Had an hour so I decided to finish the story.
Observer Davant was stationed at an outpost at the furthest edge of empire controlled space. As an observer, his duties were pretty straightforward. He was to monitor empire ships in the vicinity, ensure they were on the correct, approved courses, and keep an eye out for anything amiss. In the 46 ten-cycles he worked at this position, there was only ONE event that transpired that was out of the ordinary. Once, an uncharted asteroid clipped the farthest fringe of his observation territory. So, it was with great delight he recorded the trajectory of the asteroid, marked it in his official report, and then went right back to looking at the sparse green dots, each depicting an empire controlled ship, move slowly across his screen.
That wonderfully exciting day was many many cycles ago. Davant struggled to keep his eye coverings open most days as he watched the emerald colored pixels on his screen drift from one area to another. Slumped in his chair, his head resting in his claws, he did not notice at first that his view screen had changed a bit. A small green dot appeared, at the corner of his viewing area. It was a few moments before a dull, yellow circle surrounded the dot. Davant sat up and rubbed his eyes. This denoted that an empire ship was off course, or was in an area it had not logged a travel path through!
Glad that there was something to break the monotony of his job, Davant tapped the dot on his screen with his claw to bring up the ships manifest. Davant was wondering just how far off course this ship was, as he would need to contact the official communicator of the ship to correct the trajectory.
The ships name appeared... the "Emperors Grace"
As Davant waited for the rest of the ships information to be displayed on his screen, including the ship's crew compliment, the type of vessel it was, the payload it carried and the commanders name, the dull yellow circle that surrounded the green dot turned to a bright red triangle and began to rotate quickly! A loud, blaring alarm tore through the tranquillity of the observation room, and Davant's screen started flashing instructions.
Startled by the alarm, Davant jumped in his seat. He quickly read the information that was being thrown up on his view screen.
Threat level 10
No contact of ANY type permitted!
Notify High Overseer Badal IMMEDIATELY!
Davant had heard of High Overseer Badal... a servant of the empire that had at one time been a mere selector, promoted through the ranks at a breakneck speed due to his new duties as "Human Threat Specialist", whatever that was. He was even given command of the empires newest battle cruiser, the "Emperors Divinity" High Overseer Badal was a bastion of hope to all servants of the empire.. do your duties well and true, and even someone like Davant, a simple observer, could rise to great prominence in the empire.
Shaking in his seat, Observer Davant reached his claw out to hit the flashing part of the screen that had High Overseer Badal's contact protocols. Davant had no idea how an empire ship could be a threat, even one that was off course, and he was even more confused why a High Overseer, much less one as famous as Badal, needed to be contacted over so trivial an incident. He had a sinking feeling that something serious was about to happen.
High overseer Badal sat in his command chair aboard the Emperors Divinity, leaning forward in eagerness. He spent many many hundred cycles studying the Humans as best he could. Where at one time, they broadcast their signals out into the universe for anyone to hear, shortly after the incident with the Emperors Grace, most transmissions went silent from the Human home world they called "Earth".
Still, sometimes snippets of information snuck through whatever dampening technology they were using, and Badal was able to learn much about them. What worried him the most was their warlike tendencies. There was at almost all times a battle raging somewhere on their home world. Badal deduced that this is what made them so proficient at fighting.
But now, one of his fears had been realized. It appeared that the humans had sent the Emperors Grace back out into space.. taking the empire's ship as their own and using it against them. True, the Emperors Grace was a mere selection ship, lightly armed and not powerful enough to pose any kind of threat to his cruiser, but it was what the humans might have added to the ship that worried Badal. He did not want to underestimate them again... not after the disaster aboard the Emperors Grace.
"When we reach visual range, I want to see the Emperors Grace on the view screen" Badal ordered .
"Yes High Overseer" was the practiced reply, and in a few tenth cycles, an image appeared before him.
Badals claws clenched on his command chairs armrests and his scales flashed orange. The other members of the crew on the command center of the Emperors Divinity all gasped, and a ripple of orange ran through every facescale. Before them was not the small selection vehicle "Emperors Grace", but a large, sleek, angular ship, all black, with three double barrelled turrets on the fore of the ship, and two on the aft. Smaller armaments were placed along the hull, with almost no part of the ship left defenseless. On the left side of the ship, three metal braces stuck out and curved downward, attached to a long, tapered piece of metal flat on the rear side, and sharp on the front, almost as long as the humans ship itself.
Badal had studied Humans a long while, and that included their war machines. What was in space before him looked like a cross between one of their floating bases called a "Battleship" and what looked like a recreational vehicle called an "outrigger"
"That is not the Emperors Grace!" he hissed "Report!"
His official observer replied "Gravimetric signature is confirmed High Overseer! That is the engine that at one time powered the Emperors Grace. It appears they have removed it and installed it on that... that behemoth" he ended, waving his claw at the black ship on the view screen.
Badal had been afraid of something like this happening. The human ship was almost as long as his own battle cruiser, and depending on what those turrets could fire, was potentially armed even better!
"Communicator, send an order to any and all warships in the area to converge on our coordinates immediately on my authority"
"Yes High Overseer" the official communicator replied. "There are two battle cruisers in close proximity, both on their way to assist!"
"Good" Badal replied. Badal thought for a second, and added "And send an order, again on my authority, to the 12 warships searching for the Argot pirates to converge here as well at all speed, but have them loop around to approach from the rear of the Human ship"
"Yes High Overseer" was again the reply.
Badal studied the earth ship intently. He had just committed 15 warships to destroy this threat. Overkill perhaps, but, his philosophy in regards to Humans is "overkill is underrated!"
"High Overseer, the Humans are transmitting a signal on our own wavelengths, requesting an audience"
"On OUR wavelengths?" Badal asked stunned
"Yes High Overseer"
Badal sat back. The Humans, it appeared, not only stole the engine from the Emperors Grace, but other technology as well. He knew one thing for certain... this human ship needed to be destroyed. The problem was he was not sure his ship alone would be able to accomplish that.
"when will the closest battle ship be here to assist?" Badal asked his observer.
"Two tenth cycles High Overseer"
He needed a bit more time and here, perhaps was a way to obtain it.
"Allow the communication" Badal ordered
On the view screen, the black earth ship was replaced with a view of the human command center, and a tall, imposing looking man dressed in dark blue standing, with his hands behind his back. The translation protocols kicked in as the human began to speak.
"This is Captain Stevens of the United Earth Ship "Vendetta". To whom am I addressing?"
Badal stood up, smoothing his black Overseer robes.
"I am High Overseer Badal of the Kroan Empire" Badal answered. "You are in Kroan Empire space without permission. What are your intentions?"
"My intentions are to ascertain the threat your empire poses my people" Captain Stevens replied calmly. "12 years ago, you came into OUR space, captured five of our people and killed two of them, unprovoked and without remorse. You came to us with the intention of enslaving our race. So I am here to inform you that Humanity will not permit any further aggression from you or your empire"
"You will not PERMIT" Badal sputtered, aghast "Stealing a ships engine to put in a ship of war does not make you our equals! We have more ships and weapons than you can possibly imagine at our command. You are still alive only by the emperors mercy and my good will! To think you could dictate anything to the empire is an affront to the emperor himself!"
Captain Stevens eyes narrowed slightly. "I See" he said slowly. "So you think to use your might to force others to your will. In our history, we have fought back against many like you. They too thought because they were bigger, stronger or more prone to violence others would just fall in line without a struggle. The reality is that humans will always push back against being enslaved, being controlled or even being told what to do. We found a way to fight this type of aggression. You bloody the oppressors nose until he realizes that you are not someone who will just sit back and accept it."
"If you think you can bloody our snouts, your mother must have shaken you in the egg!" Badal retorted. "You and every person on that ship will die!"
Captain Stevens barred his teeth in what the humans called a "smile". "Every man and woman on this ship volunteered for this mission" He said slowly "And we all knew this was probably a one way trip!" and after saying that, he made a slashing motion with his hand across his throat and the view screen went black.
"Prepare for attack!" Badal shouted, sitting back into his command chair "And put the Vendetta back up on the view screen!"
"Yes High Overseer! High Overseer, another ship, the Emperors Might just reached our coordinates!"
"Thank the emperor!" Badal muttered under his breath. "Order them to engage at once!"
The Emperors Might, a battle cruiser of some renown swooped in at the Human ship. Plasma bursts began to pour from the Emperors Might's front cannons as the ship made a strafing run on the Human vessel, ripping one of the turrets in the front clean off the ship and sent it spiraling out into space. In reply, the Vendetta returned fire with their small projectile weapons that fired at both an amazing velocity as well as an astounding rate of fire. Thousands of small projectiles impacted on the Emperors Might, each detonating with a small flash of white light.
"It appears the humans incorporated our plasma technology and merged it with their kinetic weapons" Badal said grimly. "Begin firing on the Humans, and contact the Emperors Might, ascertain any damage"
Yes High Overseer"
"High Overseer, The Emperors might reports a dozen or more small hull breaches from the Humans weapons. Their shields can protect it from most of the projectiles, but there are far too many to stop them all! They report they need to fall back to make quick repairs, or they will lose their atmosphere!"
"Allow it!' Badal ordered, "And fire plasma cannons at that ship!"
High Overseers Badals ship began to fire its plasma cannons at the Vendetta, white hot light splashing across the human ships hull, ripping away chunks of black metal.
"High Overseer, another ship arrived! It is the Emperors Faith!"
"Good, good!" Badal said, his claws clenching. The human ship was damaged from the Emperors Might and Emperors Divinities attacks. Now they could finish it!
Aboard the UES Vendetta, Captain Stevens watched as yet another empire ship swooped into the fray.
"How long until our main guns are able to fire?" he yelled, frustrated
"Another minute sir" his second answered. "The salvo from that first ship interrupted comm lines! they are repairing them now!"
"Fine then" Captain Stevens said, as if he made up his mind about something. "Target that new ship and release the Javelin!"
As Badal watched the human ship, he saw the tapered metal spear attached to the main hull begin to glow white at the squared off end. He knew a gravimetric propulsion engine when he saw it! He suddenly realized why the human ship resembled an outrigger.. the main hull was where all the weapons and defenses were, while the smaller hull was the engines!
"It is trying to get away" He roared, leaping from his command seat " Do not allow it!"
Badal needed to destroy this human threat! If they were able to engage their gravimetric drive and escape, they may never find them!
But as Badal watched, he saw the clamps that held the spear to the Vendetta let loose, and the metal rod, Flashing as it accelerated almost to the speed of light in an instant, impacted the Emperors Faith with a terrifying result.. the "spear" vaporized the entire battleship as it impacted it, leaving nothing but a few fiery particles and atoms behind.
Stunned, his scales flashing orange, Badal fell back into his command chair. In a mere instant, one of the Empires best warships was destroyed. The humans were not boasting to the wind when they said that they all were prepared to die. They sent their engine as a weapon to take out an empire battle cruiser!
It was then, while Badal was trying to access the best course of action, that the Vendetta started firing its big guns.
Targeting the Emperors Might, giant plasma infused metal projectiles impacted again and again on the Empire ships shields. They soon buckled, and the Emperors Might was drifting, powerless and leaking atmosphere into space. Badal saw emergency ejection pods flying from the ship... the crew had given it up for lost.
"High Overseer" the lead tactician yelled. "We cannot survive an assault from those weapons! We need to disengage and return when the other ships arrive!"
"We would be blown out of space as we tried" Badal said softly. True, the Human ship before him was not able to move quickly anymore, but the damage they could do even with standard engines before they were destroyed was unthinkable.
Badal just looked at the large, black vessel. It was wounded, some metal plates had been ripped away and some of its weapons were no longer operational. Its biggest threat, the engine that they used as a spear was already spent. The tactician may be right, but Badal could not risk the human ship continuing on to the triple home worlds of the empire.
"Navigator, set a collision course with the human vessel. Weapons operators, fire all weapons. Lets end this now!"
To the emperor's credit, not a single crewmember even blinked. High Overseer Badal just told them they were going to destroy the Human vessel by destroying their own, and true servants to the emperor that they were, they accepted their fate stoically.
On board the UES Vendetta, Captain Stevens watched as the alien ship started to accelerate to ram him.
"Do you see what that bloody lizard is doing?" he asked his second in command, pointing at the view screen.
"That lizard's got some balls, I will give him that! Target their engines and weapons. try not to destroy it! Use the Phalanx!"
As The Emperors Divinity neared the UES Vendetta, the Vendetta let loose with its smaller weapons, firing thousands of shots in seconds, each flashing white as the plasma infused metal projectiles impacted on the shields and hull of the Emperor's Divinity. Small explosions started to occur in the empire's ship, and soon it was adrift, its engines and weapons neutralized.
"Get them back onscreen" Captain Stevens ordered.
Onboard the Emperors Divinity, Badal sat in his commanders chair, thoroughly defeated. He denied the communicators request from the vendetta to discuss "terms" as they put it. He had failed as the Human threat specialist, he failed his crew, and worst of all, he failed the Emperor.
"High Overseer!" the official observer said excitedly pointing at the green dots appearing on his screen "7 empire ships closing in from behind the human vessel! The pirate hunters are here!"
Jumping up in excitement Badal's scales flashed golden! The humans were done for! "Put the humans on the view screen!" Badal said elatedly.
Soon, the image of captain Stevens floated before him.
"Captain" Badal said solemnly, "I am prepared to hear your acceptance of our "terms" for your surrender."
the captains face looked confused, as he turned to look at his second in command.
"excuse me?" he replied. "I am here to accept YOUR surrender"
Badal hissed a laugh. "Perhaps, Captain" he said the word mockingly "you failed to notice the empire ships that are closing in on your position as we speak!"
The Captain of the human ship turned quickly and consulted his crew. Badal saw a few other humans run around, checking instruments. He waited in glee for the look of impending doom to appear in the human Captains eyes, the realization that this was the end.
Instead, the Captain turned calmly back to the view screen and replied simply "I think you are mistaken."
Badal barked a laugh. "Mistaken!?" Badal motioned to the observer to get him information on the approaching empire ships. the observer tapped the first green dot on his screen.
The first ship approaching was named "Emperors Grace"
Alarmed, the observer tapped all the dots in quick succession.
All of the approaching ships were the Emperors grace!
Confused, his scales a bright yellow, badal collapsed in a heap on his command chair. The answer came suddenly to him... all was clear.
The humans did not take the engine from the Emperors Grace and transplant it to this warship... they took the engine from the emperors grace apart, they reverse engineered it, ALL of it, including the Gravimetric transponder, which on all empire ships had a slight difference in frequency, which allowed ships to be individual from each other, and allowed them to be identified.
Not so with the human ships... when they built new transponders, they copied it exactly. All of them transmitted a gravimetric frequency that the empire associated with the Emperors grace.
All of them.
His scales yellowed even more when he realized that the "spear" the vendetta used was not the engine, it was designed as a weapon. The ships still had gravimetric drive even without it.
"Show me" badal said weakly. The Captains image disappeared, replaced with 7 more black human ships, 5 of which still had their spear weapons attached. Battle damage on some of the vessels proved to Badal that the Pirate hunters already engaged this enemy, and that no more help was coming.
Sleek Black ship after sleek black ship paraded across his view screen, each emblazoned with names that differentiated the ships, not frequencies.
Each armed and battle ready. As the ships traveled past Badal whose own ship floated helpless in space, heading for the triple home worlds of the empire, Badal tried vainly to communicate, to plead for a truce. Badal begged to know why the humans, who had just proven their might continued on to do more, to destroy more... why? why? The only response was an audio message, and Captain Stevens reply was simple as it played over the loudspeakers of the command room:
“I already told you... you killed two humans"