Chapter 4, part 1
Councils of War
10 years ago, Vasari Base of Operations, planet code named VASAR
Flankx looked up at the knock on his door. It was his door now. He waved his hand in the direction of the door, and the small reader recorded his hand motion and unlocked it. The six Elite Subjugators entered the room, eyes swiveling in case of traps. Flankx's mouth twitched. He had already laid his trap, and the one he had lain it for had fallen into it. Flankx stood up and motioned for the Elite Subjugators to take a seat. They did, hesitantly, unsure of their surrounding. It took great strength to hide his smile. Flankx looked around at the room. Purple Vasari blood streaked the walls, gathering in pools on the floor. Across one wall was the outline, in blood, of a Vasari.
"When will the Admiral Commander be with us?" One of the Elite Subjugators asked.
Flankx snorted. They still thought him a High Captain!
"He is standing in front of you."
They stared at him, first at the omission of sir, then again when they realized what he had said. Each of them in turn licked his lips.
"My humble apologies, Admiral Commander, I was not aware..."
"Enough. We have other matters to discuss."
Elite Subjugator Num'pol rose from where he had prostrated himself on the floor, thinking hard. This Vasari had killed Xranks? Num'pol gave the new Admiral Commander a closer look. Power permeated the air around him, and he barely hid a smirk. Yes, this one was capable of assassinating a superior. Very capable. Arrogance followed this one as the hecer follows the cabal. Yes, this one was extremely dangerous. Yet Num'pol could not stop a feeling of awe sweep through him. Again he studied the room. Blood soaked almost every corner, yet there was no sign of a struggle. Whatever he had done, he had done quick, yet the victim had not died slow. He must have cut out the tongue first, so Xranks could not cry out for help. Then, piece by piece...Num'pol imagined this new Admiral Commander slicing up Xranks like a newly-strung sapper. Yes, this one had power.
"I believe it was 2nd branch that first reported the hostiles?"
Num'pol rose and bowed. "Yes, Admiral Commander, it was I."
"Sir. We first arrived at the yellow star we have named Hiske, and followed a phase lane to a small terran planet. This planet, sir. There were numerous structures we believe were trade ports, or something similar, due to the extreme number of cargo ships. Hundreds of them, sir. We managed to destroy about a hundred, you can check our log for an exact count, sir, but hundreds still escaped through other phase lanes. We then destroyed the trade ports and took control of the planet. Due to this new threat, we eliminated all inhabitants of the planet before colonizing. We didn't think it wise to allow them a chance to escape. We do not know anything about them, yet. Sir. As we took out the structures we radioed in the occurrence, and received orders to lock down the planet and its gravitational ring, which we did. That is all, sir."
Num'pol sat back down as Flankx frowned in thought.
"So we know not the numbers of our foe, just that they have hundreds of cargo ships on one planet...1st branch."
The Vasari to the right of Num'pol rose. His name was Esquian.
"Yes, Admiral Commander?"
"You will take your division and chase after these fleeing trade ships. Scout the system. Report any resistance, however small, and your coordinates. Check in every 3 hours. If you encounter heavy resistance, do not engage and send an immediate alert. Do not engage! That is very important. We will need to trap them. Whittle down their numbers, yet keep one space-worthy and disabled, so we might learn more about these creatures. 2nd branch, you will take your forces and follow behind 1st branch, reading his reports in detail, and choosing a more tactically efficient base of operations. This planet has too many phase lanes jutting out of it. We need one we can easily defend, yet would be hard to assault."
Num'pol rose and bowed. "I know what to look for, Admiral Commander."
"Then go. Both of you. 1st branch, I expect you to leave immediately. Waste no time. 2nd branch, I want you gone by 1st branch's first report, in three hours. Are we clear?"
"Completely, Admiral Commander."
"It will be done, Admiral Commander."
Esquian and Num'pol left the blood-stained room, leaving 3rd through 6th branch with the new Admiral Commander. He did not envy them. This new Admiral Commander made no mention of the fate of his predecessor, indeed, he did not even mention the state of the room. He did not speak of it, yet his action alone spoke loud enough. This one was dangerous. Num'pol looked at Esquian.
"The fate of the Vasari lies in this one's hands," Esquian quoted from the Tome of the Warrior.
Num'pol nodded. "It shall be as it shall be, and none will have the power to stop it." That was from the Prophecies of Reunion.
Esquian held out his arm. "For brother made, and brother sold, we are brothers and stand against the Darkness."
Num'pol shivered. Esquian was quoting the Downfall of the Empire. The darkness referred to whatever chased them. What was still chasing them. It was not mentioned in normal conversation.
"You believe these creatures to be of the Dark, then?"
"Nothing is clear, yet I believe we will find that these creatures surround us, and they will not be conquered as easy as VASAR. The Darkness might have spread before us, and laid a trap against us. We must be careful, or it will swallow us."
Num'pol grasped Esquian's hand, and shook it firmly. "We will do all we can to fight the Darkness, yet still it will come. We will flee, yet we shall be victorious. That is the way of the Vasari."
Esquian grinned. "Good hunting, Num'pol."
The Darkness might have spread before us, and laid a trap against us. Num'pol shivered. None of the Vasari had ever faced the Darkness. It had always followed behind them, eating up the planets they had placed sensors on, never close, yet never far. If it had indeed reached this place before us...
The weak shall fall, and the strong shall fall, and the Vasari shall remain triumphant. What will come will come, and they will face it when it does. Now there was work to be done.