Chapter Five: “We Weren’t Asking”

Is it a threat? Is it a demand? Is it ignorance?

No… it’s most certainly a threat.

Excuse me? I ask the Camfurdian.

You have no idea who we are, do you? You have no idea what is about to happen. We are Camfurdian, and our intentions are simple. The galaxy is a chaotic place and we intend to fix that problem. We’re the only ones who can. Alim Elikel’s tone is calm, if not mildly arrogant. I’ve already made it clear to my kind that we are under attack. Unfortunately, it will take some time for reinforcements to arrive.

We will not tolerate threats, Alim Elikel. There is no need for hostility. I promise you, any aggression will be met in kind.

Truly, this is one of the worst scenarios imaginable. An invasion force would require more than one ship, so their presence alone implies trouble. I close my eyes, frustrated. Leave. Leave now and my kind will forget your threats.

You said something with more truth than you realize. You’re right. There is no need for hostility. None at all. We do not seek to be cruel tyrants. We seek to unify under a single banner, not to divide. We will offer this once, Groyin. Submit. Accept your fate and be spared from needless deaths. If you do not, then you will be branded an enemy of galactic peace, and more of my kind will come. We will rain down on this system like a great flood, washing away all that would resist.

Unifying under a single banner? Promoting peace? Peace attained through violence? This man is… disgusting. If he is representative of his people in the same way that I am for mine, then their entire species… their entire culture is vile.

Save your heinous thoughts. We’ve lived in peace for quite a long time. How dare you accuse us of being enemies of peace. You’re a warmonger! This… can’t be real, can it? For so long, we’ve wondered if we are alone, and now we find ourselves confronted with the fact that we are not.

This ends now. This ends before it can begin. We are in no position to fight a proper war, and it is up to me to see that this does not escalate.

I look around the room with new eyes as I shift my focus. The nine drones on the bridge are under my control, my mind linked to theirs. Simultaneously, I begin reading the engine status report, the weapon system readout, and the short and long range sensor data. Additionally, I issue orders to prepare the shuttles for boarding. We know not their ship’s capabilities, but we are certain that the occupants will bleed just like anything else. Taking it over from the inside may be easier than destroying it from the outside.

The last thing I read is the navigational data from both the nearby slingjets as well as from the other Groyin ships. We have to hold out for at least forty minutes. I’m… not certain that’s going to happen. We’re an armed transport, not a warship.

For a moment, it runs through my head that I could use the slingjet as a weapon. Before they’re prepared, align it and simply hurl the ship into them. It’d kill all of us, but it would most certainly destroy them as well.

No… that isn’t the way. I may be the only sentient, intelligent being on this ship, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some sense of understanding of death. Drones aren’t entirely mindless, they’re merely simple-minded. I… can’t bring myself to sacrifice them like that.

No, we will not submit, monster. Leave, or you will be destroyed. If more come, we will fight them as well.

Very well then. If that is the fate you wish for your people, then so be it. Let it be known to all that on this day, your kind chose to fight, to stand against peace and order. May you die well, Groyin, for you will not live to see the end of this day.

The arrogance of that vile creature! No, this ends here!

I assume control of the drone at navigation and accelerate, heading straight for the Camfurdian ship. When the sensors show that the ship is in range, I pull the trigger, firing the ships main guns. Each second that I hold the trigger, a pair of high-yield rounds are fired toward the enemy ship. I’ve always dreaded firing a weapon in space. If you miss your target, you cannot predict what will happen later. That missed shot may hit another craft or planet a thousand years from now if no gravitational force acts upon it. Unfortunately, my shots miss as the craft begins to spin.

The odd shaped wings fold out of its diamond shape and down into a sort of “m” shape as it banks to my left. Turrets extend from each of the four sharp bends in the wings, the angles ensuring, in conjunction with the turrets at the top and bottom of the fuselage, that there are no areas blind to them. If I wasn’t worried about my life, I’d take a moment to appreciate the efficiency of the design. Unfortunately, I realize that their efficiency is likely to be the cause of my death.

I start to bank my ship to the right while pulling up, hoping I can try to loop around and over top of them. Unfortunately, the tactic is easily countered by their far more maneuverable craft. Within moments, the Camfurdian ship is directly behind me instead. The ship shudders as the Camfurdian turrets rain upon us.

Thinking quickly, I decelerate and fire the reverse thrusters. The enemy ship drifts quickly over the top of me, and I open fire again, this time impacting one of the wings. The turrets continue to fire upon us and I realize the best chance we have is to attempt boarding. I rise from my alcove and rush toward the one of the nearest shuttle bays.

It’s… a strange thing, our telepathy. I see through drone eyes as if they are my own, and yet there is still a distinct level of detachment. I stop as I realize the inevitable is upon me. In this moment, I see with one set of eyes a large projectile, furiously glowing red, barreling toward the side of the ship just a way from the shuttle bay. With a second set of eyes, I see the impact and the brief explosion – a split second of fire snuffed out by the vacuum of space.

With my own eyes, I see the explosion from another angle. Shrapnel, the debris from the wall imploding near me, bursts forth angrily. For a brief moment, I feel the shards of metal breaking apart parts of my carapace, burning scraps jabbing into the tender tissue underneath.

As the gaping hole in the side of the ship sucks me into space, I still focus on the task at hand – I must issue final orders to the drones. To the drones sent to the shuttles, let one evacuate through the slingjet if possible. To the rest, continue with your mission. To those still on the ship, ram the enemy vessel.

My final moments are upon me, and I can feel the Queen’s presence around me. I… should have retreated, I suppose. I tried to do the best I could.

I’m sorry.