Back at the start of Astoria and I need expand on the people/description/buildings et al.
I’ve only lightly referred to this so far; I never planned to tackle it until later but losing the disks took me back in thoughts as well as anything else.
I need to bring in the War Party and Alliance Party on Dwarvia. This provides the basis for launching members of their family into space and how many of us would like to.
I’ll dump the beginning before I start re-writing it.
James Droga, in his Hell-Cat Heli-phroater looked at the two screens in front of him, and especially at four foot two inched Stefen Matira and then deliberately yawned while he ruffled his red hair.
That their hair, size and eyes were the same meant nothing, and no hint was ever made of surgery although the rumours were always there concerning the ruling families; especially for the exact height and the red hair which all seemed to have and they always made the naval height requirement.
For some other reason they all to seemed to wear and probably slept in the blue and black naval uniform but their family hatred of each other was almost psychotic. James Droga considered Stefen Matira to be soft but then he detested David Jamesson as well. Neither had the guts to just kill and get on with life.
To James, they might meet Navy rules for red hair, black eyes and height restrictions of four foot two inches but they lack the blood on their swords and banners that to a Droga 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 – it was glory to a family to be in a battle and James was always in some battle or other and usually between the families who ruled. Their families might be bound by ancient bonds or so they claimed; well James had a few debts to pay and they wouldn’t appear in his black book and he intended to make sure his co-Admirals didn’t have the fingers left to open a black book – they would be red ones when he’d finished.
The Admirals had always ignored comments on why they travelled to a very secure site, to then appear as images in the Council Chamber after their bodies had been inserted into tubes at the cliff site and protected by Guards …?
In a way they never cared about anything including their Guards loyalty and their belief in themselves somehow never realised that if they were so loved and respected why were their bodies being stacked up in a secured facility.
Their Hell-Cat Heli-phroaters often sounded like a shower of insects as they circled on auto, kicking up dust; raining fuel on people beneath them as they were poorly maintained but the Admirals weren’t bothered and the Hell-Cats Heli-phroaters adopted their owners attitudes to organic lifeforms and tended to ignore them when they landed.
Their targeted landing site today was some two hundred foot below the cliff peak and now their automatic systems were fighting on who landed first and killed the most guards in landing – they were in fact bitches in more ways than one.
The Hell-Cats Heli-phroaters – known at Hell-cats for short, were named after a famous Admiral, nicknamed the Hell-Cat for his bedroom adventures. The planes were said to be as honourable as he was which meant that were very fickle in their manoeuvrability and difficult to control at the best of times, however they hovered well and could land when handled by good pilots but then immediately went to their Interstellar Lawyers for being mishandled and groped as the Admirals kept their hands on the joysticks for too long – minds had been blended into the controls for years but so had the sensations and emotions of whatever was considered to be the best and they had taken the raw minds of women thinking they would bed in with the Pilots, who were usually men and such is the way with idiots who never think things through; Interstellar Lawyers just following on from a quick galaxy’s earnings, now represented the brains in most Interstellar craft and with the Dwarf’s wars; prisoners escaping and more than eight hundred thousand prisoners the Dwarf’s were pawning their mail-shirts to pay for lawyers.
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 Stefen Matira, snorting in his thick accent, he was big for a Dwarf although he now needed two Guards to help him move about and his weight made movement slow and.
Stefen was swiftly followed by David Jamesson whose tones and voice were at least moderated – usually by the sound system, although compared to James Droga who was bellowing like a stuck pig and to a degree looking like one; anyone was!
It took another half hour before James Droga finally decided to land – the Droga’s being the most minor 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.
Guards: mixing loyalty to their families with fear of Admirals uppermost in their minds, bore their weapons high but there was no sense in what the Admirals were doing; hundreds of thousands killed for planets they never wanted; wars with no meaning; knowing full well the Admirals had no loyalty to them or anyone else but themselves and this led several Guards to looking incredulously as the ships tried to land on them – if they didn’t move.
The Droga’s, Matira’s and Jamesson families loomed even more, however. Now they were killing Dwarfs who did not agree and that also seemed wrong to the Guards – why should they keep taking the Admirals greed as they killed everyone who disagreed? Let them stay shut in those tubes and stop the killing.
Get those prisoners onto another planet and not ours was another thought and the Guards weren’t the only ones thinking that!
Admirals relied on Guard’s loyalty or the Guards were killed and the Guard’s families knew loyalty was on the cutting edge and the Admirals held the blade but now the Admirals were using automatics more than people, and treating people as automatics more than people; again this seemed wrong to a lot of people, animate and inanimate personae as well on Dwarvia.
The Red Stone Gate watched as they approached: intelligence in stone it might be; slow but then perhaps it still thought faster than the Admirals approaching it.
An appropriate Chamber entrance for the Admirals would have been a pot, although often with a small ‘p’ but the gate had existed for a long time, despite earlier Dwarf’s activities to destroy it and it did not forget its role, even if no-one else understood 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 and then spoke to them, “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.”
James Droga looked at his two companions, “Why do we go through this rubbish. We have the Guards, lets shed some blood in the Council Chamber, it’s the only thing they understand.”
Stefen Matira looked up at David Jamesson and shook his head, “four hundred thousand 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 you like to make Dwarf’s dead.”
“We left our weapons outside.”
“Yes, James. It seemed to take you forever? Who were you plotting to kill?”
The walls seemed to pulse as they spoke with dull red veins sparkling as they 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 but that stopped them in mid-flow.
It was small with beams of light hitting their chests – some colours bounced off them, leaving them looking very odd; other colours danced around them, their heads and beards changing colour as if the lights saw more than their images; their eyes blued as the lights now 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.
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 and hair roots showing black hair. Had they mirrors they would have noticed a black tinge where the red hair and eyes showed black, and their eyes were now showing blue respectively, meaning they weren’t true Dwarfs but from Old Stock that they killed without thinking.
They stood upright before the silver capsules as supplicants seeking safety and that was promised by the Red Brick Gate, “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, no-one else’s; now see your desires!”
Now the walls became images that took them through their pasts; visions of blood they spilled and as if they had never been there, it read their brains and put them onto the stone walls; to the Dwarves it was a demand for their future lives.
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. Each of them saw what? Was it the same vision; was it a history; putrescence of a future? They jerked as if they were carrying the sticks to beat wives; babies or their own people but the visions on the wall somehow did not match the expressions on their faces.
Capsules erupted longways before reverting to vertical and four capsules stood longways in front of them.
They strapped themselves in and as if the capsules knew they were there, the outer levels closed, the capsules pivoted and resumed a horizontal position before each slid into a chamber and each Dwarf was slotted into a position where he was fully protected as the external shields descended and then projected into the Dwarvian Chamber House as an image.
As Ruling Families, they did not allow themselves to be subject to attacks in the Chamber House and their blood would not flow. 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. With the support of the De Bowed’s and Du Storme’s they had no challengers but you don’t take risks on Dwarvia and trusting De Bowed and Du Storme were a risk despite very distant blood ties.
The Dwarfs did not often ‘moot’; it was a melding of minds that knew honesty and that to a Dwarf was weakness. If a Dwarf had to be honest then he was weak. A Dwarf walked tall, decided everything and the weak could wail although at the moment this Policy appeared to have a few problems – riots, slaughter and large numbers of prisoners being a major problem for the doctrine.
The Chamber jeered as the Dwarf images arrived and moved to the central floor. The four sided stone of Justice presumed and in the Chamber and according to the rules; whenever they were ever followed – no law existed without the standing within standing within the confines of the four sided stone although with the families ruling, it often seemed that no law existed at all no matter where anyone stood and as technically Droga, Jamesson and Matira were only images they weren’t in the vicinity of the stone of Justice at all but their images stood at three places of the stone and now, twenty others crowded around the other side and also them.
James Droga took his time as he stared around him; eventually, he spoke, “What do you rabble want?”
“Your images will stay here briefly; your bodies are already being removed from the Red Stone Gate.”
“You cannot touch us. We rule, and the Gate will protect us.” said Stefen Matira.
“You rule no longer. You have killed and virtually destroyed Dwarvia, Stefen 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 will not be harmed.”
“Who are you to say this. You have no authority. We are the Ruling Families!”
“You are images, not Dwarfs in this chamber and 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 killing – 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.
The space map shining onto the roof of the Dwarvian Chamber House usually displayed latest conquests although they’re were more battles in the Chamber House than were ever fought outside and the Admiral’s Political parties fought as much for their Political conquests as they did for their planetary conquests.
Their egos often led to blood spilt in the house; piped out of the Chamber with troughs often running by the feet of most members to remind them to vote according to their conscience or their lives; often on cutting votes.
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.
Dwarvia seemed to be nothing more than a transit camp for killers, prisoners, politicians – who often seemed the same – the picture show on the roof – split-second updates – so popular –commentators more famous than the battles.
The Droga’s, Matira’s and Jamesson’s had essentially ruled for longer that people remembered or wished and all were blacked eyed Space Admirals standing at 4 foot 2 inches – the maximum height for the Space Corp.
What was unusual for the Dwarfs was that they did sometimes worked together until they realised they couldn’t trust anyone, included themselves and this now seemed to be the case as they betrayed each other whilst they thought of the future, or more often of the past and who they couldn’t trust.
Usually a case of Dwarf eat Dwarf and they didn’t worry about whether there was any relish to go with the Dwarf who they beat into pulp first but the blood troughs coped, even if they did overflow a little during fierce political debates.
The problems now were the prisoners, the riots and in the Admiral’s case that they had been removed from the Chamber as their images disappeared and they found themselves upright, once again in the Red Stone Gate 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, do not push the little good favour you still have,” the colours on the now began to spin and the Admirals seemed to spin as well as they were laid down on the floor and slept.
The Admirals lay dreaming of four hundred thousand prisoners scattered across anywhere … the pain, killing and hardship never bothered them – they weren’t dying; someone else did the killing, and they seemed to know they were just dreaming, but dreaming of what. They didn’t dream of ‘ruling no more’ – they never believe they would cease to rule and a new planet would give them time to rule.
They danced dreams of four hundred thousand dead; two hundred thousand prisoners rioting but war to them was war as they never used their own people – they won the wars and the people paid afterwards but who was ever honest in warfare, and now, part of the dream became a nightmare as they lost power and in their minds … they lost position – the greatest of losses.
The joke to them was yes, smaller Dwarvian Political Groups could probably muster enough votes after the latest killing bout of Dwarfs and prisoners and do something but it had been an accident with killing the Politicians and they should understand that.
When the area blasted, they were killing opposing Politicians, it was ancillary that others died.
It was an accident – they didn’t expect half of the Chamber people to be outside when they cleaned a few political thoughts 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 … the meetings should have finished on time and members of their families wouldn’t have been there!
It was just one of those unfortunate accidents that happen from time to time and they’d laid the blame directly at the mail-shirts of the minor houses – the De Bowed and the Du Storme’s … what did it matter who killed who or who decided that blasting them to bits in the standard Dwarvian way was the only answer to all problems.
There had been a weakening of some Political relationships as a result, especially De Bowed and Du Storme but that was meaningless … the ruling parties ruled and would always rule and De Bowed and Du Storme could live with it – so they’d killed over four hundred thousand Dwarfs; levelled major areas of cities; what did it really matter as they ruled.
Well, as the Matira’s, Jamesson’s and the Droga’s found out, it mattered a lot to people who now rebelled against them, and their own families were now ready to sacrifice them to save their own necks and the rising body count shouldn’t include any more of their own. It was no surprise that other Political Houses demanded a solution with an explanation, ‘The carnage was necessary. Our right to rule was being threatened and with a war, everyone supported us and it was logical to have more wars so we stayed in power.’
It was supposed to be a moot – reserved for the most serious matters and Dwarvia had them although they eventually led to the slang for a moot being called a Hubbub or Dwarf-up as they physically piled into each other.
The Dwarfs, between attacks, did stop for meetings – usually from exhaustion – although often to plan for the next attack on someone else so the minutes of meetings that often only lasted seconds when someone was left standing to apparently take the minutes was often the only record that a meeting had occurred, yet this time, the clamouring and rioting in the street finally seemed to have made it into the Council Chamber which usually ignored any reality but their own enclosed brains, and they needed someone to blame with another planet as a destination for the three Admirals seeming ideal as the political blades went in but they still could not manage the ‘Brutus affect’ and settled for three knife blades rather than seven!
The slaughter during this dispute actually become so bad, automatic washing in the Chamber was stopped as bodies were floating 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!
The roof of the Chamber produced a lot of images during this time as it seemed to have taken on a life of its own and often it showed images of what these ideas could generate; annoying the Admirals, even more as their ideas became more apparent than they wishes, but most times it showed stars and not Politicians who thought they were the stars but it would take a long to destroy Venal Politicians – stars or not.
Chapter II – Ejected On A Spaceplane – Don’t Know When We’ll Be Back Again
Destraight seemed an excellent idea and name for a planetary prison according to the remaining Dwarf families who agreed on the delivery of the three Admirals to new horizons they wouldn’t return from. It was an old unstable planet ideally suited for prisoners the Dwarven race had taken and the now failed Politicians moving–on to new careers, or was it?
Dwarfia, 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. These specially selected prisoners would also not be returning – they were too much of a problem to in captivity.
In the end, although it was never made public, it took three the years to capture or kill the prisoners and other dwarfs who were quietly rounded up for Stasis, and they had finally completed the build of the modified Armada Class ships – Andromeda with Admiral James Droga; Surreptitious with Admiral Stefen Matira, and the Ancient with Admiral David Jamesson – all currently in Stasis and they would remain there for a minimum of ten years before being woken up, although they would then go back into Stasis.
The prisoners – 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 have just cut their heads off.
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 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.
Crews had been selected on five year shifts and contracted to return – a pity, 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.
In reality the Dwarfs considered everyone disposable and certainly not, recyclable back to Dwarvia – no-one would be returning or they would die if they tried! The 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.
Finally, late 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 escaping into the night although even now the ruling families, defeated in the Chamber in one of the most blood-thirsty diplomatic battles ever seen in the house, still felt they ruled and controlled as the minor houses struggled amongst themselves for cohesion as a Political force.
The Droga’s, Matira’s and Jamesson’s sensed the infighting amongst Dwarfs and certainly could never conceive the idea of defeat and so immediately launched unsanctioned invasions to test the mettle of the bodies now apparently governing the Chamber.
A problem with Control Freaks unfortunately is that they can never let go of anything and in planning all the major families could see were sub-projects which to them considering they were personal goals which meant killing someone although most of their thinking seemed to move in the same direction.
They did finally peered through images at Intergalactic Glasses for the latest three dimensional optics on sale which promised to help them see to the end of a plan, even if they would never achieve it but arrogance and ignorance are always as much a barrier as fear as Ruling families who no longer rule are often targeted briefly by history or somebody as it prepares the last rites but they don’t give up power easily although they often have little choice as they view their futures and find them as brief as their intelligence is if they don’t takeover again and show they still control before the rebellion against them takes off and this times really succeeds. They’d ruled for years and weren’t going to let this happen over-night, nor over-morning, if they could stop it.
If the three families had their way and they did still control Government as a policy of war 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.
The ex-Ruling Families felt they had the Elves elements twisted more than usually in their favour but one of the problems with Dwarfs who feel they control by right, is that they forget who controls the left, and in the case of the Elves who’d served for so long it wasn’t just their feeling that an obligation had become servitude, they felt exploited and forced into a Bureaucratic Government service and now were holding their own meetings. Whilst they could kill by force they often felt that boredom could achieve the same results in a meeting.
They’d been prevented from boarding the ships by the Droga’s, Matira’s and Jamesson’s but you needed to know Elves to do that and the Elves liked long meetings whilst the Dwarf’s were usually on a knife edge so there was no understanding between them; just the Dwarf’s belief they controlled the Elves – treating a short term commitment as a long term obligation and that vanished when they lost power and now within the Elven races their own power struggles commence and they were as bloody as the Dwarven political battles and highlighted another unknown skill of the Elves.
They might consider being bloody minded and deliberately awkward as a skill but in their natural element they were ephemeral and constantly refreshed themselves via the diamond each wore around their throat although at times they were almost hypnotic when the diamond and their minds were in tune and this allowed them to portray any image they chose.
Now the Elves, using their other skills were on the ships and sharing the Stasis cubicles – the survivors had, had enough of Dwarvia as well – some would remain, usually the older Elves who felt they could control Government from within but most were sick of the Ruling Families and their desires to kill and when escape beckons take it and if not now then in the future as other spacecraft would take off.
Now the Elves held even more meetings as they planned another mission for themselves.
Rockets took off once again to attack more planets – it didn’t really matter which planets, along as they took off, whilst quietly the Armada Class ships slowly rose without any fanfare but with a crew who thought the return tanks were full and over a thousand dwarfs who thought they would sleep for most of the journey and then return with a bonus to set them up for life. Yes, they were set up but possibly for death, nor life.
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 blasted in black to merge with the sky.
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 until 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.
Someone had improved the shields and provided suits for the crews as if there were likely to be any serious issues they could survive but other powers were at play here and image was needed for the take off.
Something and someone has also changed the specifications so the ships were stronger than intended, although where the crew could go in an emergency was something the design failed to cater for but again counter-forces were working against each other and something yet again, was wrong.
The current crew 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 talked in images, portraying them onto the cabin walls, making her suited to be an Intergalactic Navigator however this statement was restricted in meaning to ‘on a small space tug with a tolerant crew’!
Trumph de Glop was the junior Captain and they didn’t come any more junior. She was evolvable but this early in a career that wasn’t going to go much further, they’re weren’t any decisions to make and rashness was not encouraged so there was little she could do and seemed adequately suited to her post.
Lnal de Bolte was the Comms Officer and 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 and they liked that as they settled back and listened to her prattle of anything to anyone in space whilst Mesne play 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 ones 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. Needless to say, the Admiral’s Stasis chambers were as Royalty to a starving wretch.
Satin covers and the Admirals slept in satin hammocks, six foot high within chambers criss-crossed between narrow Stasis fields with only the top field operational.
There were other Stasis generators below but these were unoccupied and the design was that ship movements would not disturb them or another three people in hammocks between Stasis generators below them – if they were occupied.
It still left one small problem – the personal controls for the Admirals could not be opened unless they were forced and when the Admirals woke up they would drop directly onto the people below and waking them up would take the Admirals completely out of Stasis and that was not, if you can believe it, a decision junior officers wished to make since every crew would then have to live with a fighting, bad-tempered Admiral going nowhere.
It was something to be dreaded and so time like the crew moved on and left the Admirals to blissful sleep until there was no other option.
Some forty years later with the mechanisms working automatically, the Admirals finally woke but someone had adjusted the Stasis time fields and those underneath had moved. The Admirals finally descended amidst an explanation of technical problems and if a spaceship can gain a lead balloon then they joined the explanation as to why the Admirals were not able to easily turn the ships around and go home after the ten years had lapsed into forty years and they were halfway through the voyage.
After the Admirals realised that killing the crew was not a good idea, they stormed off to the Stasis chambers again and that was another issue as the next regulator on the Chambers was arrival at Destraight and yet, another lead balloon sank into the ship’s ballast as the Admirals realised they were not welcome back in Dwarvia.
Another crew, and yet another crew were beckoned by time but it wasn’t easy with power reduced daily until forcing them to bring in the reserve tanks led them to find they had no reserve tanks.
The smell now was of something different; they couldn’t stop the ships and the crews communicating to each other, realised something … they weren’t going home to a bonus nor to anything; the arguments range long and hard but it is amazing what you can do with an Admiral’s Stasis chamber and they were all soon asleep and the ship could look after itself.
Finally the tannoys blazed into operation and Stasis systems shut down, leaving a lot of people looking for a drink for those hangovers after a forty year session but now other problems started to interfere with their feeling hungover.
The issues for the Admiral’s now were lights in the sky approaching the Armada Ships instead of the other way around. Screens were showing land-quakes, typhoons and tidal waves and they were hitting the planet as they watched. Something, however, was going to hit and hit the Armada Ships, and that was a series of objects flying directly towards them. Already large sections of the spaceships were dropping with the prisoners caged inside as the rockets fired briefly to take them to planned landing positions no matter what the surface conditions were and the Guards, Hounds and Cats were unceremoniously dumped with them.
The Admirals discussions were becoming 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.
“We need to move, Admiral,” 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, “The Hell-Cats have female brains but they are not women any-more!”
On several ships the Admirals heard the pre-arranged messages the crews, all female dwarfs, had decided on. The Admirals would need advice and that they could supply in various ways.
Most Admirals had brought their family; whether they wanted to or not – a clean sweep had been ordered and demanded but computer programs now ensured that Admiral Stefen Matira was located to the south-east; Admiral David Jamesson to the north whilst Admiral James Droga was to the north-west with the locations hundreds of miles apart amidst a massive expanse of country and water – if it was still there, between them.
The prisoner and family disposal areas were at least eight to a hundred miles away from the castles which were now being quickly – almost jerry built, by computers that seemed to be having problems with the electro-magnetic affects of the spacial objects and their programs were becoming a little erratic.
The Admirals were realising that on Destraight they 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 plan 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; Stefen Matira, Toshonia and David Jamesson would own Ascania – no-one was going home – least of all, them and as usual they planned for the short-term but the crew they had agreed to take checked the pre-programmed courses on their Hell-Cats – the Hell-Cats seemed happy to talk to women and found the courses weren’t alterable – they were going where they were programmed – another surprise for the Admirals.
The prisoner and family disposal points were in the middle of nowhere, miles away from anything or anyone else – almost like some holidays for hardy old people with money still left.
The prisoners were looking at each other as if they had just found something and they weren’t happy with their find and they weren’t speaking to each other; they didn’t need to, it seemed like an old Sunday afternoon in Scotland – even Wales was better but like any bad holiday 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 also saw something else they didn’t like as the objects approaching seemed a lot closer than this morning and they were also thinking, and thinking fast for a change.
This 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 then 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 the crew when the fuel arrives.”
“Well,” said Stefen Matira, “it’s a little late, COMSATNEV disciple, to do this with all the prisoners on the surface and dispersed over the land whilst we are facing incoming space debris; the Cats and Hounds 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 or stay here and face the rocks. 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 that left her lying on the spaceship floor, “I think we need to make a decision and I’m leaving now.” He finally found his way to his Hell-Cat, assisted by a lot of crew, “Are we carrying too much weight?”
“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?”
“See me when we make land!”
On the planet the prisoners and families were still watching and they were watching water rising and surrounding where Matira castle would be but water was now engulfing them to the north and starting to flood their camp.
Further north the site of David Jamesson’s castle and the prisoner camp near him looked good, whilst James Droga’s castle site, far to the north-west was on the coast whilst the prisoner camp was a hundred miles south and near the floods sweeping in.
The castles and camps had started to 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 and the castles and camps were rising although the land and water also seemed to be rising.
Everyone were looking at the sky as much as the still self-building structures. The Guards were releasing prisoners against all orders as there was nowhere to go and with the water sweeping in it sounded more like a riot than a prison camp.
The Admirals had now realised something about the Hell-Cats and that was they couldn’t alter the pre-programmed destinations and all were now heading for pre-programmed sites, even if one was underwater.
The moulds have gone in just the same and the model was working as surrounds were sunk around castle destinations and then the castles were built; even if one was completely surrounded by water and was in fact growing out of the water.
The prisoners looked around as their buildings kept rising but so did the Admirals as the Hell-Cats took them away with no way to countermand any commands – Dwarvia had decided to bury the Admirals and didn’t care how or when or where.
Anyone watching the buildings erupt would obviously feel the designers had played with castles as children – walls were going up, towers; baileys were obviously designed into the building as were killing areas – these buildings were being built as ancient history and not the modern world the meetings had stated … yet another computer screw-up thought the Admirals but that was it.
Looking out Stefen could see a castle and walls stretching to fifteen miles, while walls behind and directly in front of them, bisected the horizon for another ten miles and that seemed an overkill – it was all perimeter defence but against water … the fifteen foot high waters? His castle was an island.
The only decent area was David Jamesson’s, where the prisoners were only ten miles away and not drowning but James Droga didn’t have an integrated castle as such. His castle was five away from his Manor House which was ten miles away from the barracks and all moving east leaving his castle fifteen miles from the barracks.
Things were not working out as planned for the other Admirals either, although it was never intended that they should but the planners probably thought it was fun to screw up everything.
James Droga exploded, “Where is the Vis-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 better just assume our roles as leaders?”
“With the Vis-Moot, Stefen, no-one can dispute our authority!”
“There is no Viz.-Moot that I can see but I can certainly see Guards and I feel that will have to be our goal. We have our lands to secure or floods in my case and I intend to move towards another site and with haste.”
One other problem for Admiral Stefen Matira on entering his castle was that only one floor had been completed. The rest of the castle walls had been built but some computer glitch had only then furnished one floor. His next problem was that he’d have 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.
The Admirals were having other 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 Stefen Matira and David Jamesson were 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 miles apart.
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 as 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 eye. 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.
Chapter III – Round Two
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 and now the riots started again and the backlash against the War Party led to increasing political bloodshed. It didn’t take long before old ideas were forming again and some Armada Class ships started construction.
The general consensus basically was … hell this time we – the Ruling Families – won’t get control back. We’ve already colonised this planet – Destraight; if we build five more ships then that is another hundred thousand prisoners we can rid Dwarvia of, plus a more than a few traitors who don’t support us and we will 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.
On Destraight, prisoners moved at speed amidst a feeling of euphoria that lasted for another question?
The land was new and even if it wasn’t their land there was no religion, politicians, or newspapers, so life should be 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 some land free for them, or so they thought in their ignorance?
Their species ranged from magical to rock, bird, horse, human, Dwarf and elf, albeit they were never there nor part of the prisoners – there were some Dwarfs and they included 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 once they had the chains off and the Admirals had a key and the theory was that in return for releasing your bounds, you were then bound to the Admiral.
A lot of the prisoners were still bound in chains that only the Admirals could free.
Some above ground, others sought existence beneath – yet again, others became the ground as they sunk into a life they knew but without the bounds released they would never be free.
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 and for once was a democratic voice.
The Admirals and Politicians might feel they ruled within Destraight but these people felt they lived within the land but as they started to consider their own existence with the rocks in the sky became larger and larger and the seas starting to rise, yet again. 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 as all communications ran out of power.
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 anyway, with no food and life was definitely going to get harder with the rocks in the sky getting bigger and the 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 them need to remember the only thing they had in common was being captured and imprisoned by the Dwarves and they were now facing death and slowly.