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Stealth and Deception
by Alastair Cooper (Myralyst)

Part Two

The remains of the asteroid expanded as a billowing dust cloud, lighting shields with a blue rippling effect where they made contact. The cruiser Alhambra vaporised the asteroid that was threatening the planet below. With a smug smile Commander Baldezar turned from the immense viewport and regarded the aide who had sidled up beside him.

“Well, boy! What is it?” he demanded.

“S..S..S.tatus report on the handover, sir!” the aide stammered, visibly wilting in the palpable cruelty emanating from his superior.

“Stop stammering and speak, man! I don’t want your ineptitude to get in the way of MY operation” Baldezar bellowed.

“Y.Yes sir, I mean: SIR, YES SIR! The operation is proceeding according to schedule, and we are down to a skeleton crew, sir!”

“Good, who then is aboard?”

“We have only the last of the construction teams, sir! They are putting the finishing touches to the cargo loading mechanisms, sir!” the aide reported, growing in confidence.

“Incorrect, fool! Who are they?” Baldezar demanded, pointing at a small group of white-coated men crowding the main computer terminal.

“Ahh…They are the technicians, sir!” the aide pronounced the word as if he were speaking of the dregs of humanity, “they are activating computer systems, sir! The Artificial Intelligence….”

“I don’t care what they are doing! You Moron! Report everything to me…”

“I though… I thought sir, you would not want to here about such menial ….”

“I don’t care that they have no high blood family, I want EVERYTHING to proceed within my operation’s parameters tonight! Do you KNOW what success in this assignment could bring me?” “N…”

“OF COURSE YOU DON’T YOU IMBECILE! How could you POSSIBLY grasp the rewards of success from your meagre rank” Baldezar was visibly shaking and his face was scarlet with rage, impatience and malice, “Now GET OUT OF MY SIGHT! Report to Sergeant Grunt immediately for a full repentance session, NOW!” he screamed.

As the aide turned and fled, visibly paling in terror, Baldezar chuckled to himself out loud. Though he had never had command of a commissioned vessel, he still believed he could enforce iron-fist discipline with the best of them. His rise had been largely due to his family connections, well placed bribes and not a few tactical assassinations and death threats. The last of the former had got him this post, over seeing the Leviathan Death’s Touch final outfitting and construction. He had done well, and now the massive battleship was at the brink of completion, ready to join the task force that had been assembled round its bulk. This ship would bring the cursed Rebel collective down to size; it was a shame that this was a prototype vessel, since the Federation remnant desperately needed more ships like this. Ships that could Fight, and destroy brutally. The leaders of the Federation had become worried and then desperate at the growing number and frequency of Rebel confederation victories. They keenly felt the rotten core of their empire was not standing up to the passion, commitment and technology of the rebels. They had dragged themselves to a secret meeting with the New Orions and grovelled before them, pleading for some weapon technology that would swing the battle their way. Sympathising with the Federations desire for cruelty and despotism they had agreed to hand over the secrets to disruptor cannons, mauler devices but also a fearsome stellar converter. The Orions were wary of handing over this last technology to the treacherous Federation so they had humiliated them by building it themselves to specification.

His homeworld of Bethron VI had been chosen to build the new shipyards capable of constructing such a huge vessel, and he had fought to be in charge of the ship through its construction phases, and then its commissioning phase too –after that disagreement with the local military commander had been…cleared up. The thought of spilling blood fired his veins, and he strode to his quarters to beat his domestic animal to a pulp. He had no need of the worthless creature after he disembarked tonight, and taking its life had been much on his mind recently after it had refused to devour the last aide to disobey him. He had been told that these domesticated baby Sakkra were voracious in their appetite, but he theorised that he probably should have killed the aide first.

He had reached his quarters now, and was dismayed that his personal guard had had to leave with the rest of the security team. They could not know his families plans for this vessel, and the planned fate of the spineless admiral who had been assigned the command. His father had longed for such a posting, and had been denied by this admiral Patitise, a member of their most hated rivals. Well, Patitise would not live the night on the world below, thanks to the assassins that he had hired, and the only person qualified after that was his father. Musing over the glories that his family would rise to imminently, he barely remembered that he could no longer pointlessly berate his guards as he strode into the chamber. Reaching his desk he read the routine space traffic reports left there by the sensors team, and threw them to the floor in disgust. He could not wait to be rid of their trivial news – why should he be bothered by news of the provision freighter group’s arrival in system. Bah he thought, where was that dratted Sakkra anyway!


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