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Hyperlinks in the text are intended as supplemental material, discussing elements of the science behind the science fiction. They are not intended as required reading for the story. Hyperlinks will be provided at the point in the story where it comes up, but all the links will also be collected at the bottom of the post for easy reading.
Thank you for reading! Me and my coauthor Darinost are gradually combining forces and blogs, so the joint comment section for our stories is currently located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.
Cursa Eridani A, Far Orbit
In the darkness between worlds, the empty space near where an azure jovian would orbit about two Earth years from now seemed to suddenly warp and stretch… the light of distant stars bending oddly as if the heat and gravity of a small area of space was suddenly increased. A cosmic disruption to the very fabric of reality appeared all at once. It wasn’t a slash, or a ripple… not a tear or rupture in the veil of reality that constituted the Universe… it was far simpler than that. A new reality simply asserted itself as space warped, in a way that was almost drama-free… or would have been, if it didn’t seem to defy geometry as primitive minds could imagine it. Where once nothing had existed there was suddenly connection, and darkness, a pit expanding outward in all directions. This ultramundane aperture didn’t stop growing until resembling some kind of enormous hole in reality, a shadowy Tartarian god gaping open his mouth to swallow the cosmos whole.
Horror writers would have written about this. Ancient people would have prayed to their gods. This distortion however was not caused by metaphysical powers, eldrich horrors, or wrathful demiurges, but by science and physics wielded like magic to achieve the impossible.
One moment there was nothing there. The next, out of that Tartarian gate, a ship appeared without seeming to cross the intervening distance. It didn’t emerge from the darkness… In fact, it didn’t seem to move at all, hanging motionless in space as if its sudden appearance from nowhere had stuck it fast to the background.
The Death of Hope had returned.
From her place inside her master’s ship, Amara watched and hoped that the tension inside her stomach was not visible, that no one could hear her heartbeat. She had been through many Lilis hops before, but never aboard a ship like this… and never one that was about to be used against her people.
Sarcand’s dreadnought now floated in that very same star system that it had ambushed the Midgar-6 in so many solar years ago. This was where Amara had failed, where her people had been taken… where she had begun her insane gambit. She looked out over the system, even though she could see little but the star in the distance… so small at this range that it seemed barely more impressive than random stars from the background. From the front view of his observation deck, she looked out upon the immensity of the stellar dance, her thoughts racing. Back then, it had been Miranda who revealed the colony ship’s passage through this part of space and so enabled the Huntmaster to snare his catch. With the Midgar-6’s taking, the destiny of mankind had been arrested by the throat, inevitably putting them on a path of conflict with the Kthid Imperium. Now, this system would serve as the launching pad for the Kthid armada to head toward Earth.
In the vastness of the space around this world-conquering dreadnought another ship popped into view. The sleek angular warship materialized all at once, its elongated hull suspended against the wormhole’s blackness like a javelin piercing the universe, then a second later a 3rd, and a fourth. Each one emerged from the wormhole dead still – the Lilis drive that allowed them to cheat the laws of physics did so by trading damn near all of the ship’s momentum away, and it was only slowly that ion engines could begin the ships moving again. One after another they came – with their dark hulls and jagged edges, they looked like an army dedicated towards bringing death to anything that lived. The fleed had made the entire journey from Maldoror inside this technologically created wormhole that humanity had developed for their own sideral travels. The ability to bend space-time meant that a ship only needed to cross the astronomical distances between stars once… and now that the Death of Hope had delivered this wormhole’s twin back to the Kthid homeworld the fleet could return to here at effective speeds that defied the laws of physics. Instead of years, it had taken weeks.
Normally, all these various battleships would be out journeying on their own, scouring the Milky Way for sentient lifeforms to kill and enslave for the purposes of furthering the Kthid race. Now that the Sunbreakers had declared their harvest of the Terran Federation in the name of The Dark Star, however, this fleet moved together, set upon a unified task. One of these battleships could take out a lightly-defended space-age planet, but for an empire the size of mankind more of their unified might was required.
The Kthid were not interested in a “fair” fight, Amara thought with dread. That was, unfortunately, more smart than honorable.
The next ship to pop into motionless existence blotted out of her view of most of the flotilla of warships, and if Amara hadn’t seen them during the preparation she would have been certain she had gone mad. The ship wasn’t large… it was stupendously large, laughably large, the size of some of the largest of the space stations that made up the Dyson swarm. These were bulbous and thick, totally unlike the angular designs of their peers, and utterly dwarfing them in size. Next to one of these, the Death of Hope looked like a remora swimming alongside the shark. The battleship she was on was larger than the largest human warship she had ever been on, and there were about two dozen of them in her line of sight… and a novice helmsman could have parked all of them inside of this behemoth without needing to be careful to avoid one another or the sides. Amara felt sure they were at least a thousand kilometers long and maybe a quarter of that in radius… basically one big floating tube.
These were not warships, though… nor were they transportation ships for the Kthid. Most of the actual Warriors who would conquer Earth fitted within their warships. Instead, these were the harvester ships… and if the Kthid were victorious it was they who would carry the ten of billions of human and Sethis women to their destiny of slavery on Maldoror… packed into ranks upon ranks of cryo-pods which would preserve them almost as if they were colonists sent out to settle a new world. Instead, however, they would live out the rest of their species’ existence as rape cattle for a fiendish race of galactic enslavers.
This dreadful conquest they had done many times before… Amara had needed to walk past the statues, one by one. To harvest the galaxy was the purpose of the Kthid race… and one they were completely dedicated to.
In the command bridge of the Death of Hope, Sarcand sat upon his throne. He wore a warrior’s armor as he waited, overlooking the manifestation of all of the warships under his command through those palatial frontal windows. A dozen appeared and then a dozen more followed, each second increasing his already kingly power further beyond the limits of what any human had ever commanded. A rare form of regal exuberance gripped the green-scaled Warlord while his technicians and pilots manned the ships’s various consoles. At last, it seemed like the world was at his feet. The enormity of Kthid military might had been placed at his disposal.
More ships popped in as others moved out of the way. The armada had emerged in a disorganized clutter… appearing much like a collection of immobilized beehives where the myriad battleships hovered around the enormous harvesters. That was fairly unavoidable… humans had never needed to move a real fleet through a wormhole but Amara had done simulations of the exercise in school… it was always a mess. Bringing a ship back up to speed after a Lilis hop was no small feat, and reorganizing the ships during that time was slow.
Amara didn’t watch. As the – perhaps surprisingly – current favorite of her Master’s Heitera she got to kneel on the deck before him while he did his work on the bridge. Her eyes, however, were primarily directed as her master as she was currently busy doing one of the few tasks a Kthid thought a female valuable for – choking on reptilian cock. Raw warlike power had made his dick rigid as a flagpost, stiffening it with a virility that only a Kthid in his lust for conquest could match. The purpose of Amara Black’s existence was to satiate his lusts in this moment of glory, and, if she was very lucky, to avoid strangling herself to death in the process of doing it.
Her airpipe, currently, was wrapped around her master’s cock like a scabbard hilted a blade, plush lips wrapped snugly around the base of his dick near the ballsack and groin. It was as if she had swallowed some massive and steel-hard tube straight through, the enormity of the thing protruding into the depths of her throat and bloating the passage there outward with its girth. She felt an inexorable need to breathe, to forcibly dislodge that blockage by any means necessary, to unswallow this prodigious prong and free up her passage as barely a wisp of oxygen could make it through. Sarcand, however, would never allow her the dignity of anything like that. The emerald giant’s big hand pressed down upon the back of her skull even as she choked, not only holding her there but somehow wanting her to go even deeper.
“Humans,” Sarcand sneered as he raped her face. “This is all your people are good for, worm. Your weak, pacifist people are about to run into the hammer of our fleets and be smashed against the anvil of our lust. They will fall, and when they do you will be watching Amara…”
Crass and nasty strangulating noises were all that escaped Amara’s raw vocal cords around that cock. Likewise, spit was forced messily from the corners of her horrendously overstretched lips. Her gullet attempted to retch and cough so as to push out this massive member yet the pure strength difference between the captain and the Harvestmaster made this impossible. It was a familiar dynamic between Kthid and their slave… the Kthid was always in control and dominant, and Amara ever had to suffer whatever tragedy he wished to inflict upon her. Such had been the fate of every Earthling caught in Kthid captivity, and every other slave besides. The gulf of power between them was too much… and with such a massive armada amassed, The Kthid most certainly believed war between the two species would mimic this sexual act.
“Unarmed ships,” Sarcand laughed. “I can understand, even empathize with a level of domination so complete that you have no enemies left to fight, Amara. What I cannot understand is the level of pathetic cowardice to disarm yourself. Your ‘HEF’ is weak, cowardly, stupid… too pathetic to be allowed to survive. It was always doomed to fall to the first predator that found it… and that predator is us.”
“Guuugh! Urrkh! Uuuffgh!” The ex-Captain of the Midgar-6 groaned, her knee-bound body wiggling from the left and to the right in an effort to squirm out of the Harvestmaster’s asphyxiating grip. Not even the spittle drenching the space dragon’s groin and shaft made her slippery enough to scramble free. Despite the reflexive actions and the way she slapped her fists against the monster’s scaly pelvis, however, Amara was not totally panicked. Oral sex with a monster like Sarcand usually involved these near-death experiences… this was not the first time that the enslaved captain had been at the limits of oxygen while forced to service her master’s cock. She just had to… keep… going…
“Communications with the rest of the fleet has been reestablished, Harvestmaster,” a Kthid helmsman told his Huntmaster. “So far none have reported errors, damages, or other anomalies during the wormhole travel. Assessment and shift into travel towards the next jump point in progress.”
“Good,” Sarcand replied, his one fist still perched atop Amara’s down-held skull, wound through her long red hair. Despite her discomfort, Amara understand what he was saying. They were going to take the same route to Earth that the Midgar-6 had followed… following the same string of Lilis wormholes back toward Earth. Momentarily, he allowed his gaze to fall back on Amara, meeting the dark-skinned woman’s eyes. “Do you remember this place, Heitera? The day I took from you all of your power and independence?” He snorted. “I know you are not as you pretend, cocksleeve. You remember. You struggle so hard against me but in the end, you fell just like all the other enemies of the Kthid,” the vile stellar Warlord stated twisted mockery in his tone. “Just as your people will.”
The words stung, but impaled upon his stolid dong Amara Black was in no position to reply. The captain simply spat up further slime onto his manhood, as if her body agreed to the sordid disparagement coming from his lips. Her pupils began to roll within the milky-white ocean which constituted her eyes, a surefire sign of depleting air supply. Not even the recollection of her shameful defeat could alter this dynamic of sexual asphyxiation… The human body was approaching its absolute limits.
“It would be somewhat fitting if I were to strangle you to death here upon my triumphant cock,” the Harvestmaster said as if finding some dark poetic beauty in ending his slave’s life where he had captured her. “I had considered it, in truth. If you might make a better example for your people as a degraded corpse than as the incubator for my child among the ruins of Earth. The thought holds some attraction… but that was before I realized you were worthwhile after all.” He smiled down at her. “No… you’ll live, Amara. You’ll live, and watch the luckiest of your people die instead.”
He released her skull with his hands, and Amara’s mouth shot backward and off of his dick with all the strength she could muster. She escaped her impalement just before black unconsciousness gripped her senses. Red-faced, hair in disarray, and her face completely besmirched with her own saliva, the fallen captain gasped and panted violently with the need to replenish her precious oxygen. When contrasted against the rigidness and masculine power of Sarcand’s towering manhood, her undignified appearance looked absolutely ignoble.
Giving blowjobs to the enthroned Sarcand was much of what she had done during the sideral voyage. The entire venture of preparing the ships, navigating them to the wormhole, and making the first Lilis hop for the Kthid fleet had, to her, primarily been an exercise in showing how easily Amara could end her existence gasping and strangling upon his gutturally impaled cock. She hadn’t been back to her room more than a handful of times in the last weeks, almost constantly at Sarcand’s side… and while she had laid eyes on Nameless a few times it had never been with any privacy.
The caiman behemoth grasped Amara by her long mane of hair that he liked so much and pulled, sending her crashing forward into his pelvis. The resulting impact nearly flattened the exhausted girl’s nose. “Finish off my hard-on,” he ordered. “Those reports will still take some time to stream in.”
Though looking exhausted and haggard as a person who had just run a marathon, a red-faced Amara Black obeyed his orders without backtalk. Soon, her tongue slithered and curved around that brutishly thick shaft that had just nearly strangled away her life. Her feminine softness was dedicated to the veneration of its thickness until Sarcand’s pleasure exploded from her attentions… as ever. Just like almost all of Amara’s torments these last years, the only way it would end was with Sarcand’s balls being sufficiently drained.
“Harvestmaster, we have contact by the next gate,” one of the bridgemen called out.
Sarcand paused, gripping her heat again with his claw to momentarily pause her blowjob… halting almost as completely as Amara’s heart had. “Report,” he said.
“Heat signature is of one engine. Too soon for emissions telemetry, but seems likely it’s a single reactor. Probably Terran… the heat signature matches the same ion propulsion that we observed on the human Miranda’s ship. We will need to wait for slower readings to be certain but it appears to be the equivalent of a Reaper-class gunship… crew of no more than twenty or thirty.”
Sarcand hummed, releasing Amara’s head to continue her suck-job. “Probably a scout or investigator of the disappearance of the colony ship,” he considered. “If they are here, they have one of the so-called Lilis drives… Can we intercept them before they reach the wormhole?”
The bridge technician clicked his claw a few more times, taking in readings. The Harvestmaster occasionally growled in pleasure as he kept his true attention on the helmsman and other reports that streamed in. This was power in its purest sense to someone like him… that he was allowed to experience a wondrous cock-worship from his erstwhile enemy while overseeing his domain. Amara’s tongue, throat, and lips worked in tandem to bring him toward a massive carnal eruption. The fallen captain of the Midgar-6 had been reduced to a tool in his sexualized service while he directed the fleet that would bring ruin to her people, and when his growing arousal at last detonated it was like a super-volcano erupting. “We cannot, Harvestmaster,” he said. “They will pass through ahead of our ability to reach them… 18 hours and they will pass through. Even if we organize instantly and burn full speed ahead, the best time we can make is six days.”
Sarcand paused to think for a moment, idly jerking Amara’s head back and forth on his length. “Three wormholes lie between us and the first human world. According to the charts their colony ship had, there are several weeks of travel between them. We will catch up to them in that time?”
The helmsman nodded. “There is a margin for error, Harvestmaster, but if we assume their current acceleration is the best they can manage we will reach them before the second wormhole. Even if we do not, we can shrink the gap to a day or so.”
Amara Black’s mouth remained dutifully planted around his bulbous glans, sucking and licking to maximize his aggrandized pleasure, lips snugly locked around his girth so to drink down all of that creamy jizz. Her thralldom entailed salvos of hot gloppy Kthid-semen being discharged down her belly and stored therein like a mocking substitute for food. The expectations of her master and the miserable fate she had found herself in did not even allow her to regurgitate this disgusting and overwhelming seed. She was merely a vessel for storing the jizz continuously churned by his balls. It was a condition suitable for not a single woman alive… yet one that would be forced upon all of them if the Kthid had their way.
“We will intercept them if we can in the next system,” Sarcand said, leaning back. “If not, well… two days warning is less than systems would get from a normal approach, anyway. Carry on.”
Amara breathed hard, and it appeared to draw her master’s attention back to her. She had finished her task… and all that she received as a reward for her strenuous and lewd service was a backhand to the face. “I am done with you. Go clean yourself up, human whore,” Sarcand snarled, his eyes not even set upon her, but upon the numerous consoles and data screens which lined the bridge of his ship.
With droplets of sticky saliva and smeared cum dripping off her spittle-besmeared visage, Amara rose with her head hung low. The ex-Captain limped off towards the exit door of the bridge, her lower body still damaged from their rough nocturnal sessions as Master and Slave. No Kthid remarked upon her exit… and why would they? Slaves came and slaves went as their masters bid. She was, just as all the other women upon this enormous dreadnought, just flesh to be abused and raped, annexed territory for them to enjoy. Before the doors closed behind her, the red-haired Terran took a forlorn look backward, out through those palatial front windows, and she imagined that she could see the ruins of her former ship and the drifting hulk of tangled stone and steel upon whose surface she had once led an effort to escape the Kthid menace. At that, she had failed. And because of it, she had doomed not only herself but a million souls that she had promised to protect.
But maybe, in doing so, she had saved hundreds of billions more.
Sometime in the next few months, she was going to find out.
The automatic doors closed, sealing away the bridge from her, and Amara walked to go and make herself presentable enough that her master would enjoy raping her, just as she was supposed to. She didn’t want him asking questions.
“Maybe the casteless are not as miserable as I like to think!” Charnametros viciously snarled while marching down the corridor and dragging his breeding slave behind him by her jet-black hair. “At least they do not have to deal with cattle as incapable of living up to expectations as you are!”
Anna Constantos held onto her tautened mane with both hands, trying to lessen the pressure so that her master’s cruel treatment didn’t rip it wholesale out of her scalp. The petite doctor’s face was a grimace of agony and suffering even more intense and pained than usual. Charnametros was angry at her again, as he had been constantly for weeks or months. In some ways, it might be more accurate to say that his anger towards her over the failure of their child had not yet lessened. Even the punishment upon Maldoror had not assuaged his disappointment at his firstborn being deemed unworthy of being given a caste, even though more than half of Kthid suffered that safe. Instead, his wrath had lingered and festered into obsessive insanity, and ever since she had returned from Maldoror it seemed that Anna was incapable of not disappointing him… the food was too slow, or her licking not intense enough, or she screamed too much, or too little, or she wasn’t clenching hard enough. These days, it was merely a question if Charnametros was busy enough or not to be around to punish her for it.
That had been bad enough… but today was the last straw.
This morning, he had learned that their next oldest child had failed the trials.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that you wretched females intentionally birth weak offspring, so as to enfeeble the Kthid species,” Charnametros growled as he stomped forward, dragging the beaten and raped, and tormented doctor forward through the hallways. “Yes… That is it. That is the only reasonable explanation. You desire more of us to be useless casteless so that we are easier to resist.” He laughed bitterly. “It is a ploy. Even while in labor you conspire against us,” the young Kthid spoke, addressing more himself as he strode down that corridor than he did Anna Constantos. “Worthless whore… just because you were too stubborn to break when you had already lost, I considered you strong? What a fool I was.”
With tears streaming down her eyes, Anna knew that there was no use in responding to his accusations or talking back. Such attempts at pleading for mercy would only result in her being hurt worse. The Kthid wanted punching bags, not partners. To Charnametros, any delusion which entered his mind was the objective truth, because only the Kthid were allowed to decide upon such things and set the parameters of reality far beyond what a mere slave could convince him of. The cruel power it had over her never ceased making her suffer. She had barely even been able to interact with her children in the years since giving birth to them, perhaps a few times a year for a few minutes. She could not possibly have affected their development into the warrior caste adult he obviously wanted him to be. Being made a casteless was entirely due to the Kthid’s own demands that life be savage and cruel and that only the best succeed, and beyond that, it was subject to the randomness of fate which governed all lifeforms. But being the womanly thrall, however, it was Constantos’s place to endure pain because this happened. Such was the Kthid’s way between Master and Slave.
“You wretched women are cunning! I’ll give you that…” Charnametros sneered in a fit of rage. “You planned all this. More casteless means fewer Warriors. If this were to go on, then eventually, the true Sons of the Dark Star would be all but extinguished. We’d be a collection of primitives and weaklings! With only casteless remaining, our Imperium would fall… maybe even to weaklings like you. Ahhh it’s so very cunning! But the Dark Star has always proved merciless against those who try to survive its unlight beneath the might of the Kthid…”
Anna had no idea if he actually believed what he was saying or not, if he was just ranting and raving to make himself feel better. A second casteless child would be a heavy social blow… a disgrace upon him. Ultimately, she had no way of knowing… and it didn’t really matter as she was going to be punished either way by necessity… after two casteless, there could only be one of two people to blame – Him, or her. If he kept her, it was as much an admission that the problem was with him.
The Death of Hope – like all Kthid areas she had known – was demarcated between areas reserved for the Warriors and other Kthids belonging to some caste, and a lower region that housed the teeming multitudes of casteless. Even though the majority of any Kthid crew was more casteless than those of the upper classes the living space offered was the stark reverse. Charnametros and his fellow Warriors strode through spacious halls with lots of rooms while the casteless lived down amongst the pipes and cramped corridors. The lives of the casteless were, in some cases, even more dismal than that of the captured female slaves. Forbidden technology and living in constant competition with one another, they were nothing but cannon fodder for the warriors on this ship: Biological munitions armed with primitive melee weapons. Bared from breeding almost completely. In all of her years aboard this vessel, Anna Constantos had not once witnessed a Warrior or an Engineer treat a casteless with anything even remotely resembling respect or solidarity. They were trash, essentially. Being unworthy of surviving in the service of the Dark Star.
Inside the Death of Hope there were occasional internal passages between the various levels, connecting the casteless with the Warriors above… all but pits, basically impossible to climb up. The purpose of these holes was not logistical nor for communication, but based around humiliation… it means that the dominant, casted Kthid would be treading on top of their lessers all day. They could only pass up to the upper levels in a limited few locations, where the Casted could decide to let them up or refuse them. Such was the daily ignominy of living as a casteless.
“So then. You serpent-tongued woman… you want to birth more casteless, do you?” Charnametros snarled, lifting the dark-haired doctor upwards so that her feet dangled off the ground. The enslaved Anna kicked with her legs and splattered around in a desperate attempt to regain stability, the burning pain in her scalp unbearable.
“You think that they are your allies?” he continued. “You think that they will help you destroy the Kthid imperium?” he added with much bellicosity, lifting Anna’s body above that circular drop hole where supplies or people could be dumped down. Its circumference was big enough for a woman to slide through if dropped, and the fall was just high enough for her to survive without breaking her legs in the process.
“Master, please…” Anna called out, her voice pitched in what she hoped was an appropriate amount of terror.
“You want to breed more casteless? Alright with me. If the filthy unworthy are so precious to you, then why don’t you spend some time amongst them? Let’s see if that teaches you something about birthing more of these barbaric failures! I’m sure they’ll welcome their allies with grace! It’s only fitting, after all… Shit should associate with shit,” the young Warrior growled, every syllable barbed and furious.
“Don’t do this!” Anna screamed, her lungs raw from the heavy breathing and her cries. “I can be a good slave! I ca-”
Charnametros release his handhold of Anna’s hair.
The petite-figured human woman dropped right through. She slipped into that hole and entered the realm of the casteless where she had never previously dwelt, away from the stratum of the Warriors that had been her barricade. Anna hit metal and slid for just a second before there was nothing beneath her and she dropped, her heart in her throat for a few precious instants before she hit the ground like a hammer. Pain flashed all the way up her spine, radiating from her ankles on up, and she collapsed to the ground… the momentary shock of the impact was too severe to even tell if anything was injured.
Then, as she lay on the floor, a few seconds later piss rained down on her. “Such is the fate of all failures, like your miserable children,” the Kthid howled from above. It rained down on her, stinking and wet on her naked form while Anna sobbed. And then it stopped.
Slowly, Anna pushed her upper body up, at least enough that she could turn her head and look. Charnametros was not even there at the top of the fall anymore, not even waiting at the precipice to see if she had landed uninjured or not. The young warrior caste who had been her master was gone… He had abandoned her completely, uncaring as to her fate… clearly sparing the possible death of his former slave even less though that he did the piss he had rained down after her into the domain of the casteless.
“Yeah, Anna,” she whispered to herself as she painfully curled into a ball. “This was a great plan…”
The Kthid were extremely efficient: It had only taken them a week to reorganize the fleet and move about .3 AU to the next wormhole. Amara was expected to be on the bridge shortly… her master had left his bed only a few minutes ago to see to his fleet, and it was the fallen Captain’s duty to clean herself up. Everything hurt as she moved… it felt like her holes had been turned inside out, but after much painful walking, Amara arrived in the chamber housing her numerous pieces of jewelry, silks, and other items for personal beautification. She hadn’t been back here to sleep in weeks, but this was where she made herself presentable in between rape sessions with her master. This way, she could always look pristine to his reptilian eyes, like a favorite toy with a long shelf-life. Being a sordid concubine, Amara’s whole existence now revolved around being appeasing to Sarcand.
Though, on this very day, Amara had plans of her own.
Amara fell onto the bench before the screen she used to see herself, one of the multiple display screens that had been confused to act like a mirror, and stared at the woman she saw. In truth, she barely recognized herself. She was still pretty, she supposed. Sarcand hadn’t overly beaten or rearranged her face, and the life-extended she hadn’t gotten noticeably older in a mere five years. Long, well-kept hair, tousled from sleep and ravishment, cascaded down her back, framing her face and eyes. Her eyes, however, were nothing the same. Her eyes looked sunken, haunted, and exhausted. These weren’t the eyes of an idealistic young Captain. These were the eyes of a rape victim, the mother of conquerors. This was the face of a woman who had sold out a million women into slavery and misery. Her skin was covered in faded bruises and tiny scars. Her lip still had a scab on it from where Sarcand had split it weeks ago.
Kneeling with both legs doubled under her, she stared at the woman in the mirror, and some other woman stared back at her. From amongst her supplies, Amara reached down and wrapped her fingers around a tiny blade. This knife could not even penetrate Kthid scales… it was no more dangerous to her master than a toothpick would be to a human, but she had it for necessary grooming. She stared at herself, clenching her teeth. Then, with her other hand, the Heitera seized her lengthy hair, the hair that Sarcand liked so much, by its midpoint and held it out like a bundle, making the countless tiny strands grow taut. She paused for a moment. Then, furious, she swiped that tiny blade across the gathered half of her mane, cutting it almost to the base in a single stroke. The severed strands were unhanded and allowed to fall toward the floor.
Sarcand had chosen her hairstyle and length… chosen a style like that of her sister. Her master wanted her to be a mirror of her sister, and obviously enjoyed his slave having Miranda’s long, luscious… but that wasn’t Amara.
The woman in the mirror looked more like her now. Older. More tired. Beaten, battered, and bruised… but her. Broken? Maybe.
They would see about that.
When Amara walked into the bridge, no one really paid attention to her… as ever. Through the display screen at the bridge, showing amplified optical sensors from outside, she watched one of the warships suddenly flash a bright light in the surge of energy as it performed the energy transfer for a Lilis hop. Then it was gone, one more ship in the line that was going through the wormhole in steady formation.
Moving with the deliberate intentionality of someone who was doing precisely what she was supposed to be, she slipped down to her knees beside the warlord. Sarcand glanced over to her before looking back, then his gaze shot back to her for a longer, harsher look. He growled, low and quiet, but while he glared in clear disapproval Amara had calculated right… Sarcand couldn’t make it clear that this change was something against his will. It was a delicate line he walked in having a defiant slave… a strong Heitera was a badge of honor, but losing control of that Heita was not. Like their discussion after the smuggling incident, there were things that he was not going to discuss in public.
For the moment, the Warlord could not get all that he desired. Of course, Amara would pay for this later, but for the moment Sarcand turned his attention away from her and back to his duties. Ahead on the screen, another ship flashed and then winked out. “Prepare for wormhole travel,” Sarcand commanded. “Ship to ready.”
“Ready, Harvestmaster,” one of the bridge members reported back a moment later.
Ahead, the tiny artificial black hole seemed to grow larger as they got closer and closer and the star pattern warmed, forming almost a disk of light as the stars behind it bent. “Activate the drive,” he ordered.
Amara didn’t actually feel anything. The ship didn’t suddenly lurch forward or anything… it didn’t accelerate at all. Lilis “drive” was not really the best way to describe it, since it didn’t do anything to move the ship. Instead, when it cycled on, gamma radiation was pumped into the ergosphere of a small black hole carried along inside of the drive, and for a moment their ship contained more energy in one place than was physically possible to keep at light speed, and the laws of physics warped around it, and they passed through the wormhole…
And into a firestorm of debris, explosions, and hulls.
Everyone started talking at once. “Aegis shields forward full!” one voice commanded. “Engage ancillary propulsion, rotate 12 degrees laterally!” said another. “Contact, missile signals incoming!” said yet another. Sirens sounded, screaming a dozen different alerts. “Heat signals! Incoming fire!” a Kthid technician posted by a console at the bridge of the Death of Hope hollered over all of them.
“Get the ship moving!” Sarcand blared, rising from his technogothic throne with a dramatic motion. “All maneuvering thrusters back full… I don’t care how inefficient they will be, I want the maximum possible impulse. We need to move!” Off the side, Amara saw a battleship, one much like theirs, shatter amidships, breaking into three as a series of missile strikes that got through the shields and detonated with bursts of atomic fire, and from the debris surrounding them, it wasn’t the only ship to suffer the fate. More ships continued blinking into existence around them as more of the fleet pushed through the wormhole.
A powerful blast suddenly rocked the commanding Kthid warship, lines of fire spreading across the aegis shield that protected their prow. That still pushed against the ship, rocking it like it was struck by a hammer, and while the ship was huge and it didn’t tremble that much it still shook the footing of several people. Hulking Kthid warriors tumbled over and fell, sliding off of seats or out of standing positions. Amara was flung to the ground like she had been kicked. However, the Death of Hope’s aegis had absorbed the direct impacts without issue, and its dark alloy hull had managed to deflect what had made it through harmlessly… Instead of a deadly breach, there was a disorientating wobble.
The Kthid reacted to this surprise attack with a level of shock and amazement that Amara had never seen from them, but their discipline was impressive. While they were clearly stunned, it didn’t result in a loss of any efficiency… like the professional soldiers they were everyone sprang into action immediately, working to regain control of the situation. Alone among the hard-working soldiers, Amara had the privilege of being the lone person just able to observe and witness the show… Kthid warships on fire and leaking smoke, or sundered in twain… ships that hadn’t been as lucky or possessed of the same armor.
Through the thick debris field, missile after missile surged forward toward the disorganized vanguard of the Kthid fleet. The bright flashes of light approached, and the vast distance made it look like they were moving in slow motion… and it was the more beautiful thing the former Captain had ever seen. The rockets’ rearward combustion made those tiny dots seem like glittering stardust when contrasted against the blackness of space behind them.
She liked it when they impacted even more.
Soundless explosions rippled through the Kthid armada. More ships were punctured and damaged, and while Amara didn’t see any others destroyed the sheer level of damage was impressive. The vast warships, like Death of Hope had managed to absorb the resulting detonations with a mix of Aegis and armored hull. Amara beheld one vast ship – Voerash’s ship, the Empty Night, survive a virtually identical series of blasts out in the distance.
Slowly, Sarcand’s gaze slid to Amara… and while she softly smiled she didn’t look away from the screens. The paroxysm the former captain experienced witnessing this barrage made her feel so jubilant that she needed to clasp her chest. She knew very well what this surprise attack meant.
All these years’ worth of rape, torment, and humiliation? The bastard children of Sarcand that she had squeezed out from her womb in fits of paralyzing agony? The immensity of her sacrifice and the sacrifice of a million colonists? It hadn’t all been for nothing. Amara’s plan had succeeded, her gambit finally bore fruit.
Ri’she’a, Atalanta, and the others had reached Earth.
And Earth was ready.
Middle Orbit, .2 AU from Set III
“Direct next barrage along 247 -42 339,” Admiral Chanda voice, surprisingly calm despite the warzone she found herself in, ordered. “It’s 38 seconds until the railgun fire arrives from Set III, let’s steer the fleet into the kill zone.” Like the rest of the Terran flotilla, the HEF’s massive flagship – the recently constructed and fearsome Azteca – was practically ablaze as they filled space with munitions. Through frontal scanners of its enormous command deck the bridge watched the battle unfold… now that ship were emerging faster out of the wormhole and their shields were properly powered and directed the missile barrages were causing damage but not crippling or killing any of them. “Fire full.”
“Aye, Admiral! Fire full!” And space in front of the human fleet filled with bright spots of oncoming missiles. Just about 30 seconds later the bright lines of railgun slugs moving at relativistic speeds flashed past the fleet and towards the Kthid… dead munitions, unable to aim themselves further and launched from several AU back on the platforms orbiting Set III but possessing enough power to smash ships like an empty beer can. Not even the Aegis would help much… the sheer level of kinetic force that would bleed through would cause catastrophic damage to the internal circuits and crew regardless of it being caught away from the hull.
As the humans had planned, the fleet reacted to the missiles that they could see, and the reactionless slugs that had been launched before they could observe them, and which were almost undetectable, slamming into two of their ships. One was smashed out of line, jerking to the side, and two of its engines went out… a third only powering sporadically. The second ship wasn’t so lucky… the Aegis, no doubt weakened from missile impacts, wasn’t up to repelling it and it was vivisected like an insect to a display board by the powerful slug, sending a plum of burning oxygen out into space in its wake.
“Positive impact!” the officer watching the telemetry confirmed. “Multiple hits, one contact breaking up!”
Chandra stared ahead at the screens, using the data as it rolled in to assess the damage that their well-set ambush had caused while around her the bridge erupted into vocal exhilaration. Dozens of people cheered, and all across the Azteca’s crew the gathered servicemen applauded and whooped at the evidence that this dangerous foe could be hurt… could be destroyed after all.
And no one felt that way more than Ri’she’a. “I can’t believe it…” the Sethis junior officer gawked while assessing the thunderous destruction. Even with the immense distance between them and the enemy flotilla, it was now visibly clear that they did have the firepower to compete, and that the Kthid could be hurt. It was something which the Sethis helmswoman had previously felt shamefully, irrationally worried about… but now confirmed kills took leaded weights off her chest.
New orders came in on her console, and Ri’she’a took a moment to process, analyze, and act on them, slightly changing the orientation of the rest of the maneuvering thrusters she was responsible for. The Azteca was far too large and complex of a ship to have a single helmsman, and more primary positions had gone to more seasoned navy personnel, but her involvement in the Midgar-6 disaster had been more than enough to get her posted to this ship, and she wasn’t the only one.
“They look like comets. Or tiny stars flickering in the distance,” Leila commented in her ear, the Midgar-6’s former chief engineer standing beside her fellow survivor of that doomed vessel. She wasn’t a chief engineer here… she was a bridge engineer, one of several here to monitor communications and system integrity. “Take that you bastards.”
“It seems that these Kthid are not invincible after all,” Admiral Chanda said over the intercom. While the distinguished Admiral was the only one among her crew who did not betray some sort of emotional outburst at watching the confirmed kills, even the Indian woman couldn’t hide the satisfied smile that creased her face.
“Please do not underestimate them, Navasi,” a voice over the radio said. “We have caught them in an unfavorable position. We are only beginning… and I suspect we will find the Kthid a much more mettlesome opponent in a straight fight.”
“I do not underestimate my opponents, Nani. Never,” the Admiral responded with complete sincerity. peering eagle-eyed at the display screens sending enormous amounts of data on the status of the entire armada to her. The admiral was cold… as a war leader had to be in such a situation. This icy-cold woman was the person chosen from the Board of Governors to lead the entirety of Earth’s military forces in their war against the Kthid. That Chanda was a woman up for the task was evident merely from beholding her highborn and stoic visage. Just the look of her, one could tell that she was an individual of peerless intellect, unquenchable spirit, and ironclad discipline. Despite not quite being beyond her first century yet, she had ascended Federation hierarchy like few before her until there was really nowhere left to climb, propelled by skill, temperament, and family connections to an Admiralty within the space fleet.
Chanda stood clad in a figure-hugging admiral’s uniform which spectacularly highlighted her curvaceous and statuesque persona. This stark white vestment was pristine save for the small beads that covered her right breast, woven into the fabric. If they were larger, it would seem more like the egotistical apparel of some delusional dictator than the outfit of a proper admiral. Ri’she’a, however, knew that every medal, insignia, and distinction signified by those beads that donned her uniform had been earned in service to the federation, both military and administrative, and she was keen for the world to know it – moral was every bit as powerful of a weapon as missiles were. Gold-rimmed pauldrons armored her shoulders and a golden chain also ran between her breast pocket onto the leftward pauldron, lending her finery a very striking impression. Very few women could match this ostentatious look without seeming ridiculous, but Chanda was one of maybe a handful who could pull it off. Her sculptured and perpetually unflinching countenance brought thoughts towards the peerless Goddesses of old, and her Olympian physique accompanied the same super-human impression.
If there was one Earthling whom Ri’she’a counted upon to lead them into a space battle with the Kthid, then it was her.
Ri’she’a didn’t know all the details of the defense plan, but what she did know was that just days after the escape shuttle from the Mistrunner arrived back at the Terran Federation Chanda had dispatched their fastest ship. It had launched along the same path that the Midgar-6 had followed, quickly tracing that trail far quicker than the large colony ship had. In just a few short weeks it arrived at Septimum Eridani B, an unremarkable star system that had initially gained humanity’s interest for its many rocky worlds. None of them, however, had been a good prospect for colonization, so the system was abandoned… save for the fact that two wormholes existed it in. The one the Mistrunner had long ago made to this system… and the new one, just a few decades old, where Miranda’s doomed voyage had passed through and created a new one. Miranda had paired that wormhole’s twin with her on the path to Cursa Eridani A, and it was this wormhole that the Midgar-6 had used right before being ambushed.
The thing was, space exploration didn’t exactly follow a straight line. The mapping forerunner ships, like the Mistrunner, didn’t travel in a predictable path… they moved to a prospective system, evaluated it, and then move to the next best prospect by a mix of viability and proximity. Usually, this resulted in a more curved path than a straight line… and in this way, it meant that, as the crow flies, Setimum Eridani B was actually closer to Terran space than either of its neighboring wormholes was – about two light years away.
In normal situations, this wouldn’t matter in the least. Two light years was still a prohibitively long way for common space travel or shipping, and when the Lilis drive existed and the wormholes could be taken in mere weeks the relative proximity on a galactic scale was fairly irrelevant, a quirk to be idly considered and quickly discarded. However, that same usually-irrelevant proximity afforded them some unique possibilities.
When the Board of Governors considered what an enemy was approaching with the technology to use their wormholes against them there had been sharp discussion over what to do with them. A wormhole, once created, couldn’t be easily destroyed… there was no physical “thing” to destroy anymore. Space-time had already been warped when the ship had towed part of the wormhole away from the other part. No one was even sure if it was theoretically possible to break one that had been formed without breaking it back together, but other topics of discussion were common. More than one person advocated for sending out ships and scattering them, flinging all of the wormholes off in random directions, breaking the connections between their worlds. Maria, however, had done the math on that. It would be an effective delaying measure, but that was all it would be. In the best-case scenario, if the Kthid were half as good and had half as good of computers as the HEF thought they did, it would add about three years to the time it took the aliens to invade. Three years delay would give them more than 50% more time to prepare, and that certainly wasn’t nothing.
Or, instead, they could speed up the invasion by just a few weeks, tow that wormhole to just inside the range of the defensive fortifications they had spent the last five years building around Set III and park their entire fleet in range, and when the Kthid moved into what was supposed to be an unoccupied, unthreatening system they would be in for one hell of a first punch.
Spearheaded by the Azteca, Earth’s armada had journeyed here, and their ships had been optimized to maximize the pain that they could bring. The offensive firepower that Earth’s fleet could bring to the table was truly fearsome. Most of these space vessels were fresh from the shipyards of Luna, their munitions forged and assembled on Earth’s stellar rings. In a short amount of time, they had assembled an armada that Ri’she’a prayed could take on the Kthid.
Being two of the only citizens of the Federation who have had any previous experience with the Kthid, Ri’she’a and Leila was more determined than anyone that they succeed. Idly, she fingered the badge she had connected to her own breast… a golden, four-pointed star, a memorial. She couldn’t believe Atalanta was gone. When the Exalted ghost of a fallen heroine had begun to plead their case and investigate, using phrases normally associated with the most outlandish hyperbole to describe the threat coming towards them, she never would have believed that something would happen to the woman… but Ri’she’a also knew better than anyone else how much the idea of leaving behind her copy troubled Atalanta… how she was unconvinced that she was really still her, or had any right to live her life. Then the word came that she, one day, had abandoned her post, uploaded a bad backup to the archives in place of her good one, and self-destructed her personality matrix.
It was hard to accept, but Atalanta was gone… just like so many others. Ri’she’a didn’t know if her lover still lived… if Ki’an’i still lived, if Anna still lived. She hoped so. What she did know, however, was that their words had managed to alter the entirety of Terran and Sethis society into one of total war, mobilizing for a fight for their right to existence.
And they had just delivered the first blow.
At this juncture, pen-like instruments mounted on the bridge’s ceiling emitted yellow lasers toward the floor. This interplay conjured a hologram of another of the Exalted before them. Her iridescent form was a shimmering bright blue with alternating bright and dark spots. The posture of the woman emerging seemed even more regal and confident than Chanda, if such a thing could be believed, and she achieved this without the finery of a uniform… although the noticeably similar facial features certainly didn’t hurt.
“Nani, do not forget that in warfare speed is of the essence,” Aesha said like an august teacher schooling a pupil. “For speed leads to momentum, and momentum leads to victory.”
Chanda turned towards her ancestor. “It is Admiral Nani to you,” she responded, and after a long wait added, “Most revered Exalted ancestor.”
Aesha cocked an eyebrow, the haughty gesture discernible even amidst the swirl of azure lightning which constituted her form. But she smiled as well, enjoying the instant of levity at the interaction. “I made some adjustments to the calibrations of some of the missiles before launch based on the results from the first volleys… Just to give us a little edge,” Aesha stated, raising her chin. “After all our family has a peerless reputation to maintain.”
Both of the Indian women, flesh and blood and Exalted both, focused their attention with narrowed eyes toward the enemy. “Excellent,” Chanda responded. “The enemy awaits.” The Admiral addressed one of the technicians manning one of the Azteca’s consoles. “Zoom in on those new ships, the biggest ones.”
The window’s digitized view shifted, peering like a telescope into the distance at the Kthid’s spacecraft. With this nearness, they could now truly appreciate the behemoth size of these bulbous harvester vessels. Nothing like them had ever even been approached by the Federation shipwrights… they were almost unbelievably large, something more on the scale of the orbital rings around Earth than a spaceship.
“They’re like enormous stellar wales,” Leila Evangeline commented, awed.
“Leila, Ri’she’a,” Chanda said. “Do we have any intelligence on those?”
She shook her head. “I do not know Admiral, we only encountered one Kthid battleship while on the Midgar-6,” the Sethis pilot responded.
“I see,” Chanda responded, a dark shadow spreading over her countenance. “Not one of them was destroyed in our initial barraged,” she noted. “I’m not sure we even can destroy a ship that large… blasting holes in it feels like trying to sink a canoe by poking holes in it with a needle.”
“What is large is oftentimes important,” Aesha injected. “We should make a concentrated effort to try and find out.”
Chanda nodded. “Relay this message to all captains under my command!” the Admiral’s stentorian voice called out. “Every battleship is to direct their next salvo towards the target I’m designating Prime. Give them hell! Show them the firepower that the HEF can muster! Remember combat discipline… we fire in two waves. Batter a hole in the aegis, and slip through while it’s down.”
“Acknowledged, Admiral!” a dozen voices responded.
“Brace for the next barrage,” Leila quipped, some cathartic please being found in her voice at finally getting to pummel these intergalactic raiders.
Brace was scarcely an understatement. The Azteca’s multitude of cannonry was vast enough that it actually presented a propulsion and maneuvering problem to remain stable while unloading them, giving Ri’she’a plenty to do. In the bowels of the ship, engineers had finished reloading their artillery and signaled so to the command deck via intercoms. Admiral Chanda had green lights to fire. “All ships, barrage one!” Chanda commanded while still maintaining the impeccable posture of an upper-class officer. Not even a full second later, an immense multitude of rockets fired towards that clutter of Kthid spacecraft, their glowing flares of propulsion like sparkling stars in the view as they leaped towards the stellar horizon with mayhem on their minds. Nerves tensed and throats tightened with triumphant expectations. Now, they would for the first time get to witness the impacts firsthand!
Ri’she’a could never have imagined that the war would have started this well! Maybe, the Kthid were not undefeatable after all!
Rage boiled in Sarcand’s veins. This… outrage… was not how this was supposed to go.
The bridge aboard the Death of Hope was a scene of organized chaos – discipline holding, but an air of frantic and quick action. He barely paid attention to his Heitera beside him… too consumed in the fight was he to think about her. “Comms, command Bound in Darkness to launch every salvage drone it has,” Sarcand ordered.
“Harvestmaster, sir?” the Kthid asked. At a glare from Sarcand, however, he did as he was told, and about thirty seconds later the closest of those Harvester-ships to the Death of Hope began to vent. At first glance it looked like a gas escaping… but that was distance and scale rendering something large into something small. It was a swarm of small drones… based on the description, probably ones that were designed to be unleashed over destroyed ships or orbital stations and break them down into collectible resources for the Kthid to salvage.
“Telemetry, feet data for incoming missiles into that mess of drones. I want them to pair up, two drones to one missile, and ram them.”
“My Lord…” one of the Engineer caste on the bridge – Torvagh, one of Vakrash’s children – said cautiously. “They weren’t designed to do that kind of picket defense. They don’t have the kind of acceleration needed t-”
“I don’t care what something was designed to do,” Sarcand snarled. He didn’t realize he was clenching one of his armored fists on the metal of his chair until he heard the steel squeak in protest as it bent. “I care about what I can use them to do. Instruction them to arrange themselves fore and aft, one drone leading and the other trailing, getting updated telemetry from the first until the last second. The first probably has no chance of hitting, but if it can force the missile to evade then it will be committed to a course, and the second should be able to get it most of the time. We need a screen.”
That… should work. It was an awkward solution, and almost certainly a prohibitively extremely expensive one in terms of resources, but Sarcand was not spoiled for choice. His fleet had been caught unprepared. The ships weren’t arranged to do picket screening for one another, their Aegis fields not arranged to support their neighbors, and there were too many blind spots in their defenses. If this could plug some of them then-
Bombardments abruptly struck one of the Harvester ships. Not the one closest to the Death of Hope but further away, on the opposite side of the confusing cluster of ships. Missiles struck against the shields almost like the ringing of one vast gong, a thousand munitions hitting home in one titanic explosion that Amara felt certain would have been blinding had the monitors not reacted to mute the intensity of it. No Aegis field could so blithely ignore a strike like that, as immediately thereafter another wave of missiles honed in on it, striking like drum beats, hammering in one after the other and creating a blazing inferno of detonations and carnage. The Aegis wasn’t down, but nor was it uniform anymore… there were holes, places the relays had been blown out and engineering hadn’t had time to compensate for it yet, and those missiles slipped through the holes like water through chainmail.
That massive mega-vessel was huge, like a whale being attacked by sharks. It could tank an incredible quantity of such explosions… but its thickened alloy hull was not impenetrable, and each injury added up. Sarcand didn’t know how long it had been since the Kthid Imperium had lost a Harvester vessel. It hadn’t happened in his lifetime. It was possible it had never happened since they were not normally brought into combat at all. Certainly, it hadn’t happened even in their furious and all-consuming war against the Faliran at the very least… but as Sarcand watched the cavalcade of missiles storming in he realized that that was about to change. Sarcand, staring with numb horror at the view screen, saw it happen… the ship begin to break up.
“Comms, command Shadow of Hatred and Violet Promise to accelerate full… everything they have, away from that ship!” the gargantuan reptile bellowed. “Tell them aegis backward, now!”
Despite the chaos all around them, despite the ambush and everything, the discipline and efficiency of his harvest fleet was to be commended. The two nearby battleships reacted almost immediately.
It just wasn’t fast enough.
When the harvester vessel failed, it was catastrophic. Those ships were powered by multiple fusion power plants, like a city would have… and somewhere in the mess of damage, one of the ship’s reactor’s containment breached. A sword of white-hot plasma suddenly lashed out of the side of the dying Harvestor, passing through its armored hull and atomizing it instantly on the way through. That blade of heat slashed across the Battleship Violet Promise, and while the Aegis kept it away without issue – not surprising, as the Aegis was designed for containing a fusion reaction after all – the battle damage meant the coverage was not complete. Small bits of the superheated plasma fell onto the ship like white rain from heaven, perforating it, punching dozens of holes that went into the doomed Battleship and destroyed everything in their path.
The bombardment didn’t cease. Missile after missile smashed through the hull of the Harvester, opening up prodigiously large gashes in the armor which the following munitions struck through, exposing its interiors to the vacuum of space. The internal levels were then next-up to be pulverized. Having blasted through these, the telluric rockets then reached the very midriff of the ship. Because of this dynamic, the harvester vessel essentially exploded from the inside out. Sarcand saw the moment that the reactor containment failed everywhere, all at once. It was like watching an entire planet get detonated from its very core… All set to the soundlessness of space. This injury caused the harvester’s whole structure to dissolve apart and scatter in all directions of space. Its vaguely oval shape was reduced to diminutive shrapnel and massive comets of detritus amidst a hailstorm of plasma fire whose nexus became its exploded center. Enormous blown-off walls, each as large as cities, came careening towards the nearest battleships in its vicinity.
Most of the nearby ships, like Shadow of Hatred, had managed to vacate the kill zone. Crippled by the plasma burst, Violet Destiny didn’t. These pieces, still smoldering in flames burning briefly in the vented atmosphere, smashed against the battleship like a gargantuan physical punch. It swatted it like a bug, flinging it across space in an expanding ball of nuclear fire that didn’t last much longer than the normal flames had.
“…Shau’lun’s Vigil is gone…” a Kthid technician announced in the Death of Hope’s command bridge.
Where Sarcand not a disciplined warrior with centuries of experience in controlling his anger, he might have disemboweled that idiot on the spot. A Harvester was destroyed… maybe the first, and it was shattered in the opening moments of his campaign against the humans. No Harvestmaster had ever suffered such an insult, and this idiot had the gall to say something so useless and obvious? The Harvestmaster of the Kthid invasion fleet was so livid that he scarcely could not even think and he had to force his mind to slow down… this wasn’t a threat he could tear apart with bare hands, the way millions of years of evolution wanted him to handle danger. This required thoughts, which required a clear mind. That state, however, was hard to reach, and harder to maintain. A surprise attack?! A bombardment!? A Harvester destroyed??? This was outrageous! How could the weak puny Terrans have managed to spring such an ambush?
The red urge to murder pumped through his reptilian bloodstream. He wanted to fight. He wanted to rip and tear. He wanted to do like his ancestors had done upon the planet of Maldoror and break apart the bodies of his adversaries using only his claws and teeth. The human would pay for what they had done! He would reduce their entire species to ash! He would-
His gaze landed on his Heitera where she knelt still on the deck beside his throne. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t saying a thing. Her red hair – what was left of it – had fallen to cover her face… but even so, he could see the smile on her face.
“You,” he said, his voice slowly filling with a furious growl. Amara, slowly, turned to look at him, and while the smile on her face was small her eyes seemed to almost be glowing in the intensity those green eyes contained. “You did this,” he said, not quite believing the words as he said them… but he knew they were true. He didn’t know how yet, didn’t know where or when, but she had arranged this.
“Pacifists, Harvestmaster?” His Heitera’s voice was smooth, emotionless, and even, but it trembled slightly with emotion and intensity lurking just below the surface. How had Sarcand ever thought she had shattered so early? “Pacifists? You miserable bastard… we nearly wiped ourselves out a thousand thousand times. We killed one another for centuries and centuries… and you mistake us for pacifists? The reason we decided to study war no more was that we were already masters of the fucking thing!” By the end of the sentence, Amara was yelling, and the entire bridge was staring at her. “You wanted a fight? We’ll give you a fight you wanted, you fucking lizard… I hope you choke on it!”
Sarcand stared at her, shock and fury competing as he clenched and unclenched his fist, again and again, ruminating on violent murder fantasies. Outside of the ship, however, more explosions were visible through the Death of Hope’s array of sensors. The Terran armada would not stop their barrage. Reports began streaming in from other ships, telling of damage and demanding orders. Their entire fleet was caught within a hacksaw and it would keep severing them in twine until nothing was left. Even after these losses, his fleet was larger by a considerable amount, and his ships were likely to be superior to the Terran ones. He could fight this battle. He could press forward, despite being out of position…
The losses would be horrific.
Cold necessity gripped the Kthid Warlord. He was a creature of bloodlust, hard-heartedness, viciousness, and ambition… yet also a trained warrior of cold intelligence. Freshly emerged from the wormhole, emerging into this chaos, there was no way that their fleet could marshal into an appropriate battle formation and get up to speed to return fire without being battered. These humans did not possess the same level of offensive might as the Kthid armada, which could be discerned already in this short viewing… but their might was not inconsiderable, and they had all other strategic advantages to this engagement. If he were to continue aggressing, they would win the engagement… but their losses would be catastrophic. Years of experience informed him that this was just too unfavorable a situation to fight in.
As such, there was only one option to peruse. Sarcand’s rage and humiliation at the situation and hunger for power scarcely allowed him to speak the words, but there was no other alternative. Swallowing his draconian pride, Sarcand turned back to his bridge crew. “General retreat,” he said, as calmly as he could. “Give the order – Tell the whole harvest fleet to pull back at once! Reengage the Lilis drive, back through the wormhole. We regroup there.”
For a moment, everyone froze. The Death of Hope had never retreated… not once. Not against a dozen minor powers. The Faliran had won engagements, but never against the Death of Hope… the powerful battleship had never been sent fleeing. This was an order most unfamiliar to the crew of the Death of Hope… but after a moment to catch their breath and process the orders they leaped into motion. The circumstances were chaotic but everyone was quick and efficient in their obedience. Around him, commands were relayed to the other battlecruisers, and inputs were made to re-engage their new warp drives, swift work done well to accomplish this.
None of it would change the fact that, in the first engagement with the humans, they had blooded his nose and sent him staggering backward like a disciplined whelp… and that their retreat would leave behind a flaming stellar graveyard of smashes debris and bombarded Kthid battleships.
The other huntmasters would not be pleased with their leader in this war of conquest… Scarcely in Kthid history had an invasion begun this poorly. The Sunbreakers would be hearing about this, certainly… All that he had worked so hard for was being jeopardized before the true conflict had even begun. He was sure that Voerash would now be waiting in the darkness around him with a proverbial dagger in hand, ready to capitalize on this flop to seize his spot as Warlord via murder.
But what choice did he have?
“Turn us around, all discretionary power to the Aegis,” Sarcand ordered. “Then full ahead and make the jump. I need to handle something.” He reached down and grabbed the defiant human by the hair, and while she gasped in pain as he lifted her up off the floor by it she didn’t cry out. “Right away.”
Back on the HEF’s flagship Azteca, Ri’she’a, Leila, Chanda, and her Exalted ancestor watched through the palatial view screens that covered the massive strategy bridge of windows as the Kthid fleet retreated back through the wormhole, away from the withering barrage of Terran missiles to the sound of raucous cheering over communication lines. Behind them, they left abandoned the remains of blow-apart ships and rubble.
“They’re gone,” Ri’she’a commented, her pulse yet to return to normal… stunned and thrilled in equal measure.
“I can’t believe that we did that much damage,” Leila replied.
Around her, the Admiral watched people celebrate. She didn’t share their jubilation, but she knew well enough that letting them celebrate the immediate victory was good for morale. “This is but the beginning of the war,” Chanda stated softly. “Not even their entire fleet made it through… and what retreated still outnumbers us. And the element of surprise can only be spent once.”
“Yes,” Aesha agreed. “Next time won’t be as easy.” She nodded, shuddering slightly as she merged with copies of herself from all over the fleet, taking in their reports by merging memories and experiences… Aesha was not only the Exalted running the Azteca but was present on all of the ships in the fleet, giving them all an executive office that thought alike and could communicate with one another effortlessly. “An enemy who never learns is an enemy who would never have grown that fearsome.”
Chanda nodded regally. “Send word to Earth. First contact has been made, and the ambush worked perfectly. We move to phase two.”
Aesha nodded, and the hologram winked out. Chandra took a deep breath, swallowed her apprehensions about the battle that was coming, and took one last look out at the carnage that they had inflicted. Then she left for a bit of privacy, leaving command of the Azteca to her Captain while the Admiral went to prepare the next step of their campaign.
Back on the Death of Hope, Sarcand stomped through the corridors of his fearsome warship, dragging Amara behind him. Other Kthid avoided his passage like the passage of death itself. He was normally not a monster to be crossed, but now the titanic space dragon was pissed off beyond comparison. Walking with fist clenched and fanged teeth girthed, he was in the mood to kill the very next lifeform that crossed his path… and Amara had every reason to fear it might be her.
It didn’t matter. She had done it. She had succeeded. She could die satisfied, knowing that she had given her people the very best chance she could… and also, greedily, because it meant that Ri’she’a had made it home. She was safe. Amara could accept what happened to her, knowing that.
The door to Amara’s room opened with a hiss, and it had barely sunk into the wall before Sarcand lifted her and threw Amara at the bed like a ball. She hit it and bounced, her side striking the wall an instant later with bruising force. Despite that, Amara found the strength to laugh. “What’s the matter, Sarcand? Worried that bunch of hairless primates can be more powerful than the Dark Star?”
The door closed behind them, and Sarcand growled… clearly beyond furious. “How did you do it?” he hissed between his teeth.
“And what in the whole galaxy,” Amara spat, “makes you think I’m going to tell you anything at all?”
Sarcand shook his head, already feeling foolish. “Ah. The escape vessel you fled upon. It’s obvious really… now that I know. They weren’t all dead, were they?” He shook his head. “I wondered at that… how quickly you gave up the codes. I could believe you were Miranda’s sister, and had stayed strong all these years, or I could believe you were a frozen bar of steel, strong but brittle, and that you shattered at the first test. I could not believe both.” Sarcand seemed almost more angry at himself than he did at Amara. “I should have known.”
“Yes,” Amara hissed, mocking… her voice an exodus of years-worth of pent-up emotions; hatred, spite, fury, all the vilest emotions of mankind. “You should have, you fucking bastard. Better, you should have thrown yourself into your engines, even before you touched my sister!”
She never saw Sarcand move before his hand hit her, smashing her down against the bed again. The massive Kthid seized her feminine neck and squeezed so as to cave in Amara’s throat, his hand proving big that his fingers could wrap wholly around her neck. The Warlord lifted her off the bed, holding her grimacing visage up to his reptilian snout. Still enraged and determined, Amara kicked and punched against his bulk which accomplished nothing at all.
Meanwhile, a quick series of hot-blooded emotions flashed across Sarcand’s countenance. Rage, fury, astonishment… and finally… a slightly amused, and self-deprecating smile. Sarcand flashed his Heitera the broadest, lewdest grin she had ever witnessed him perform. “I suppose one can’t decide to have the strongest and most defiant of slaves, and then be disappointed when they rebel,” Sarcand said with a slight growl. “It was a good try… but we are still here, pet… and nothing has changed. You wanted your people to be able to fight a real war between our species? Then let’s make war!”
Amara felt something harder than a diamond and bigger than her arm poke against the insides of her thighs. She looked down towards her womanhood. Sarcand’s scaly cock was more stolidly erect and twitching than she had ever seen it before. The sight of that raging manhood took all air out of her lungs.
What followed next was not the usual coupling between a Kthid master and his designated Heitera. What followed was instead something so primal, animalistic and vicious as approaching the most brutal inclinations of any lifeform. Amara was flung onto the bed and landed face-down. Before she could sprawl into a defensible position, the Kthid tackled her from behind, pinning the dark-skinned human so firmly that she felt bones creak. Even with this ferocious impact, it was still the Warlord’s enormous cock she was the most worried about. “You cut your hair… But still left me with enough to clasp on to!” Sarcand snarled, seizing her mane and yanking brutally hard. Amara’s head was pulled backward until the back of her skull pushed against the area in-between her shoulder blades. It felt as if the roots of her hairline were about to be pulled off her scalp. The ex-Captain of the Midgar-6 cried out despite herself, trying to squirm free, but the malachite giant refused to let go.
“What should we make war about first? Your pussy or your ass?” he questioned with absolute maleficence, grasping that diamond-hard prong and guiding it towards her pinned-down nether holes.
“FUUCCK YOOUUU!” Amara Black shrieked in response.
“The ass, then… It’ll hurt more!” he concluded, guiding that stupidly large manhood towards her diminutive puckered anal opening. Amara was determined not to let him penetrate her. But just as the Kthid armada had stumbled into a battle with conditions that it could not win, so she had she been forced into an engagement where her will mattered naught. Using his tremendous muscular power, Sarcand aligned his cock with her back entry and commenced pushing. For Amara it felt as if her sphincter was being torn open, the muscles of her butt bludgeoned until loosening all power so that the space dragon’s humongous dick could strike into her bowls.
“Is this the war you wanted?” Sarcand exclaimed, performing his first rectal-digging slam. The tremendous lurch caused her whole figure to undulate. “Is this the war you intended to wage against the Kthid?” he added, delivering a second bone-jarring plunge. “Is this the might of humanity?”
Amara struggled and squirmed like a woman trying not to drown. Her actions were hectic, desperate, and frantic, totally wild in attempting to end this ferocious interspecies rapine. Every plunge for her was a struggle for life or death, a dynamic that the savage warlord had thrown her headlong into. Even with Amara Black at her most combative, he could steadily sodomize the ex-Captain with sawing thrust, causing the whole sturdily-built bed to wobble as it happened. Each punch with his ass-buried penis was a punishing one, scraping the sensitive membrane of her asshole which hugged his organ like a glove and hammering hard against her bowels. No woman could take such thunder blows forever without wilting. Amara Black gave it her best shot to fight his might, pushing at his arm, trying to kick him away. She fought as if having forgotten all of the cumulative effects of the previous years’ rape and abuse… but that was still not enough. The only consequence was that she came to remember them all again under the most punishing of circumstances.
“What’s the matter! Umph! I thought that Earth wanted a war! Uffh! What was that you said about hairless primates? Guuh!” the Huntmaster said while continuing to lurch.
The ferocious anal sex ended up going on for what felt like hours. Amara’s derisive backtalk had spurred Sarcand to immense feats of virility. Her body ended up taking more damage than the entire Kthid armada, all of it concentrated upon her bloated-open ass! That rectum was tunneled into like a mine and ruthlessly ravaged. As the loser of this war she suffered all of its pains and setbacks, while as the winner, Sarcand was privy to immense looted pleasure.
The ex-Captain of the Midgar-6 ended up suffering through the agony of her rape, unable to stop it, unable to even slow him. The thick-thewed Huntmaster was simply too formidable and mettlesome an opponent. Next to him, she could never physically compete. Whenever they engaged in a battle of dominance, it would be his willpower that came out on top.
“Uuuggghh!” the big reptile groaned. “Do you feel that? I think you do! You’ve felt that twitch many times before while we’re fucking! Satisfying that twitch until eruption is the only purpose of your life, my Heitera! I’m going to orgasm inside your ass! Feeling all of that Kthid sperm sluice around inside your tortured ass should gift you with some refreshed perspective on your enslavement!”
To her extreme chagrin, Amara could feel it. She sensed the pulsating warmth of his tubular Kthid dick and its spasmodic twitches within her guts. It was a mortifying experience.
“UUUGGGHHH!” Sarcand groaned, burrowing his monstrous rape-rool into that asshole and unleashing his masculine fury. This semi-fluid goo exploded into Amara’s rectum just like the Azteca’s missiles had detonated against the Kthid armada. In this carnal eruption, Amara once again relived the extreme shame of being a sex slave, the obviation of her will and the disgust and disgrace of violation. The defiant woman winced, grimaced and cried upon finally being anally spermed… The way his enormous dick protruded deep into her rear caused her such pain that she could not mask her excruciation.
Using his handhold on her hair, Sarcand yanked the Captain’s face to the side. He leered at all of that haggard pain he had visibly caused her with a malicious leer, satisfied with what he had accomplished in this rectal engagement. “It seems like I win battle number two in our little war,” he stated, opening his snout and then dragging his big slimy tongue across Amara’s visage. “We stand at one each.”
The sodomized woman trembled, trying hard not to whimper weakly so that he could hear her pitiful suffering verbalized. Sarcand anally unplugged her and instantaneously a whole bucketload of fizz-like sperm came oozing out of her thoroughly abused shithole. The Huntmaster jerked his shaft a few more times, squeezing out the last wads of frothy jizz.
“And here I thought that a child delivered upon the ruins of Earth would be the final pleasure you could bring me,” Sarcand said, his enormous bulk overshadowing the downed Astronaut in a physical display of the disparity between them. “But you have a lot more spunk inside you to rape away after all. By the Dark Star, I’ve been gifted with the finest slaves to keep me entertained.”
The hulking Kthid turned away from her, clambering off the bed and heading towards the door. “Now… I have a fleet to manage and repair. We’ll see if your fellow humans are as prepared and murderous as you brag.”
With her visage still burrowed in the bed, Amara Black heard the automatic door part and then re-close. She attempted to move yet felt her lower body fucked numb and deadened with pain. The Huntmaster was an absolute savage… and while Amara had survived his rage at the defeat the former captain had to face the fact. Even if Earth managed to hold off the invasion… Amara herself was unlikely to survive.
The automatic door repeated the same sliding opening sound, parting and then re-closing. Someone had entered the bedroom, but judging by the light footfalls, it was not Sarcand, nor even a Kthid. Only feminine slaves made footfalls like that. Amara’s viscera tensed at the prospect of someone beholding her in this wrecked and anally defiled position. There was only one other slave on this ship, as far as she knew, who had the ability to open her door.
The realization sparked a flare of awareness in her exhausted mind. She had not been able to speak with the Arane woman since she had realized what she was doing… that she was no spy for their masters. Had the handmaiden she had so often rebuffed the conversation of come to her to give her a new chance to speak?
With aching hurt all over, Amara Black turned her neck so to gaze over her own shoulder. The copulation with Sarcand had been so painful that her very vision had grown dim and unfocused, her vision swimming a bit. As such, she did not recognize the woman immediately. When she did, the ex-Captain of the Midgar-6 was stunned.
It was Nameless… but the Arane handmaiden wasn’t alone. She leaned against one of the walls, three sets of arms crossing over her chest… and Princes Thia stood by the side of the bed, looming above her, the tall Faliran’s expression furtive and grave. Amara Black had not expected the hive-Queen at all. What was she doing here?
Several long seconds passed in silence as they look at each other.
“I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot,” the alien matriarch said with a small twist of her lip. “We need to talk.”