This is still bogged down in the planet screw-up.
The Dwarfs clearing out anyone and anything as they panic like horse-manure.
The planet which is going taking the idea of unstable to a new degree.
The Admirals losing everything now start to negotiate.
Just a dump for now.
Chapter I – Admirals
The Admirals were forced into political marriages however they usually sought mistresses and they often didn’t care whose mistress they sought – the Dwarfs did have a reputation with females and tried to uphold it.
The families usually found out … forcing mistresses out as the families considered political goals of marriage were more importance than mere enjoyment.
Eventually the Admirals realised that whilst you couldn’t take your wife into space with you in case you launched them into space, you could certainly take a mistress and go flash bang in the Armada Class ship whilst you practised your assaults … possibly one reason why some many Admirals spent their lives invading other planets.
Their mistresses tended to live on the ships and the ship brains in the Armada Class ships usually preferred the Admirals handling their mistresses as opposed to the Admiral’s sticky hands on their controls and so the mistresses were hidden and survived.
Now the Admirals, if they weren’t facing the music were definitely dancing to someone else’s tune and the Meeting Room was the selected dance floor adjoining the main chamber in the Chamber House … considered neutral territory.
The circular design of the Chamber House meant that adjoining rooms were various shapes and the Meeting Room’s roof sloped from right to left in a curve in what some thought was a Political Statement but was still high enough for it to be ignored.
Lamps were lit as dark swirled around the feet of the ruling families making you realised that something or someone else might be at play. Any blood letting was reserved for the Chamber House where ducts were installed to carry away blood from the more intensive political debates.
The meeting had eventually been forced on the families as escaping Prisoners rioted in the streets forcing troops to be recalled from the invasions to stop the riots and the riots were being stopped with such bloody force as dwarfs opened fire on anything and anyone without any thought that they were often killing their own troops. This made James Droga a target for politicians as he used widespread force to try and stop the riots and as a consequence not only increased the riots but now dwarfs were joining in against his troops.
The situation had finally forced the families to deal with each other in the Meeting Room.
The official organiser was in his chair at the far end with blocks of table set apart for each family and well away from him.
Jon Jun belonged to no family yet he seemed to have known his name at birth and his birth and situation were closely kept secrets. His family birthed their eggs in caves and there was always a list of donors until the wars stripped dwarfs away to fight but he was unusual as there were none to join with him when he was hatched, forcing him to move from body to body until he found one suitable and then the Elves caught him in his last body as he tried to invade an Elf.
It was an unpleasant experience to his being, having invaded, settled in, and he was controlling a good body then found himself fighting the elves for the body and himself.
Eventually as more elves arrived to challenge for the body he counted as his, he slowly gave in and would have looked for a new body but the elves wanted him to just carry them and for him to maintain control under their advice and now he needed to earn his keep and keep the elves happy as he watched the door open and they started to talk to him.
The Ruling Families constituted the War Party and they had started wars to maintain power after the Minor Families look to become more powerful.
They also tried to make sure that as many troops were taken from the Minor Families as possible and used for invasions to reduce their power even further and they formed most of the front line troops who were as often killed by their own troops as those defending the planets they were invading!
These three Admirals were the prime movers of the wars.
James Droga, like the other two Admirals was the regulation height for the Space Navy of foot two inches with blue eyes and red hair which indicated he was a pure-blood dwarf but unlike the other two possess a fiery personality and believed he could kill his way out of anything.
To James, the others might meet Navy rules for red hair, blue eyes and height regulation of four foot two inches but they lacked the blood on their swords and banners … to a Droga this meant pride … pride in the people you killed … the planets you crushed and the Prisoners you took even if you never left a spaceship officially during a campaign.
James felt it was glory to a family to be in a battle and James was always in some battle or other, often between the families when they let him near Dwarvia.
Their Ruling families might be bound by ancient bonds or so they claimed but James had a few debts to pay which wouldn’t appear in his black book and he intended to make sure his co-Admirals didn’t have any fingers left to open a black book – they would be red ones when he’d finished.
The main issue, however, was that all the Admirals killed in a nutshell, or any other shell you care to note were usually innocent people – their attitudes didn’t really matter. They were targets and that was all that mattered and this extended to Dwarvia where the Ruling Parties were the War Party; killing anyone who disagreed. Wars were a means to maintain power … the difference was in the Admirals. David Jamesson was relatively easygoing; Martan Matira was thoughtful; prepared to compromise if forced but James Droga would fight anyone!
Jon Jun looked at his agenda although the Elves’ voices were deciding his words.
He also looked at Justine Droga, Vein Matira and Oswald Jamesson, “Do you speak for the Ruling Families or do the Admirals as there seems to be a conflict of control and responsibility?”
Before James Droga could speak, Justine Droga shouted, “We speak for the Ruling Families, not the Admirals!”
Jon Jun looked at the Admirals and waited.
James Droga had now gone purple; Martan Matira a shade of puse whilst David Jamesson just smiled. Hearing nothing, Jon Jun moved on to Item 1.
The senior members of the Ruling Families were Justine Droga, Vein Matira, Oswald Jamesson, Wisc de Storme and Sonia de Bowed and the senior members of the Minor Families with Joshing de Glop, Merchant de Wonder, Gloria de Geld and Minos de Bolt.
Jon Jun watched them with the three Admirals taking the central position in front of him and the Senior and Junior families took the right and left respectively.
He waited until they finally settled themselves before beginning with the Elves quietly whispering into his brain and he looked directly at the Admirals, “On the plus side we have conquered innumerable planets, star systems and wealth has been returning to our system. On the negative side the cost of the wars far exceeds any wealth returning to our system; we also have hundred of thousands of Prisoners distributed across Dwarvia with rioting, food shortages and over three hundred thousand dead or missing dwarfs which has led the Chamber to consider this is an urgent issue to be addressed and therefore this meeting has been called.”
James Droga was the first to respond, “we have brought glory to Dwarvia and if they can’t support us they should shut up!”
Martan Matira looked at James Droga and said, “Let’s hear what else he has to say?”
They both then looked at David Jamesson, “Don’t you have anything to say, David?”
“As Martan said, ‘Let’s hear what else he has to say?’”
“We have over four hundred thousand out-of-control Prisoners—”
“They are under control,” shouted James Droga, “I have them controlled!”
“What you have done, James, is kill Prisoners but your soldiers have in fact also killed innocent citizens by opening fire needlessly without any thought of avoiding civilian casualties.
“They were supporting them.”
“Or so you claim, Admiral Droga. My evidence is that you just ordered your troops to open fire without any care or consideration for civilian—”
“That is a lie!”
“I fear the number of dead civilians give a lie to your claimed truth, anyway this is a meeting with the Senior Members of your family, not a trial. That may occur or not but it will depend on the Chamber and your other two colleagues may also be held responsible but the Chamber will decide whether to call yourselves to Justice or not. A possible second charge may be in respect of the costs of the wars and how little wealth has been returned to the Government of Dwarvia. You have boasted of the wealth you obtained yet little has ever returned to Dwarvia but again, that is a matter for the Chamber.”
“I’ll face the Chamber any day, Jon Jun. They won’t touch me or they’ll know what a riot is.”
“I’m sure they already do, Admiral Droga … several riots, I think?”
“Do any of the Ruling or Junior families wish to make a comment. All I have heard so far are Admiral Droga and Admiral Matira?”
A long silence replied to Jon Jun, “Then I must make my report accordingly to the Chamber. This meeting is completed. I have to say that you all seemed to have decided to fall on your swords.”
“You’ll get a sword if you don’t pay respect to the Ruling Family,” shouted James Droga.
“Once again, Admiral Droga you fail to pay respect to the ‘Meeting Room, now I suggest you all leave as you have nothing to add to this meeting,” Jon Jun watched as the families and Admirals filed out. It had been a wasted time but perhaps not entirely wasted. His report would go to the Chamber and whilst the Ruling Family controlled the votes, enough representatives had lost family killed by the Admirals, especially by James Droga and they wanted revenge.
Chapter II – Politicians
The dwarf Chair of the Chamber surprisingly enough was not a chair but a dwarf and so he could be dominated by the Ruling Families it was Joshing de Glop. The de Glop’s were the most minor of the Minor Families and therefore ideal for the role and they like fruit at a picnic tried to avoid the wasps. Even though Joshing de Glop quietly attended the meeting, Jon Jun was required to make a formal report in the Chamber that evening with most of his words being shouted down by the Ruling Family’s supporters.
Jon Jun was used to this and just continued speaking within the Circle of Stones until finally a demand was made for the Admirals to present themselves in the Chamber. This was immediately refused by Justine Droga until he found himself opposed by the de Storme, de Bowed, de Glop, de Wonder, de Geld and the de Bolt families giving a majority of six to three again him, Vein Matira and Oswald Jamesson support Justine and their supporters were already threatening bloodshed by then but in the absence of any attacks the blood ducts were not flowing at this time.
As the arguments became more violent Jon Jun made a hasty exit, leaving the Chamber complete with his Guards and a force shield that protected him once he left the Chamber. As Jon Jun left, the political cuts of words became physical and the blood pumps started on overtime.
Weapons weren’t allowed in the Chamber and the ducts for blood-letting were obviously there for show as they flowed red from the weapons that didn’t exist and once again Political dwarf families ignored any laws they didn’t like. Dwarvian dwarfs often felt that disagreements should be aired, usually as blood spurted in the air. Some representatives now came into the Chamber in overalls and wearing an apron for a heavy debate.
The cut and thrust of words had long ceased with the battles of families reaching something that made the Elves break a long lost pledge and now they quietly moved to calm the attacks through bodies they had taken over. The dwarfs had long thought this was happening but the Elves honestly told everyone they didn’t take over bodies and to a degree were slightly honest. They just occupied minds which then occupied bodies and finally they occupied the Chamber through others although families now wore jewels that were claimed to protect them but few could resist the Elves and the Ruling and Minor Family leaders even slept with their helmets on until they were in shielded rooms but demands were being made for a Moot as the Elves stopped the slaughter.
The Elves were a strange race and a fundamental part of the bureaucracy. Where they came from and how they arrived was unknown but once again Dwarfs had gone occupying planets and in this case it appeared the planets had occupied them!
To Moot was a melding of minds that knew honesty and that to a dwarf was weakness and to be avoided at all costs. If a dwarf was honest then he was weak and this thought process led to the accident as the Ruling Families called it and a lack of votes in the chamber forcing then to stop killing and face a challenge … and there were too many people to kill in the Chamber although they had tried and things hadn’t gone well when the bombs went off.
The Ruling Family hadn’t expected half of their Chamber people to be outside when they tried to clean a few political thoughts and enemies out – is was meant to take out the opposition, not their own people but agendas screwed up – meetings finished early – it wasn’t their fault they said … the meetings should have finished on time and members of their families shouldn’t have been there! It was just one of those unfortunate accidents that happen from time to time and they laid the blame directly at the mail-shirts of the minor houses and the lesser ruling families for the meetings finishing early.
As a result there was a united opposition against them but that again was meaningless to the Ruling Families who considered they ruled and would always rule. So they’d killed thousands of dwarfs and levelled major areas of cities using the prisoner riots as an excuse; what did that really matter as long as they ruled.
Well the Ruling families were now ready to sacrifice their top Admirals to save their own necks as there was no way they could Moot and let others know their plans … the Ruling families were forced to sit on the cusp and did they found it uncomfortable? You can bet your dwarf helmet they did.
Chapter III – Red Stone Gate
The Hell-Cat Heli-phroaters – known at Hell-cats for short were named after a famous Admiral, nicknamed the Hell-Cat for his bedroom adventures. They often sounded like a shower of insects as they circled on auto, kicking up dust; raining fuel on the people beneath them as they were poorly maintained but the Admirals weren’t bothered and the Hell-Cats Heli-phroaters often adopted their owners attitudes to organic lifeforms and tended to ignore them when they landed on top of them.
The planes were said to be as honourable as the Admiral driving them was although they disliked intensely being handled by the Admirals which meant they might be as fickle in their landings as he was and their manoeuvrability was difficult to control at the best of times however their minds were as sharp as his and often the controls did not perform as he desired which possibly why their brains often requested a transfer just before the ship flew into a cliff with him inboard and no-one else.
Hell-Cats hovered well when they chose and could land whether handled by good pilots or not but giving them brains meant they immediately lodged complaints to Interstellar Lawyers for being mishandled as the Admirals kept their hands on the joysticks for too long. Their minds were blended into the controls and had been for years so they had the sensations and emotions of the best and worst pilots but they were able to land on their own and objected to the Admiral’s hands on their controls.
James Droga, in his Hell-Cat Heli-phroater looked at the two screens in front of him, and especially at the image of Martan Matira in one of them and then deliberately yawned whilst looking at him and ruffled his own red hair – James Droga considered Martan Matira to be soft – He detested David Jamesson as well … Neither had the guts to just kill and get on with life albeit not the life of the dwarf you had just killed.
Their targeted landing site today was some two hundred foot below the cliff peak and now their automatic systems were fighting for who landed first.
A road ran just above the bottom of the cliff drop and seemed to sprint into the distance, jutting out for about thirty feet from the cliff edge as it ran, which given the dwarfs dropping down was probably a good idea; if a road could actually run, this road would have run as they approached it!
The Guards watched as the Hell-Cats found room to land without killing any of the waiting Guards although that didn’t bother the dwarf Admirals who seemed to like killing as others like living. They finally landed separately into the grey misty morning. The sun was bright and struggling to break through the dirt, stone and water the Hell-Cats were throwing up and the Guards, who’d stood guard for hours raised their shields as the Admirals began to land.
First out was Martan Matira, snorting in his thick accent, he was big for a dwarf as he now needed two Guards to help him move about and his weight made movement slow.
Martan was swiftly followed by David Jamesson whose tones and voice were moderated – usually by the sound system, although compared to James Droga who bellowed like a stuck pig and to a degree looked like one; anyone was!
It took another half hour before James Droga finally decided to land – the Droga’s being the most major of the ruling Parties and therefore stood on their pride and everyone else’s if given a chance.
The Admirals finally arrived outside the entrance to the cave – due ceremony went by the elbow; usually into the other dwarfs. Passing Guards jumped in to separate the Admirals fighting each other as they were very close to the edge in their endeavours.
The Admirals would appear as images in the Council Chamber after their bodies had been inserted into tubes within the cliff site and they were protected by Guards during this time although they never cared much about anything including their Guards loyalty and their belief in themselves was such they never realised that if they were so loved and respected why were their bodies being stacked up in a secured facility to meet a request for their appearance in the Chamber House.
The Red Stone Gate watched as they approached: intelligence in stone might be slow but then perhaps it still thought faster than the Admirals approaching it.
The door ponderously swung open as they approached casting a long shadow over them and showing a long dimly lit tunnel that seemed to move as they entered.
The Gate then spoke, “leave your weapons outside of my entrance. Within my entrance your bodies will not be molested – you will live within my portals but how you live will never be my decision,” the walls pulsed as they spoke with dull red veins sparkling as the Admirals and Guards walked. They seemed to walk for a long time, arguing as they invented stories as Politicians do until they entered a chamber which stopped them in full lies.
The chamber sparkled albeit with barely enough room for them and four small cylinder shaped containers flowed out from the wall but stopped in mid-flow.
The sparking effect was small but with beams of light hitting their chests and colours bouncing off them leaving them looking very odd; some colours danced around them, their heads and beards changing colour as if the lights saw more than their images.
Their eyes blurred as the lights seemed to be satisfied but colours danced on and around them until the chamber walls changed colour as they looked and the colours radiated from them onto the walls and back again. Now the walls became images that took them through their pasts; visions of blood they spilled and as if they had never been there as it read their brains and put them onto the stone walls; to the dwarfs it was a demand for their future lives – to the Red Stone Gate it seemed their epitaph.
A cracked and crackling square exploded into colour and light danced. The colours seemed to melt into their thoughts and red was the first and major colour but what did each of them see? Was it the same vision? Was it a history? A putrescence of a future?
James Droga finally looked up and at his two companions, “Why do we go through this rubbish. We have the Guards, lets shed some blood in the Chamber House, it’s the only thing they understand.”
Martan Matira looked up and shook his head, “four hundred thousand plus dead and you want to kill more? Already the lesser families, aided by the De Bowed and Du Storme’s traitor’s are plotting and you – James – want to give them more reasons to plot? We chose this as the safest route; now can we actually get to this place where we are safe or turn back!”
“I never turn back!” Shouted James Droga, “We lead – this rabble aren’t good enough?”
“Let us hope so, Admiral Droga? I just hope they aren’t good enough or we are dead – as dead as a wooden dwarf toy.”
A timbre harmonic voice echoed from the walls, surrounding them with almost visual sound, “take off your mail-shirts and helmets; they don’t matter; they will interfere with the process.”
To the dwarf Admirals it did matter; they felt naked as they stripped off their mail-shirts and helmets, leaving fat bellies uncurled from too many healthy meals and hair roots showing black hair as the dye was wearing off … the process seemed to have changed their blue eyes to black … hardly the process for a True Dwarf to appear in the Chamber.
They finally stood upright before the silver capsules like supplicants seeking safety and that was promised by the Red Stone Gate which seemed to read their minds, “You fail to understand, Admirals, you really do. I am Old Magic and so is a lot of Dwarvia. You are also Old Magic yet you hide and pervert it. You build images and claim they are this planet’s desires but they are your desires and no-one else’s; now see your desires!”
Capsules erupted longways; reverting to vertical and four capsules towered in behind them. Within the capsules they were protected against everything unless of course they were removed and forced to physically be in the Chamber where they would probably be dead within seconds of doing so and the Guards now helped them into position and strapped them in.
The Admirals relied on Guard’s loyalty or the Guards were killed and the Guard’s families knew loyalty was always on the cutting edge and that the Admirals held the blades.
The capsules rose and moved to the horizontal and into the chambers. A gas entered the capsules and they danced dreams but now the dreams became a nightmare as they lost power and in their minds … they lost position and rank – the greatest of losses.
The Chamber House in a lot of ways resembled an upturned salad bowel. It had been designed by someone with fetish for the colour blue and with the flashing lights on the ceiling it resembled something not normally seen sober.
The roof of the Chamber produced a lot of images and during its time seemed to have taken on a life of its own often showing images that annoyed the Admirals even more as their ideas became more apparent than they wished and were somehow displayed on the roof as well but most times it showed stars and not Politicians who thought they were the stars but it would take a long time to destroy Venal Politicians – stars or not, although the slaughter during disputes actually became so bad that automatic washing in the Chamber was stopped as bodies floated downwards however the dwarfs at the top didn’t mind that although the sound of the water was also drowning the sound of them out, and that they did mind!
What was unusual for dwarfs was that they did sometimes worked together until they realised they couldn’t trust anyone including themselves; possibly because as they betrayed each other whilst thinking of the future or more often of the past and who they couldn’t trust so they often forgot who they were betraying and why.
It was usually a case of dwarf eat dwarf. Whether there was any sauce or not as they piled into each other with relish was another thought although the blood troughs coped even if they did overflow a little during fierce political debates.
The dwarfs, between attacks did often stop for meetings – usually from exhaustion as they used the time to plan for the next attack, so the minutes of meetings lasted seconds at times or longer when someone was left standing to apparently take them without stopping to fight; there weren’t really Agendas – just Roll Calls – yet the clamouring and rioting in the street finally seemed to have made it into the Chamber House which usually ignored any reality but their own enclosed brains.
They needed someone to blame with another planet possibly as a destination for the three Admirals as the political blade choices but they still could not manage the ‘Brutus affect’ and settled for three knife blades rather than seven as the images of the Admirals appeared!
The Circle of Stones was supposedly supreme in the Chamber according to the rules, whenever they were ever followed; no law was to exist without the Ruling families standing within the confines of the stones with everyone else standing out of range and no weapons to be used: but this day Jashine de Glop, Marchant de Wonder, Glosia de Geld and Minous de Bolt stood alongside Wisc de Storme and Sonia de Bowed within the confines of the Circle of Stones, indicating that power had moved … yes, the misguided Political killings of the Droga, Matira and Jamesson families had some effect as they blew up people leaving the Chamber House and then claiming it was a political mistake and not their fault that meetings had finished early and they had killed their own people – portrayed on the roof of the Chamber in gory detail.
The pictures on the roof were popular with viewers who liked the split-second updates so much the views overtook the commentators in terms of popularity and they then fought to be more famous than the Politicians thus creating more trouble and more publicity for anyone who wanted it until the ceiling now had three sections – one for the commentators; one for the politicians, and a smaller one for the pictures!
Commentators and Politician’s egos as the failures and losses led to more blood spilt in the house surpassing even their desires and popularity with the blood piped out of the Chamber meant the troughs were often running full by the feet of members reminding them how to vote – their conscience or their lives resulting in cutting edge voting.
It wasn’t a question of the seventh knife in a politician’s back; they were often struggling to get up to three before someone else stabbed them in the back whilst they were still stabbing another politician.
The Droga’s, Matira’s and Jamesson’s sensing the infighting amongst the smaller dwarf families could never conceive the idea of defeat and had immediately launched unsanctioned invasions to test the mettle and resolve of the bodies now apparently governing the Chamber. They’d ruled for years and weren’t going to let this change over-night, nor over-morning if they could stop it.
If the three families had their way then the wars would continue as their lives and wealth were entrenched in war and they felt the Elves as the extreme bureaucratic Uncivil Service would follow their rules as they thought had the Elves elements twisted more than usually in their favour but one of the problems with dwarfs who felt they controlled by right is that they forget who controlled the Elves who’d served for so long and the Elves were also considering that they controlled and also who they controlled. It wasn’t just their feeling that an obligation had become servitude; they felt exploited and forced into a Bureaucratic Government service due to some long-term obligation that no-one could remember and now were holding their own meetings without blood-letting.
Whilst they could kill by force they often felt that boredom could achieve the same results in a meeting especially if they controlled the Agenda and Minutes but within the Circle of Stones they were powerless due to old magic that they could not break; there the Politicians ruled for the limited time they possessed within the stones.
Now the Chamber faced the Admirals’ images, “Why have you ignored our summons to be here in person and face this Chamber?”
James Droga immediately replied, “You have no power over us. We rule more worlds than you can dream of. We rule and we just allow you to exist!” James Droga then took his time as he stared around him and eventually spoke, “What do you rabble want?”
Glosia de Geld replied, holding up the ‘Circlueta of Power’, “By this token I am elected for this session of the Chamber. You will respect the Circlueta or die.”
“You cannot touch us. We rule, and the Gate will protect us.” said Martan Matira.
“You rule no longer. You have killed and virtually destroyed Dwarvia, Martan Matira. Your images will leave here and your bodies will stay within the confines of the Red Stone Gate until you and your families are sent into space. As you like Prisoners so much, sixty thousand of them will accompany you in three ships to the outermost ends of space – you not will return, no matter what you believe. We accept the restrictions of the Red Stone Gate. You can not be harmed in this Chamber.”
“Who are you to say this. You have no authority. We are the Ruling Families!”
“The ‘Circlueta of Power’ gives me that power!”
“I am an image you cannot kill me!”
“You are images, not dwarfs in this chamber but you have killed enough. I am Geld Du Storme and this is Neville De Bowed and by the rights of the Ruling Council – sick of your killings – you will be held in custody until transported – it will take some forty years but you will not be aware of that as you will be put into Stasis until you have travelled at least 20 light years from Dwarvia,” he looked at the roof of the Chamber House as he spoke.
“You cannot hurt us.”
“Yes, you are correct Admiral Droga but for your lack of respect to this Chamber you are sentenced to be not only transported but banished – you will be executed should anyone from Dwarvia ever see you again on this planet. Your bodies will be removed from the cubicles in the Stone Chamber; frozen and you and your fellow Admirals will freeze until you are loaded into Stasis. At some point you may learn but it will be light years from Dwarvia when you hopefully do, and your immediate families will also be frozen and transported to the ship in Stasis – you will be re-united with your wives and families … it is the least we could do, despite your lack of respect for this Chamber and we hope you and your families enjoy the experience?”.
As their images disappeared they found themselves once again in the Red Stone Gate chamber as the capsules moved from their mounts and placed them on the floor of the Chamber with the lights once again sparkling as they stood, “you have broken your oath, Gate,” shouted James Droga.
“You live, Droga. My oath was to protect your life. I have accomplished that. Many want you dead, now you will live even if it is on another planet. You deserve worse so do not push the little good favour you still have,” the colours began to spin and the Admirals seemed to spin as well as they fell to the floor and slept.
Chapter IV – Flight
Destraight seemed an excellent idea to the Chamber. A good name for a planetary prison according to the remaining dwarf families who’d agreed on the delivery of the three Admirals to new horizons they wouldn’t return from. It appeared to be an old unstable planet ideally suited for Prisoners the Dwarven race had taken and the now failed Admirals moving–on to new careers, or was it, new horizons and new conquests where they would fight each other instead of the world?
Dwarvia, despite its inherent violence, considered itself a democracy and there was a vote finally decreeing the three Admirals and Prisoners would be put into Stasis – it took a while and the blood bank flowed.
The specially selected Prisoners would also not be returning – they were too much of a problem to in captivity and would really become the Admiral’s problems.
In the end, although it was never made public, it took nearly three the years to capture or kill the Prisoners and other dwarfs rounded up for Stasis whilst the Chamber finally completed the build of the modified Armada Class ships – Andromeda with Admiral James Droga; Surreptitious with Admiral Martan Matira, and the Ancient with Admiral David Jamesson – all also currently in Stasis and they would remain there.
The Prisoners – those still alive – yes, sixty thousand out of two hundred thousand Prisoners at the beginning – would also join them – and yes, there was sufficient head clearance for non-Dwarven races although some dwarfs would just cut the prisoner’s heads off to make room.
Along with twenty thousand sleeping Prisoners/politicians per ship there were the Guards – Guard volunteering was difficult to effect but recruitment was managed and many a Guard who drank too much now drank no more; unless in his sleep – Hounds and hunting Cats to control and hunt those who would try to escape were fairly easy to drug although the Cats being far more intelligent than the Hounds and in fact more intelligent than most of the Guards as well were more difficult to control, anyway all were already asleep even if they didn’t know how it was managed, and would stay that way until they were placed upon Destraight.
Rockets also took off once again to attack more planets – it didn’t really matter which planets, along as they took off and the three clan s restarted the wars as a challenge to the minor clan’s politics!
The Ruling Dwarfs had long ago made an agreement that used the Elves as bureaucrats for the Government of Dwarvia and they were the epitome of a Government Uncivil Servant – pedantic, nit-picking, addicted to detail and at one time they had made up almost all of Dwarvia’s Uncivil Service but finally sickened by the dwarfs they had made their way to the Armada ships in their ethereal ways and now shared Stasis booths with and often in the inhabitants. This did not change their basic philosophy – they lived for the mundane and words; at one time an error on a document led them to order the complete destruction of a planet but they were now finding that dwarf brains with their capacity for violence were affecting them and some had tried to move to other life forms without success.
One thing the Admirals had agreed upon was there would be no Elves on the Armada Class ships and once again they were wrong. They still didn’t understand any race they felt they could not dominate.
The Admirals also hated those who claimed they had Elven connections and blood but in loading Prisoners into the Armada Class Prison Ships they’d had robots checking for Elves but as the Elves and robots seemed to have a lot in common in their behaviour no Elves were ever found. The robots had brain circuits and the Elves played with them and in some cases stayed with the robots rather than the ships which left Dwarvia with yet another problem and the Elves took over the robots.
It seemed to a degree to be a mind-blank for the Admirals. There would be no Elven people on Destraight and as the Admirals had decided they’re weren’t any … they’re wouldn’t be any.
Finally, later that night into a dark sky spasm brilliant sheets of silver fire bracketed with red, blue and orange beams that blackened the dark sky. Furnaces of golden light spiralled upwards with lightning striking as pads erupted sending rockets soaring in a blaze of red, lighting up the horizon.
Amongst this glory of colour three oversize ships quietly rose in the background; their dark furtive silhouettes escaped into the night although even now the ex-ruling families, defeated in the Chamber in one of the most blood-thirsty diplomatic battles ever seen in the Chamber House still felt they ruled and controlled.
Minor houses still struggled amongst themselves for cohesion as a Political force to fight the Droga, Matira and Jamesson family’s control and it now became a Blood will rule decision although whose blood was another matter.
Chapter V – Voyage
Crews were selected on five year shifts and contracted to return – a pity then that half of the fuel tanks would be empty when they reached Destraight but the other reserve tanks would register full for the return journey when in fact they were empty as well – it didn’t pay to trust a Dwarf!
In reality the dwarfs considered everyone on the ships to be disposable and certainly not, recyclable back to Dwarvia – no-one would be returning or they would die if they tried! The crew quarters were armoured as with very little fuel the shields were virtually non-existent although it would be a long trip that some dwarfs would not see the end of and the Chamber House did not want the murder to seem too obvious.
The Armada Class ships were originally designed as troop carriers. From outside the looked like someone’s bottom. Everything came in one end and went out of the other end. They ran to the fullest capacity with plasteel bulging from every orifice and these were coloured black to merge with space.
Run with very small crews – usually six people on two shifts over a five year slot – two Navigators, two Comms and two junior Captains effectively meant a crew of three at any one time but the course was pre-programmed; there weren’t any communications, and they spent most of their time checking the course and monitoring for equipment failures when they were paying any attention.
The Designers hadn’t skimped on black although the accommodation quarters were covered in a stainless plasteel facade – probably the right description for the armoured protection as well when something hit it. The shields were weak but they were designed for relatively short trips as were the crew and in this case potential oblivion also played a fair design feature and one feature you could genuinely feel was built in.
Someone had improved the crew shields and provided suits for the crews as a morale booster but if there were likely to be any serious issues they wouldn’t survive but other powers were at play here and an image was needed for take off and if the crews could survive as members of lesser dwarf families for their political leanings – good – whilst the Admirals; their families and the Prisoners would unfortunately die if plans worked out; unfortunately someone or something has also changed the specifications so the ships were stronger than the Chamber House intended, although where the crew could go in an emergency was something the design failed to cater for in all cases but again counter-forces were working against each other and something else yet again was working but with a conflict of interests portraying itself in various elements and it was doubtful if anyone knew what was going on.
The current crew on Surreptitious were Mesne de Worder as the Navigator. Mesne was well named as her family knew she couldn’t concentrate on anything. She also couldn’t stop talking and most times thought in images, portraying them onto her cabin walls, making her suitable as an Intergalactic Navigator who could never concentrate but with the routes already planned in she was an ideal choice.
Trumph de Glop was the junior Captain and they didn’t come any more junior. He was revolvable in virtually everything including his opinions but this early in a career he wasn’t going much further and this ship even less in his career than he dreamed of; they’re weren’t any decisions for him to make and rashness was not encouraged so there was little he could do and he seemed adequately suited to this post.
Lnal de Bolte was the Comms Officer although she often Comm’d more than she ever watched screens or listened to anything but she kept the rest of the crew’s eyes off the screens as they listened to her after she’d spent most of the watch on inter-planetary media and they liked that as they settled back and listened to her prattle of anything to anyone in space whilst Mesne played images on the bulkhead.
They worked twelve hours on, twelve hours off but usually just hooked up the alarm systems and stretched out until the checks or the noise woke them again and then they reset the clocks until the next checks. The only thing that kept them going was that is was a five year sleep stint before they too hit Stasis and a big bonus when they returned to set them up in luxury.
The ships progressed and crews changed without anything untoward until about year ten when the Admirals on each ship had to be woken and there were problems to be considered.
The obvious problems were that they didn’t want to wake the Admirals and eventually they all ganged together and went to each ship; visiting the Admiral’s Stasis Chambers without waking them so they could report they had attended a meeting with the Admirals.
Needless to say, the Admiral’s Stasis chambers were as Royalty to a starving wretch and the fat Admirals were allowed to sleep on covered by satin covers sleeping in satin hammocks, six foot high up within chambers criss-crossing narrow Stasis fields. There were other Stasis generators below but these were unoccupied and the design was that movements would not disturb them or another three people in hammocks could have been between below them – if they were occupied but the Admirals weren’t bunk sharing on an inter-planetary ferry and had their own beds.
Some forty years later with the mechanisms working automatically the Admirals were finally woken despite the crew’s best efforts and eventually descended amidst an explanation of technical problems from the crew including why they hadn’t been woken up after ten years.
Another crew and yet another crew were beckoned for explanations and the explanation that they had gone from Admiral to Admiral after ten years and failed to wake up – obviously the Truth but not the whole truth.
One technical problem was that power was being reduced daily forcing them to bring the reserve tanks into operation, leading them to find they had no reserve tanks. The crews realised … eventually?
They weren’t going home to a bonus nor to anything else and the arguments range long and hard but as a complete waste of time but it is amazing what you can do with an Admiral’s Stasis chamber and they were all soon asleep and the ship would look after itself or they wouldn’t know anything about it.
Eventually the tannoys blazed into operation the Stasis systems shut down and a lot of inhabitants – still surprisingly alive, looked for a drink for those hangovers after a forty year session but now other problems started to interfere with their feeling hungover and there wasn’t any drink and objects were hurtling towards them.
Chapter VI – Destraight
The Admirals thought that on Destraight they would have authority with Guards; Cats, Hounds and controlled Prisoners under their control – the problem was that something seemed to be wrong on the planet as well as their ships and the only control they would have was the key around their respective necks and how they could use it.
As they enlarged the scope of surveillance to watch the Prisoners being dispersed to various areas of the country they tried to understand what was going wrong as in their minds they had been generated to never know they could be wrong!
The initial plan aims were to populate the north, south and central areas of Destraight with the Prisoners near to the castles.
The lands would be called Ascania in the north; the main landing areas in the south would be Toshonia, and the central area, Stovania.
The major towns were Ascan and Matira – Martan Matira and David Jamesson didn’t give a damn what the rest of the country was called and were trying to move against James Droga but in a rare show of co-operation decided that James Droga would own Stovania until they could attack him.
Martan Matira … would probably own Toshonia and David Jamesson … if he was lucky, Ascania but no-one actually regarded this as an agreement despite their commitments to each other, still no-one was going home – least of all them and as usual they had planned for the short-term, ignored anything that required thought and that would rebound on them as there were thousands of Prisoners being shipped down to the planet and once again Dwarvian planning meant there were not enough resources to manage the Prisoners, oh yes, Dwarvia wanted a one-way ticket for the Admirals and didn’t care which plan worked but the real issue for the Admiral’s attention were the rocks in the sky coming closer to the Armada Ships and they were approaching the planet and faster and lower than they intended. Screens were showing land-quakes, typhoons and tidal waves hitting the planet as they watched.
Something was going to hit them a lot sooner and a lot closer if they didn’t move and one issue uniting the Admirals although there was little else that ever did was they hadn’t been sold a pup but a monumentally placed strategically suppository and now the land was starting to rise as their bowels did to meet the rocks and seas rushing in.
The Admirals discussions became agitated as they looked at the advancing spacial objects and already the crew were moving from the controls and joining the Admirals with each putting on a winning smile for a place on the Admiral’s scout ships.
The Admirals, looking at the space screens finally looked one another in the face, instead of the boots, gut or anywhere else they usually looked to avoid facing each other but their thoughts were then interrupted by a young aide who spoke without instructions – well, she wasn’t even forty yet – the interruption turned them bright orange, “Admirals, COMSATNEV is on video – signal is only fifteen years old, so it’s fairly new!”
James Droga looked at the young COMSATNEV liaison, “this better be good!”
“COMSATNEV has aborted the mission. This planet is on the boundaries of dimensional planetary interplay and dangerous to the expedition. There are several black holes and planets are not following orbital forecasts. Trouble at home has also started as the peace agreements with the invaded planets prohibits dumping Prisoners into deep space and the planets want the Prisoners repatriated. This mission is aborted and all personnel put to back into Stasis until fuel arrives. Fuel is being sent out and will arrive in forty to a hundred years time but everyone must be brought back from the planet and put into Stasis again before they return. The signal will wake the crew when the fuel arrives.”
“Well,” said Martan Matira, “it’s a little late my COMSATNEV disciple to do this with all the Prisoners on the surface and dispersed over the planet whilst we are facing incoming space debris; the Cats and Hounds are out of control and there is some kind of planetary environment affecting the Prisoners and Guards … perhaps you should go down and explain it to them and I suggest you do it quickly or you will stay here and face the rocks. Look at the incoming rocks COMSATNEV junior and we have used up all our power to arrive here so we have virtually no shields left and no more space on the Hell-Cats. For your instruction to be effective we would need everyone back onto the ships and to be returning before those rocks arrive; looking at my fellow Admirals, I think we are agreed that urgently leaving this ship before it is destroyed is an excellent idea so please tell that to COMSATNEV after we have made the planetary surface although on second thoughts, don’t; you will not be telling people the mission has been aborted,” Martan Matira opened fire and COMSATNEV became a bloody torso lying on the spaceship floor, “I think we have made a decision and I’m leaving now.”
Chapter VII – Landing
“We need to move, Admiral Droga,” said one honeyed voice as she moved as close as she dared, “We got you here, sir; we can get you to the surface, sir.”
“The Hell-Cats can do that and let go of my arm!”
A voice at that point penetrated James Droga psych, “The Hell-Cats have female brains but they are not women any more and you will be disappointed as they are objecting to your hands on their controls!”
The crew to finally be on the Hell-Cats ended up all female and the first thing anyone did was to check the pre-programmed mapping on the Hell-Cats and the Hell-Cats were happy to talk to the women but hated the Admiral’s sweaty hands on their controls then the Admirals found the mappings for the Hell-Cats weren’t alterable and the Admirals were going where they were pre-programmed to go – yet another surprise for the Admirals who found they needed to think fast, for a change!
James Droga finally found his voice on his Hell-Cat, “Are we carrying too much weight?” He was immediately met with a chorus of worried voices, “No, sir. Supplies have already been shipped down.”
“How and when?”
“We don’t have parachutes?”
“We made them up, sir. The rocket jettison parachutes.”
“They are to slow us down to land in an emergency.”
“The Hell-Cats have never needed them, sir. It was a safety measure.”
“So now we have no safety measures?”
“Did we ever, sir?”
The Admirals started losing touch with other whilst they were still in the air. Their Hell-Cats still had power but the scouts were out of power and communications also ran out of range as the Armada Class ships stopped generating power. They felt as marooned as the Guards and Prisoners were whether they liked it or not; they were used to power and everyone running around them now they were running around themselves!
The Hell-Cats were laughing all the way they flew as one site was already underwater and the brains of the Hell-Cats seemed to be laughing even more as they saw ahead and watched the computer glitches on the rest of the Castles but the greasy hands of the Admirals were on their controls and there thinking was already sending messages to Inter-Galactic Lawyers!
Chapter VIII – Castles In The Sand
Anyone watching the buildings erupt would obviously feel the designers had played with castles as children: walls going up; towers; Baileys obviously designed into the building as well as killing areas but these buildings were being built from ancient history and not the modern world the meetings had stated … yet another computer screw-up thought the Admirals but that was it and they were caught in a joke – yet again designed for their demise.
The castles were built quickly – jerry built by the computers but with the decaying power supplies and the electro-magnetic effects of the approaching spacial objects the computers were having problems and the programs becoming a little erratic.
The castles and camps had started a build with a combination of silicone, concrete powder, air and water dropped into moulds – needing only power to generate the structures and that was already in operation as the sun caught the generators.
The sun-shell power nodes were reacting to more than sunlight and the castles and camps were rising although the land and water also seemed to be rising and in far greater volumes than the castles and camps but the computer programs for some reason built all the castles with just one habitable floor; one castle was buried in the ground but still with just one floor.
The Admirals were having other surprises. The computers had built five castles for three Admirals but not necessarily near each other and three into five definitely didn’t go but the Admirals did not have any Knife Time left and to make it worse the unpopulated four storey block almost half-way between the castles of Martan Matira and David Jamesson was built but in the area allocated to Stovania.
James Droga didn’t have an integrated castle as such. His castle was five miles away from his Manor House which was ten miles away from the barracks leaving his castle fifteen miles from the barracks. He also found his starched uniforms were becoming pliable in the damp atmosphere but then again, so was his underwear … all of which he couldn’t remember in his briefing notes but since the notes had been about the size of his underwear this was unsurprising and one phrase was sticking in his mind, ‘This side of the planet was stated quite incorrectly, to be stable and unchanging’.
Martin Matira neared his castle finding some other problems.
His castle was upright and he could land but it was surrounded by seas with hot rocks rising to the west leaving one potential safety route away from the castle but with waters flooding in, his span of land was reduced to fifteen miles from north to south and some thirty five miles east to west; he was effectively existing in a diminishing empire that he would need to leave very soon.
Admiral Martan Matira had to walk to the west after a long climb to the only inhabitable areas of the castle. The kitchens and food stores were to the east but his bedchamber was hard against the west wall and there were no windows – still at least the water couldn’t come in. The map he was presented with showed three stairways; a gateway that led below the castle and the only way into the castle that he could understand; a gate to the tower and a third gate way that led to the south and by an extended route back to the tower but also to the gate. The only good thing about it was it was directly connected to his bedroom, giving him an escape in two directions which did not enthral him and they were an indication that he might need them.
The internal Guard’s barracks; sleeping quarters and armoury were all linked to his bedroom and there needed to be some serious thought about this, he decided!
He used one of the stairways to the Tower and again felt his eyes drawn to the ever-increasing rocks in the sky which seemed to be becoming larger by the day.
Martan’s other issue were the prisoners split between his land and David Jamesson’s. The thousands drown as the sea swept around the lodge with the water slowly climbing to just below the fourth storey was unfortunate but he could always find new prisoners although with the rising waters he couldn’t really stay in the castle and already a causeway had risen between his and the land claimed by James Droga to the far south. He still had some land above sea level to the west of the castle and already he and his remaining Guards began making preparations for escape, however Martan had heard reports of his land to the east growing by some four hundred square miles but his land to the north was gone leaving it to David Jamesson whilst he would be forced to head west to the lands of James Droga and the sea was blocking all access to the east; still he was isolated from the other Admirals and that was good since no-one knew what was going on.
Now as the seas rose further, he and the Guards fled along hot rock to a new causeway further to the west and he found on arrival Prisoners on the other side of this causeway … life was becoming interesting but he and his Guards was also minus a castle he couldn’t reach and facing hot rocks and seas sweeping in.
Chapter IX – Prisoners
On the planet Prisoners were watching waters rising and surrounding the Matira castle.
Water was engulfing from the north and flooding their camp.
Shackled Prisoners moved away from the rising waters as fast as they could. Feelings of freedom were tempered with the feelings of impending doom.
The land was new and even if it wasn’t their land … there was no religion, politicians, or newspapers so life should be good although Destraight stretched for hundreds of miles and travelled more towns than a politician in a bus but still there must be some land free for them or so they thought in their ignorance?
The real problems were the shackles and the rising water.
Their species ranged from magical to rock, bird, horse, Humanoid, dwarf and apparently elf.
In theory the shackled Prisoners could live where they chose to but to remove the shackles required a key and the rumour already out was that the Admirals had a key but in return for releasing your shackles you were force to pledge allegiance to the Admiral.
Most had stayed above ground but others sought existence beneath and tried becoming the ground as they sunk into a life but the shackles still bound them to the surface so they hung there. They knew the possibility of freedom but without the bounds released they would never be free and the shackles would not allow them to be fully joined with the ground and free to prey but they would survive the water.
Other Prisoners also found they could communicate by thought and their image of a leader seemed to be defined by their thoughts and for once there was a democratic voice but life was definitely going to get harder with the rocks in the sky getting bigger, the sea levels rising but at least some salt lakes were forming as the land rose trapping the water and some fish. A pity as fish were swept in and life was swept out but moving Prisoners from prisons to a long forty year sleep then depositing them on a world they didn’t know with no support, food and still chained together made them sitting targets for anything and they were slowly facing death.
Some of the Prisoners had their wings clipped to stop them flying and these had started to grow and it did allow them to fly even though their feet were still shackled.
Others were still sealed in their own private prisons as fluid but compared to those whose beaks were hooded so they couldn’t eat or drink they seemed free but now the Prisoners with hands were removing the hoods and the Rocs that could fly had also been able to bite through the shackles to free themselves and others but there were few Rocs and the shackles damaged their beaks but some were bringing back food for those who couldn’t move far although it was raw carcases and just dump with no way they could be cooked … life was changing but not for anyone!
The Prisoners were working together unlike the Admirals who lacked prisoner’s experience and were left with panicking Guards and women but in castles and with supplies; apart Admiral Droga who appeared to have not raided the stores and had them transported down and now was facing interesting discussions with his fellow Admirals if, in fact he could have contacted them.
One of the many issues was that no-one was allocated to nor lived in the four storey block that had been build in the middle of nowhere or the other two castles that there were no Admirals for and the Hell-Cats were following pre-programmed courses with Prisoners and Guards directed to other locations … the Minor Parties on Dwarvia did not intend for anyone to come back.
The freed Prisoners, Cats and Hounds spread out to find land and security before any Guards found them again but already the different types of Prisoners were seeking their own refuges as far from the Guards as they could be and moved until they found other buildings, small towns and villages in odd spots but spread across one continuous country and that spread as far as the eye could see or in some cases the tentacles could feel but the country was now being twisted and torn and essentially destroyed … the Admirals might have a castle but everyone was looking for an escape!
The computer glitches appeared to have ‘gone to town’ in the screw-ups and apparently built towns without rhyme or reason but there were thousands of Prisoners interested in them where there were no seas sweeping in.
Perhaps they should have been as interested in the rocks in the sky that were becoming bigger and closer but they were more interested in themselves and just surviving and weren’t looking up – they would probably be wrong again.
The country was changing to accommodate the stars, planets, debris and Prisoners who were now dying whilst the Admirals and cronies survived.
To the Admirals, this was how it should be but the Prisoners who’d landed were also looking at each other as if they had just found out something and they weren’t happy with their findings and if they weren’t speaking to each other it was because they didn’t need to – they could mentally communicate and a lot of races were being forced to communicate where they could – the Admirals were the exception as they couldn’t and wouldn’t trust anyone including themselves.
The Guards were panicking as the Cats and Hounds stopped taking voice commands and instead of being trained wild animals held by specially trained handlers were walking up to Prisoners and Guards, lying down and waiting for their bellies to be tickled.
On the planet the Prisoners were watching waters rising and some were surrounding where Matira castle was but water was now engulfing and flooding their camp.
The shackled Prisoners moved away from the rising waters as fast as they could but a feeling of euphoria was inverse to the waters rising but how long both lasted was another question. The prisoners couldn’t move fast and the waters were rising faster than they could move with the shackles? Their feelings of freedom now tempered with the feelings of impending doom.
The land was new and even if it wasn’t their land there was no religion, politicians, or newspapers so life should be good but although Destraight stretched for hundreds of miles and travelled more towns than a politician in a bus still there must be some land free for them or so they thought in their ignorance? The real problems were the shackles and the rising water.
Their species ranged from magical to rock, bird, horse, Humanoid, Dwarf and apparently Elf, albeit they were never there nor part of the Prisoners to any visible part and that included a killing element apart from the politicians who didn’t give a damn about anyone but themselves.
In theory the shackled Prisoners could live as and where they chose to but to remove the shackles required a key and the rumour was already out that the Admirals had a key but in return for releasing your shackles you were force to pledge allegiance to the Admiral.
Prisoners also found that some could communicate by thought and their image of a leader seemed to be defined by their thoughts and for once there was a democratic voice but life was definitely going to get harder with the rocks in the sky getting bigger; the sea levels rising but still at least some salt lakes were forming as the land rose trapping the water and some fish.
A pity that as fish were swept in life was being swept out – moving Prisoners from prisons to a long forty year sleep then depositing them on a world they didn’t know with no support, food and still chained did make sitting targets for anything and they were facing death but slowly as they died.
Some of the Prisoners had wings clipped to stop them flying.
These had started to grow during the wait to board and that did allow them to fly although their feet were still shackled meaning they could not reach more than a few feet above the ground but they were getting stronger and flying above the water but they couldn’t carry anyone.
Others were sealed in their own private prisons as fluid but compared to those whose beaks were hooded so they couldn’t eat or drink, they seemed free but now the Prisoners with hands were removing the hoods and the Rocs that could fly biting through the shackles and freeing themselves and others but there were few Rocs and the breaking shackles damaged their beaks but some were bringing back food for those who couldn’t move far and Prisoners were being able to eat, albeit raw meat.
The Prisoners in fact were working together unlike the Admirals who lacked Prisoners and were just left with panicking Guard and crew but Control Freakdom is not how Leaders work just Politicians and the Admirals, could not work things out where they could not kill or demand servitude! Other issues for the Admirals included that no-one was allocated to live in the four storey block or the other two castles and everything had to be ordered!
The Admirals immediately decided these builds must be their property but the freed Prisoners, Cats and Hounds were now spreading out to find land and security before any Guards found them again and already Prisoners sought their own refuges and they included the Admirals.
Some were below ground however all were as far from the Admirals and Guards as they could be and as Prisoners moved they found small towns and villages spread across a continuous country and as far as the eye could see or in some cases the tentacle could feel. The computer glitches appeared to have ‘gone to town’ in the screw-ups and apparently built towns without rhyme or reason with thousands of Prisoners interested in them but the rocks in the sky that were becoming bigger and closer and perhaps the country was changing to accommodate the stars, planets and debris and Prisoners were now dying whilst the Admirals and their cronies survived and to the Admirals, this was how it should be.
Most Admirals had brought their families with them as they had no choice; whether the families wanted to come or not.
A clean sweep had been demanded but computer programs ensured that Admiral Martan Matira was located to the south-east; Admiral David Jamesson to the north whilst Admiral James Droga was to the north-west and the family disposal areas with the families still in Stasis cabinets were anywhere the Admirals were not and in some cases at least eight to a hundred miles away from the castles.
David Jamesson, like the other Admirals really had only one family and that was the Space Navy but his relatives had been rounded up and put into Stasis although he neither knew nor cared about them or what happened to them. They could stay in Stasis as far as he was concerned but the Stasis cases were fracturing and some were floating like ‘do-it-yourself’ coffins.
The only family James Droga could remember was some distant connection to the Drasty family who were considered one of the worst sections of the ex-Ruling Families if that was possible, who’d been rounded up along with the Droga’s. They were a distant connection still his own family was a distant memory he could well do without as well.
Amongst those still in Stasis cabinets was Griselda Matira – Martan’s wife and Rafus Matira – a distant relative and he was in no hurry to wake either up. There were various other relatives but having spent most of his life in the Space Navy he doubted he could remember any of them although Griselda had shown herself to have some value as a vicious killer and Rafus had some magical qualities but apart from that he didn’t give a damn … as he thought however, he decided that Rafus might have some use.
Chapter X – Change
Prior to the seas sweeping in and the land upheavals, the original Prisoner, family and guard destinations were forty miles to the south of Martin Matira’s castle and ten miles north of David Jamesson’s castle and over a hundred miles south of James Droga’s range of buildings and widely distributed across Destraight and the land upheavals continue and ten miles became a hundred as the land twisted and re-mapped itself with the rocks in the sky moving closer and closer and starting to hit Destraight with more seas sweeping in from the east, the south and the north and they hit shackled imprisoned people who then died.
Thousands of shackled prisoners near Martan Matira’s castle died as the waters swept in and surrounded his castle, and the Lodge – built for some reason that no-one has ever known.
Martan’s castle was left with a causeway out, leading to a causeway erupting from the land to connect to the land rising.
This was exacerbated as the east and west sides of Destraight were now separated by an inland sea that put Martan Matira’s castle in the sea to the south; David Jamesson’s castle was on the edge of an inland sea to the north-east, and James Droga’s castle was on the edge of the sea to the north-west.
In fact all of the castles and prisoner disposal sites were all near the sea or in it and the programs set in Dwarvia could not be altered in any way – Dwarvia was not interested in survivors.
The land and sea movement affected the country in various ways.
Martan Matira’s allocation of Prisoners were slowly making their way north to his castle when the waters swept in from the east. They were still shackled and slow moving when the waters hit.
The faster Prisoners made to the Lodge – a strange building, some four storeys tall but it was encircled by water so it became a large island except that slow moving prisoners died but the slowest; the Guards and some families managed to survive as the waters swept in front of them and hit the fastest.
David Jamesson’s castle now some fifty mile from the sea-coast to the west had land upheavals that generated land however the land rising pushed parts of the inland sea to the west and closer to the second prisoner’s camp which now had water moving in from the south as well; water to the west, and water moving in from the east.
Only the prisoners to the north of David Jamesson seemed safe.
Chapter XI – Wilderness
Martan Matira tried to keep his face expressionless but he was becoming worried. He’d few Guards; no castle; very little supplies apart from live food. Things were not going to plan and it was hell in a hand cart as far as he could see and he was in the cart going downhill.
As he thought he wondered how David Jamesson and James Droga were managing.
Looking around he could see prisoners from every planet the Admirals fought on but the tentacles, arms, fists and faces remembered him; he automatically moved back into his squad of personal guards – not that it would make any difference if there was trouble. Someone now handed him a small hailer, and he waited as he tried to get some saliva working around his jaws.
Dribbling to be honest seemed a better bet but he put his hand over his mouth whilst he thought of anything and everything that would make him stop salivating and also give him some idea of what to say to survive, finally, he gave up on trying to be smart.
He needed them to co-operate and they needed him to acknowledge he needed them – there were a lot of needs! He finally realised this and his thoughts started to do more than buzz around like mattock flies over a dying battlefield.
Martan now watched someone from the prisoners behind him move forward and he was a rangy seven foot shape, “My name is Tolan, and if you don’t know my species, I am a Tron.” As he spoke his voice possessed a clear timbre and those arms if they swung would deliver more power than woodworm and Martan Matira took a good two steps further back.
It was a while before Tron spoke again and for a lot of that time he seemed to be mentally somewhere else but eventually he did finally speak, “We don’t have your style of Government, Admiral. We decide together, what will happen.”
“What have you decided?”
“The seas haven’t reached us yet. The causeway to the west is too hot. You have food and we all need to live – we can wait but we will never be friends although we may be able to suffer each other. Some of our winged friends may extract meat from your herd but at a minimum and they will repay that. The choice is yours, Admiral, not ours. We need you but you surely need us more than we need you.”
“Your summary is correct although I don’t know what food we have to offer you?”
“Humanoid flesh will be fine, Admiral,” Tolan looked at Admiral Matira’s face turning purple, “I was joking Admiral, I actually eat forest insects which are actually very tasty. I suggest we make camp as best we can – some of us will be monitoring the movement of the seas.”
If Admiral Matira’s neck had stretched even more he would have looked like a newly born ostrich as he tried to draw himself above his four foot two inches but instead he look like someone who spent too long in the starch laundry.
By now the prisoners were laughing; Guards were raising weapons and Tolan raised his hand, “The countryside is trying to kill us. Do we need to kill each other before it does?”
“Once again, Tolan, your words make sense. Let’s wait. We can always kill each other later if the sea and land doesn’t?”
“We’ve tried enough times, Admiral Matira. If the clock was turned back and we could defeat your weapons, you would be dead but we all live or die together on this planet now! The planet is already trying to kill us which makes a change from your troops.”
“We need to come to an arrangement, Tolan, we have food and we’ll share it. If we work together we can survive, if we don’t, we’ll all die,” he watched as several of the prisoners nodded and began to speak to others whilst others just seem to know what had been spoken.
Martan Matira saw the prisoners on the west side of the causeway head north as they couldn’t cross over and he decided to set up camp where he was.
To say that Martan Matira slept well that night would be a complete lie and Tolan approaching him the next morning raised more issues than food.
There had obviously been serious discussions between the prisoners and now Tolan said, “We already have an arrangement, Martan but you took us as prisoners; shipped us to a dying planet and you have killed two thirds of us on this planet.”
“I did not kill any of you!”
“You brought us here; dumped us in chains so we were helpless and my people now feel that we can trust you as far as I can eat a tree insect in the winter!”
“What do you want me to do? We were obeying orders.”
“Well this is an order, Martan Matira. Release the shackles and the mind-bonds you have placed on the Minuets. You have also bound two of their eight legs and their telepathic abilities. Free them, so they can fly, see and help us. You have bound them so they cannot fly and cannot talk to each. So many of them, you, Martan Matira have killed.”
“We didn’t know their needs as prisoners. We are dwarfs.”
“Who attack innocent planets, enslave their people and don’t understand anyone’s life including your own which is looking brief?”
“We can argue all day but we need to decide something and threatening me will not work.”
“Free them, and then we decide,” then was a long pause and finally Martan managed to pull a long chain over his head and handed it to Tolan.
“Touch the jewel in the centre to each shackle. It will be a slow process but it is all I have. It will free all bonds and restrictions.”
“There are thousands of us; this will take forever.”
“Then the sooner you start the better.”
Tolan handed the chain to another Tron, “notify everyone and use it to free them.”
Turning to Martan Matira, he said, “You keep your part of the bargain and we will keep ours. As soon as they are freed, the Rocs and Minuets will take off and check the sea-levels, flooding, and the heat of the causeway. That will tell us which way and how soon we must move. Now my people must seek food,” and with that brief statement, Tolan’s wooden feet made an almost clip-clop noise as he trotted back to the prisoners waving the chain and jewel.
“Touch this to your chains and then learn to fly again. Your muscles will probably be weak, so move slowly,” and he watched as the chain was applied by Yogush, Tron’s son to those bound in chains. Slowly chains started to fall off but Yogush held tightly to the chain – there were rivalries between the prisoners and Tolan did not want the chain and jewel withheld because of infighting.
As Martan watched he decided to slaughter some of the animals so at least he appeared to be keeping his word but it was a long day and the noise for the prisoner’s camp seemed to increase by the minute as they regained their abilities.
By following the morning the Trons had communicated with the other prisoners who were now heading back to the causeway from the north-west.
Martan’s key was already releasing the leaders and the Wolfen to kill. Originally they had used Rock Trolls who were very Humanoid and quick in their killing the animals but the impact of their fists left traces of stone in the animals they killed.
The only issue with the Wolfen was that they tended to kill the animals and then eat them so a compromise was sending both the Rock Trolls and Wolfen together.
Unfortunately on the other side of the causeway the Prisoners didn’t know that they were already bordered by a stretch of sea some twenty square miles wide to the west of them, leaving them with a narrow corridor of some eight miles as they tried to head north again before the seas to the west swept further in and they soon realised from scouts that they were in fact caught between two seas. This led to an abrupt halt as reports came in and a retreat back south to the hot causeway to face Martan Matira.
They spoke by telepathy to those could still hear and weren’t blocked, and Masketh’s thoughts were echoed to the prisoners to the east as well as his own people, “There is some land to the east of this side of the causeway which has not flooded. It might be a better decision to head that way. If the sea sweeps in any more we will drown. This way we might survive and escape the seas.”
Sallesh replied, “I don’t know; perhaps for non-forest dwellers we might find fish but there are some four legged animals and my people are herding them towards us as we speak. Perhaps some of our Wolfen friends could butcher for us.”
At that moment from the Wolfen friends, Sallesh the Tron received a very irate telepathic message, “We are not butchers; we only kill at need and we all have our front two legs in shackles. We couldn’t jump and bring down an animal if we wanted to but we will share your food.”
Masketh, who’d picked up the reply replied as quietly as he could using his telepathic abilities, “Does anyone have any weapons. We need to kill these animals as well as possible.”
“Then keep them away from those dwarf butchers. They’d kill anything and anyone.”
Masketh stood there quietly. It was not going to be easy. He was still stood there when a Rock Troll finally managed to reach him. Once again the Rock Troll was shackled to prevent him from moving at speed but the Rock Trolls never did anyway.
The Rock Trolls were some eight foot in height and when they spoke you could almost taste the dust, “We don’t eat meat, Masketh and there are enough fresh stones for us but we can kill your animals for you.”
“Thank you, Strogged. We need to feed as many as possible. Your and your friends assistance is very welcome. I suggest, given the speed we can move at that we move to the east to meet the herds and away from the seas.”
Masketh watched the Rock Trolls head off and then his attention was triggered by a series of large rocks hurtling down from space and plunging into the sea to the west.
It didn’t take much for them to see the seas sweeping in towards them. The causeway was rising even more but it was too hot to cross and there was no exit across it. Still the prisoners began to run towards it.
It took some time until the waters swept in towards them and the heat of the causeway. They felt the water’s impact and watched as the skies darkened; the land vibrated with heat erupting, and the seas swirled in from the north-west.
Every prisoner was still manacled which meant there was little anyone could do to save the prisoners as the waters carried on moving towards them. They wouldn’t need to worry any more about food or fresh water as they watched as the waters moved in but to their horror the low water was now followed by a ten foot high torrent that swept over them and headed towards the heated causeway. The few who survived the waters smashed into the rocks.
Martin Matira watched the waters hit the causeway which now steamed. He could see bodies washing up and knew few had survived. That still left some twenty thousand prisoners to the North; about ten thousand near him and maybe a few hundred to the west, if they were very lucky.
Already the air was full of Rocs swooping above the causeway and returning with anyone they found still alive. Eventually they started to return with dead animals which, under the instructions of the Trons and with a lot of reluctance, they dropped to the remaining prisoners for food.
Out of the sixty thousand prisoners who’d landed, there were probably thirty thousand still alive but more worrying for Martin was that they might be allied to David Jamesson against the ten thousand facing him still the pleasant thought was that James Droga had nothing but his guard and could be taken at their leisure but even that was causing Martan Matira trouble as he found no sense of any of prisoners binding themselves to him.
To the west, Tona the Roc, finally managed to transmit a message to those who could hear her, “Barely a few have survived of our twenty thousand in the west. They were just dumped and left whilst James Droga headed to the north-west. They didn’t even have the option of the key. The crooks are Jamesson and Matira … I think they wanted everything and even betrayed their own. With your numbers there are probably thirty four thousand of us left and we need to work together to stop these Admirals from controlling us and using us as slaves.”
The prisoners to the north-east were still arguing amongst themselves. Some wanted to move south to David Jamesson’s castle – which was closer, whilst others chose to move west towards James Droga’s castle but food once again was a problem and in the light of this they decided to move south to Jamesson’s castle some seven miles away driving their livestock before it … it would be a good bargaining point. There were twenty thousand of them but all were still shackled and they slowly made their way south towards the castle.
Another reason for the move was watching the rocks hit an area near James Droga’s castle and it did not seem a good direction at the moment to take with the rocks still plummeting down – better the rocks hit James Droga and save themselves the trouble.
David Jamesson’s thoughts however were certainly different from Martan Matira as he watched the prisoners approaching his castle. They might be slowed down with their manacles but were there were enough to surround his castle and starve him out. Already some were herding animals to the front of his castle and starting fires and the smell of meat on his Guards after his own meat was now on the other side of the Prisoners was also causing trouble..
He finally decided to face them and ignored the noise as he left the castle without guards. Once again he faced a Tron.
“My name is Harrath. I have been appointed to speak for my friends and enemies.”
“You are in need, Harrath, and so are your friends and enemies?”
The timbre of Harrath echoed as he spoke, “We are not in need, Admiral Jamesson. We have food; the waters haven’t moved to threaten or kill us, unlike other prisoners. We haven’t lost people and you have the key to free us and we know that. You Admirals planned to keep every prisoner bound until he personally accepted you as his Lord and was freed from his shackles. You and your brethren would have used us as slaves and then we would be your bondsmen but you need us – we don’t need you and we will never bond to you.”
“I don’t have a key to free you. That was on the ship.”
“We know Admiral Matira had a key around his neck and he has released that to his prisoners. If he had a key then so do you and Admiral Droga. We will split our forces and send some to Admiral Droga but some of us still have telepathic abilities and we Trons can speak within a certain distance to others and we will do that. You might find honesty of more use to you, Admiral Jamesson. We will eventually be freed, with or without your key.”
David Jamesson stood there, saying nothing. What the hell was Martan Matira doing. Each prisoner was supposed to accept personal bondage before being released. That had been the plan. Each of them would then have twenty thousand bond-men to work the lands and be ruled. Now they were aggressive, communicating with each other and already knew or had guessed at the Admiral’s plans. All because of Martan Matira; still the Matira’s had always been weak.
Jamesson now turned on his heel and surveyed his castle – with only one floor completed, he needed workers. He could probably managed a hundred armed guards but they wouldn’t stay armed for long without power to recharge the side-arms and against twenty thousand prisoners … no … it was probably better to give the key up. There wasn’t much left anyway after the floods and who knew how badly the north had been hit. Let them be free – there would be time to rule.
Reluctantly he pulled the chain and jewel over his head and passed it to Harrath, who took it, released his own manacles and then moved amongst the prisoners, who like the others just stood there looking dazed; the Rocs especially, who not had a chance to use their wings in some sixty years.
“I will go and visit Admiral Droga – Magresh here will represent me. Deal with him as you would deal with me.”
Harrath looked around and saw that already fires were being lit; animals killed, and he looked towards the nearby forest for his own meal. They would wait until they had eaten and then some would head to the other castles and he linked telepathically with Magresh to update him.
Magresh was good enough to handle Admiral Jamesson and that would leave him free to deal with Admiral Droga who was a lot more violent and tricky.
It took about a week before James Droga looking out from his Manor saw ten thousand prisoners approaching. Due to yet another computer glitch, the build of his castle was some five mile away on the coast to the north-west from his Manor whilst his barracks were built some ten miles to the north-east, leaving the Manor completely isolated and defenceless … something that hadn’t escaped his attention and nor did ten thousand prisoners suddenly appearing on his doorstep; still they did have livestock and with no defences he decided to meet them and their leader and instantly offered his key to Harrath who having dealt with David Jamesson was selected to deal with James Droga whose attitude has changed as he realised he was the Admiral pre-destined to have nothing His castle, his Manor and the barracks had been hit by countless space rocks although the seas sweeping in hadn’t reached him.
The key was instantly used on prisoners and Harrath looked at him for a long time before speaking, “The other Admirals tried to bargain. You haven’t?”
“What is the point? I’ve been betrayed as much as you have. What do I have left? You have livestock; I have very little. My castle is miles away, as it my barracks and I cannot face ten thousand people, even if I wanted to.”
“At least you call us people; your other Admirals called us prisoners.”
“I accept life … they think they control it.”
“Funny that they should say the same when discussing you. You gave your key willingly and for that at least we will consider it an offer and give you our acceptance and that is an agreement of peace. Do not break it!”
“Go in peace, Harrath, the agreement will not be broken by myself.”
Martin Matira’s thoughts as he looked at the causeway and the prisoners behind him were interrupted, “If I may speak, Admiral?”
“Who are you?”
“Rafus Matira, Admiral – a distant relative.”
“Speak, Rafus, but quickly and briefly.”
“You had me revived for my magic, Admiral. There is a cooling spell in my book. I cannot say how long it will last and for how long along the causeway it may function but I could try and use it.”
“What good it would it do?”
“The causeway is probably fifty miles long, Admiral but if we wait until the seas close in from the north, south and west we could as a last resort use the spells to lower the temperature on the causeway even more – it might work, Admiral? It would buy us time if we just wait.”
“With these rocks getting closer to the planet, Rafus that may be all it buys us but I don’t have a better plan.”
Chapter XII – Unknown Future
Shortly the Armada Class ships left and amidst the confusing messages sent out to the fleet, back on Dwarvia another coup had occurred with the War Party ruling again; planets invaded again leading yet again to another build-up of prisoners on Dwarvia and riots starting.
The backlash against the War Party led to increasing political bloodshed and it didn’t take long before old ideas formed again and Armada Class ships started construction.
The general consensus this time was … we’ve already colonised Destraight; if we build five more ships then that is another hundred thousand prisoners we can rid Dwarvia of, plus more than a few traitors who don’t support us and we’ll supply five admirals from our families who will be ideal for the project: Marcel Droga; Stefen Matira; Peter Jamesson; Percival de Bowed, and Argus Du Storme.
The Admirals were once again chosen for their political affiliations and connections to the Ruling Families although Percival de Bowed was included as a clearance operation and within the Ruling Families the political infighting decided who would be chosen as everyone received a short straw and the ones with the long straws received a short sharp shock — usually to the back of the head.
They were also chosen as the High Council felt they were causing more wars than Dwarvia could afford and with twenty thousand prisoners per ship, they were rid of another hundred thousand prisoners from Dwarvia.
Marcel Droga captained the Lloap; Stefen Matira the Mastra; Peter Jamesson the Noctra; Percival de Bowed the Speca, and Argus Du Storme the Mightnare and all felt they would basically sleep the trip away and then return and all forgot the basic rule … never trust a dwarf.
Orbiting Dwarvia a further group of manacled prisoners entered the Armada Class Prison ships from the ramps the freighters extended. The prisoners were forced to walk single file within oxygen filled metal canopies. They had tried loading them directly from Dwarvia however the prisoners realised what was happening and rioted again. Now they were manacled and neutralised before being shipped up on a twenty four hour basis usually some hastily converted freighters.
The types of prisoner were standard. The Trons – 7 ft telepathic wooden creatures, considered peaceful by the dwarfs but who still invaded their planets. The Minuets – 6 ft telepaths but with eight spindly legs. The Rocs again were telepaths but only 4 ft high, which did not prevent from carrying men and animals off to a great height. The Wolfen were again telepaths but 3 ft high four legged bunches of often violent fur. The Slurms were the most dangerous in terms of ferocity – they preferred darkness but were Snake-like and almost transparent – they were the most feared and were covered with what seemed like a bag but were treated with extreme care as an escaped Slurm would cause havoc on a ship the size of the Armada Class. The remainder were Humanoids, dwarfs and Rock Trolls who no-one could miss, and very seldom did.
The Armada Class ships were finally loaded and moved off.