The Gathering Storm
“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 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
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
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.