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Writing an novel, or series, or something


#141

It was like watching a perfectly timed dance. The thrusts, parries, kicks, and various motions flowed like a choreographed movie scene. In the end, the three that attacked Jahqu returned to their original position. Judging by the fight, it was a draw. A small thought crossed her mind, “He has gotten better.” But she knew he wasn’t at her level yet. Another thought of just how close he was immediately was squashed.

Before her escort could say anything, she said allowed, “Kaysayra, my dear friend, you should take your cousin into your clan. If he actually wants to become anything, he will need far tougher opponents than these.” Everyone reacted with a bit of surprise. It was a good thing she approached from downwind and that everyone was focused on the fight. She also judged how close she could get without being noticed accurately. The end result was several shocked faces.

One face showed joy. Kaysayra ran over to her and immediately hugged her with a forceful grip. She gave her a slight head butt back. Kaysayra looked at her best friends face and said, “What are you doing on Henth, Di’zalna!” Then her face suddenly changed. A look of confusion with a bit of fear now covered it, “Wait, what are doing here at this lodge?” Di’zalna looked over at the rest of the group. The three other duelists couldn’t be read anymore, but they had their weapons ready. Tisohsho seemed mixed in her reaction, upset and happy to see her. Jahqu had approached her far closer than she expected before she noticed he had moved. His face was a blank mask as he talked to the guard that escorted her.

One of the older duelists spoke first, “You are NOT welcome here Silver Dragon. You should leave now before we are forced to escort you off our land.” The other duelists readied their weapons, but before any moved, Jahqu turned to them and growled the strongest growl she ever heard him do.


#142

“My fellow Night Foxes, have we forgotten ourselves? Di’zalna is here on official High Clan business. She will be shown proper respect. Now Di’zalna, what is it that you wanted to see me about?” His face was still masked, and it was hard to read him. It was a long time since the two of them had seen each other, and now he seemed entirely different. This game might not be as fun if he didn’t react a little bit more.

“I have come to give you your new orders. Before that though, why not treat an old acquaintance to a meal and discuss old times?” Before Jahqu responded, a smell similar to his approached at a great speed. A few more of his clan members arrived, one being Mahria. She was not a warrior, but if eyes could kill, Di’zalna knew she would not have survived that look.

Mahria spoke in a deadly serious tone, “High Clan or not, you have no right to enter our lodge. You are to leave now.” By the way she moved closer to Jahqu, it seemed as Mahria wanted to protect her younger blood-brother. The others with her were older adults, one being a clan lodge leader. Still, Di’zalna had her cards to play.
Feeling oddly angry at Mahria she said to her, “High Clan does give me every right to enter on official business. It does give me the right to stay here despite the demands of a usurping and over protective sister that has no teeth. You will not address…”

The voice had no emotion, but was strong, “Enough.” Jahqu moved right next to her. “As one who outranks you in the High Clan, you will give me the orders you are to deliver and then leave.”

She looked at him a bit surprised. “When did he get promoted over me in the High Clan?” she thought. Then she realized she did make a mistake. She outranked him in the military, but not in High Clan standings. She used the wrong card to play from the start.

“Very well, but I don’t have the orders with me. They are at my hotel. I was hoping you and Kaysayra would be willing to show me around the city.” The feel of everyone besides Jahqu, Kaysayra, and Tisohsho were venomous and barely controlled. She had entered their lodge without even having the orders. Tisohsho looked upset as well as Kaysayra. Jahqu was a statue, and that was the only thing that she started to be concerned about.


#143

“Go to the train entrance. I will meet you there shortly to go and retrieve my orders.” Jahqu turned to Kaysayra and said, “Dear blood-cousin, I have a package in our section that you should know of. Please retrieve it and meet us at the train entrance.” He turned around and went towards the lodge building. Kaysayra looked a bit worried, but gave Di’zalna a quick push towards the main entrance before running towards the lodge building as well.

She knew when the time to withdraw had come, and she immediately started walking towards the main gate at a casual pace. A few of the Night Foxes followed her, but one she wasn’t going to miss saying hello to wasn’t following. So she shouted back, “Tisohsho, it was actually nice to see you again!”

The train ride to the hotel was filled with laughs and giggles as the two friends talked over a variety of things. Di’zalna was the same age as Kaysayra, and the two classmates, friends, near oath sisters could hardly stop from being overly excited being with each other again. Still, the situation between the two was greatly complicated by the fact her blood-cousin’s were of the clan Night Fox. Jahqu now wore his own High Clan uniform, and had yet to say a word. Di’zalna couldn’t help but notice his short spear was in a quick clasp, and he opened the uniform up around his stingers.

Trying to break the mood for him, Di’zalna turned to her friend and said, “So you still haven’t blossomed yet? Come on, Kaysayra, I don’t want to be the only one fending off crazed suitors.” Kaysayra blew air through her nose in a huff of embarrassment.

She answered back, “Don’t talk about that. You know it can happen any time now, and I know you did not enjoy the process. And don’t get me started on my suitor list. I recently had an argument with my mother on one whom I put on it.” Di’zalna immediately hand gestured to ask who it was. Kaysayra gave another huff before nodding towards Jahqu. Di’zalna actually felt a little bit of shock.

She quickly motioned back, “That was just a formality jester, wasn’t it?” Kaysayra motioned back yes. Still, Jahqu was a little bit too young to be put on Kaysayra’s suitor list. Not to mention, he was also a blood-cousin. Perhaps it was the jealously she felt that he was taking so much of Kaysayra’s attention that made Di’zalna feel upset the most. She really couldn’t tell. Still, Kaysayra’s happiness meant a great deal to her.


#144

A couple thoughts struck her, and she said allowed, “Well, that could be one way to get him to join your clan. Maybe we can find some alien seductive techniques to get him to blossom early? Or I can add him to my list and get you to fight me for him, and you win his love in the process?” The playful jab she received did indicate she was taking the joke to far, but there was no reaction from Jahqu. Whether or not he knew they were talking about him, his posture had not changed.

They arrived at the city and walked to the hotel. Jahqu was still acting very mechanical, so Di’zalna quickly ran to her room and retrieved his orders. She came back to the lobby and handed the package over saying, “These orders state that you are to leave for Escokonsar base four days from now. You will receive training there to become a liaison officer for the Terran Federation Exhibition Fleet. You have worked with humans before, so the High Clan has high confidence in you for this assignment. More details are in the package I am giving you.”

Jahqu took the package. He then handed a package of his own to her. He then turned to Kaysayra and said, “Dear blood-cousin, go ahead and show your friend a good time tonight. You deserve to have some fun with her here on Henth.” He turned back to her and said in a monotone voice, “And I would like to thank you. For awhile I was confused on a matter, whether I simply disliked you since you are a Silver Dragon. Now after blazingly insulting my clan mates, forcing me to defend you as a High Clan member for actions unbecoming of one, and then greatly insulting my sister, I can now come to a conclusion. I just do not like you. Do what you have done again, and it will be a blood challenge.” He turned and walked away.

Kaysayra stood aghast, and Di’zalna was a bit surprised herself. Blood challenges were not tossed out on mere whims. For the first time, she thought she might have crossed the line in torturing her friend’s cousin. And deep down somewhere, a little bit of pain emerged from what he just said. Anger quickly replaced it. When he was far enough away, she turned to Kaysayra, “Your blood-cousin is a bit melodramatic isn’t he?”


#145

The jab she received this time wasn’t very playful, “You idiot. What if he did what you did at your clan lodge?” The images of Jahqu’s hacked body parts decorating her clan’s lodge’s walls instantly came to mind. It was a rather interesting image, one that seemed not that disagreeable.

Sadly, she realized Kaysayra made her point. Di’zalna said, “Damn, okay, I crossed the line. I will send Mahria and Tisohsho some crab/bone bread with an apology letter. I will think of something else for Jahqu.”

She then realized she was still holding the package he gave her. She opened it. Inside was a flute unlike any she had seen before. It seemed as if it was carved from bone and then given a metallic cover. Kaysayra spoke, “That is a Harkonsaur flute. He knows you are a singer and music artist, so he thought of you when he heard this. He had to get a special order one since our mouths or so different from a Harkonsaur’s. He was being very honest when he said he thought he only disliked you for being in the Silver Dragon clan, and he hoped to change that.”

The small echo of pain came back. Di’zalna refused to let herself think that she made such a bad decision today. But another pain came to her and she said, “Well, that fool just made things worse. I forgot to tell him that I talked with your mother. In order to escape this suitor business for a bit, I have been assigned to the same mission. You are looking at the newest liaison officer in the High Clan.”

Kaysayra actually groaned. “You have just made this a very, very long night Di’zalna.”

Di’zalna clasped her friends arm and said to her, “Well, show me a good restaurant to make it an easier night then.” Kaysayra agreed and they left the hotel while Di’zalna played a few practice notes on her flute.


#146

They called it the flag city, for in its very center lay Flag Park. Every single nation state from Earth and Terran Federation territories had its flag waving there. With all the flags catching the near constant wind, the area resembled a rolling sea of color. In the very center of the park, the Terran Federation flag flew above all others. From top down, the flag’s even lines of black, sky blue, grass green, and black which were broken only by the thinnest of white stripes could be seen from every part of the park. Its center had a large compass star of silver and white, pointing the way to the past, present, and future for the Terran race. For Jake Misoto and Hana Betterson, it was a humbling site. The magnitude of the diversity of culture and people within the Terran Federation had never been so apparent until they arrived in this city.

The real name of the city was Aphroditras, capital city of Venus. The planet was once thought to be the twin sister to Earth before it was discovered to be a giant pressure cooker that was hotter than the surface of the sun. But many years later and after some serious terraforming, Venus indeed had become Earth’s sister. Jake and Hana arrived at Aphroditras in the local morning on root to their new training facility. There, the first part of their N.A.U. training would begin. The two of them had a few hours to kill though, since the transport to that facility was not leaving till much later in the afternoon. The first place they checked out was the famous flag park.

“I can’t even begin to count how many flags are here,” Jake finally remarked. He glanced at a guide pamphlet and saw that over 800 flags were represented. Currently, the two of them were standing in the Flags of Mars section. Hana nodded in agreement.

“All through basic training, we had the fact that the Terran Federation is one entity shoved down our throats. Yet, always, they kept saying that it was made from a great diversity and that is what gave it strength. I have never seen it visualized so well.” Hana looked around the park in a slow manner, taking a moment to look at each flag she saw. Jake agreed with her on that remark. The two of them were in their fatigues, and they were not the only military personnel in the park. Transports throughout the Terran Federation were bringing in the new N.A.U. trainees.


#147

A small feeling began to grow in Jake’s stomach, so he turned to Hana and said, “Let’s explore a bit more and get something to eat. How about it?” Hana looked back at him before smiling and nodding yes. Surrounding the metropolis were six major suburban areas. Although never officially established, each area represented a different continent on Earth. Both Jake and Hana were astonished that only a few blocks from each other, the people and signs changed rapidly from each culture they represented. In the Asian section, one block’s difference meant that the people spoke and signs read either Chinese or Japanese. The only thing that saved the two from getting lost was the fact beneath all the signs were New Latin translations. Also, everyone spoke New Latin to some degree. Eventually the two found a location in the North American section that served food similar to the common fair of the New Texas colony.

Halfway through his burrito, Jake stopped eating and said to Hana, “I don’t understand this place at all. The people here don’t seem to have New Latin as their main language. This isn’t Earth, what are they trying to do here?” Hana could only shrug before starting on her barbeque sandwich. After a few bites, she looked around again and said, “This is a one of the very first cities to develop off of Earth. It was established during the CIENS government. Back then, national heritage was a major source of pride and strength for the first colonist. Perhaps it hasn’t left here yet.”

Both were surprised when a young man in a similar uniform sat down right next to them. He didn’t seem to be older than eighteen. His hair was dark, skin was white but with a tan, and he had a strong angular face. “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help but over here your conversation,” he said with an unusual accent. “New Latin is not meant to be the primary language for the Terran Federation. It is the language that allows the Federation to work. Even the fools at the top of the current government and during the CIENS time know that it would be foolish to try reducing the use of other languages. Our diversity leads to our creativity, and that leads to our strength.” Both Jake and Hana looked at him with blank faces. Suddenly he looked a bit embarrassed, “Sorry, I get a bit carried away at times. My name is Conrando Silvio. I am starting my training for N.A.U. piloting tomorrow.”

Jake gave a small smile and said, “Hello Conrando, my name is Jake Misoto and this is Hana Betterson.” She gave him a friendly wave. “We both come from the New Texas colony in the Cana system. Training starts tomorrow for us as well.”


#148

Conrando’s dark eyes lit up a little. “I thought you might be from the colonies, with the eyes and hair and all.” Jake looked at Hana’s blue eye, brown eye, and mixed hair, while simultaneously she looked at his green to brown eyes. Then both looked back to Conrando. He gave a friendly smile before saying, “I didn’t mean anything bad about that. I come from Spain on Earth. It wasn’t till basic that I found out that humans living on different parts of Earth, but also different parts of the galaxy, varied so much! It is so fascinating! Truly, I would love to be your friend. Would you like to be my friends?”

Both Jake and Hana looked at each other again. The sense of awkwardness was apparent, though it would be hard to see by anyone else. But both silently made an agreement and turned back to Conrando. Jake smiled and said, “That would be great. Hello, my new friend.” Conrando’s smile was bright as he shook both Jake’s and Hana’s hand.

Jake couldn’t help but notice that Hana had a slight blush when he shook hers. “And things just got complicated,” Jake thought to himself.

The next day Jake, Hana, Conrando, and several other flight cadets stood at attention on a floating platform. The platform itself overlooked a large plain filled with several targets, fabricated towns, old military vehicles, and a great variety of other objects. A large and older Triadial officer stood before them, and he spoke with a monotone voice. However, the colors on his forehead ridge indicated a strong serious intent.

“You are about to begin training in use of the deadliest war machine ever created. The reason these machines are deadly is not the weapons they carry, nor the power they can produce, nor the maneuvers they do. YOU are deadly machines! They are not machines you drive; they are machines that become a part of you. And once you truly master making them a part of yourself, YOU make these machines the most dangerous creature on the battlefield. I say creatures, for you will make them living, killing monsters that only fools would dare challenge.”


#149

He looked over all the cadets. The feeling of his stare felt like they were all back at basic, but instead of yelling at them, he simply turned to look at the field. He continued, “I expect from all of you the most serious dedication to your training. This is no video game. You are being trained to fight real wars.” Suddenly a squadron of four N.A.U.s flew over the platform, sending a shockwave of air and anti grave fields into the cadets. They all looked in awe as the four opened fired on the targets in the field.

Never before had Jake and Hana seen such large explosions up close. The guns the N.A.U.s used ripped through the vehicles as if they were made of paper. One launched a couple of missiles at separate targets, resulting in two thunderous explosions. The N.A.U.’s themselves looked like large humanoid bodies with armor plating. Only the visible missile racks and weapon mounts on the arms and legs gave away their robotic nature. The heads, though they were truly directed censor arrays with some weaponry, looked like fancy winged biker helmets that hid a real face underneath.

“There will be no joking around during training. A mistake will not only cause danger to your fellow soldiers, but to anyone in the area.” As if on cue, the last N.A.U. fired a larger missile from an arm mount directly into a mock town. The explosion devastated the buildings within a very large radius, and its shockwave even rocked the platform they were standing on. Without missing a beat, he stared at them and said, “Now what if that was your home town? Your families, friends, loved ones are now all dead from a single misfire. Mistakes will not be tolerated. Have I made myself clear?”

Despite the fact everyone was still a bit shocked from the last explosion, basic training proved its worth as all immediately answered, “Sir, YES SIR!” Jake stole a look at Conrando and Hana. Conrando’s face matched most of the other cadets in an expression of awe. Hana’s matched Jake’s. The eagerness they expressed matched their thinking. Here is what they were seeking; here is a way to defend the ones they love and make a difference. Here is a way to fight the monsters of the universe.


#150

The Terran Federation Flags

Normal

Military (in combat)


#151

Volsolas’Dasperhado of the clan Ice Bear was not used to the lack of attention he was getting. He was approaching 145 cycles in age, but to a human he looked no older than thirty five. The uniform he wore displayed medals and marks of many battles, victories, honors, and the highest rank an active N.A.U. pilot can hold in the Henthshraq military. His blue and grey coloring blended very well, and he moved with an elegance of a high ranking clan’s member of nobility. Being regarded as one of the best N.A.U. pilots in the universe, he found it surprising that no seemed to notice his arrival to Escokonsar base.

Escokonsar base was on heavily terraformed world within the home galaxy of the Henthshraq. In several ways it resembled a large gathering of clan lodges surrounding a seemingly living central building that contained a large hanger and operations center. The platform his transport landed on was right next to the main building. As he disembarked, all the Shraq in the area seemed to be focused on something happening on the next platform over to his. Curiosity nagging him, Vosolas decided to find out what was going on.

“Am I truly becoming so vain that I have to find out why people are not looking at me?” The thought crossed his mind, but he brushed it aside. He was getting old; vanity was one of the few things he had left. He climbed the stairs onto the next platform to be greeted by overwhelming sounds of cheers and calls over a very active duel.

The two Shraq fighting each other had their blades drawn. One was a predon male with blue and white coloring and using a short spear. The other was a postdon female with grey, white, and light green coloring and using a one hand twin headed axe. Neither was holding anything back. The movements, jabs, swings, and blocks felt hypnotic as both fighters had exemplary skill. If one didn’t know better, it could have been considered a choreographed dance. He shook his head and inhaled deeply through his nose to get a better sense of the situation. Judging by what he could tell, both were indeed very irate with each other. Only one thought crossed his mind, “Some things never really do change.”


#152

His roar made everyone flinch except the combatants, whom just froze in their currents stances. “ENOUGH! Knightshield Di’zalna and Knightsword Jahqu, your duel is over right now. This is not the time and place for you to act on your clan feud. Everyone, get back to your duties, except you two!” The crowd turned to him and recognized who he was. They immediately obeyed his orders. Both Di’zalna and Jahqu sheathed their blades and stood at attention as he approached them. Each knew he meant business as he called them by their rank. As soon as he got close enough not to be overheard, he spoke, “I finally get to see you two again, and what are you doing? How many times is it now that I prevented the two of you from killing each other?”

It startled him in his mind when both immediately seemed to start counting in their heads. “Quit that and greet your old pseudo-Uncle Volsolas properly,” he said as he grabbed both their arms. Though still unnerved by each other’s presence and surprised by the change in attitude, both shook his arms and in turn gave him a formal head butt. Volsolas made a large and dashing smile. However, both of them knew he wasn’t trying to be dashing for them. These two counted amongst the very few outside his clan that knew him as well as some of his clan mates. “My, it has been several cycles since I have seen the both of you, though it has been longer for you Di’zalna. How goes the suitor hunt?”

Di’zalna gave him a slight glare at the last comment, but a small smile eventually crossed her lips. It was hard even for the die hard marine to stay mad at a man who once practically acted as a fun and terrific clan father to her. “Volsolas, please do not mention that. Part of the reason I am here is that your clan-sister is helping me avoid that issue for a bit. Though I would love to catch up with you, I need to join my fellow marines. I dallied long enough here.” Without even looking at Jahqu but giving Volsolas a quick hug, Di’zalna quickly left the two of them.

“Do I want to know what that fight was about?” Volsolas looked over to Jahqu. Jahqu seemed to contemplate the question, and then did the oddly universal shrug. “Well, I won’t pressure you about it. But I will say this; you and she will be on separate ships, but in the same fleet. Behave yourselves in front of the Terrans, and that is a High Marshals order.” The look Jahqu gave him surprised him a bit. Somehow, Jahqu managed to work in resentment of being treated like a child, humor over the same fact, and disbelief that Volsolas actually made the comment in one facial expression.


#153

Jahqu laughed a little and said, “In actuality, the reason for the challenge was not a light one. In several ways, it is very good that we got it out of our systems now instead of later. I am not as immature as I used to be, ‘Uncle’.” Volsola was impressed. He saw before him what was once his student, but now is a seasoned and ever wiser pilot. Also, Jahqu was becoming quite a skilled fighter.

He asked, “Jahqu, you are listed at tier 6 in your style, but you just matched blades with Di’zalna who is at the edge of tier 9 in her style. When was the last time you got tested and ranked?”

Jahqu quickly answered back, “Five cycles. I was supposed to be tested in a couple of weeks, but I won’t be till after this mission is over now. Still, the tier system was never truly designed to rank your skill, just indicate what you can be taught. I have been training myself a great deal, and the Harkonsaurs were surprisingly good fighting partners.” Volsolas noted to himself to get Jahqu tested before they had to set out.

He said to Jahqu, “Let’s go see the other two pilots joining us for this mission.” It was only then that he realized that two Shraq were standing not too far off the whole time. Jahqu followed his gaze. The two adult females, which felt to be in their late eighties in cycles, approached the two of them in unison. Shraq can very easily move in unison, but the way these two did it seemed a bit unnatural. They also looked very close to being the same, with near matching patterns of black, grey, and light green.

The one on the left spoke, “Knightbow Ki’sontasha and,” then the other spoke without missing a beat, “Knightbow Versi’sontasha,” then both together, “of the clan Shadow Shark reporting for duty.” Volsola actually felt Jahqu give him a side glance. Volsola heard of twins from other species, but Henthshraq are incapable of having them. He knew that these two were the other N.A.U. pilots being sent as liaison officers to the exhibition fleet, and that they were blood cousins. However, the fact he could only barely tell the two apart unnerved him slightly.


#154

“Knightbow Ki and Versi, I might require you to wear slightly different uniforms until I get familiar with the both of you,” he said almost without realizing he had done so. Still the order made sense. He addressed all three next to him. “I will be holding our first main meeting for all Shraq personal going on this trip within a few hours. So get settled quickly. I want us N.A.U. pilots to shine in this venture, but it will have to fall mainly on you three as I am in charge of all Henthshraq forces going.”

All three of them raised their right arms and showed him their stingers, the main salute of Henthshraq military personnel. He returned the gesture. He turned around and heard Ki and Versi speak to Jahqu. “You and Di’zalna fight extremely well,”, “for ones being as young as you.”, “Especially you Jahqu, being a predon,”, “the only one of the sixteen liaisons here that is one,”, “We are going to keep our eyes on you,”, “And see how well you fly.” Volsola could barely keep up with which one was speaking. The two Knightbows turned and walked away.

“Uh, ‘Uncle’, that was almost frightening. And why do I have the feeling I was just sized up like a piece of meat?” Jahqu said quickly before Volsola escaped.

He turned slightly to his young former protégé and said, “Yes, that was odd. Those two have several clan-sisters near your age; the age when clans will try to barter with each other on suitors. So be careful on whom you impress. And warn Di’zalna, they will try to get her too. And from now on, unless told otherwise, it will have to be High Marshal again.” He turned and managed to get on his way this time. There was a lot of work to prepare. A thought crossed his mind after pondering why Jahqu had not been tested recently. He realized it stems from his last mission. Four cycles away from Shraq territories and he is being sent out again already. He decided that some action needed to be taken about that.


#155

It was only the first day of N.A.U. training and they were taking a written test about N.A.U. components. Jake’s headache grew in size, but he was certain that he was getting the answers right. When the officer came by and retrieved the tests, the look he saw on Hana’s face indicated she felt strained but satisfied as well. The training they will receive over the next few months was not just making them able to fly the N.A.U.’s, but also able to work on their N.A.U.’s in the field and in the hangars. Crash and survival training were to begin soon. They were also going to be taught the history of the N.A.U. system as well.

So it was a bit of a nice break that the next thing for them was a virtual history lesson. As the group was dismissed from the testing room, Jake caught up to Hana. He asked, “So, history buff, do you know what they are going to be showing us?”

Hana was about to answer when out of nowhere, Conrando was between the two of them. He said, “Oh it is the actual war record film from the Equatonos during the Great Galactic War! We are going to watch the first battle with N.A.U.s!”

Hana paused a moment before saying, “The first battle?” A look that was hard to read crossed her face. “Weren’t the Henthshraq the first to use the N.A.U.s?”

Conrando grew excited as he answered, “Yes! Very odd race they are. They tend to keep to themselves. But they are very adept to war. However, according to several studies from Cambridge, West Point,…” He continued to name several other institutes of military study before they turned a corner and he saw that he was losing his audience. He got to the point faster, “Well, in short, it is believed if the Henthshraq had not developed the N.A.U.’s, the Terrans most likely would have!”

Jake had an odd feeling creep up on him when Conrando said that. For some reason, he did not want to think of humans and Henthshraq being anything alike. All three eventually entered a room with the virtual show imager and several other cadets. They took seats near the middle of the room. Jake noticed Conrando made sure to sit right next to Hana. He was not sure if it truly bothered him or not. Before he could dwell on that thought, Commander Orbindar, the same Triadial who addressed them on the platform, entered the room.


#156

He began in that monotone voice, “One question always comes to mind about N.A.U.s. Why would we use robotic machines to fight in space, land, and air instead of fighters and tanks? That same question has existed for many races and throughout time. A great many centuries ago, during the Great Galactic War between the Ancient and Elder race alliances, the last of the elder races, the Henthshraq, had not chosen any side. It was not long before their territories were invaded by multiple groups trying to force their subjugation.”

The projector showed an image of the galaxy in which the Henthshraq lived in. It was a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way, but the pattern looked very different. An outline highlighted the estimated size of the Henthshraq territories, but then it quickly began to shrink as other outlines of different invading forces plunged in. The Commander continued, “Henthshraq are a race of natural fighters. They are seemingly still partially aquatic and adept to fighting in water. However, despite their skill in land and aquatic warfare, their technology and fighting style with fighter craft could not overcome the invaders. Desperate to repel the invaders, their scientists were the first to develop a means in which their soldiers could fight in any environment using their natural and deadly fighting styles. The following recording is of the battle that resulted from that research and changed the history of warfare forever in the universe.”

Immediately a large virtual image filled the screen area. Jake recognized the ships as old Equatonos vessels from the Great Galactic War, but the sheer number of them was mind numbing. Close to a thousand warships filled the screen with a large planet in the background. In between the vessels were countless fighters and small attack boats. In the distance, a fleet of only 300 Henthshraq vessels flew between them and the planet. A translated voice came from the recording, “This is a visual recording from the escort cruiser Ironhammer. Equatonos Imperial eighth fleet is now only forty five hours away from the Henth System. We are moving to engage the remaining defenses of their inner lines. We have just been ordered to fall into attack position and send our fighters to engage the enemy.”


#157

The fleets were moving. The Equatonos moved to entrap the Henthshraq fleet like a giant claw clutching its prey from all angles, but the Henthshraq moved in reverse in an attempt to avoid it. Countless fighters could be seen moving towards the Henthshraq vessels, but very few fighters of theirs could be seen flying out to great them. Reports from various ships began coming over the speaker on the recording as time slowly crawled towards the first shots being fired. Suddenly, the combat started. Jake watched in horrible familiarity as several unseen Henthshraq vessels appeared on the outside of the newly formed Equatonos claw. By each of every Henthshraq vessel, crude but very definite N.A.U.s appeared as well. They were greatly outnumbered still, but they now had great tactical position.

The video suddenly zoomed in on the fighters engaging the N.A.U.s. As both forces charged, each side let loose a volley of missiles. Simply by pointing and shooting, the Henthshraq units intercepted nearly the entire barrage. Half the Equatonos first wave of fighters was destroyed on the other hand. And when the two forces intermingled, it became a blood bath. Jake was fully reminded of his own battle against the Henthshraq, as the fighters of the Equatonos had to maneuver their entire fighter to point and shoot their weapons. The N.A.U.s simply pointed their limbs and shot.

The antigrave/impulse thrusters on the N.A.U.s made maneuvering them as easy as swimming, though without the kicks and strokes. They moved like a humanoid school of fish, flying by at fast speeds and decimating the enemy fighters all around them. He saw one simply turn around and destroy two fighters chasing it. Its momentum kept it going in its original direction, and the movement looked so natural and cold. There was no sound, just flashes of light against the space as debris and broken bodies began to clutter a small part of it.


#158

The camera zoomed out, and the Equatonos situation had become grave. They had lost a majority of their fighters, and the few Henthshraq fighters that were in the battle carried several torpedoes. The Henthshraq warships had newer weaponry as well, and began to fire at a longer range than expected. The coordinated attacks between the Henthshraq capital ships and fighters quickly caused several Equatonos warships to explode. The N.A.U.s began to harass any ship trying to gain a better position, even destroying some. Listening into the reports coming over the speaker, the Equatonos had completely lost control of the situation. The video ended a few minutes later as the Ironhammer went to emergency warp to escape a combined torpedo and warship attack against itself.

Commander Orbindar spoke aloud after the video ended. “Ever since that battle, N.A.U.s have been a vital part of every species military. Each species has its own version, to match either their natural movements or that of something of their own design. Needless to say, the Henthshraq reclaimed their territories and have become what they are today. As I told you earlier, you are the deadly machines. The N.A.U. is just an extension of you. We will begin simulations tomorrow, but for now, you have classes on Terran N.A.U. models to go over.”

Jake, Hana, and Conrando walked together towards the next training area. Conrando eyes seem to glimmer. He said eventually, “I cannot believe I just saw that. It was the actual footage! The way those Henthshraq just swam in space, defending their homes by such brilliant fighting, it is most impressive!”

Hana spoke quietly but firmly, “I do not find it impressive that several thousand Equatonos, in a foolish attempt to make Henthshraq into slaves, got butchered by the heartless would be victims.”

Jake chimed in, “It would have been better if they just wiped each other out.”

Conrando stopped and looked at them with a shocked impression. “Now I did not mean to say that the death of those people was impressive. I am sorry. But what is this I am hearing? For what reason do you hate the Henthshraq so much? They were defending themselves in that war.”

Jake looked at him. His eyes must have been showing his emotions for Conrando backed off a little, but Jake grasped his shoulder and relaxed. He said to him, “I will tell you tonight.”


#159

High Marshal Volsola’s speech the day before went over exactly what the liaison officers and the tender ship Hospas6 were expected to do with the Terran Exhibition Fleet. To Jahqu, it was a very roundabout way of saying just be gentle advisors and do not make too much noise. For his race to have built the massive transit system in order to unite the universe and help keep the peace through trade and understanding, it was mind boggling that they remained so reclusive still. He was waiting now in the lesson hall for the first session of training in the New Latin language of the Terrans. Supposedly, it was designed to be very easy to learn. Jahqu remembered it was, but it had been a long time since he used it.

He looked over some of the details of the mission again. Apparently the Terran Exhibition Fleet, of TEF as it is being shortened to, is planned to have sixteen newly designed battle cruisers at its core. The fleet will be divided into four equal squadrons of four battle cruisers each plus escorts. Each battle cruiser will have a Henthshraq liaison officer assigned to it. Each task force will receive one Henthshraq N.A.U. pilot, one marine, one linguistics officer, and one engineer or scientist. It seemed like a well balanced idea. A small hope that Di’zalna would be placed in a separate squadron crossed his mind. He quickly turned it into a prayer to the Maker to have the goddess of luck make it so.

The goddess of luck must have been upset at being disturbed, for Di’zalna entered the room with three other Shraq. The meeting before was quite crowded, so this is the first time Jahqu was going to closely meet all the of the liaison officers. Hopefully, a mutual friendship of sorts will quickly form between the sixteen. He turned to greet the company of four marines, only to be met by cold stares. He thought, “Di’zalna was quick to get them on her side.” But, he concluded, it was probably more of a marine versus N.A.U. pilot issue than the personal fight between them.


#160

Slowly the rest of the officers entered the room well before the training was to begin. Jahqu was suddenly pleased to see one of the linguistic officers. He stood and went over to him. The officer looked up to him and shared a similar pleased expression. Jahqu spoke first, “I am Jahqu. It is nice to meet you clan-cousin.”

The other officer belonged to the clan Night Fox as well, and by judging by the symbols on his sash, he came for Inpetal system. He seemed to be nearing 100 cycles in age, though a human would say he was in his early thirties. He answered back in New Latin, “I am honored to meet you Jahqu. I am Aroth. From what I have heard, you might already understand what I am saying?”

The voice sounded human as well. Several Henthshraq were experts at matching sounds. Still, the ability sometimes even startled Jahqu. But, he had interacted with humans before during a previous assignment. He jogged through his memory, but eventually answered back. His voice had only the slightest of accent as he spoke in New Latin, “Yes. I have met with Terran traders, travelers, and outlaws during my missions. It has been … ,” he couldn’t remember the word, “a long time since I spoke this language.”

Aroth seemed pleased. He grinned and said in Henth, “Well, it seems you and I won’t need to study the language too hard. I will help you get rid of that accent and the words straight in no time.” He looked over to the marines. “I see that feud between marines and pilots now involves a clan feud.” Jahqu made the hand gesture of agreement.

Jahqu whispered, “She very likely will not even bother you. I tend to be her main target of aggression.” Aroth shook his head in a quizzical manner. Jahqu continued, “Long story, but in short I stole her best friend’s attention away from her and made her question some of her hard taught ideals. Plus there is a personality clash as well.”

Aroth gave him a cold stare. “That almost sounds like a relationship. How do you feel about that postdon female?” The growl that escaped Jahqu was soft but strong.

Jahqu spoke softly as well. “Do not mix familiarity with relationship. I know her well enough not to have anything to do with her if I could help it. However, that friend of hers is my blood-cousin. I will not upset my blood-cousin by killing her best friend.” Aroth gave a look of understanding. He made hand signs to indicate they should share a few meals together. Jahqu agreed.