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To Invade or Not to Invade
Vrosh Sharem was one who liked order in his life. He liked his writing utensils in a specific order on his desk. He enjoyed it when his goblets for every day of the week were in order. Even when he scored a perfect round in Obertise, he was happy. Relativity, order, and the expected was what Vrosh had come to know and love.
So one could only imagine what Vrosh was thinking when he heard from a subordinate that one of the captains was refusing to participate. He was outraged. That was another thing about Vrosh Sharem. It was difficult for him to keep his temper. Call it an act of genetic will, call it dumb luck, but Vrosh’s bloodline had (for what seemed like forever) struggled with anger management problems.
Some cadets claimed that this was why Vrosh had accelerated to the top of society so quickly. The Imperium had tapped Vrosh as a lieutenant at a very early age, about sixty-five. Most didn’t make it to that status until at least their late seventies. It then wasn’t that much longer until Vrosh was inaugurated as captain of the vessel Kintok and then within fifteen short years, named the Supreme Commander of the Fleet. Vrosh was shocked really. No one ever in the entire history of the Fleet had moved straight from the captaincy of a single ship to control of the entire Fleet. And it just so happened that Vrosh’s tenure as Supreme Commander aligned perfectly with the Imperium’s plans.
Vrosh was led down the silent, whitewashed hallway by the officer who’d interrupted his rejuvenation cycle. Vrosh noted that the officer was a lieutenant, just as he had been, at such a young age. This lieutenant, however, was clearly much older. Vrosh could tell by his much more prominent head-crest and the dullness of his claws. Clearly signs of both maturity and wear and tear.
“I’m so sorry Supreme Commander,” said the lieutenant. “But he’s been very adamant about his beliefs. He teleported himself off his ship and back here, and attempted to march to your office. A security detail stopped him before he could get barely a sect into the station, but he hasn’t given up. He’s been demanding you come and talk to him for nearly a rotation now. At first my superiors denied him, but have now decided to grant him his request.” Vrosh took that fact as a translation of ‘my superiors were tired of hearing him whine’.
“Why can’t his first officer just command the ship?” asked Vrosh, puzzled. He shouldn’t even have to be troubled by this.
“The crew of the Kran is very loyal to their captain. All of them, even the first officer, refuses to participate without the captain.” Vrosh sighed. He didn’t have time for this. He had to go over the final details of the plans. He was, after all, expecting some kind of fight.
“Can’t we just move the Kran back and have some other ship take its place?” asked Vrosh tiredly.
“Of course, not!” said the lieutenant, sounding appalled with his crest flaring. “The Kran is one of the only ships with enough firepower to protect the landers!” Vrosh was disgusted by the lieutenant’s outburst, and very well could’ve flogged him, but decided not too. He needed to get to this captain as soon as possible.
All this time the two had continued to move down the hallway, turning and twisting here and there. The hallway seemed deserted of any doors, or at least that’s the way it would seem to human eyes. A few taps on the translucent panels on the walls would reveal a door, where there was none before. The lieutenant’s claws clicked rhythmically on the floor as the pair moved along. His lack of footwear was not a mistake, it was meant to be. It was just another way to assign rank. Vrosh himself wore the specially shaped boots; the ones that conformed electronically to the shape of his foot. Only members of the Imperium and other high ranking militant or religious members wore such things. The two went along, deeper in the labyrinth of hallways. Vrosh was wondering how much longer it would be when suddenly the lieutenant stopped.
“The brigs, Supreme Commander,” said the lieutenant, punching in the code to open the door and bowing. Much more in line than before, but still with a strain of disdain toward Vrosh. The Commander flicked his tongue and snorted to show his distaste for the lieutenant. He pushed his buttons unlike any one else before, and Vrosh didn’t like it one bit. Nudge Vrosh and he would throw a punch back.
But the lieutenant clearly didn’t take the hint, and when he thought that Vrosh was no longer looking he flicked his tail up to his chest, showing that he considered Vrosh a simpleton. Vrosh wheeled around fast, grabbed the lieutenant’s throat, and slammed him into the wall, right next to the doorway.
“Listen to me, lieutenant,” Vrosh said distastefully. “I could very well have you killed for your actions here today. However, I think it would serve my interests better, to teach you a lesson.” With that Vrosh grabbed the subordinate’s crest and using his powerful jaws, bit into it. The lieutenant wailed, but Vrosh didn’t seem to mind. He liked it when his prey squirmed. Finally, after several moments, Vrosh released and let the lieutenant slump down to the hallway floor. Blood ran freely from his new wound.
“Have a good day, lieutenant,” said Vrosh before passing through the doorway and into the brigs. The officer’s moans could be heard even as the door closed.
It did not take Vrosh long to find the warden and to have him lead him to the door of the captain’s cell. Within five minutes Vrosh had passed through another doorway, this one putting him face to face with Captain Gorgev Yant.
Yant was a proud man. Raised on the fringes of society on Colony 11, he’d come from a very poor family. However, through his allegiance to and much proclaimed love of the Imperium, Yant had excelled. He was one-hundred-and-twenty-one, an average age for a captain in the Fleet, though he had reached the position through much hard work and dedication.
“Supreme Commander,” said Yant, awed that he had been granted his request. He immediately dropped into a low bow, with his tail curling up around his body. This was a sign of humility and respect. Vrosh approved.
“At ease, Captain,” said Vrosh, eager to be done with this and get out. “What is it that you needed to discuss?” Rising out of his bow, Captain Yant looked Vrosh straight in the eye, with all the seriousness he could muster. His face (and his whole body for that matter) was very muscular, clear signs of an ancestral linkage to a working class. Vrosh liked that. He knew that they wouldn’t always be able to rely on laser guns and mega¬bombs. Sooner or later, infantry would be needed.
“Sir, I cannot invade the planet.”
That was all he said, and that appeared as if that was all that he was going to say.
“Why?” whispered the Supreme Commander, still locked in eye contact with the Captain. Simple questions like that normally did not cross the Commander’s mind, but this time it was inevitable.
“Because there is life down there, sir. Valuable life that cannot be replaced or recreated. If we invade and conquer it will be gone forever.” Vrosh stared back with cold and unforgiving eyes, still locked on Yant. To even think such a thing would be considered treason against the Imperium of the highest kind. And for a man who had declared his love for the Imperium so often, it came as a shock. However, Vrosh wasn’t a man to let emotion show on his face.
“Let’s sit, Captain,” said Vrosh, attempting to keep the rage out of his voice. “We’ll talk some.” The Commander motioned to a couple of alloy chairs pushed to one side of the cell. Vrosh took it one of two ways. Either the security detail had already interrogated the Captain, or they were hoping that because of this madness he’d bash his head in with the chairs. Regardless, the chairs were inexcusable and someone would be losing their job if not more because of them.
Captain Yant made his way to the chairs, cautiously, as if he was worried that Vrosh was going to throw one of them at him. Apparently he had caught wind of the Supreme Commander’s volatile anger problem, and wished to avoid it at all costs. A wise thing, but so far he hadn’t done a good job of accomplishing this goal.
“So, Captain Yant, I’ve read up on your service record. It is extremely distinguished. You seem very patriotic, especially when it comes to the Imperium. Do you love the Imperium, Captain Yant?”
“Of course!” shouted the Captain, sounding a bit disgusted. Normally Vrosh would have taken that as an insult, but not right now. He was using Yant’s emotions to make sure that he was telling the truth. Not that the Supreme Commander didn’t necessarily trust that he’d be honest. He just couldn’t be too careful.
“I wasn’t questioning your loyalty, only proceeding with protocol. Please, sit back down Captain.” It was only then that Captain Yant realized he had jumped up when responding. He quickly reseated himself.
“So, if you do indeed love the Imperium, why do you refuse to invade the planet Earth? That is what the Imperium wishes.” Yant looked uncomfortable, and Vrosh felt it. The Imperium never referred to a planet or its people in their native tongue. Designations were all that was given to refer to them by.
“The people there are different. They aren’t like the others.” When he said others, the Captain was mentioning the near thousand other species and planets that the Imperium had conquered. Vrosh snorted and shook his head.
“We’ve studied this species for nearly fifty years now! Our best xenologists have studied these…Species Alpha 013, in depth, and found nothing to suggest that they pose a threat to the Imperium. There is no reason to believe they’ll be able to harm us! Their planet will make a fine addition to the Collection and will further cement the diversity of the Imperium!” The patriotism of which Vrosh spoke of was clearly reflected in his voice.
“But they aren’t the same; they’re different. They are unique! Their music, their dances, and their customs in general, they aren’t found anywhere else in the known universe! And they’re smart. They haven’t acquired the ability to travel cross-space yet, but they will soon. All of their latest technology suggests it. I mean think about it, Supreme Commander. Their situation isn’t all that different from the Imperium’s when it was just a fledgling bac—”
“Enough!” shouted Vrosh standing up and glaring at the Captain. To speak of the Imperium’s origins was taboo in society, partly because they were so humble and also partly because they weren’t so grand.
“I apologize, Supreme Commander,” Yant said, once again bowing his head. “But all I’ve said is true. We’ve never seen anything like them. And on top of everything, they’re resilient. If we enslave them, like we’ve done with the others, they will surely rebel. Maybe not immediately, but sooner or later. And I don’t want to be in the Imperium when that happens.”
Now Vrosh was mad. He leapt at the Captain and reached for his head crest, just like he did with the lieutenant in the hallway. But the Captain was much more experienced than the lieutenant. Yant ducked at the last instant and the Supreme Commander went crashing into the chair.
“I truly am sorry Supreme Commander, but I will not invade that planet. I will not be held responsible for what happens to those people.” Yant simply stood and watched the Commander
“Have you gone soft!?” screamed the Commander as he stood, brushing off his robes. “Species Alpha 013 is...is…”
“What Commander? You’ve read the reports, and you can’t describe them either, can you? I’ve tried as well, but I don’t think there is one word that describes them. Knowledgeable, humorous, resilient, inspiring, the list goes on and on! No one else we’ve conquered has been like that.”
“Alright,” sighed the Supreme Commander, the rage edging into his voice. “I’m not going to argue with you anymore Captain. I do have an invasion to run after all. You can either get back to the Kran and carry out your duties like assigned, or you can stay here in the brigs. It’s your choice.”
Yant made no movement.
“Alright, Captain, no more choices. I’m giving you an order. Get back on the Kran, now!”
Still Captain Yant made not movement.
“Alright then. Captain Gorgev Yant, of the warship Kran, you are here by stripped of your rank, privileges, duties, and obligations. You will remain here as a criminal under charges of treason against the Imperium. Your sentencing will be held on a later date.”
“They won’t fight with out me you know, the crew of the Kran. They’re far too loyal,” said Yant.
“We shall see. I can be very persuasive,” was the only reply.
And with that the Supreme Commander of the Fleet, Vrosh Sharem left the brigs, twelve levels from where he had been rejuvenating.
The Imperium invaded Earth, just as they had planned, with Captain Gorgev Yant locked in the brigs of their central command center. However, the invasion that had been so meticulously planned did not go as Supreme Commander Vrosh Sharem planned it to. It seemed that the humans had known of the invasion beforehand, and had set up their weapons of mass destruction (“nukes” as they were so appropriately called) in orbit around their planet, and disguised them as floating “space junk”. 90% of the Fleet was vaporized just attempting to enter the atmosphere. Needless to say that there was little of a war after that. In fact it would only be a short more fifty years until the Imperium collapsed all together, never recovering from their defeat.
It was never learned how the humans discovered the invasion. Some claim it was new telescopes and astronomical technologies. Others say that the government had known about the aliens for decades, and only now moved on them when it was clear that the planet was in imminent danger.
And yet still, there is a crazy old coot from some little New Mexican town that swears he was contacted directly by one of the aliens. A high ranking officer too. Some one who called himself Yak this or Yant that.