I’d hoped to be a lot more along on this early stuff but I finally had the final bits to build ona new computer and took time out to do that and it doesn’t work, so a lot more work to do.
I did spend some time today, and also on thursday but still muddled ideas; plots not developed; detail and background not finished – it may not seem like a chunk of work has been done, but it has, believe and a lot of hours into it.
Thanks for following.
Chapter I – Arrival
Destraight – an excellent name for a planetary prison – an old unstable planet ideally suited for prisoners the Dwarven race had taken and was quietly moving–on without the worry of them returning at some point so these specially selected prisoners would not be returning – they had become too much of a problem to hold in captivity.
During the years, three Dwarf Armada Class ships – Andromeda with Admiral James Droga; Surreptitious with Admiral Martan Matira, and the Ancient with Admiral David Jamesson – and yes, there was sufficient head clearance for non-Dwarven races – approached; and along with twenty thousand sleeping prisoners/politicians per ship there were Guards, Hounds and hunting Cats to control them and hunt those who tried to escape – no-one was going anywhere they were not instructed to go.
All were asleep and would stay that way until placed upon the planet.
In reality the Dwarfs considered them as disposable, apart from Admirals Droga, Matira and Jamesson, who would return, and that was probably the Admiral’s thoughts as well and no-one else’s as who else would turn their ships around and sleep until their return to Dwarvia, apart from the ship’s crews, still on the ships, and their quarters were armoured as with very little fuel the shields were virtually non-existent but the ships had value and were worth returning to Dwarvia.
Dwarvia had been creating and winning too many wars recently and whilst its empire had been increasing, more and more its cities were encircled by prisoner camps, whilst promotion for its ever increasing numbers of Admirals was matched by the ever increasing numbers of wars occurring, and finally Dwarvia was changing from a planet to a prison, and three of its most aggressive Admirals were now leading the three Armada Class prison ships.
All the Admirals, at five foot four with slate grey eyes matched the Navy’s strength and build requirements, although in two cases the rumours; not spoken in front of them if you wished to live, were of surgery to shorten their height, and their eye colour dyed to match that of famous historic Admirals so it does save the Author from having to invent their build, height and eyes for the Colour Trioptics biography.
Some crew staff would stay awake on the return journey but in five year shifts so they would only lose ten years of their lives. The Admirals would lose, perhaps four weeks of their lives but they were selected for having no dependents and the ships would be virtually on auto-pilot for the return with only ship’s crews exposed to problems – something that had attracted attention in its day but Dwarven clans closed up and nothing, apart from cries and bodies being found, nothing attracted any attention afterwards and as has been said, very good Dwarven Political connections were essential for your career.
The only issues for the Admiral’s now was those lights in the sky approaching the Prison Ships but the planet seemed ideal for the Admiral’s own plans.
Landquakes, typhoons and tidal waves abounded but these all seemed to hit just one side of a planet that turned very slowly and the Admirals would be dead by the time it finally turned and didn’t consider this a problem; the other side of the planet had a distant sun producing a temperate area but for unbeknown reasons the planet seemed to be held in some kind stasis that no-one understood, so its erratic and slow movements were almost non-existence, mirroring the Admiral’s own thoughts as they pondered their careers and a homecoming to no-one but a pension.
The Pension Authorities were, even now, already trying to delete the Space years they spent asleep from counting as service time towards their pension, leaving them with another twenty years service to achieve but with no service available so Bureaucrats could cut their Pensions. They were all active and in the seventies but another twenty years’ service – if they could find the dwindling positions at SITCOPLEB – was not something crossing the Admiral’s minds, except in bright fiery words linked to hell and ‘planet away’ you daft Dwarf Bureaucrats.
The words across the sentinel wires had been caustic in the extreme as the Admirals discussed their futures and the futures of the Bureaucrats if they ever got their hands on them, but the messages would take fifteen years to arrive in Dwarvia and the Admirals could live with that.
On Destraight the Admirals would have authority, once the Vis-Moot took place; Guards; Cats, Hounds and controlled prisoners would be under their control – the only problem was that something seemed to be wrong on the planet and they enlarged the scope of surveillance to watch the prisoners being dispersed to various areas of the country.
The initial aims were to populate the north, south and central areas of Destraight. It would be called Ascania in the north; the main landing areas here would be called Toshonia, and the central area, Stovania. The Admirals in a rare show of co-operation had decided that James Droga would own Stovania; Martan Matira, Toshonia and David Jamesson would own Ascania – no-one was going home – least of all them.
The prisoners were looking at each other as if they had just found something and they weren’t speaking to each other; they seemed to know what others were thinking without speaking.
The Guards were panicking as the Cats and Hounds had stopped taking voice commands and instead of being trained wild animals held by specially trained handlers were walking up to prisoners and Guards and lying down for their bellies to be tickled. The Admirals, looking at the space screens saw something else they didn’t like as objects approaching seemed a lot closer than this morning and they were also thinking, and thinking fast.
It led the Admirals to finally look one another in the face, instead of the boots, gut or anywhere else they usually looked to avoid facing each other. Their thoughts were interrupted by a young aide – she wasn’t even forty yet – something that 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. There are several black holes and planets are not following guidelines. Trouble at home has started as the peace agreement prohibits dumping prisoners into deep space and this mission is to be aborted and all personnel put to sleep until fuel arrives. Fuel is being sent out and will arrive in forty years but everyone must be brought back and put into stasis again before they return. The signal will wake everyone when the fuel arrives.”
“Well,” said Martan Matira, “it’s a little late, ComSatNev disciple to do this with all the prisoners on the surface and dispersed over the land; the Cats and Hounds seem out of control and some kind of planetary environment is affecting the prisoners and Guards … perhaps you should go down and explain it to them and I suggest you do it quickly. Look at the incoming rocks, ComSatNev, and we have used all our power to arrive here so we have virtually no shields left. For your instruction to be effective we would need everyone back on the ships and 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, we need the power to land and you don’t as you will not be telling people the mission has been aborted,” ComSatNev became a bloody torso as three handguns left her lying on the spaceship floor and the Admirals descended to a life they intended to rule.
The decent side of the planet looked okay; the Guards were just failures, leftovers and of little value without guidance, and guidance from the Admirals would very quickly be there in substance. They would be ruling; not returning home to a pension that wasn’t worth the Geld. The self-build camps were 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 which bearing in mind the objects in the sky approaching, was a good idea.
The sun-shell power nodes were already reacting and the camps were rising although everyone else seemed to be rising as well and looking at the sky before they headed for the still building structures. The Guards were now releasing prisoners against all orders and it seemed more like a riot than a prison camp.
The Admirals had the yet another inkling that as in any battle, all plans became yesterday’s future thoughts and when they Admirals finally landed, they were immediately were met by aides who sang out in unison, “You must Vis-Moot on the planet, Admirals. Nothing is legal without the three of you in Vis-Moot on the surface?”
James Droga looked at the other two Admirals, “We can legally take over whenever we want if we Vis-Moot and tell them that we are appointed to rule … then we rule.”
David Jamesson looked at his fellow Admirals, “Just a few seconds on the Vis-Moot and it’s legal … even if they send someone else here in forty years … we own and control the planet – legally – we never received the recall order and the ships won’t survive to prove us wrong. No-one is going back!”
They looked around as the buildings kept rising. For some reason it looked like the designers had played with castles as children. Walls were going up, towers and baileys were obviously designed into the building as were killing areas – this was being built as ancient history, not the modern world the meetings had planned … yet another screw-up.
Martan Matira was sneering as he realised his fellow Admirals were actually smiling, “You two planned this. Now tell me how long will our high-tech civilisation last with this pathetic nonsense – whose idea was this besides yours? We’ll need the Guards, Hounds and Cats to keep them under control for us to rule if we are now playing with ancient toys. We don’t have any control over anything or anyone without modern weapons! We need authority and modern weapons and you’ve built a children’s nursery!”
“At this distance, Martan, the committee decided that a modern world was unsupportable, so they opted for a historic solution that would not require modern weapons, anyway, the Vis-Moot gives us authority and the Guards will obey instructions or be buried head-first, and with their feet sticking up. A few exhibitions should curtail disobedience!”
“Well, we still have the Vis-Moot to complete and I suggest we complete that as a matter of urgency. I don’t intend to be standing around as those rocks hit those ships and they decide to land somewhere,” It took them some time to find the Vis-Moot area and also to find a slight problem.
There was now a castle and walls stretching from them for a distance of ten to fifteen miles, while walls behind and directly in front of them, bisected the horizon for another ten miles.
Directly facing them were the guards barracks but with some prisoners still milling around instead of being dispersed and swift orders soon had them herded out of the castle and through the gate onto the other side of the killing area and to what already seemed to be some medieval town although completely and artificially built using stone powder.
James Droga exploded, “Where is the Viz-Moot equipment? We need to beam our authority to everyone.”
“Perhaps, James, we just need to control the guards and they are our authority. Everyone knows we rule … perhaps we are better just assuming our roles as leaders?”
“With the Viz-Moot, Martan, no-one can dispute our authority!”
“Yes, I can hear you, James and we can conduct this conversation as normal Dwarfs. There is no Viz.-Moot that I can see but I can certainly see Guards and prisoners and that I feel will have to be our goal. We have our lands to secure and I intend to move towards the castle before those rocks arrive. I would suggest you move to your lands and with haste.”
Martan Matira watched as James Droga and David Jamesson moved towards the two remaining scout ships. They might have enough power to take them to their new lands but he doubted it, still, at least they were away from him but he had plans of his own and the first was to get into the castle before the rocks arrived.
James Droga and David Jamesson kept a very close eye on the power in the ships. James was heading for a town he’d named Zapril while David headed for Ascan – one Admiral in the north; one in the south and James Droga for some reason had gone west. Martan watched them take off and thought that life would be interesting and he was quite correct – only a lot sooner than he expected.
One of the first things, Admiral Matira noticed on entering his castle was that only one floor had been completed. The rest of the castle had been completed but some computer glitch had only then furnished one floor. His next problem was that he’d to walk to the west in order, after a long climb to reach 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. The map he was presented with showed three stairways to the tower; a gateway that led below the castle and only one way into the castle that he could understand. The internal Guard’s barracks; sleeping quarters and armoury were all linked to his bedroom … 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.
James Droga was also being surprised. As he approached Zapril he saw nothing – no buildings, no people – nothing. He keyed in his destination again; chose autopilot this time, and found himself moving to the north-west and the scout started to land in David Jamesson’s domain.
He checked the map again and his destination placed him in Ascania but on the edge to the north-west of David’s lands and with the scout running out of fuel, he had little chance of avoiding landing and as he landed he could see a castle, manor house and Guards barracks – not the promise he expected to be honoured. Martan and David had carved him up to take the lion’s share of the country. He’d see about that – the Droga’s would win!
As it was, all three of the Admirals were having surprises. Due to computer glitches all castles had only one floor furnished however five castles had been built for the three Admirals but not necessarily near each other, and three into five definitely didn’t go.
An unpopulated four storey block almost half-way between the castles of Martan Matira and David Jamesson was also built, but in the area allocated to Stovania and in addition to Admiral Droga’s castle, a separate manor house and a Guard’s barracks had been built.
The other issue was that no-one was allocated nor lived in the four storey block or the other two castles and the Admirals immediately decided that these builds must be their property whilst the freed prisoners, Cats and Hounds were now spreading out to find land and security before any Guards found them again but already the different types of prisoners were seeking their own refuges and some were below ground but all were as far from the Guards as they could be and they moved 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.
The computer glitches appeared to have ‘gone to town’ in the screw-ups and apparently built towns without rhyme or reason and there were sixty thousand prisoners interested in them.
Perhaps they should have been interested in the rocks in the sky that were becoming bigger and closer but had they more interest themselves than in just surviving.
It might also have interested them that back on Dwarvia: yet another coup had occurred; the War Party were ruling again; planets were being invaded, and a build-up of prisoners on Dwarvia was occurring. It didn’t take long before old ideas were forming again and some Armada Class ships started to be constructed again. The general consensus was: we’ve already colonised this planet; if we build five more ships then that is another hundred thousand we can rid Dwarvia of, and we have five admirals who will be ideal for the project.
The vote was unanimous and five names were volunteered to lead the relocation: Marcel Droga; Stefen Matira; Peter Jamesson; Percival de Bowed, and Argus du Storme.
Back on Destraight the prisoners moved away at speed from the castles and there was almost a feeling of euphoria although how long that lasted for was another question. The land was new and even if it wasn’t their land there was no religion, politicians, or newspapers so life was good, or so they thought but Destraight stretched for hundreds of miles and travelled more towns than a politician in a bus so there must be so land free for them?
Their species ranged from magical to rock, bird, horse, human, dwarf, elf but did include a killing element, apart from the politicians who didn’t give a damn about anyone but themselves however, they could live as and where they chose.
Some above ground, some below – others became the ground as they sunk into a life that beckoned and they knew.
A lot of the people found they could communicate by thought and their image of the King or Queen in her or his chamber seemed to be defined by the thoughts of the people.
The Admirals and Politicians might feel they ruled within Destraight but these people felt they lived the land and would rule it although a politician ruling in Destraight would need to be in tune with the people and that was never going to happen as the people decided who would rule them but they started to consider their own existence as the rocks in the sky became larger and larger and the sea started to rise. Areas that had been dry for miles were flooding as the sea swept in.
The Admirals were also losing touch. Their scouts were out of power, and whilst they’d never really spoken to each other unless forced to, now they couldn’t speak to each other, or the ships still circling above the planet.
They were as marooned as the Guards and prisoners – whether they liked it or not. All they had were the Guards assigned to them and desertion was already rife as the Guards realised they weren’t being paid, and if they were paid, there was nothing to spend it on with no food and life was definitely going to get harder with the rocks in the sky getting bigger and with sea levels rising but at least some lakes were forming and with them some fish were being swept in but life appeared to be being swept out – moving from prisons to a long forty year sleep then deposited on a world they didn’t know with no support, food and still chained made you need to remember the only thing these people had in common was being captured and imprisoned by the Dwarves and they were now facing death and slowly.
Some were human; others were stone; some were Dwarf politicians who supported the wrong political parties. The War Party of Dwarvia had attacked any planet and any people it didn’t like and often those they claimed to like. The dwarfs used planets that contained nothing more than war engines, troops and weapons to attack peaceful people.
The War Party had ruled for aeons on Dwarvia and as long as the wars were fought somewhere else and the wealth returned to Dwarvia, most didn’t care until other worlds learnt to fight; developed their own weapons and body counts started to appear in Dwarvia as Dwarfs found their families dwindling and prisoner camps springing up across Dwarvia; questions were being raised and then raised again as the War Party labelled dissenting Dwarfs as traitors but that didn’t change anything of the Dwarf’s attitudes nor of their complete lack of thought for defeated peoples.
One Dwarf is an opinion; two an argument, and three a war.
Some of the prisoners had their wings clipped to stop them flying; some 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, a lot seemed free; apart from the plastic chains on their lower extremities.
Destraight encompassed all races the Dwarfs had fought and captured, and these had been sent to die but freed prisoners were freeing others as they found them; their main attitude however, was to find Dwarfs and extinguish them from life … the Guards were not of a retiring nature but retiring seemed to be the order of the day, night and any other period of time you wished to consider your life. The Guards moved as fast as they could to the castles in Ascania and Toshonia, and they were running fast as birds rose in the sky to repaid them for the suffering they endured.
The computer programs for some reason had built all castles with just one habitable floor and one of the castles was mostly buried in the ground but still with one floor as the computer glitched, yet again.
David Jamesson actually smiled as he sat in his formal dining room eating a piece of pig that had been happily running about some hours earlier.
He’d made sure that more than enough supplies were delivered to his castle before he left the Armada Class ship but to find a live pig and eat recently killed meat was something David could live with, although the pig obviously was living with anything.
David Jamesson’s castle was worrying him a little however; previously bordering on the ocean it was now landlocked for some twenty miles to the west and the southern half of his land split by the sea sweeping in to some ten miles south of his castle.
Martan Matira felt the same about food although in his case it was beef that he found, or something very close to it. His only issue was the prisoners being 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.
Martin had heard reports of his land to the east growing by some four hundred square miles although he wasn’t personally supervising it, but his land was now cut in two and he didn’t supervise that either, still he was isolated from the other Admirals and that was good. That there was no longer a western or northern area to his territory was something for the future as he was cut off but stuck in the middle and he watched the red rocks in the sky moving closer, wondering about the flashes from where the ships had been and the waves now sweeping in behind his castle to the south.
Not all questioned everything – one dwarf – a distant cousin of Martin’s was at Martin Matira’s castle and to him the magic there felt alive as he accepted it.
Rafus had convinced himself, he could feel a magic field anywhere and he felt the magic as everything moved and this created magic in Toshonia.
He stood on the battlements with his books as they charged but their charge on Rafus was that he could only feel magic – he was completely useless when he tried to use it.
James Droga was on survival rations and remembering he hated dwarf politics and the incestuousness breeding of the major families more than anything but by the time James realised the food supplies on the ships needed raiding they had been stripped of everything.
He had people out hunting and already some fields of what seemed to be corn had been found plus some rodents that would go into a pot, no matter what they were or where they came from and he had no problem sharing a rat stew with fellow Dwarfs.
James Droga’s claims to virtually half of Destraight would make life interesting although the prisoners, currently some eighty miles away and heading in his direction could possibly make things even more interesting.
He also stood there watching the red rocks that continued to increase in size as they moved closer but he also watched water that seemed to be boiling and now comprised two lakes.
One issue, unbeknown, still united the Admirals although there was little else that did.
All of them felt they hadn’t been sold a pup but a monumental suppository, placed strategically, and it was still climbing up as the rocks were still climbing closer, and now the land was starting to rise and meeting the seas rushing in.
The lands rising were hot and the seas meeting the rising lands were generating a fog to the south of Martin Matira and a hundred to a hundred and forty miles to the north. For David Jamesson, the seas were so close he needn’t bother taking a bath, even if he had been inclined to do so, whilst James Droga was finding his starched uniforms were becoming pliable in the damp atmosphere all of them could not remember this in the briefing notes. This side of the planet was stated quite incorrectly, to be stable and unchanging.
Martin was also hearing reports of a steaming and fast cooling causeway between the east and west of the land he felt Toshonia and he owned. The causeway was hot but the sea was sweeping over it and cooling it; however his reports also recorded that the causeway was growing into a rocky mountain and still hadn’t stopped. It now looked as if he would have a range of mountains to the west of his land … still it should stop those prisoners from arriving at his castle – the meat from those animals was his, not the prisoners who could never win, and certainly wouldn’t if he had his way but he needed their work and suppression to achieve his goals and that must be his ultimate aim no matter what else he was forced to agree to.
For the crew on the ships it had been fast. No fuel; no shields, and the strong survivor suites lasted as long as it took to lick some sweets.
Those ships the rocks didn’t hit; the gravity of them spun the Armada Class ships around until breaking beams hit into survivor suites and oxygen followed the rocks in escaping. They never had a chance to consider survival before becoming just more space debris with their bodies mingled with the dust no matter what wanted to be.
On the ground the demise of the ships wasn’t missed by the Admirals, who’d never intended to return to Dwarvia, anyway, but as good Commanders lied to everyone for their own ends but they now started to worry as it appeared that their own ends were approaching, and at a greater speed than they would have chosen.
There was some protection built into the castles, which at the moment were swaying and shaking – the castles and the protection – but for Martin Matira a more urgent problem was the seawater sweeping in from the east as the rocks in the sky approached even closer. His castle might stay upright but it was becoming surrounding by seas and Martin ran towards the causeway where the area to the north stayed flat, however, the causeway to the south was rising as hot rocks rose from the seas to the west; still with waters flooding in behind him, his land was reducing to about fifteen miles from north to south, and some thirty five miles east to west; he was effectively living in a diminishing empire.
A further irony for Martin was that he potentially had prisoners heading from behind him to the causeway, whilst on the other side of the causeway, he could find more prisoners waiting … life was becoming interesting for Admiral Martin Matira and his crew. He was already thinking of how he could blame his fellow Admirals for the treatment the prisoners had received.
It was going to be difficult to do but at least he was taking the livestock with him and that must be some bargaining point – providing the Guards held together and with the heat from the causeway, their boots as well.
It took a day before Martin Matira saw the causeway for himself and the prisoners were first – he and his guards outnumbered by some two to one. The odds would have higher had less prisoners died when the seas swept in around the Lodge and their camp.
The Guards in an all-out battle might win until their guns ran of power but Martin was already trying to organise a meeting with the prisoners; in the end he just cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “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.
Fairly obviously there were some prisoners here who still didn’t need nor had the ability for speech and that could mean the bonding was failing. Looking at them he could see prisoners from every planet he and the others had fought on, and the tentacles, arms, fists and faces remembered him and 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 salivate and also give him some idea of what to say to survive, and 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 battlefield.
He used the small hailer again, “We have plastic boats that will get everyone, eventually, the ten miles to where the land starts again or it is only five miles to the lodge but there is no food and our food is alive but I don’t how we can take the animals with us. Do you want to take the risk or just wait until the rocks eventually cool and we can all move along the causeway. The main problems are we’re two miles from the sea sweeping in around the Lodge and ten miles from the sea sweeping in from the south. We have a fifteen mile gap between the seas closing in. They may stop; they may not? We can try and get to the Lodge and wait it out there, or here, or we risk the causeway and getting burnt.”
“If I may speak, Admiral?”
“Who are who?”
“Rafus Matira, Admiral – a distant relative.”
“Speak, Rafus, but quickly and briefly.”
“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. The causeway is nearly fifty miles long. If we wait until the seas close in from the north and south, we could as a last resort use the spells to lower the temperature, even more – it might work, Admiral? It would buy us time.”
“With these rocks getting closer to the planet, Rafus, that may be all it does buy us, but I don’t have a better plan and no-one wishes to speak for the prisoners.”
His planned speech was interrupted by a rangy seven foot shape moving forward, “My name is Tolan.”
It’s feet and lower half were difficult to describe but its legs appeared to be wood and the lower areas above the legs stretched about five feet to its rear, but its chest was a foot in width but two foot in length and whilst it possess arms, they appeared to move as they wished, however its voice possessed a clear timbre and those arms if swung would deliver more than woodworm.
“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 is too hot. You have food and we all need to live – we wait and we will never be friends but 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?”
“Human flesh will be fine Admiral,” Tolan looked at Admiral Matira’s face, “I was joking Admiral, I actually each 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 five foot four 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 arrives?”
“Once again, Tolan, your words make sense. Let’s wait. We can always kill each other 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 already have an arrangement, Martan. You took us – prisoners; shipped to a dying planet; killed, and we don’t trust you as far as I can eat a tree insect in the winter!”
“What do you want me to do? We were soldiers obeying orders.”
“Well this is an order, Martan Matira. Release the bounds and the mind-bonds you have placed on the Minuets. You have bound two of their eight legs and their telepathic abilities. Free them, so they can fly, see and help us. Free the Rocs as well. You have bound them so they cannot fly and cannot talk to each. So many of them Martan Matira, you 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?”
“We can argue all day but we need to decide something.”
“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. Slow 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, his 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.
Martan watched as well as wonder how David Jamesson and James Droga were managing. He had two sets of prisoners to handle; one with him know and another set on the other side of the causeway unless they had headed north. David Jamesson’s were only about ten mile from him but could held north towards to sea or west towards James Droga. The main issue for him was he’d watched the Armada Class ships explode and the rocks in the sky were still there although it looked as if they were now leaving this area but what the effect of them leaving would be was another matter.
The prisoners to the west had now managed some fifteen miles, moving towards the north but already the were bordered to the east and by a stretch of sea some twenty square miles in area, leaving them with a narrow escape of some eight miles before the seas to the west began. They finally halted and once again it was the Trons who took control, and stopping the march the spoke by telepathy to those could still hear and weren’t blocked.
“There is some land to the east which has not flooded and also a causeway is being raised to further lands to the east. 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.”
“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, Masketh 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 replied as quietly as he could using his telepathic abilities, “Does anyone have any weapons. We need to kill these animals humanely.”
“Then keep them away from the 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.
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.”
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. There were still twenty thousand but all still shackled and they slowly made their way south towards the castle.
The prisoners to the south had lost a third of their number when the seas rose around the lodge but the reality of the flooding was that Destraight was virtually cut in two with only a gap of land to the west of some five to ten miles still intact at the midway point and the rocks might have passed overhead but they were in the sky; still moving to the west and what happened after that was any creature’s guess – even the Admiral’s. Martan decided to slaughter some of the animals so at least he appeared to be keeping his word but it was a long night and the noise for the prisoner’s camp seemed to increase by the minute as they regained their abilities.
By the morning the Trons, who for some reason did not have their telepathic abilities interfered with by the manacles – possibly because they were wooden and it interfered with the signals to a nervous system that was unknown – had communicated with the other prisoners who were now heading for the causeway.
Admiral Matira’s key was already releasing their leaders and the Wolfen – who took over the killing; Rock Trolls were very humane in their killing but the impact of the fists left traces of stone in the animals they killed although the Wolfen tended to kill the animals and then eat them – a compromise was being looked for and another compromise was going to be needed as one of the rocks left the sky and hit an area near James Droga’s castle.
It didn’t take much for them to see the red fire spring up, or to those who could fly – to fly – the seas started to sweep in towards but the causeway started to rise even more and it was hot. The prisoners saw the impact, and manacled, they tried to run. It took some time until the waters swept in towards the heat of the causeway.
They had felt the impact and watched as the skies darkened with the land vibrating; heat erupting; the seas swirling, but it looked as though the rock had missed the land and hit the deep sea.
Not to say it didn’t change the world but there seemed to be some protection in West Toshonia where the land had risen and was preventing the seas sweeping in from the south and the west but the water sweeping in from the north were low – the rocks were saving the prisoners who couldn’t fly around Martina Matira.
To the west where every prisoner was manacled, there seemed little that would save the prisoners as the waters carried on moving towards them. They wouldn’t need to worry any more about food, or fresh water and they watched as the waters moved in but their horror became worse as a torrent 10 foot high swept over them and headed towards the causeway. They were swept to the east and few who would survive in these waters would be smashed into the rocks.
James Droga in his castle watched at the waters hit the wall and swirled around. The walls held and he felt he would be one of the strongest left but with little more than his guard he didn’t fill that strong. Still, he was alive.
David Jamesson’s castle also held, making his problems were less. The prisoners approaching his castle also lucky. They were enough from the sea to survive unlike the prisoners to the south-west as they moved away from the sea to the west, moved towards it to the south and north where it had swept in and the rocks affected the tides and land.
Martin Matira watched the waters hit the causeway which now steamed. He could see bodies washing up and knew few would survive. That left some twenty thousand prisoners to the North; about ten thousand near him and maybe a few hundreds 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 they dropped by the remaining prisoners.
Out of the sixty thousand prisoners who’d landed, there were probably thirty thousand still alive but worrying for Martin was that they would be allied to David Jamesson against the ten thousand allied to him, still the pleasant thought was that James Droga had nothing but his guard and could be taken at their leisure.
David Jamesson’s thoughts, however, were certainly different as he watched the prisoners approaching his castle. They might be slow with their manacles but there were enough to surround his castle and starve him out, and already some were herding animals to the front of his castle and starting fires.
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 Sallesh. I have been appointed to speak for my friends and enemies.”
“You are in need, Sallesh, and so are your friends and enemies?”
The timbre of Sallesh echoed as he spoke, “We are not in need, Admiral Jamesson. We have food; the waters haven’t moved. 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 accepted you as his Lord and was freed from his manacles. You and your brethren would use us as slaves and then we would be your bondsmen. You need us – we don’t need you.”
“I don’t have a key to free you. That was on the ship.”
“We know Admiral Matira had a key and he has released that to his prisoners. If he had a key then so you would 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 find might 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 prisoners 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 Sallesh, 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.
Some forty light years away, orbiting Dwarvia, five ships were being loaded with a further group of manacled prisoners onto the Armada Class Prison ships. The Admirals were once again chosen for their political affiliations and connections to the top families. 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.
The types of prisoner were standard. The Trons – 7 ft by ft telepathic wooden creatures, considered peaceful by the Dwarfs, 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 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 Humans, Dwarfs and Rock Trolls who no-one could miss, and very seldom did.
The Armada Class ships were finally loaded and moved off.
As prisoners started to be freed and fed several of Martan’s new colleagues finally took off and landed by the Lodge – now completely encircled by water and containing some four thousand of those who’d landed with them. Immediately one took off to find the release key.
Ten thousand of them had been caught by the floods and with limbs bound, those who couldn’t find debris to float on, sank. Four thousand of those nearest to the Lodge had survived but survival was all they could manage and when they learnt that the Admirals could have set them free there were instant cries of vengeance.
Tona the Roc, finally managed to transmit a message to those who could hear her, “Barely a few survived of the twenty thousand to the west. They were 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 yourselves 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.
David Jamesson watched the prisoner’s faces as freedom finally happened. Houses had been created around all of the castles and most of them were now under or near water but the rocks, apart from the ones that landed had now left this area of the sky and the waters were receding.
All that was left for the prisoners was the support from the land and the animals roaming it that had survived but even rotted carcases were being eaten by the Wolfen and this helped to keep disease down. Reluctantly half of the prisoners moved towards David Jamesson’s castle while the other half started the long journey to James Droga – some seventy miles away. Some mistook another castle from James Droga’s and detoured ten miles to the south to find it unoccupied although the gates were open and one floor of it was furnished. At low tide they were able to enter through the gates but didn’t linger as the tide started to come back in. They did find some fresh water lakes, however, en-route and that allowed them and the animals they were driving to drink.
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 – Sallesh, who having dealt with David Jamesson was selected to deal with James Droga.
James, who’d already received reports that most of the country allocated to him had been virtually washed away was not at his happiest when Sallesh demanded his chain and jewel to free the prisoners, still manacled but faced with instant death if he didn’t he didn’t bother to argue … it seemed to be his only chance of survival. He knew he’d been set up; either by the Admirals or the politics of Dwarvia.
The political parties of Dwarvia were so devious that families rose and fell in esteem and his was one of the foremost in invasion and wars … a lot of Dwarfs disliked the power his family possessed and he felt this was their revenge against his family by the weaker families of Matira and Jamesson.
The key was instantly used and Sallesh 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 call us prisoners.”
“I accept life … they think they control it.”
“Where are the towns and other villages that other castles have.”
“I originally landed where I thought I should be but the scout ship had been programmed to bring me here. There are castles to south-east and south-west. They are probably swamped with water by now but the waters are starting to recede, I hope, and once cleaned up should be habitable but I wonder whether this planet was ever truly mapped. How many more rocks will arrive in the sky?”
“I don’t know, Admiral Droga but it looks as though you are as much a victim of Dwarvia as we are. There is fresh water here and in return we will leave some beasts. You gave your key willingly and for that, at least, we will consider there is an offer and our acceptance and that is an agreement. Do not break it!”
“Go in peace, Sallesh, the agreement will not be broken by myself.”
Sallesh 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 and then head to the other castles.
Chapter II – Betrayal
Left to their own a life of sorts started to evolve. The Slurms essentially disappeared; the Humans, Dwarfs and Trons lived above ground although the Trons preferred the forests as did the Minuets who lived in the trees. The Rocs, Wolfen and Rock Trolls headed for the rocks and mountains. With telepathic abilities they were in communication at times and this left everything fairly peaceful. The one odd thing was Rafus Matira – a distant relative of Martan Matira who joined the prisoners heading for the lodge and onwards to David Jamesson’s castle carrying his books of magic.
Unbeknown to them, however, five Armada Class ships with a hundred thousand prisoners and a bunch of war hungry Admirals was on the way and this time the Admirals ensured they wouldn’t be landing in Scout Ships with a few guards. Each Admiral’s entourage was a thousand strong and their Scout Ships were Gunships. They were looking forward to resistance.
Life finally settled down in a spirit of co-operation. The floods receded, the causeway remained and, if anything, seemed to be wider – it was now ten miles wide and fifty miles in length, escorted to the south by a mountain range now inhabited by Rock Trolls and Roc birds.
Some green areas rose from the sea and still stayed above sea-level; a stretch of water from Jamesson’s castle to virtually the coast with Matira also stayed firmly in place.
The Lodge was now accessible to the degree that it was inhabited by four thousand prisoners and a thriving town was building up around the Lodge as other prisoners flocked to it.
The ex-prisoners still called themselves the prisoners – it seemed a good name and especially when dealing with the Admirals.
Martan Matira had now moved to Toshon and was trying to build a castle in front of the rocks to the south bit for now, life seemed to have settled.
Thirty light years away, five Armada Class prisoner ships halted.
The crews were now waking up the Admirals and the news was not good.
The engines should last the forty light years to reach Destraight after they had virtually failed, leaving five Armada Class Prison ships with malfunctioning engines some ten light years from Dwarvia meaning if they turned around, it would take forty to a hundred years to return to nothing or one hundred and forty to four hundred years to reach Destraight.
An emergency meeting of Admirals assembled on the Noctra. Marcel Droga from the Lloap; Stefen Matira from the Mastra; Peter Jamesson from the Noctra; Percival de Bowed from the Speca, and Argus du Storme from the Mightnare.
“Who did it?” Shouted Marcel Droga, “and to all our ships—”
“Someone fixed these ships before we left – they put degraded parts into our systems and they will degrade more as we travel. In essence, we’re abandoned in space. Forty years to a hundred years to return to nothing; one hundred and forty years to four hundred years to reach our target system and rule.”
“Thank you, Peter, but we already knew that,” Stefen Matira looked around the table, “who set it up?”
“What does that matter, Stefen. It was done, and before we left!”
“It matters to me, Peter! Who would have the ability to sabotage our ships to break down after we are too far from help but reduced to a crawl to reach any target and what target are we reaching for?”
“Anyone of the peace party, Stefen. They don’t want us to make people respect force; they want control and to throw away all we achieved … this way we are out of the way for between forty and four hundred years and by that time we returned, if we chose to, they expect to rule with no-one to challenge them.”
“Damn Politicians. We have the ability to blast these traitors on Dwarvia—”
“What would be the point, Stefen? It would take forty to a hundred and twenty years to get there and how would we prove they’d destroyed us and we don’t have the men to attack Dwarvia.
“—We’re fighters not politicians. We might as well sleep and make our own world to Destraight – we’ll just sleep a little longer. It won’t take much to clear it out and we have enough prisoners to start planet life as we decide. At least this time, we have brought women with us to make sure this world breeds good, healthy, dwarfs who will produce good, healthy, children and we will build our own empire.”
“We just destroy everyone else?”
“Then we might as well sleep, Marcel.”
The Admirals returned to their own ships and sleep. The crews put the ships on automatic and settled themselves down. They would either arrive or not and no-one monitored anything as they slept on a journey set for an unknown planet with no arrival time.
On Destraight, Martan Matira slowly built his new castle in Toshon with the rocks to the south of his castle and a town to the north. His new castle was fairly elaborate although it could improve with a good manager but unlike the computer glitched builds from the first planet landing, it possessed more than one habitable floor and its castle walls seemed to go on for ever in every direction.
Martan’s castle now nestled with the rocks stretching from the south-west to the south-east for as far as the eye could but with the salt lake, there was only a single person path to Matira and the east side of what was now known as Toshonia. Two people could use the path but only if they were very close friends. One was rocks you could climb over, the other side a salt lake you could paddle. The only route left in reality was the other end of the salt lake by David Jamesson’s castle.
David Jamesson had called his territory Ascania whilst James Droga spent most of his time trying to hang onto his undefinable properties to the north-east and the only names he thought of are those usually paraphrased using the 2nd level of the keyboard.
Between the three Admirals and the prisoners there seemed to be a quorum. The reconciliation board, when it met, comprised the three Trons who represented the prisoners, and the three Admirals with six Minuets taking notes for both sides.
Tron leaders also acted as telepathic links between the Admirals which frightened them to a degree as the Trons didn’t edit the true thoughts of the Admirals before they past them on but it worked. Honesty, when all the subtle games you thought to play are made public and documented by the Minuets as everyone laughs and you don’t like to be laughed at.
Life moved on, and people – a generic term on Destraight – built their own kinds of life and worked to build their own dreams.
In space there were five ships that might interfere with those thoughts! Or then again, might never arrive to interfere.
Everyone who dominates, thinks some-one or something else will pay for their amusement … they usually become blind as they play with things – often children and then they store funds and in their blanked off minds, market them … perhaps they don’t think any more of the world … ignore the warnings until even the Politicians learn and act for their own renal ends … the world was never that bad; the fools thought it was; or did they; did they just watch the snow moving down from the mountain and enjoy the view as it moves towards them?
Revenge is often a dish that changes so much but it still festers; distorts, and is disjointed as it moves through emotion, vision and belief until it even becomes religion in its festering state and Gods fester on belief, but everyone doesn’t need a prayer or are trained from childhood that a world will fail if they don’t believe in Gods or Goddesses and on Destraight there is no belief in Religion and these Armada Class prison ships were as silent as the grave.
They slowly moved on with the engines failing by the day and it looked as if four hundred years for the journey was optimistic but everything and everyone was shutdown to save energy. The shields were still at full force but it seemed only a matter of time before they began to fracture but with everyone in stasis and everything reduced to a minimum, the power might last out or they would never know if it didn’t!
On Destraight life was fairly simple. The town around the Lodge was booming. The planted some kind of wheat, trees and had herds of animals held in pens whilst the united to force wolf like animals from the land and they were helped by the Wolfen, who were three times the size and communicated with the Tron leaders who everyone accepted. The Trons also communicated with the Admirals via other Trons and ensured issues were discussed and solved.
After its initial failures the land was finally developing. Mines were being opened up and quartz, iron and minerals were being hewn.
Destraight, however, wasn’t that careful and a lot of mines and deep holes were being left as they dug holes and left them. There was ore running into water supplies and contaminating them, and some of the mines were dug too deeply and poorly supported with them collapsing leaving miners buried underground and a meeting in the main plaza was being held as I write.
It wasn’t only the Lodge that was two hundred foot high; various element to the west and south were two hundred foot high. The town itself was a semi-circle around the Lodge which was its centre but like all of the computer builds from the first landing – odd.
There were streets, a court, some other buildings that range from a hundred foot to thirty foot in height. It had evolved as its people evolved and like them, seemed a mess but it helped as they led real and not fictitious lives. Some of them were strange and no-one asked the wooden Trons about their young or the Minuets – they both essentially lived in the forests and were only seen at meetings – and being telepaths often didn’t need to be anywhere but both were fundamental to the working of Destraight and were tolerated and trusted, even though they didn’t mix but life moved on, on Destraight and it did this for nearly five hundred years until once, they its people saw five red objects appearing in the sky and headed to their bunkers.
After the loss of life when the first rocks appeared in the sky the people of Destraight had, almost as a religion, created and buried supplies of water and food. This was changed regularly and used as animal feed. The safety buildings were designed to be watertight and could take, in theory, the earth moving, with emergency tunnels and exits leading from them.
The aim was to allow enough people to survive. The Trons being wood, would float, and the Minuets and Rocs could fly but the Rocs and Rock Trolls had taken refuge in the high mountains and should be safe against anything.
The biggest danger was to the Wolfen. No matter how people adjusted, they had never adjusted to the Wolfen who were now virtually driven to extinction although people claimed to have seen them at times. The Wolfen for their part, could also claim to have seen people at times but they kept to themselves and the old ways and they knew how to hide, often calling themselves ‘the Old Folk’. They tended to only speak to the Rocs, Trons and Minuets so it wasn’t that surprising that they seemed to decrease in numbers.
Possibly the same could said for the Armada slowly approaching Destraight but if anything was knocked off the ships in their space travel, no-one was awake to know and the Admirals had made sure there were no telepaths amongst the prisoners, although the prisoners did not contradict this assumption.
Life just slowly moved on as Destraight worked; there were problems but when everyone is told what the leaders are really thinking it embarrasses everyone.
Finally five red ships arrived in the sky and scout ships descended.
The Admirals stayed in the skies and the scout ships mapped the territories and reported to the five Admirals who sat in a conference which like a lot of meetings where the same person takes the notes moves in one direction – as domination by the Admirals – the Admirals weren’t even interested in Government bullying via a democracy; they would build their empires and dominate them, as they had, dominated so many planets. Control would be absolute and they would rule and in between arguing with each other there was only topic on the table and that was where to put the Clean Bombs.
They didn’t want their planet messed up; just everyone cleaned out but as with every plan it always fine in theory, however the prisoners weren’t in their correct positions and that made the Admirals uneasy. There was water where land should have been and a dispersed population which interfered with their ideas of clean bombs and a clean slate.
It had taken a while for them to decide to use a clean bomb; most of the Admirals favoured dirty weapons and coming back at some point when they had destroyed a planet but there was no coming back to this planet and they had agreed to change the texture of the bomb casings.
This way, when the thermonuclear explosives are detonated, the power would not be contained within the warhead but move ahead of the warhead and explosive force thus reducing the main force but putting the radiation ahead of the bomb while weakening it so the radiation killed people but left the buildings standing and the Admirals loved this idea as they could immediately move in and so it wasn’t Scout Ships that were scouting Destraight but attack ships seeking the targets.
The people of Destraight watched as the ships circled above them and most immediately panicked and run for the bolt holes – the politicians ran for their castles and the bombs reigned on the castles; the prisoner drop points and because at least one Admiral could not resist destroying, lethal bombs also rained as he turn the air and land into something no-one could endure … his name was Percival de Bowed – a name now remembered.
The various races had already moved as much as the could but the Trons above ground were burnt alive and so were the Minuets. The Rocs and Rock Trolls had protection but the bombs of the other Admirals penetrated and killed whilst Percival de Bowed’s bombs destroyed the land and the races.
Those who’d managed to get deep enough survived by instinct but a land and its people were being killed for glory and possession.
Four of the Admiral’s bombs were targeted at the Castles to kill everyone in them but Percival de Bowed’s bombs seemed to be random. One was between his and James Droga’s castle with a second and third to the north-east of his castle and ten to twenty miles away. He had in fact cut himself and the Droga castle off from everything but a route to the east.
A fourth bomb exploded near the prisoners camp some ten miles from Toshon castle and the final bomb landed some ten miles from the Lodge. The Admirals had not known of the move to Toshon but by accident Percival de Bowed had nearly destroyed it whilst Matira, deserted in the floods some four hundred years before had been cleaned bombed. The computer built castles had protection build into the structure and would survive but a dirty bomb had already taken out one prisoners camp, whilst another hit the area around the Lodge.
The power of the Attack and Scout ships however, was a drain on the Admiral’s space support systems and as power now dropped to various low levels tubes automatically appeared onto the planet without waiting and prisoners and associates were dropped in, in more ways than one, before the Admirals realised.
Where the clean bombs had gone the old prisoner camps still existed – kept almost as monuments – but where de Bowed’s dirty bombs had gone there were now large radioactive holes.
The four Admirals faced disaster as their power ran out and they were running for the tubes with protective suits on and down to the polluted planet as all the ships started loosing power but one Admiral also had nuclear protection and a very limited lifespan if the other Admirals found him and Percival de Bowed was already at a castle to the north-west.
The new prisoners and associates were dumped at the site near Toshon; the one near Ascan and near the Lodge. The Toshon site some miles from a Percival de Bowed dirty bomb but the sites near castle Jamesson, and between the Lodge and Matira were clear.
Once the prisoners near Toshon had been wiped out – four hundred years by the sea sweeping in and now by a dirty bomb but already the waters were sweeping into the hole left by the bomb and debris, bodies and radiation were floated together. Toshon once again was a seaside castle to the west.
I suppose, if you were alive, life became interesting. Dwarfs normally live very long lives and now Marcel Droga was meeting an old James Droga; Stefen Matira was in Matira whilst Martan Matira was in Toshon and Peter Jamesson was meeting David Jamesson. No-one was meeting Percival de Bowed however that was by his choice and although Angus du Storme’s castle was shielded by mountains, his castle had been bracketed by two of Percival’s dirty bombs.
When the Admirals thought about it looked fairly obvious that Percival’s main target for his bombs had been to destroy the Droga and Du Storme castles; leaving his own as the castle in the north-west. Percival’s dinner invitations had now reached zero and the only punch served would come from a fist.
One other result of Percival de Bowed’s actions was the bomb by the Lodge also destroyed the sea defences and while the water sweeping in hadn’t touched the Lodge it had cut off the north-east and north-west sections of Destraight. Matira was cut off, apart a narrow causeway to the west.
The prisoners in the camp were now literally prisoners with in theory, no where they could go and that was nearly forty thousand people. They couldn’t touch the fish as they were radioactive and whilst the explosion site was now under the sea, and they were forty miles from the site they were now eight miles away from the water and they as their predecessors had been, were manacled; unable to move at speed or with any precision.
The Trons had nowhere to escape as the forests burnt, nor the Minuets although the Trons ran for the water and Minuets tried to fly to safety.
The Rocs in the mountains near Toshon were partially shielded from the blast but not the radiation however the people in the towns near the castles were obliterated.
The castles had protection designed into them from the beginning but outside, the towns had none and whilst the buildings remained intact, the people died; the food, the animals and those who hadn’t bolt holes and didn’t bolt became the Admiral’s main destruction dish of death. No-one had ever told them of the clean bombs that kill everything but not the buildings. Dirty bombs normally kill by immediate blast and then by radiation, either directly or carried on the wind that the bomb creates.
The castles survived but everything else either died immediately or slowly, afterwards – there was no clean solution. The sea swept in at various places and once again the country was cut off as if it were strategic bombing and several bombs did in fact miss their targets completely. Over the next twenty four hours all bomb sites were flooded as the seas poured in however a new map of Destraight would show Percival de Bowed’s castle surrounded by water with the nearest land some ten miles to the east as it seemed to have been detached from the land.
Droga and Du Storme’s castles just escaped but De Bowed’s castle was not even on land any more and the prisoner’s camp outside Toshon was under water however a De Bowed dirty bomb had killed them before the waters flowed in so at least it was probably quicker than drowning.
The major issue for James Droga and Marcel Droga that both were alive but now in the same place.
With the dirty bombs, Argus du Storme also wanted revenge and Percival de Bowed might not think he was lucky, stuck in sea but the other Admirals wished to stick him somewhere else.
Stefen and Martan Matira still didn’t know the other existed and Stefen was locked away in the south-east of the country, in an abandoned castle with only one habitable floor created four hundred years ago.
The Admirals were not achieving their goals and already the keys were passing amongst the prisoners – freeing them from the manacles as the Rocs managed to communicate and used the keys from previous Admirals and the Admirals were not only losing their ideas as the previous Admirals had but a slave force supposed to be bonded to them for being released from their manacles wasn’t happening although the Admirals felt they’d settled in.
The politics started as James Droga and his small guard were overwhelmed; the same for David Jamesson – leaving Droga castle with Marcel Droga and Ascan castle with Peter Jamesson as leaders – in their own eyes at least. Two Dwarfs, they say is an argument, three, a war, Marcel Droga and Peter Jamesson upped the ante.
Argus du Storme concentrated on his castle yet again, all on one floor but spread underground by a computer program. Cursing computer glitches he’d already started work on vents to the surface and getting air into the vaults but creating vents was a chicken and egg process with the people running around as if they were … well … chickens.
Stefen Matira had woken Griselda Matira – his wife – an assassin who was probably a necessity in clearing out the deadwood and Griselda was good at wood clearing but within himself did he want a woman who put a knife to his throat whilst making love or in a lot of other throats as a hobby.
He’d also woken Runnel – a daughter … he and Griselda would have time to produce a male child but although running the country was far more important and Griselda would rather kill than make love, even with a knife he did wonder whether there was enough killing to keep Griselda happy … it had all seemed so easy and then people were sliding off his back like slime but temples were slime; being built; prisoners meeting in secret to free themselves and the temples helping them – there shouldn’t be any temples – no-one needed prayers … he ruled and that should be enough and he would destroy the freed Prisoners and the Temples.
They had wiped the Trons and Minuets telepathy – anyone’s true thoughts of the Admirals ceased … yet, some of the Trons and Minuets with their telepathy survived in the north-east but were hunted and killed when Stefen found them but the Minuets could fly, and the Trons – being wood – could float so some of the old races were finding refuge although one of Percival’s dirty bombs had landed some twenty miles from the Lodge which is where most were heading for and he laughed at what they would find.
Had he know that the Lodge had refuges and bolt-holes and when the sea swept in – yet again – diluting the radiation as the floods protected the survivors in various ways including sweeping the radiation away although food was a bit short, would he have had the brain to understand?
Rafus – once one of Griselda’s lovers, and with Griselda you were either be dead or a ‘Lover’ and love was always with a knife at your throat for performance or in it, if you failed or lacked interest … with luck you could managed both and escape … you’d better be fast, although not too fast in bed.
Rafus believed in magic and liked its allure. Dwarfs lived a long time unless they’ve met Griselda, and to Rafus, any night was a bad night when you met, Griselda.
Still it gave him time to research some magic as he tried to keep her happy and now with belief flooding in people were starting temples and Gods were appearing or the new Priests claimed they were; especially after several fiery occurrences that Rafus knew were created by Priests but it inspired belief, and belief inspired people and the priests.
At times it was close whether he felt actually safer with belief or Griselda as the Gods and belief did seem to have some problems but Griselda seemed to be causing even more trouble as she passed amongst the castle and its inhabitants to the point that everyone was checking their pensions and backs.
Griselda, currently in the main functional area of the castle was near the King’s bedroom but it possessed several entrances and guards around all of them due to his tastes and desire for survival. Griselda was currently using the Barracks sleeping areas during the day and the King hoped, also at night.
Rafus prayed she was using them tonight – another God prayer – hopefully she would be and stay there as Rafus made his way slowly to the Kings Gate and out of the castle and to a degree, Rafus was out of luck.
Griselda was already on her way to reducing the Barrack Guards who failed to satisfy her but something was creeping into mind that was causing a moment’s anguish.
She searched for someone who could satisfy her – Rafus – she felt him leave the castle but decided to let him go; it might be more fun that way and another person to manipulate.
No-one could say Griselda wasn’t even handed – she killed with her left or right hand and Rafus still had some uses for her, so he could have some recreation, if he didn’t push it too far but outside of Matira there was very little recreation so she would be lenient for now.
Admirals didn’t trust their own kind or prisoners, no matter who were being freed for political reasons, and Dwarfs with snap chains were slaves as much as anyone but could well be freed – just a touch of the Amulet freed you but it would cost service for the rest of your life.
Leaving the main castle gate, Rafus passed a high wall on the left; a parade area on the right with a Plaza for the Admiral and Queen Griselda as she know named herself.
Beyond that was ‘Shandy Town’ and the remaining homes on the left were an area they called ‘Mech Town’. Weena Maybury was a Dwarf and like most Dwarfs she’d woke up on an Armada Class prisoners’ ship for a use – her being used was her use. Weena was on the streets raising the money to pay the money-lender for the little freedom she could buy for her snap chain touching an Amulet and so many Amulets never did anything.
When Griselda was woken up there was never wore a snap chain on her that didn’t snap without driving the Dwarf insane if it was broken.
Wolfen might be called ‘Old Stock’ and they did usually eat their meat at a table although it was not a good idea to give them a choice of spoons; in Griselda’s case the knife was the easy option.
Yes, the Admiral’s plans … like themselves … were ill-thought out, and relied on domination, force and destruction and now the survivors were plotting the Admiral’s destruction.
The world; invaded by the seas after the Admiral’s bombs rained down on it, defined only by the rising and falling land-masses and egos of the Admirals – forty thousand dead for the Admiral’s egos; food stocks wiped out, and two compassionate leaders wiped out by their relatives in the Dwarf fashion as they killed.
Yet another Dwarven driven Admiral excursion destroying another planet drove People underground and they called themselves the People.
They started to build their own world again but underground and over the four hundred years they built and took their revenge with constant wars with the Admirals.
The People, in their own words and thoughts started in Toshon. The Lodge was now an island called Dagril. They’d built underneath to De Bowed castle as they built underneath others for their first revenge but when they saw what it had become they left it alone; then there was Ascan, Matira and eventually they had completed an underground route covering every major area, especially including the Admiral’s castles, even Toshon after Martan Matira was poisoned. They had Rock Trolls, Slurms and a People who hated and sought revenge.
Stefen Matira took over both castles and favoured Toshon but he didn’t move far from the castle walls which kept increasing in size, unless in force. That Toshon had been owned by a relative made it almost a gaudy trinket worth more than his own.
The bombs had changed Destraight to what the Admirals now called Astoria.
To the People it would always be Destraight.
Rafus Matira made sure his eyes were grey and his height was five foot four – it wasn’t difficult. All babies in the Matira Clan were operated on at birth to ensure they met the Matira definition. Those who failed; usually failed terminally but some were dumped into boxes for the rubbish to dispose of, and in Rafus’ case his mother hid the modifications until the scars healed but the stigma stayed and he was never a ‘true Matira’. Sometimes he dreamed of being a Matira … sometimes he dreamed of being free … sometimes he dreamed of escape; mostly he dreamed of a female dwarf and his liaison and what he thought was his magic was born a dwarf that he daren’t let Griselda know of, and it was difficult as Griselda, who Rafus felt should never have been woken up, took over.
Stefen was Ruler enough but he only killed for personal gain; Griselda killed for pleasure; as she killed more but the town grew again and people just ignored the bodies – posterity has its price, as long as it isn’t yours.
In Griselda’s case, it was everyone else’s price.
No-one was allowed to live without Griselda’s mark and you wore a clove of garlic as a ‘G-man’ but usually in a bag; in Rafus’ case, he wore the bag low.
Dwarfs do tend, when not killing each other, to manage beyond four, usually heavily scored years, and ten.