Sights on the War

“Rift’s Shadow!”

Cha-Tan Elsur, Tonser of the United Colonies Armed Forces, cursed loudly as he ripped his headphones from his head and dialed down the volume of the passive radio sensors. From the speakers of the headphones a garbled and stuttering voice speaking in the Old Tongue could still be heard as they drifted away slowly.

“Is there a problem, Tonser Cha-Tan?”

Elsur closed his eyes for a moment, massaging his lower jaw with his lower arms, as his upper arms fished the headphones out of the air and pulled them back to his head. He turned around a little, looking at the faces of the remaining command crew.

Woran Esl-Ter Serdan, the commander of the Rovite Nerto, looked back at his sensory officer, expecting an answer to his question.

“The Elder is screaming again,” he said after swallowing, making Esl-Ter tap a finger of his left upper arm on his lower jaw.

“Now?” he wondered out loud, worry clean in his voice. “That is troubling indeed.”

Elsur could only agree. Every time The Elder screamed incoherently it was heard throughout the entire system. And every time it lead to something happening in the near future. Whether it would be good or bad was only for the oracles had to decide. On top of that the screams were in most cases the reason why the Runel and the Lerr were fighting each other again. Whether the Runel or the Lerr initiated the fighting was up to chance and who happened to be the first to get to the other.

Elsur glanced back at his console. The screams were louder than the last time he had heard them, some Iton ago. Concerning what he had learned during training, this meant that the Elder had left its orbit and moved away from the Old World, closer towards the Edge.

And if the Elder was moving towards the Edge, it was leaving transports to the other side of the system in danger. Over the past San-Iton more and more civilian commanders had dared to cross the Edge into the inner system to shorten their trips to colonies on the other side of the system, but none of them had ever dared to come near the Old World. The Elder simply destroyed anyone who dared to come near.

“Tonser,” Serdan said finally,” keep your eyes and ears open. I want to know any movements of any Association craft we can detect.”

“Of course, Esl-Ter,” Elsur said and his lower hands flickered over the touch sensitive displays in front of him, filtering out much of the Elders screams.

The Rovite Nerto was a medium sized armed unit, not much larger than the Elder, equipped with some of the most advanced sensors and armaments in existence. Of course she wasn’t even remotely a match for the Elder, but she didn’t need to be. All she was to do was to keep an eye out in the Runel asteroid cluster leading in orbit of Dren, reporting any and all movements of Runel Association craft back to base, the defense of the Vuworough Mine and hunt down anyone who thought they could attack the freighters.

If at all, only few would dare to attack a freighter of the United Colonies. If someone did, they would find themselves running out of Helium-3 very quickly and on top of it would have to defend themselves against a punitive expedition. The Aldan League could attest to that; after they had attacked a Helium-3 shipment of the United Colonies out to Bev about two Des-Iton ago. The Aldans had lost most of their military infrastructure and craft, as well as two very valuable mines and were still rebuilding, as well as repaying for the ammunition and nuclear devices that had been used in the punitive expedition.

As Elsur glanced at his displays and listened to the endless stream of carrier signals that were just barely above the hydrogen line, his mind moved to the last time The Elder had screamed.

The Holy Hegemony of Lerr had used the screams to launch an attack on the Runel Association, leading to a large war that had threatened to include a couple of smaller nations. Only when the war had threatened the United Colonies and Emkin Assembly, it had tapered down. No one wanted to wake the sleeping giants that controlled 99 percent of the Helium-3.

He was pulled from his thoughts however as the Elder screamed even louder, managing to temporarily get through the filter.

“Haing… Don’t leave me alone…”

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