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.
Danirdan frowned as he surveyed the devastation on the helpless world. He stood amidst the charred remains next to the Creator Whatherful, the referee in this galactic match. The loss of the planet was a result of a violation of the Codes of Conduct designed when the Creators agreed to this eternal conflict.
His army, the lithe and intelligent Issgire had unwittingly allowed themselves to lose a major shipment of armaments for one of their outposts. Without the needed supplies, the Leran would have crushed their troops mercilessly.
It hadn’t mattered as he eyed the remnants of that outpost. In a fit of anger at his army’s stupidity, he had unleashed his supernatural powers to intervene in the conflict. He knowingly created the missing armaments in the hopes his transgression would go unnoticed. Not only had Whatherful spied his misdeed, but so had his competitor, Kiirgatt, the Creator of the Leran. He despised Kiirgatt as much as the Creator’s loathsome creations, the Leran.
Retribution for his foul was quick and immediate as the planet was instantly cleansed of all his troops. The loss was more than the assets and planet, it was now soiled ground that none could use, thus rendering his troop’s movements even more difficult in that region. He had effectively cut them off from the main front, thus allowing Kiirgatt’s armies to consolidate during the disruption. Now they would have to rethink their strategy, finding another way to penetrate the region. Then again, maybe they would abandon this area in favor of someplace else.
“Of course, Kirrgatt will be allowed to create another planet similar to this one wherever he desires.” Whatherful said in a tone that belied his supposedly non-biased position.
Danirdan cursed himself and the self-righteous Whatherful. “Yes, I am aware of the rules.”
The diminutive figure of Whatherful frowned. “It doesn’t appear you do.” He said with disdain as he spread his arms to take in the scorched landscape.
Danirdan kept his emotions in check as he ignored the jibe. The Creator had the right to gloat, Danirdan was to blame for the situation. Still, his anger simmered below the surface as he replayed fantasies of Kiirgatt after Danirdan won this contest. Nothing could stop his Issgire, not even their god. They were his perfect creation, and he loved them more than anything in this damned Universe. What a waste.
“Anything else?” He asked the smug little creature beside him. He’d taken on the figure of a regal Issgire Prince, fully clothed in fine silks and priceless jewels. It was lavish, but appearance was nearly as important as reality. He often appeared to his own armies in this shape, and he loved the awe and respect it endeared.
Whatherful shifted uncomfortably in his small body, a species Danirdan would extinguish without a thought. What had this Creator created that could compete against his wonderful Issgire? This pathetic being next to him? Hardly!
The Creator opened his mouth to respond. “This system is entirely off limits to you or Kirrgatt. You may not use any resources from it, place troops within it, or even travel through it.”
“Fine.” Danirdan nearly spat, withholding his arm from striking the upstart Creator. He had eons beyond Whatherful and disliked the choice of Whatherful as their referee. He’d had another Creator in mind, one that was more akin to his thinking. Still, Whatherful had been fair in his judging so far, even though Danirdan could tell he sided with Kiirgatt.
Without saying another word, he left the charred planet and returned to the Capital of his precious Issgire. His appearance in the grand hall during a celebratory ball was sudden and frightened many of the courtesans attending. He eyed the Supreme Leader, Lesseti, while ignoring the remonstrations of the rest in the hall.
“We need to discuss the war effort immediately!” He turned from the confused faces and marched out of the grand hall into the interior offices of the Supreme Leader. Without hesitation, he poured a glass of fine wine from the leader’s private bar before taking a seat in one of the posh chairs intended for visiting dignitaries.
Within minutes, Lesseti entered the office as attendants closed the doors behind him. “My Lord, what has happened?” He asked demurely.
Danirdan didn’t always like the man, but his ability to rule the Empire’s populace was invaluable. Unlike Danirdan, Lesseti possessed patience and understanding. He would have to be careful not to offend the man, he still needed his prowess in recruiting and maintaining the captured worlds of this galaxy. Already, many were no longer content under Issgire rule as the Leran worms offered freedom. Freedom? Ha! The Freedom to die of their own accord. The damned worms were liars of the highest degree, and the Issgire Empire was beginning to slip away because of it.
He took a sip, eyeing the leader over the rim of his glass. As he finished, he continued to stare at his beautiful creation. “I have committed an infraction that has cost our effort dearly.”
Lesseti took his god’s admission rather well. “I see.” He said as he went to the bar to grab his own refreshment. As he returned, he looked into his god’s eyes with concern. “What have we lost?”
Danirdan placed his glass down and stood to pace as he confessed the truth. “We had accidentally failed to properly resupply our outpost on Veril-3.” He said calmly while wearing a path in the plush carpet. “They were like fish in a barrel and I simply couldn’t let those damned worms mow them down without a fair fight!”
Lesseti took the news calmly, acclimated to his god’s rash actions. “I see.” He said noncommittally. “And the cost?”
Danirdan sat down. “The whole system and all the assets stationed there. Roughly ten thousand Supreme Pacifiers, two Carriers, and four Battle Elements.”
“Issgire?” Lesseti asked as they typically sent other species to man the fronts while the Issgire waited until the opportune time to engage the enemy.
Danirdan hated to admit the loss, but Lesseti would accept it without question, finding a way to resolve the problem. “Most.”
Lesseti frowned, the creases on his face turning him as feral as his distant ancestors, the top predator of their home world. “I understand. I’ll issue another Proclamation of Procreation and lower the draft age for able males.”
Danirdan hated losing more Issgire, but the loss had to be replaced. “No, only lower the draft for non-Issgire species, but issue the Proclamation of Procreation to all worlds.”
One of the advantages of being a reptilian species was procreation could be nearly instantaneous as females could quickly copulate and produce between one and four eggs. These were often raised in special facilities that groomed them to take over from the previous generations. Without the need to suckle, the young grew quickly under the constant eye of the Empire.
Indoctrination into the Issgire Empire was no small feat, and every single child was groomed to understand they were better than all other creations in the Universe. It was their destiny to win this conflict and inherit much of the known Universe as theirs to do as they please. Danirdan made a mental note to visit a few of these facilities to inspire the young protégé’s who would soon work by his side.
Lesseti interrupted the god’s musings. “Lord, should I increase manufacturing output to make up for the lost assets?”
“No.” Danirdan replied. “We haven’t secured enough resources to increase output just yet.” He downed the rest of his wine, satisfied with the fruit’s calming effects. “I need to speak with the Supreme Adjutar to devise another plan to secure more resources and penetrate Leran controlled space.”
“Shall I attend?” Lesseti asked.
“Yes.” Danirdan said. “But he is currently on the other side of the Empire.”
“Then we shall meet somewhere in between.” Lesseti said.
Danirdan smiled at his creation, proud of the wonderful efficiency of this species. “Yes, I’ll contact you after conferring with Sirussi.”
Lesseti frowned. “He knows of the loss?”
Danirdan stood to leave. “Yes, but I have not spoken with him since.” He paused. “He will be upset.” The news that the Leran had penetrated their cloaking devices was more than the Supreme Adjutar could take, and Danirdan knew the loss of Veril-3 due to a supply blunder would cause heads to roll.
Lesseti bowed gracefully. “My Lord, we are yours to command, and your actions never offend, even if they go counter to the cause.” He stood tall and smiled. “You are perfect in our eyes.”
The honesty and sincere love Danirdan saw in Lesseti’s eyes renewed his purpose and steeled his resolve to ensure the Issgire won this contest. He would monitor his emotions in the future and allow blunders to unfurl without his interventions. He must, as suffering anymore losses like Veril-3 would set them back terribly.
“Thank you, Lesseti.” He bowed himself. “Remember, your god loves you not matter what. You will inherit this Universe, I promise.”
He would carry the memory of Lesseti’s adoration with him as he transitioned across the galaxy to Supreme Adjutar Sirussi. The man would still be upset, but he would quickly recover as his god called upon him to find alternative solutions. It was a setback, but nothing they couldn’t overcome. He had no regrets, this was what he had signed on for, and he would see it through to the end.