Chapter 12 - Hall
Gialumeth gazed down upon the destruction he caused with his ACU, his team and more than a hundred Ahwassa bombers. Again, millions of human lives were lost. His warriors attacked without remorse and death followed them closely.
The Way’s teachings were to respect all life and the ironic aspect of this war was to destroy life in order to be able to respect it in turn. Gialumeth had been informed about Jaran Marxon, Avatar-of-War of the Aeon Illuminate. He too knew that the death of humans was not an obstacle to avoid but a necessary sacrifice.
This time, it would not stop with the sacrifice of only the UEF or the Cybran Nation, but the Aeon Illuminate was to disappear as well, although that would have to come later, as the Seraphim’s arrival met issues at the first hour.
Not that it mattered for humanity in the end, thought Gialumeth, not that it mattered for the millions people who died here. Not that it mattered for the small group that managed to escape this day. Eventually, they would all be wiped out.
Gialumeth was sure that he would soon meet the Cybran and the Federation commanders again, the two who led the evacuation of the small town they were protecting. It gave the Seraphim commander, as well as his warriors, time to think about the arsenal that the enemies had at their disposal. Dozens of strategic missiles had been launched and even though those things didn’t do very much to the experimental bombers, which had left ground zero before a missile would arrive, it was a force to be reckoned with.
“Warriors.” Said Gialumeth to his subordinates after he had altered the approach of the mission. “We will no longer directly confront the enemy. We will build up a base of operations at a relative safe location of the planet. When our armies grow steadily, we will attack. The possibility of attack by strategic missiles will then be insignificant.”
“Well reasoned, commander,” replied Yxilianeth, “but we have to defeat the enemy commanders as well. When they die, the civilians will have no protection. Then we can cross the galaxy without resistance.”
“That is correct, but if we work fast, there will be no difference between our preparation and the possibility of slowing down due to a strategic attack. We will – ” Gialumeth stopped, he had just proven how useless his own idea was. If there wasn’t any difference between the time they took by preparing and the slow down they suffered from a possible strategic missile, then there wasn’t any difference the other way around either.
“Do no longer think about my new approach, it is not better than the old one. We will attack our enemies directly.”
It took more than six weeks before Leython heard about the first victory. The first direct victory over their new aggressor. QAI had been disabled for a small period of time, thanks to doctor Brackman. He managed to clear the quantum network of any distortion, which allowed the UEF and the Cybran Nation to move freely again. That wasn’t all though, since the father of the Cybrans was smart enough to include QAI’s betrayal in his message.
Being able to communicate with the rest of the universe again was a nice gesture, but it came with a dangerous problem as well. Any message might be tracked by QAI. Leython was certain that the artificial intelligence would be able to decrypt every message he sent and that wasn’t even a necessity as merely tracking the message would be enough to disclose the possible receivers’ locations. Leython would also not be surprised if QAI tracked the data soon enough to find out where he was hiding with Josh and Eric.
“I have a plan.” Said Leython to his colleagues after some hours of thinking. “It’s a dangerous idea but I don’t see how we can make our way to a larger community or more commanders in any other way.”
“Tell me, what’s the plan?” Asked Josh. “And what do we have to do?”
“I’ll travel to a UEF planet somewhere in UEF territory, a planet of which we know it isn’t habited. Then, I’ll broadcast an emergency message throughout the galaxy, claiming I am under attack by the Seraphim.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Said Eric furiously. “You’re an idiot if you think anyone will rescue you. Everyone knows what the Seraphim are capable of. Claiming such a thing is claiming you’re living your last moments. Anyone joining you to rescue you will only join you in death.”
“The Cybrans will reply.” Answered Leython calmly. “They’ll not come to the rescue directly, but we’ll find a rendezvous point where I will go to. Dostya, Brackman and others are smart enough to see I’m coming up with a ruse.”
“What about the Seraphim? QAI?” Asked Josh. “You’ll need a way to deal with that.”
“QAI will track me right away, I’ll have to work fast in order to get a quantum gate up. Given the fact that we haven’t been attacked, the Seraphim have ordered their computer not to attack me, or concentrate on me at all. They’re either underestimating the threat we pose or they’re right when they think they’ll eventually kill us when they accidentally stumble upon us.”
“If that is true, why will QAI track you?”
“It’s ordered to track everything, I think. The distortion hampered QAI’s effectiveness but it will now be able to track a lot of the network’s traffic. That is the best way to inform its masters where any humans are hiding. Since we have cut ourselves off of the network since the message from Brackman and we’re far away from Earth, we’re relatively safe. However, as soon as one of us travels, QAI will note that and strike. If we get too close to Seraphim territory, they’ll attack and we’re done for.”
“That’s not going to be easy, picking the best planet. We’re got to be far away from the Seraphim, but not too close to Sethis, then we’ll jeopardize the people here.” Said Josh.
“Not to mention that you put anyone on the planet you arrive on in danger if you accidentally go to an inhabited place.” Concluded Eric.
“Not just anyone there, but also the people who live in the immediate region of my arrival gate.”
“What about Aeon territory?” Asked Eric, but Josh had a better idea:
“Perhaps we should use the quarantine zone. That’ll provide a safe haven for you or the civilians. It’s far from the Seraphim, not easily detected by QAI and we also stay away from Aeon territory, which is good because we don’t know about them either.” Added Josh to answer Eric’s confusion look as to why travelling to the Illuminate was a dangerous plan.
“That might be a good idea. You will go to Tessalis, but not before we’re sure you can construct the food production facilities that I can build. The same problem must be solved for the radio towers. We need them to control the production facilities.”
“If we have that, what will you do?”
“I’ll travel elsewhere, sending a message from Sethis directly after you left will be a danger as well.” Said Leython.
“How so? QAI has already anticipated that you’re here, right?” Asked Eric. “That’ll make it less of a danger to be here when we communicate.”
“You’re right.” Said Josh. “Leython, why didn’t you plan this before?”
“I didn’t think of it, not before you mentioned the quarantine zone. Even I need some time to alter plans and conclude what the new situation is. I don’t have that problem in the heat of a battle of course.”
“Can we get on now?” Asked Eric. “We can talk about our characteristics later.”
“You’re right. I’ll stay here and wait some time, a couple of hours. Then I’m sure that you’ve got a base or something like that. Just for good measure. In case Aeon forces attack. They might be hostile now.”
“Then we’ll just contact you. If we can.” Said Josh. “You’ll join the battle and we’ll then have a good chance of taking them on.”
“Exactly. If it’s silent for some hours, I can safely assume that QAI has not tracked you and attacked, or ordered to attack. Then I’ll send a message through the network and the Cybrans will find a way to contact me. When that whole procedure has been dealt with, we’ll escape from QAI’s grasp and come up with a plan of action.”
“What makes you so sure the Cybrans will help you?” Asked Eric. “They’ll be hiding, assuming they’re still surviving. They’ll not risk their lives for a mere seventy to seventy-five thousand people.”
“I have designed a plan to successfully attack the fortress of Matar and even if the fortress we had designed would have made it through the UEF bureaucracy, I would’ve been successful. They have learned from that, in addition to the strategically and technical geniuses they already had there. They’ll come up with a plan that’ll get us to safety and keep them alive in the meanwhile.”
The dread of the night cast a daunting shadow over Marisa’s and Selene’s base. Two knights had joined them, named Jelea and Tomin. They were inexperienced, having joined the military ranks only a few weeks before the end of the Infinite War.
They had fought more battles in their ACU than Selene, but in turn, she had advised dozens of commanders with information, only to protect the Aeon community. Marxon had never allowed her to be involved with an assault on the UEF or the Cybran Nation, not after her so-called failure when she attacked the Three-Rivers node.
It allowed her to willingly put the most effort in her duty without being directly responsible for the massacre on Federation citizens or Symbionts. By the years that past, she gained more and more knowledge about the war, battles, the ACU and the Aeon, UEF and Cybran arsenal.
It was not nearly as much as what the best commanders knew, like Marisa or crusader Rhiza, but she could keep up with her ally who was disguised as Petrene Ellessar, the person who had trained with her loved one during her years on Tessalis.
Then again, there was nothing to fear for, as long as she stayed on Virdona, which was her job. Her base built, she took a careful look at the fortifications that knights Jelea and Tomin had constructed.
“Bad protection.” Said Marisa through the heavily encrypted channel they had made. “It is clear that they know nothing. Technically, this is a good thing but it saddens me as well, how has it come to this?”
“How we can send such recruits to battle?” Asked Selene. “We have been like this as well.”
“That is the most saddening fact.” Answered Marisa, but she corrected herself immediately: “No, that the war still is, is the most saddening fact, but inexperienced people fighting at the hardest front comes in second.”
“We had senior commanders on our field at least.” Said Selene in disgust. “Halley thinks that we’re four inexperienced knights and she willingly did this. What if we are attacked?”
“We will escape. Knights Jelea and Tomin think that we will all retreat deeper in Illiminate space but in fact, we will have our route towards the Cybran Nation or the UEF. Perhaps we may be able to contact Leython.”
“He may no longer be alive. I know, Marisa, that we must not give up hope, but...”
“Should we consider the possibility?” Asked Marisa. “As long as we do not know anything about the outside world, the only thing we can do is learning what has happened and act as soon as we know everything. Then, I will contact Leython or mourn his death. Not before I know what has become of him.”
“Yes, Marisa. I understand. Let us train now then. The bases of our fellow knights are not very good, to say the least, but I can use some more battlefield experience as well.”
“Then we shall train.”
A day after Josh and Eric evacuated the civilians to Tessalis, Leython arrived as well. Anxiety chilled Josh’s spine as he called the former UEF captain through an encrypted channel.
“Leython, come in! Did you have any success?”
“I did, we’re going to have to prepare for evacuation immediately. We’ve got one hour before we have to go.”
“One hour? We’ll have to start right away.” Said Josh while he opened a channel with Leython’s father. “Prepare for evacuation immediately. We’re going to leave within an hour. Prepare everyone!”
“An hour?!” Gasped Harm in surprise. “How are we supposed to get everyone through the quantum gates by that time?”
“Just get everyone in the convoys, mister Dygonn.” Said Josh. “We’ll worry about the gates.”
“Dad.” Said Leython. “The Cybrans can evacuate in a matter of minutes. They have given us an hour, if we fail, we’ll have to do this all over again. Failure is not an option.”
“I get it, I’ll do everything I can, keep this channel up.” Replied Harm.
“Leython, we’ve got company.” Said Eric and he immediately send spy planes in every direction. “Reading the wake signature now...”
“I’m building a base. Tell the citizens to be calm and rational, that’ll make things go faster. We’ve got that time to keep the enemy away, but if it is Seraphim, we’ve got to be very creative to hold it out for more than ten minutes.”
“It aren’t the aliens. The quantum signature I’m reading is from the Aeon.” Said Eric, having analysed his graphs.
“Contact them.” Said Josh, although it was not necessary, they were already hailed.
“This is Templar Halley of the Order of the Illuminate. You will be cleansed. For the glory of the Seraphim!”
Leython, Josh and Eric immediately shut down their channels with the Aeon pilot and Eric launched two strategic missiles as he spoke: “I’ve got more of those, but I’d rather wait some time.”
“We can take those idiots with ease.” Said Josh. “We’ve got tier three weaponry, two Mavors, nukes, Broadswords and Ambassadors.”
“Get busy, I’ll start working as well.”
Less than two minutes after Halley’s team arrived on Tessalis, she was spotted by spy planes. She immediately concluded that they were too close to the enemy’s base. Strategic bombers could attack any moment so she had immediately built a tier one radar system and ordered her subordinates to do the same, glad that her ACU was now able to do so. It would buy them some time, perhaps enough to retreat into one of the many small lakes or rivers since they were close enough to those.
That would not safe them indefinitely though, if the enemy had tier three bombers, torpedo bombers could be built in little time. As if it weren’t enough, strategic missiles could follow and those were powerful enough to decimate all forms of life and any machines in the lakes.
“Templar, I am under siege by artillery fire, considering the blast, it is a Mavor, no it are two.”
“Understood, knight Rhilasa. We will request a recall immediately.” Answered Halley.
“They will be unable to withdraw us now.” Said the knight who was under attacked by two UEF artillery at the same time. “I am retreating to the nearest lake but I do not know if I can make it. The spy planes are on me and those weapons –” Suddenly the message stopped, as well as every signal from Rhilasa’s ACU.
The only message that remained was the ACU’s destruction notification, confirmed by its explosion.
“– are accurate?” Finished Halley for the knight who had just perished.
“Seraphim Two, this is templar Halley. Our landing zone is too close to the UEF commanders, we are done for if we cannot be recalled. We are making our way to a location where the quantum wake is insignificant. However, we are running out of time, so please withdraw us as soon as you can.”
“I will prepare for that. Two minutes should be enough.”
“I estimate that we need slightly longer than that to arrive at a good location.”
“One enemy down!” Said Josh, excitement clearly audible in his voice. “We’ve got them on the run already, that’ll allow us to concentrate on the evacuation. How long do we have left?”
“Fifty-five minutes.” Replied Leython quickly. “Our biggest problem is the evacuation. How is it going Harm?” Asked the former UEF captain as he turned his eyes to his father’s screen.
“I think we’ll get everyone out in time. The civilians are cooperating, but that explosion caused some panic. I’ve got it under control, I think. Just ensure that the battle doesn’t come any closer.”
“No problem.” Said Eric. “I’ve got spy planes all over the place. Leython’s monitoring everything.”
“Enemy commanders are retreating. Should we finish them?” Asked Josh to the intelligence expert.
Leython and Eric both answered at the same time, but they didn’t agree. Leython immediately explained why they had to leave the Aeon commanders alone:
“If we kill another one, the civilians will notice. The longer they keep their cool, the better. Get gunships and strategic bombers across the field to destroy enemy structures if they give it another try. Keep the Mavor’s constant fire as well, but don’t aim for anything within the enemy’s ACU’s vicinity.”
“Why, won’t that get on the citizen’s nerves?” Asked Josh. Harm answered immediately: “They know we are in a storm, too much silence is no good either. They know something is going on, so it’s a bad thing if they don’t feel something is going on. The constant and periodic Mavor barrage will actually soothe them.”
Leython had to do his best not to succumb to his anxiety as he knew all too well what could happen on the planet, but he didn’t see any results. The Mavor artillery fired but unlike the civilians, Leython’s guts told him what he already knew, nothing really happened. He wondered what was going to happen. Was QAI planning reinforcements? Were the Seraphim about to strike? Whatever was going on, he knew that at least a small part of the Aeon military force was still fighting alongside the Seraphim forces.
Minutes passed like hours, days or weeks as Leython noticed that the Aeon commanders suddenly disappeared and Harm passed on that news to the citizens who quickly boarded the convoy’s trucks.
“General, we have uninvited guests on planet. I am unable to check who they are by their signature. Spy planes are now checking in.” Said major Johnston through his channel.
“The wake is massive, I suspect that it are some commanders evacuating civilians.” Filled one of his subordinates in, lieutenant Fer.
“This is lieutenant Yale.” Said another subordinate as he saw several Blackbirds identify one of the ACUs as Cybran. “Identify yourselves.”
“I am commander Shilon, good to meet you. I am with Jeff Lancet, a UEF commander, I’ll patch him through.”
“Commander Lancet? Report.” Said the general immediately. “Give us a brief summary of your past few months.
“We’ve been fairly lucky. I got away from Earth seconds before the enemy bombers decimated my base. Since then, I have been attacked by QAI once, only a few hours after the Seraphim invasion. We’ve retaliated the assault but couldn’t pass on the message about QAI’s betrayal. Luckily, we’ve been left alone since that giant computer failed.” Said Jeff before he had to catch some extra breath. Shilon immediately continued.
“As soon as the distortions in the quantum network stopped, we’ve planned a method to evacuate the small town we’ve protected. The other people on the planet have been warned and the local commanders said they would be preparing for evacuation. Unfortunately, the Seraphim attacked Uranus Delta too early for them. We left in time and we’re a bit surprised to find you here.”
“We have been waiting for commander Dygonn.” Said the general. “They should be here in two minutes. We will send transports for you, commander. Hop in with the civilians, we’ll take you away at the same time as Dygonn. I’ll tell my other commanders to build additional gates.”
“Understood.” Replied Jeff. “Shilon, you’re coming with us, whether you like it or not and whether the general likes it or not.”
“Don’t worry about me, I’d like to stick with the UEF for a little longer.”
It was only ninety seconds later that another group arrived on the planet. A larger group this time and Leython was contacted immediately.
“Commanders, I’m ready, let’s get us out of here.” Said Leython immediately but the general, unknown to him, had different plans.
“We have encountered more refugees. Ten thousand civilians extra, who all have to make their way to the Cybran hideouts. While we have prepared ourselves with redundant quantum gates, we don’t enough. I expect we have to wait five minutes longer.”
“Five minutes can be too much. It is what killed lieutenant Wigan.” Said Josh immediately. “We’ve met some Seraphim and their weaponry is extremely powerful.”
“We know, commander.” Replied the general. “We’ve met them as well and it has cost us dearly. I have an alliance with the Cybrans and they have sent me and a squad of UEF commanders on the job of rescuing you.”
“So this is how Nihavi looks like. How is Dostya?” Asked Leython. “I planned this with her.”
“She’s working on the diversion and that’s all we know.” Answered the general. “For as far as we know, they’re holding the line, but they aren’t aware of the extra time we need.”
“Well, contact them and tell them.” Said Eric impatiently. “They’ve got to delay the enemy for longer.”
“Unfortunately, that won’t work.” Said Leython. “Their diversion is planned so that QAI’s drones and the Seraphim commanders will not go to this planet as soon as our UEF general arrives. Then, he can calmly build a base and quantum gates so that we’re away less than a minute after we’ve arrived. The Cybrans don’t have a strategy that’s designed for longer than that and it cannot be altered at this stage.”
“What if the strategy fails?” Retorted Eric, but Leython already had his answer.
“It won’t, they’ve set some of the greatest minds on that and Dostya is leading the assault group. I helped them with it, so even with superior technology, the Seraphim will be hard pressed to actually kill a commander. That doesn’t mean they’ve got an easy job. Their defences will be compromised badly by the time they retreat, which should be right now.”
Leython barely finished or more commanders arrived on Nihavi, this time, wake’s signature clearly gave away what was going on.
“Seraphim commanders, Cybran ACUs. The enemies are here.” Said Leython.
“Did QAI notice us going to this planet?” Asked Eric.
“We can be certain that QAI knows just about everything in this region.” Answered the general.”It is not nearly in the deepest reaches of space and Brackman has told us that the Quantum AI probably built more mainframes than the Cybrans originally thought. All of those mainframes are processing as much network activity as possible and eighty thousand people travelling go this planet will easily be detected as a priority target.”
“Ok, I get it. We’ve got no choice but to fight, do we?”
“We’re going to put the heat at them as much as we can but you’d better just stay where you are.” Said major Johnston as the transports dropped the commanders and the civilian trucks. “The trucks control authority should be given to us so that we can make it out of here safely.”
“Understood.” Said Leython and he immediately transferred his authority to the UEF allies. He just had to sit the next four minutes out, but that would probably be no problem. Even with the Seraphim coming for them, they should be able hold out for that long. The UEF commanders had already sent their forces towards the enemy and this time, the Seraphim were much closer to the Federation base, which meant that they would have less time to prepare for an assault. A small delay in their initial plans would probably not even be necessary.
“We’ve encountered QAI’s drones at the front. They’ve made a mistake.” Said lieutenant Fer.
“That’s no mistake.” Replied Leython quickly. “QAI will take the first blow while the Seraphim can mount up a small strike force that’s capable of breaking through. Our anti-air equipment is not nearly enough to take air transports out. Continue with your bombers, I want to delay the Seraphim at their bases, Cybran weaponry isn’t a problem when that arrives at our base.”
“The civilian trucks are almost at their gates.” Said the general while he constructed a new gateway. “I just have to build one extra for myself.”
“We’ll arrive at the Seraphim bases in twenty seconds. They might have gotten their first interceptors in the air already.” Informed lieutenant Fer.
“Possibly but that small period of time and that minor expenditure will be enough of a delay to save all of our civilians from them. The enemy artillery may then be only one second too late, but that doesn’t make a difference from a minute or an hour or even a day. It is too late.” Said major Johnston.
The Seraphim didn’t construct an interceptor though. They were doing exactly what Leython thought. They had carefully planned ahead. For each commander that built artillery units, the other constructed air transports, effectively halving the time they needed to prepare their first attack.
“Destroy their power generators!” Said Leython, realising that it might not be so effective. QAI’s drones would have anticipated on the tactic to deal with the Seraphim by taking their economy and they would in turn ensure some additional income. Leython immediately spoke again: “No, wait! Attack the artillery. Destroy those weapons.”
“They’re late. We cannot allow this. They should’ve been here for three minutes already.” Said Dostya impatiently.
“What should we do?” Asked one of her squad members immediately. “The longer we wait, the more danger awaits for some of the Cybran nodes.”
“We have a plan B and a plan C, so we can stay here for some time. We should be extra careful though.”
“I have prepared my strategic missiles for immediate launch if necessary, commander. Any enemy that arrives here will be destroyed or delayed immediately.”
“That is not the problem. The problem lies with the enemies on galactic scale. As soon as one order commander or one of QAI’s drones discovers any of our hideouts, we face a huge setback.”
Luckily for Dostya and her men, it was less than two minutes later that the vast UEF company arrived.
“Dostya,” said Leython immediately after opening a channel, “we’ve met some friends who wanted to join us in our escape. That delayed us. The Seraphim didn’t have the chance to get their hands on us though. For as far as I know, we can continue our plan as intended.”
“To be absolutely certain, we’ll not do that. We’ll take another route than originally intended. Let’s go.”
An hour later, Leython stood in the main control hall of the outpost Dostya and the unknown UEF general had constructed. They had nothing but bad news.
“The UEF military destroyed, Clarke somewhere but we don’t know where, if she is still alive, the Aeon under control of the Seraphim, QAI gone and several nodes wiped out? Including the Three-Rivers node?” Asked Shilon. “Do we have any good news?”
“We’re still alive.” Answered Leython. We’re just going to have to wait until we can beat those Seraphim. As long as we’re not dead, we can fight them or hide from them. It should work. I’ve got something else though.”
“What is it?” Asked the general.
“It is a data chip a girl had with her. The chip looks of Cybran design but the strange thing was, that this girl lived in the UEF. It doesn’t fit on any UEF computer port and the ports I have in my Cybran ACU aren’t good either. To make it worse, manually analysing the data gave no result, it is encrypted with a very powerful key.”
“What’s so important about it?” Asked Jeff. “That girl most definitely got the chip from one of her parents and who knows what sort of job they had. Perhaps it’s full with all adult content made on Earth. The UEF society is pretty wicked if it comes to that.”
“I’m more surprised that those words come from you, than with the idea in general.” Answered Eric with a smile. “But we don’t think so. The girl remembers clearly that she got that from her mother shortly before she was put in my hands. If you do that, the chip should’ve something important on it and even though we don’t like to say it, adult videos are not rated in the category of ‘important’.”
“We’ll take a look at it. What was this girl’s name?” Asked Dostya. “We might know more with just that.”
“Lucia Yale, but she clearly said that there’s no commander in the army who’s related to her.” Answered Harm.
“No use for us. There’s no important person called Yale in the history for as far as I know.” Said Dostya immediately.
“We’d better get back to our daily business then.” Said the general and he turned to Leython, Eric, Jeff, Josh and Shilon. “You five will join our forces. We’ll immediately inform you of your duties but first, I’ll formally introduce myself. I am general William Hall.”
In ieder geval, misschien moet je eens denken over het meedoen met NanoWrimo.
Maare, je post ze neit meer zo regelmatig meer wel? Druk met studie of iets?
Daarnaa wordt het een eens in de 2 tot 3 weken update.
Overigens is het nog best regelmatig, afgezien van de laatste keer toen ik vergat dat de 3 dagen al voorbij waren
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