Dark Hunter, Dark Saviour
Chapter 44: The declaration, the missing link.
5th January 2901
Alliance interstellar space, Vayira sector, Rene'kan fleet
"Alert to fleet ships. Arriving vessels are not to be fired on, but maintain surveillance of them while they are here."
This message was played to the small fleet protecting the Rene'kan, comprising of 2 cruisers, 4 destroyers and 8 missile and laser corvette craft. The Rene'kan itself was between a standard Alliance battleship and cruiser size, at 1600 metres long, and 400 metres wide at the widest part. It did not have a large scale ground force, but was complemented by a substantial hanger of fighter and bombers alone, and more internal security than on a normal vessel of its size.
They were taking no precautions today, even if the three ships just detected nearby, 2 of them quite large, were carrying revolutionary 'ambassadors'. As treacherous as these rebels were to the loyalists, they were very numerous, enough to pose a very significant and not very easily crushed threat.
It was worse that the name of the smaller frigate leading the three ships was the Dawnbreaker. That meant Commander Kirth was with the revolutionaries. However, he had not committed any wrongs, yet.
On the Rene'kan's observation deck, in the same room as the ship's throne and council room, Kro'nogri King Lo'rath looked out of the transparisteel frame, his frown deepening as the squad of a battleship, frigate and cruiser drew nearer to his own ship.
Who do these people think they are! I am the sovereign ruler of roughly half of the Alliance, and they are insubordinate traitors! If they make demands, they shall know that I am not ordered about lightly!
A small hand lightly rested on his shoulder then, and the concerned face of his Leg'hrul wife, Va'kara, softened his frown slightly. Ara'kai was stood beside her, his talon wrapped protectively around her leg, strangely quiet in the sight of the stars, and growing sight of the revolutionary ships.
"Ah, Lo'rath. I wasn't expecting you this early." A voice from behind, somewhat cheerful, but anticipating. Turning, Lo'rath smiled slightly at the sight of Leg'hrul King Rho'kis, flanked by his Leg'hrul mate and 6 year old daughter, Ye'reski and Di'rahal. Rho'kis was one man he could trust politically and socially, despite some past ties that may not be best remembered, such as being betrothed to Lo'rath's sister originally, before her exile by council rule 15 years ago.
"I wanted to see these 'ambassadors' from here before I met them. By the appearance, their arrival in force shows they want to demonstrate their power." Lo'rath said, walking towards the Leg'hrul king, himself younger than Rho'kis by nearly a decade.
"We will only know their true colours when we meet them. These are the political representatives, they will likely be better behaved, more civilzed." Offered the Leg'hrul Queen Ye'reski. Almost scoffing, Lo'rath's eyes narrowed as the frigate docked with the ship, the other cruiser and battleship hanging away from it by a few hundred metres.
"Airlocks equalized. Begin boarding sequence." Rang the Dawnbreaker's intercom.
Taking a deep breath, Sha'krii turned one last time to face her entourage. Kirth, La'kias and a carefully dark matter disguised Norstith stood at the front behind her, confident, but alert. Further back, the 61 year old female Leg'hrul Alliance Admiral Ya'haring, and 52 year old male Kro'nogri General Kara'hon, cast wary glances at the last three at the back. Alex returned to wary glances towards them, but Shockwave's holoform paid them no heed. The last, a male Kro'nogri representative selected by the Underworld Guild leadership, named Laro'kahn. He paid little heed to the wary admiral and general.
Pressing the button, the door slid open to the interior of the Rene'kan. In their way, were a dozen armed Leg'hrul guards, with assault rifles pointed at them all. One of them obviously their leader, looked wide eyed at the two at the back. He then looked harshly at Sha'krii: "What are you doing, bringing those two things aboard this ship!"
"Those 'things' are my crew, and high level leaders in this revolution. The terms of this meeting said that anyone willing to represent this movement can join within a set limit of people. If they can't come aboard, then we have a problem."
"Councils and Kings won't be happy if this is called off for a race reason. They want these over with, on the chance of making them back down politically. As much as I don't like their kind, I won't let their absence disrupt today's meeting." The leader said. Gesturing to his squad, he said to them all: "Follow my squad to the council and throne chamber. I'll call ahead to tell them to expect your two 'unique' members."
As the soldiers led them off, the captain cast a scathing eye over Shockwave's holoform and Alex, hating their kind with ill contempt.
Soon enough, they arrived in the throne room, right on schedule. The large doors opened, and the group were directed inside to stand before the councils and thrones.
Sha'krii entered first, with the others following one by one. As she entered, the councils did not recognize her.
The sight of her brother, King Lo'rath, on the throne, stirred something deep within herself, what it was she wasn't sure. Beside him, her former lover, and still her love, sat on his throne. But what caused her expected sadness was the sight of Queen Ye'reski, and their young daughter Di'rahal, stood off to the side of his throne. Beside Lo'rath, Rho'kis's sister, Va'kara, and their son Ara'kai, stood proudly, sending her and her subordinates mixed looks.
Commander Kirth, Commander Norstith, Lieutenant La'kias, General Kara'hon, Admiral Ya'haring and Underworld representative Laro'khan their allocated places at a speakers able with her. That left only two seats. But the sneers and glares from those in the room, monarch, council or security, showed how welcome Alex and Shockwave were. Cautiously they took their seats, and as with all of them, they had no detectable weapons.
Off to the front, the 2 thrones, normally held by the Leg'hrul King and Queen, were instead occupied by a king each, with Lo'rath on the right, and Rho'kis on the left. Their wives each sat among their respective race council, the councils sitting in raised seating to the sides, leering down at the visiting representatives, two of them more than the rest.
Alex was feeling exposed, as he only had his dark matter to use, and was clad in his formal wear, a set of robe like clothes, black with red linings, on him. Shockwave would look smug if he could, as he was safe in the Liberator's hanger, only here in holoform.
If anyone was feeling more nervous, it was Sha'krii. She was not unnerved by any stares, she was unnerved by what would happen when she inevitably revealed who she was.
"This meeting is called to order, the Kings Lo'rath and Rho'kis presiding, and their respective councils overseeing. The representatives from the revolutionary movement, under the freedom of civil speech articles, will make their claims and/or demands." Said a young Leg'hrul male, the royal court's clark.
Standing up, Lo'rath was first to speak, and what he said was predicted by all: "I wish to ask first, what are these two UIP members doing here!" Murmurs and some small shouts resonated in the hall, prompting representative Leg'hrul Admiral Ya'haring to stand up in defence, saying in her aged, but sharp voice: "These two are leading members of this movement! Their loyalty to the UIP is questionable at best! They are completely devoted to our cause, nothing more, nothing less! That much was obvious when I spoke to them! I request that they be treated as equally as you would any of the rest of us here today!" She sat back down, with Alex exhaling in gratitude at the Leg'hrul's defence of him, despite only knowing him for half an hour at best.
It was Sha'krii's turn to speak, and with some prompting from Kirth, who would speak alongside her, she stood up with him, clearing her throat, beginning: "Your highnesses. We come before you today to clarify the intentions of this movement. There is intense discord and poverty caused by this war, with little military conquests to justify the suffering the people go through. Not just in the war's course, but in the 10 years that were building up to it. The malcontent of the Alliance public should be known by the incidents in past months, in particular the Konurich station riots and the Manenphis uprising. If the war is achieving little and costing the people enough to force them into such violence, why do you continue the needless and fruitless fighting? This movement stands to end the war, and by gathering support, we will achieve it."
"Who are you to declare such treachery against your lawful sovereign rulers! I demand to know who you all are!" Demanded Lo'rath. His early rise to the throne had swelled his pride, and as he was still rather young for a king, and driven by the war, he was a bit rash at times. Rho'kis frowned, scratching his wing in irritation. He shared Lo'rath's sense of insult, but not to the extent the younger reptilian king showed.
Sha'krii sighed, and said: "Very well. I suppose that was one purpose of this meeting after all, introductions. I'll start with those you will not have heard of as well." She looked at Laro'kahn, who nodded his scaly head in trust: "The man there is Laro'kahn, a representative from our main economic partner, the Underworld Guild. Before you protest, the cooperation of a massive crime syndicate shows the extent of the changes needed." The councils murmured aloud at the fact that they were cooperating with the criminal world.
"You already know Admiral Ya'haring and General Kara'hon, and my second and third in commands of my division, Fleet Commander Kirth and his first Lieutenant, La'kias." Each of them saluted, half heartedly, at their announcement. Then Sha'krii pointed to Norstith: "If you studied the dossiers of us before you met us, you will know Field Commander Norstith. He was leader of your former covert military division, the Knight Initiative, a false front to deceive the UIP away from the massive Varya operation and other war efforts across the front lines. Due to some accidents, he had to be transferred to a robotic body, disguised as his original form. Considering the conditions that the Alliance brass forced on him to ensure his cooperation, in imprisoning his last family on their colony and for a short time in a jail cell, he is determined to change the Alliance's police state nature." Norstith then courageously glared lightly at Rho'kis and Lo'rath, showing little respect for the monarchs. Sha'krii then turned to the two main attractions:
"The first UIP member, the human, is former Knight Initiative Operative Alex. He was a former UIP war hero, forced to work in the KI under risk of execution. He grew to enjoy the work, but after having to betray his family and friends, a few bad run ins, and intense questioning, he fled from UIP space. Eventually, he and Norstith met again, but he was caught in the same harmful incident he was. Luckily, Alex still lives as at least an organic everywhere but his limbs. As a leader of an effective and large AI network army, he is a valuable ally, and loyal in his own way. And considering the orders he carried out for you before, I would expect a level of respect from this chamber. After all, he was the one who assassinated UIP President Pedosk Vinirils nearly 2 years ago, under your orders when he was in the KI."
Now the murmurs grew significantly, and some wore impressed looks, others shared looks of worry. Queen Va'kara, on the Kro'nogri council side, was staring at the human with worried scrutiny, but recoiled at the quick glance he shot her way.
Last up was Shockwave: "This Cybertronian mech is Shockwave. He has the longest career here, an almost unsurpassed scientist, and highly skilled warrior. He fought in a civil war among his kind from the start, over 9000 years ago. His experience and knowledge is unrivalled, and reputation, though tarnished among his kind, preceded him. He is not here in person, but in holographic form."
"That explains your kin, but as you seem to speak as their leader, we want to know who you are." Asked Rho'kis, calm in the face of these experts and high ranking officials who opposed their war policy. Rho'kis saw a look of worry cross the mid 30s aged Kro'nogri female, but it quickly vanished as a look of unbridled pride and determination crossed her face.
"My name is Sha'krii Herensk."
The hall fell immediately silent, leaving even the representatives of the revolution stunned by the announcement.
Glaring around, Sha'krii noted the stunned looks of the councils and both Kings. No one spoke for what seemed like an hour. Almost in a whisper, Lo'rath said: "Impossible. My sister has not been seen for 15 years, exiled from her homeworld. Considering what she did those years before, she would not dare return."
Now angered, Sha'krii marched forwards a bit, near yelling: "I would dare to return, under the grounds that I am innocent of my crimes!"
"LIAR! Treacherous scum! You killed our father with the help of those two UIP advance scouts so you could secure power early! I was there, there is no arguing with the evidence!" Bellowed Lo'rath.
"I would not bother to argue against it if I was guilty! I return to lead this revolution not as a member of royalty, but as what the royalty should represent, the will and strength of the Alliance! Not as a paranoid warlord who authorizes and approves of military action and marshal law that would be called genocide if against our own people, and autocratic rule!" Retorted Sha'krii.
Leaning over to Kirth, with the other representatives able to hear, La'kias said: "This is getting out of hand. We need to cool them down." Nodding, Kirth stood up, and raised his voice: "Your majesty and representative please! We need to calm ourselves, lest this devolve into a mindless quarrel!"
Glaring at one another, the two siblings settled down. On his throne, Rho'kis was still stunned, looking at Sha'krii, now recognizing a few subtle features he could still remember. The shade of her scales, slightly faded with age, and marred by a thin scar or two. But her eyes were the same, shining yellow stars of blazing defiance. In the Leg'hrul council stand, Queen Ye'reski was worried. She knew her husband well, and though they loved one another, Sha'krii was a sore subject that he did not like to mention. As with life, one could love more than one person, and he had loved Sha'krii dearly. And here she was, as if back from the dead, shouting in conflict with her brother.
Norstith noticed that Sha'krii was avoiding contact with Rho'kis, the Leg'hrul king staring in disbelief at the exiled princess. With his enhanced electronic optical sensors, he scanned the Leg'hrul king's facial patterns, detecting signs of tension and shock. He had predicted that the meeting of a former fiancée might have this effect on King Rho'kis. Still, it was better than the reaction they were getting from Lo'rath by any measure.
Rho'kis, keeping a cool head over his Kro'nogri counterpart, asked calmly: "Barring any unrelated disputes moments ago, I take it these are your agendas? And what of the violence erupting across the Alliance? You claim to have little to no part, but you seem to support it."
Sha'krii cleared her mind, thinking of Rho'kis as King, not as her former lover: "That is correct. We will rally the support of others to our cause, and do whatever we can to secure the end of this war by as peaceful means as possible. The riots are not in our intentions, but any signs of malcontent and uprisings in protest shall be guaranteed our support. Until this war is over, consider us to be the true representatives of the people, who are being suffocated needlessly by this war, by your hands, the very leaders they entrusted the task of maintaining order."
"You go beyond yourself! You have no place to address the rightful Kings of both Alliance empires in that manner!" Yelled a Kro'nogri councillor, his voice aged but spiteful. Seething, Sha'krii added one more feature to their declarations:
"That brings me to my last declaration! In light of this movement, I shall make it an additional goal to prove my innocence in my accused crimes! I claimed my innocence 15 years before, and I still claim it today! The evidence against me was forged by those two unknown captured UIP ambassadors! If I can justify my claim to power, then I shall use it to sway this movement even more effectively in ending the war!"
"That is treason! Pretender! You go beyond yourself!" Screamed a Leg'hrul councillor this time. Finishing, Sha'krii roared slightly, an animalistic sound, as she made her last statement: "There is no law in saying I perhaps intend to stake a claim to the throne, and in the event I did, I would only be justifiably punished if I made violent and illegal means to remove King Lo'rath from power! The laws prevail, as fate is kind enough to have not made you discard those customs in this savage conflict!"
With a newfound fire in her drive to lead, Sha'krii took her seat once more, pleased with the struck faces across both thrones and councils.
On board the Liberator, the others watched the meeting via a video feed from Shockwave's holoform drone:
"Shit. Where did that come from?" Asked Ja'hail, impressed by Sha'krii shouting down the councils and both kings together. Azula was smiling somewhat, saying as she watched the vid screen: "Well, that was impressive. No use of backed up threats, and yet she succeeded in making her points dominate the proceedings, while the Kro'nogri King was made out to be overreacting slightly."
"I just hope that shouting match doesn't mean we have to make a hasty exit from the fleet." Said Xale, shooting idle glances at the Rene'kan's main guns, from a nearby observation deck window.
"Rene'kan's main guns are offline currently, but surrounding fleet cannons are active. However, the Liberator outclasses any other vessel size here, and by defence of Dawnbreaker and Aligned Alliance cruiser Kahre'je, chances of survival of all three craft are at 75 per cent in the case of opening fire." Said Raxler.
"75 percent? Not as reassuring as I would have hoped." Said Lexa, deadpanning slightly. Se'rie looked at the vid screen, saying: "Hey, if anything it looks like the others are surprised a lot, they're not doing anything but staring at Sha'krii."
Now came the crunch time, the presenting of evidence to some of the less aware councillors and the Kings as to what policies and operations they authorized, and their nature.
Sha'krii nodded to Alex, who stood up, a calm but determined look in his eyes. Clearing his throat, he started: "Your highnesses. As the first UIP member to come into contact with you directly face to face, after the war mind you, I find myself wishing it was under better circumstances."
"Enough pleasantries human, tell us what it is Sha'krii says you care to share from your side of the floor." Said Lo'rath, holding no respect for Alex in the slightest. Frowning, Alex replied with some cheek:
"Very well, lizard king." A wave of disapproval echoed across both councils, though Rho'kis had a ghost of a brief laugh on his beak, while Lo'rath quelled a peak of anger: "I wanted to give a few examples of some of the barbaric operations you authorized in this war, which under research, I found you were not completely aware of the true extent of the operational features."
"I mean specifically the Varya operation, which my associate Fleet Commander Kirth begrudgingly was second in command to, under former Commander Kal'sik. I want to elaborate on the sheer atrocity committed to not only UIP races, but to your own people, deserters, prisoners and a few political demonstrators included. I myself was a part of a team sent in to infiltrate the base, to stop the invasion before it began by sabotaging the Space bridge technology. We were discovered, and we then found that Shockwave-" He gestured to the seated mech, who blinked once: "Had been brainwashed by a written virus, inserted during a standard diagnostic by an insider agent on his planet. After imprisonment, me an my team were taken to become a part of the specialized horde of dark matter soldiers the Varya operation was making use of in the thousands."
He then turned around, and with his robes, he pulled down the back of the neck, revealing the neural tubing implanted along the lining of his spine, the skin scarred, red, but healed with the months that had passed. As the vid screens enlarged the feature, there were collective gasps, and some wide eyed expressions. Even Lo'rath paid attention more.
"The project made use of dark matter and organic beings. The organics would act as shells, living armour and vessels. When integrated into the Varya stations network, via the implants like I still have to remind myself, the implants tapped into our motor control nerves, meaning we had no control of our bodies. The dark matter was controlled by the AI as well. The organics were effectively used to shield the implants, to the extent that when they were dead from enough fire from opposing forces, the dark matter would simply be used to animate the body. Of the 10,000 plus dark matter slaves used at Varya, many thousands died. My affiliated army seized control of the Varya network, but we ordered all still living slaves to head for cover and hide, and only use the ones already dead to help force the Alliance invaders into submission and surrender. One of those dead was one of my closest friends, myself having known her for many years."
"If you can justify the war, and claim you are better than the UIP, then explain how you justify the use of mind control and mass slaughter tactics, against not UIP or Alliance species, but sapient beings in general, then I seriously question your aptitude and social sanity in leading the Alliance. I've done my research, and the Alliance used to be great from what I read. We can make it great again, but this war must stop."
"Easy for you to say, it was two of your kind who cooperated with your so called leader there to kill our previous Kro'nogri King Le'krio!" Yelled a Leg'hrul councillor. There was hardly any agreement, as the revelation of Varya alone began to sink in. Alex snapped to the gaze of the Leg'hrul councillor, and said: "That was 15 years ago! Don't try to blame it on me, I was only 6 at the time! You are making the same error in judgement as I did when I took pleasure in slaughtering the pirates in the Haenkyo system under the impression of their members killing my parents nearly 22 years before! Whoever they were 15 years before has nothing to do with me! If you don't credit Sha'krii full due to her supposed crimes, then at least listen to reason and logic! This war will only get worse, and it is already a growing stain in the history of both the Alliance and UIP! Stop the war, open negotiations, don't let countless more sapient beings join the millions already dead on both sides! What makes your drive for victory more important than the rights of all sapient beings, namely your people! Answer me that, and then I will be satisfied!"
Alex sat down, and Norstith, Kirth and Sha'krii nodded in approval. La'kais stood up now, calmly saying: "Your graces, we have finished what we have come to declare. I hope this means you will at least consider the situation the Alliance is in now that it has come to this."
"This changes nothing. You are challenging me, and I am not one to enjoy challenges, especially when being led by traitors and deserters alike! And know this Se'rie, I know you are guilty, and you shall never find yourself upon the throne in neither my reign, nor in any after mine. That much was certain after that day 15 years before." Sneered Lo'rath. Sha'krii was stunned, he was still resorting to that? She moved to protest, but Shockwave's rasping, growling voice spoke up:
"Your argument is invalid and irrelevant. Your resorting to petty insults and threats shows that we are ethically superior to you, a member of royalty, in this case." The mech's optic narrowed in a leer at King Lo'rath, who matched it as intensely. Rho'kis intervened here, playing the mediator:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please. We have heard the declarations of the movement, and they are right in that we can not take action against them for now. I for one do not agree with their motives, but I know courage when I see it, and I applaud them all for taking the risk in standing up for what they believe. It makes me wish there were more people like that in this world." He gestured in a congratulatory way to the entire table of movement representatives, but his eyes trained on Sha'krii for fractions of time longer.
Light murmurs ran through both councils, until there was a resounding applause, light, in a semi supportive, polite way. Lo'rath begrudgingly joined in, purposefully applauding at a slower pace.
The representatives had won the introduction, but the main courses of this internal war were yet to start.
Within the next hour, the fleet of the Dawnbreaker and Liberator had taken off, with the cruiser Kahre'je heading off elsewhere.
Lo'rath scowled, and he punched the transparisteel frame in anger, a growl escaping his throat. He knew that the representatives would challenge him, and the thought that he could make himself appear dominant with Rho'kis alongside. But the skill they used, the human's account, was tough enough.
But Sha'krii was his political superior. He was only 27, and yet Sha'krii was better than he was now before she was even exiled, and it seemed she had done little so let her skills slip. He thought this would be a easily crushed rebellion. But with the hidden wave of support Sha'krii still had across the Alliance, and her leading the revolution, things were far from simple now.
Introductions now over with, the relatively brief civil war has begin in earnest.
As usual, please leave reviews, I need them, this story is not over yet.