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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Rebirth

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 LeranSaterque dumped the body into the iron tub, now a cauldron of chemicals. His transformation was underway, and his strength waned in the searing pain wracking his body. The lifeless form brewing in the tub is all that remains of his latest conquest. The man was a fool, and Saterque was happy to take over the wasted life. Saterque was one of a thousand infiltrators sent to seed the future allies of the Leran, a shape shifting species led by the Creator Kiirgatt.

Their shape shifting abilities were far from what most imagined. Starting as nothing more than a tiny embryo seeded into a rodent, their true forms became little more than the brainstem of that first host.

Descended from a viral agent long ago, they developed into the complex organism able to transform into any being who’s DNA they acquired. The process was arduous, parts growing far faster than normal, while obsolete parts were discarded in bloody heaps. They didn’t take over their victims, they cloned them down to the DNA.

Depending on the transformational complexity and size differential, the process could take from twelve to thirty-six hours, and they were vulnerable during that time. This was why they had to be so meticulous when planning an invasion. Victims had to be identified, studied, and eventually isolated from prying eyes for the takeover to be successful.

Saterque was currently six hours into the transformation and his pain grew nearly unbearable. He’d accepted this mission years before, first scouting the planet and finding a suitable target. The rest was pure research. He studied their language, their culture, their habits, and favorite foods. He immersed himself in their lives, watching from afar, plotting the day he would take over. He smiled, imagining the similarities between his species and those damned Onyalum.

Did the demons feel this awful pain when they took over? He wasn’t certain how they worked, and thankfully, had not worked with any since joining the Infiltration Division. It was lonely work, but he preferred working alone. This was his third assignment since joining, and so far, he’d never been detected.

Doubling over, he vomitted a bloody pile on the floor as his body disposed of superfluous organs, replacing them with the new matrix of the host DNA. He was changing into a larger, more powerful species, and his body ached with hunger as it sought fresh nutrients to build new flesh. He opened his trunk, pulling another vial of a specially formulated brew needed to complete the transformation. He threw up once more before quickly drinking the contents. His body reacted instantly, absorbing and allocating the resources as it rebuilt the victim cell by cell.

The Leran species had no real form of their own. Since the dawn of their evolution, they had taken over hosts, destroying the body after they replicated and moved on. It was violent and destructive, and prevented them from achieving their true potential. But somewhere along the way, natural selection, or the hand of their god chose a new path for the Leran, a path where they cloned their host, integrating into the society, living off their culture as one of their own. It was a false life but successful over the eons they had survived.

He pulled on his arms, skin sloughing off as new epidermis replaced the old. The pain forced a scream into the silence, nearly causing him to black out. I must stay focused! He thought wildly, grabbing another vial and drinking heavily. The loss of consciousness would be a death sentence if his transformation wasn’t near completion. He had to stay awake and focus on keeping his body fed.

Through bleary vision, he struggled to count the remaining vials. Would it be enough? He had made all the calculations, checking them multiple times before the big day. It would have to be enough. The viscous mixture was necessary to provide all the building blocks without the need to digest. Eating was no longer adequate for their species during transformations as they adapted and evolved into the rapid cloners of today. It was this evolution that allowed them to conquer their home galaxy, now millions of light years away.

But it was worth it, this battle to claim victory for their god. Finish the job, and they would inherit the ultimate prize from Kiirgatt, their own identity. He’d promised them a fresh matrix all their own, a form and identity they would use to rule the galaxies. All would bow before them, the mighty Leran, a true species at last. Beautiful, powerful, and imbued with the experience of a million generations. All would bow to them.

Their ability to manipulate DNA brought them nearly eternal life. Repair and replacement of damaged DNA was a simple feat while taking over the new form of their host. Their core being, the brainstem, was all that aged, and it aged slowly. Saterque was over two thousand years old and had been many hundred species over that timeframe. He understood languages now dead, had lived in cultures now extinct, and remembered a home galaxy where once they’d ruled.

But that home was gone as they marched in a new conquest, fighting the reptilian Issgire on their home turf. It would not be easy, and their ability to clone and mimic the peoples of this galaxy would turn the tides against the Issgire. The Leran armies were fearless, experienced, and took the form of thousands of species with abilities and skills that would vanquish all who stood in their path. But the Issgire were very clever, and brute force would not win this battle.

His body subsided in a rare moment of calm, and he laid back to enjoy the brief respite. The man he’d taken over was not a leader on this world, but soon would be. He was a politician, but lacked the character and experience to succeed in the larger arenas. His addiction to young dalliances was his downfall, and it was what gave Saterque the opportunity to take control. He and his romantic interest had come to this remote cabin for a weekend tryst, but now they lay eternally embraced while acid dissolved their bodies into basic components.

The man’s name was Yirou, and he was nothing more than a simple politician for a local region of farmers. A legislator who drank more than his share, bed more than his share, and plotted laws based on his limited knowledge of his constituent’s farming needs. Born into money, he had bought his position rather than earned it. But that was what made him valuable, his connections.

His father was a wealthy businessman, owning large tracts of land that produced the raw resources for his food products he packaged and sold around the world. His father’s contacts on other continents would prove useful as Saterque began a quest for the ultimate position, leader of the world. It would take time, but patience was a Leran virtue. He’d done it before, and he would do it again. By the time the Issgire came to recruit this planet in their own quest for victory, the seeds of unrest will have been sown and taken root.

A sharp pain ripped along Saterque’s spine and he convulsed as the new skeletal matrix formed. He reached for another vial as his vision swam darkly from the intensity. Any other species would die from the shock of such pain, but Saterque focused on the ultimate prize as the transformation continued. He would not fail, he would take over, and he would eventually own this planet and its people.

Battle Hardened

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 AcriendShamol knelt behind the broken remains of the building, his ammunition nearly spent. He threw the useless weapon aside and pulled his blade from its sheath. In comparison to weapons of other species, his was nearly a sword. It was a sharpened, cutting edge on one side forged with a ragged, tearing edge on the other. Wielded properly, it was destructive. He typically reserved his blade for torturing those conquered in battle, but today, it would serve as a primary weapon.

He quickly surveyed his shaggy bulk and took stock of the wounds. Though he felt pain, they were all superficial, barely piercing his substantial hide. Were he to shave, his body would be a grotesque record of the conquests made over the last ten years. He laughed darkly, the sound an ominous growl. This race was one of the toughest they’d met so far, and his unit had sustained substantial losses without reinforcements. They would come, eventually. He thought with a grin.

He wouldn’t give these pesky creatures the satisfaction of cowering while he awaited the rest of the Acriend Army. His unit was a subjugation force sent to what had been assumed to be an easy target. He laughed again. That pissing Onyalum had led them into this trap, probably for the fun of it! The demon never forgot their refusal to leave the last planet after subjugating its masses. They had wanted to play with their conquests, as was their right as the victor. What did those damn demons know about life? They were nothing but a shadow of the former being they possessed.

The sounds of footfall pulled him from his musings. He peered over the rubble, spotting search lights combing the remnants of what was left of the capital city. His leaders had tried negotiations. Well, a half-hearted offering made to all worlds before they were destroyed. He chuckled ominously. This race was slender and half the size of the Acriend. They were no match for the Acriend, but they possessed great speed, brilliant tactics, and considerable technological prowess. After taking out most of their ships, at the cost of their city, the battle had moved into the shattered remains.

He looked back the way he’d come, but could not locate any others from his squad. They may have survived the hail of fire after their ships were destroyed, but now they were scattered amid the chaotic aftermath. The locals put together a sizable force to counteract the invasion, and their aggressive tactics had decimated Shamol’s unit. Still, one Acriend was worth at least a hundred of any other species. They still had a chance to win this before the rest of the Army arrived. That would piss off that bastard Onyalum!

He thought about the enemy’s significantly slighter physical attributes and grew excited by the prospect of having his way with one of the captured. Male or female, he would vent his anger from their surprise attack. He would have his way many times before killing them. Hell, the act alone would likely be enough to stop their puny hearts. He smiled maliciously, the spoils of war sweet.

A beam of light shot over his position, and he gripped his knife tightly, the thrill of slashing through their ranks pumping him with hormones. His eyes focused sharply as he drew upon his experience to sense the battlefield before him. He recalled several hiding places, and despite his bulk, he could move rapidly from one to another while wreaking havoc among their ranks. These weaklings didn’t really know what they were up against, but they would soon find out. The Acriend were one of the most formidable forces in the Universe, and their soldiers had evolved into perfect killing machines.

His bulk, while seemingly an unwieldy detriment, was actually a powerful asset. The Acriend’s home world was an enormous planet with an iron core and powerful gravitational field. This produced incredibly sturdy and powerful creatures. When placed on a smaller, more typical world, their strength showed itself through incredible quickness and the ability to perform massive leaps, overwhelming forces not used to such strength. He growled deep in his throat, his body poised to strike.

This was a small world and his strength would prevail despite their technology. In one memorable battle years before, he had sustained no less than several hundred direct hits. Even his thick skull could withstand common projectile weapons. He was a monster and knew how to use that to his advantage.

The sound of troops and vehicles moving through the debris alerted him to prepare for his attack. Several lights shone along the street, the troops holding them unaware they provided a perfect roadmap back to their position. He shifted his bulk and took aim based on those lights. He crouched low and fed strength into his legs for the pounce. With an enormous rush, he launched into the night, a dark mass of death about to destroy a sizable chunk of the local militia.

At the pinnacle of his arc, he took stock of the personnel and equipment arrayed along the roadway. He smiled as he landed amid the two soldiers holding the lights. This was going to be easy. With a swift parry, he took both out nearly slicing them in half. Within seconds, he was airborne again, landing on the hood of a small, lightly armored vehicle. The sound of small arms rang in his ear as the idiots shot their own troops in an attempt to defend against him.

His mass crushed the front of the vehicle into the ground, breaking the axle and destroying the engine. He grabbed the edge of the roof and ripped off the worthless protection. He felt tiny pricks of pain as the occupants fired into him. He ignored their efforts as he took all three out with his blade, the head of the last one flying into the street. With another leap he was under cover, the remaining soldiers scrambling to pull together into a cohesive fighting force. Too late, they were scatted about the damaged vehicle, taking cover since they didn’t realize he only possessed a blade.

He had spotted the leader fifty feet back, a small soldier carrying a radio alongside him. This really was too easy. He gathered his strength once more and leapt into the darkened sky. He landed on top of the leader, the man’s body collapsing into a gelatinous mess from Shamol’s bulk. The radio operator was easily dispatched before he knew what had happened. Once again, Shamol had surveyed the battlefield during his flight.

They possessed a tank, or something similar, but it was useless against a single fighter flying through the darkened skies. He made another leap, this time into a makeshift bunker where five soldiers had taken up defensive positions. Too bad they didn’t realize they should have been aiming into the sky. He roared as he took out the last one, the night air reverberating with his vocalization. The sound was usually sufficient to make most species wet themselves from fear.

Now, he was behind another set of soldiers scrambling to find shelter behind debris, uncertain where the attack had come from. They found out too late as their heads fell into puddles of blood. The scarlet liquid drenched his fur and the smell excited him into a perverted display of his sizable male anatomy. He would need relief after this battle.

Another ten taken out, and so far, they hadn’t figured out how he was attacking. Only a handful remained, hiding beside the tank in a useless attempt at protection. The tank fired several shots, but only after Shamol had moved from the target area. They were blind and trying to guess where he would strike next. He plotted his attack path as he decided how to take out the tank.

With another powerful leap, he made his way to the vehicle in several bounds. It took little effort to dispatch the soldiers before leaping onto the armored behemoth. With a single blow of scrap steel, he bent the barrel just enough before leaping forward for all to see. He ran down the street laughing as the tank took aim and fired.

As predicted, the barrel was sufficiently deformed to prevent the normal exit of the shell. It exploded immediately as it was fired, the backward implosion igniting the ammunition inside the vehicle. An immense fireball of heat and destruction threw him to the ground, and he rolled several times before pulling back up to his feet. He stared back at his handiwork, pleased with its quickness. Unfortunately, he had mutilated all the bodies, denying him his rightful pleasures. That was okay, females would be located.