- Resistance -
Saints In The Shadows
Brandon J. Wysocki
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Cover Art By
With some elements furnished by NASA
In loving memory of David A. Kowalczyk and John C. Wysocki
You both helped shape me to be the person that I am today, and I will be forever grateful for that. Losing each of you, in very different ways and at different times, was among the toughest experiences of my life. It felt and still feels wrong that life continued on after yours ended. There is a special place in my heart composed of all that was between us and the emptiness of what might have been. I will forever cling to the memories, even as they fade, and proudly keep those spots in my heart for both of you. You live on in our hearts and minds; I refuse to let it be any other way.
For My Love and For My Blood
You completed me and my life. I’d give anything and everything to you, but it would never be as much as you have given me. I love you all eternally and unconditionally.
“I’m not ready to die,” Zaeleth confided his deepest thoughts and fears to his older friend, as he often had. The two began taking in a view of the city of Southview through the large window within the abandoned factory. The smaller city once thrived on industry, it’s terrain lent itself to that use. Its often raised shoreline overlooked the vast freshwater lake to its north, with a large river that split into two diverging tributaries before reaching the lake flowing through the heart of the city. But its best days were behind it well before the invasion. Now all that remained was the fusion of culture and architecture from when many kinds of people migrated to the city while it was still on the rise. They took in what might be the last peaceful moment in their lives as they stood by the large window overlooking the city that they knew was mere hours from becoming a warzone.
“It is written that ‘death is the first step to immortality,” Johvad paused, “not of the flesh, but of the spirit.’” Zaeleth nodded half-heartedly in agreement as he slowly made eye contact with Johvad.
“I think I’d rather live on in a more conventional way,” he said, beginning to grin and chuckle a bit before he could get the last two words out. Johvad returned the grin as both of their grins evolved into a light laughter. Their sense of humors had few boundaries, a laugh at inopportune moments was not uncommon. He placed his hand on Zaeleth’s shoulder as he shook his head and tried to restrain his laughter.
“I would too,” he said to Zaeleth.
“Yeah, let’s work on that for now,” Zaeleth said in response as the two continued to share a welcome, if not out of place, smile together.
It had come to this. More than twenty thousand feet in the air, Zaeleth clutched desperately onto the handle of the hatch with both hands as he dangled in the service chute of the enemy space vessel. His adversary approached, clearly intent to finish him off. Though even with both hands he was struggling to hold on, Zaeleth released one hand in order to grab the detonator from the pouch on his belt. In his precarious position it did not cooperate, but he managed to retrieve it and flick the trigger guard up. And so it was in the power of his hand; with the squeeze of a trigger he could deal a crippling blow to the oppressors, but it would cost his life, as well as the lives of those who were fighting alongside him aboard the enemy ship. In that dreadful decision, through that ultimate sacrifice, though it might be the end for him and those with him, many who he loved as brothers, countless lives might be saved. He was overwhelmed physically and emotionally.
They turned away from one another and looked back out through the window. People could be seen preparing to flee and fleeing as word of the events in Kelgar spread. This reasserted the seriousness of the situation, and removed any remnant of their smiles. Johvad caught sight of a mother and her two children heading out of the city, encumbered trying to carry what they could as they fled.
“You and I, our Brothers and those who we now fight beside, could survive much longer than the majority of our world, much longer than them,” he said as he pointed to the mother and her children. “Do we leave them to this undeserved fate they face, especially when it is inevitable that we will ultimately face the same fate, when we will have to fight or die ourselves? Do we put ourselves, us few, and our lives above the many who have no hope beside us?” Again Zaeleth looked him squarely in the eyes.
“No,” he said resolutely. A brief moment of silence followed. “But I’ve thought about it,” he said in his light-hearted way.
“I’m sure you have,” he quipped back. “But stop, you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you did. That’s why you’ve done what you have in your life to this point, and that’s why you’re here.” He quickly realized that his friend was right. Zaeleth continue to look out and see more people leave, that was the most they could do. It further affirmed that he could not.
The wind whipping below him, he strained and yelled as his one-handed grip began to fail him. Just then, the hulking Faalcomana soldier became visible through his cracked visor as he neared the hatch opening. He placed his finger on the trigger and closed his eyes, pinching out a tear as he did. At that he pulled the trigger. He loosened his grip on the handle as he almost instantaneously began to feel and hear the rumble of the explosives. But as quickly as he released his grip, the explosion violently shot him out of the service chute. Briefly engulfed in the smoke, flames, and debris, his limp body emerged and began to plunge toward the surface.
“It is not for glory, or power, or any other self-serving purpose; it is because we have been called to the highest service, unbound by the arbitrary limitations of the law,” Johvad addressed the group that had assembled together in the old church basement to receive word of the new direction of their service. As was common, Zaeleth made no effort to be among the first to arrive, or to be near to his friend and mentor as he addressed them. It was by no means indicative of his dedication to the organization, or his love and support of his friend, he simply tended to do what was necessary when it was necessary; aside from that, he was usually an easy going, light hearted individual who could even come off outwardly as lackadaisical. “We, and those who preceded us, have never bowed or answered to any mortal on this world. We do not bow or answer to any mortal from any world. But at the same time, we do our best to serve them all.” The assembly was captivated by his words, even though he didn’t deliver them with any great charisma, just deep conviction. “It is clear what the Coalition intends to do, and the repercussions it will bring on our entire planet. There is no stopping that now. So we must do what we have always done, we must be where we are needed, in whatever way we are needed, for the greater good of all of existence.” Zaeleth and Johvad met eyes briefly through the small crowd, and Zaeleth, with pursed lips and fierce brows, shook his head in approval to his friend’s words.
They rushed across the street, taking cover briefly in the dark, narrow alley. The rendezvous point had been raided, but not before they could take possession of what they had come for, a potent improvised bomb. It being the evening, they knew they would have no allies or sympathizers in this district of Kelgar, a sizable city that still bore the scars of the invasion decades ago. Stretching to the great lake, Lake Arino, on its northern border, it was a diverse city in every way. With residential districts catering to different ethnicities merging with one another as they together surrounded the commercial and industrial district to the north. Though in the decades before the invasion, just as the various residential districts began to blend together, so too did the residential, commercial, and industrial districts.
Their comrades at the rendezvous point were certainly dead by now, and the enemy was just as certainly pursuing them. Second Lieutenant Doalan had found himself as the lead man of a group who was likely to not live through the night. They had been forced to flee in the wrong direction, so he was hastily improvising a route to get back to where they needed to be. “Keep moving,” he said, almost as much for himself as for the rest of the men with him as he intrepidly led the way.
They followed faithfully behind him, two men carrying the device that had necessitated this mission. They could hear the subtle but unmistakable sound of enemy aircraft beginning to take to the sky. They continued on, increasingly keeping their eyes up as a craft was moving in their direction. They stuck to the side roads and alleys, desperately hoping to avoid an encounter with their enemy. Few survived a direct confrontation with the Faalcomana, the alien race that had conquered the planet a little more than two decades ago. With a craft getting uncomfortably close to their location, the group hunkered down in a delivery bay in an unlit access road that ran behind an old shopping plaza. They waited anxiously for the craft to pass over them, hoping of course that it would not detect them. In that moment, the ship quickly flying over felt like an eternity. They remained still until it had passed several blocks beyond them.
Doalan began to slowly creep out of the docking bay when several gunshots suddenly rang out, echoing through the relatively silent night streets. Though they could tell it was it was away from them, there was too much going on for them to know for sure where they had originated from. The shots served to motivate them to continue to press forward as they attempted to blend quickness and caution. They systematically navigated the night streets, all of them with their guns at the ready, save for the two tasked with transporting the bomb. They stuck close to an old brick warehouse as they prepared to turn the corner, Doalan remaining in the front. He peaked around the corner and was immediately shaken by the sight of two Faalcomana corpses lying in pools of blood less than fifteen feet away. It was an unexpected sight, but as inexplicable as it was, it was much better than them being alive. With their firearms just out of reach of their outstretched arms, Doalan was confident enough to proceed. “Apparent enemy casualties, use extreme caution,” he said assertively to the men behind him. They turned the corner, following behind Doalan. Most of them aimed intently on the hulking, armored corpses as they passed by them.
A few more turns and they found themselves staring down an old, long, sporadically lit road that would virtually lead them right into the human district; putting them ever closer to the underground storehouse they used as a base, and just as importantly, where the other human activity, downtrodden as it may be, would provide them a much greater amount of cover. Derelict terraced homes lined both sides of the street. The men favored the right side as they vigilantly traversed the road. Their pace increased, influenced by the anticipation of arriving in the ghetto. Suddenly the menacing sight of shining eyes stopped them in their tracks. It was the unmistakable reflection of Faalcomana tapeta lucida. The group immediately took cover behind a porch. “Hold your fire!” Doalan promptly commanded in a roar of a whisper. He knew the difficulty of a direct battle with the Faalcomana. He figured they had been spotted, but since they hadn’t been fired upon, he hoped somehow he could avoid a gunfight that would only cause more Faalcomana to converge on their location.
The four sets of glowing eyes became massive silhouettes as they moved toward a dim streetlight, until the mammoth figures of the four Faalcomana were fully revealed by the light. The Faalcomana were a tall, bulky humanoid race, especially the males who usually stood at least six and a half to seven feet tall, and had burly builds. Their thick, callous skin was further protected and their imposing figures needlessly exaggerated by their generous armor. Their masks did well to shield their faces, which were noteworthy for their larger eyes and less pronounced noses. Their armor perfectly accented and amplified their already intimidating features while also providing excellent protection of nearly every inch of their massive bodies.
The Faalcomana were supremely confident in combative confrontations, having thoroughly demonstrated their superiority over the people of the planet during the decisive Conquest War. The four walked cavalierly toward the group, stopping less than thirty feet from them and standing side by side. Three of them perfunctorily aimed their large caliber assault rifles towards the men with one hand from their hips, while the leader of the pack of soldiers dangled his rifle down at his side and he walked slightly behind the three. The Faalcomana language was a guttural one, and it made for a rough transition as they had worked to loosely familiarize themselves with the native language of the people. “Don’t run. We will show mercy if you lead us to the others of you,” he said, not butchering the language nearly as much as others of his kind often did. Doalan brazenly stood up from behind cover to retort.
“Your kind knows nothing of mercy,” he said firmly in response. The Faalcomana leader cracked a grin, though it was hardly visible behind the grated opening of his mask.
“You stand defenseless to us. Cooperate, or die,” the leader said as he began to raise his rifle up to aim at Doalan. Doalan’s eyes grew large as he watched the leader slowly begin to take aim. It was a fateful moment, and a decision needed to be made on how to proceed. Astonishingly, a spear like blade plunged out of the front of the leader’s throat. He could only let a deep groan escape as his rifle dropped to the ground. The leader then promptly fell to the ground himself as the blade was pulled back out. At nearly the same time, a quiet smoke grenade landed and erupted in the midst of the Faalcomana. In awe, Doalan instinctively squatted down, leaving only his eyes above cover in order to watch the events unfold.
“Stay there,” a black clad human figure said to the group from across the street. The commotion gained the attention of the rest of the group who cautiously attempted to spectate same as Doalan. They could only see additional clad black figures darting in and out of the smoke, each one armed with a telescopic staff and sword hybrid weapon they called a bo. The bottom half of the weapon was a staff like handle and the top half was a cylindrical blade. Gunshots rang out. The sound of additional rifles hitting the pavement could be heard, accompanied by a few gunshots as they hit. The smoke continued to hiss out of its canister and metal could be heard clashing against metal. The black figures themselves didn’t seem to make a sound as they engaged the Faalcomana at a frighteningly close distance, though the Faalcomana grunted, groaned, and spoke a few words frantically as the events unfolded.
Out of the smoke, a Faalcomana soldier stumbled backwards in the direction of Doalan and his group, allowing a large knife to fall out of his hands as he did. A lone black figure followed him out of the confines of the smoke. The figure retracted the blade of his bo as he approached the wounded enemy soldier, so that it became a two foot long staff with merely two inches of the blade exposed at the tip. The men spectating were astonished to see their formidable foe transform from hunter to prey at the hand of this mysterious figure, though the Faalcomana soldier still had fight left within him. The soldier immediately punched at the figure. The figure ducked under the punch and countered by slashing the armpit of the extended arm with his bo. The soldier grimaced and growled as he quickly created some distance between himself and this much smaller figure. The soldier drew another knife that had been concealed near his waist. In a stunning display, the figure feigned a swing, then scissored the arm in which the Faalcomana was holding the knife with his own arms, managing to arm himself with the knife in one hand in the process. Seamlessly he then used his bo in one hand to slash at the soldier’s forehead, knocking his head back, and in the brief opportunity that resulted, he plunged the soldier’s own knife into his throat. It all played out in one fast, fluid, and brutally efficient action. The figure held the knife in the soldier’s throat and pushed him back a few steps. He then turned the knife and viciously ripped it back out of his throat as he could begin to feel the Faalcomana’s body go limp. In ripping the knife out, it appeared as though the figure pulled the Faalcomana face first to ground, where he would lifelessly remain.
The smoke began to clear, and the figure, who was a young man named Zaeleth, was joined by his four comrades, all in identical attire. It was sleek black garments that covered every inch of their bodies, and had light ballistic armor in vitals area, providing added protection without reducing dexterity. Their faces were masked and protected by low profile ballistic helmets with pull-down visors that were featureless, resulting in a cold almost soulless appearance.
The man who had mentored Zaeleth, Johvad, briefly placed his hand on his shoulder in commendation and appreciation for what he had done. In knocking the Faalcomana backwards out of the smoke field, he had actually covered Johvad, who was at the time dealing with one of the other Faalcomana soldiers. Johvad proceeded to walk past Zaeleth and the other three, towards the group of men. He retracted the blade of his bo into its handle, a nearly silent action, and attached it securely to his body. Zaeleth followed a few steps behind him; the remaining three repositioned themselves in better vantage points in order to watch over the area.
The group was tentative, uncertain how to react to theses saviors that emerged from the shadows. “Thank you,” Doalan said in a heartfelt manner as Johvad took his last few steps. Johvad simply nodded his head in response.
“We know what you’re doing, and what you plan to do,” Johvad said rather monotone, making it difficult for the group to perceive his feelings on the matter. Behind his mask, the voices of these men inherited a hollow, slightly menacing tone. Johvad made no efforts to counter that effect as he spoke. “Some might say to leave well enough alone.”
“This isn’t well enough,” Doalan immediately replied quietly but assertively. “How much more can we deteriorate before we are irreparable? This is our world! How we will we ever free ourselves of this fate if we do not fight? We must do this!”
“We’re here to help. If you fail, then it likely means we all die,” Johvad said speaking to the serious repercussions of taking such strong actions against their oppressor.
“As it is, that seems inevitable. If nothing else, we will control the terms of this otherwise slow death they have sentenced us to.”
“Their dispute has led to our reprieve, but every attack that is made on them will only work to reconcile their differences. Up until now, we don’t think your attacks have appeared large or dangerous enough to accomplish that, but if you detonate that, that could change quickly,” he said as he pointed to the bomb they were transporting. “We want to be your ally in this effort, and until this conflict is resolved.”
“Of what benefit is it to us if we were to trust you as allies?” Zaeleth was stunned by the question, as four bodies lied before them as proof. His mask concealed his cheeky facial expression.
“To start, we’ll open the gates to the old City Center for you,” Johvad spoke with calm, sincere sureness that inspired the confidence of Doalan and his group. His words, coupled by the actions of this clan of black clad men had quite an impression on Doalan. But he had to exercise caution in times and situations like these.
“I’d love to know how you could accomplish that any better than we plan to. Even if I vouch for you and your plan to help us, I’m not sure I could convince those in charge of the Coalition,” he said. At this time Zaeleth tapped Johvad on his shoulder, indicating a need to bring this meeting to its conclusion. Johvad responded with a quick nod of his head.
“We cannot risk our plan being revealed to the enemy, so we can’t speak of it now. What I can tell you is that you will need fewer men in sieging the center. We will make the way for them. We have Brothers, Motaham and Sivtal, among the ranks of the Coalition.” Despite that being a complete surprise to Doalan, he knew those two well and held them in high regard. So the news instilled some confidence in him. “They will assist you in convincing the others to accept our aid, and provide the specifics of the plan. You need to continue your way back to your hideout. We will continue to watch over you.”
Doalan nodded his head in acknowledgement and acceptance of Johvad’s words. He waved his group to prepare to resume making their way to their base. He began to lead the way, but after only a few steps he stopped within reach of Johvad. “We met with another team about a mile from here, were you able to aid them as well?”
“I don’t believe so,” Johvad said regrettably. Although not what he had hoped to hear, Doalan extended his hand to Johvad. Johvad promptly shook Doalan’s hand.
“Thank you,” Doalan said as he firmly shook hands and attempted to look into Johvad’s eyes which were well concealed behind the darkness of his mask. “We wouldn’t have survived without you.” Johvad bowed his head and patted Doalan on the shoulder, humbly accepting the gratitude while simultaneously urging him to continue on. Zaeleth, Johvad, and the other three watched as the group resumed their course. Johvad turned his attention to his comrades.
“Our Brothers will see to them. We must prepare the Faalcomana.”
More than two decades ago, when the Faalcomana invaded the planet of Gratuak, it was a swift and devastating battle. On the first night, the damage and death toll was unconscionable. Military bases across the entire planet were simultaneously targeted and ravaged before they had any opportunity to respond. From there they focused their attacks on major cities. Nearly all noteworthy opposition was gone by the fourth day. It was a methodical crippling of the world’s ability to defend itself. At that time, the best of the planet’s technology had just begun to reach out into space, full of hope and curiosity. Many looked to answer a fundamental question of existence, “are we alone?” That question was answered in the most horrifying way. The people, though greater in number, were grossly outmatched by the superior technology of the Faalcomana.
Small bands formed together to stand against the alien enemy, others simply to try to run and survive together. Fighting was futile, but death seemed inevitable regardless. As the people tried to salvage what they could of their lives amidst the rubble of what was once their homes and cities, the horror continued. Though most who fled the major cities were spared any pursuit, the people who remained were gathered together by the Faalcomana for genocide. The only thing that prevented the near total annihilation of the humans was a dispute that divided the Faalcomana and forced the cessation of such heinous activities. That saving grace came after two years and more than one hundred million deaths. However, it was only seen as a stay of execution, not a pardon from what seemed to be an inevitable obliteration. Discrimination and flagrant abuse still pervaded across the planet.
Knowing of another inhabited world, but in the midst of the dispute of how to deal with the inhabitants, the Faalcomana used the world as a testing grounds for a more decent, civilized approach to occupying a planet. Problematic as that approach was, and despite the Faalcomana being outnumbered by either of the worlds they occupied and being riven by the difference of how they should treat the humans, they had not been met with any resistance that they could not easily bring to an end. The Faalcomana, going from unbridled success to an unsettled lull, were as vulnerable as they could ever be. Seeing this, the inhabitants of Gratuak began to unite as a Coalition to mount an unprecedented stand against their oppressors.
Fueled by the murder and mistreatment of their race, the Coalition clung to hope that was derived from their desperation, all while fearing their efforts were in vain. In the interest of strengthening the resolve and resources of the Coalition around the world, and as a first step to evening the odds against the Faalcomana, the unit in Kelgar was tasked with infiltrating a large base of their enemy, acquire munitions to restock their own scarce supplies, and detonate a large bomb to cripple the Faalcomana of the region. The Coalition needed complete success in this effort; without it they would simply be starting a war with limited weapons and will to fight it.
Less than thirty minutes after the confrontation with the Faalcomana, the small group of the Coalition was arriving at their safe haven in an old residential district of Kelgar, more specifically the area segregated for human occupation. They were immediately embraced by several others of the Resistance. Two men came and removed the burden of the bomb from the two who had been carrying it. The General of the Coalition, General Gacason, along with General Sanlano and Lieutenant Carborock were the foremost to greet the group. The three promptly greeted the team with a salute, before whisking Gacason away to a private room. “We feared you had been captured, or worse,” Doalan said sincerely as they made their way through the repurposed office building.
“We nearly were,” Doalan responded. “I think we may need to consider a change in plans,” he continued.
“What do you mean?” Gacason asked as they continued to walk.
“We were saved by the grace of strangers,” he paused, “the ones who seemed to have earned the fear and respect of the Faalcomana in our region,” Doalan said. “They wish to serve our cause.”
“What do they offer and how does it change our plan?”
“They have guaranteed clear passage into the Faalcomana fortress. They said Motaham and Sivtal are a part of their organization and they will help lead the assault on the stronghold.” As the three reflected on the news, there was a brief period of silence as the four settled into a conference room.
“How sure are you about this?”
“Not entirely. I don’t know what they plan, but I trust those two and the others demonstrated they are more than capable of dealing with the Faalcomana. In all honesty, our plan as it stands is little more than a suicide mission. If these men can truly spare us even some of the casualties we would have undoubtedly experienced in trying to strong-arm an infinitely more powerful foe, it will prove invaluable. Worst case scenario we have to revert back to our initial assault plan.”
Sanlano now spoke up, “Doalan is right. If they can bear the brunt of the burden of entering the fortress, then it will be an obvious advantage; and if they fail then it will have little to no effect on our original plan.”
“Of course. That is assuming they can be trusted,” Gacason countered. “We have to consider that. It wouldn’t be the first time our own kind have sought to betray us in the hopes of better treatment from our enemy.”
“Their brutal efficiency with the Faalcomana was quite convincing, and we have for nearly five years trusted in Motaham and Sivtal. I see little reason to not trust them,” Doalan said in response.
“Was it not a display of deception when they failed to mention their affiliation with this mysterious group? While they have proven to be great assets to our cause, perhaps it was all to ensure they could impede on our greatest chance to overthrow the Faalcomana,” Gacason said, still playing the side of skeptic to make ensure someone was.
“Of what benefit is that to them?” Doalan asked.
“Perhaps they are truly allied with the Faalcomana.”
“How would leading a streamlined assault on the stronghold impede us? We have a lot to gain and very little to lose; and we have no reason outside of standard skepticism not to trust them,” Doalan said. “For years we have heard of these men who the Faalcomana fear. Now these very ones are offering to assist us. In these desperate times I can’t argue with that,” Gacason said hoping to end the debate.
“It could all be an elaborate ploy. We have only ever heard of these men from the Faalcomana themselves. Outside of them searching for these supposed warriors, we have never had a lot of reason to believe they’re real; we can all agree on that. Their absence in our cause has proved to be both suspicious and inconvenient. Now suddenly they surface and wish to support our cause? I’m not saying I’m against it, but it is all certainly peculiar,” Carborock said, now choosing to join the conversation rather than simply spectate. The opposition disheartened Doalan, who was surprised himself by his strong feeling that they should align with this group.
Gacason, still trying to consider it from all angles, began to see the benefit of the proposal. He and Doalan had been close friends for more than a decade, and his apparent certainty began to persuade him. “We are all skeptical, that’s only reasonable. They have earned the trust of Doalan, and I suspect nine others who we entrusted with a vital mission would vouch for them as well. Throughout this entire conflict we have been faced with difficult decisions, for which we have had to rely on our judgment, both individually and collectively. We have to be in agreement here. I for one will side with Doalan here. He was there, and I feel that we have no better option than to trust in his appraisal. I think we should hear them out.”
“I believe we should do it as well; we could use all of the help we can get” Sanlano agreed.
“It has been a pleasure leading this resistance with you. We had Doalan lead that mission for a reason.” Carborock now focused directly on Doalan. “I will trust your judgment, but I pray you’re right,” he said.
“I hope I am too,” he said, graciously accepting Carborock’s trust.
“Let’s get Motaham and Sivtal in here as quickly as possible,” Gacason commanded.
General Tettarov, the Faalcomana General, had traveled to the docked space carrier that the Faalcomana leader called home. It had been docked on a large island north of Kelgar, near the middle of Lake Arino. The island had few human structures, the few that remained had been repurposed for work on the carrier, which was slowly being transformed into an attack ship.
Aboard the ship, in his spacious but bare private quarters, Fre’erik, the Faalcomana leader, often remained in solitude. Many Faalcomana viewed him as the fearless leader that had led them to a new world they could call home, a brave conqueror that did what was necessary for his own kind. Even those who viewed his methods as extreme often had a certain respect for him, and nearly every one, human and Faalcomana, feared him.
Although he had led his race to their new world, he had grown accustomed to the cold, dark environment of space vessels over the many years the Faalcomana were forced to live aboard the massive freighter that had brought them to Gratuak. Many of the older Faalcomana had trouble adjusting to the new environments, but that was just one of the reasons he preferred the controlled setting of the ships. He had made little effort to acclimate to the new world, especially with the lingering issue of the dealing with the humans.
With casual, loose fitting clothing draped over his massive figure and a holstered large caliber pistol on his hip, his rough ashen skin was exposed on his arms and face. He partook of a bread-like snack while awaiting the arrival of Tettarov. The main door to his quarters remained open, ready to receive the General. Tettarov was wearing his battle armor, only removing his helmet upon arriving on the island. He was clutching his helmet, unique only because of the breathing apparatus that clung over the lower part of the mask, beneath his arm. The majority of elder soldiers utilized the apparatus to more than compensate for the suboptimal performance of their bodies in the atmosphere of their new home world.
Fre’erik stood to greet Tettarov as he entered the room and approached him. Tettarov bowed his head quickly as the two clasped one another’s left wrists, the customary greeting of their kind. “It is good to see you, General,” he said in their native tongue. It was a coarse sounding language compared, particularly because of their generally deep-toned and rough voices. Fre’erik’s voice rumbled when he spoke; the decades of delivering rousing speeches to his followers and powerful rebuking of enemies and underperforming soldiers had lasting effects on his speaking ability.
“Likewise, my lord. What does this regard?”
“I have grown weary of this predicament. I received a report that a transfer, likely that of weapons, took place in Kelgar.”
“I received the same report.”
“I’ve since been told that it appears that a human detonated a grenade, taking his own life and slowing the pursuit of our forces. He would not have done that for a trivial matter. The opposition is strengthening; we cannot allow that to continue unchecked.”
“What do you propose?”
“My brother, and his inexplicable empathy for these humans has gone too far. He holds strong to his ideals, or to the ideals imposed on him by that wretched wench.” Tettarov nearly cringed at the thought of the relationship between Jeccan and the human female. “Make sure he is aware of the threat these humans present.”
“How, when he is so blinded by that woman?”
“Our intel indicates that whatever was transported to the city was to be used in the city. If it comes to it, we must see that it is used successfully.” Tettarov was deeply intrigued by the radical idea being presented to him. “I have had the report edited to say that it is believed they fled east out of Kelgar, likely to the armory in Doar. I want you prepare to mobilize two battalions from the base in Kelgar. Their mission will be to sweep every city all the way to and including Doar. Emphasize thoroughness, they will need to be kept preoccupied.” Tettarov remained intrigued, even impressed, but he did have concerns.
“Do you mean to jeopardize the lives of our soldiers in Kelgar?”
“It is a necessary risk. Everything that we have been forced to do, or not do, because of Jeccan and his beliefs jeopardize all of us. Every Faalcomana that has fallen during this drawn out conflict has died needlessly because of him! If some die in this, it will be as saviors to our race.” Tettarov couldn’t help but see it the same, not that he would necessarily go against the order even if he hadn’t agreed.
“Will you then go to your brother?”
“Perhaps. But I want you to go to him now. Make him aware of our growing threat, see if he will be reasoned with before it comes to that. I expect he will not. Either way, we cannot afford to have our power suppressed as it has for much longer.”
“What if we exercised our power now, and justified it with the intelligence that we have after?”
“You know the delicate dance we have to do in order to keep peace with him. If we go too far without his consent, he would not hesitate to interfere. It could mean war with him and those who believe as he does. I don’t want that; we cannot let it come to that.” He briefly paused and reflected on his younger brother who he loved and respected, even if the two didn’t agree on this important matter. “His mind has been poisoned by her. His sympathy towards their kind has led him to believe our ways will bring evil upon us, ignoring the fact that the compassion of our ancestors lead to their annihilation. If the account of our near extinction hasn’t brought him to see what must be done, I can only hope that at worst, a defeat in the present will.”
It became a solemn moment for Fre’erik as he thought about the history of his race, the many who were unable to board the massive freighter that provided the only, albeit slim, chance of survival, as well as the many who did not last long enough aboard the ship to see the mission fulfilled, that is the discovery of new habitable worlds. It was largely believed that during that arduous journey, those aboard the ship took the name of Faalcomana, which meant “for our own kind,” and became obsessed with survival.
The division among themselves came when some felt that in their treatment of the humans, the Faalcomana sought to survive even by inflicting the same evils that separated them from their ancestors, and they refused to allow that to go on any longer. Fre’erik cared deeply for his ancestors and his race. That drove him to hold out hope that he would be able to reunite the two sides and definitively provide them with the two worlds as theirs and theirs alone before his days came to an end.
“I will go to him immediately and do all that I can for you…Faalcomana!” Tettarov said assuredly.
“Faalcomana, my friend.”
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