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Authors: Barlow,M

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BOOK: Legacy Of Korr
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Mara chuckled. “Stop it! I was heir to the throne.”

Alissara laughed. “Never stopped you from doing what you want.”

Mara looked at her mother. “She told me he loved someone.”

“A wife?”

“Nefertari, his third wife. She was petite, dark-skinned with beautiful features—the feminine version of him.”

Alissara nodded in understanding, but didn’t comment.

“—And there was another.”

“Wife/sister?”

Mara shook her head. “Forbidden love.”

“Really?”

Mara rubbed her wrist piece and recalled her chat with Ahmose three and half thousand years ago on the third night after their arrival.

The night was cool in Abydos. A chilly wind swept the area. Little Mara’s body quivered.

“How old are you, Princess?” King Ahmose asked.

“Fifty.”

He chuckled. “Incredible, I’m twenty-five, and I’ll be long dead before fifty—kings have a short life span.”

“How did you become a king?”

He gazed into the horizon. “I was born to it. My father was a king. He died trying to reclaim our land from the invaders. My mother took over until I came of age.”

Little Mara’s smile faded and her little eyes dimmed. “What happened?”

“I lost most of my family and my country to the Hyksos,” Ahmose said, and continued when he saw the questioning look in her eyes. “An army from the far east. At first, they invaded the north. Then they marched south toward Thebes where my family ruled.”

“They killed your family?”

“No, they exiled them to the Nubia in the south. From exile I waged war against Khenzer, the ruler of Thebes—a giant of a man who subjected my people to torture and slavery. After I defeated him and reclaimed the south, I moved north. One city at a time, I freed my land until I reached their capital. I laid siege to it for years until it, too, fell, and I exiled them from Egypt.”

“Were they horrible people, like the Manakaris?” Little Mara asked.

Ahmose shook his head. “I once infiltrated Thebes while they ruled it, and I met a beautiful woman.”

Little Mara’s eyes lit up at the mention of another woman.

“She was the daughter of Khenzer,” Ahmose continued. “I tried to hate her, but I couldn’t. I met her a few times, but she became ingrained in my memory with her beautiful, yellow hair, green eyes, and fair skin. There were no women like her.”

Little Mara glared at him. “Your wife is beautiful.”

“That she is, and more.” He paused for a while. “I never pursued the Princess or tried to start anything because, even though she was kind-hearted, she was of my enemy. And I killed her father myself in battle to reclaim Thebes.”

Mara was intrigued, and a little relieved. “What happened to her?”

His eyes watered. He looked away. “She escaped to the north when we captured Thebes and left with the rest of the Hyksos after their capital fell.”

Mara’s eyes dimmed. “That’s sad.”

He continued to fight the stubborn tears—they were a sign of weakness and not proper for a king. “I think of her more often than I like, and I don’t know what became of her.”

Mara closed her eyes to contain her old memories, but her emotions ran like wild horses. Her wrist piece was warm from how many times Mara rubbed it. Alissara still waited for her answer.

She lifted her eyes from her mother. “Yes, but she left Egypt with her people when Ahmose exiled them. He kept himself busy with construction projects and established trade routes. Did you know he built a pyramid?”

“Really?”

“Yes, the last pyramid built by an Egyptian king.”

“Did any of it help?”

Mara shook her head. “I doubt that anything helped take his mind off her or ease his pain.” The same way nothing took her mind off him.

“How long did you stay?”

“A month. We visited the cities in Egypt and a few other countries, but the Pyramids have always been my favorite spot.”

“You should’ve landed in Egypt,” Alissara said.

“With Korr gone, I have no places with good memories attached to them.”

“You didn’t want to go there when you’re upset?”

Mara nodded. “When we get a chance, I will visit the Pyramids and Luxor.”

“What’s there?”

“Great temples, tombs, and the valleys of the kings and queens. The whole city is an open museum with monuments stacked side by—”

Alissara smiled mischievously and interrupted her. “The mummy of the King, is there.”

Mara glared at her younger sister. Her angry look lasted a second or two before she lowered her gaze to her mother. “Yes.”

“Where is Shara?”

“She is studying the pilot’s equipment,” Mara said and told Alissara everything about her trip to the Philippines until she captured the alien, including his rant about her mother.

“Was he telling the truth?”

Mara didn’t answer.

Her little sister rushed to the Queen’s defense. “He can’t be. You know our history as well as I do.”

Mara stared at her mother and took a deep breath. “What if we’ve been fed lies?”

“I can’t believe you’re entertaining this drivel. Our mother wouldn’t do something so cruel.”

She sat down in bed next to her mother, facing Alissara. “Yes, but you know her sense of duty. What if she did it to protect our world?”

Mara recalled what her mother used to tell her. ‘Your head has always been in the clouds, and you’ve never understood what it’s like to be responsible for billions of lives.

“What if she did it?”

Alissara’s eyes smoldered. “It changes nothing. Unless you want us to die and this world to face the same fate as Korr, you have to forget this nonsense and continue the preparations.”

No, it would change everything. It would mean they were the aggressors. The doom of Korr resulted from their reckless behavior. It would mean a lot, and it would put off the fire that kept Mara going. How could she hate the Manakaris if the Queen attacked their world, and they were retaliating?

True, they destroyed Korr, but she would’ve done the same. She was doing the same on Earth. They destroyed her planet, and now she was doing everything she could to wipe out what’s left of them. But this was a conversation for another time. Perhaps when the Queen could answer her questions.

Mara shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. I’m going back to the desert.”

“I will stay here for now. Once you have enough ships, I’ll come over to train the pilots.”

Mara nodded and left, thinking about what the Manakari pilot told her. Was it possible she was on the wrong side of this war? Or was the pilot playing tricks on her?

*****

Alissara

 

April 4, 2031

A hologram of the universe occupied the space above the conference table in the Space Center. Shara swiped to get to a specific galaxy and pinched her fingers around the corner of the hologram to enlarge it.

“They will arrive at this location tonight.”

Emily’s face tensed at the thought of the invaders closing in on Earth. After what’d happened to Korr, Shara understood how she felt.

“How did you pinpoint the location?”

Shara swiped and pointed at a distant galaxy. “I studied the communication devices we recovered from the Philippines. The Manakari sent his last message to this location. I calculated the speed based on the time that passed since they left Korr until they got to this galaxy.”

“They’re still far.”

“Yes, the Manakari pilot would’ve had to charge his solar battery for a month to send one message.”

“Or just tap into the power grid?”

“Someone would’ve noticed,” Shara said. “Regardless, we have his equipment, and I modified its primary function to track their movement. And yes, we’re cleared to use your power grid.”

“So, we can track their travel in real-time?”

Shara shook her head. “No, you can only track them after they teleport. They exist outside the space-time continuum when they warp.”

“Huh?”

“When they warp, it’s as if they don’t exist.”

Shara knew the concepts were beyond her comprehension. The ships traveled faster than light. An impossibility on Earth until last month. But with her set up, Emily could follow the jumps of the Manakari army.

“This is brilliant,” Emily said, her eyes wide. “In the blink of an eye, you tore down the physics laws that have restricted our technology and imagination for a century. Have you studied the beginning of the universe at all?”

Shara gave her a stern look. “Focus, Emily.”

Emily’s cheeks burned with a pink color. “Sorry!”

The young astrologist was funny, bright, and curious—the closest this planet had to Alissara.

“Perhaps when the war is over. We have to travel to the US to help strengthen their army.”

“I’ll hold you to that. How long do we have before they arrive?”

“Difficult to say. Their deep-space drives are primitive, and they crawl to accommodate the slowest ships in their fleet…” Shara said and drifted, in her own mind.

The Manakaris jumped a hundred thousand light years at a time, and if they needed twenty-four hours to recharge their drives, they’d need to jump six hundred times.

“Less than two years.”

Emily fell silent. Her enthusiasm dampened, and her smile faded. A month ago, she lived a normal life with no care in the world. Now, she could see the inevitable end to her world.

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” Shara said. “You have two years to prepare, and we’re here to help. Within weeks, we built tens of battleships and enhanced thousands of your soldiers, and you can travel outside your galaxy now. Don’t give up.”

Her words didn’t seem to comfort Emily. And for a good reason. An overwhelming army was on the way, and the fact they could be ready to face it wasn’t reassuring. The odds were stacked against Earth. Humans could do everything in their power and lose.

“I would’ve given my life to give Korr two more years,” Shara said and checked her wrist piece. “I’m sorry, but I must leave to Western Australia in an hour to inspect the battleships.”

Emily nodded.

“Listen carefully. You’ll be responsible for tracking the Manakaris’ movement from now. It’s a big responsibility. You must stay alert. Keep monitoring, and if anything puzzles you or appears out of the ordinary, contact me or Noah at once.”

Emily nodded again.

Big responsibility, but Shara knew Emily had the motivation and discipline to shoulder it. Humans must step up to save their planet, and Emily was no exception.

*****

The doors closed. Soldiers and officers sat down and secured their seat belts. The pilot and his assistant inspected the navigation system, the energy levels, and the deep-space drive.

Alissara leaned forward to speak to the pilots of the other battleships through the general communication channel.

“Take off.”

The engines roared, lifting the metal monster off the ground. Dozens of soldiers, a handful of officers, and two pilots exchanged tense and fearful looks. Pioneers, they were, and brave soldiers, conquering mankind’s last frontier. Still, fear lingered. Fear of the unknown and the unexplored. They sat down, buckled in, and put on their bravest face.

A gentle vibration. The ship sped forward and gained elevation until it left the atmosphere. Nine more ships followed. The planet beneath became small. Smaller. It disappeared.

“Get ready for the jump,” Alissara said, through the radio.

Metal plates slid to cover the windows before the interstellar jump. The pilots retracted protruding parts until the battleship looked like a smooth, metal disk. Without the windows, the crew wouldn’t see the jump like she would.

Alissara sat down and pushed a button to secure herself in the seat. Two metal straps surrounded her body—one around her waist and another above her thighs.

“Start the sequence.”

The pilot switched off the engine. The gentle vibration stopped. He switched on the generators to charge the deep-space drive. The vibration returned, more intense. A soft humming sound filled the battleship. It took a few minutes to energize the drive. The pilot activated the drive and pushed the warp button.

The battleship traveled at an incredible speed forward. A beam of light that punched through the darkness. The space around the ship rippled before it disappeared. The battleship slid down a long, dark tunnel. Fast beyond comprehension, for a minute, maybe two. The vibrations intensified. The engine vibration was a soft whisper compared to this.

Darkness ended.

The battleship exited the tunnel into an enormous white space with round, black portals everywhere around the ship. The pilot had programmed the destination into the navigation computer, and the ship floated towards a portal. Although it looked like the other portals around it, it sent a unique vibration signature. Unique as a fingerprint.

Her crew had amazed and exhilarated looks on their faces. The high speeds put a heavy weight on their chests. The never-before-explored destination intimidated them, but nothing surpassed the excitement of the adventure. They were enjoying themselves.

The ship traveled through the black portal. Alissara braced herself for a rough ride as the ship blasted down another tunnel with the same mind boggling speed. The soldiers expected it this time. They clutched the edges of their seats.

In a minute, the ship exited the tunnel. The pilot retracted the metal plates. Space appeared around the ship, but it wasn’t the one humans were familiar with. There were no planets, stars, or asteroids. Instead, it was a dark, open space as far as their eyes could see.

“Start the engine and wait for everyone to catch up.”

The pilot did as she asked.

Two ships took longer to arrive. They must’ve fought their nerves for a while before they jumped. It was normal. Following through with the second jump took guts. And a good thing they had them. The portals' domain wasn’t fit for life. They wouldn’t have lasted a day in it.

The pilot swung around to speak to her. “What do you think?”

“Very smooth, considering we mixed Mendium in the stabilizing core with common minerals.”

The navigation system detected all the battleships. Alissara closed her eyes in relief. She removed her safety belts and got up from her seat. She tapped the pilot’s shoulder and motioned him to give her some room.

Alissara checked the navigation system until she located the asteroid field. She set it as a destination and leaned forward to speak to the other ships.

“We’re traveling to a near asteroid belt. It goes without saying that if you damage the ship, it comes out of your salary.” She stepped back to give the pilot room to maneuver through the intricate field.

With the help of his assistant, he navigated the battleship until they reached the other side of the belt, without any damage. Alissara’s eyes were wide-open as she watched the incredulous skill the pilots had shown. They absorbed everything she taught them and execute it to perfection.

“Locate the asteroid,” Alissara said.

He nodded and activated a device on his dashboard. The device detected the Mendium-rich asteroid. It was one of the larger asteroids in the field with enough room for the battleships to land.

Alissara’s landed first.

“Prepare for extraction.”

Soldiers and mining specialists in spacesuits accompanied drilling equipment outside. They needed ten tons of Mendium, and ten teams and a fleet of mining equipment could extract that amount within hours.

Alissara Joined them on the surface of the asteroid where rich veins of Mendium were visible on the surface. They were efficient. First, they drilled small holes—no more than one inch in diameter—in and around the veins. They loaded them up with explosives. Then they placed timed detonators in the holes and retreated to safety.

There were small, controlled explosions with heavy vibration, but no sound. Chunks of rock and fragments of Mendium flew everywhere. Within seconds the dust settled. The teams returned to the mining sites and collected the metal. They placed it in metal containers they brought with them. Not the most advanced mining method, but effective.

The process was time-consuming, and they had a handle on it. Alissara returned to the ship, sank in her seat, and closed her eyes. She ignored the vibration from the explosions outside the battleship. Once they’re done, she’d inspect the metal, but she could rest for now.

“They’re done,” the pilot said, tapping her shoulder.

Alissara opened her eyes. Twelve hours had passed. She unbuckled her seatbelts and walked out of the ship. Every team filled their container with over a ton of Mendium. She inspected the container.

“Perfect,” Alissara said. “Load up.”

The soldiers recovered their equipment and the Mendium they collected. From what she gathered, this was cheaper than buying Mendium on Earth thanks to the energy-efficient drives.

“Set navigation to Earth and let’s head back.”

Small victories were steps in the right direction, but Alissara wished they had thousands of ships—not a hundred.

*****

The report was long. Too long. The fruits of a nine-week investigation and surveillance he commissioned. Noah started reading the report around nine in the morning. He read it, then he went through it again. He’d dreaded what would come of it. And he was right.

Two agents came to see him at noon. “Are you ready, sir?” One of them asked.

Noah closed the report and tossed it on his desk. “No easy way to do this. Let’s get it over and done with.”

He strolled through the hallway to the large office at the end of the hall. He knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Matt’s voice came from the office.

Noah entered. Matt glanced at the two agents behind him before he motioned Noah to take a seat. Noah ignored the chair and examined him for a long while.

Matt pushed away his hologram. “What is it, Noah?”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did you betray your country?”

Matt shot to his feet and motioned the agents to leave, but they stood still. His eyes turned red to match the rest of his face. “Have you gone mad?”

Noah motioned the agents. They moved to arrest Matt.

“Stop,” Matt shouted at the agents, his voice every bit as angry as he was. “What do you think you’re doing?”

The agents ignored his protests. One of them grabbed his hands and handcuffed them behind his back.

“You just signed your death certificate.”

“No, I didn’t,” Noah said. “Two months back, I started this investigation.” He walked around the office and sat in Matt’s chair. “We knew we had a mole in our ranks when the news about Shara’s arrival was leaked. With the authorization the Prime Minister gave me, I requested a team to look into ASIO agents and managers who had access to the information.”

Noah grabbed the hologram back. He signed Matt out and logged in with his own credentials. “The infiltration team established contact with their command center. We traced the contact to a small area and started digging. We wanted to see which agent contacted that same area, but we found nothing.”

There were three unread emails. Noah opened the first one. “I figured maybe we’re missing the obvious. The infiltration team was here as soon as Shara arrived. A small time window that left the PM, Jackie, and you as prime suspects.”

Noah opened another email. “It was a tough conversation with the PM, but he agreed to a more thorough investigation that included him. And that’s when I found you. The real you.”

He pushed away the hologram and got to his feet. In two strides, he was in front of Matt. “The one that leaked our most sensitive information. The one that provided our fleet and mobilization information to our enemies, so they knew where to strike and how many troops and vessels to bring to our shores. Our shores, Matt. And you ask me if I’m mad?”

BOOK: Legacy Of Korr
5.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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