Author : Roi R. Czechvala: Staff Writer

The Crimson Dawn hung in geosynch above the besieged planet. Far out of reach of the meager defenses the primitive populous threw at them.

“Skipper, another salvo is being launched.”

Captain Dimitri Sardukar gave a bored sigh; “Viewer.” The bridge of the ship dissolved and the captain and crew seemed to hang in empty space. Even after years as a staff officer, the sudden switch to VR still unnerved him.

He watched as a seven missile volley rose from the planets surface. He watched as the stages of the chemical rockets fell away. He watched as the impotent atomic warheads spent their energy fruitlessly against the ships absorbing Tesla Field.

“Enough is enough. Ensign contact fleet. We are dropping. These savages need to know with whom they are dealing with.”

Klaxons blared throughout the ship. Armoured marines scrambled for the lifter ships. The captain himself took personal command of a lifter, and was the first to ground on the surface of the planet they had dubbed Circe.

The assault ships formed a perimeter around a massive stone complex. A walled palace. Stunned guards at the gates watched in awe as the huge marines emerged. The awe soon resolved itself into anger. They opened fire as the marines approached…

Dimitri joined his retinue of eleven men in raucous laughter as bullets impacted armour and fell to the ground as harmless lumps of jacketed lead.

“Open fire,” Dimitri ordered, growing tired of the futile display.

The detachment of guards was reduced to shapeless mounds of burned flesh under the searing blast of plasma fire. The men stormed unopposed into the massive building, followed by their swaggering commander.

The interior was one massive chamber carved from a single piece of a marble like stone. The walls shimmered with iridescent colours. In the centre of the hall upon a raised dais a huge throne stood. It was occupied by a diminutive figure, almost human in a vaguely elfin way. At the base of the platform a contingent of similar creatures stood unarmed.

“There will be no need for your crude weapons.” The diminutive being waved a careless hand and the marines were quickly disarmed by his personal guard. “Nor your armour,” just as quickly the men were denuded. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Viceroy Creed. Welcome to…,” he smiled disarmingly, “Circe.”

Stunned to immobility the men stood in rigid fear.

Outraged, Captain Dimitri Ulyov Sardukar turned on his minute tormentor, his face flushed with rage. “I command…”

“You command nothing,” the alien leader snapped viciously.

“I have ten ships…three thousand marines, trained killers ready….”

“There are no ships, there are no marines. Not for much longer anyway…,” he quietly informed the captain.

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Creed turned to his coterie. “Amusing aren’t they? Their worlds will make a unique addition to the Empire.”

“Make them comfortable for the time being. Tell the kitchen there will be twelve for dinner.”

He turned and faced the deflated Fleet Captain. “Remind the chef, I like mine rare.” He graced the men with a quick winsome smile. Rows of pointed teeth flashed wickedly in the waning light. The Viceroy turned and walked lightly from the room.

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