Empire

by Warringer

Prolog

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Admiral Tenchi Masaki, commander of ICS Black Knight closed his eyes as he slumped back in the large chair.

It had been of no use. Not at all. The work of more than fifty years, gone in the matter of a few month.

"Damn them," he cursed once again, the crew members on the bridge thinking the same.

Of course it had been the Vorlons and the Shadows. More the Shadows than the Vorlons through. They had managed to produce the spark that ignited the massive barrel of black power that had been the galactic political scene. The Galactic Union and the Galactic Federation had gone to war and the relatively young Interstellar Commonwealth had been caught right in the middle.

And to top it of the Vorlons and the Shadows had managed to find out that the humans of Earth where for all intents and purposes V'Ampier, the ancient race of First Ones that had already been wiped out by both races. Earth's mankind had moved to take their inheritance from Nathan, but it had been to late.

Even the last efforts of mankind and the races of the Interstellar Commonwealth had been naught. They had come and gone through all defenses they had been set up and reduced nearly all worlds of the Commonwealth into glowing husks or large debris fields.

Tenchi stared at the screen in front of him with teary eyes. Only one was left. He was sure that it had been the plans of both Shadows and Vorlons to keep this world as their last piece to destroy and end the threat of the reborn V'Ampier to their 'debate'.

Earth.

Together with the Moon the planet still existed, untouched by the First Ones or the massive galactic war that was going on around them.

Sure, both the Jurians and the Minbari had tried to take Earth, but the planetary Paratron shield had prevented them from even getting to the planet, while the ground and orbital based weapons had taken potshots at the fleets and Home Guard helped.

But it was of no use. Nathan had informed GDI High Command that fleets of the Shadows and the Vorlons where on their way towards Earth and he doubted that the Paratron shield would be able to do much to defend against them since they could throw around firepower that was in league with a Jump Bomb.

And than there was the problem with the massive amounts of refugees that had come to Earth for protection. Millions, even billions of people from all species of the Interstellar Commonwealth and even some allied races. Mostly they had managed to flee in any kind of civilian ship and in many cases the last bits and pieces of their military fleets had managed to get to Earth.

Now it was slowly getting crowded in orbit. But the Solar Trees were a great help. Especially since all ten thousand of them had gotten to Earth and huddled in orbit, taking docking requests of the civilian and military ships to unload their cargo of refugees. And as even the smallest of these Dyson Trees was able to take a population of a million people and provide life support, water and even food for them, they were the reason why Earth was able to take as many refugees as it had.

But now it was all questionable.

Once again he closed his eyes and breathed in deep.

The disguise that had made him look like a fifty year old man dropped and showed everyone the real face of his biologically twenty five year old body. No one around him cared much through. They knew him and they knew that he looked younger than he pretended to look.

Than he stood up, straightening his uniform. It was still an Earth Force uniform due to a special order of the GDI.

He knew that he would die today, if their last gambit didn't work. And he was ready to die for what he believed, no knew was right. It certainly wasn't the 'debate' of the Shadows and Vorlons, nor where it the old society structures of the galaxy the Jurians and Minbari tried to imprint on any of the younger races.

"Countdown?" he asked into the room and felt that Setsuna walked up to him.

"Ten minutes until the First Ones arrive."

He closed his eyes and nodded slowly.

Than he looked around on the bridge of Dark Knight. They weren't only humans. Over the years of the Interstellar Commonwealth, the fleets had intermixed and his crew was maybe the most diverse of all ships in the fleet. He looked into the faces of Ferrons, Dilgar, Nomads, Narn and several others as he glanced around. He knew some of them for several years now.

"We are getting a transmission," the voice of his Dilgar communication officeer suddenly said." It's from the TIT campus. They are broadcasting everywhere."

"Put it on shipwide," Tenchi ordered and the voice from the 1C caused most of the crew to stop for a moment.

"...is Usagi Chiba," the voice of the well known head of the Woven Fate Technomagical Guild said." Elysian Fields and Mare Serenitatis are over the poles as I speak and ready to deploy the Tyrelium torpedos on the Paratron shield. The members of the Guild are at the AODI-5 facilities and begin to the rituals. With any luck it will work. If not..."

Tenchi breathed in deep. She didn't need to continue. Everyone knew what was a stake. There was a rather loud silence that came over the still open channel before another voice began to speak. The voice just about everyone on Earth knew.

"This is Seneca," the voice of the sentient Internet came over the speakers in a surprisingly serious tone." It was a pleasure to know everyone on Earth. I don't know if we will get through with this, but I hope that we will. If not, I will see you all on the other side. As an old friend said fifty years ago..."

There was another silence before Seneca resumed with the recording of a voice Tenchi knew from back than. He had been there when he had said these words.

"Lo, there do I see my father,

Lo, there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers,

Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning,

Lo, they do call to me,

They bid me take my place on Asgard in the halls of Valhalla,

Where the brave may live forever."

Tenchi swallowed and closed his eyes again. It was strange that an AI could become this much of a hero that anyone knew about him, even all this decades after his destruction.

He looked around and than saluted sharply.

"It has been an honor to serve with everyone of you."

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Millions upon millions of slipstream events deposited an equally high number of ships not even ten million kilometers away from Earth, still several million kilometers away from the outer edge of the wavering and buckling red glow of the planetary Paratron shield that was originating out of a boundary effect of the solar wind with the magnetic field of Earth.

These ships were separated into two large fleets that approached the planet and its shield from different angles. Both Vorlons and Shadows had thrown all they could into what would be the long since final strike against the V'Ampier, who dared to meddle with their affairs by deciding to be neutral in the 'debate'. It was rare that both races were able to work together, this was one of these times.

Most Vorlons and Shadows still remembered the first time they had put down the V'Ampier. They had thought that they had dealt with them, but the had turned out to be wrong. They were back and they were once again meddling. It would end now.

Tens of Death Clouds and Planet destroyers had been put to use in these two fleets.

As they drew closer to the shield they were surprised. They had thought that they would get against more defenses.

Than it happened. The red glowing shield around the planet buckled from the north pole and the south pole of the shield. The blucking became stronger and stronger until it seemed like it had turned into a second sun, protuberances of red licking out into space. The glow intensified before changing colors, going through the entire spectrum of visible light from red to blue, the change once again starting from the poles of the shield.

The last azure blue color remained and seemed to darken until it was nearly black. After a minute or so the shield changed again, the azure color once again become more and more intense and began to cast a blue light across space that nearly blotted out the light of Sol.

As the blue had reached its highest intensity, the shield expanded with the speed of light, loosing in intensity and color.

It disappeared as it had reached a diameter of five million kilometers, taking everything inside with it and leaving behind the fleets of two old enemies.