Monday, February 17, 2014

Escalation at Xorn IV - Part 3



Eir'tal'mont'yr watched the battle unfold below her.  It went well.  The Terrans fought amongst themselves, obviously doing battle over petty differences between them.  Eir'tal never much understood, nor cared to understand, the differences between the Terran factions.  They were all the same to her.  So strange that such an ancient society could be so backward.  Of all the sentient races she'd encountered, it was the Terrans who perplexed her the most.

She leaned back in her seat on the ship's bridge and stared through the transparent portal on the ceiling. There, in space, hung the huge gas giant which the Terrans called "Xorn Four".  Eir'tal was a warrior, but she was keen enough to know that this system was a treasure.  The planet held in its grasp many moons, four of which were ripe with resources.  It was far easier to exploit and defend the resources of a planetary system than an entire solar system.  Eir'tal called up another screen and reviewed the other planets in the system. Xorn I was a small, dead nothing of a planet.  Xorn II was a common dead gas giant... so close to the sun that its gasses had all been blown away millions of years ago.  All that was left was a solid, hot core.  Very dangerous for anyone not prepared to escape its immense gravity or intense heat.  Xorn III was a deathtrap.  Naught but sulfuric acid rain and unremarkable ores.  Xorn V and VI were both ice giants worthy of exploitation in their own right, but did not yet possess facilities. Nor were they near enough the sun to have a glowing, blue gem of life for a moon.

Such was Xorn IV's second major moon.  It was crawling with Terrans, but was still largely unsullied by their presence.  This world made all the difference.  It was no small wonder the Terrans fought over it.

In the end, however, none of this mattered.  Using her heads-up display, Eir'tal activated the shipwide public announcement system.

"Good morning, honored crew of the Gal'o'ta.  Our little vessel has seen its share of strife.  We are trapped out here beyond the reach of our people and their assistance.  Fortunately for us, the presence of the Fire Caste was strong on this ship.  We have met every adversity head-on and won.  Every time. We have new scars and added many new names.  Our vessel has its own scars.  It has seen us through the worst ordeals.  I know that some in the Fire Caste see me as a bit whimsical for their tastes.  Keep wondering because the Gal'o'ta has earned the right to bear new names.  Henceforth, this vessel shall be named Gal'o'ta'run'al'mont'yr."

The bridge crew mumbled around her.  She smiled.

"Furthermore," she said with gravitas.  The mumbling stopped.  "We have finally arrived at the world we've been seeking.  The one ancient legends among spacefaring species in the Tau empire have whispered about around campfires for centuries.  The legends of the Kindstone."

There was no mumbling this time.  Just silent shock.  Eir'tal was pretty sure she heard their Etheral, Krov'va, lament to himself, "She's mad."

"It's down there.  I know it is.  And we're going to get it.  Krov'va is about to ask me how we intend to do such a thing with so many enemies below us fighting over the same world.  The answer to that question arrived in the system several minutes ago, though the enemy remains blissfully unaware of our ally's presence because they're far too busy fighting each other to notice."

"Ah," she said.  "Within visual range."  With a wave of her hand through her HUD, the main viewscreen wavered and the image was replaced with magnified image of the gas giant's northern pole.  The curvature of the planet was barely noticeable at that magnification.  A swarm of red specks hovered in the space above.  The specks drew closer and closer until their outline became unmistakable.

"You," said Krov'va, "have absolutely lost all grip on reality.  You must put a Fire Caste back in charge of this mission.  Water Caste was not meant to lead a...."

She silenced him with a glare.  Good.  It was good to know that he still remembered who'd kept them alive for the past four years.

"Valiant crew of the Gal'tyr, meet your new allies.  An entire fleet of Ork vessels under the command of the ruthless Captain Grimfist.  We cannot lose."

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