New? Start here!
Gideon Dreamed a third time.
He was floating in space above a planet. It was lush with blue and green. There appeared to be a single large continent, with the rest covered by the ocean. A single grey moon orbited in the distance. He saw the sun for it’s true color, a pure white. Gideon wondered what planet this was. He made mental notes of land structure and would try to document the dream this time. He still remembered the last dream in great detail. In his mind, it was more than a dream. He was lucid right now as he waved his hand and inspected it; It looked the same. His thoughts were jumbled as he noticed dozens of ships exit FTL, winking into existence. Hundreds of ships. And then thousands, all in a perfect square grid formation.
What’s going on?
Gideon had never seen so many ships in his life. It was an armada, and peace was not their intention. The fleet was still a distance away, but Gideon caught a glimpse of a lone object flying out from the planet’s atmosphere like a missile. Faster than any ship he had seen, even the legacy fighter models. It was a tiny, brass colored tear dropped shape vessel with other smaller teardrops orbiting it. It halted halfway, coming between the fleet and the planet. Gideon’s perception was ripped towards one of the invading ships. Inside the bridge of the lead cruiser was a human with heavy cybernetic augmentation. The bridge was cluttered with junk and patchwork repairs. This group was either sloppy or desperate. Or both. The crew were in various humanoid shapes. Some were what appeared to be Anforms.
“Captain, Ship is hailing us.” A crew member gruffed.
“Just one ship? This is it! We hit the motherload boys! Accept the hail of their surrender.” The captain said with a crooked toothy grin.
The crew cheered at that and the audio kicked on. The voice that answered them was crushing in finality.
“You will power down, or be annihilated. This is your only warning. The voice was of thunder booming, of rivers flowing, bass and imposing.
“Captain, that was forcefully broadcast throughout the fleet.”
“What? How? Nevermind, it’s just a single ship. A bluff, nothing more. Even a worm will try to defend itself once cornered. Let’s make it a quick hit and run before more show up. Fire up the engines, power weapons. AI, direct the fleet. Keep a large spread as planned. Remember, no grouping!”
“Of course.” An AI chimed in.
Who were these people, I don’t recognize much of the tech, or the humanoids.
Some of the tech looked more advanced, while other parts looked crude. The captain was using a steering wheel to fly. Going in close for space combat. Using mass numbers.
Were they stupid?
Space combat was so much more than flying in close for broadsides. Maybe two thousand galactic cycles ago.
His view was torn back into space, spectating the oncoming fight. The small teardrop cluster stayed stock still as a cloud of angry ships descended on it. The fleet was mostly made of sloops, frigates, and with the captain’s cruiser being their only larger vessel.
Definitely a pirate group or raiding party.
Gideon deduced based on both the conversation and haphazard tech. He picked out some of the heavier armed frigates stopping while the sloops passed by to go in close. He could make out their laser culverns charging. The sloops appeared to have closer ranged tempest cannons. Far off in the distance of the planetwell, brief flashes winked in and out; Pulse Onagers. These were heavy rail cannons capable of shots from across systems.
They are idiots! You don’t move in close with a sniper rifle!
Those ships could have stayed far away, using intercommunication with close range ships to get a bead on targets. What Gideon failed to note was this group lacked that particular tech and preferred close range smash and grabs. Gideon had a passing tactician hobby, the idea of inter-star system combat was fascinating. It was also mandatory training. He remembered getting throttled by Abigail yesterday in their bout.
The projectiles traveled to their target thousands of miles away within a second. The teardrop ship taking around two dozen shots head-on. What surprised Gideon was one of the ship’s smaller teardrops opened up a portal of black in front of the shot, absorbing them.
The frigates opened up with the laser culverns. Bright red, orange, and green beams of blinding incandescent light lit space up, causing Gideon to cover his eyes.
This felt real.
Again, the teardrop ship took the brunt with its dimensional shielding from one of the smaller brass teardrops. Gideon watched as the battle silently took place.
The sloops moved in surrounding it in a spiraling pattern, preventing crossfire. Their tempest cannons were close ranged energy gatlings, firing at sixty-six thousand rounds per minute each. The teardrop continued to survive the brunt. Something changed, though. The teardrop cluster began to compact, losing its shape resembling a rolled up ball of foil. It began to glow, but none of the ships noticed due to the fire. Culverns, Onagers, Tempest cannons all blazed into the teardrop by the thousands.
The sloops began to rotate as their Tempest cannons needed to disperse heat, with others taking their place.
Gideon could see it, it was becoming sun-like.
Is it building up?
The sloops took notice and began their escape. Unfortunate for them that the teardrop cluster detonated in a cone aimed supernova blast, disintegrating half of the firing sloops and others were scattered due to the energy blast. Gideon covered his eyes as he was blinded. He rubbed his strained eyes to the see the wave travel, many ships avoided it, but some were too slow and caught; utterly destroyed. Gideon’s attention went to where the teardrop cluster was.
It had disappeared.
He was scanning space to see. The ships ceased firing and were searching. Was it destroyed in the blast? It must have been powerful, but not enough to survive so many armaments.
Gideon’s perception zooms to one of the onager frigates in the back. He spotted a black circle form just next to the frigate. The teardrop ship slowly crept through the dimensional portal, and a brass spear formed from its own chassis, it was no bigger than a sloop. It lanced forward, skewering the supporting onager frigate and dragged it into the portal, smoking and crippled. The metal of the teardrop ship seemed to have warped like brass water. The surrounding frigates reacted like sheep, fleeing in different directions. Several FTL’d out. Unfortunate for them they immediately exited their FTL jump back towards the planet. Something had locked them all into this sector. One of the frigates that jumped to FTL flew into the waiting jaws of the teardrop ship, the hull forming into coils of brass. It trapped the frigate in a strangling of coil as it brought it inside the portal. The front line fleet had begun to fly back to protect the fragile onager frigates from destruction.
Gideon’s attention was snapped back to the planet were the Tempest sloops were rushing back to the onager frigates. In Gideon’s mind, the ship’s name became ‘Hunter’. The Hunter exited a dimensional portal and changed forms again, forming a shell with forward facing triangular spikes. It lets loose a shotgun blast of Pulse Onager rounds, with none of the sloops reacting in time. There were fifty shots fired, and casualties, many of the rounds penetrated the sloops leaving either enormous exit damage akin to tearing them inside out or shearing them in half. These Onager rounds were definitely bigger than what Gideon was used to seeing. They failed to detonate until well outside the planetary system, a blossom of new bright stars formed.
What the hell…
Just that sight alone would seal who the victor would be. Gideon then realized what it was doing.
It’s making a point. I can dismantle you anywhere. Destroy you anywhere. There is no escape.
The Hunter change into a stretched Octahedron and blasted off towards the survivors as the sloops realized what happened. The laser culvern frigates returned fire with a dazzling of lasers, Gideon’s vision had bright lines burned into his retina. The agility of the Hunter was impossible. It was gracefully flying around the laser shots like a coil around a rod. It would dead stop and drop as if heavy gravity suddenly existed in the blackness of space. It would arc, bob, and weave. It would reform itself around a laser blast. It morphed into a flat edge, like a curved blade as it closed in on a sloop. It passed through a sloop, bisecting it; the Hunter rushed by as if the vessel wasn’t there. The halves of the ship flew apart, like a log split by an axe. Gideon could see to his horror as the crew spilled out into space.
Oh Goddamn, what the hell…!
It was slaughtering them.
The Hunter entered another portal as the Tempest and laser rounds were getting closer. It exited a portal, stabbing a laser frigate with a formed weapon and retreating. It appeared in front of the fleet as a flat edge, taking fire and reflecting it, disregarding it’s own portal shields. It changed back to the triangular cannons, firing more massive pulse onager rounds in the fleet. The fleet was reduced to forty percent. Many surrendered, the ships ceased movement and activity. There were some vessels that never fired a shot at all. The Hunter avoided any ship that ceased firing. Some pirates picked up on this and used the surrendered ships for cover. It ended poorly for them as a dimensional portal would open and the offending ship dragged in.
Gideon felt something change. The end of the battle was near. Forty-five percent were destroyed, fifteen percent had surrendered. Others were trying to flee and being sent back into the battle. The captain’s main cruiser was largely untouched, which felt like by design from Gideon’s view. The Hunter exited out of a portal near the planet and began to stretch and change, forming into a one hundred sided shape, a hekaton. It began spinning on the axis, firing large laser culvern rounds in all directions from the corners. Nearby ships were cut to geometric pieces. Some ships attempted to ram the Hunter out of desperation, only to be impaled by a quickly forming spike, like it was a surgeon thrusting a needle. The stabbed frigate or sloop would keep the trajectory, dead in space with a hole from port to bow. Many ships were vaporized without any ability to react to the kaleidoscope dazzling of lasers. It looked like a hurricane of laser fire as the hekaton Hunter spun a whirlwind on it’s axis.
The Hunter morphed into a complex shape of forward facing triangle wings, all attached to a central sphere axis. It flew faster than before, charging the culvern frigates. The tips of the triangles began to spin, unleashing torrents of Tempest rounds at the remaining culvern frigates. The wings on the Hunter moved and shifted independently of one another, ignoring the vessel’s trajectory. the frigates were too slow to aim and react to such a speedy target. One frigate fired a burst of orange lasers, missing completely into the blackness of space. It received a response of several thousand energy rounds tearing through it. The frigate warped and bent under the fire, with countless holes peppering it. The ship ceased functioning as it began to free float, Gideon could see through the ship due to the holes.
Gideon noticed golden dots along space among the rubble. Thousands of them. They were gleaming like gems.
What were those?
Gideon thought. This one-sided slaughter reminded him of the Empire of Dusk. It was too similar a power imbalance. Like a warrior fighting an army of babies. The glowing gems in the blackness of space reminded him of the previous dream with the weeping nun.
It felt like hours, watching the Hunter cut into the fleet, executing them. The fleet was around seventy-five percent destroyed or crippled now. The rest were quick to surrender, seeing their friends, family, and comrades decimated in front of them.
Gideon’s view shuddered and taken to the captain’s bridge. The captain was mentally in shambles, slumped in his chair in a position of defeat. The rest of the crew was broken, some staring off into space at the loss, some were weeping quietly. Gideon could see a portal open inside the bridge and the smaller vessel began to appear inside the bridge, like a stalking predator. It began to shrink and reshape, the shiny gleaming brass reforming like water into a humanoid shape. The figure changed to a humanoid physique and entered, dropping to the bridge. It revealed it’s full glory to the crew, many fell over like they were deceased, the captain shrieked and attempted to press himself through his chair. The being wore a robe around his waist, made of white and gold design. His bare torso of brass gleamed with bulky well-defined muscle. The face shone with a beauty that was shocking to Gideon. Crowned with a silver laurel wreath and wings of sharp floating platinum shards. He had a platinum gorget, running down to his shoulders with intricate designs.
The voice spoke, booming like thunder and rushing water.
“You disobeyed my command to surrender. Your men paid the price for your failure. The rest of you are now to await judgment for your folly. For your trespass and murderous intent. For the rules of combat, you are mine.”
At this the Captain fell out of his chair, getting on his knees, begging. His voice was cracking, his mind was worse.
“P-please, no more. No more! Spare my men. Spare the rest, please I beg of you. Mercy!”
The man had begun to weep for his life; for his comrade’s lives. For those still left.
“Why?” The other being asked.
Not as a mocking or a rhetorical. It was a genuine question. The being stood there, awaiting the response. The captain rose to his feet, attempt to compose himself. His shoulders slouched and neck dropped, but he spoke with passion.
“These men are terrible. Wretched. Lawbreakers. Scoundrels. Destroyers. Thieves. Straying from the truth. And yet, I love these men. Each one is like family. A brother. A sister. A son or daughter. Mother or father. That strange uncle you only see once a year.”
The crew had perked up and chuckled over that. The captain’s speech was picking them up out of the stupor of a total loss of their fleet. Now the captain was fighting for the survivors.
“I would give myself up for each and every one of these people. I ask that I be punished in their stead. I am the captain and they simply followed orders. And the survivors be allowed to leav-”
“No.” The being stated with finality.
“You know of this secret sanctuary and cannot be allowed to leave. The location of this planet was lost and must remain that way.”
“B-but wait! Wait! What will you do to us?” The captain was on his heels over the quick rebuff.
“I have need of more stewards. You will serve the needs of The Kingdom until His return.”
“Is… That’s it? Give up piracy to… Be a butler?” The captain looked around, the rest of the crew was visibly confused.
One of the crew spoke up,
“What about my wife? She was on the Derringer…”
The crew began to also chime in asking. If they were given this redemption then…
“The souls of your lost comrades will also be safe. This planet was given a Throne to regenerate those whose souls were depleted.” The being spoke with regret.
Gideon could see it in his eyes, it did not desire combat. He also had little idea of what they were talking about.
“I was tasked with protecting this domain, guarding it against trespass, awaiting either the one of the holiest Divine or one with the Seal. Now, gather your ships. Search for survivors. I will take care of the souls.”
The being lifted up it’s hand which glowed with soft white light. Gideon looked out the view window to see all of the golden motes of light shoot toward the vessel like comets. The captain and crew understood what was happening and were in awe of this ability.
“Christ’s mercy.” the captain murmured as the golden motes collected into the being’s hand.
It began to glow brighter, as the light filled the cabin; spilling out of the windows into space. The intensity of light became too much, Gideon closed his eyes and was still blinded. He turned away and covered his eyes into his hands to stop the light. There was gasping and crying from the crew.
And then it ceased.
“I have collected the depleted souls of 34,506 of your crew. Including your wife, Missy.” The being stated.
He pointed to the crew member who asked about his wife earlier, the pirate broke down at hearing that. The being walked over to the weeping pirate and did something that surprised Gideon. He laid his hand on his shoulder to comfort him.
“I never wanted this conflict to happen, but it was forced upon me. However, we will restore your wife to you with her memories. All of your crew will be restored with their memories. Now gather the survivors, captain.”
“Alright, lads. New orders, gather any and all survivors. Set all power to scanners to assist. AI, do what you need to do!” The captain ordered.
There was a new life on the bridge.
“Of course.” The soft AI voice responded.
“Captain, we got a vessel! Jumped out of FTL and is heading straight towards us!” One of the crew stated. The being changed and looked visibly shaken.
“So this is how….” The being murmured. It continued, visibly downtrodden.
“I’m sorry captain, it appears you were used as bait to find this planet. The best you can do now is to flee to the planet. Find shelter. Now.”
“What? What the hell is going-”
“Demons. Gods. Deities. They have arrived. I sense them. It is a large host of them. They used a vessel to travel to us. They will disperse and attack.”
The crew was silent. Gideon was confused by everything.
“I will stall as long as I can. Take this, so that they cannot.” The being gathered energy in his hand again and produced an enormous golden crystal spire.
“This is your crew. Go find the Throne and revive them. If you arrive in time, safety maybe within reach. I have updated your AI with maps and the location. I must leave now.” The being turned to leave, a portal opened above him.
“Wait! What is your name?” The captain shouted out.
The being looked at him and simply responded,
“Yours?” Chamuel asked.
The captain was taken aback that it was small-talking. Gideon made eye contact with Chamuel. He gave a simple nod at Gideon.
Can he see me?
The captain puffed up and responded,
“Captain Jeremy Harker, at your service m’lord.”
Chamuel nodded and began to leave through a portal.
“Captain Harker, may we meet again,” Chamuel said as he absconded.
Gideon’s perception was taken to Chamuel and the ship. He had reverted to his brass teardrop cluster shape.
The new cruiser sized vessel stopped, with other smaller beings beginning to leave the ship. The new beings began to change forms similar to Chamuel. One became a small black sphere, a silhouette in the black space. A second transformed into tendrils of emerald green morphing flesh. A third morphed into a massive gathering of twisted grey crystals. The crystalline vessel was larger than the others. A fourth ship came about behind the cruiser. It was shaped like twisted metal and resembled the maw of a horrific monster. Inside Gideon could see fire and flame spilling out from every crevice. It was huge, dwarfing the cruiser. It had two wicked eyes, viewing Chamuel with what Gideon could see was a single look. Smug victory. There was a fifth and final Demon. Due to its size, it could be considered more of a celestial object. It grew in size, appearing to be a sphere of black boiling oil. It kept growing and flying backward behind the rest. It settled to a comfortable size of one-third of the moon orbiting the planet. The wretched fleet looked like a nesting doll of demons. The discarded shell of a cruiser gently floated away into space.
The demons had used the pirate’s lust for treasure as bait and followed them, knowing that humanity could never resist the idea of a planet full of treasure, knowledge, and artifacts. They spread the rumors far and wide, awaiting some group to research and find the planet using knowledge demons had no access to.
And now they found Earth.
The dream went white again. Gideon was alone in the vastness of this whiteness.
Gideon heard that voice again. The calm voice of a loving father. It was a simple, yet impossible command.
“You must prevent this invasion.”
The dream ended.