The saga of Havelock the Wise

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Oneiros
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The saga of Havelock the Wise

Post by Oneiros » Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:10 pm

The title is VERY MUCH subject to change.
CHAPTER 1



《 ( ! ) WARNING ( ! ) 》
--THRUSTER LR3 OFFLINE
--THRUSTER LR2 CRITICAL
--THRUSTER RR2 CRITICAL

《 ( ! ) SYSTEMS ERROR ( ! ) 》
SHIELD SYSTEMS ::30%::


《 ( ! ) SYSTEMS ERROR ( ! ) 》
UNABLE TO ENGAGE ACB DRIVE
-(negative energy generator offline)


Lance Corporal Martin Havelock tapped frantically at the screen. The crew of the SS GLAVENUS scrambled to salvage what they could. Captain Jormin shouted commands from his chair, shunting power from whatever systems he could afford to take offline into the shields. “Havelock, have you any idea what the hell is happening?”


Havelock did not take his eyes off the screen. Trying to make sense of the readings. “I don't know Captain! The next burst was not scheduled for another 72 hours. The sensors can’t pick up the nature of the energy even from this proximity to the planet, but it's intense. It’s too intense.”


“Well hurry up and make sense of the situation Havelock! We can’t tak-" There was a loud boom followed by long, drawn out groan of metal as the ship was hit by one last, final wave of energy. All the power in the ship was shut off. The auxiliary generators activated immediately, maintaining the oxygen levels and keeping the pseudogravity active. But aside from that, they were in the dark.


From somewhere in the ship, a voice asked “Is it over?”


As if in response, the ship was hit by yet another wave, this one in the opposite direction. There was another loud groan as the ship was pulled towards the source of the energy bursts. With no power, the crew watched helplessly as they were pulled into the ravenous planet. With no other hope, the Captain played his final card. “Everyone to their stations. NOW!” He called.


The crew of the Glavenus knew what was going to happen. Each of them resigned themselves to their fate. Quickly going to their respective seats.


The captain watched as the blue orb grew larger and larger, taking up more of the display with every second that passed.


He thought of what words to say as they steadily creeped to their impending doom. But no words would come. Not that it would matter. But after working aside these men and women for so long. It seemed hardly fair that in their final moments he could offer no words of solace, no comfort. Nothing to steady their hearts. He closed his eyes, and flipped hit the switch.


There whir of generators was replaced by a clack-clack-clacking sound as seats were engaged by the life preservation systems. Every seat was covered by a cylinder of metal. Every face was covered by a mask, which pumped every body with a gas made to slow the metabolism of every crew member to a death-like state. Each tube was filled with a warm, pale blue gelatinous fluid, and finally, flash frozen. The ship sent out one last beacon. In hopes that maybe someone would receive it, and if luck would have it that anyone would survive the impending crash, they could rest assured that help was on the way. Bet everyone knew the real reason for the beacons. It wasn't to assure a rescue. It was to ensure a proper burial.

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Last edited by Oneiros on Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Oneiros
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The saga of Havelock the Wise

Post by Oneiros » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:13 pm

CHAPTER 2


((Just so you guys know, this is a side project to corsair so I can practice my prose. The whole things is pretty much improvised chapter by chapter.))


The striders danced across the surface of the water, bending and cutting the light of the suns into orange and blue waves that melded and separated in hypnotic rings in their wake. Holo sat at the edge of the pond. His brother Narven at his side. Both watched wordlessly as the seconds passed by. Narven was the first to break the silence. “I heard father talking to mother.”


“I told you not to eavesdrop, Narven. You’re going to catch a beating.” Holo chastised. Annoyed that the sudden noise scared away the strikers, they skittered away towards the center of the pond. Their hair-thin bodies no longer visible.


“He doesn’t think we’re going to make it through the winter.”


Narven’s jaw clenched. It wasn’t surprise, as much as frustration. He knew it would come to this. The stoneblight- a plant sickness that turned the crops brittle and grey, like thin stalks of stone- had hit hard and fast. In a matter of days, six months of hard work was reduced to less than half of its original amount. When the Marathath return to collect their yearly harvest tax, the people of Kest would have nowhere near enough to last them the coming winter.


“He said that he was thinking of going to the army.” Narven added. “He says at least there they would send home food for us to eat.”


After conquering the region, the Marathath offered a deal with the Savo people. Volunteers for the army would have their families fed for the duration of their time in the military. It was presented as an act of good will. But everyone knew it was a farce. No Savo lasted more than a few months in the Army. They were treated like expendable pawns. With barely a month’s training and only the bare minimum in terms of armor on their bodies, they were sent to the field to lay down their lives for the Marathath empire. While most Savo would rather die than assist the Marathath in their steady conquest of the world, most were driven by need and desperation, lest their families starve. It made sense that their father would consider it. If it meant buying his family the ability to survive one more winter, he would throw himself onto the swords of Marathath’s enemies without a second thought.


Holo maintained his pained silence. His heart heavy in his chest. His mind numb. He stared at the water. He hated the predicament his family, and the people of Kest found themselves in. He hated the Marathath.


Why did they need to take a tax from Kest? What do they gain by conquering all these lands, taking supplies from the small towns with barely enough for themselves. Only to outfit their armies to conquer more and more. What were they looking for? What was their purpose? Nobody knew. All they knew was that those who dared fight back were killed immediately. Those who spoke out against them were sent to the frontlines, or the mines, or enslaved. Any form of resistance was met with an iron curtain of swift, merciless, oppression. Yes, there were those who continued the fight for freedom from the Marathath, but if anyone was found aiding or covering them in anyway, the punishment was dire. So most people avoided these rebels as much as they avoided the Marathath themselves.


“Let’s go Narven. It will be dark soon.”


Foria, the orange sun, had already fallen beyond the horizon. Pirai, the blue sun, was slowly sinking in tow, painting the sky various shades of blue, green, and violet. The horizon blazed bright green fading into blue as Pirai fell into it's nightly slumber.


*********************


Holo and his family sat around the dinner table. The sign of the troubled thoughts his father was having were more evident in his mother’s face than his father. While his mother quietly served everyone their dinner, his father held a conversation with Holo’s eldest sister, Naria. They laughed as Naria recounted something vaguely funny about her day.


When his mother finished serving everyone else, she served herself and took her seat.


“Thank you, Iria, my love.” He said, giving her a warm smile and taking in a deep breath through his nose, savoring the smell of warm food on the table, and exhaling in contentment. “We must give thanks to Foria and Pirai for this wonderful food. Never taking for granted the blessings given to us each day.” He said, closing his eyes and tilting his head up. Those around the table did the same, all except Holo.  As his father said his prayer of thanks, he glared into the food, watching the wispy trails of steam rise from the freshly cooked meat and vegetables.


“- and we thank you for our unity-"


Holo grit his teeth. Unity? What unity? The soon to be broken unity? so weak is divine providence that it could be shattered by something as sudden and random as a blight?


“-for your providence, a gift of mercy by you-”


Providence? What exactly is being provided? Starvation? Slavery? Poverty? Sprinkled with the salt of home cooked meals and loving togetherness  just to highlight how wonderful it all feels right before it gets ripped away by happenstance and necessity?


“- and finally, for-"


“For what else, father?” Everyone at the table jumped with a start. All eyes fell on Holo. “What else have we to thank the oh-so-benevolent divine sisters for? For Providence? For togetherness? How long is that supposed to last?”


His mother was the first to speak. “Holo what has gotten into you all of a sudde-?”


“What has gotten into me? I’m tired, that's what! Everyday we spend our days endlessly picking and sowing and plowing and culling and planting and replanting and for what? For us to starve? Oh wait, that's right, we aren't going to starve, because all we have to do is throw one of our lives away to those Marathath filth and we’'ll be fed for one more Winter" He turned to his dad, his accusing gaze like daggers. “So when the Marathath come for their tax tomorrow, you were going to volunteer to join their army? You weren’t going to tell us, you were just going to go. Tonight you were going to act like everything was okay, thanking the goddesses for our unity and providence, so tomorrow you could trade one to receive the other. Is that it?”


Holo’s father opened his mouth, but his words failed. He dropped his gaze to the the table.


“Nothing? Nothing to say for yourself? You didn't even consider that maybe there would be something else we could do? You just decided it would be better to die?”


It was his sister who finally stood up against his tirade. “What would you have done? You’re so young, so naive, let me guess: you think we can just hunt through the winter? You think we can just make do with what we have. There are over one hundred people in this village, Holo. We have enough for 40. Maybe; and with the pay we get from the Marathath, we won't be able to buy much more than a month’s worth of food. Stop speaking through your emotions and use your head!”


The exchange continued, back and forth, eventually degrading into insults and petty personal attacks.


“Holo,” His father finally said his gentle, deep, yet stern tone cutting through the pitch of the argument. “Your sister is right. You are young. You are also right. It is not fair. One day you will come to understand what it is to have the lives of those you love on your shoulders. What it means to take whatever actions necessary to ensure they survive. These are troubling times, but it is now when you must steady your heart. I do not want to leave you all. Trust me, I've spent many weeks thinking of this, even before the blight. I apologize for not telling you sooner, but I did not want to spend what may be my last days with you all brooding over something that has yet to pass. Maybe it was not the right thing to do, keeping it to myself, it may have been selfish, but I did not want to prolong your suffering. We are still together and must cherish every moment we have.”


Holo stared angrily at his plate, before getting up and storming off to his room.


His mother went to stand but was stilled by her husband’s hand. “Leave him. He is angry and has every right to be. Hopefully tomorrow we can push this aside before the Marathath arrive.”



***********


The next day came arrive far too soon. Rather than being awoken to the blaze of the morning sun, they woke to an appropriately gloomy over cast sky. The Orange blue of the twin stars just barely glowing through the sheet of heavy clouds. Holo lay in his cot, staring out the window. His mind stirring, a mess of unintelligible thoughts, everything and nothing. He could not summon the strength nor the will to stand and start his day.


He stewed in thick, suffocating silence until a knock on the door interrupted his melancholy stupor.


He did not answer, but his guest entered anyway, closing the door behind them. He did not turn to see who it was, but he already knew. His father sat at the corner of the cot. And for a moment they were both silent. Holo, feeling guilty for his outburst last night, searched for something to say. Instead, His throat formed a hard lump that silenced any chance of getting the first word in. His face pulled as he could feel the tears forming, but he fought them back. Maybe it was pride, maybe embarrassment. Maybe it was that he did not want his father to see him cry, right before he left.


“Holo,” His father said, before taking another moment to consider his words. “I’m sorry… If I hurt you, I truly am sorry"


Holo finally sat up. His reddening eyes downcast. “It’s not your fault… It’s just-" He couldn't finish. He dropped his head onto his father's shoulder and sobbed heavy, deep sobs. His father raised his arm and allowed holo to rest his head on his chest. Caressing the back of his head like he did when Holo was younger and something upset him. They both cried. Holo, deep sobs, from months of accumulated frustration born of hardship spilling forth at once. His father cried silently. Tears falling one by one. But he made no sound. Silenced by the need to he strong. To be the pillar his son could lean on one last time.


When they finished, Holo raised his head. Drying his eyes with his blanket. His father quickly did the same with his sleeve.

“I'm sorry for last night. Narven told me that he heard you and mother speaking- it"


“There is no need to apologize, my son. You were angry and were right to be. But from here forth, you must remember to never sharpen your tongue with anger against your family. Temper your words and your actions. Some mistakes can never be rectified. I spoke to your sister. She is sorry for the words she said to you, as you are too, I'm certain. Let nothing come between you again. Because soon, you will need to be the rock that holds everyone together. You are no longer a boy, but a man. And your actions should reflect that.”


Holo nodded quietly. His father placed his hand on Holo’s back. “I'm sorry you need to grow up so fast. It isn't fair. But life will not always wait for you to be ready to hit you with hardened stones and sharpened blades. That’s why I want you to have this.” His father reached over to the floor next to him and lifted a long, cloth wrapped item. He carefully pulled the bindings that held the cloth together, allowing it to fall open, revealing a brown leather wrapped scabbard. “I will not raise a Savo blade against the victims of Marathath. So I will not bring this with me when I leave. I wish I could be the one to teach you how to use it, but it seems that is not what the goddesses intend. There are many in the village who can do so, some even better than I. Go to them. There are good men in this village who can teach you all that I did not have time to teach you. Confront life with the same fire you've had all your life, and you will grow into a fine man, of that I am sure.”


Holo’s father held the sword out, and Holo stared at it. It was not a particularly impressive sword. A short sword with a black, leather wrapped handle. But it called to him. He took it, and was surprised to find it was heavier than it looked. “It’s heavy" He said, kicking himself for such a stupid response to what may be his father's last gift.


“It is. This is the weight of the ability to take lives. It will never come easily. Always remember that. It may be necessary at times, but blood on your hands is something that must be carried for ever. Just like your tongue, a blade should never be used with untempered anger.”


Holo nodded “Thank you… I don't know what more to say…” His father smiled his warm smile. Holo gave him one long look, burning that smile into memory, before standing the sword against the wall next to him and embracing his father.


*******



The Marathath arrived at around Midday. They rolled in on large caravans full of harvests from the town's visited before them. Animals and crops lay in cages and carts, all pulled by Senetropes. Large, four legged reptiles with long, thick necks and horned that curled down and forward. Thick mains of colorful, downy fur lined the backs of their necks, on the backs of their legs and down to the tips of their tails. They wore muzzles that would keep them from biting should they decide to strike, but those familiar with the creatures knew better than to approach without care. A headbutt from these creatures, harder by the iron muzzle, could still still break bones as easily as twigs.


On the caravans rode the Marathath, their Amber robes blowing in the wind, and their silver armor plates reflecting any light they caught. Two in particular garnered the attention of the town's folk. They wore no armor, their hems of their robes cut into seven large stripes, lined with silver. They carried with them large wooden staves, at the top of which was fastened a gem-laden iron point.


Mages.


Most people living in rural areas would go their whole lives without even seeing a mage, let alone seeing magic. While normally the arrival of the mage would instill a sense of wonder, seeing them in Marathath robes only served to intensify the feeling of impending dread amongst the town's folk.


The Marathath stopped at the town square, setting up their caravans and tents and preparing for their collections. The very back cart in the caravan were several Savo in cuffs. Military volunteers on the right and prisoners on the left. It did not matter to the the Marathath, they were all going to the same place, they were all to be treated the same.


After all the set up was finished, the Captain of the Brigade along with two heralds and four soldiers, armed with halberds, and the two mages, climbed the large wooden platform they had prepared. The heralds blew on horns, summoning the townsfolk to the square. When they were all there, the Heralds blew once more, quieting the crowd and announcing the commencement of the meeting.


“As you are all aware,” Called the Captain of the Brigade. His voice was smooth and thick like syrup. It was unnerving to hear him speak, like if he was telling you with absolute calm and nonchalance how he intended to kill you.

“We are to collect the harvest tax. The town of Kest is required to give unto the Marathath empire One thousand, one hundred pounds of grappinn. As well as fourteen live Oginor cattle. Have you prepared the required materials?”


Hreston the village elder, stepped forth. “Sir, we have the required crops. But we humbly request that the tax be lowered for the following year, a blight has destroyed over half our crops, and due to that we only have eight oginor cattle for the rest of the winter. Please grant us this mercy for this harvest. Next harvest we will provide the difference.”


The Captain watched as the elder plead for the town, the barest hint of a smile on his face. “So let me see if I understand correctly. You do not have the entire tax, and on top of that, you want for us to lower the tax, therefore starving our troops, troops that are also made partly of YOUR people.”


The elder was silent. The captain stepped off the platform and walked towards the elder. He stopped just far enough away to see the difference in their heights. The captain stood a full two heads taller than the elder. At least half a head taller than the tallest man in Kest.


He look out, over the crowd, watching as they all watched in fear. He returned his gaze to the elder, and bent down so that they were face to face. “It is not my fault you failed to uphold your end of the deal. Either you'd supply our demands or you're all to be sold into slavery or into the military.”


“Please, sir, have mercy. We did all we could.” The elder begged. Not daring to look the Captain I'm the eyes.


The Captain smiled a wicked smile, then stood. He turned and walked back to the platform. “Fortunately, you have a point.” He said, turning to face the crowd once more. “You're right. Let it not be said that the Marathath empire cannot understand the plight of it’s people.” He stroked his chin, as though considering what could be arranged. But he had made his decision long before. “Twenty men, twelve women” He finally said.

A murmur washed over the crowd. The mages banged their staves onto the platform in unison, fire erupting from their tips. The crowd was silenced immediately. Their eyes widening at their first display of magic surprised at how suddenly and quickly it happened.


“We will reduce the tax by half, in exchange for Twenty men, and twelve women. That is the offer. Either that, or we will take the full tax, as well as four men and one woman to replace what you cannot pay. You have one hour to decide.” with that, he turned and left, followed by his men.


The crowd was silent for several seconds after he had returned into the encampment. But it did not last long. The murmur returned, as the men and women fought over what to do. Holo and his family stood at the corner as men and women argued, a few fights had even broken out, only to be separated by the rest of the townsfolk. His father sat on the floor at the edge of the building, his mother next to him. Holo knew what this meant. If they were taking people as an exchange for the tax, they would not be offering payouts for volunteers. Half the tax was still not going to be enough, even with thirty two less mouths to feed. People would still starve, just not as much. He sat by his family and waited, the sensation of helplessness from the night before returning, nor intense than before.


The hour passed, an uneasy consensus had been reached. The elder stood at the front of the crowd with the thirty two volunteers. Their crying family members stood in the crowd, as the other townsfolk comforted them. Holo’s father was one of the thirty two. His mother, brother, and sister wept. But he simply watched, he had no more tears to give for this. The Captain and his guard returned. A confident smile played on his face as he saw the men and women lined up behind the elder.


“So I assume these are the volunteers? How noble.” He said, nodding with false respect. He then gestured to the guards “Tie them up and put them with the rest. Load the grappinn and the cattle. We need to take count before the end of the d-"


BOOMRRRRR


A shock from the ground rocked the town. Everyone dropped. The shock was followed by a long steady rumble. A quake.


These had happened several times in the past few months. Nobody knew the reason, but many suspected that the reason for the quakes and the reason for the Marathath conquest were one and the same. The shaking continued for several minutes, and no one said a word throughout. Children cried in fear but the adults were calm. Despite being loud and sudden, they weren't a danger to small stable towns such as Kest. They were simply an inconvenience. The only thing strange about this one was that it seemed to have come earlier than the others.


The quake finally subsided, but no one moved. What came after was also a common occurrence. Several seconds later, the earth began to quake again. Aftershocks. These were significantly shorter than the original quakes, but just as intense, sometimes moreso. These too subsided. And after several seconds, everyone began to stand. It was over.


“Now that that's over with,” said the Captain, once against gesturing the guards into motion. “Get to i-"


KRAKOOM


An explosion rocked the sky and everyone dropped once again. No tremors followed, however. Everyone looked around, Holo was the first to see it. Soon everyone else started to crane their heads toward the trail of white smoke in the sky, headed by a point of fiery yellow light.

A star had fallen.

A faint his grew into a massive roar as the star drew closer, passing over head and crashing into the forested hills behind them. The earth shook likely as the star made groundfall. Smoke and dust billowed into the sky. A beacon to the star’s location.


The Captain jumped to his feet, turning to his guard. “Hold of on those orders. You two,” He pointed to the mages, also now on their feet. “Scry the general and alert him of what just happened tell him I intend to investigate, if there is anything he would like me to do while I am there.”  He called to the soldiers, who had now begun to gather around the entrance of the encampment to see if they could get a better view of the crash. “What are you all standing around for?” The Captain called “I want a perimeter around this town, no one gets in or out. Prepare a squadron to move out immediately, were going to go find that star.”

He turned to the thirty two men and women at the front of the crowd. Eventually his eyes rested on Holo’s father. “You there, what’s your name?”


“Berwyn, Sir" Responded Holo’s father.


“How well do you know that forest?”


“Fairly well sir, It’s a known hunting grounds.”


“Get ready, you're guiding us to that star. No tricks or well end you wherever we stand.”


Berwyn nodded.


Finally the Captain addressed the villagers. “Congratulations to our volunteers it seems the goddesses have bought you an extra few hours with your family. Use them wisely. Nobody is to leave the village. Those who attempt to do so will be executed on the spot.”


The next half hour was spent preparing for the trek into the forest. Holo, ever the curious one, was not about to miss out on this. So before the perimeter was formed, the ran back to the house and retrieved his father's sword, as well as his hunting bow, and made his way towards the pillar of smoke.


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Re: The saga of Havelock the Wise

Post by Annasiel » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:53 am

This makes me wish I joined Corsair. >->

I love it so far! No complaints on the story or setup, though there's some missing punctuation and structure reworking that can be fixed with another read through. Keep them coming!
Alone she drifts from ancient mists
Nary a candle, nary a wish
But in the wont of wandering paths
Through wooded knolls, and windworn crags
She seeks a face she thought as friend
But now -- she thinks as judgement's end

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Re: The saga of Havelock the Wise

Post by Shinigami » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:49 am

This is good. I'll definitely be following. >.>
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Re: The saga of Havelock the Wise

Post by Oneiros » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:49 pm

CHAPTER 3

{sys.reboot}
》success

-circulating power
》success

[assessing damage]
ship integrity- 7% (critical)
shields- 1% (critical)
thrusters-0% (offline)

[assessing crew]
survived(1/16)

[assessing survivors]
survivor 1- Havelock, Martin L.
>damage report
-injuries
-bruising around ribs and arms.
-some internal bleeding around stomach.

Administering emergency medical attention.
_
_
_
Medical procedures complete. Health now at 100%

Reanimating_

For a moment, the only sound on the ship was the whir of electronics as the computers did their work assessing the damage to the ship. The din was interrupted by a sharp crack, followed by a long drawn out his, as the last remaining intact capsule opened. a thin cloud of pale green smoke poured forth from the capsule, and Havelock dizzily stepped out, holding his head to keep the room from spinning. He could feel something on his face, dried blood, from somewhere on the side of his head. He felt fine aside from the dizziness, but he knew the situation was everything but.

The emergency medication would be kicking in soon. He knew that in a matter of seconds the same cocktail of chemicals and nanites that had performed the intricate internal repairs during his time asleep in the capsule, would soon be delivering several CC’s of adrenaline into his system, granting him the alertness he needed to properly approach his current situation.

His dizziness cleared, as expected, and he suddenly entered a state of hyper-awareness. The room, no longer spinning, was now as vivid as can be. Every dust particle and wisp of smoke was made visible to him, every crack on every screen and window. Every blinking light. The scene before him was a violent mess. Equipment that was once stored neatly in their compartments were now laying in broken piles in the corners of the bridge. Several of the crewmembers were thrown through the glass of the capsules, now strewn across the floor with their limbs bent at impossible angles. The hyper awareness given to him by the booster was suddenly working against him, as he was able to see every detail of the injuries of his former companions. Every cut and bruise, every broken bone jutting through or under the skin. He suppressed the urge to vomit. Doubling over and taking deep controlled breaths. He had seen death before. But usually through the lens of indifference. He did not personally know the people who fell victim to rare diseases unique to unexplored planets, or voracious beasts that would suck the marrow out of bones, the iron out of livers, and all the other nutrients provided by vital organs, and leaving the rest of the body behind in a sloppy pile of once-human meat. He did know them as he knew the crew of the Glavenus. He did not know them as he knew Captain Jormin, who was to be promoted to Major upon returning to base, who had a wife and four children who expected him back in two months. He did not know them as he knew First Sergeant Mallory, who was engaged to Gunnery Sergeant Higgs, who’s wedding Havelock intended to attend. He did not know them like he knew this crew.

He vomited.

It took him a few seconds to regain his bearings. He straightened and and walked over to the work bench, grabbing the nearest towel and wiping himself off.

“Glavenus” He said. Fighting through the urge to vomit again.

“Good to hear you are well, Lance Corporal Havelock. Should I give you a status report?” Responded a disembodied androgynous voice.

“Yes.”

“Status report. Front thrusters offline. Six of eight rear thrusters operational. Seven auxiliary thrusters online. Two out of ten generators operational. Shields critical. Most of my utilities are offline and in need of repair. Auto-repair is functional, however with so many of the generators offline it will be a slow going process. The emergency beacon was broken off during entry. Out of the sixteen crew members, you are the only survivor.”

Havelock walked onto the lower level of the bridge and took a seat at his station. Numbers and diagnostics rained down on a broken screen. The situation, as expected, was dire. With no beacon, no one would be able to find them. He would not have much of a chance to leave the planet. He held his head in his hands as he struggled to think of a plan.

“Where are we, Glavenus?”

“It seems we were pulled into Griggs 334-E. The anomaly pulled us into the planet’s orbit. It seems we’ve landed into a forested area. I cannot give you an exact location as I do not have enough power to send out the reconnaissance probes, therefore I can only give you details of the surrounding area.”

“What would those be?”

“The planet is mostly Earthlike. Gravity is .81 G’s. Oxygen levels are 137% earth levels. The forest around is inhabited with small carbon based lifeforms and there is evidence of larger life forms as well. Plant life is mostly safe, as well as many consumables such as fruit and edible vegetation.”

Havelock shook his head. This was all wrong. “The readings said this planet was uninhabited.”

“Actually sir, the readings said the planet was 93% likely to be uninhabited. The energy from the anomaly like affected the readings. Should I calculate the possibility of intelligent life in the area using the data from the surroundings?”

“Do it”

There was a pause as the computer ran it’s calculations. “Judging from the environmental evidence, there is a 100% chance this planet contains intelligent life of some sort. How advanced it is impossible to say until the reconnaissance drones are active. But in order to uphold the Federal Underdeveloped Civilization Preservation Act, I suggest you stay in the ship, and I will activate cloaking. There are enough supplies in the ship for you to survive for several months.”

Havelock watched the screen thoughtfully as pictures of the surroundings scrolled by, Showing a lush green landscape not unlike the dense forests of earth. While he couldn’t see the fauna mentioned by the AI, for it to give a one hundred percent reading meant that there was more than met the eye about his surroundings. Violating the UCPA was an offense punishable by court marshal and several decades in prison. Standing in front of a judge was the last thing he wanted to do when he returned home. If he returned home.

“Sir?” Glavenus prodded, waiting for approval of the suggested course of action.

“Do it. Let me know of anything suspicious in the area.”

“Affirmative. Cloaking activated. Is there anything else you’d like me to do in the mean time?”

“No, just continue self repair.” He said, Sitting back in his chair. The adrenaline boost would continue for another fifteen minutes. He looked around the wrecked cabin of the bridge. Bits of dust, glass, and panels everywhere. “I’m going to clean up. Are there anymore steward drones?”

“Yes, there are”

“Activate them. I’ll need some help.”

The next fifteen minutes he spent cleaning up as much as he could. The hardest part he left for last- Placing the bodies back in side their respective chambers. Rigor mortis had only just begun to set in for a lot of them, so they offered some challenge getting them to fit correctly without a limb jutting out defiantly at an impossible angle. But he ended up reallocating all fifteen of his crew mates. When offered help by the steward drones, he refused. He felt that this at least would be one final way to pay respects to the people who were once his close personal friends. Once the booster shot wore off, not only would he crash, but he also knew that all the of the emotions he was so easily filtering out were going to come down on him like a rogue wave in an ocean storm.

After he finished, he went back to his chair and sat. Counting away the seconds while he waited for the crash. It finally hit him, and it hit him hard. Every inch of his body quickly exploded in intense soreness. After effects of the crash. His joints, his head, everything hurt. But nothing was worse than the wave of emotion. His crew was dead. His friends were dead. He was stranded on a planet that nobody knew anything about. The distress signal beacon was dislodged in flight, lost somewhere on the planet. He was going through the protocols, but that thought that was once whispering in the back of his mind barreled through his every thought like a hurricane.

He wasn’t getting home.

He was all alone.

He doubled over and screamed. A deep, sorrowful, painful shout that came from deep inside his chest. He screamed until there was his throat was raw, his face was red, and his lungs burned for air. Then he was still. Succumbing to exhaustion, grief, and pain.

**************

“-velock. Havelock, wake up!”

He woke to a steward drone shaking him by his shoulder. He sat up, still in pain, but nowhere near as much as before. He looked around, groggy eyed. The cabin was clean. The repairs still had a long way to go, but he knew he must have been out for several hours. “What’s going on?”

“My sensors have just picked up activity in the area. A large group of creatures walking directly towards us. They appear to be the intelligent species I mentioned earlier.” Glavenus said. The screen large screen lit up showing the forest, around them. It zoomed in, and sure enough, the silhouette of a large group of human-like creatures were making a direct line towards the ship.”

“How long before they arrive?” Asked Havelock.

“Going at their current pace, they should be here within the next thirty minutes.

“Cloaking is still active, correct?” He asked, getting up from his chair and moving to the captain’s chair, where he would get a wider view of the large screen that made up the front wall of the ship.

“Yes, it is, however should they get close enough to touch the ship, there will be no hiding it’s presence. We are invisible, not intangible.”

“Yes, I know that. Are they hostile threat?”

“Unknown, sir”

“Is there anything about them that you know?”

“I am sorry sir, aside from their size, shape, and number, I cannot offer much more information. My reconnaissance drones are still offline.”

“Okay, how many are there?”

“There are twenty four, sir.”

Havelock watched the screen as they approached. There was nothing they could do at this point but watch.

A half hour had passed as Glavenus had said before the first of the group stepped through the brush into the clearing created by the crash. Havelock stood and leaned in towards the screen. The camera automatically zoomed on the creature. It was very human like indeed. The main distinguishing feature were the ears, which were long and pointed down and back. The screen displayed various diagnostics about him, 172 cm, 65 kg, male, carbon based hominidae. Several chemical and physical observations.
The camera zoomed away from him to reveal several other people stepping out behind him. Unlike the first man, who was dressed in a dirty tunic, likely a laborer of some sort, these were dressed in long amber robes with several pieces of armor, pauldrons, gauntlets, greaves. Their weapons were inherent to early civilization simple weapons. Swords, Halberds, Spears.

He studied every single one of the soldiers as they stepped through the brush.

“Oh my.” Said Glavenus, zooming in on the last two soldiers. “I am picking up a particular reading from these two specifically, they seem to be emanating a field of energy around them not unlike the readings we picked up from the planet itself.” The screen became alight with several diagnostics, readings, and numbers. Havelock watched as the the computer generated a simulation of what these readings might look like if they were visible. The men were surrounded in a dim haze of some sort. They otherwise seemed no different from the other men, aside from their attire and weapon choice.

“Any idea what it means?”

“Unfortunately no, sir, but I am running several calculations and simulations as we speak.”

The camera zoomed away from the two men to focus on the group as a whole. The soldiers followed the large hole carved out by the ship in the dirt, until reaching the very end. The one in the front, a soldier who’s uniform was more decorated then the others, turned around and addressed his soldiers.

“Sika um ut lergo mifa sun abutniam? Gele si sumnamiat ne gelego no pafta. Nere hemniamat nosume?”

Havelock waited for the translator implanted in his head to recieve enough samples to translate the language.

“Sere kekuat mani soluhe star. We will not leave until it is found.” Shouted the commander. He placed his hand on the laborer’s shoulder. “And if I find out this is some sort of trick, I will kill you and your whole village.”

“I swear, sir,” Responded the laborer, lifting his hands innocently. “There is no trick. No one else could have gotten here before us, we are the only village in the area!”

The commander held his gaze for a moment, before turning around. “Keep searching!”

Havelock watched as the men spread around the site, searching for the ship. He could hear the talk amongst the men as they discussed their search. From what he gathered, they seemed to think that what fell from the sky was a star, rather than a ship.

“As I’m sure you’ve gathered” Glavenus chimed in. “They are very primitive. They seem to be at around a 0.4 on the Kardashev scale. Comparable to medieval Earth. I have no reason to believe the pose much of a threat to either of us.”

“I figured.” Despite this posing as good news, it only made things more difficult. The fact that they arrived so soon after the crash meant that there was activity nearby. The fact that they are so primitive meant that it would be much more difficult to blend in. If push came to shove and he needed to exit the ship, he would need to be extremely careful what he did and how he did it, or else he risked further infringing on the UCPA and worsening his punishment.

“Contact has been made” The screen switched to a soldier to the left of the ship, who had begun tapping at the invisible ship with his halberd.

“Sir! I think I found something!” Called the soldier. The commander made his way around the hole and towards the soldier. “Watch your head there. I found this when I banged my head against it.”

The commander gave the soldier a look of confusion and disdain, but he heeded the warning, holding his hand out in front of him. Soon he met a resistance in the air. “What in blazes?” He slid his hand down the side of the ship. “Korrigos, Selfam!” He called. Soon the two soldiers with the strange readings were at either side. “What is going on here? Is something being concealed from us?”

Korrigos and Selfam each placed their hands on the ship, feeling around for what they could find. Korrigos stepped back and held his staff in his hand. He began to mutter under his breath and then pointed the staff at the ship, but nothing happened. He scratched his chin, puzzled, and asked Selfam to give it a try. Selfam was just as unsuccessful.

“Hmm.” said Korrigos, thinking for several seconds. Then he stepped forward, picked up a handfull of dirt, and tossed it onto the ship. Some of the dirt stuck, staying for several seconds, before the disappearing as well, the cloaking of the ship coating the dust as well. All four men stepped back, uncertain of what just happened. They were sure of only one thing. “Well, Commander Silvan, I have never seen a star before” Said Korrigos, “Never so close, at least. No one has. So it stands to reason that they may be completely foreign in nature, and it would be difficult to draw any conclusions without careful study… May I perhaps suggest we bring it to the capital?”

“I was just thinking of that. Lets find out just how large this is and see if we need to call for a transport. I fear whatever it is will not fit in the cart.”

The next twenty minutes were spent with the soldiers feeling out the walks of the ship, placing sticks and rocks on the floor to mark exactly where the ship ended. They through a rope over the ship and even managed to climb onto one of the wings, only to inevitably fall off the edge. One of the men even climbed into one of the rear thrusters. Luckily where were no breached walls, so there was no entry to the ship, but the entire process had Havelock on edge. Soon, the soldiers were finished with their measurements, and they gathered together to await their orders.

“Selfam, scry the capital” ordered Silvan. Selfam obliged, pulling out a large shallow pan and a skin full of water. He ran his hand over the water.

From inside the ship Havelock watched with heightened curiousity as the man worked. The screen had zoomed into the scene.

“Sir, there is something happening” Said Glavenus. The screen once again showed the haze around Selfam, however now the haze was pouring into the water, and a thin glowing filament of haze reached far into the sky and disappeared.

“What is that?” Asked Havelock. Unable to make sense of the scene.

“They seem to be making a connection. It maybe a method of communication, however its nature is unknown.”

In the small basin, a face appeared, another man, dressed much like Selfam and Korrigos. “Any news?” Asked the face.

“General Wyllamn, we managed to find the star, however there is something peculiar about it. The star seems to be under a concealment spell our mages are unable to dispel it, so it must be exceptionally powerful. We felt it out by hand and were able to create an approximate measurement. It is about half as large as the citadel in Valenhelm We will need no less than thirty of your strongest wyverns and around five hundred meters of steel thread rope to carry this.”

General Wyllamn gave a nod of approval. “Very well. Prepare for our arrival. We will be there in three days.”

“And the villagers?” Asked Commander Silvan.

“Ah yes… Kest, was it? Kill them. We don’t need witnesses running around spreading word of this to every-”

“NO!” Shouted the laborer, speaking up for the first time since his arrival. “No! You can’t! Those are innocent peop-oof” He was cut off by a swift punch to the stomach from the nearest soldier. He crumpled in a heap on to the floor, wheezing and coughing, clutching his stomach..

“I apologize, General, I will take care of this immediately, and I will let the soldiers back in the village know what to do.”

“Good. Get it done quickly and cleanly. No stragglers.” The General cut the communication, the image in the water fading into nothingness. The Commander turned, face dark, towards the laborer. “How-” He pulled his foot all the way back and kicked the man in the stomach, sending him flying backwards several meters. “-DARE YOU!” The commander shouted, his face red with rage. “HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT THE GENERAL WHEN HE SPEAKS?” He said, walking up to the laborer’s crumpled body and stomping on him savagely “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A FOOL IN FRONT OF MY SUPERIORS?” He grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and rained punches on his face. “I SHOULD CRUSH YOU LIKE THE INSECT YOU ARE. I SHOULD MAKE YOU WATCH AS I-”

Havelock watched as the commander mercilessly pummeled the laborer to a pulp. His knuckled tightened on the rail of the upper level of the bridge. He would never have allowed this to go on in normal circumstances. Reason battled morality in his head. He did not have the whole story, how was he to know who was honestly the bad guy in this situation, in war, you are often exposed to situations where you learn not all is as it seems.

“I feel I must remind you that the consequences for violating the UCPA are dire sir. If you’d like, I can shut off the video feed, so you don’t”

“No. Leave it.” He said. Glavenus was right. His inner scales were already comparing the risks of taking action here. On one hand, he protects himself from prosecution once he gets saved. On the other hand, what are the chances he actually gets saved. Not only that, but they intended to transport the ship elsewhere to further study it. While it seemed unlikely they would get very far, Selfam and Korrigan had already proved that there was more to these people than met the eye, and it would be stupid to underestimate them. He also might never be saved. And so would he really be able to live with the fact that he sat and watched innocent people die in order to protect his own hide?

“God damnit… Glavenus… What personal utilities do we have available.”

“So you intend to go out anyway? Very well. Most of what I have is offline at the moment, but I can outfit you with some bare essentials that would offer you enough protection to survive. However I would suggest you refrain from using the photonic rifles, as they may be too conspicious and I would urge you try to attempt to adhere to the UCPA as closely as possible during your time away from the ship.”

“Do it” Said Havelock, already making his way to his capsule. He stepped inside, and glass screen closed over him. He disappeared as a cloud of gas enveloped his body, putting him to sleep as the ship went to work.

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