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The Gathering Storm

Part Two

The signal from the signal buoy radiated outward through the whirling, chaotic void of hyperspace, toward Regulla, the system on the other end of the star lane. In only a few minutes, the equipment manned by a Comm Officer 2nd Class aboard the carrier Lakul began to chirp excitedly. The Comm Officer lazily turned his attention from the mug of coffee he had been drinking and looked at the contents of the message.

45.8 seconds after receiving the message, the coffee mug crashed to the deck plating.

"Uh, captain... you may want to see this," said the flustered comm officer, his voice cracking.


"We will stay and fight!" shouted a defiant planetary governor.

"And I am telling you once again, governor, there is no conceivable way we can repel this attack," insisted Rear Admiral Potemkin. "We only have three carriers and a half-dozen Dragonfly-class PD frigates. There is not enough time to bring any reinforcements in-system, and you have already told me that your missile bases will not be on-line for two months! We have less than three weeks until these monsters descend upon this system. Your people have only been here for six months, surely they can pack up and go back to Terra. You have been ordered to do so by President Alexander himself!"

"We will fight them on the ground if we have to," stated the governor, losing a bit of his composure.

Potemkin almost laughed at the man's ignorance. "Surely you have heard the stories about the dreaded Harvesters, governor. They are the most vicious, efficient killing machines known to exist. If even half of the stories are true, we would not be able to hold this planet for very long, not even with a hardened Bulrathi battleoid army. And you expect to fight them off with a rag-tag group of border-world militia armed with laser rifles? You know what the stories say about what happens when a planet is taken over by these Ithkul. All of you will die, and for what? We would not lightly order you to retreat, governor. Rest assured, we will be back."

The governor’s defiance melted away. "Very well, we will prepare our transports to take us back to Terra, but I do not think we will have time to move 4 million people in less than 3 weeks. We only have enough ships to take a few hundred thousand at most. I will order our factories to start making as many transports as they can, but I do not see how everyone can get away!"

"The battleships Iowa and Yamato will be here in six days," stated the Admiral. "They are old, and their weapons will barely scrape the paint off of the Ithkul SuperDestroyers. Even now, they are tossing everything they can afford to take off out of their airlocks to make room for as many refugees as they can. With luck, they will be able to hold almost 1 million people between the two. That, coupled with the transports you are making, may just be enough to get your people out of harm's way. My task force will attempt to fight a delaying action if the need arises. Luckily, your planet is almost at the point in its orbit that is the farthest from the star lane to Androv, and relatively close to the Terra star lane. We should be able to delay them for a day, maybe two."

"Very well Admiral. Let us hope it does not come to that. I must go announce these developments to my people. Goodbye for now." And with that, the conversation was over.

Admiral Potemkin sighed. There was a lot of work to do. He did not expect to survive the coming battle.


Work began on Regulla at a grueling pace. It was decided early on that everyone must stay and work to build transports until the last minute. When the Iowa and Yamato arrived, clever engineers began installing pods on them in order to cheaply and quickly expand their carrying capacity. By the time they were finished with them, they could hold over 1.5 million people together. A small armada of hastily built transports was assembled in orbit of the planet - often the ships were little more than metal boxes with a hyperspace engine.

As the fateful day approached when the Ithkul menace would spring out of the star lane, however, there still wasn't enough room for everyone to escape. The feverish pitch of construction kept on, and Admiral Potemkin moved his carrier task force to intercept the imminent attack.


Admiral Potemkin's task force was waiting. He knew that he had no chance of actually stopping the Harvester armada with his tiny contingent of fighters. All he could hope to do is distract them long enough for the people on Regulla to escape. His fleet was hiding behind a moon orbiting one of the gas giants, waiting for the ithkul to come.

On the bridge of the Lakul, it was so quiet that one could hear an Elerian think. The entire bridge crew was watching the viewscreen. Fighters were prepped, and ready to fly out of the hanger at a moment's notice. The point-defense fusion beams were powered up, waiting to intercept incoming fighters and missiles. They were ready to fight.

Admiral Potemkin rubbed his temples. It had been too long since he last slept, but he knew that sleep would not come. The battle was about to start, and he feared that nothing would hold back the Harvesters. But he would die trying.

"Captain!" exclaimed the young navigator. "Look!"

The whirling gasses at the exit of the star lane suddenly heaved, blurring the entire viewscreen. When the effect subsided, the Admiral was looking down the throat of seven SuperDestroyers.

"Launch fighters!" he ordered. "Prepare to break orbit. Signal the task force to stand to!"

The Admiral looked again at the viewscreen.

There could be no doubt.

They were coming.




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