WHAT'S GONE BEFORE......

   After the brutally traumatic events of the Terran Civil War ended in 2443, the tattered remains of the Terran Federation joined with the Orion Khanate to form the super-bureaucratic Pan-Sentient Union, a megastate that would bind the two powers together to increase their mutual security. While the loyal Rim Federation sought to join the PSU, it was still physically cut off from the rest of the larger Terran Federation and thus remained (like the Ophuichi) an 'associate member' of the Pan-Sentient Union. During this time the newly formed Terran Republic continued to strengthen both its political and military structure, expanding its federal political arm to include over 300 lightly populated worlds. Two important Fringe areas, the Reformation Group and the Ivy Chain, were also physically cut off from their fellow Fringe worlds and tried to pursue an autonomous course. Although the Reformation Group finally succeeded in establishing independence within the PSU, the Ivy Chain was financially unable to sustain itself and was eventually re-incorporated back into the human part of the PSU in 2447. Relations between the Pan-Sentient Union and the Terran Republic continued to be strained and the nearby Crucian Union finally chose to chart a neutral and ultimately isolationist foreign policy amongst its neighbors. Serious fighting again broke out in 2450 when pockets of Arachnids were discovered near the Reformation Group who (along with substantial PSU naval units) led the effort to crush the surviving militant "bugs".

   Rearmament was a major factor for all three powers that had fought in the recent human civil war and the newly forming PSU Navy fought to overcome military integration problems between all four allied races (Human, Orion, Gorm, and Ophuichi). Political integration between the Orions and Human states continued unabated for ten years and was finished by 2455. As tensions receded between the different military powers, the Terran Republic began to focus on strengthening its industrial power base and population while the Pan-Sentient Union sought to alleviant its overpopulation pressures by colonizing in the newly designated Frontier Region.
 
   Tensions spiked briefly within the PSU during the Olympus Affair, in which a human scout discovered a star system with eight habitable planets and sought to claim the tremendous prize for mankind. The issue was finally resolved, however, when human politicians offered up half the new worlds to Orion colonization. At nearly the same time, a genocidal machine race was contacted in a neighboring system and fighting immediately broke out between the Biomechphilists and the PSU, whose overwhelming industrial/military power utterly crushed the solitary Biomechphilist homesystem in just a few weeks.

   Abandonment of the Chandler Doctrine was dropped as official PSU military policy in 2450 and heavy warships equipped with advanced technological weapons were dispersed from central strategic nodes like Galloway's World to locations all across the Pan-Sentient Union. By 2462 the PSU military had finally finished its integration but majority Human-crewed ships basically remained stationed in Human territories, as did Orion ships, and Human and Orion warship construction also remained independent, although certain classes of warships were built between the two branches of the PSU Navy to compliment each others' strengths and weaknesses. The high cost of integrating both naval branches proved fantastically expensive however, forcing an extended moratorium on construction of most capital warships across the Pan-Sentient Union. The lack of fighting or any serious border skirmishes by adjacent powers had also lulled the PSU into complacency.

   In 2464, the PSU was expanding down the New Beijing Chain when their survey forces discovered and attempted contact with an alien ship of advanced design in the Red Rocks System. It was at this moment that the fate of Humanity, and indeed all known races, changed for this new race was the Hre'Daak……







 




 





 
The Armageddon War
Chapter 1

"Only the dead have seen an end to War". Plato

It was only 0630 in the morning and I was already ticked off. I hadn't even finished my first cup of coffee and things were going to hell in a hand basket (if you cannot tell, I am not a morning person). I took a sip from a personalized mug that said, "Piss me off, pay the consequences.” I looked up from my half-finished cup and glared at my flag lieutenant in irritation.  

Lieutenant Lefler was a typical Corporate Worlder who had been raised to his current level of incompetence in the Pan-Sentient Union Navy like more than half of the officers in the fleet; for political reasons. He sat in front of me, tall and pencil-thin, with his hands repeatedly smoothing his collar, his tie clip, tie, and buttons, and then placing his hands in his lap.....for about three seconds. He then began his hand-dance again. I figured I could watch him just a few more times before I bit his head off.

Lefler's hands were making their dance for the fourth time. Four was my limit. I wanted to go over there and grab his hands and say, "Stop that!" but I guess that would be sorta rude, so I just said:

"Lieutenant, why are you so twitchy this morning?"

He looked at me, startled. "Excuse me, sir?"

I motioned to his hands making their endless circuit. He blushed and promptly laid them in his lap; self-control at its best. From the moment I met him, about 4 months ago, I never liked Lefler. I wanted to go back in time to be his school guidance counselor in high school and tell his parents, "Your son is vicious, mean-spirited, dishonest, and likes to spread rumors. I suggest a career in journalism."

"So, what do you need?" I was grumpy because I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee yet. My staff knows to make sure I have my second cup before we begin the day.

"It's Commodore Hererra, sir. She needs to speak to you, right away."

I sighed and stood, following him out of my cabin and onto the bridge with my coffee cup in hand. As I passed the doorway I stopped for a moment and Lefler looked back, making a slight impatient gesture to hurry up. I've killed people for less.

I briefly looked around the bridge of my ship, noting the female Marine guard at the sole entrance. She was wearing a holstered .38 and two holstered 36 Ds. In a hallway once, I had asked her out.

"What is your current status?"

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Engaged, divorced, separated, involved?"

"I have no boyfriend, no children, eleven admirers, five are married, three are control freaks, two possibilities, and one idiot."

I wisely left it alone.

A couple of hulking Beta Drones standing next to her were under her direct control. Two previous wars with alien races that enjoyed boarding our warships made the Navy decide to arm all security Marines with side-arms, and having a huge, invulnerable, unkillable fanatical robot on your side, obeying your every command (like the Betas’) really helped morale. Laser pistols had at one time been issued to Marines after the Theban War but proved impractical when several incidents of light-speed weapons going off and piercing the hull had occurred. Now all such weapons, including explosives, were located in the ships armory where they could do no serious damage but the 38s couldn’t damage battle armor and were thus safe for shipboard use.

I looked over the remainder of the bridge and saw mostly Alpha Drones, who took the place of various off-duty personnel. They were made up of trillions of nanobots and looked like they were always in motion. They were a direct representation of the ships AI computer and formed critical parts of the ships staff. I glanced at the other humans manning the bridge:

WASP. WASP. Wop. WASP. (I am from New Detroit, a Corporate World planet known for its slums, so I see things a lot differently than most people).

Commander Norris is the WASP; a big man, about my age (which is to say mid-forties), with wavy blond hair, ruddy skin, and blue eyes. Women seem to find him good-looking, which works for Commander Norris, who is single and hetero. He’s my weapons officer.

Lieutenant McLain is my sensor officer and close to my age as well, tanned, curly salt-and-pepper hair, blue-gray eyes, and very good at his job. I believe he is from Galloway’s World.

Commander Renaldo DeGeorgio is the wop, a smart and tough looking young man from Roma V. He is always showing me various new Italian recipes in my private mess every week. I enjoy his cooking immensely but don't tell the regular mess crew, they'd be all butt-hurt. He’s got short-brown hair and brown eyes, Mr. Can-Do, ex-jock type, fit and trim, ready to organize anything. He’s my senior engineer.

Finally, Lieutenant Jackson is your typical navy guy, competent, in-shape, aggressive, and smart too boot. He is from Alpha Centauri and is my communications officer.

I'd worked with my bridge staff for months now and we were a well-oiled unit. My executive officer, Mike Duda, was probably in the CIC at the moment so I crossed the bridge and sat in my command chair, keying the red flashing communication button. A recorded message instantly into my mind via my computer interface headband. It was Yelen...sorry Commodore Yelen Hererra.


The Commodore was a heavyworlder (think all muscles) from Minos; she was all blonde hair and blue eyes with a half-smoked cigar in the corner of her mouth and appearing well under her age of 50. Her homeworld was a typical Corporate World that genetically engineered its "citizens" and I knew she would be retiring soon on one of the newly discovered planets in this chain, possibly New Beijing, the regional capital. She’d mentioned it in our weekly poker games. She was always welcome in my quarters for a friendly game as long as she brought a few of her (slightly illegal) New Cubana cigars with her.

"I need some back-up, Yevgeny." She looked worried in the camera. "Get here as soon as you can. Yelen out."

I thought for a moment and decided. Keying the comm., I spoke to the rest of the ships in my fleet: “Attention. This is Admiral Knox, we are headed to the Red Rocks System, survey group is Code Red Alert.”

My primary mission out here was to back up Survey Fleet. In the last several hundred years, human survey ships had stumbled upon several alien cultures who had immediately attacked when discovered. The units of Battle Fleet under my command were here to assist and defend Yelen’s ships in such an event. My warships consisted of three ultra-deadly superdreadnoughts (including my own Wyoming), six escorting battlecruisers, and six Shokaku-class light carriers armed with dozens of small fighter attack craft. I had enough antimatter arming my ships and carriers to blow away several planets and felt they could handle just about anything.

I began transmitting my commands to the rest of the fleet and as they began to move out to the warp point to support Commodore Hererra, I alerted the ship to Battle Condition One. Overhead I saw the date, it read December 5th, 2463.

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Commodore Yelen Hererra scowled at the viewscreen, the bitter taste from her half-smoked cigar still in her mouth even though she had thrown it away hours ago. Staring suspiciously at the alien warship on the screen, she thought to herself for the first time that she might never make it past the biblically promised age of sixscore years.

Oh everything had gone routinely with the survey plans until they had entered the Red Rocks System a few days ago. Hell the whole damn star system had been waiting here, uninhabited (or so Survey Command had thought), for millennia until humans popped their head through the warp point to look around. In fact, since the initial discovery of this warp point chain and its extremely slow course of surveying, the whole area was only lightly populated. However, it turned out that this chain of systems (which connected to the Dead Worlds of the bugs) was dangerously close to humanity's homeworld Terra, and so surveying the 18 or so star systems in the chain had taken nearly 20 years. Every time a new system was found in the chain, massive defenses and fleets of warships were rushed into the area and Survey Command refused to inch forward into a newer system down chain, holding the current system for a couple of years until it was sure no closed warp points were hiding and no aliens would appear. Then, and only then, was further surveying allowed.

Unfortunately for humanity, Yelen thought darkly, they should have stopped exploring down this series of warp points a year ago. When it was first discovered and initially surveyed with autonomous probes, Red Rocks had looked like any other star system: a red dwarf star with five planets and a red-ringed asteroid belt, which had given it its' name. However, when her small fleet of survey ships finally arrived in the system, it looked nothing like what the probes had reported and she should have aborted the whole operation right then and there and skedaddled. But curiosity had always killed the cat and Red Rocks had turned decidedly curious.

When her force arrived, the entire star system had no solid planets left. In fact, there was nothing but a few dozen rogue moons, all of which were badly battered by a shell of rapidly expanding asteroid belts. The reason Yelen had stayed was that she had to find out what could have possibly destroyed all five planets within the past year. Was it a naturally occurring event like a rogue black hole moving through the system at extraordinary speeds or....?

I guess I now have my answer, Yelen thought gloomily.

Her survey ships had only begun two days of initial surveys when an alien warship had decloaked and parked just a few thousand kilometers away from her ship and had done some unusual things. She had, of course, ordered the rest of the fleet to retreat back to Nouveau Dijon under the care of Admiral Knox's military fleet but a few of her ships hadn't answered and her own ship had undergone what her XO said was some sort of scan by the unknown vessel when it was first detected a mere 10 light seconds away. A scan which left the crew badly disorientated, nauseous, and with one hell of a headache….herself included. The pain still hadn’t receded, even hours later.

What had surprised everyone on her ship was that the aliens had tried communication for a few minutes and nearly two-dozen different alien races were seen occupying the alien vessels bridge. From a human perspective, no alien race ever encountered had such a crew make-up, except for the Crucian Alliance. The Crucians were a similar group of somewhat friendly aliens located near the Dead Worlds who had been informally allied with humanity against the Bugs during the Fourth Interstellar War. After the intrusive scan and seeing the alien ship's bridge crew, she had hit the panic button and called for Knox's reinforcements. Also, these aliens might have had something to do with the destruction of this star system and to her that was a terrifying thought.

She was glad it was Knox covering her butt, for he was an experienced admiral, and well known (within the Fleet). He had fought in the Second Bug War and had recently finished aggressive patrols of the Rao Worlds. The ant-like Rao were a newly discovered race who only lately had begun to recover from attacks by unknown forces outside their space about a year ago. Their planets lay near the Rim Federation but Knox had hot-footed it over to the New Beijing Chain to cover her survey force by the order of Skymarshal Devore a month ago…..with task force in tow.

For four hundred years humanity had been trying to populate the galaxy, advancing, pushing outward, as if man's sole purpose was to dominate it all, the entire universe, first the Milky Way and then the numberless galaxies which stretched outward into the unknown. For 400 years the mad mass of humanity had reached outward to the stars and had run into a few alien races, some friendly and some not, but nothing had truly hindered humanity's push into the stars but now, facing a force that could possibly blow entire planets away, Yelen thought morosely that humanity should try and stay at home more often.


More coming….


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