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 AcriendHammot 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.


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.

Link to Podcast

Kiirgatt paced calmly in front of the large viewer dominating the ship’s bridge. As Overlord of his Leran, he watched the space battle with confidence. Although his ship rarely engaged in battle, this sneak attack by loyal Issgire allies was actually a blessing as his troops were placed under actual fighting conditions. A practice they needed more often as the war intensified with the Issgire. He never feared the outcome, his armies were more than capable of quelling such upstarts.

If there was anything disturbing in this attack it was that a non-Issgire controlled species orchestrated it. After eons of oppressing all those the Issgire viewed as inferior, the reptiles had changed tactics, matching the Leran’s as they offered greater autonomy to those worlds they possessed, turning the populace against the Leran and their message of peace. As the Leran extended their control through the galaxy, they were discovering more worlds turned by the Issgire, prepared to resist the offer to join the coalition of worlds led by the Leran. The damned reptiles were fighting fire with fire.

Kiirgatt was realistic and understood there was something disturbing about the Leran to other species, and the thought of being replaced by a replica of alien origin was more frightening than subjugation by a hostile reptilian species. The Issgire were exploiting this fact in a brilliant demonstration of their keen intellect. Their success in keeping the worlds they already possessed and recruiting new ones from the millions yet to enter the conflict was slowly turning the outcome of the war in their favor.

Kiirgatt shook his head, the motion elegant in the Dal body he typically created to move among his people. To many within their coalition, the Dal were the Leran. But the Dal were an old species the Leran had conquered billions of years before the war. The two species were so well integrated, very few real Dal survived. Kiigatt made sure the genetic line of the species was kept strong through careful breeding programs designed to strengthen the intellectual capabilities of the species while removing known genetic disorders. Several million actual Dals still existed within their ranks, but they were outnumbered by the billions of Leran that took their forms.

Every Dal knew of their Leran counterparts, accepting their conquest with humility and grace. The two had lived and loved together for too long for animosity to exist. Coupled with the backing of a god, Kiirgatt, the Dals were easy to control, providing the much needed face to the faceless Leran.

A large explosion off the port bow was abruptly followed by alarms throughout the ship as the damage caused a dangerous loss of atmosphere to that portion of the vessel. It was a minor incident, and Kiirgatt signaled the alarms to be silenced on the bridge. He watched as small ships swarmed the gash, quickly affecting repairs from the outside before those within the interior could patch the other side of the wound.

It was astonishing the small ship could penetrate their defenses and crash into a section of their vessel. He made a mental note to analyze the ship’s penetration to understand how it had got through their defensive network. A part of him wondered if it had been a suicide crash or simply a strafing run gone amok. Suicidal ships were not unknown but rarely did significant damage, certainly not enough to offset the cost of a trained pilot and tactical assets.

“Overlord, shall I pull our ship away from the fray while we make repairs?” His fleet Admiral offered.

“Nonsense, Admiral, we are perfectly safe where we are.” He said calmly. “Make sure we analyze the footage on how that ship got past our defenses. Clearly we have holes in our network.”

“Yes, Overlord.” The Admiral said deferentially.

“In fact,” Kiirgatt said ominously, “let’s move the ship closer to their home world, I want to see what they are fighting so viciously for.”

The Admiral relayed the orders with a lift of his brow. Kirrgatt smiled as the large engines came to life, the enormous ship moving forward towards the flash of lights illuminating the battle. The small blue disk of their home world grew in the viewer as he surveyed its tenuous atmosphere, something he could extinguish with only a thought. The planet’s significance to the Leran was location rather than resources. A permanent base on this world would be indispensible for their efforts in this region, and though he hoped to win that base through negotiations and treaties, he would take it with force if necessary.

“Overlord, we have received a preliminary analysis of the damage.” The Admiral said. “There were no life forms on board the ship.”

“Of course, that is how it escaped our network.” Kiirgatt replied. “Only robotic ships can evade our defenses so easily. This is a new threat we must consider. The rules of this war prevent the creation of robotic armies, but only if they are under the direct control of one of the competing species. Clearly they are exploiting a loophole as they form new alliances with other species who are not constrained in employing any army they choose.” He paused as he thought through the ramifications. “Brilliant.” He said in hushed tones.

“Overlord, are you certain we are safe at this distance?” The Admiral grew agitated as the thought of a robotic army made him nervous.

Kiirgatt ignored the question. The Admiral was a real Dal and inherently a coward. “Admiral, take us to their moon and shift our assets to the capture of it. Ignore the planet and focus on the moon.”

“But Overlord, the battle above its surface is far too dangerous for our ship.” The Admiral pleaded.

Although Kiirgatt knew the Admiral spoke some truth, he had to see what facility was producing the robotic fighters. If there was any connection to the Issgire, he could use that to force the hand of Watherful. “Admiral, I want that facility taken at all costs. Is that understood?”

The Admiral bowed as he relayed the appropriate orders to change tactics and targets. Kiirgatt smiled as he watched their assets disengage the planet’s defense system and move towards the moon. Only the moon provided the logical resources for such an operation. Easy to launch from, plentiful raw materials, and few civilian assets made it the ideal base from which to create a robotic army. Even the facility could be completely automated.

However, if they were using any Issgire technology on that base, it would be enough to cry foul on Danirdan. It might cause a forfeiture of the system, but would award Kiirgatt the right to create another world nearby, thus securing the base he needed in this region. He needed that base, intact if possible.

“Admiral, I want ground troops deployed as soon as our carriers are close enough!” He ordered with authority.

“But Overlord, we have not suppressed enough of their defenses to move troops onto the surface.” He protested. “We will lose a great deal of assets if we proceed too quickly.”

Although Kiirgatt was generally calm and level headed, his desire to prevent the destruction of that base overrode his normal demeanor. “Admiral, while I appreciate your tactical capabilities under normal battle conditions, this is not a normal battle situation and we must not allow that base to be destroyed either through our actions or our inactions. If that is too difficult for you to fathom, I will replace you!”

The man realized what replacement meant, a Leran duplicating his DNA, disposing of his body when complete. The Admiral shook his head and issued the orders with haste and authority. If they were lucky, they could stop the base’s self-destruction as the locals realized they could not withstand Leran troops. It was evident they had not created too many of the robotic vessels to have a meaningful impact, but the question remained, did the Issgire help them construct the facility, and if so, did they make sure it could not be captured?

Within minutes, their ship took up a position orbiting the moon. It was frenzied chaos below them as the smaller, outgunned locals put up an impressive defense of their base. Unfortunately, they would lose the battle. Kiirgatt watched as several drop ships disengaged from their carriers and headed to the moon’s surface. The base was visible below them, powerful guns peppering the space above it with hostile fire as they attempted to repel the invaders.

At least a dozen drop ships descended as one of them exploded in a fantastic fireball that knocked another off course and into one of the carriers. The damage to the carrier was too much as the ship split in half and began its slow spiral to the moon below. Damn! Kiirgatt swore under his breath as the Admiral’s predictions began to unfurl. It was an expensive blow, but he held onto his belief the capture of the base would be worth it.
He felt the vibrations as his own ship’s powerful guns were brought online to take out enemy emplacements on the surface. He could already see several of the drop ships landing, their troops rapidly deploying to protect the other ships following close behind. Kiirgatt smiled, they were going to succeed.

Another explosion sounded alarms as another robotic ship pierced their defenses and inflicted more damage to their hull. It was also minor, but they couldn’t withstand an infinite number of such strikes. He ignored the alarms, content to let them ring as the pitch of the battle intensified. The sound would rally his troops to battle, ensuring they stayed on their game to acquire their god’s prize.

He watched the monitor as ground forces mounted an attack of the base’s perimeter. Although most of the troops were neither Dal nor Leran, they were a loyal and powerful species that never failed to acquire their targets once dug into a world. He watched as a phalanx of the units broke through the perimeter and made their way into the guts of the base. He would soon travel to the surface to survey his hard won conquest.

A blinding light erupted from the position of the base, a monstrous fire ball clawing its way into space as if to grasp his ship in its deadly embrace. As the explosion subsided, only a blackened scar stretched for hundreds of miles across the moon’s surface. Millions of his troops were annihilated as the base was permanently cleansed. They were too late, but it confirmed what he had suspected. The Issgire were helping to build the facilities, covering their tracks with self-destructive devices that vaporized all evidence. He would talk to Watherful about this deceit, but without proof, it might be in vain.

He shook his head in disgust for the assets they had spent in the valiant attempt. “Admiral, please contact their home world and begin negotiations.” He said quietly. “We have both lost enough for today.”

“Yes, Overlord.”



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 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.

No Regrets

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 IssgireDanirdan 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.

Does it ever get easier?

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 AcriendDoes it ever get easier? The question ran through Hammot’s mind without answer. Would it get easier? In some ways he hoped it would so he could put aside his guilt and face the challenges without doubt. As a Creator, he was conditioned to filling the universal void with life and prosperity but now he was involved in its destruction.

In the beginning, it had all seemed like such a great idea. He had grown bored with creating and yearned for the excitement inherent in the war games. He wanted to experience how his counterpart, the Onyalum, thrived on destruction and chaos.

Was chaos bad? Was death bad? Everything recycled, so what was the point of saving them? The war games only made the inevitable happen more quickly.

If it was destroyed, you made more. If they were killed, more would be born to take their place. Hammot had come to believe life was a disease within the Universe—a plague spreading throughout creation, consuming or destroying everything in its path. Once it took root, you couldn’t pull it out or control it. Hammot knew of other Creators who had tried, but ultimately, they failed as their creations evolved beyond their reach.

Hammot was one of the oldest Creators in existence and understood how age soured you on the wonders and excitement of creating new worlds and civilizations. He had created billions during his lifetime, and all had turned away from him, spurning his love and leadership when he needed them most. What had life given him? Nothing!

And now? Now he led a beastly army of barely intelligent warriors consumed by their greed and avarice. They only wanted to consume and bask in the sinful pleasures of the flesh. They worshiped him, but only to attain that which they desired. He was a means to an end, not the reason for their existence. He learned to ignore their perverse pleasures as he focused on the games at hand. He gave them what they wanted because they gave him what he needed, a reason to exist.

“My Lord, shall we deploy?”

Hammot ignored General Grund’s pleadings. Ever since the man became possessed by the Onyalum, Esral, he had quickly moved up in rank and position. Hammot despised the Onyalum even as he used them in the war games. He’d spent an eternity trying to weed them out of his creations, and now they were an integral part of his campaign. Without their intelligence, his armies would have been vanquished long ago. Their brutish strength but underdeveloped brains made them fierce in hand to hand combat and useless in anything else. This was a battle of wits, and his creations had none. Only the Onyalum provided the missing ingredient for his army’s success.

“My Lord?”

Hammot loved making General Grund angry with the god he was indebted to. They had forged a deal long ago, and both had kept up their end of the bargain, so far. Hammot wondered what the Onyalum would do if he backed out of the agreement? Would the creature march to the competitors and offer up all the intelligence about Hammot’s army? Probably. Onyalum loyalty went only as far as their desires. Take away what motivated them, and they would gladly turn on you. Perverse torture was what motivated General Grund.

He raised his hand, palm up, to indicate patience. The General grimaced through his beastly features and turned back to the large display of his fleet awaiting orders not forthcoming. Hammot smiled mischievously. He loved these rare moments when everything rested on his decision. But would it get easier? Did it really matter? Did he care enough about anything to justify his guilt? They were just pieces in a great cosmic game. Pawns in the ultimately match of power and intelligence.

But what of the innocents? What role did they play in the war games. Victims! That was their fate, to live a pitiful life and find it extinguished by nothing more than a simple command. Was it fair? Was it right? Who decided such things anyway? A Creator? Why not? They created the life around them, was not that life forfeit upon their whims? Did they deserve anything less than that? To satisfy a Creator’s desires was the ultimate sacrifice to their god. They should rejoice in the opportunity to serve in whatever capacity their Creator saw fit.

It didn’t wash, and he understood this. That was why the guilt would never go away, why the decisions got harder and not easier. Innocence was precious and he should have been sworn to protect it at all costs. Instead, he disregarded it as nothing more than a nuisance in his conscience, a thing that made his war games harder to play. He should feel shame for the actions he and his fellow competitors engaged in. Shame for abandoning his creations to play toy soldiers on a cosmic scale. He felt shame.

He got out of his seat to stand beside General Grund. “Why is this move necessary, General?”

The General was perturbed by the god’s presence as he responded through gritted teeth. “We have discussed this already, my Lord, and you understand why this is necessary.”

“Humor me, General.” Hammot replied, relishing the uncomfortable position the Onyalum found himself in.

General Grund stood straight, knowing when to give in. “We have consumed all valuable resources and lost all strategic advantages when the Trilliu were destroyed on Santion.” He stopped hoping his explanation was sufficient. It was not. “If we don’t do this, it may breed rebels that could help the enemy retake important assets.”

Assets. The word held such a powerful meaning in the war games, but meant so little in the cosmic scheme of life. The Universe hadn’t created the gods to make toys out of the heavens. They were supposed to fill the void with life that would flourish forever. Now, that life was reduced to assets.

“Thank you, General.” Hammot retook his seat and stared blankly at the display. So many vessels, so many weapons, it was enough to destroy half the galaxy. But that wouldn’t win the match, only make it harder. The decision was not getting any easier or his guilt any less. Shame was the crown he wore on his head, and it dug deep into his consciousness, spoiling the core of his existence. Was this the end of a Creator? Brought down by his own inadequacies?

He made up his mind. “You may deploy, General.”

The tiny light on the display moving meticulously towards the planet was a global death sentence. Nothing would survive except maybe a few insects, but they were too small for the enemy to recruit.