Breeding

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.
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Picture of Trilliu HunterThe Creator, Confale, sat patiently while his leaders outlined the current casualties and losses. He was disappointed by the staggering defeats at the hands of the Acriend. The perverted and grotesque creatures were winning, and Confale didn’t know how to stop them.

His creations, the Trilliu, were an insect race that had mastered chemical and biological weapons, but the Acriend were immune to nearly everything they threw at them. If it didn’t kill them, they quickly adapted, coming back stronger. Clearly that approach was not working, and they needed something new.

Physically, the Trilliu and Acriend were well matched. However, the Trilliu hierarchy placed them at a disadvantage. Their soldiers were too dependent on orders and could not act independently. When in dire situations, they hunkered down in defensive postures awaiting orders that would never come. Then, the Acriend would pick them off one by one. They could not win a war of attrition regardless of how high they cranked up reproduction. It took time to grow a soldier, and time was no longer a luxury they enjoyed. They needed to make a change, but what?

Confale understood how to fix the soldiers, but following the rules of the contest would take thousands of generations to breed the required changes in. They didn’t have that time, and he didn’t have the patience. Still, he would not break the rules to gain advantage. The repercussions of that mistake would probably lose the war. He had to work within the system using what was available now.

He stared at the insect leaders intently, his face registering the frustration from their lack of creativity. They were excellent managers, wonderful leaders in battle, but faced with adapting or dying, the latter was most likely. Were they doomed? He didn’t want to face that possibility, but the writing was on the wall. Dreading that outcome, he refocused on the current leader who had just mentioned something about scientists.

“What did you say, General Ikknid?” Confale asked, his curiosity piqued. He was desperate and wasn’t afraid to show it.

“My lord,” Ikknid said deferentially, “I apologize, but I promised my lead scientist I would ask if you would allow him to propose a new weapon they have been working on. Unfortunately, he did not reveal details to me, but he assures me it will help in the war effort. Again, I apologize for interrupting the proceedings to ask you entertain this request.” He bowed his head. “I will tell him you are not interested in new weapons at this moment.”

Confale was excited. “Nonsense! I will hear this presentation, and if it displeases me, I will deal him just retribution!” The scientists were the only ones within the Trilliu hierarchy that possessed any form of creativity. If a solution existed, they might have the answers. Unfortunately, up till now they relied heavily on chemical and biological weaponry that had both risks and drawbacks. He expected the same but was willing to hear them out. “Show him in, General.” He ordered.

General Ikknid accessed a communication console and called for his lead scientist with a raspy voice. Confale hoped for something new and exciting, but feared it would be nothing more than the same. Or worse, a way to speed up soldier reproduction. Though that would not be a horrible discovery, it certainly wouldn’t change the tide of the conflict.

After waiting a few minutes, the door to the conference room opened, and a lone scientist entered. His diminutive size was overshadowed by the larger leaders sitting around the table. Despite this handicap, he stood tall and arrogant before the committee.

His eyes locked with Confale, and he bowed deeply. “My lord, thank you for allowing me to present this idea.”

Confale waved a hand. “Yes, get on with it, we have much to do.”

The creature walked to a viewer against the back wall and displayed an image. It looked like a soldier, but possessed distinct differences. For one, it lacked the pronounced proboscis of the traditional solider, and its legs were shorter. It almost looked like a scientist crossed with a soldier.

“Behold the future of our race.” The scientist announced arrogantly, but Confale was curious.

“What is this we are looking at?” The god asked ominously.

The scientist didn’t hesitate. “It is my progeny.” He said casually.

“What!” General Ikknid screeched across the table, rising to his feet. “You have been conducting illegal breeding with scientists and have the nerve to bring it before your god?” He nearly flew over the table to get to his brash underling. “I will shred your insolent, insignificant soul to pieces!”

As he grabbed the small scientist by an appendage to carry out his threat, Confale stopped him. “Let him continue, General.”

“But, my Lord, he has broken the sacred covenant of breeding in our species!” The General complained. “This cannot be permitted!”

Heads around the table nodded in sympathy with General Ikknid, but their god stood his ground. “Let him finish, General.”

An aura of light surrounded Confale, letting General Ikknid know his impatience. The General quickly released the scientist and resumed his seat. “Yes, my Lord.”

Confale stared at the small creature spouting blasphemy before his god and the highest leaders of their race. The creature had incredible nerve, knowing he might meet his death simply by uttering the forbidden. Confale almost laughed as he thought about all the scientists rallying behind the idea, trying to choose who would present. It was a miracle General Ikknid had promised them he would ask for an audience. It was certain the General regretted that decision while he simmered silently.

“What is your name, Scientist?” Confale asked.

The scientist stared directly at the god as he answered. “I am Kiktik, my Lord.”

“Very well, Kiktik.” Confale said graciously. “I am listening.”

The scientist continued presenting his heresy, shocking the leaders around the table with his words. He admitted that scientists from several colonies had communicated behind the backs of their leaders for some time, conspiring to breed with females, strictly forbidden though not impossible. Unlike workers and soldiers within a colony, scientists were not sterile and could reproduce. However, to maintain proper hierarchy within the colonies and avoid splitting the race into two different subspecies, the commandment to prevent scientists from breeding had been put in place, largely at the request of the leaders.

But these rogue scientists had illegally worked on a new genetic code that mixed the best of the scientists with the best of the leaders. The result, the progeny displayed before them. The scientist proudly rattled off details about its creation. One thing was certain, they prevented the new breed from being spawned by existing leaders. Though Kiktik touted biological reasons for this restriction, Confale doubted such a thing existed, and realized the scientists were using this as a guise to begin their own breeding program, something they had desired for a long time.

Confale stopped Kiktik’s prattling. “Why is your progeny the future of our race?” He asked.

“They possess the intelligence of our leaders and scientists, yet the fighting reflexes of our solidiers.” Kiktik said excitedly. “They are no longer dependent on active orders to be an effective fighting force!”

General Ikknid could no longer maintain his silence. “Which translates into a mutinous army, creating a wedge in our colonies that will destroy us! This is why we banned this breeding long ago!”

Confale raised a hand to silence the General before turning towards Kiktik. “Is that all?”

Kiktik eyed the General warily before answering. “No, my Lord, they are nearly as strong as the traditional solider, yet require less nutrition and space to house them. They are slightly larger than I am.”

Confale considered what he was hearing, a new breed with all the advantages of the soliders but none of their weaknesses. “Breeding time?” He asked.

“Sorry, my Lord, but these take longer than the traditional solider, though we have tried to speed it up.” The scientist admitted. “About twenty percent more time to reach training maturity.”

Confale was excited. Though he preferred shorter reproductive cycles, this was something he could use to assuage the leaders. If they were not afraid of being overrun by this new breed, he might be able to sell them without the inevitable civil war. “How do you propose they be used?”

“Field leaders, my Lord.” Kiktik said brashly. “And as part of a newly developed mechanized unit.”

Excellent! Confale thought, we finally have something that might change the course of the war. But they would have to tread carefully to maintain the natural order within the colonies. “I see.” He said neutrally. “Explain this mechanized unit to me.”

Kiktik outlined a new series of vehicles based off designs captured from worlds they now possessed. He went on about the effect these new vehicles could have if properly used by an intelligent soldier capable of acting independently or as part of a cohesive unit. Confale knew the Acriend could be overpowered with appropriate technology, especially when fighting ground forces.

Though the Trilliu employed adequate technology, they were hardly a mechanized military. To date, only spacecraft were used extensively with any success against the Acriend. The large Acriend were ineffective pilots and relied heavily on captured slaves to fly their craft. Though the Trilliu soldiers weren’t significantly better at piloting such craft, they were more effective than those forced to fly for the Acriend.

Now, with an intelligent force to guide their vehicles, they might finally be capable of putting the Acriend back on their heels for a change. At the very least, they could hold their own until something else came their way.

He stopped the scientist once more. “Thank you, Kiktik, you are dismissed.”

The scientist looked confused but left without a word. Confale waited until the creature had left the room before speaking to his leaders.

General Ikknid didn’t wait. “My lord, you are not seriously considering this threat to our kind, are you?”

Confale eyed them all, his soft expression revealing the answer. Though he admired the Trilliu, he had never desired to look as they did. The body he created when interacting with the Trilliu was from another race he’d created long ago. Though the race no longer existed, he loved and missed their beautiful appearance.

“Not only do I seriously consider it, I mandate it!” He said with authority, the glowing aura surrounding him underscoring his intent. “I understand your misgivings and concerns for the safety of the race, but I think you are overlooking something crucial. Without something new and radical, your race is on a path to extinction, and I won’t prevent that from happening!”

The General eyed his colleagues as they mulled over their god’s comments. Confale wasn’t interested in waiting for a debate on the subject and tired of their presence. “You will submit a proposal for how this new breed will be integrated into the colonies and our military. I want them integrated soon before there is nothing left to integrate with!” He waved his hand towards the door. “Leave me.”

The leaders remained silent as they filed out of the room, leaving their god to his musings. They would gather elsewhere, plotting how to integrate the new breed while maintaining their status quo within the hierarchy. They feared upheaval, but they feared their god even more.

As the last leader left, Confale thought long and hard about the conflict. In the beginning, he had been certain the hardy, organized Trilliu would prevail against any who came up against them. They had successfully swarmed their home galaxy, establishing colonies on nearly every habitable planet. They were wicked efficient, and possessed an uncanny understanding of the biological world. But they met a difficult foe in the Acriend, and they needed to adapt or die.

He thought briefly about the consequences of losing and shuddered. He would do whatever it took to prevent that. If this heretical new breeding program was the answer, then damn the status quo.

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