Author : Julian Miles

I opened a channel to the Finnvael;

“This is Handler Orchus, what is your intent within the Olympus Theocracy?”

The long silver needle rotated itself rapidly to orient at least nine firepoints on me. Well, that was a clue.

“Orchus, this is Captain Rufus Hartnell of the Sol Three Alliance. We are coming to offer assistance with your situation.”

No honourific. Rude, but acceptable and allowing an informal stance.

“Thank you, Ser Hartnell. But we do have the situation, as you put it, in hand. It happens every couple of centuries and we have procedures to deal with it.”

There was a chuckle over the channel. Rufus sounded like someone I could get to like over a tankard of ale or two.

“Orchus, my respects to your Theocrats, but a rampaging war machine that threatens S3A vessels demands our intervention.”

My scans came back at last, void eagles are quick but a light year or two still requires noticeable travel time. I ran a quick eye over the details: Twenty-two thousand marines in full atmosphere armour, twenty-eight atmospheric sky fortresses, one hundred and ten near orbit interdictors, fifty-two open space cruisers. I tapped my gauntleted hand on the console. Hardly a cargo for assailing a single space bound monstrousity. Then my eye lit on the last line; Sixteen planetary pacification drones. Ah-ha. As my ancestors would say; “Gotcha.”

“Captain, I see that your ordinance is architected for planetary governance.”

There was a startled silence, then I caught a few words before the channel was cut.

“Dammitall, how do they do that?”

My console emitted a ruddy glow as my Ares meters went critical. Oh, they were trying this again, were they? So be it. As the Finnvael unloaded an indecent amount of violence at my tiny, unarmed ship I switched channels to one only the Handler ships are permitted. Despite the gravity of the situation and the way my ship rocked under the onslaught, I smiled as a deeply primitive bond was renewed.

“Here boy.”

Behind the Finnvael, something quicksilver manifested, an impossible immensity, a masterpiece of nanofluid, cryonic majesty and void. Great eyes spun with whorls of red as my lifelong duty, companion and terror sank all three sets of molecularly phased teeth into Captain Hartnell’s doomed command. I felt my smile turn to feral joy. It would be like a puppy for months after this, something so big that it could use all of its heads, plus hundreds of bits to be chased across near-space as they flailed, died or fled.


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