Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Introduction to Enemies

“... and we are running low on food. The store master reports that we’ve only got fifteen to twenty daycycles worth left. Our water supply is not where it should be either, the recyclers are old and out of repair but we should have more.” said the junior officer, his long ears twitching slightly.

Ral kept his gaze downward, trying not to upset the Mardor further, this information would not be received well. His duty on the command staff of the Clanship Ankor was shaping up to be more difficult than he imagined. Wern was a hard master to serve, demanding and cunning in wit, qualities a successful Mardor must possess.

“This ship and it’s crew will be the end of me!” Wern growled. His teeth clicked as he worked his muzzle, a nervous habbit.

Wern looked across the wooden table to his subjects in disgust, and continued to work his jaw, holding back his anger. Their long solemn faces hung toward the pitted and ancient table surface.

“We are due to arrive in the target system within thirty daycycles and I will not have my legion be sent into battle starved... and that’s assuming they don’t eat each other until then.” he said with disgust.

Ral looked to his left and to his right, the other junior officers were doing their best to become invisible. He loathed himself for what he was about to do.

“Mardor, might I suggest...”

“Suggest what young pup?” Wern interjected, obviously annoyed. The Clanship master’s ears were laid back and his teeth were showing.

Ral clenched his fists under the table and swallowed.

“Mardor, I suggest we put a third of the legion in suspension and wake them when we arrive. The reduced numbers might allow us to extend our rations for the duration of the journey.” Ral explained, maintaining a neutral expression.

“And what good would a third of my legion be to me if they were overcome with suspension sickness?” Wern growled.

“You could use them as a reserve, master. Allow them the time to recover and replenish any losses incurred during the gate construction.” Ral explained.

“You expect losses?”

“Yes Mardor, never underestimate the enemy.”

The older officer’s ears relaxed and he tapped a claw on the table, surprised by the young one. “Even if the enemy is a primitive species just like all those we’ve encountered and conquered before?” he asked.

Ral looked again to his sides, the others were sufficiently uncomfortable. “The tarlents are most dangerous when cornered in the nest, Mardor.”

“Ha!” Wern exclaimed as he slammed a clenched fist on the table surface, bouncing items in a clatter. “A hunter!” he said pointing to Ral.

“You other young pups take note of your brother here. He will likely be your master one day.”

Wern stood and the others did as well. “Do it, suspend a third. Run the tests and combat drills again, only suspend the most fearsome of our horde. They will recover from suspension with ease and carry us to victory. The clan of Amareen will once again be feared.”

“Victory and glory to Amareen!” the officers shouted ceremoniously. They stood statuesque until the Mardor had left the meeting hall.

Ral and the others exhaled when the door closed behind their master. They gathered their items. Ral tipped back his glass and finished the rest of his blood gretch, relieved he made it through the ordeal with his head intact.

“Our master he’ll be!” laughed Sarka, the Legionary Captain, from across the room. “Wait until we reach this pathetic planet, our victory will be made by the claws of my warriors Ral. You will be forgotten. The ones that are remembered etch their legacy in blood.” he said grinning as he walked to the exit of the room with the other officers.

“Those who fail are also remembered Sarka.” Ral returned indifferently.

Sarka’s massive frame came to a sudden halt. His fur stood on end, the grey and white tufts thickening down his spine could be seen from where Ral stood still holding the goblet. Sarka turned and his long teeth glistened from beneath a tightened maw.

“Come on, this weakling is not worth our concern.” said one of Sarka’s cohorts placing a large four fingered paw on his shoulder.

“I’ll be expecting the reports on your warriors Sarka, get them to me as soon as possible. Your dinner is at stake.” Ral said smiling.

Sarka growled and pulled for Ral but the others held him back and forced him toward the exit. Finally, the beast gave up and left with the others leaving Ral alone in the dark meeting hall. Ral stood silently considering. He tapped the table with a claw and his nostrils.

The Jenlai were a mighty people, always ready and hungry for more. The all consuming nature of their society meant expansion was the only means of sustaining the Kingdom. Resources were shipped inward toward the home planet of Jenlin, each new world supporting those that came before it. Unfortunately the reality of planetary discovery meant finding suitable worlds using ancient technology was a slow process. This meant that every few generations, a crisis would occur and force the Kingdom to expand rapidly, by force if need be, and take what was needed.

There hadn’t been a new colony established in over 100 longcycles and the first inhabited planet the Amareen Clan would have the honor of fighting for in three generations. Prominent, successful clans were usually given priority as reward when new planets were discovered, Clan Amareen received this opportunity via proximity and luck.

A small blue green world was discovered almost seventy five longcycles ago off the edge of the Kingdom’s territory. The planet was rich with resources but the atmosphere was not conducive to Jenlai respiratory systems. A climate altering device was proposed and constructed some years later to ensure the planet’s atmosphere would be primed for Jenlai needs.

As it turned out, the planet happened to be inhabited by an odd intelligent species. The initial survey probe relayed information that the species on the planet was militarized but had yet to harness the power of the atom, a clear demarcation in the advancement of any culture. Primitive and highly divided, the inhabitants were determined to be of little interest and might make good slave labor eventually, if not they could always serve as livestock for feeding.

The court of the Kingdom determined two interdimensional hypergates would be sufficient for the conquest of this world, one for each major hemispheres of landmass. A standard fleet from two of the closest Clans, one for each gate would forge ahead and establish the colony.

Ral’s father’s generation had seen the Amareen Clan’s influence and reputation dwindle through waste and poor leadership. Now, faced with the opportunity to claim new territory and glory for the Jenlai through battle, the Clan could again prove it’s worth and gain favor in the court of the Kingdom and Ral’s only chance to prove his worth in his lifetime.

But first, he must ensure the ship’s crew arrives with food in their bellies.

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