, on the surface of Oread, the Necrosaur Emperor spoke to a strange hologram in a strange, highly advanced fortress made out of shifting cubes. "All is going according to plan, Master."
"YOU HAVE DONE WELL, TRISHJINN," said the hologram, "YOU SHALL BE REWARDED. I AM SENDING MORE SHIPS. NOW GO FORTH AND TAKE THIS UNIVERSE IN MY NAME. IN THE NAME OF ROTHEL."