Resolute Victory (The War for Terra), страница 1
Book 4 of
The War for Terra
James R. Prosser, Jr.
Book 4 of the War for Terra
Copyright: James R. Prosser, Jr.
First Published: May 25, 2014
Cover Illustration by: James R. Prosser, Jr
Publisher: James Prosser
This book is entirely a work of fiction created by the author. Any resemblance to any person or character, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The right of James R. Prosser Jr, to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any form.
Resolute Victory is the fourth book in the War for Terra series. You may wish to go back and read the series from the beginning.
For those who have stuck with me for the long haul
For those who have sacrificed for victory. Sometimes the greatest sacrifice can be success; it’s still better than the alternative, though.
Table of Contents
Ch’Tauk Prison Facility
Earth – Wyoming
Alliance Transport Terran Hope
Earth – Wyoming
Ch’Tauk Home World
Alliance Carrier Baal
Earth – Wyoming
Alliance Carrier Baal
Alliance Transport Terran Hope
Alliance Carrier Baal
Alliance Carrier Zeus
The War for Terra
Ch’Tauk Spring Palace
Earth – Wyoming
Earth – Costa Rica
Filaments of energy coalesced in the dimension between thought and deed. The tendrils took shape in the flickering existence of the Convocation. Bipedal shapes formed around a central point. Images projected from the minds of beings that existed beyond form appeared on the vast empty plain of thoughts.
There were no leaders in the Convocation. Every one of them was equal in this place. Black on black eyes stared across the circle. A tone, not heard so much as imagined, radiated across the assembly. As the sound rose, more of the creatures appeared, each identical to the others.
They were small compared to most other creatures in the galaxy. The forms taken by the creatures were overlooked and ignored because of their diminutive size. The spirits that inhabited those bodies, however, were enormous and nearly immortal. They’d witnessed the birth of the universe, and would likely see its end before they disappeared. They knew secrets forgotten by more races than existed in our time.
A single thought raced around the Convocation. There was no beginning to the concept; it was simple and then moved between minds. The tone-thought grew louder in this place without end, each moment transmitting more data than any human computer would ever use. The thought existed as a multi-dimensional image understood before fully received. In all its existence, the Convocation never understood one subject.
A moment ago, or thousands of years, the beings came to a small planet with flowing plains of red grasses and a vast sea. The planet’s primitive inhabitants, hard-shelled bipeds, did not understand who the beings were, only that they brought gifts of fire and vitality. Science that bordered on magic aided the evolution of the primitives, twisting their amino acids and proteins to create a new form of life. The beings believed they were helping the young species understand the world around them. A moment later, they left and travelled.
It took the merest blink of the black eye to return to the primitive planet to see what they’d created. It was a sad moment in time, as the primitives had proven destructive with the knowledge of the beings embedded in their bodies. Once again, the beings affected change in the basic structure of the natives and departed to explore other realms. Returning again in only a moment, the beings witnessed their handiwork. A subtle change had been meant to remind the primitives of the help they’d received: the native’s skin grew over the shell and turned as black as their benefactor’s eyes.
In this moment, the beings saw the primitives had created a rudimentary society. The beings understood so much of the universe that was hidden to the lesser natives. In this moment, the Convocation decided to intervene in the primitive society as part of the whole. They took the form of a smaller creature with pure white skin. Advanced senses needed new appendages to perceive the galaxy as the primitives did, and so they grew new feelers from their bulbous heads. Disguised as small, harmless primitives, the beings began work on transforming the primitives into an evolved culture.
As the Convocation had no leader, the beings worked to understand the hierarchal nature of the native society, looking for a way to give structure similar to their own. To facilitate the structure, the beings tested the primitives for a pure genetic strain. The alterations made millennia ago had become diluted over time, but one family retained the most essential evidence of the alteration. The language of the primitives was guttural and reflected the rigid structure of their mandibles. The family line was given to the name of the entire race.
The beings came to be named ‘Engineers’ in the simplistic language. The Engineers attempted to impart a more complicated language form, but the primitives were unable to convey the subtleties of the language of the immortal beings. What remained was a simple dialect that granted names only to those who earned them through work or knowledge. The ruling family became the title for the people themselves.
Time passed and the engineers adapted to the limitations of their new form and the species they had created. They became complacent in their work, believing that the novel sensation of time passing was purpose. Eventually, the Engineers began to forget their old existence between the dimensions. They began to rely on the regular passing of the planetary sun to monitor time. Their own freedom became eclipsed in the work of guiding the Ch’Tauk to true awareness.
It was a blinding flash of energy and light that woke the Engineers from their slumbe
When the first ships began to leave the planet, the Engineers began to remember their previous existence. They dreamed of the stars again and felt the longing to travel. However dulled senses no longer allowed them to travel by will of mind. They had created a trap for themselves with their passivity. Small steps would be needed to return to the vast universe. The Engineers began to orchestrate the colonization of other worlds, leap-frogging from world to world in their quest to regain immortality. Among the stars, they met the species named Caretakers by the Ch’Tauk.
The amphibious creatures were different from the armored primitives in almost every way. They were born to peace and the natural world. They guided the life of their own world as the Engineers guided the Ch’Tauk. From the Caretakers, the beings learned about natural evolution and the wonders of life again. The Ch’Tauk utilized the Caretakers as nannies to the much smaller Engineers. The Engineers, in turn, tried to guide the Ch’Tauk to peace.
On a world far away from Ch’Tauk, the ruling family became jealous of another species. The culture refused to share the bounty of their world with the expanding empire. Priests implored the ruling emperor to leave the world alone, but the actions only enraged the family. The Emperor, tired of objections from the priests and the artists, separated the culture and sent the dissenters away. The Engineers wept for the loss of the peaceful voices, but remained passive to the new aggression.
A minor noble, one of the cousins of the Emperor Ch’Tauk, attempted a coup over the expansion of the territory with disastrous consequences. The cousin gathered his forces on the distant world and rallied the people there to take a stand against the Empire. The response was swift and brutal. The Emperor Ch’Tauk exiled the remainder of his own family to the alien world under pretense of defense. Once entrenched on the peaceful world, the Emperor unleashed the full power of their primitive weapons against them.
In the hopes of finding their ancient place, the Engineers had designed a fleet and equipped it with defensive capabilities. What they witnessed as the ships approached the peaceful world shook them like no other event in history. Once the plasma was released, it ignited the atmosphere of the beautiful world. Green and blue plants turned to gray ash in an instant. The exiled Ch’Tauk sent one final cry to their ancient gods for mercy even as their armored bodies burst under the heat. The Engineers were appalled at the devastation, and wept for the loss of an entire world. They looked back on the millennia of interference and regretted their manipulation.
The Engineers witnessed the death of other species, but never on the scale that their own handiwork created. The responsibility they felt for the Ch’Tauk turned into the responsibility for death on a massive scale. The ships they’d meant to use to travel to new worlds were now being used to create terror across the galaxy. A new Convocation was called.
The gathering of beings had not been attempted in centuries, and many of the beings vanished in the attempt. The remaining brethren conferred for an eternal moment. The decision to leave the Ch’Tauk was made. Looking back at the history of the primitives, the Engineers realized that, without them, the Ch’Tauk would not be able to innovate. Their society would stagnate and eventually retreat back to the home world. The plan was placed into action and the Engineers left Ch’Tauk forever.
The Caretakers took in the little creatures, not fully realizing what they were. Ch’Tauk expansion turned to contraction and the Engineers disappeared into the green world of Karisia. The Ch’Tauk, confused without guidance, did not know where their former helpers had gone.
Soon, the Caretakers left the Empire. Since the Engineers were gone, the Ch’Tauk Emperor felt no need for the swamp-dwelling creatures to remain, and let them go. The engineers, remembering their eternal forms again, sank into the bogs of Karisia to hide and reflect upon their mistakes.
When a curious new species arrived on the swamp world, the Engineers rose again to witness their activities. These new creatures possessed light, soft skin and projections from their bony skulls that resembled their own sensory organs. They called themselves humans. The Engineers observed the new species carefully, participating in some research and steering them away from others.
The humans were a delightful change to the Ch’Tauk. While both shared primitive origins, the humans had evolved without interference from outside races. They were young and arrogant and possessed a curiosity for the galaxy that rivaled the beings. Most of all, the creatures, from a planet variously called Earth or Terra, seemed at ease with their own primitive natures. When the Engineers discovered the plan to attack the Ch’Tauk priest world, they were saddened. They had harbored hope that the humans were more advanced than the Ch’Tauk they had left behind.
In the end, the humans fell to the Ch’Tauk, who launched a preemptive strike and took away Terra from the humans. The Engineers went into hiding again, leaving only a small group to travel with the humans. It had been a generation since the Engineers left the Ch’Tauk, and they were astonished the black-armored creatures had forgotten what they looked like. They were able to move freely among their own creations and not be recognized. As prisoners of the Ch’Tauk, the scout group learned about the taking of Earth and its colonies by the Ch’Tauk. They also learned about the humans and the inherent honor even among the lowest of their castes.
In the end, it would be the sacrifice and injury of one human in the defense of the Caretakers and the Engineers that would summon them back to Convocation. They decided again to interfere into the galaxy and put an end to their own creations. Now called “elves” by the humans, after a mythological race of toy-makers, the beings used their restored knowledge to advance the technology of the surviving humans. The use of aggression was a last resort to end the spread of the Ch’Tauk, but the Convocation agreed that it was the only way to repair their mistakes.
Now, Convocation had been called to discuss the upcoming war and its effect on their process. The beings had never had a word for the concept until the Ch’Tauk taught it to them. Now the humans, experienced at fighting and surviving, were teaching the eternal creatures about battle and strategy. An agreement was made that they would end the fighting and then interfere no more. They remembered how to travel without the need for ships, but felt a responsibility to return the humans to their world before leaving forever.
In the tone, a single voice created a dissonance. It was a question. In the entirety of history, no being had ever asked a question at Convocation. It was a further corruption of the purity of thought. The question disrupted the flow of data around the plane of existence. No answer could be given because no being had ever thought like this before.
“But what will become of the humans?” the questioner asked. “What if we lose them as well?”
The teak gavel rapped a staccato beat into the sounding block. Turned from the armrest from the captain’s chair of the Marshal, the last remaining J.A.G. ship from the Confederacy, the gavel was a symbol of renewed civilization. The ship had been discovered at the Al-Alamein storage depot nearly six years ago and had been deemed unrecoverable to the new Alliance fleet. Stripped for parts and programmed only as a moving target, the Marshall’s only remaining duty was to be destroyed so others would live.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” the booming voice of Banu Rao echoed over the speakers fitted to the Ministry chambers. “I will have order in this chamber!”
Rao continued to beat the gavel into the block as the crowd settled to their seats. The crowd was reacting to the return of the First Minister and his colleagues from a sequestered hour of deliberation. The brevity of the meeting did not bode well for the accused, who sat alone
“I will remind the gallery that this is the Alliance Ministry chamber,” Rao said into the mounted microphone. “Not the hoverball arena on deck seven. Any more disruptions and I will clear the chamber and you can learn the verdict on the news nets.”
After a few last protests, the crowd seemed to settle into resigned silence. The prisoner stared at the First Minister, his head up and defiant. Although his hands were chained to the legs of the chair, the prisoner looked ready to leap from his seat and throttle the minister. For just a moment, Rao admired the man’s arrogance. In spite of his crimes, Lee Pearce still held himself like a battleship commander.
“Lee Pearce,” Rao began. “After due consideration, this ministry has come to a conclusion regarding your crimes. We have heard testimony from your superiors and those who you used to call friends.”
Ronald Chang sat in the front row, just behind Pearce. He looked at the floor and breathed a heavy sigh. On his shoulders were the stars of a newly minted admiral. The first admiral of the new Alliance Fleet Services avoided raising his head to the ministry. He could feel the eyes of Banu Rao boring into his head as he looked at anything but his friend.
“We are sympathetic to the circumstances that forced you to take matters into your own hands, Mister Pearce,” Rao continued, speaking despite the murmurs from the gallery. “The loss of Alice Bennett, your fiancée and lover, was a traumatic event that would have unbalanced many of us.”
A look of rage crossed Lee’s passive face at the mention of Alice. Rao did not flinch under the powerful gaze as he pulled against the restraints. In the seven months since his arrest, Lee had had little else to keep himself occupied with but exercise and the occasional conversation with Alfredo Ortiz. His arms had grown under the strain of daily exercise routines in his small cell.
“This body, however, cannot permit the heinous crimes that you have committed to stand unpunished,” Rao droned on. “If it was just the matter of the theft of the battleship Resolute, we might be able to make an exception. Perhaps we could even overlook the business of buying slaves from the Ch’Tauk on Kettering Prime. The results of that decision were the eventual freeing of valuable assets in our war against the enemy.”