Wydawca: J Hawk Kategoria: Fantastyka i sci-fi Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2018

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Opis ebooka The Orion Sequence - J Hawk

Human civilisation has been toppled, and entire countries run down. A year after the invasion, a small group of rebels are all that stands in the enemy's way. Fighting to keep hope alive. Ryan, a young rebel soldier with a scarred past, must wade through a perilous journey and forge unlikely alliances as he fights to regain what they had lost.

Opinie o ebooku The Orion Sequence - J Hawk

Fragment ebooka The Orion Sequence - J Hawk

The Orion Sequence

J HAWK

Copyright © 2018 J Hawk

All rights reserved. No part of this book or any of its content may be reproduced or distributed in any form without prior written permission of the author.

~

Like the rest of Boston, North Avenue road was mostly deserted. Flanking the streets on both sides, the towering buildings were damaged and torn. Some of them had cracks running through them, others had large holes. There were moulds of rubble and debris on some of the roads and sidewalks. Passers-by were rare, and the flow of vehicles on the once thriving streets was minimal.

A few small sedans drove along the intersection. Right behind them, a white and blue Fed-Ex truck rumbled along the road slowly.

A young man lingered by the pavement, his hands in his pocket. He wore old, tattered clothes, gazing across the area with an off-look in his eyes. Through the landscape of towering buildings that were now damaged and lain waste.

A ghost of the civilisation that once was …

_____________

The rustling of the wind was all that was heard.

The pack of men were all dressed in black-brown coats and wearing dark shades. All of them had large assault rifles in their hands. One or two had electro swords slung over their backs.

They waited at the exit of a large tunnel by the outskirts of an urban region. There was a noiseless silence within the massive tunnel, its insides clothed in darkness. The large road they were standing on was lain in the middle of a vast, rugged terrain. The coarse brown land rolled on for as far as they could see on both sides, rising and twisting. There were hills and plateaus across the region.

Parked on the side of the street were a group of black sports bikes.

The men in dark coats had been waiting here for some time now. All of them had an earpiece around their necks. At the breast of their coats was the symbol of a small eagle.

Standing at the front of the pack, Licor briefly checked the time on his phone.

Anytime now, the package would be arriving.

“Are we good?” Licor spoke into his earphone.

“All clear.” came a response in his ear. “Just a minute now.”

Turning back, Licor nodded at the pack of seven men.

A minute or so passed as they waited. Licol’s mind briefly wandered. He was thinking about life before all of this. Before the invasion. Before their world was subjugated.

Licor scowled, hearing the faint sound of an engine …

A loud horn boomed from within the dark tunnel, echoing over the rocky terrain around them.

And a massive vehicle could be seen approaching. The large Fed-Ex truck slowed to a stop just before the pack of men.

Licor heard the voice in his earpiece again: “We’ve got hostiles nearby. Heading towards you now.”

Scowling, Licor turned to the others. “We’ve gotta go. Now.”

The men quickly jogged over towards the bikes parked by the side. The sound of engines coming to life resounded down the brown land.

Licor nodded at the man at the front of the truck. The truck’s engine growled, and it went rolling forth. The seven bikes went sailing down the large road after it.

Licol was at the front of the pack, roaring along just behind the massive truck. He glanced behind him.

And within the dark tunnel, a small group of vehicles could be made out. A second later, three black cars emerged from within. Their windows were tinted, and they came driving after the men at a good speed.

Agents of the enemy were here …

Licor spoke into his earpiece, addressing the other six men. “On our tail. Watch out.”

As he said it, the sound of gunshots rang out from behind them.

The three black vehicles were approaching fast. Through the open windows, figures holding guns leaned out. They looked like men wearing full-body armour. The machines had black metallic skin and a large helmet with a glass patch in place of the head.

Leaning out through the windows, the drone soldiers fired towards the group of bikers.

“We’re taking fire,” said one of them, through the earpiece.

Raising their rifles, the men fired back at the vehicles. Sparks burst on the hood and front panels of the cars, as bullets pierced them. One of the black-armoured drones leaning out of the window took a bullet right to the head. A burst of sparks came and the robot remained limp, hanging out of the window.

The truck roared down the road, following it as it twisted and turned across the rough landscape. Driving along behind it, the seven men battled with the drones pursuing them in the black cars.

A bullet hit the back tyre of one of the bikers, causing the vehicle to veer and slide off the road. The man was sent rolling off.

The men in bikes stormed forth without stopping. The three black cars were moving ahead slowly, closing the distance between them and the bikes.

“This can’t go on,” said Licor, speaking into his earpiece. “We need a way out.”

The back of the large truck opened, and two men in black coats stood there. One of them reached behind him and emerged with a large silver briefcase. The briefcase was what the enemy was after. And it was what they were after. Whichever side controlled the briefcase would define the future of this war.

Bending in front, the man handed the case to the biker driving just behind the truck. The biker received the case with one hand, keeping his other on the control. He slid the case into a holding compartment latched to the right of the vehicle.

Riding along by his right, Licor nodded at the man.

“Good luck, James.” he whispered.

James nodded back, and his bike moved aside from the pack of them.

A fork in the road approached ahead of them. James pulled his bike further away and swerved into the road on the right. The truck, along with the six other bikers, rode into the one on the left.

Following the man with the case, the three black cars turned into the road by the right.

Drones leaned out from the windows, firing after him.

James felt bullets slam onto the road around him. Raising his rifle, he fired back.

One of the cars’ windscreen exploded as his bullets smashed through them. The vehicle swayed mildly, before steadying itself.

The sound of a tyre bursting resounded over the air. James’s vehicle was suddenly thrown out of control. The bike swerved and crashed onto the road, sending him hitting the ground hard.

The silver briefcase slid across the road.

James’s vision swirled, and he struggled to get back to his feet …

The sound of tyres screeching came, and the drones’ cars had come to a halt. The doors opened, and the dreaded robots rose from their cars. They embodied the average human build, tall and thin with muscular arms. Their metallic flesh glistened in the dim light of the sun. The large rifles they held, along with the tasers and dart-guns hanging from their belts, cast a more intimidating air upon them.

They strode forward briskly, approaching where James’s bike had fallen.

Two of the drones stopped before the fallen briefcase. Bending down, the robots unlocked the briefcase and opened it.

Lying nearby, James felt a grin move across his lips.

Packed within this decoy briefcase were sticks of explosive dynamite. A bomb.

“For freedom.” whispered James.

A fiery blast of orange ripped across the entire place. The drones were shredded before they could move, and their black cars tossed back … The sound thundered over the rocky terrain, leaving echoes over a mile.

_____________

The Fed-Ex truck sped down the long road, with Licor and the bikers riding along behind it. Licor glanced back in the direction they had just heard the blast from.

Inhaling, he turned ahead and drove on.

A minute later, they had arrived by an intersection on the road. A silver sedan was parked across the street.

The truck came to a stop in the large clearing, as did the bikers. The doors of the silver sedan opened, and three coated men in shades appeared from within. Like Licor and the others, they also had the crest of a small eagle by the breast of their coat. The symbol of the First Front … the insurgent group that had formed six months after the Yori had invaded Earth. They were now the sole remaining resistance to the aliens.

Licor slid off his bike and rushed towards the back of the truck. The doors opened, and the two men within dismounted with a silver briefcase exactly as the earlier one. This was the real one.

Licor received the case from them and moved towards the men in front of the silver sedan.

“They don’t know what it is,” he told the men as he handed them the case. “and they can’t know.”

“We’ll hide it well,” said one of them, as he received the case.

And with that, the three of them moved back into the vehicle, shutting the doors as they did. A heavy roar sounded as the car’s engine came to life. And then, the machine went shooting down the road.

Licor stood there in the quiet atmosphere, with the six other men around him. All of them were watching the silver sedan as it streaked across the landscape and vanished.

As the tension in the air slowly melted, Licor took a deep, calming breath.

They were fighting a war greater than any in history.

For the fate of the human race was at stake.

Turning over, Licor nodded at the men. And they moved back to their bikes.

~

The ferry glided over the calm waters of the river Houston in New York.

Driving the ferry at the front, Joseph let his gaze roam over the sight of the city before him. He looked across the empty streets and the abandoned buildings, some of them damaged and torn.

Seated within the ferry were a just a handful of passengers. Within a minute, the vessel had reached the side, and the passengers exited one by one. Joseph lingered at the front, waiting for them to leave.

He was about to exit the yacht when he noticed a young woman still seated at the back of the boat. She wore a T-shirt and trousers, and had flaming red hair.

She was gazing out into the Houston river, a distant look in her eyes.

“You all right, ma’am?”

The woman broke from her reverie and looked up at Joseph who stood before her. As Joseph met her calm green eyes, he sensed a deep pain within them.

“Yeah,” she nodded, gathering her things. “I’m fine.”

She stood up and turned to leave. She halted at the entrance of the yacht, hesitated for a second, and then looked at Joseph.

“I was just wondering,” she asked slowly. “Is there any way I could get to California right now?”

Joseph frowned. In the state that the country was right now, this wasn’t an easily answered question.

“Well,” he said slowly. “All inter-city lines have been cut off. The fastest way to get across would be to use the transit network. You’ll have to switch every three or four cities, but that’ll get you across the country faster than anything else right now can.”

He wondered for a second what this woman could possibly want to travel all the way there in the first place. Life here had come to a stop. Whatever was left of society wanted nothing more than to lie low, to scrape a daily living and to get by. For as long as they could.

“Thank you.” the woman said, turning to the exit.

Joseph’s eyes lingered on the girl for a few moments, watching as she strode off down the harbour. He then turned in front.

The young woman with the red hair was walking down quietly. Tessa Ronson’s eyes moved over the deserted streets of the city she loved.

The life and joy in the place was gone.

Everything about the world was now changed. Broken.

Tessa’s eyes moved over the graphiti-sprayed wall. A number of scribblings, paintings and other messages stretched over it.

One of the well-designed paintings stood out among the rest. It showcased a man in grey attire … but the man’s skin had a faint tinge of blue over it. The image was cold. Frightening.

Standing behind the alien were black-armoured figures with their heads shaped like helmets. The killer robots stood in a line behind the blue-skinned man, their guns ready…

The Yori had come to Earth in a small number, but they commanded an army of machine soldiers known as drones. Leading the entire onslaught was a Yori named Cayrus. Tessa had heard chilling rumours about his brutality and mercilessness.

Her eyes slid off the image, briefly reading some of the messages scribbled next to it:

“Go home, aliens!”

“Give us our planet back.”

She spotted an eagle-shaped symbol sprayed amidst the graphiti. The symbol of the First Front, the only armed resistance group fighting the alien menace.

Further down the wall, she saw a poster which she had come across countless times before. Unlike the graphiti, she knew this was from the aliens.

Written in large, bold letters were the words:

“Red Target No. 1”

It was followed by a pronouncement below that said, “If found, report immediately.”

Tessa knew that this was a target that the aliens had been hunting for, over a long time now.

It had been close to a year since the invasion. Now, the entire world had been changed.

Every country from East to West had been broken.

Despite controlling a portion of the world as their own territory, the aliens spread their tentacles across every corner of the globe ... terrorising whatever remained of the population there. They established a central base in every continent, a military command centre for their machine soldiers, armaments and everything else. Here in North America, it was a massive facility called Zone One.

Or as the humans liked to call it, ‘The Killing Zone’.

Countless First Front fighters had tried to infiltrate this facility, hoping to cripple the aliens’ military functions. There were chilling tales of how all of them had died...

Uptil now, no human had entered Zone One and come out alive.

Tessa continued down the empty road for a few seconds. There was a strangely cold sensation within her, one that had been gnawing at her for long now. Amidst the ruins, she was searching for someone, and she had no idea where this search was going to lead … what she was going to find. The path ahead seemed uncertain and dark.

A minute later, Tessa paused as she came before the statue of liberty … The once magnificent icon was now torn. Destructed.

A large portion of the statue’s side had been torn off, along with the head and one arm. Cracks ran through whatever remained of it…

A brief current of emotion went through Tessa, as she gazed up at the once monumental structure. Now in shambles, like the country it stood for.

Tessa turned and continued walking, holding her backpack with both hands. A face flashed past her. A young man with a bright face, and the same red hair that she had. A lively smile.

The haunting sensation within Tessa intensified …

She inhaled.

A new sense of grit emerged within her.

Keeping her gaze in front, Tessa walked on.

~

There was a livened and pure sensation in the air. The freshly arisen sun had settled over the horizon across the vast abode of water.

Ryan strolled down the beach, listening to the sound of the rushing waves. The calming sound …

Walking alongside him was a woman with bright green eyes and golden hair. Her smile was magical.

Ryan opened his eyes, squinting through the darkness. He was sitting on the cold metallic floor, leaning against the wall. He had apparently dozed off amidst waiting.

The tunnel that he was in was blanketed in complete darkness. An icy sensation emanated from its metal walls.

Ryan sat there for a few moments, staring in front of him. He checked his watch, only to find that there was a quite a bit of time left to wait.

He rested his head against the metal wall and closed his eyes, letting the silence wrap around him.

But unlike before, the silence wasn’t peaceful and sublime. It was now strained and cracked. Anguished ...

The face from his dream was seared before his eyes.

Taking a deep breath, Ryan lifted himself. He picked up the black bag beside him.

He gazed down the silent corridor, letting his focussed vision probe the darkness. The metal corridor went on for a mile or two.

He remembered his partner Jon telling him he was going for a walk. Ryan couldn’t blame him for feeling just as bored as he himself was.

It would take some time now before the task began.

Ryan glanced down at the bag in his right hand. It was heavy. A black hilt stuck out from the top.

Ryan slung the bag around him and leaned against the metal wall. He mentally prepared for what lay ahead.

_____________

In a large office with white walls, a man sat behind a desk. He was wearing a neat beige suite with a green tie. Helius Thor spent a few minutes doing his work, sifting through paper after paper on his desk.

Thor had a huge responsibility as the supervisor of this place.

Some time passed before Thor took a break, pulling his chair back. His eyes drifted out of the large window scaling the wall behind him.

A group of short buildings could be seen spaced out over the massive compound. Roads ran between them. He spotted children and teenagers walking along.

Helius took a second to survey the scene outside, before turning back to the desk before him.

He was the safekeeper of something vitally important.

For this place represented the future of the human race.

Pulling his chair closer, Thor returned to the papers on his desk.

_____________

The sound of footsteps prodded through the silence.

Jon appeared down the corridor, his visage growing steadied through the darkness.

He was a lean young man aged 21, just a few months older than Ryan. He had curly black hair and maroon eyes. The two of them had worked together for half a year or so now, but it felt to Ryan like a lifetime. A lifetime since he had joined the First Front.

A lifetime since they had all been plunged into this dangerous new world.

A beeping noise issued from Ryan’s pocket.

Ryan drew the phone from his right-hand pant pocket and answered the call.

“Ryan, come in.” Commander Forge’s voice said.

“Jon and I are in position, commander.” informed Ryan. “We’re waiting for the ideal time for surfacing.”

Their mission would begin when they emerged from the metal tunnel into the area above.

“Good.” said Forge, and Ryan sensed authority emerge in his voice. The authority of a ruthless military commander who had led this armed group for months now. “You know what your task is. We’ve got only one shot at this ... so stay on target, stay precise. You know exactly what you’re up against.”

“We do, sir.” answered Jon, a dark note in his voice.

“When you’re done,” went on Forge. “contact me from a safe spot somewhere nearby. I’ll debrief you on whatever’s happening, and what you’re next step in this process is.”

With that, the line fell dead. Ryan slipped the device back into his pocket and glanced up at the metallic ceiling.

_____________

A year ago

Ashton had his hands in his pockets as he strolled down the large garden. His red hair was messy and tousled, giving him a more youthly look.

“So which part of town is it?” asked Tessa, who trotted alongside him.

Ashton looked at his sister. “My office? Somewhere near the west side of the town.”

Tessa observed him for a minute. “Must be hard, travelling that distance everyday.”

Ashton gave a shrug. “Maybe. But I’d take San Francisco’s traffic over a city like New York’s.”

Tessa smiled. “No doubt on that.”

The two of them strolled down the large garden. At the back, across the green lawn, was their parents’ house. A large two storied structure.

“I’m proud of you, Ash.” Tessa said softly. “You’re all grown up … out of school and out on your first job. You’ve made it.”

“Thanks, Tessa.” Ashton smiled at her.

Tessa gazed across the bed of green they stood on. “We’re on our own now, both of us in different cities. Leading separate lives.” She brought her gaze to her brother. “But we’re always family, and you can count on me for anything. You know that right?”

Ashton nodded.

The two of them stood there, looking across the sprawling garden and the bushes that dressed the area.

“I miss those days.” Ashton said, his gaze across the garden.

Tessa looked at him. “Growing up together here, at mom and dad’s?”

“Yeah,” The memories of their childhood seemed to sparkle within his eyes, as he smiled at her. “Seems like just yesterday when we were still fighting over the TV.”

Tessa smiled automatically.

They remained there for a few long moments, gazing ahead in silence. There was a calming air around them.

“Just make sure you visit me once in a while, okay?” she told him, as they strode back down the garden. “It’s been long since you hit New York.”

Ashton’s face lit up once more. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon, sis.”

The two of them made their way back towards the house.

The present

Tessa Ronson’s head rested against the window. The train was mostly empty, and a faint shudder ran over the walls. Outside, the urban landscape soared past backwards.

Tessa was in a neighbouring state, taking the transit train to cover as much distance as she could. All major transportation systems, from regular trains to planes and buses, were all gone. This was the only thing that remained, a train network covering a few cities within every state.

Tessa knew she had to switch at least a dozen times between states before she could get to California.

To San Francisco.

She leaned against the window, ignoring the desolate sensation within her.

After the aliens had invaded, human civilisation had been completely toppled. Everything had been broken from transport to communication.

Cell phones, emails … all of it was gone.

For months now, Tessa had been cut off completely from her brother. Lost all contact with him…

She had no clue of where he was. Whether he was still alive. And what state he was in…

For months now, a painful state of silence had encompassed her world.

She needed to get to San Francisco. She needed to find her brother. To know he was fine through the chaos that had descended over the world.

The faint shudder of the train continued as it ran on. And she saw the deserted city they were now in slowly fade away into obscurity.

She knew that it would take at least a day or two before she reached San Francisco.

She had a long road ahead of her.

Tessa let her head rest against the window again.

_____________

The chamber was massive. Stacked by the walls were cardboard boxes filled with weapons and ammunitions. Supplies for the Yori soldiers and their drones.

This chamber was located by the south corner of the facility called Zone One. Or The Killing Zone as the humans liked to call it.

The place was completely empty. Its lights were off and silence filled the arena.

A faint sound came from the corner. A sword was sticking out of the metallic floor. The blade moved slowly, carving a large circle on the ground. When it was done, the area carved out by the sword wobbled and fell out. A large hole stood in its place.

Emerging from the hole, Ryan slid himself out and dusted his robes. He placed his electro sword on the ground, before reaching into the hole and helping Jon our as well.

The two of them glanced around, making sure the area was empty. Ryan picked up his electro sword and pushed a red button on the hilt to stop the flow of electricity. Like much else, the electro sword was a technology they had derived from the aliens. The blade could be turned thermo-electric, wherein it would cut through anything at ease.

The two of them unzipped their bags and removed black helmets. This was something most fighters of the First Front wore to mask their identity during missions. In this particular operation, they needed to disguise themselves to the paramount level. They were wearing trousers and coats, with black gloves on both arms. Any visible signs of their human flesh would immediately give them away.

“God, it was cramped in there.” remarked Jon, glancing into the open hole.

They had been waiting in one of the air tunnels underneath this facility for hours. They needed a conducive time to perform this operation, one where the danger they faced was minimal. There was a lot of room for that in this mission.

“What are the odds Redlock would survive something like this?” asked Jon.

“I’d rather not find out.” replied Ryan.

The two of them placed their bags down. Unzipping, they removed their rifles, two large AR-15s. The bags also carried some extra ammunition and a grenade or two that they could use.

“I heard that the last time a team was sent in here,” said Jon, zipping his bag again. “they ran into him.”

“Cayrus?” Ryan looked up. “The Yori leader?”

Jon nodded darkly. “Can’t imagine what those poor men might have had to face.”

“Well,” Ryan breathed. “We’ll never know. According to our intelligence, that Yori hasn’t been seen for some time. They think he’s been busy searching for something.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way.” said Jon, wrapping his bag around him. “Given what we’ve heard from our fighters about him. I hear that he has a personal band of drones called Grey units. They’re supposed to be more lethal than the regular black drones that we see.”

Ryan nodded. “His own personal death squad, that’s what Grey units are.”

The two of them peered out of the entrance of the chamber. A long hallway spread out outside. They could see a massive empty area at the end of it.

The men who came here were usually on missions to paralyse the enemy’s military. However, Ryan and Jon had a slightly different mission. They needed to procure a chip stored here in this facility. It contained a minor piece of information they were after. The commander hadn’t yet told them what the information was about, but Ryan guessed it was something regarding the enemy’s weapons.

“Are we clear?” asked Jon.

Ryan scowled. He thought he saw movement at the far edge of the corridor. “We’d better lie low here for a while, before moving.”

Jon nodded. They receded back into the large chamber.

“So where’s the chip?” asked Jon, referring to the device that they were looking for.

Ryan briefly referred to a map of the facility present in his phone.

“About two miles further down.” he said.

“Two miles?” hissed Jon.

“Yup,” said Ryan, glancing at the chamber door. “This is one huge place.”

“Just imagine all of the crazy tech they’re hiding in there.” said Jon, gazing at the crates lined by the end of the chamber.

“I know,” said Ryan. “given we have a taste of it ourselves.”

“Only makes you wonder,” Jon said after a brief while. “With all of this technology that they have, from hyper-space travel to precision cloning, forcefields and so much more ... what in world could they possibly want from us?”

The question was clearly rhetorical in nature.

Ryan, however, had an answer.

He knew why the aliens were here.

He checked his watch. They had a small window, and they needed to use it.

“We’re running out of time.” he informed Jon. “We’ve gotta go.”

Together, the two of them moved to the door of the chamber. They sent a cautious glance down the hallway outside. Convinced that the coast was now clear, they stepped out and made their way forward.

_____________

The large hall was immersed in silence.

Soft footsteps were heard as a figure in a dark coat strode down the hall. The man had a tinge of blue upon his skin. His long black hair fell upto his shoulders. His crimson eyes seemed to hold a gleam of hunger … of madness.

Cayrus’s gaze moved upwards. By the top of the wall were large portraits, each of them depicting a scene from the past. From their past.

The past of this ancient, powerful race that he was a part of.

Cayrus paused and looked intently at one of the portraits. It showed a large cylindrical machine drilling into the ground … and at the centre of the cylindrical machine lay an orb. It was metallic with a rich gold colour. A strange pattern ran through it.

Cayrus let his eyes rest on the metallic orb for many seconds. His gaze now drifted to the next portrait. It showcased one of their people. The figure in the portrait had a touch of blue upon his skin. His name was Matayus…

He was a pivotal figure in the history of the Yori…

Cayrus’s fists clenched as he gazed at the picture. Through the peace of the atmosphere, an old anger came pulsing through him. He cracked his neck, turned over and then continued striding down the hallway.

Like many of his race, Cayrus had been here for long ... very long. He remembered everything that had happened. The path that had brought them here.

To Earth.

A mixture of emotions churned within him. Sadness. Regret. Anger. But the most powerful of them all was the feeling of betrayal.

The sound of his phone ringing pierced the silence.

Reaching into his coat, Cayrus produced his phone. It was small, black, and oval-shaped, with a glass screen.

He tapped the screen, and a loud voice arose from the device:

“Master Cayrus,” It was one of his drones. “The mission is accomplished. We are waiting by the foyer area.”

“Okay,” Cayrus’s responded. “I’m coming.”

He turned and went marching down the long corridor.

There were large etchings over the rugged brown surface of the wall. Some of them were mere sentences and phrases, and others were images.

Cayrus’s eyes briefly fell on a well-drawn image of a human that occupied a central spot in the drawings. Scrawled beneath the image was the title, ‘Red Target No. 1’.

This was a crucial person that they were searching for among the human population. They had spent much time and large amounts of resources looking for him. He represented something of great significance for them and their cause.

A minute later, Cayrus had arrived by the large empty hall that made the foyer. Standing about the place were a group of his drones. Most of the robots were regular black, while a few were of a sky grey colour. Grey units … his elite machine soldiers. Sitting handcuffed on the ground between them was a cloaked figure. His hood was drawn over his face … but he couldn’t hide anymore. Cayrus knew who he was.

“Argo,” Cayrus’s lips parted in a grin. “We meet after so long, old friend. We have been waiting for you,”

Bending down, he lowered the man’s hood. The face beneath had blue-tinged skin and crimson red eyes. Argo lifted his gaze and met the eyes of his fellow Yori.

“We have thousands of prisoners from among the humans with us. And here, for nearly the first time … a fellow Yori.” Cayrus gently stroked the man’s short black hair. “We know that you have been in contact with some unlikely human friends. Tell me, what information did you pass to the First Front?”

Argo cracked a smile. “You’re too late. The wheel has been set in motion.”

Cayrus straightened up very slowly, his chest heaving.

Silence hung in the air for many moments.

Cayrus looked down at Argo.

“You try to deny us our purpose here.” he told him softly. “I can’t kill you as much as I would love to, Argo. There’s much we have to talk about. But believe me, old friend ... this is an experience you will not forget.”

Unbuckling his handgun, Cayrus fired a single shot.

A squeal of agony tore through the air. Argo gripped his thigh with cuffed hands, his face contorted in pain. A red dot gleamed where the bullet had struck his thigh.

Cayrus now addressed the drones standing about. “Take him inside … and prepare him.”

The robots gave a firm nod. Cayrus stepped out of the way, watching as the machines dragged the handcuffed prisoner out of the foyer.

_____________

Three months ago

The large room had light blue coloured walls. It was spread over a great empty area, and the table at the centre was the sole furniture occupying it.

Sitting behind the table were five men and a woman, all of them either middle aged or old. This was the Head Council of the First Front, the body that governed the armed group. Commander Forge was also a member of the Council, but he wasn’t present for this current meeting.

Sitting many feet opposite to the table, Ryan had his hands folded. He was here for a monthly status update, one which every team leader would provided directly to the Head Council. He had finished briefing the Council on everything his team had done over this month. Now, he had asked them something he had been wanting to know for quite long now …

“Why are they here?” the sole woman in the Council spoke. Her name was Cecilia and she was a thin blonde-haired lady. Her freckled face and greying hair formed a mirror for the long life of service that she had performed in the US Government. Her blue eyes rested steadily on Ryan as she spoke.

Cecilia turned to the aging Japanese man sitting beside her. Councillor Toyora, another vital figure in the Council, was sitting reclined on his chair.

“That, my boy,” Toyora said slowly. “is the question.”

A few moments of silence sank across the room, before another elderly man at the edge of the table said, “They’re here for a reason, and that’s what most people don’t actually know.”

Toyora stopped reclining and sat forward, his hazel eyes now peering into Ryan. “Have you ever wondered, Ryan … why Earth is the only planet capable of sustaining life? The only planet in a universe infinitely filled with planets?”

Ryan knew it was a rhetorical question, but he spent a moment pondering it.

Cecilia cleared her throat and then spoke again. “The Yori come from a distant galaxy, more than seven hundred thousand parsecs from ours. Aeons ago, they inhabited a planet known as Scion, a massive and thriving planet almost thrice the size of Jupiter. Scion was an ancient planet, the first one in the universe capable of carrying life … billions of years before Earth had seen its first. And this was due to the presence of a very unique seed at the core of the planet. The Yori called it the ‘life-seed’ or the ‘life core’. This seed is what gifted life to this planet.”

Ryan could see how this story found its way to human ears. Ever since this war had begun, the First Front had been scouring as much information about the enemy as they could. Through spying and through various other means.

“Inhabiting this planet for aeons were the Yori, a hyper-advanced intelligent race.” Cecilia continued. “They were nearly immortal, with their vastly-evolved technology allowing them to keep their bodies ever young and regenerated. They know neither old age nor disease. No natural means of death.”

“Their civilisation flourished for aeons, with the different houses living together in peace.” Toyora said. “The decline came in the form of a war fought between the different houses. The first one that their race had witnessed in millions of years. The head of the Sarvinus House, a brutal warlord known as Carnus, rained violence and wreckage upon his planet in his quest for victory.”

A few moments of silence filled the hall, before Cecilia spoke again.

“We’ve all witnessed the carnage that human warfare is capable of bringing, aren’t we, Ryan?” said Cecilia. “The destruction and wastage it brings to our planet and our lands.” She sat forward on her chair before taking a brief breath. “But unfortunately … with the advancement and technology that the Yori possessed, a war fought by them was infinitely more terrible and more destructive. Strained relations over millions of years came bursting into the surface. It threatened to tear the fabric of life in Scion. Destroy the planet whole.”

“Then what happened?” Ryan asked slowly.

“Thousands of years of brutal warfare had left the civilisation in tatters … left the planet depleted and scarred.” said Cecilia. “Scion was going to die … and the life-seed within the planet was going to die along with it.”