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The Gathering Storm

Part Thirteen

“I expected to be talking to someone more… human,” the shapeshifter said on the viewscreen.

Admiral Ace Pace looked on in disgust. His people had a long and ancient history with the Darloks that made him distrust and even hate the changelings. No tears had been shed on Mentar when Nazin was destroyed by the New Orions. Yet now he was forced to work with one. “Admiral Potemkin was killed in the assault. I now have command of the fleet. If you have any information for me, please send it now,” hissed the Psilon.

The Darlok seemed to smile a bit at having a Psilon ask him for anything, but Pace couldn’t tell, as the being didn’t have a mouth. “Very well, Admiral,” he said, pressing a few buttons off-screen. “The information is being uploaded to you now. We’ve scouted most of the Ithkul bases within a 200-kilometer radius from the main human settlement. They’re dug in pretty heavily, so your bombardment won’t do much, I’m afraid. It looks like the army will need to do a lot of work here. I would suggest a landing about 150 kilometers southeast of the main city. There isn’t any Ithkul in that area, and it is a fairly flat plain, so you should be able to advance quickly. Conscience out.” With that, the Darlok disappeared from the viewscreen.

Ace Pace growled a bit under his breath – a sound not common among Psilons. He turned to his communications officer and snapped: “Get me General Kelda. Now!”


“Prepare your army for landing, General,” Admiral Ace Pace ordered. General Kelda didn’t much like the idea of a Psilon giving him orders. However, as soon as he was on the ground, he would be free of the eyes of the emaciated alien, able to run his campaign as he wished. This was the army’s show now.

Kelda got up from his command chair on the military transport Talvin. “Very well, Admiral,” the General said, attempting to be diplomatic. “Begin your bombardment at your leisure.”

“Understood. Memory of Mentar out.”

General Kelda looked at his navigator. “Set a course for Regulla,” he ordered. “Prepare to make landfall 150 kilometers southeast of the city.” The navigator confirmed his order, and the General sat back down.

He watched as the allied fleet began their bombardment of the Regullian surface. What seemed like tiny pinpricks of light from such a long distance were actually some of the most destructive weapons known to exist. They would pound the Ithkul bases for a while, but not much would come of it. The information the Darloks had uncovered showed well-fortified underground bunkers protected with extremely strong shields. All they could hope for was that it would keep the damn Harvesters underground until he had set up a command post and unloaded his troops.

General Kelda sat and waited for his chance to get at the Ithkul. He was a veteran of the last Cyber War, something that was becoming rarer in the military ranks. He had the scars to prove it. He had lead several brilliant campaigns against a determined and advanced foe that often had a large numerical advantage on him. Unfortunately, the rest of the war had not gone as well until after he was injured. During his last campaign, his command post was nearly overrun during a Cynoid surprise counteroffensive. During the frantic half-hour battle, he was hit with a blast from a fusion rifle, but refused to leave the area until he had pushed back the mechanik fiends back. He succeeded, and his victory would signal the turning point in the war, but Kelda spent the rest of the war in a hospital, recovering from massive injuries. Fate had a cruel sense of humor, thought the General. He had fought against the cybernetics, only to become more like them. The doctors had to remove his right arm and leg, along with a large quantity of that side. In order to keep him alive, the doctors turned him into a cyborg. Nearly his entire right side was now mechanical – not nearly as advanced as the Cynoids’ cybernetic technology, but advanced enough to make him more physically powerful than any normal human. He scratched the part of his body where metal met flesh. It always irritated him.


The Talvin and the other troop transports landed on the Regullian surface. Laser turrets turned, looking to eliminate anything that moved, but there was no Ithkul in the area. Doors opened on most transports, offloading infantry and armor that quickly took up a defensive position around the transports. Three more transports landed, but obviously not of human manufacture. Somehow, the politicians and diplomats had managed to get the Sakkra involved in the campaign, at least in the ground combat phase – something the lizards excelled at. They had sent a battalion of their Godzilla-class battleoids, one of the most fearsome sights in the galaxy. Over 70 meters tall, these behemoths towered over the battlefield. They had a vast array of weapons at their disposal, and shields stronger than some starships. Kelda looked forward to seeing them in action.

The Talvin was a bit different from the other transports. It carried approximately half the number of troops as was the norm. The rest of the ship was a mobile command center. While the rest of the transports were unloading their deadly cargo, the Talvin transformed in the center of the encampment. In fifteen minutes, a working command post had been established and General Kelda’s army was ready to move out.

Kelda smiled, glad to be back in the middle of another campaign. This one would be difficult, but he was confident that his soldiers could pull it off.




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