A quivering hand held the rusty pen. Leaking, an imperceptible drip by drip, ink seeped out of the tip causing a round ball to grow bigger. Heavy breathing, sweat drops building on a forehead tensed with crease lines directed beautiful eyes towards the ramshackle crowd.
They'd expected more, not just more of the same, especially from this general. They were defeated. A dirty paper with hastily scribbled words glared back at Tyrone Caladron. The evening's light shot streaks of sickly pale yellow over the parchment.
The citizens were horrified, their Tyrone, a true leader, had sunk his final sword thrust, missing the invaders heart.
Overconfident megalomaniacs had traditionally led the faithful to open pits. Cleavers waving wildly, hate filled dervishes would commit unimaginable atrocities, crimes, and horrors yet to be categorized. Terror was the traditional ointment. They'd applied it gingerly to defenseless civilians. Now the Iovions, those still alive were preparing to be the next victims in a growing pile of corpses, now bones.
The shield was down. Without that shield they were defenseless, there was nothing holding the invaders back. General Caladron's remaining battalion had been crushed. The Iovions were defeated.
If only it was a matter of restoring power to the Truss Array but the Energy Absorbers orbiting their star Proximia were the first to be destroyed. Power transmission ceased, the hot connection went dead a few moments after the invaders had entered their solar system.
Long a source of contention, the logic of spending money on a backup energy source was no longer disputed. Only stand-alone weaponry that had its own internal power supply could be deployed, the aggressors with their ships vaporization batteries fully charged had free rein, they couldn't be stopped.
At the outset, the System Wars were more a series of battles than a sustained drawn out war. Wave upon wave of maunders came and scoured the planets clean of all marketable commodities.
With no food, saleable products, or factories, the Iovions could only scavenge, sift the dust for edible scrapes. Many died, there just wasn't much left to feed a population of trillions spanning five now desolate planets.
The old, weak, and process/pattern bound perished. Joining a looting ring, the young survived, just barely.
With the power no longer streaming across the vacuum, civilization ended. Government or what more rightly should have been classified as a bureaucratic fraternity devolved faster.
Filling a vacuum was never difficult; the problem is what fills the void.
Former military generals bred on discipline and orders were quick to institute top down authoritarian regimes. Taking what they desired, decency now an alien concept, they killed, raped, and pillaged randomly.
Formulating a plan, insuring basic rights were niceties. When your enemy could deploy an Energy Torch capable of sterilizing entire planets of all organic life, norms of any flavor no longer applied. Brute unbridled savagery became the anointed objective.
Tyrone was different; he had a kind flexible mind - highly unusual for a general. Having risen up through the ranks, not cherry picked by other ritual bound box-thinkers Tyrone had to fight his way up a stratified hierarchy that resisted creativity. His difficult accent transformed him from an unquestioning follower into a unique individual.
When he assumed leadership after all the worthless incompetents had been annihilated, the people were sure they'd be saved from the bloodthirsty invaders and their own flavor-of-the-day tyrants. But no one expected him to lose, and so quickly.
Already a legend, having single handedly won many wars against the sixth planet Korivon he had earned the respect of the rank-and-file long before the invaders arrived.
The police state that was the Korivon People's Republic was a regime that regularly caused trouble by raiding the Iovion Confederation planet Wavolon, a mere moon's throw from Korivon.
Ruling Korivon was a tenth generation degenerate named Raldo Fifth, or to be more precise His Eminence Fifth Ducho. Placing the Fifth Ducho of despicability back in his cage after personally fighting the bastard for a third time, Tyrone came up with a simple but ingenious way to stop the tyrant from reaching Wavolon. He'd suggested that an early warning system composed of satellites midway between Wavolon and Korivon be deployed to notify the Iovion military when the Korivons were heading for Wavolon for yet another pillage party.
This worked magnificently, the bored Korivons never again made it to Wavolon so their ruler had to devise some other means of getting his jollies like killing a few more citizens or torturing them in more 'interesting' ways. So until the subjects of Korivon revolted, if they had the guts to revolt, they were on tap for a whole slew of new infractions punishable by execution or whatever the masochists in the dungeons had devised in the way of fresh new tortures.
His latest creative splash in a career that was nothing short of brilliant made Tyrone many jealous enemies but mostly with those who were incapable of seeing past their noses. That is why Tyrone was the lowest ranking general in the entire Iovion military - the fearful incompetents wouldn't allow him to shine to brightly or their dim wits would be highlighted. So what the citizens of the Iovion system new from what they'd heard from the media was just a fraction of Tyrone's genius, most of his brilliance had been co-opted by worthless superiors.
That fraction, a tiny spec of perfection was still enough to make Tyrone a legend. The people were captivated by his good looks and superior intellect.
They mostly admired his big-picture depth. When others got bogged down in the woods Tyrone could soar up high. Surveying the full breath of a problem he'd devised revolutionary stratagems, not the worn-out solutions employed by his counterparts. Simply put, he had no trouble deviating from prescribed military doctrine, shifting gears, or devising new strategies that were sometimes totally unorthodox.
Sinking the pen glob on the signature line the contrite looking Tyrone signed his name with gusto.
Never expecting that a defeated dark skinned primate humanoid would or could trick the Gorg, their invasion fleet had already left, and it had a long journey past many galaxies to reach their home out at the far edge of the universe.
Leaving only a Suppression Force comprised of a single battalion to ensure the 'cooperation' of the natives, the Gorg were confident, being the super race that they were, that this was just another off world slaughter picnic. How could a system comprised of dark skinned sentient primates be a threat, especially now?
In their process riddled minds, the Extraction, the clean term for killing, and pillage would progress smoothly, without incident. The vanquished just never raised a hand, paw or claw in anger at the Gorg; they just cowered in a corner or walked obediently to the Termination Stations - hell it was their duty being the beaten subjects to just give up.
Tyrone who was sitting in the corner of a Captrone sealed hole that had an energy shield misting a red haze over the opening of the pit listened assiduously. When he was sure that the guard; a lumbering rat like creature, fur covered, small tiny red eyes, with an oversized head had laid down in the acrylic nest he'd spied prior to being dropped in the pit he started whispering.
"Nelson, can you hear me?"
"Yes, general"; was the reply on the thread transmitter only audible to Tyrone.
"These vermin are going to execute me at dawn's first light. We need to speed up our plan. Have you verified that the last Gorg battle cruiser has left our system?"
"Yes, sir; The Cyiloc Detection System you'd extended from Korivon space has confirmed the breach of the last Gorg cruiser heading toward open space. None have left for about six maxicons."
"Excellent, amass the second, fourth, and fifth battalions on the Morbion moon base for the planned assault. Keep the third battalion in the rear as planned." Tyrone's words were calm and measured for this wasn't the first time he'd been in a tough spot.
"General, if we capture prisoners does the War Conventions Treaty apply." The words had a hate filled ting; it was obvious Nelson Malo had lost some family members in the vermin invasion.
"General Malo, sinking to the enemy's level is not advisable, decent, or honorable. We must not shred our laws or belief's at the first sign of danger. Therefore, the War Conventions Treaty stands even though our combatants were invaders from outside our system. Place any captured prisoners in the newly constructed prisons, those that were to be used for the Korivons. We'll discuss with the remaining Members of Parliament how we'll arrange for prisoner transfers, but right now let's just concentrate on freeing our citizens."
The conversation was concluded.
Tyrone still recalled vividly the events leading to the construction of the Morbion moon base. When he'd requested funding for the base most MP's thought that spending money on a massive hollowed out military base was just plain crazy. Morbion circled the dead world of Serpicos why have a major military base in a strategically insignificant location? But as Tyrone explained, that was just were what he termed a Hail Mary base should be built - someplace that an enemy more dangerous than the Korivon troublemakers would never suspect.
It took a lot of convincing, the deadwood in the upper echelon of the military, and brain dead political hacks had to be spoon-fed rationality, they just couldn't distill too much of it at a time since they were persistently awash in illusion.
After his last rout of the Korivons and the peace that followed the deployment of the Cyiloc Detection System near Korivon space the elites grudgingly agreed to the funding of the base. They had to; Tyrone's popularity had reached superstar status. The citizens especially those on Wavolon were captivated by his every action, for here was a real leader, not your standard run-of-the-mill smiling puff doll.
Thuds could be felt and heard by Tyrone in his little tomb. Attempting to see through the energy shield up top he barely made out short bursts of orange light that coincided with the now louder bangs. The vermin creatures were squealing loudly, Tyrone concluded that a good-sized battalion was wiping out this main nest. The energy shield started blinking on and off; he knew that like any well-trained army they were attacking the command & control hub and power centers first. He'd taught this latest batch of recruits personally so he had no doubt that they'd easily crush the enemy.
With all the critics howling, ripping Tyrone apart after he'd successfully negotiated the cesspool called elite politics it was only fitting that these media parrots would field what they thought would be the end of his career. They believed they'd finally backed General Tyrone, the outspoken, egotistical misfit genius into a trap. This was the opportunity the elites had sought, they'd sock him away to command a force that would never be used, on his moon, far removed from the heart of Iovion civilization, and they felt they were blessed with the perfect solution to the ultimate troublemaker.
If it hadn't been for Tyrone's advance deployment of a battalion from the moon base to the far end of the system, and it's eventual use in a rouse to make the rat enemy believe this was all that remained of the system's military all the leftover elites, hell every last Iovion would be facing certain death.
These were expert scavengers, foragers of other system's resources and products. They had no desire to subjugate a large population. Tyrone knew right off what their objective was based upon reports he'd received from spies operating in other galaxies near systems that had faced this same enemy. Their modus operandi was to slaughter the entire population and then send in transports to clean out the goodies.
Looking up Tyrone noticed that the energy field, or more precisely what was an energy field was off, he could see the stars set against a black sky. Cries from dying rodents could be heard; these piercing high-pitch squeals were getting closer to his hole.
Flashes not the sky brightening kind but the short quick bursts from an energy gun were blinking like lightening he'd seen on Norvo during an intense electrical storm. Seeing the tight orange-red energy beams over his pit Tyrone new it was just a matter of time before he'd be rescued.
Dead silence, no blinking energy bursts, hurried feet could now be heard moving towards his hole. He'd assumed that his force won the battle but what if it hadn't. Ready to die from the moment he was captured he knew that if his force lost those rats would immediately execute him, slowly, in the cruelest way possible, they'd take vengeance for the killing of their fellow vermin.
Tyrone's heart skipped a beat when a head appeared over the opening up top.
"General Caladron hang tight sir we'll G-Lift you out of there." It was a welcomed voice, a precise strong voice that called down to him.
Almost instantly, a purple tube flowed down the shaft encircling Tyrone in tiny fingers of Techtoron Anti-Matter. The disgorgement of the organic matter that was Tyrone, adjusted very slowly moving him upward to the opening ever so gradually. At the opening the G-Lift glided his feet over the lip of the hole planting them firmly a good distance from the opening.
Facing Tyrone was his staff, the most senior of his personally trained force. Saluting crisply, Tyrone acknowledged by saluting them back, he stepped forward to embrace each of them in a show of appreciation.
Seated at the large oval table in the operational heart of his moon base, Tyrone, along with the still breathing MP's, mind's undoubtedly a tad more mushy than usual, and their crony business elite handlers in seats close-by to keep them in line looked at each other with a feeling of mutually shared relief. This had been a close call.
Humming in the background, all the artificial intelligent systems performed the docking, monitoring, and controlling of thousands of interconnected 'blocks' that consisted of war cruisers, and a myriad of other finely tuned precision elements of this magnificent creation. It was the brainchild of a mind that new no barriers, a truly gifted singularly individual being: Tyrone Caladron.