Copyright 2010 by Michael W. Davis
|The question's not how but why
|The Alastor, a cabal sworn to re-establish the old
republic, is in trouble. The oppressive Council,
masters of the tyrannical New Order, have cracked
the rebel leadership and the insurgents are forced
to accelerate their plan to topple the Dominion
Empire, but they’re not ready. Their forces are
outnumbered a hundred fold. The freedom fighters
have one chance, to exploit a gathering of Nabra
like sky disks discovered in the temple of a race
slaughtered by the Council in the name of the
common good. Within the strangely alluring
emblems, a trail of crumbs lies buried across the
tablets. Cryptic codes and symbols hint of supreme
knowledge, clues that the subliminal whispers
haunting all civilizations when they ponder the
heavens, are waiting inside. The catch: only one
human possesses the telekinetic ability to pierce the
alien relics and stitch together the final cosmic truth.
The Consular Prime tugged downward on the pleats of his full body robe and announced to the twelve fish eyed domes constructed of translucent pryaglass,
“Assemble. The Council is in session. First item, Stone issue, I Corps Mind Walker Branch.”
He then commanded the sentinels outside the black chamber. “Escort our subject into unit A.”
Within moments, the seamless doorway leading into the compartmented cell opened and three uniformed soldiers marched forward in the shape of a triangle with the
lead man towering a full four inches taller than the subordinate officers. While the two armed men stepped back to exit the three hundred and sixty degree protective
enclosure, the Consular Prime demanded, “Wait. Guards, draw your weapons and remain.”
Both trailing sentinels hesitated as if puzzled by the unusual order. The Consular continued, “Set blasters to stun and stand by. Colonel Stone, this isn’t your day.”
“Sorry, sir. I’m confused.”
“Really? I think not. You can cut the façade. We’re aware of your disloyalty.”
The bearing of the large officer subject to the inquisition morphed from a posture of stiffened respect to something approaching a flippant stance. “I’ve served this
body for twenty years. Never during that period did I decline to execute any of your insane orders. I’ve murdered beings you designated as enemies of the state for
nothing more than the fact their existence was a nuisance to your plans for continual Dominion expansion. So I’d appreciate if you could be a bit more specific.”
“That’s enough, Colonel. The charade is over. We’ve known of your subversive actions for some time, yet we waited, watched, and allowed you and your fellow
conspirators to plot their silly rebellion, but no more. Now stop the games and confess your traitorous deeds.”
The fly at the center of the spider’s snare refused to act like prey, rather he reflected the pride of an unwavering champion to his cause. Stone placed both thumbs
inside his belt. Slowly, deliberately, he perused the twelve translucent eyeballs of the New Order’s ruling lords and relaxed his demeanor from one of curiosity to
“You talk of games, treachery, yet you hide inside this fortress, afraid to expose your grotesque nature in the light of this tyrannical Empire. A dozen self imposed
madmen issuing decisions and brutality against those that cannot defend themselves, all from within the protective dome of Council City.”
“That’s enough, Colonel.”
The defiant dead man stood rigid against the inevitable outcome to his resistance. “No, that’s too kind. You’re not men at all, rather spineless fleas. You lie down with
alien females you’ve driven into slavery, made them unwilling whores to satisfy your perverted lust, while millions starve outside your fortress. You reign above a
contorted empire, not as leaders, rather as oppressive monsters with no regard for the pain you inflict. You twelve feeble minded monkeys are antiques, specters from a
progressively controlled era that spit out socialist bullshit and mind numbing control.”
“I said enough!” The Consular Prime’s tone turned aggressive. “What we do, we must for the common good. You and your Alastor Brethren are a handful of naïve
relics, dreamers from the past. Your concept of liberty, the destructive freedom that ran amok before the great upheaval of old Earth society, what did it achieve?
Chaos and anarchy. The beings you covet, citizens of the New Order, creatures across Dominion space too primitive to wipe their ass without guidance, that’s who
you’ll die for.”
“At least we stand outside the darkness. Warriors, men of honor--we chose our fate rather than cower within steel walls guarded by a brigade of I Corps and shock
“And you call us feeble minded. People have never been capable of ruling themselves. That responsibility falls to the enlightened few, those willing to take charge and
meter out direction to the masses, weak of spirit and insight. History illuminates that very truth-- democracy, free will, it is but a dream and must falter. Our founders,
their philosophy of collectivist control, that vision taught us the path to salvation. They gave us the will to pull out from the rubble of economic collapse when the
gluttony of the rich drove us into hell. Our progressive leaders, they’ve provided a beacon for the next ten thousand years, not the disorder of the old republic touted by
The captive in the cage behaved not as a meal to be devoured, rather a man clear of purpose, with an unwavering spine, regardless of the odds. Stone leaned forward,
as if preparing for a battle. “You sad pitiful insects. You don’t get it, the inevitable truth. Your reign is measured in the heartbeat of a cockroach, and when it comes,
not tomorrow but soon, I’ll be watching. All my fellow patriots, the Brethren of the Alastor revolt, whether in this realm or the next--they’re waiting to piss down your
collective throats as you descend into hell.”
“Kill him.” Commands rattled across the unlit chamber. “Torch the infidel, now. We demand respect, allegiance to the cause,” cried the Consular from Proxima.
“Eviscerate the non-believer, tonight, on the public screen.”
More venom spewed from a different lord to the right. “Yes, let the hordes see what happens to…”
“Silence!” the Consular Prime screamed. “You would incinerate our entry into the bowels of the enemy?” The chamber grew quiet. “Exactly. Guards, take the traitor to
de-conditioning. His brain is to be wrenched like a sponge, drained of every name, every resource until we finally put an end to this mock posturing by a featherless
Stone held one arm, palm out at his subordinates while his countenance registered a stream of unyielding expressions, acknowledgement for what was coming,
acceptance for what he’d done, and comfort in where he was headed.
Finally, like a cobra striking at the mongoose he would never kill, the colonel released a fury of pent rage. “Fuck you, evil bastards.” He ripped a thin inch wire with
looped ends from his belt and struck at the nearest guard by drawing his primitive weapon tightly around the unfortunate subordinate’s throat. The same instant, the
remaining soldier at the back of the cell cranked his weapon to full charge.
“No!” ordered the Consular Prime. “Do not kill him.”
Stone was too fast. He held the smaller man in front of his body as a shield, extracted the holstered weapon, turned it on the confused soldier by the door and fired. An
electric bolt equivalent to a half mega joule plastered the subordinate’s body against the back wall.
“This is insane. You cannot escape.”
The colonel cast a Cheshire grin at the man and offered one last conviction to those who once served as his masters. “Escape is not my intent.”
Stone removed the charge cartridge from the pistol, flipped its polarity end over end and re-inserted it back into the weapon before spinning the intensity dial to a
hundred percent. “Till the circle completes--liberty forever.” With a resolved visage, he jerked the trigger to the blaster. The room ignited into a ball of blue flare
immediately coating the chamber walls with bone fragments, brain matter, and residual biomass from what five seconds earlier were living creatures.
Logan stared beyond the cavern entrance to the assembly of blue skinned faces gathering beneath the large monolith. “Ouch!” He studied the source of the minor pain
on his exposed bicep.
Yarra grabbed the tiny version of herself. “She meant no harm. Little Tayri is but a pup, not yet two solar cycles. She’s never witnessed a pink skin before.” Yarra
pulsed her non-existent eyebrows. “Especially one that appears so tempting to the appetites of a female.”
He rubbed the moist circle on his arm. “Don’t you feed these kids?”
“I remind my handsome lover, the means on this arid world are meager. We eat what we must to survive.” Yarra stretched rearward, inserted her right hand inside one
of the many nest like mats fixed to the inner surface of the cave and extracted three squiggly cream colored flint moth larva. The toddler eagerly popped the first in her
mouth without hesitation then scurried away with the second and third clenched tightly in each tiny paw.
A barrage of unfamiliar images fluttered through Logan’s mind: alien creatures, beings, plants he’d never seen. Yet the shape and outline of each subject morphed every
few sentences. “What in the world?”
He swirled in place to the feminine giggles and prattle near the back of the grotto and greeted the dozen oversized eyes cast in his direction. “Those little gremlins are up
“It’s a mental exercise, more a game actually. They’re just trying to reach out and touch the legendary mind of Logan Riggs.”
“What kind of game?”
“At five cycles,” explained Yarra, “telepathic skills flourish within our young ones and they are invited to join communion prayers. As the Vegan family explores the
universal web connecting all things; we are offered the opportunity to sample life of all forms and designs as it evolves and thrives across our galaxy.”
“I don’t get it. Where’s the sport in that?”
“It’s simple child’s play. Little ones, in their minds, adapt and alter the features of each creature they witnessed in our collective visions. The more bizarre, the higher
the score. Like I said, a mere game, nothing of consequences.”
Another projection seeped forward within Logan’s brain; one of a more lustful nature. “Whoa.”
Yarra too responded to the dynamic imagery of a large pink skinned male and a petite blue toned female interacting on the cave floor, vigorously. She directed a
disapproving gaze at the adolescent standing near the cave’s entrance before issuing a curt toned stream of words in the hybrid Vegan dialect merged from two dozen
earth languages. “Sorry. Jaci just progressed through the first stage of feminine sexual development last cycle and has yet to learn control of her hormones. She meant
no offense, just innocent thoughts stimulated by your unusually large and fit form.”
“Innocent? I don’t think so. Girl’s fantasies extend way beyond the maturity of her years.”
Yarra redirected his attention from the gawking adolescent and motioned outside the cave. “Come, the proceedings will begin shortly. Join me, my handsome hero, and
enjoy the secret wonder of this special moment in the lives of our young Vegan sisters and brothers.”
He studied Yarra’s earless profile, her hairless body, that aqua toned skin, those tiny child shaped lips, and of course the oversized pupils. Yet, of all their unique
attributes, the eyes substantiated the greatest visual appeal; the dark navy sclera of the eyeballs with their cream colored irises was mesmerizing.
With his callused hand twice her size, Riggs massaged her perfectly tapered fingers, then gently lifted her chin with his palm. “What is it, Sweetheart?” His large thumb
wiped the moisture beneath her eyes. “I would have thought this moment, you and I together at the ceremony, would have energized your emotions.”
Yarra caressed the back of his fist. “To be here, again observing the night of blue tears, with you, the savior of my people, it overwhelms my spirit.”
His visage was sympathetic, yet confused so she tendered the Vegan perspective for their holiest of nights. “Pink skins, they’ve never witnessed this special gathering,
the event each lunar cycle where we offer remembrance to the cruelty of Lumina, the forced march of our sisters and brothers, chained throat to throat. It appears as a
mere flicker of time to those outside the Vegan family, yet to us, it is the essence of our legacy, the abandonment of my people since they were cast from their home
With the tips of his fingers, Logan reconfirmed the three scars carved deep along the entire length of his face, the remnant claw marks of the Banter hounds he choked
to death when confronted by the Dominion troopers assaulting his wife, Cali, as if she were but a vessel for their foul pleasure. “Not all humans are blind to Vegan
suffering, Yarra. Especially that served from the bowels of the sulfur mines on Lumina.”
She buried her forehead into the ripples of his muscular abdomen. “Not you, my Love. That pink skin is but a veil to the blue blood coating your veins. You are one of
us, in the here and now, and the soon to be.” Yarra motioned outward from the cave to the mass of nude aqua toned forms undulating methodically back and forth, as
if dancing to an internal metronome ticking slowly, in rhythm, across a sea of a thousand linked minds. “As far as you can see, all clans are here, not just to witness the
night of tears, but to worship you, the Legend, Logan Riggs. They come to pay homage beyond the new freedom given by your hand. Each heart, each of our thoughts
has experienced the inevitable.”
“What you are, what you’ll become. During our communion prayers, what we know to be true, how you will seed the time of rebirth for the creations of the All
Logan issued an unusual expression for one whose history was splattered by brutality; a melancholy smile, half regret, half jest. “Amazing how Vegans ignore the sins I
carry in the name of the New Order.”
Yarra pressed his palm between her exposed breasts. “What you did at the will of your old masters before snipping their strings, they forged the man you are. One
cannot ascend from darkness into light without retaining guilt from past blindness to the web of all things. It is who and what you are. Like us, Logan, you were forced
into bondage by twelve hollow souls to inflict pain on others. Your core was always sound, they were responsible for sending you down the wrong path.”
With a tone flavored by contempt for one’s own sins, “I appreciate the sentiment, my sweet companion, but they’re just words. Neither you or the Vegan family can
absolve me of the chains that tax my thoughts each time I’m visited by the specters of the past.”
She repositioned her soft thighs across his lap and issued butterfly kisses to each scar. “In my morning chat to the father of all things, do you know the theme of my
He extended an understanding nod. “Of course; freedom for your people, just like Cali before she was taken from me during the first crossing into Brane space.”
“True, but in harmony with that request I sing to he that gives us all we are, that one day our hero will see for himself the purity that lies within, the spirit of our
champion that ponders the welfare of his blue skin brothers and sisters before his own. You alone levy false conscience for the sins of self appointed lords, yet one day
the circle will complete. Unknowingly the chamber of false gods ignited your destiny and honed the spear that will return them to the pit from which they spawned.”
He tried to deny the grin consuming his expression, but it was useless. “Destiny is it? Now where have I heard that before?”
“Your tone reflects jest but one day you will grasp the full relevance of your role in coming events.”
He gently lifted her chin and sampled both wine flavored lips. “That’s your philosophy, little one. Not mine. I’m in charge of who and what I am. Transferring my
mistakes onto the shoulders of someone else is not my way, and never will be.”
“Truth is truth, Logan. Providence guides our steps.” Yarra pointed at the pink tufts dancing up and down just outside the entrance. “Those seedpods from the Calibea
bush; they have no mobility to deflect the trip to their next life, the purpose for which they were created. Only the warm breath from desert winds at twilight govern
were the seed will anchor and fulfill its destiny for the coming generations. As with those seedlings, you and I are mere passengers to the plan of the All Father.”
Logan nudged his head. “I respect your beliefs, the Vegan way, but I cannot thrive in myth and fantasy, Yarra. No matter how many times you lecture me, I can’t
accept I have no control, I just can’t.”
“My purpose is never to lecture the hero of my people, only to spur your mind to other possibilities.” She casually searched the small objects scattered around the cave
floor, selected a curious piece unlike the others, one with relatively smooth edges. “This lyer rock is another gift from our maker. Observe.” Yarra lifted the one inch
diameter pebble, gently rounded it in her palm and glared at the strange sample. Within seconds the item came alive for a mere instant and morphed into a crystal.
“What the hell did you just do?”
Again she drew both eyes directly at the entity in her hand. Within moments, the object reformed into the shape of a sugar cube. “What appears inanimate is in fact
another wondrous example of the All Father’s diversity. This creature adapts to the hunger in your thoughts, perchance it will be consumed and the seeds inside spread
elsewhere to continue the legacy of its species. Here you try.” She transferred the small item to Logan’s hand. “With your mind select any substance and project an
He did as instructed and the object again transformed its shape only this time into a short length of black goo material. Logan sniffed the glossy blob. “Well I’ll be damn.
It even smells like a licorice.”
“Go ahead,” Yarra suggested. “Taste it.”
Logan cautiously placed the polymorphic life form on the ground. “No thanks. I prefer not to have alien seeds passing through my digestive system on their way to a
new home, but that is amazing.”
“Yes it is. It will be whatever you want it to be. The creature has learned that to survive, it must alter its form to what is expected by the nearest creature. It adapts to
thrive, to exist in this environment. You too must adjust your views; mold your beliefs to what’s necessary to subsist in the upcoming events that will shake your
With a snort, Logan explained, “I’m not a rock, Yarra, nor do I have any desire to be sucked down the gullet of some beast and crapped out the other end. I’m a man
that sees things as they really are and stands rigid against the storm. I may break, but I will not bend or falter. That attitude has kept me alive through some shitty times
and I will not change.”
Yarra grinned. “Really? My handsome warrior must adjust his attitude; realize that flexibility is not a weakness, rather a strength to adapt to the unknown, the new, the
Again he refused, not with anger or contempt, only determination. “Sorry; never going to happen in this life.”
“It will, it must, it already has. We’ve witnessed the truth again and again, in our collective sessions, the unending loop forward and back. Deny as you see fit, but we
have no choice. Each lost child of earth has visited all events from their hero’s life, from the beginning to the end, and beyond, including your ascension as the conduit
of universal renewal. We’ve all touched what will be on the web of all things, and your day, the moment of your awakening, will arrive soon.”
Like shafts of wheat laid waste after a violent storm, Hesslan corpses dotted the landscape.
Such valor, such nobility. They die without fear, as if something better waits beyond this realm.
Colonel Swift surveyed the state of another lopsided battle. The blasts from the bolter cannons continued their rapid salvos into the central valley yet the inhabitants of
this backward world kept coming. No hesitation, not one coward among these savages. Stones, spears, it was insane against the might of a technologically superior
enemy, yet the six limbed centaur-sized aliens with their silken burgundy coats refused to give way.
What audacity. Look how they use the bodies of their comrades to block our advance. Damn, I hate this.
He clamped his jaw tight as a vise and tried to ignore the gnawing in his belly. This was a butcher’s work, not a soldier’s.
Lies, more damn lies. That’s all the Council knows.
The coms officer by his side provided a tactical summary. “All battalions report the attack is ahead of schedule. We’ve eliminated roughly twenty percent of the
resistance. Shouldn’t be long, sir.”
Even the females cradling their offspring have joined the fight. My God, what a bold species.
“Colonel, did you hear me?”
“Yes, damn it, I heard you.”
Why won’t they stop?
Swift ordered his communication officer, “Tell the front commanders to pull back and delay their advance. Maybe if we give the Hesslan leaders a moment, let them
talk among themselves, they’ll see their act of defiance is useless and can only end with the slaughter of their entire race.”
“Sir, wasn’t that the chamber’s plan?”
“I don’t care. I have command authority to cease the battle if they’ll only surrender. We can bring this insanity to a halt if they’ll…”
A shock wave drove both men to the ground. “What the hell?”
A triad of Dominion Vipers, that had been firing into the ruble where a town stood two hour ago, exploded overhead. Debris from the destroyed war birds ricocheted
off the ground boulders. More airborne blasts took out another half dozen ships attacking the Hesslans.
“Where the hell is that counter fire coming from? These creatures have no air defense weaponry. Captain, contact Combat Control in orbit and find out… Captain?”
The colonel squatted next to the junior officer and inspected the metallic rod impaling the skull of the young man.
“Shit!” He grabbed the coms unit and clicked the switch. “This is Colonel Swift, ground commander.” Static transmitted from the ear set. “CC, we need additional
Several dozen vapor trails vectored from space moments before a massive fireball overpowered the mid-day sun. “Jesus. Battle cruiser Zebra, come in.” Still nothing.
A panicked female lieutenant huffed up the ridge to the observation post. “It’s gone. Sir, it just disappeared from our screens.”
“What, Lieutenant. What’s gone?”
“Our orbital battleship. All the men, the fighters--they just vanished, and our central coms, the circuits have been neutralized.”
“Shit. Run back and tell all unit commanders, switch to backup push-to-talk headsets.”
“Yes, sir.” The officer scurried sideways like a crab racing down the steep hill.
At the soft chime, he removed the hand sized push-to-talk device from the belt of the soldier at his feet and wiped the blood from the earplug. “Colonel Swift.”
“Sir. We’ve got bogies vectoring on our assault force.”
“About thirty, no, make it forty-eight fighter sized ships. Look similar to Interceptor class vessels.”
“Sorry, sir. I can’t identify their association.”
“Redirect our pilots to shift from ground attack to airborne targets. Tell artillery to do the same.”
From half a mile away, Swift observed the order ripple through his cannon batteries while the enemy craft continued their attack. “Who the hell are they?”
One-by-one, his fighters turned into blue mini-fireballs, sending debris and human body parts dropping from the sky, yet the invaders keep advancing. “What the hell’s
Our troops aren’t drawing any blood. They’re missing every damn shot.
He tapped the button on his headset. “Artillery, your targeting computers have gone haywire. Shift to manual control.”
The frantic voice replied, “We are, sir, but we can’t lock on.”
“The bastards must be screwing with our brains.”
“But how? Only we use telepaths.”
The colonel blinked twice, and they were still there. He slapped his temple with one hand to clear his senses, but the onslaught of enemy ships were still destroying his
“They can’t be I Corps. Not on their own troops.”
A series of ground bursts echoed up the ridge, followed by a larger explosion, as if a bolter cannon charger station in the valley below had ignited. “Fire control, come
Screaming, hysterical chatter. “Damn it, what’s going on down there?” Nothing but chaos broadcast from his earplug. Two bottle shaped craft broke off from the main
assault and etched along a new path, one terminating right at him. “Wait a minute, I know those ships, but they can’t be. We killed them. They’re dead. They’re all
A flash of blue and the smell of cooked flesh permeated his nostrils. Swift scanned past the stumps where two legs existed an instant before. He gazed beyond the
smoldering ash atop the mount, surveyed the valley of slain Hesslans below the charred mound and muttered, “Didn’t have to end like this.” Then he exhaled his last
breath and collapsed into darkness.