Deception

This Science Fiction short story is a lead-up to the book titled, Onyalum Wars. The book is part of the Science Fiction Onyalum Series written by NB VanYoos.

Picture of IssgireNisru waited patiently for Vanscree permission to land. This was a diplomatic mission, so Nisru brought only the basic armaments allowed his personal guards. Even the guards were predominantly ceremonial, a necessary evil for any controlling military leader.

Nisru was the Prime Adjutar of the 28th Quadrant Issgire Legion. They were notoriously commanding of their sectors and often paid diplomatic visits to keep their finger on the pulse of the region.

The Issgire were a proud reptilian race, the oldest in the galaxy. But they were at war, and though they had dominated and subjugated their home galaxy eons ago, the new conflict proved tricky as the foe infiltrated dominated territories, spreading unrest. Head on, the Leran were formidable, but now many of their forces went underground, native, hidden. It was a twisted aspect of the Leran that disturbed Danirdan, the Issgire God Nisru followed without question.

The Issgire were also deadly in combat. Their technological prowess and uncanny intelligence had conquered a galaxy, but now they were up against an enemy that could change their shape as easily as one changed clothes. It was unnatural, and the depth of their infiltration could not be fully measured. Was every system that turned against the Issgire under the control of the enemy or were they only exercising their rights to freedom after centuries of Issgire domination? It was disturbing to Danirdan, so it was disturbing to Nisru.

He hoped the Vanscree had not been infiltrated. He stared at the silent picture of the blue-green globe spinning tirelessly below their ship. They were a peaceful people. They had even helped the Issgire with neighboring systems during the early years of conflict. Nisru considered them a friend. Then, why was he so nervous?

The tactics had changed. Massive battles and now civil unrest, the Leran had created a two-front war the Issgire were unprepared to fight. Nisru knew he should be planning a defensive against the inevitable invasion in the 28th Quadrant—his quadrant! Instead, he was trying to reassure the restless populace that all was well and that the Issgire would continue to protect them, continue to help them, continue to lead them. For some systems, rumors of war with the Leran were all they needed for impetus in a revolt against the oppressive Issgire. For others, it was a rally cry to defend and assist the Issgire.

Which are you? Nisru thought coldly as he peered at the large monitor on his bridge.

The two escort ships sat idly while political communications continued. The delay seemed unusual for the normally friendly and open Vanscree. Though warning bells went off in Nisru’s head, he stood his ground. Surely it wouldn’t come to fighting, that would only tip the enemy’s hand.

What is taking so long? He thought angrily. “Captain, please send another request and emphasize my displeasure at having to wait so long.”

“Yes, Prime.” The Captain replied as he signaled the communication officer.

Nisru waited, listening to the exchange with their contact below. He overheard something about a security concern and delay because of a local celebration in the capital city. Nisru did not care about such trivial things, his guards could handle anything these people could muster.

“Captain.” He said quietly. “We have been delayed long enough, please slowly proceed to the landing coordinates.”

The Captain smiled. “Yes, Prime.”

Nisru watched the ballet as the bridge crew executed his orders, beginning the descent to the surface.

If they are hiding something, this will reveal it quickly.       A smug expression filled his cold features.

The ship moved through the military escorts towards the surface. Nisru imagined the Captains on those escort ships wondering how to respond to this obvious breach in orders. He laughed quietly. He knew they remembered the early conflicts and how deadly the Issgire could be in battle. They would stay their hands unless treachery was the game. The ship descended into the atmosphere as a warm glow spread around the hull, obscuring the image of the planet.

So far, so good. He relaxed slightly.

Suddenly, the radio blared orders to desist their illegal entry into the Vanscree planetary atmosphere. The commanding voice sounded like an officer from one of the military escort ships. The crew looked to Nisru who signaled to ignore the pleas.

How far are you willing to take this? He silently challenged the ships.

Alarms blared through the bridge as the ship’s sensors detected incoming weapon fire. Without orders, the Captain executed evasive maneuvers as he took care of his ship and its exulted cargo. Nisru watched silently, proud of the Captain and his highly trained crew.

So, you are willing to fire upon a diplomatic ship on a diplomatic mission? He thought with despair. He had always liked the Vanscree, but perhaps they had over-enjoyed Issgire favor. Too bad not everything is as it seems, my old friends!

“Captain, initiate cloak and begin reconnaissance of the planetary surface.” Nisru ordered, falling back on his secondary game plan.

He flipped a communications switch on his armrest and contacted the rest of the fleet. Within seconds, military cruisers and assault landing ships would appear in the space above this world. Nisru would not allow the takeover of this world, even if cost the entire planet.

One less system to watch and worry!

As the Captain cleared the upper atmosphere and began his planetary search, the display changed to a list of the results from each scan. As suspected, new technology and embattlements had been erected since their last visit.

If only the idiots knew we could cloak. He thought. They probably think they destroyed us!

The count continued to climb as new military installations and force buildups ticked off on the display.

“Captain, take us to that location.” He pointed to an item the sensors indicated was unknown technology.You have been busy, my friends.

Within minutes, the ship hovered thousands of feet above the location. Cameras zoomed in on the unusual platform. It was definitely not local design.

Where did you get this? He thought darkly. Is this Leran technology?

They were still learning which technology was Leran and which was not. They possessed such a wide spectrum of technology, it was a confusing array of platforms. Was this another of their stolen designs? He took over control of the camera and scanned the area. Nothing looked familiar, but it all looked alien. Movement to his left caught his attention and he refocused the camera on a large aperture opening in what looked like an ordinary runway.

What do you have hidden here? The situation called for caution. “Captain, double our altitude, it looks like they may be launching a ship.”

“You think they can see us?” The Captain asked as he relayed the order.

Nisru didn’t think so, but he didn’t want them to find his ship by chance. If you knew how, you could find a cloaked ship, but you needed to understand how cloaking worked to make that happen. It was one of the most guarded secrets in the Issgire arsenal.

“I don’t think so, Captain, but caution is always prudent when confronted with something new.”

The aperture fully opened to reveal a dark hole. Nothing happened, and Nisru was beginning to believe it was nothing more than an underground maintenance entrance for aircraft. His console began to blink as an incoming communication from his fleet appeared.

“Yes, Second?” He asked his Second Adjutar.

“Prime, we have taken out the two ships in orbit and have set up a defensive position in case they send more.”

“Very good, Second.” Nisru said mildly. “Maintain readiness … and if anything happens to us, execute final protocol.”

“Yes, Prime.” The Second responded without question.

Nisru hoped it wouldn’t come to final protocol, but an infiltrated planet could not be tolerated. He glanced back at the screen and the gaping hole in the facility below them. No more ships had been launched, no action had been taken, perhaps the Captain in the escort ship had jumped the gun when he fired and they were trying to figure out how to back down from the escalation.

Nisru began to give orders to continue searching, but stopped as something moved within the dark hole. A large platform was being raised from beneath the ground. Nisru didn’t recognize it, was it some sort of sensor? It was round and looked like a primitive radar dome. What is that?

A blue light glowed around the domed device, and Nisru realized too late it was a weapon. Damn, the Vanscree had been compromised! He didn’t have to say a word as the Captain realized the threat and ordered an immediate retreat to the safety of the fleet. The camera remained targeted on the glowing orb as their ship shot higher into the sky.

Suddenly, a burst of light shot from the dome, racing towards their escaping ship.  Nisru hoped they had not been detected and that they were only firing on the cruisers overhead. An alarm claxon rang as it became apparent they were the target. Crafty bastards! Nisru thought as he braced for impact.

The Second Adjutar of the 28th Quadrant Issgire Legion watched helplessly as the Prime’s ship was engulfed in a blue light that disengaged the cloak before it tore through the hull, shredding the ship like paper. He was stunned by the shear strength of such a weapon.

They enemy had seen the cloaked ship and destroyed it with a single shot. The fleet would be next.

“All ships open fire.” He ordered calmly. “Final protocol.”

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