Authors: James Campbell
Tags: #Speculative Fiction
Legend of Oria
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, place, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or fictitiously used. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Copyright © 2013 James D. Campbell
All rights reserved.
Visit my website at www.jimcampbell.us
This book has taken many years to write and get published. There are many who helped me with the initial draft and encouraged me to keep working on the book. A special thanks goes to Sana Campbell, my wife, who supported me in reviving the work and seeing it through publication.
I wish to thank the countless number of people, both friends and family
that helped me with this effort.
In particular I wished to thank
Curtis Kitto who helped me better understand Native American history and helped review an initial completed version of the book.
My thanks and appreciation goes to
Jim Neary who spent countless hours and train rides discussing with me the storyline and ideas for events in the story.
I want to thank my extended family for reviewing
the book including my brother Chip Campbell, my sister Joan Henderson, and their children.
A massive explosion shook the Azortec Federation Starship Zorgon. Its bridge exploded into a ball of fire locking Captain Bentong and Lieutenant Zanstrom into the combat bridge. Bentong knew the end was near, at least for the Zorgon, if not the entire 3rd Quadrant Fleet!
Bentong stared at the command console in disbelief as the console flooded his display with damage reports. The Creytes had destroyed over 80% of his ship including the stardrives. Bentong, the consummate soldier, scanned the immediate sector confirming his suspicions. Almost nothing was left of the once powerful 3rd Quadrant Fleet. Only a single battle class starship remained, with all other ships destroyed or severely damaged like the Zorgon.
It slowly dawned on Bentong that he was the most senior officer left in the 3rd Quadrant Fleet and unless he could get through the wall of flame below, he would die as well. Bentong ordered Zanstrom to attempt an escape through the flames below. He had one last task to perform before attempting his own escape. Bentong had to inform Admiral Alutec of their imminent defeat.
“Admiral Alutec, I have bad news, the 3rd Quadrant Fleet is almost totally destroyed. We were not able to stop the Creytes. They had over 50 battle class starships to our 5.”
Alutec secretly smiled at his sinister success. “How strong is the Creyte force now?”
“They still have at least 40 operational battle class starships! We don’t have anything left to stop them from attacking Azortec!”
“Captain, that’s no longer your concern. I’ll divert forces from the 4th Quadrant fleet to stop them. Only concern yourself with your crew’s safety, and of course, your own safety. Are you going to be able to get out of there?” Alutec hoped Bentong would perish with the entire 3rd Quadrant Fleet. That would insure that the faulty intelligence reports would never make their way back to Azortec Central Command.
“No sir. We are as good as dead. Admiral, I believe we have a mole in AIC.” (Azortec Intelligence Command)
“And why is that?” Alutec roared back as he laughed to himself. He was the one who placed the faulty intelligence reports with the 3rd Quadrant Fleet.
“Our intelligence reports had to be faulty. AIC would never underestimate Creyte strength by that magnitude.”
“Captain, you must be mistaken; however, I will see that it is checked
out by Internal Security.”
“Admiral it was . . .”
Admiral Alutec’s communication line with the Zorgon went dead. Alutec took a deep breath, he knew the Zorgon and its’ crew had met their end. Now, the faulty intelligence would never get out, at least as soon as Alutec purged his conversation with Bentong from the record.
Meeting Of High Command in Azortec Headquarters
Admiral Oria, Captain Borella, and Commander Zariello debarked from the AFS Hercules moments after docking with the AFS Headquarters Space Station. All of them were wondering why they had been recalled so hastily from battle to report directly to President Shalat. Oria knew something was up.
Oria and his men entered Shalat’s inner chamber and saw him sitting in his usual chair holding his head with both hands. Admiral Alutec sat at his side. Shalat looked exhausted and disheveled, as if he had slept in his clothes. He smiled weakly at Oria and his men as he motioned them towards his desk.
Shalat had been up all night having caught only moments of sleep in his chair. He looked past the blur of flashing lights and e-mail messages cluttering his desktop and locked eyes with Oria for several seconds. The two men had known each so long that each could almost read the other’s thoughts. Shalat, after what seemed like an eternity, finally broke eye contact with Oria and motioned for him and his men to sit down.
“Admiral, it’s good to see you and your senior officers again. The Federation continues to be grateful for your victories over the Creytes.”
“Thank you sir, it’s good to be back. By the way, what’s up? You look like death warmed over.”
Shalat threw back his head and attempted a laugh when a grave look took over his face. “I feel like death warmed over, and I fear, you will find the feeling contagious by the time you leave.”
Admiral Alutec quietly absorbed the subtleties of the discussion while maintaining a poker face. He wanted nothing more than to see Oria leave in distress. Oria’s pain was Alutec’s pleasure. It reminded him of his pleasurable evening with Shalustra, a traitorous senior member of the Azortec Council, several days earlier. During that evening, Alutec agreed to Shalustra’s plan of ridding Azortec of Oria and Shalat by covertly working with the Creytes. In return, Alutec would gain control over several Creyte farm planets.
Providing faulty information to the 3rd Quadrant Fleet completed the first part of Alutec’s bargain. Next, he had to guarantee to keep Oria out of the 3
Quadrant and prevent him from protecting it. Alutec planned to accomplish this deed by having Oria transferred to the 1
Shalat stared straight into Oria’s eyes. “I know that you and your crew
must be exhausted from yesterday’s victorious 4
Quadrant battle. Alutec wants me to have you and your fleet transferred to the 1
Quadrant in order to protect Azortec. Without the 3
Quadrant fleet, there is not much between the Creytes and Azortec.”
Alutec found his opportunity to break into the conversation. “That’s correct Admiral. The 3
Quadrant is lost. Captain Bentong, I believe he was a friend of yours, is presumed to be one of the casualties. Our last report from him indicated that the entire 3
Quadrant Fleet was during the battle. As you know, that leaves the 1
Quadrant exposed and so Azortec is exposed.”
“Admiral Alutec, I agree with your assessment. However, you still have large forces in both the 1
Quadrants. Why don’t we divert ships from each of the remaining quadrants and shore up what’s left of the 3
Shalat interrupted the two men. “Gentlemen, please. You can argue strategy later. At least wait until I reveal an approach that might accomplish both of your goals. But first, Oria, I have bad news for you.”
Oria took a deep breath as he thought that losing the 3
Quadrant Fleet was more than enough bad news for a day; “More bad news?”
Shalat paused for a second. “Yes Oria. There is no good way to tell you this. The Council, in an effort led by Shalustra, is caving in to more Creyte demands. In fact, they want to surrender another 12 primitive planets including your home planet Earth to the Creytes.”
Admiral Alutec leaned forward in his chair and glared at Oria. “Yes and there is nothing that either you or Azortec can do about it. Protecting Azortec is our number one priority. Earth is history!”
Shalat snapped back at Alutec’s remark. “Not so fast! We still have one option to pursue.”
Alutec grunted. “You would have to circumvent the Council, Mr. President, and I believe that the Council will back me up in wanting Oria transferred to the 1
Shalat was growing impatient with Alutec. “You may be right about the Council. However, I am still President and Commander-in-Chief of the Military. The Council gave us two weeks to find another solution and I don’t plan on giving up.”
Alutec snickered. “You have your two weeks for whatever good it will do. Even Oria will have a hard time finding a solution to this problem in two weeks.”
Shalat cut Alutec short. “Oria, in spite of Alutec’s objections, the Council has formally gone on record thanking you for your service to Azortec and recognizing you for your accomplishments in battle. Given the legend behind your name and your wide spread public support, the Council does not have the nerve to directly confront you. They will give
you two weeks before signing an agreement with the Creytes surrendering Earth and 11 other primitive planets to them.”
Alutec’s words reminded Oria why he hated dealing with Alutec and the Azortec military elite. They were a bunch of condescending and pompous blowhards always looking after their own selfish interests. Yet in this case, Oria felt Alutec had a point. After all, what type of defense could he assemble in two weeks’ time without the active support of the Azortec military establishment? “Mr. President, thanks for your support, however, I believe Alutec makes a good point. What kind of defense can I build in only two weeks?”
A slight smile broke across the President’s face. “Somehow, I knew you would ask that. Actually, I’ve thought about that and devised a plan. You’re going to have to traverse the space/time continuum. Two weeks is the best that I could do here. The Council is divided over even giving you the two weeks. Regretfully, it appears that you have strong enemies on the Council. They are the same ones who are pushing through policies that are weakening our defenses against the Creytes.”
Oria paused for a moment and exploded, “A trip through the space/time continuum is dangerous, if not impossible! Besides, what will that buy? You must have put up some fight to get that through the Council!”
Alutec also was flabbergasted at Shalat’s plan. “Mr. President, Oria is right, the space/time continuum is dangerous. Indeed, this is a very bold and dangerous move. I can’t believe the Council approved this plan. Every time someone has attempted to traverse the continuum, it has ended in disaster. Oria, you of all people know this first hand.”
Shalat interrupted Alutec and looked at Oria “The Council hasn’t agreed to this strategy. I am exercising executive privilege. There are traitors on the Council and I plan to sniff them out and destroy them. As far your concerns Alutec, we can reduce the risk to an acceptable level.”
Oria was surprised at Alutec’s resistance. He used to be one of the more reasonable of the pompous military elite and Shalat’s highest and most trusted military advisor. Something had changed. Oria wondered if Alutec had joined the traitors. “Shalat, if you say the risk can be reduced to an acceptable level, my crew is ready to go. Also, independent of your investigations and those of the AIC, we have obtained non-conclusive evidence that several members of the Council have received bribes from the Creytes. Further, we suspect that there may be some high level plants within our military command structure. I would like to stay and help sniff out those traitors. However, I will follow orders and make Earth my first priority.”
“Yes Oria, I know you’d like to help me rid Azortec of the traitors and I also know that you still have an allegiance to your home planet Earth. After
all, how long has have we know each other? Has it been almost 125 years? In that time, I’ve learned how you feel about Earth. Take a skeleton crew onboard the Hercules and return to Earth. When you get there, you will meet a Starship. This ship will be your ship now called the USS Hercules after traveling a year back into time and spending a year on Earth. Your mission is to convince Earth to join forces with us and defeat the Creytes. You will need to exchange ships with the other crew. The USS Hercules will have the necessary programming to guide you back one year in time to an orbit around Earth. In order to get there, you will use the USS Hercules to travel the continuum. This second Hercules only exists in this time loop of the space/time continuum. I know this plan is risky and I am confident that you will succeed. This morning, I received a communication from your counterpart on the USS Hercules. I can’t tell you anymore. As you know, the intricacies of time travel through the continuum are delicate.”
“Yes sir. We will proceed per your command.”
Shalat saw the concern on Oria’s face. “Oria, don’t worry about us here, I have some cards up my sleeve that the traitors on the Council don’t yet know about.”
Oria wasn’t quite convinced that Shalat would survive without his help. He knew that the two weeks allotted for his trip would stretch his friend’s resources. Yet he still had to return to Earth. “Very well, but when I return; I will bring with me the power to protect Azortec and its freedom!”
Shalat knew Oria would be true to his word. “Yes Oria, I know you will return, and believe you will bring with you the power to rid the Azortec Federation of the Creytes and deal with the corruption in our council. In fact, I’m counting on it. When you finally get on board the USS Hercules, it will contain accommodations to sedate your crew during the voyage through the continuum. Oria, of all the people in Azortec, you are the only one that has any chance of successfully making it through the time/space continuum. Our future and Earth’s are in your hands.”
“Thanks for your confidence, sir.”
“Oria, at the risk of repeating myself, this mission is not just about saving Earth. The future of Azortec depends on the success of your mission. As you know, our society has become docile. We haven’t been at war for many thousands of years. It has only been in the last 500 years that we have even had an enemy. The people of Azortec have no will to fight. They believe that they can gain everything by negotiation and the willingness to compromise. In addition to this weakness, corruption has gained a foothold within Azortec. I’m afraid that every time we compromise with the Creytes, more people die and become food for the Creytes. Eventually, we won’t have anything left to compromise away.”
Deep down Oria knew Shalat was right. He’d always been viewed by his fellow officers as too willing to fight and too vicious in combat. The
Azortec military was more about pomp and protocol than the ability to fight. If the war with the Creytes had not come about, the military elite would have long ago washed Oria out of the military. Oria’s warrior instincts had led him to early success in battle and to his rise in command. The pompous powers within the Military had frequently tried to keep him down. It was only because of his successes in battle that he became popular with the people and a living legend.
The walk from Azortec Headquarters to the transport dock seemed very long to Oria and his crew. President Shalat had given Oria and his crew a seemingly impossible mission. Oria was to take a small part of his crew through the space/time continuum and travel one year back into time and visit Earth. Once there, he was to build a fleet of starships capable of engaging and beating the Creytes. This would be a challenging mission since Earth was at least 100,000 years behind Azortec technology.
Oria and his senior officers were mostly silent during their walk back to the Hercules. The
y had nothing much to say to each other. They had been on so many missions and battles together that their next steps were instinctive. Each one of them knew the odds of success were stacked against them. Even with the presence of Oria, Oria’s senior officers knew that this next mission would most likely be their last mission.
The walk was most difficult on Oria as he thought of returning home and the years that he had been away from home. Oria reflected back on the many close friends that he had over his lifetime. In one sense, Oria felt like an immortal and in many ways, he was. Oria had been a guinea pig in a flawed highly classified biological experiment. Everyone in the experiment died except Oria. Oria alone, survived. He experienced increases in strength and stamina while his aging process had stopped. Azortec scientists attributed Oria’s success in the experiment to some unusual characteristics in Earth DNA, the basic building blocks of life. The failed experiment resulted in publicity that ultimately forced Azortec to shut down the experiment and create new laws forbidding the conduct of similar experiments ever again.
Azortec was unprepared for dealing with a race like the Creytes when they first encountered them 500 years ago. They had regulated violence from their society by fulfilling the basic needs of their people and eliminating competition. These policies had robbed the people of their mental aptitude to defend themselves. As a result, Azortec had fallen into the habit of looking for easy ways out without engaging their enemies in battle. Azortec diplomats were partially successful in slowing down Creyte advances by surrendering more primitive planets to them and allowing the Creytes to use them as farm planets. This however was not a sustainable model.