“War has been the breeding ground for some of our greatest dreams of accomplishment.”Holtzman, The Butlerian Jihad.
Ancestors BY Kyle Gray The Warrior: Be fearless and stand strong The Knight: Be brave and honest The Shaman: Trust in higher forces The Sky Father: Trust in the unknown
Arousing Thunder ䷲
Infinitesimal darkness outside the command center of the ESS Orca seemed like the ocean back on Eos on a moonless night. The stars floated in the dark, little beacons of light affording the universe depth and form. The Void was Admiral Ramos’ backyard where he roamed as the Captain of his ship and master of his fate and the fate of his 5000 crewmembers.
The command center was a plaza of activity. Monitors and gauges flashed their information as the command staff worked feverishly to ensure the wounded ship’s safety and security. The Admiral watched his dashboard panel of essential performance indicators progress from red to amber and finally green. He issued orders, and the staff distributed tasks and priorities to the crew stations.
Ramos recalled in his mind how The Orca had sustained crippling injuries in the battle over Manila. Orca had advanced to earth in search of Captain Rae and her ship, Aurora. On their approach, they detected a Western Alliance fleet over the earth’s horizon. The battle was joined with Orca giving more than she got, scattering the Western Alliance fleet and sending many of their expeditionary vessels crashing into the earth’s atmosphere, burning like stars in the Void.
Hypervelocity missiles rose from Manila just as Captain Rae’s AI had warned earlier. The Orca, outgunned, escaped to land on the dark side of earth’s moon to repair the ship and take care of the dead and wounded. It was what each person had signed on to accomplish. They all knew the risk and accepted it. “For Eos,” Ramos thought. Death here kept the awful burdens of war away from the homeland, so it was a worthy fate.
“G4, how are we on supply, The admiral asked his maintenance and logistics chief.
“All supply classes are green for 30 days operation, amber to return to EOS,” came the reply.
“What is the estimate for return to operational combat status? Ramos asked.
“Two weeks local earth time.”
Apprehension spread through the staff like the shrill tone of an attacking Eosian hawk. Admiral Ramos was planning his next move, and they would all have a front-row seat. Apprehension gave way to a subtle eagerness to take it to the Western Alliance for trying to colonize their ancestral homeland and recover one of their own. As fate would have it, the odds were stacked high against them. Just the way they liked it.
“Secure the bridge for war counsel,” the Admiral commanded.
“Bridge Secured, Sir.”
Ramos collected his thoughts, turned to his staff, and let them in on his plans. “I want to attack the Western Alliance and at a minimum cripple their colony with the objective of as near-complete destruction of their remaining fleet as possible. We will use the attack as a screen to attempt a rescue of Captain Rae undetected, Ramos said. I want to execute this plan within three days.”
The staff remained silent except to acknowledge the order. Each officer knew the Admiral’s famous father disappeared in the exact location as Captain Rae when Ramos was just a kid. To the staff, it was their duty to rescue Rae. To the Admiral, it was personal.
Sgt Hughes and Carter kneeled in the water, laughing under their breath, trying not to make a sound and failing. The remaining squad secured a perimeter around the two men, who appeared to have lost their minds.
“Sgt Hughes, What in hell is going on over there,” one of the crew asked.
“See for yourself,” Sgt Hughes replied while Carter wiped the tears from the side of his face.
The team gathered around and looked at the bloody water lizard in the spacesuit.
“Damn, those Eosians are ugly,” the astonished team member whispered under his breath. The squad lost it, trying to remain quiet in this god-forsaken jungle that demanded noise discipline to keep them from giving themselves away to anyone that might be close by and unseen. To their advantage, the jungle absorbed their noisy presence and gave no hint of the danger heading toward Ezra and Rae.
“Whoever belonged in that suit appears to be long gone now, Sgt Hughes said. Saddle up, ladies; we have a date with destiny up ahead. Let’s get after it.”
The team took up their positions, and Carter, still trying not to snicker at their folly, felt his energy renewed as he hacked his way up to the gigantic waterfall ahead.
Zara made her way upstream and picked a place to swim across the river. She angled downstream and caught the current, rocking her shoulders from side to side, reaching and pulling with her arms as she moved through the water without leaving a ripple. Her long ponytail undulated from side to side like a snake.
At the far bank, Zara grabbed for a root and dug her toes into the slick mud. Reaching higher with handholds and toe holds in the roots, Zara was able to slither up the bank and into the forest. Kneeling and listening, she sensed she was alone. The newly freed half-breed moved as fast as she could toward the makeshift ladder the two natives had constructed to descend into the bowl of the waterfall.