Between now and February 2, 2021, I will be posting chapters from The Legend of Kyd Lumin, my upcoming book release. Below is the Prologue.
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Captain Jamos Korrel’s hands gripped tight around the metal railing of the bridge’s walkway. Through the viewport of glass, the darkness of space loomed before him.
Sensors from the ship told him the sight was a lie.
On his level and the one below where he stood, his crew frantically prepared for an oncoming battle. He hoped they could avoid it. Perhaps the two large ships that approached were nothing more than cargo ships moving goods from planet to planet, supplying the citizens with their needs.
Foolish for me to even think that he thought. Foolish to take on this responsibility at all.
Deep in the bowels of the ship, secured within a titanium fortress, he carried cargo more precious than all the credits, food and material possessions of the galaxy. The balance of good and evil rested within his ship. A history that the High Council had long since contained, never to threaten the galaxy again. He was to protect it as his crew transported it to its final destination.
He knew the potential dangers of taking on this mission. Does anyone really believe the threat will find them, though? That’s something the other guy worries about. The tragedies occur for someone else who nobody had ever known or would meet.
“Report,” Korrel called out.
An ensign on the below deck of the bridge responded, “They’re heading in our direction, sir. Estimated arrival in two minutes.”
Two minutes, and yet, other than a pinpoint of light that blended with the stars in the distance, there was no sight of them.
“Ready fighters,” Korrel said. “Prepare for battle.” He’d hoped to avoid this, that they could transport and unload their cargo without issue and be on their way, receive the due reward for a successful mission and carry on with the next one. He stepped over to a console of blinking lights of assorted colors and monitors showing views from each angle of the ship: nothing but stars.
A good captain takes nothing for face value. He understands that at all times the lives of his crew are at stake. Sometimes, he decides to protect those not on his ship—the people and citizens who need to live their daily lives, sometimes in the most mundane ways. The latter situation is what he faced now.
He reached out a steady finger toward a button on the console, pressed it and said, “Commander Skop, move security to the cargo hold. Oversee its safety. We know what these approaching ships are most likely after.”
“Aye, sir,” Commander Skop responded through the speaker in the console. Only two words, but Korrel detected a tremor to the tone of the commander’s usually deep and authoritative voice.
Korrel shuffled along the walkway on the bridge until his face was inches from the glass. The inevitable approached with swiftness. He hoped his crew was ready.
To the left and right sides of the viewport, the fighters moved into a protective formation. They were crewed by one man each, with a pewter color that streaked the ship’s overall beigeness. The wings were smooth, with a curve toward the end, as was the fighter’s hull, lending to its official name Contour Fighter. But everyone referred to them merely as fighters.
On all sides of Korrel’s view, the ships floated before him in empty space. He hoped the pilots were prepared to fight. They’d seen so little resistance. Even at times of peace, evil looms. Wars are fought. As being proved now, the cargo that Korrel’s ship carried was the root cause of conflict happening again, after all this time.
“They’re on screen,” the ensign called out, unprompted.
“Ready turrets. I want a man on each one we have!” How many times had he simply called out a command to the air, received a series of “Aye, sir”, and the order played out? This was a good crew. They knew what he wanted. They would make it through this.
“Aye, sir,” someone on the crew said.
Outside the ship, turrets turned to position, facing the direction of the oncoming enemy. Each side of the trilateral ship had ten turrets running its length. They swiveled 360 degrees in motion and angled in nearly all directions—save for pointing directly on the ship—to take down attacking enemies.
Korrel stepped over to a monitor, which bulbed outward in a spherical shape. The view, though slightly blurred, showed the approaching enemy. The ships appeared relatively small on the screen. However, based on the readouts to the left on another monitor, the size of each one matched his own.
Korrel paced the bridge of the ship. His mind raced with each scenario that was about to happen. A battle, of course. Shoot and blast with all at his disposal to obliterate the enemy into exploded ships and floating shrapnel. But what if it goes wrong? The enemy outnumbered them two to one. If each of their vessels had a similar number of fighter ships, 400 fighters would battle his 200. Was his crew able to handle that?
He had the emergency procedure. That would protect the cargo. It was a last-ditch effort to prevent the load from falling into anyone’s hands. The High Council authorized the protocol if all else had failed.
If all else failed, then that meant that Korrel also did. Could he live with that?
“Sir, your orders,” the ensign called. “The enemy is here.”
So lost in his thought, he forgot to handle the problem at hand. You deserve to lose if you let that happen again.
“Right,” Korrel said. “Prepare to engage the enemy!”
The fighters’ jets lit up in a cerulean flash, and they moved as a singular force toward the enemy. As captain, Korrel could give the orders, but he never was the participant. Like the storytellers on his home planet of Ta’u that relayed their civilization’s history but never made it, he had to watch and hope for the best possible outcome.
He swallowed hard as the enemy’s ships were now within battle distance. Their fighters were imposing and threatening. They were a large mass, built entirely for space travel. In atmosphere, they would plunk toward the ground causing a massive quake to shake the land. While Korrel’s ship was long and flat, the enemy’s ship had little depth but reached an impressive height. Korrel suddenly felt insignificant in comparison with them.
“Sir, they’re signaling us,” the ensign called.
Really? Perhaps this wouldn’t have to go the way he thought. “Put them through.” He turned to the ensign. Had he even noticed her before as more than a crew member that he commanded? He looked into her dark eyes, widened with fear. Had she no confidence in his ability or the ability of this crew? The ensign nodded in acknowledgment that she opened the communication signal with the other ship. “This is Captain Jamos Korrel of the—”
“I don’t care who you are,” a voice slithered through the communication speakers. It was higher in pitch and feminine in tone. “I’m here for two things. You give them to me now; this ends peacefully. You don’t, then you’ve created the grave for your entire crew.”
“Communication cut, sir,” the ensign said.
Korrel tensed. Should he open up the communication with them again? No. That would show weakness. He was not about to beg and plead for them to accept they can’t have the cargo and go on their way to pester some other crew. Besides, they wanted what’s on his ship. No other would do.
Their cutting communication was a sure sign that they had no intent to end this peacefully and already knew Korrel would put up a fight to stop them.
They take the battle to them, not the other way around. The upper hand was necessary for this situation, being significantly outnumbered as they were. In the viewport, the enemy’s fighters vomited out of the hangars of the enemy’s ships. Like a swarm of insects, they moved into position to protect their mother ships.
“Engage the enemy!” Korrel yelled.
For the first time, Korrel heard his order relayed by the crew across the bridge. Crew members spoke into their consoles in a flurry. No more than a few seconds had passed since he gave the order, and outside the viewport, the sight of laser blasts filled his view. A fireball that quickly imploded on itself happened. Another. Then another. It was difficult to tell whose fighters were being destroyed. His? The enemy’s? Both?
“We’ve lost five fighters!” someone called out. “Two enemy ships down.”
The fighters moved in a sweeping motion across the void of space, dancing to an unplayed melody accompanied by random explosions on all sides of Korrel’s view. The battle had yet to encroach on them to allow the turrets to assist in the fight.
The flurry of enemy fighters dispersed in the center of the swarm. His fighters moved in pursuit to continue the battle, though some still lingered. The two enemy ships were completely exposed and unprotected. Curious Korrel thought for a moment. On each of the monstrous vessels, a pinpoint of crimson light formed, growing in size to about an eighth of the ship’s height.
“Sir, it appears they’re charging weapons!” someone yelled out.
Korrel continued to stare at the crimson glow. He was mesmerized by it and uncertain of what damage it could inflict. Snapping himself from his trance, he called out, “Prepare for impact!” He grabbed one hand onto the console next to him and watched with as much horror as he had curiosity.
The crimson balls of light separated from the enemy ships. They moved in unison toward his ship. Traveling in silence but with great speed, the balls almost appeared harmless. The stragglers of his fighters that were in its path tried to escape, but the glow surrounded them and passed. In the wake, the fighters’ engines had shut off, and they floated in the same direction they traveled before the shots impacted them.
“Focus all turrets on them!” Korrel yelled. Desperation saturated his tone. He hoped to avoid it, but death could be imminent.
As the shots approached them, the turrets activated on each side of the ship. Their laser bolts shot one after the other in rapid succession. Over and over, they hit without any effect. The shots heading toward them continued moving forward.
Korrel tensed, and he imagined the rest of the crew who saw what was coming did the same. The balls of crimson light made contact with the ship. Korrel squeezed his eyes tightly shut and waited for the rocking impact.
Instead, the sounds of gears spinning came to a stop, and the ship’s steady hum silenced. Korrel opened his eyes to a completely dark bridge, and the flashing pattern of the red alert lights snuffed out like a fire. The consoles for each control and command station contained no life.
“Report!” Korrel called.
In the darkness, someone responded. “Unknown, sir. It appears those blasts knocked out all power to the ship.”
“Well, at least the bridge, sir. But I assume if we’re down, so is everywhere else.”
All power. That would mean no weapons. No shields. Life support would be off. Elevators within the ship inoperable. Communications from deck to deck impossible. The report was partially speculation, though. Perhaps….
Korrel stumbled in the darkness. He searched for the console for ship communications. As he felt around with his hands, bumping into crew members, apologizing but continuing hands outward in his search, the emergency systems kicked in, casting sporadic glows of luminance to the bridge.
“Emergency systems activated, sir. Though we have limited use.” A cadet sat, staring at the screen. “Life support systems are online. Weapons are offline. Communications, offline. Internal transport systems, offline.”
Despite the report of no communications, Korrel found the console and slammed his finger onto the button to activate it. “Commander Skop, report.” No response. “Commander Skop, report on the cargo!”
Blast! He expected the enemy to attack, but not in this way. He reasoned on their intent: the cargo. They wanted that more than anything. They’d avoid destroying the ship at all costs if it meant either obliterating or losing the load in the process.
So what’s their method? They approach. Demand the cargo be given to them. First sign of resistance they cut off communication. They engage the fighters protecting the ship. They separate them, allowing these more massive blasts to cut off power. It hinders the ship. The shields are down. Access to entry points are closed but easier to manually access without electrical. Their next plan must be to board the ship and fight their way to the cargo to take it.
Korrel snapped his head to the viewport. The enemy fighters had moved their way upward, allowing his fighters to pursue in a chase. They leveled off, now heading toward his ship. Closer and closer. It’s all a distraction. They’d continue to pluck the enemy ships from space one by one. But that’s not the real issue.
“Sensors are back online, sir.”
Korrel turned toward the crew member who spoke. “Full online?”
“It appears so.”
“Check the outer area of the ship from all sides. Anything?”
The ensign tapped at the screen, pushed some buttons on his console. “Nothing, sir. Wait! The waste access door appears to be open.”
It was a distraction. How quickly had the enemy moved in from the start of the battle that they’d already gained access to the ship undetected? It doesn’t matter. They’re on the ship. They’re in pursuit of the cargo. They can’t be allowed to obtain it.
“Lieutenant Commander Chalmers, you have the bridge,” Korrel said.
“Sir, where are you going?” Chalmers, silent through this whole ordeal, asked. He’d never seemed qualified for the command, and he showed it. Normally, Korrel would have reamed him out about questioning a superior officer in that way—especially in front of the crew—but right now, he had no time for that.
“Prepare for self-destruct. Abandon ship!” Korrel said. That oughtta shut him up.
With internal transport inactive, Korrel would need to travel to the lower deck of the ship through the emergency shafts and ladders. Fortunately, with the emergency power reestablished, automatic doors activated immediately, allowing him to travel within the deck quickly.
He ran from the bridge and down a long hallway lined with sterile silver walls. Crew members everywhere scurried in varied directions. Even with the low lighting, he knew the ship well. He studied it—knew all the ins and outs. Each elevator had ladder access to travel between decks. He entered the first ladder access. The drop to the bottom was farther than the eye could see. It might as well have been a bottomless pit. He grabbed onto the ladder and slowly moved downward rung by rung.
Time was crucial. He had no way to know how many of the enemy’s troops had boarded the ship; if they’d reached the cargo. Or even if they had the cargo. Please don’t let it be that!
He had to quicken his pace. He positioned each of his booted feet so the soles rested on each side of the ladder. With a loose grip on the same poles with his hands, he slid downward. The slide burned the palms of his hands, but he ignored it. That pain and damage to his body was the least worry he would have given what he had to do.
He counted mentally as he passed each deck level in his descent. When he was sure he was at the correct level, he squeezed tight on the ladder, further scorching his palms as they rubbed against the metal. He allowed himself a slight, painful cry and came to a complete stop.
He swung himself over to the doorway and onto the deck. Even before opening the door, the sound of a battle bled through into the emergency access. He opened the door to the sight of smoke and bodies lying on the ground.
I’m too late. I can’t be too late.
Ignoring the fight around him and barely able to see through the smoke, he ran in the direction of the cargo. While the enemy may be aboard the ship, he doubted they knew the location of the cargo. Hopefully, they had yet to find it, and they moved in irregular patterns to discover it. Of course, the number of men guarding this area probably tipped them off that they were close.
His eyes stung from the smoke entering them. His lungs similarly hurt. He was grateful to feel such moments of pain, though, because soon he’d feel nothing at all.
He finally came to a clearing without any smoke or blaster fire. The moment allowed him to relax—if only slightly—and he realized a shot hit him in the left arm. It had burned away the clothing around his shoulder. The skin and muscle were wholly exposed, though the bleeding cauterized from the laser that hit him.
Pushing that pain, too, to the back of his mind, he continued to the cargo hold. A few turns, and he was there. The way things were going, the enemy would be here soon.
Four troopers guarded the door. Lieutenant Bonte was one of them. He immediately stepped forward. “Sir, all is secure. The enemy has not breached this section yet.”
“Yet, being the key word lieutenant,” Korrel said. He stuffed away the physical pain and some onset of emotional distress for what was about to occur. Hopefully, Lieutenant Commander Chalmers had found a way to alert the entire ship regarding evacuation. Many lives would be lost regardless. At least it was for an essential purpose.
“Commander Skop is inside, sir,” Bonte said. “The hol—”
“Stop! Don’t say it. The enemy may suspect it’s on this ship, but we can’t confirm it verbally. There’s no telling if they have a way of listening or not.”
“Right. Sorry. The cargo is secure. No report from the commander otherwise.”
“Very well. I need access. You and your men guard this door for another few minutes. Then follow emergency procedures for evacuation.”
“You heard me.”
Korrel stepped to the door, which led to the room containing the cargo. It opened vertically, allowing him access to the room. Immediately, six troopers within the room stood ready with their blasters in hand and aimed at him. He motioned his hands outward, “At ease. The enemy has yet to breach this area.”
“Captain!” Commander Skop approached from behind the troopers, separating them. Though dressed in his proper uniform, he seemed confused and disoriented. “What’s happening? I’ve been trying to reach you. Have they gained access to the ship?”
“Yes. They’ve managed to disable most ship systems.” He glanced around, acknowledging the statement as he shifted his eyes to each of the emergency lights that lit the room. “I see no other recourse than to enable the self-destruct sequence.”
Commander Skop swallowed hard. A lump traveled down his throat slowly, taking a while to reach the bottom of his thin neck. If the troopers overheard, they refused to allow the news to shake their resolve. They stood at the ready; blasters still pointed in the direction of door entry.
“I understand, sir.”
The self-destruct sequence initiation had to be enacted by two commanding officers of the ship. Each connected to an access panel in which they insert a key. After typing in their authorization code, they must turn the key at the same time to activate the self-destruct. The string of commands in their code determined the timing of the self-destruct: Immediate or Delayed. Immediate explains it all and requires a code ending in three zeroes. Delayed signaled a set time as laid out with the final three digits of the authorization code. Both commanding officer’s last three digits had to match; otherwise, the self-destruct would fail to initiate.
Typically, this access was on the bridge of the ship. But in this case—carrying cargo that could affect the entire galaxy’s well-being—a special self-destruct access was installed with the cargo. This unique installation would destroy the ship and all inside of it and protect the cargo from falling into the wrong hands.
It was a last resort call. A decision Korrel did not make lightly. But the current conditions made the choice evident because the enemy had clearly shown their ability to overcome any resistance. Already, the sounds of blaster fire, explosions and screams of soldiers penetrated the walls of the room holding the cargo. They were closing in fast.
“Initiate immediate self-destruct,” Captain Korrel said. The moment felt unreal to him. As if he spoke the words protruding from his lips in a dream. Immediate self-destruct also meant immediate death for anyone on board the ship, including the crew’s loyal members in the room with him.
“Aye, sir,” Skop said with a nod. A good subordinate who trusted in his captain to the death. Korrel wished he could recommend him for a medal of some kind. Unfortunately, that day would never come.
In the center of the room was a large enclosed structure made of an impenetrable metal, even by the blast of laser bolts or detonators. Within this protective fortress stood thin rectangular platforms. On each of these platforms rested the cargo—one a cube and one a pyramid. The pyramid was a black color with etched patterns and a glowing burgundy light that moved and swirled behind the etchings. The cube was similar, though it glowed more like the skies at day, shifting from darker to lighter hues with a golden casing. On each side of the structure stood a trooper—the final line of defense against any attempt to confiscate the cargo.
Korrel stared at the cargo. Such little things that cause so much trouble. They’d been brought under control over the past several hundred years. They’d always be a threat. No matter how well hidden, somebody would find their way to them so they could wreak havoc in whatever part of this galaxy or the next where they existed. Of this, Korrel was certain.
Skop stood to the opposite end of the structure. He flipped open the access panel, which revealed a keypad with a keyhole below it. Korrel did the same with the one in front of him. “You ever done this before?”
“Me either. Make sure you punch in your access code properly. It must end in—”
“Zero-Zero-Zero.” Skop hesitated. “Sorry, sir. I’m just nervous.”
“As you should be. Think of the fate of the galaxy at large, if those two things fall into the enemy’s hands.”
Skop nodded his understanding.
“Initiate now,” Korrel said.
Korrel reached into his tunic, pulling out the necklace he wore with the key that dangled on it. He yanked at the chain, snapping it off his neck.
Outside the room, the sound of blaster fire and screams had become deafening. The enemy must be right at the door. They had no time to waste.
Korrel inserted the key into the hole and punched in his authorization code. 0525197712202019—
The doors to the cargo room exploded open in a rage of ear-deafening sounds and blaster fire. The odor of smoke and burnt flesh filled the room. The troopers inside the room engaged in combat with those storming in. It was clear that they would not be able to stop the enemy.
Korrel glanced over to Skop. He laid face down on the floor, a blaster bolt to his back. Had he completed the sequence? Even if he had, how could he turn both keys at the same time?
“Help here!” Korrel yelled to the trooper that guarded the cargo on Skop’s side. “I need you to turn that key on my mark.”
The trooper, blaster still aimed at the approaching onslaught of enemies, stepped backward to the access panel. Korrel punched in his final three digits—000—and placed his hand on the key. The trooper placed his hand on Skop’s key.
I hope this works.
Before he could yell out to turn the key, a blaster shot hit him in the leg, knocking him to the ground. He lost his grip on the key but was able to lift himself. The pain was unbearable. He turned his head to see the other trooper that guarded the cargo on his side was down also. The trooper with the key continued shooting blaster shots behind him with one hand, the other on the key.
Korrel reached his hand up to the access panel. He felt around until his fingers found the key. There! With one final effort, he yelled out, “Turn it!” The trooper nodded his understanding. Korrel turned his key. With the last click, a deadly laser blast hit him in the chest. The trooper, too, had fallen to the ground. He could only hope that he had been able to turn the key also. He hoped he succeeded as his eyesight faded to black and his breaths came in short fits until finally, all his conscious functioning had stopped.
Unknown to Captain Korrel, the trooper had managed to turn the key simultaneously and initiated the self-destruct sequence of the ship. Immediately, the structure holding the cargo fell through the floor and out into open space. As the ship fell into a rapid succession of explosions on all decks, taking out enemy and ally alike, the structure holding the cargo opened, exposing the two objects to space. The rectangular platforms burst into faux fire, complementing the explosions already taking place. This camouflaged them, not only by sight but also by sensors. The platforms then beamed forward, propelling the two objects at near light speed through space in a direction that would remove them from the galaxy entirely via the shortest possible route.
For Korrel’s galaxy, the threat that those two objects posed would now be gone and dead. They would travel for millennia. They were patient. They would wait. Another galaxy would show up eventually.
See what happens next in chapter I. Kyd Lumin!
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