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.
Hammot waited patiently while the technicians completed their setup. They were not Acriend but one of the many slave species the Acriend had acquired over the millennia. They were weak but possessed a powerful intellect and ability to manage the enormous technological infrastructure the Acriend Armies needed to succeed. Their service was exemplary, but they would never participate in the fruits of their labors and would always be an enslaved species.
The Acriend were Hammot’s chosen people and he had gambled everything that he was that they could succeed where the others failed. Now however, the Trilliu were making a comeback with the introduction of the Hunters within the hive. They possessed keen intellect, moderate power, and definite speed and dexterity on the battlefield, a change that was claiming more and more Acriend worlds. As the leader of his Acriend, he had to make hard choices and force them into an evolutionary change that would be difficult at best, impossible at worst.
The Acriend were a merciless species on the battlefield, their power and fighting techniques legendary across many galaxies. He was proud of them and knew they could succeed in this ultimate battle between the gods. However they suffered from one peculiarity that might soon prove their downfall. For millennia this peculiarity had almost been an advantage as their unquenchable lust led them to conquer more and more worlds. But now, that lust was making them soft and they no longer yearned after new worlds and species to quench their thirst. It had bred complacency and laziness within their ranks.
He knew their perversions were a weakness over the long run as they prevented them from holding worlds as equals rather than as slave pools. The Acriend had been fighting for millennia and still possessed no ally. Hammot keenly watched the other galaxy where the Issgire and Leran waged a battle of who could recruit the greatest number of the local populace to fight their battles. The Acriend and the Trilliu would never survive against either of those armies if they did not embrace this new model of warfare. But his Acriend could never embrace it as long as their perversions controlled their interactions with other species. The Acriend had no respect for other species and treated them as nothing more than slaves or sexual toys to be discarded when they had served their limited purpose.
But today, Hammot would begin the transformation from a perverted race of animal warriors to a tempered, focused, elite force that was no longer a slave to hedonistic appetites. He had worked with a handpicked team of female Acriend and slave species to mold a new warrior. They had created an elite force of over twenty thousand Acriend that new nothing of their perverted cousins waging war throughout the galaxy. Since birth, these warriors had been raised in isolation from their brethren and taught self-restraint.
To satisfy their natural animal lust, they were rewarded sexual slaves, but the sexual acts they were permitted were more natural and non-violent. Many, as they matured, even elected to take on a permanent Acriend female as their mate, something their species had not seen in millions of years. But their most prized attribute was their self-restraint, and it was prized over all other diversions and redirected their sexual energy into fighting abilities twice that of an average Acriend warrior.
To hone these skills, actual Acriend warriors were brought to fight them. These fallen Acriend warriors had no idea what was going on but willingly waged battles to the death with these new warriors as they believed their misfortune was sport for their god. Thousands had been slaughtered as the new Acriend warriors proved more capable than their compatriots. Hammot saw a burgeoning higher class warrior forming and soon he would unleash them on the Trilliu and change the tide of the war. These twenty thousand warriors would operate independently from the rest of the Acriend Armies, and when their success became known throughout the Acriend Empire, he would be able to recruit the rest of the Acriend to this new philosophy.
It was a philosophy that placed him at the center of their lives. They were devout followers of their Creator, and he shared with them the secrets of how to secure a future of happiness and plenty both in this life and in the afterlife. This was a new concept for the Acriend, but so far his elite warriors had embraced it. With this devotion came prayer and meditation, a desire to better one’s self physically and mentally, and a newfound belief that they would inherit the Universe and rule side by side with their Creator.
He had cobbled together a collection of rituals and devotionals from a variety of species within his multitude of galaxies, blending the best of each one into a philosophy that his new Acriend could embrace and evolve with to become more than animals. Education beyond fighting techniques was emphasized as well as healthy mental activities, physical exercise, and respect for other species. Though slaves were still an integral part of their society, they were taught to respect their slaves and treat them well so they in turn would treat the Acriend well. It was a fine balance, but put within the context of their new philosophy, it worked.
A side benefit was more productive slaves who now enjoyed greater luxury than previous generations. Instead of the dank dungeons of old, these new slaves enjoyed familial dwellings where healthy families could grow and bring forth a more content generation that would further the army’s cause. It was truly the dawn of a new day for the Acriend species and Hammot believed it might be enough to take this war to his logical conclusion.
A technician signaled the system was ready for his use. He placed the microphone on his robe and walked out onto the balcony of the palace on his secret world of the new Acriend. Arrayed before him were his elite warriors clothed in uniforms, hair neat and groomed, standing at attention before their god. He raised his arms and lowered them to signal everyone to their knees with heads bowed.
“For too long my people have been lost in the wilderness, succumbing to their natural hungers without a care for what that was doing to their souls. They had no focus other than between their legs and they strayed from their roots in favor of this lust. You have brought those roots back to your species and you are embarking on a great quest to spread this newfound religion to your peers who are still lost. You understand how this lust makes you weaker and you have honed this natural source of energy into making yourself greater than any Acriend before you.”
“Our war still wages against the insect hoard that would destroy us all, but you will prevail against this plague and clear this galaxy of their presence forever. You will go forth and make allies to help us in our cause. They will fear us and not take up our battle standard easily, but you, my chosen ones, will show them the light and path to their own freedom from the alien hive taking over their galaxy. We have much work to do and much to show your lost brethren. Tomorrow your ships will take you on this quest, and the name of your god will resonate throughout the Universe through your actions.”
He paused as the crowd below chanted his name in reverence. He looked on proud as they focused their energies on the task before them. They were his finest creations and he would richly reward them when this contest was finally won.
“Through you, my will is done, and I will reward all those who choose the path of the righteousness. You can become more than you are and stand next to your god proud of all you have accomplished now and in the afterlife. You are my chosen people and I will support you as you support me. We can win this contest and you are the sword that will bring forth this victory.”
They chanted his name again, the sound booming off the walls of his palace, vibrating his chest. It was glorious and he drank it in, savoring the power and devotion of this new army.
“Stand my people and feel my blessing as your prepare for your journey.” He raised his arms and sent a wave of energy through his people, a wave of power that raised their hopes and aspirations as they basked in the glow of their god.
“Go forth and cleanse the galaxy, I shall join you before your first encounter.”
The crowd erupted in an applause that shook the core of the planet as he waved one last time before turning back to his palace. Beware Hunters, my followers have been unleashed. He thought coldly.