Memory Transcription Subject: High Captain Ferlinn, Secessionist Fleet Command
I stared grimly out at the darkness of subspace. I had just doomed a colony of thousands to be atomized. The glassing wouldn’t be as quick as the Feds or Arxur would have done it. Our antimatter arsenal was small due to the weapons being an offensive weapon, needlessly expensive to produce, and all our military being primarily focused on defense. The only reason Operation Hailstorm succeeded so well was because of the Federation’s incompetence and cowardice. Looking back at the battles, our attack strategies were quite sloppy, relying only on the overwhelming force of our dreadnaughts to constrict and crush our enemies.
Vajo would likely expend whatever antimatter, nukes, and Class-3 seismic charges he had before switching to standard bombardment. If that wasn't enough, he'd send down death squads to clear the survivors. I looked at the coordinates Overseer Noctif had given me. Sot Lovin, a planet heavily scarred by centuries of weapons testing and one that was well out of the Unity’s way. Large portions of its surface had been rendered uninhabitable by radiation and toxins and a seismic charge test gone wrong had gouged a deep scar visible from space called Odorala’s Folly after the long-dead woman who’d designed and tested it. Although it was still occasionally used for more testing, fresher planets had been acquired for similar and Sot Lovin had been more-or-less reduced to a hazardous, historical wasteland barely worth notice. It was a perfect rendezvous point.
As I relayed the coordinates to Faznik, who had yet to receive them, I ordered our subspace trail be hidden. The Federation had no such technology to accomplish that but we weren’t able to secretly keep tabs on the xenos for so long without learning how to hide our footsteps. I leaned back into the Captain’s Chair and rubbed my organic eye. Everything had gone to shit - more than usual at least - because of one person. I still couldn’t fathom as to why Edo had done this. He was a die-hard Isolationist and should have withdrawn the Guardian Fleet and hunkered down like he originally wanted to. Instead, he’d escalated the war and I had a suspicion that the Arxur weren’t going to be very happy. After witnessing their power at Earth, I had concluded that the reptiles could easily destroy the Federation but they didn’t because the xenos were their food supply.
With Edo vaporizing that food supply, he was drawing the Arxur’s ire.
---------------------------------------- Memory Transcription Subject: Captain Drozo, Arxur Dominion Sector Fleet
This Zeyzell Unity was quickly drawing the Dominion’s ire. Their hatred of the animals was commendable but destroying our food source was unacceptable. Betterment had been attempting diplomacy with them for a week now only to be completely ignored. My target was a colony they had yet to glass and seize it from the pitiful predators. I chuckled as I recalled the first time I came face-to-face with one. The tiny carnivore had growled threats at me when I drew too close and spat the word "xeno" the same way a prey animal would call me a "gray." Despite the xenophobia, it seemed that a predator alliance with them and the Humans was entirely plausible as they continued to pledge more and more support.
And then they left. Every ship and troop battalion packed their bags and went back to Zeyzell-10 without any explanation. Rumors began to leak through about some sort of attack on the Zeyzell ruling council and then the canines suddenly turned and began glassing every Federation planet under their control down to the last city, using weapons that nobody had ever seen: bombs that cracked planet's crusts, satellites that sent the weather into pure chaos, among others. It was obvious that whoever took control after the attack, they wouldn't stop there so, against our better instincts, we attempted to talk them down. Every transmission was ignored and every vessel was turned away at gunpoint at best and blown up at worst.
So here we were. We'd give whoever this was one last chance to stand down before we attacked.
"Exiting subspace nowng subspace now, Captain.”
The sudden shift from darkness to light dazzled my eyes for a second. Blinking the afterimage away, I stared at the scene before me. The wreckage of a battle lay scattered in orbit while a large Zeyzell fleet turned the planet to glass. The way the fleet instantly fell into a defensive formation instead of panicking and running like the prey usually did was oddly refreshing. Bombers continued to skate through the atmosphere while the larger ships trained their weapons on us. Those boxy and vulnerable Carriers of theirs opened their bay doors and allowed clouds of swarmfighters to spill out.
“Hail them,” I snarled.
The hail transmitted for a few seconds before it was picked up. A Zeyzell appeared with disgust evident in his eyes.
“What do you want, xeno?”
“I am Captain Drozo of the Arxur Dominion. I have been sent here to relieve this colony from your control. This is non-negotiable.”
The canine laughed.
“Overseer Edo wants those things down there dead and who am I to disobey him? I would have thought that our goals would have aligned right here.”
“We agree that the prey are lesser than us, but the fact of the matter is that we need them. The animals exterminated our livestock and so we have been forced to turn to eating them to survive.”
“So what? There are plenty more planets throughout the Federation. This isn’t even a blip on your radar.”
“I think we both know that this Edo will not stop here. And what’s stopping him from turning on us once the Federation is destroyed? We are putting an end to things right here and now, one way or another. I will give you one last chance. Stand. Down.”
The Zeyzell bared his teeth in a laughable threat display.
“May Maa scorch your soul.”
With that, his image dissipated and target-lock warnings began blaring. Opening volleys from railguns on both sides lanced through the void. More of theirs struck a target than did ours. Oh, what I would give for some of those metal balls the Zyezell were fond of using. The Zeyzell hastened their glassing campaign as we closed in.
The clouds of swarmfighters launched forwards when the railgun strikes lessened and began tearing our front ships apart. The Zeyzell fleet spread out into a defensive blockade with the Carriers in the middle of formations of a few dozen ships. Giant gaps were opened up in the formation. Of course. The goal wasn’t the defense of the planet. It was holding us off until the glassing was finished. Who cared if we landed on the surface? We didn't have time to besiege them. We had to find a way to kill them or drive them off as soon as possible.
Many other captains saw the openings and allowed themselves to be overtaken by their bloodlust and sped forward.
“Wait! They’re baiting you! Turn back!”
Some heeded my warning and pulled back. Those that didn’t met a swift end to a second wave of swarmers. This was going to be difficult. We surrounded them, but they held all the cards. Anyone who got too close was vaporized and all the canines had to do was sit and wait until their job was finished. The Zeyzell held remarkable control over both their fear and aggression, not a single one breaking formation to fight or flee. I growled. I didn’t see a way to get through them.
Railguns continued to fire and some were able to hit a target but most were intercepted by a swarm. I sighed. There was no brilliant strategy that came to mind. The Zeyzell obviously weren’t worried about the populace so there was no need for them to spread themselves thin to cover more of the planet and the small groupings were well defended, only breaking formation to fire a railgun shot before falling back behind the curtain of swarmfighters. I recalled a few Zeyzell once bragging about how they were the masters of defense. At the time, I couldn’t fathom as to why they thought such cowardice was worthy of recognition. I know now. The Zeyzell had been hiding from the Federation for centuries. That gave them plenty of time to learn how to turn cowardly defenses into fleet-killing formations just in case they were attacked.
I thanked the Prophet that this fleet had no Weapons Platforms. That would probably put an end to this battle real quick. I watched the battle for a few more minutes before resigning myself to the fact that we were going to take heavy casualties no matter whether we won or lost. We might as well throw everything we still had at once. Otherwise, we might as well be bashing a titanium shield with our bare hands.
“All ships surge forward on my command. We will overwhelm them with brute force. We will not allow these pitiful predators to hold us off!”
Growls of anticipation answered me over the comms.
Every remaining warship burned their sublight thrusters and flung ammunition wildly at the blockade. I could practically feel the Zeyzell’s eagerness as they pounced. Warships fell in droves as the blockade tore them apart. But then they began to fall off as well. A cloud of swarmers that had been on the verge of tearing my own ship apart suddenly stopped as their Carrier was destroyed. We were doing it! We-
Suddenly, the Zeyzell broke their formation and began retreating around the planet. Swaths of bombers rose up out of the atmosphere and joined them.
"Sir, they're hailing us."
Perhaps they were surrending.
The Zeyzell from earlier appeared before me again with a smug look on his face.
"Congratulations, xeno. You win. Here, have the ball of glass and carbonized corpses. Maybe you can clear out any survivors for us."
I growled with hatred. We'd been too late.
"What was the point of all this? You know what we would have done to the population. They might as well have been killed. We would have done your job for you!"
"Orders are orders, xeno. I follow them to the fine print. Have a good day."
With that, they jumped out of the system and left us with a useless, dead colony. All that food just wasted!
The Dominion would get our retribution eventually.
---------------------------------------- Memory Transcription Subject: Chief Nikonus of the Kolshain Commonwealth
I was in a bit of a pinch, that was for certain. The Zeyzell had gone from yet another problem to deal with to perhaps the greatest threat to the Federation except for maybe the Humans. We and the Arxur both used each other for our own purposes. The Arxur needed us for food and we needed them to keep the population under our control. The Humans had thrown a wrench into that balance but I was certain that they could be dealt with in time. The Zeyzell at first posed a similar problem as the Humans until a week ago.
No matter what the predators claimed, I hadn't blown up their Council Chamber. I didn't even know where Zeyzell-10 was. But whoever did it, they had royally pissed the canines off. They had turned full genocidal on us and they didn't have the same needs as the Arxur did. Normally, I would just let the veil of our cowardice fall and wipe out the predators but I had no idea of their true defensive capabilities. Their offensive abilities left something to be desired but there were plenty of rumors abound of their impossible defenses such as energy shields that covered entire planets and gigantic turrets that could take out orbital targets from the surface. For all I knew, any Extermination Fleet would be ripped to shreds within days. Not to mention that they were almost certainly spread out over many worlds. Glassing Zeyzell-10 would complete the amazing accomplishment of killing a portion of their population and pissing the rest off even more.
I had to hope that they would stop where they are now. First Prev