Table of Contents for the upcoming sci-fi novel The Borrega Test

Table of Contents for the upcoming sci-fi novel The Borrega Test

Part I: Blood and Empire

Part II: Secrets and Conspiracies

Part III: Enemies and Allies

Part IV: A Test of Sovereignty

Part V: Ghosts of Wars Long Past

Epilogue: Anuvi

Afterword

Appendix I: Dramatis Personae

Appendix II: Definition of Test of Sovereignty

Appendix III: Executive Summary, Borrega Test Briefing

Appendix IV: Order of Combatants, the Borrega Test

Appendix V: A Map of the Hominin Union

Appendix VI: Links of Interest

A Preview of The Stardancers

You can order the first novel in the series, The Anuvi Incident, on Amazon.

Dramatis Personae for The Borrega Test

This is a (mostly) complete list of the major and minor characters in The Borrega Test. Additional characters will be listed in the completed work.

Kabir Caverns, The World of Borrega

  • Lieutenant Darius Shirazi, Resistance fighter, Christian Disciple of Yazan
  • Captain Najafi, Shirazi’s superior officer.
  • Colonel Sarafian, Resistance commander for the continent of Kabir
  • Commanders Abbas and Sakineh, Naval Intelligence, Imperial Navy of the Hominin Union

The Ceti Theta Quad System

  • Captain Lillian Cavanagh, commanding officer, HSS Angau Coch
  • Commander Joshua McFinn, executive officer, HSS Angau Coch
  • Lieutenant Commander Mikal Dundas, Chief Engineer, HSS Angau Coch
  • Petty Officer Stephen Fuchs, engineer, HSS Angau Coch
  • Sergeant Cobrado, commander of the Angau Coch’s Marine squad.
  • Captain Mallus kar Sont, Dovar hominin and commanding officer of the HSS Scourge
  • Captain Bartholomew Suftin, commanding officer, HSS Durendal

The Intelligence Research Installation, Volkov Crater, Far Side of the Moon

  • Agent Catherine Dwyer, General Intelligence Directorate
  • Lars Pederson, Assistant Director for Operations, General Intelligence Directorate
  • Maggie, resident AI, Intelligence Research Installation

The HSS Naginata

  • Captain Marcus Braden Cortez, commanding officer, HSS Naginata
  • Agent James Stanislaus, General Intelligence Directorate
  • Arch-Commander Noga, Lord of Vallia Sector, Naati defector

The Trieste

  • Dr. Hans Beckenbaur, geologist and adventurer, formerly of Milidas Polytechnic, Rutana
  • Dr. Heather Ferrel, biologist, formerly of the Klist Institute of Biology, Earth
  • Jake Nakamura, technician
  • Krenlar, Fendl engineer
  • Captain Caroline Talbot, commander of the Trieste

Ovak, Naati prison planet

  • Lord Commissar Gavanus Jureen, Lord of Trevia Sector, member of the Naati Command Authority
  • Commander Kalmot Koor, Gavanus’ aide
  • Togonol Fangrik, formerly of the Naati Command Authority, political prisoner

General Intelligence Directorate Headquarters, Colorado, Earth

  • Agent Cyrus Yazdani, General Intelligence Directorate
  • Yuri Chenyenko, Director-General, General Intelligence Directorate

The World of Turrentine

  • Commander Joshua Andrew McFinn, commanding officer Nelson Station, orbiting Turrentine
  • Akiak, local Innu hunter and guide
  • Sergeant David Gavin, Imperial Guard
  • Marie Destillières, Consul of the Hominin Union

The World of Vanyirvon

  • Sergeant Paul Matthias, Commander, MA-2260 Anti-Infantry Vehicle, 3rd Ranger Division, 32nd Armor Regiment, 4th Battalion, Delta Company, 1st Platoon
    • Benjamin “Benny” Luther, Driver
    • Dominic “Dom” Olora, Turret Gunner
    • Serene Naholo, Anti-Infantry Laser Gunner/Engineer
    • Margaret “Maggie” Kahn, Grenadier/Engineer
  • Lieutenant Alice Cerny, commanding officer, 3rd Ranger Division, 32nd Armor Regiment, 4th Battalion, Delta Company, 1st Platoon
  • Lieutenant Bradley Po, commanding officer, 3rd Ranger Division, 55th Light Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon

 

 

An excerpt from The Borrega Test

Part I: Blood and Empire

An empire founded by war has to maintain itself by war.

Charles de Montesquieu

Shirazi

The horses, spread out in single file, crossed the barren windswept plain toward the rounded and snow-covered mountains. In the middle of the column First Lieutenant Darius Shirazi stooped lower in the saddle and cursed the cold bite of the wind. To Darius this winter felt particularly cold and dry: his hands felt as rough as sandpaper, and his lips bore painful sores and cracks. He turned and again judged the distance between himself and the rider behind him, intent on keeping the distance as unchanging as possible. This strict formation made the column of fifty-two mounts look like a group of dithya tribesmen to any intelligence observing from a high-flying aircraft; any deviation from the standard column and the Shah’s security forces may become suspicious.

Darius scanned the horizon and clutched his rifle. He saw their destination ahead; a gnarled and bumpy range of mountains loomed to the north, the peaks smooth and rounded rather than sharp. Snow covered the higher reaches and rough desert ravines and gorges cut into the sides and feet of the highland. To Darius the mountains looked like a range of melted wax, or a huge wave of stone frozen in time. Known as the Kabir Highlands, the range extended across the entire southern continent like a puckered wound. The ravines and gorges hid sites the dithya tribesmen considered holy, as well as safe havens for the Resistance fighters known as the Disciples of Yazan.

The Shah’s security forces were the greater danger, but more unlikely and remote. The southern continent of Kabir was the largest on the world of Borrega, and the most inhospitable, largely inhabited by wandering tribes that shunned technology and lived the lives of their ancient Earth ancestors. The Shah’s security forces concentrated their efforts on the coastal settlements, and only occasionally sent a high-flying aircraft over the interior to hunt down the Resistance.

The dithya were the more immediate threat, given the differences in faith between the Muslim tribesmen and the Christian Disciples. Christians were a minority, split up among various historical and modern churches, but all managed to survive by carefully navigating the rivalries and conflicts between the hundreds of Muslim sects that dominated the politics on Borrega. Many a time the dithya rode down out of the highlands hooting and hollering on their horses and camels to raid the Disciples’ supply columns, stealing small arms and medical supplies, and slaying the Christian resistance fighters. The dithya hated the Shah of Borrega as much as the Disciples of Yazan did, but would not cooperate with anyone who did not follow their narrow interpretation of the Prophet’s faith.

The hand radio crackled with the voice of Captain Najafi. “Remember, don’t push it; slow and steady. Keep your eyes open for dithya raiders.” The Captain repeated the reminder every twenty minutes or so.

The column entered a sharp-walled ravine just as the afternoon sun disappeared behind a ridge. Darius shivered and his breath steamed. By necessity the riders bunched up, but the overhanging cliffs obscured them from any observation from above. Looking up at the walls of the ravine, Darius saw not only sensors and cameras, but also figures on small lookouts and balconies, all aiming their weapons at the column. The ravine soon pinched off, and the caravan rode into a wide and tall crack in the cliff. The passage looked wide and smooth. Warm yellow electric lights set high in the wall cast sharp shadows. To Darius the place smelled musty and cold.

After a few minutes the caravan entered a large cavern, the roof lost in shadow. A large metal scaffold and staircase climbed upward into the darkness, the bottom of the structure lit by bright white lights. The voices of the men and sounds of the horses echoed in the cave. Other men appeared from the shadows; they grasped bridles and begun to unload the mounts.

The radio crackled again with Captain Najafi’s voice. “Dismount. The recruits will see to the mounts and set up camp, as trained. Lieutenant Shiraz? The Colonel will see you tonight. Wait to be summoned.”

“Acknowledged,” Darius replied. Finally. Darius dismounted and helped with the camp duties. One of the oldest and most secret of the Disciples’ bases on the southern continent, most of the Resistance knew the Kabir Caverns as the source of the weapons and supplies that helped them in their fight against the Shah of Borrega, weapons and supplies that came from off world, from the Hominin Union.

And now Darius would meet those who delivered that aid; he had been promoted to Colonel Sarafian’s staff. The legendary Colonel Sarafian, the resistance fighter who had kept the Shah’s forces off-balance and on the defensive on the southern continent of Borrega for over a decade.

Captain Najafi appeared, tall and thin, with a high forehead, thinning hair, and a bushy black moustache. Darius had been fighting under Captain Najafi for two years now, in a guerrilla force that performed recon, assassination and asset destruction missions around Hrazik, the largest city on the southern continent. The two had seen, and done, much together, and Darius had proved himself loyal and resourceful to the Resistance.

“He’ll see you, now,” Najafi said in a quiet voice. “Meet me at the elevator.” He pointed at the bottom of the scaffold.

Darius shouldered his rifle and crossed the cavern. Two men guarded the elevator. Najafi appeared again, ordered the guards to stand aside, and entered the elevator car. Darius followed.

The car moved upward, out of the glare of the white lights and into the gloom. Softer yellower lights illuminated the top of the scaffold. The elevator car stopped with a screech and Captain Najafi pulled open the door. Two more guards stood adjacent to the elevator.

Najafi led Darius through a narrow dark passage carved into the stone of the mountain. After a moment they emerged in a rough, circular chamber. Half-a-dozen men sat at computer consoles, talking in quiet voices into headsets and tapping at keyboards. Colorful images floated on dataglasses or shone forth from flatscreen monitors. The devices displayed views from the entrance gorge and various points throughout the tunnel complex. Through an opening in the top of the chamber Darius saw the sky, now deepening in color to a dark purple and orange. A figure stood there, silhouetted against the light, his back to the others.

Najafi cleared his throat. “Colonel Sarafian.”

After a moment the figure turned and descended the steps to the floor of the chamber. Like all members of the Resistance, the Colonel wore dun-colored loose pants, a knee-length tunic with loose sleeves and a high collar, and a long coat with over-sized epaulettes and large pockets. Three starburst pins glinted on the front of his peaked cap. His face looked tanned and creased, his cheeks and chin covered with a thick white beard.

Najafi and Darius snapped to attention. The Colonel approached Najafi and nodded, then stood in front of Darius.

“At ease, soldiers.” He looked at Darius with pale blue eyes. “So this is Lieutenant Darius Shirazi.”

“Yes, sir.” Darius replied.

“Captain Najafi says many good things about you.”

“Thank you, sir!”

“How are your wife and family?”

Darius blushed. “In good health, sir, thank you. My daughter just turned fifteen months old.”

“Congratulations, Darius. What is her name?”

“Rahela.”

“Beautiful, is it not?”

“Yes, sir,” Najafi replied.

“Our children; that is why we are doing what we’re doing. Wouldn’t you agree, Darius?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Many of us have even made the ultimate sacrifice.” He put his right hand on Darius’ left shoulder. “I fought with your father.”

Darius’ legs almost buckled. He was four years old when his mother told him his father would never be coming back. In his memory he saw the tears streaming down his mother’s face as she choked on her sobs. No one could tell them what happened. It was too risky. They would probably never know what happened to him. Darius had lived with the uncertainty ever since.

Sarafian smiled. “You look like him. Tall and strong.”

“How did he die?” Darius blurted, his heart pounding. Captain Najafi started to hiss at Darius’ lack of protocol, but Sarafian raised his hand.

“Lieutenant Malik Shirazi saved my life, and all of the remaining lives in the platoon I commanded. We had just raided one of the Shah’s secret military bases, near Ulama, on the far western side of the northern continent. Your father took a shot for me. He was gravely wounded, and couldn’t move. Things were happening so fast, we couldn’t treat him and we couldn’t move him. He asked for a pistol and a belt of grenades and he held off the enemy long enough so we could escape.” He paused, looking into Darius’ eyes. “He died a hero, Darius.”

Darius couldn’t hold back. He sobbed, his chest heaving. Darius knew about Ulama, what the Resistance had found there, but he did not know his father had aided in that discovery. Below the grief a fierce pride bubbled up into his chest. He coughed and wiped the tears from his face. “Why couldn’t we know, sir? My mother and I? Why couldn’t we know what happened to him?”

“The secret was too great,” Sarafian’s voice suddenly became cold, his face expressionless. He removed his hand from Darius’ shoulder. “In the two hundred plus years human beings have been on Borrega, the dominant Muslim sects have periodically sought to convert and absorb we Christians. They have done this even though Muslim and Christian, as brothers in faith in God, fled the decadence, corruption and persecution of United Earth together. But by the grace of God and his son Jesus Christ we have resisted. Christian and Muslim together fought the demon Naati when they occupied our world a century ago, striking from bases hidden in the ravines and caverns of these very mountains, and other secret places across the face of the planet. Our brothers in Faith turned against us once the Naati threat disappeared.”

Darius knew all of this history, as taught by the priests and deacons of the Disciples of Yazan.

Sarafian continued. “Shah Najid III Gul began another persecution against Christians when he ascended the Celestial Throne almost thirty years ago. His son, Sajad, continues to this day. But the fool made an alliance, an unholy pact with the demon Naati. The Naati do not fight us openly; no, they aid the Shah with technology and intelligence. The Shah fears the Hominin Union and what it may do if the Naati directly attacked the Resistance. Grand Admiral Kilgore of the Imperial Navy supplies us with arms and equipment, even though this support could cause war between the Union and the Naati.”

All of the Resistance soldiers knew Kilgore’s name; some regarded the Admiral with suspicion, but most fighters, including Darius, thought the man a hero. They well knew that Kilgore supplied them with arms at great risk to himself, and that these precarious supply lines were virtually the only thing keeping the Resistance alive against the Shah’s tyranny.

Sarafian smiled. “Yes, we play a dangerous game. Admiral Kilgore may be our ally, but the Union is not. The Consul of the Hominin Union could well decide that Borrega is valuable enough to be brought into the fold. That is also something we do not want to happen. United Earth was the most corrupt and decadent empire in the history of Humanity, but the Hominin Union is not much better. We Christians want to remain free of the Shah, the Naati, and the Union. We are walking on a high and narrow mountain ridge, our destination a peak somewhere ahead and invisible in the clouds, with a fall of a thousand feet on either side. We fight to defend ourselves, with Jesus Christ as our savior, a Just War in his name.”

Sarafian looked at Darius, his eyes wide. “I need you at my side, Darius. We have entered a new phase of the conflict. Kilgore has given us enough supplies, arms, and intelligence that we can make a major strike against the Shah and his demon allies. Soon. Just one more piece remains.”

Darius felt a surge of pride. The honor Colonel Sarafian had just bestowed on him was immeasurable. His love and respect for his commander grew five fold, and he knew he could lay down his life for this man.

“We’re receiving a transmission sir.” One of the technicians looked up from his console. “This might be it.” The tech tapped at his keyboard. “The transmission is fully encrypted with the correct protocol.”

Sarafian nodded. The tech spoke into his headset. “This is Kabir 1. Please respond with the correct security identification.”

A voice crackled over the radio. “This is Kekayvus, Kabir 1. I say again, this is Kekayvus.”

The voice startled Darius; whoever it was spoke Farsi, but with a seemingly odd, and old, accent. Kekayvus was the given name of Saint Yavan, the founder of their church. Very few outside of the faith knew that name.

“We receive you, Kekayvus. Please transmit telemetry and course.”

“Telemetry and course transmitted. I’ve got a problem, Kabir 1. A hostile vessel has discovered me. It is moving to engage.”

Sarafian held up a headset to his face. “How is that possible, Kekayvus?”

“Hostile vessel is not one of the Borregan security forces. It is—“ the transmission became garbled.

“Say again, Kekayvus.”

“Hostile vessel is Red Orb, Kabir 1. I repeat, hostile vessel is Red Orb.”

Darius saw Sarafian’s face turn the color of ash. “Is the cargo secure, Kekayvus?

“Cargo is secure, Kabir 1. Do you want me to proceed to normal landing site?”

That’s a good question. The hostile vessel attacking Kekayvus may represent a danger to the Kabir Caverns. Darius clearly saw the anxiety on Sarafian’s face. Darius didn’t know what the cargo was, but it seemed to him Sarafian had to decide whether the value of the cargo warranted the possibility of the enemy discovering the Kabir Caverns. But if Kekayvus dropped the cargo elsewhere, there was a risk they could not retrieve it.

Sarafian paused for a moment. He closed his eyes and muttered something. He opened his eyes and looked at Darius, Najafi, and the others. “Proceed to normal landing site, Kekayvus.”

A warbling sound filled the air. “— Kabir 1. Say again!”

“Proceed to normal landing site!” The warbling sound filled the air again. “Did Kekayvus receive?”

The tech tapped at his keyboard. “Unknown. Transmission jammed at the source.”

“How long?”

“Twenty-two minutes, maximum,” another one of the techs said, “if Kekayvus is coming in on the standard trajectory.”

“It looks like he is,” the first tech said, ”judging by the telemetry and course information transmitted.”

Sarafian looked at Najafi and Darius. “The Shah has loosed the demon Naati against us.”

Darius almost lost control of his bladder.

“Why now, I do not know, but I suspect Kekayvus can tell us. Escort the supply trucks to the landing site and recover the cargo; the night may give us cover against any observing aircraft. Then get back as quickly as possible and take up defensive positions here in the cavern. Go!”

Darius and Captain Najafi emerged from the elevator and began shouting orders. Two lines of horses, a dozen each, formed behind a column of three large eight-wheeled trucks. Darius led one line of horses, and Captain Najafi led the other. As the drivers powered up the diesel engines, Darius checked his kit. He held a well used but serviceable projectile rifle he received over a year ago. In his jacket he carried four magazines of ammunition, two smoke grenades and two fragmentation grenades. On a belt around his waist hung a holster and sidearm. He pulled a night vision device from one pocket and slipped it onto his head. He looked back to see his men do the same. He checked his headset connection to the radio in an inside pocket.

The lead truck lurched into motion, and the other two followed. Diesel fumes filled the air as the vehicles moved into a narrow passage. The men on horseback followed a few lengths behind.

“Soon as the trucks emerge into the open,” Captain Najafi commanded, “I’ll move forward and scout the road to the landing site. You and your team stay with the trucks.”

“Acknowledged.”

After a few moments the trucks passed through a set of open doors. Darius saw men with weapons on either side of the archway, aiming outward into the night. For night had fallen: stars, like millions of colored gems, filled the night sky with vast intricate networks of light. A slight breeze caressed Darius’ cheek as he pulled the night vision device down over his eyes. In the green light of the device the desert became a vast rolling plain of light green beneath the darker shade of the sky. Most of the Shah’s security forces had nothing like the night vision, another advantage provided by the Hominin Union.

The trucks cleared the archway and drove down a narrow gravel road. Darius saw Captain Najafi spur his mount and gallop ahead of the vehicles, his men following. As the soldiers pulled their weapons free he saw the bright green laser sights from each weapon sweep over the desert landscape. He signalled his own men to spread out around the three trucks.

Darius had entered the Kabir Caverns from the south, but the supply column moved north over the rolling desert, following a narrow gravel road. He heard Colonel Sarafian’s voice over the radio. “Kekayvus is incoming, no more than two minutes out.”

Just then Darius noticed a bright light in the sky to his left. It flared so bright it almost overwhelmed his night vision. He pulled off his night vision goggles just as a loud boom echoed over the desert. Almost immediately another loud boom sounded.

Kekayvus is being pursued,” Sarafian said over the radio.

As Darius rode with the trucks, a loud rumbling noise filled the air. He turned and saw four missiles arc up from launchers hidden in the cliffs, each pushed upward on a growing pillar of fire. The missiles disappeared from sight for a few moments, then detonated high in the atmosphere, the staccato explosions rolling across the landscape. Darius realized that the Colonel had thrown caution to the wind; those missiles could reveal Kabir Caverns’ existence to the Shah’s security forces.

Was Kekayvus worth it?

Darius pulled down his night vision over his eyes. The engines sounded loud in the desert night; the crack of the gravel beneath the wheels seemed as loud as the horses’ hooves. Darius heard the excitement in his men’s voices as they all kept careful pace with the slow-moving trucks.

After a few moments Darius heard a low whine; the sound grew louder in seconds. He turned and saw a craft fly over, the whine of its engines now almost deafening. Beneath the whine Darius heard and felt an irregular throb, and a shower of sparks flew from the craft. Suddenly, several green beams rent the night air and thunder boomed across the desert. The beams struck the craft and blew it sideways. An instant later the ship dropped to the desert floor and exploded, the light of destruction overwhelming Darius’ night sight.

Kekayvus is down!” Sarafian screamed over the radio.

The trucks halted, and Darius heard his men cry out in alarm. Darius felt the fear and awe grip him, and though he hadn’t seen action in some time, he remained cool.

“The crew bailed out in time!” Sarafian cried. “Lieutenant Shirazi, recover the crew! They wear laser strobes, and probably dropped a few hundred meters to the west.” His heart pounding, Darius called out for his men to follow and he rode off into the desert.

A few moments later another craft flew over. Four times the size of Kekayvus, it looked like a squat wedge; the whine of its engines filled the air. It moved slow, passed over Darius and his men, and circled the burning wreckage of Kekayvus. The size of the thing filled Darius with fear and awe.

Darius muttered a short prayer and scanned the rolling desert; he immediately saw the bright strobes pulsing in his night vision. As he and his men road toward the strobes, a screech and clap of thunder filled the air. Darius turned and saw the trucks, which had begun moving back toward the caverns, explode in bright fireballs. The hovering craft fired green lances of laser light at Captain Najafi and his men as they scrambled back to the safety of the mountain.

He spurred his horse and called out as he approached the green strobes. “Kekayvus!”

“Here!” a male voice answered; a figure stood up and raised a rifle. “We must speak with Colonel Sarafian!” A second figure stood and said, “We have urgent news!”

Darius rode up to the first figure and extended a hand. The man grasped it and pulled himself up onto the horse. “I am Commander Abbas,” the man said in Farsi, “and my companion is Lieutenant Commander Sakineh. We are both agents for Naval Intelligence, Union Imperial Navy.” One of Darius’ men retrieved the other crewman, and the horsemen turned their mounts to ride back to the caverns.

The craft hovered above the burning wreckage of the trucks, maybe a hundred meters above the desert floor. Darius felt exposed to the obvious powerful weaponry and pulled back to stop his mount. His men did the same. “We will ride into certain death if we continue,” Darius said.

“The enemy could have killed us easily,” Abbas replied. “They will want to take prisoners. Look.” The vessel moved sideways and Darius saw small dark objects drop from bottom of the ship. At the same time several green lances of laser fire arced from the ship and struck the entrance to the Caverns. “The Commander has ordered his assault platoon to move into the Caverns. They seek to recover intelligence, as well as fresh meat.”

Darius felt nauseous. “What?”

“That is a Naati vessel, Wolf class.”

“Why are the Naati attacking us?”

“I need to speak with Colonel Sarafian. Do you have radio contact? I tried to contact him earlier but the Naati scrambled my transmission.”

Darius took off his headset and handed it to Abbas.

“Commander Abbas, here, Colonel Sarafian. I regret to inform you that Admiral Kilgore is dead.”

Darius felt like he had been punched.

“That’s correct, Colonel. He had been providing you, and other worlds in the Naati Neutral Zone, with arms and supplies, against the orders of the Ministry for War and Consul Nicholas. A young naval officer uncovered and exposed the operation. The Admiral died in a shuttle accident before he could be questioned. Mine was the last supply ship, but it seems word reached the Shah before I arrived.”

“Yes, Colonel. The Shah no longer fears any consequence from Admiral Kilgore or the Hominin Union, so he has given the Naati the order to attack. It is my suspicion the Naati are moving against the Resistance over the entire surface of the planet.”

As Abbas spoke with the Colonel, Darius looked toward the Caverns. He turned up the magnification on his night vision goggles and saw several figures, he estimated more than thirty, group together near the burning trucks. After a few moments, the figures formed four smaller wedge-shaped groups and moved toward the Caverns. Darius knew the Naati were fierce warriors, and he prayed to God for the lives of the men in the Caverns.

“Yes, Colonel. I understand,” Abbas continued. He paused for a few moments. “Yes, sir. We’ll do our best.” Abbas handed the headset back to Darius. “He wants so speak with you.”

Darius put on the headset. “Yes, Colonel?”

“Darius? You must retreat from this fight.”

“What?” In his surprise Darius forgot the correct protocol.

“Commander Abbas and Lieutenant Commander Sakineh must not be captured by the Naati. You are to make for Siyazan, on the eastern coast of the continent, and ensure the survival of the Naval Intelligence agents.”

“Colonel, that’s more than three hundred kilometers away! We have no supplies! And what about the dithya?

“Lieutenant Shirazi, that is an order. And you will carry it out. Good luck and God bless!”

“God bless you Colonel,” Darius said, the tears welling up in his eyes. “You will never be forgotten.”

At that moment four more missiles flew from the side of the mountain, rocketed out over the desert, and then turned and struck the ship. Explosions enveloped the craft and lit up the desert landscape. Darius saw a field of light shimmer around the vessel, but the force of the attack knocked the vessel sideways. The men cheered. Engines whining, the Naati ship rose upward and accelerated up over the mountains, trailing sparks and fire.

“That’s our cover fire,” Abbas said. “The ship will be back soon and probably with reinforcements. We need to keep moving.”

Anger and frustration filled Darius’ head. He could barely see he was so upset. “Good God! We can’t just leave them here!”

“They are fighting to draw the Naati and the Shah’s forces away from us! We must escape to fight another day!”

Darius pulled an electronic compass out of his pocket; the needle and degree dial glowed green in the night vision goggles. The dithya had scores of secret water wells across the continent, and Darius knew the coordinates of several. He tapped a few keys and read the display. The closest was over fifty kilometers away.

Darius took one last look at the Kabir Mountains, the highland dark green in his night vision. “Who was the young naval officer?”

“What?”

“The officer that betrayed the Admiral.”

“Does it matter?”

“Who was it?”

“McFinn. Lieutenant Joshua McFinn.”

If the Naati moved against the entire Resistance, it was quite possible that over the next several days and weeks Darius would lose almost everything he loved and believed in. He knew he might even lose his life, and the lives of his wife and daughter may also be forfeit. But he had a name, a name to remember in the long dark days ahead, if he managed to survive. It was the name of the man who would pay for what he had done, how he had betrayed the Resistance and left it open to destruction. Darius did not know how it would happen, but he prayed to God for Justice.

Darius called to his men and led them away from the mountains.

A Map of the Hominin Union

hominin union map

A Map of The Hominin Union
During the Reign of
Marie-Élise Singh Caroillon des Destillières

There are approximately 1000 settled worlds in the Hominin Union, with a total population of approximately 1 trillion sentients, of which more than 74% are Hominin species. Approximately 70% of the total population of the Hominin Union resides on 103 worlds within 5000 LY of Earth.

Within the Union there are 12 Hominin species (Including Humans) and 28 intelligent alien species.