Month: June 2023

Daughter of Xephal by Declan Cosson

The first human child born in the Alpha Centauri, Clara Weaver, had experienced a cruel and difficult life to this point. Her parents were scientists that were part of one of the earliest adventures by humanity into the Alpha Centauri. Led by none other than her great aunt, they had arrived at the small planet of Xephal. A fringe planet in the Alpha Centauri, Xephal was nonetheless a dangerous place and her parents were killed by the native Gorgonians. However, she was taken in by the other natives of Xephal, the amber coloured Alfenfolk but she never truly fit into their society. For one day, the beautiful, pale skinned and flaxen haired girl had the bad luck of being the object of desire for both the Queen’s son and one of her greatest warriors, Kuvak. They fought over her and the prince died in the duel. Out of petty rage, the Alf Queen Sheeva banished her, blaming her for the death of her son. Cruel, harsh, but the human woman who didn’t even have wings made for an easy and obvious scapegoat to the enraged queen of the Alfenfolk.
“You belong there!!”, Clara remembered the Queen declaring as her warriors drove her away from the trees and dumped onto the forest floor. Thus, there she was, stuck on an alien planet, in a dangerous forest that looked like a brambled jungle which often lit up at night. For now, all Clara could do was huddle under the imagined safety of a tree as she heard the growling and snarling of different types of creatures. She would even hear the sound of the screams of a poor beast getting murdered by a predator. Such noises were enough to remind her that as a daughter of humanity, she may have been born on Xephal but Xephal had no time for her. Gorgonian and Alfenfolk alike hated her and thus, she craved to be among humans again. She longed to be loved again and in the security of her own kind. At this moment, she could hear bangs and rattles, followed by more bombardment.

Little did she know, but her own kind did not take kindly for the massacre of their scientists and thus, a Terran military expedition under the command of Major Jethro Hoggins had been dispatched to protect what remained of the scientific settlements. His air and space divisions were already hammering the Gorgonians. Looking up, Clara could see what looked like permanent stars but they were in fact the Terran battleships, frigates and forward assault vessels that were deploying dropships and flying fortresses to the planet. Until now, she had thought very little about the political implications of what was going on, and so she fell asleep with the simple yearning to be in the company of Earthmen once more.
The following morning, it was still dark with the star Centauri B beginning to rise and illuminate the forests below. Clara opened her aqua marine green eyes when she heard strange growls and snarls around her, followed by the sound of shuffling. She opened her eyes wider in panic as she saw a whole pack of hunched, goblin shaped Gorgonians coming towards her, chuckling to themselves at what must have seemed to them like easy prey. One of them even crawled up onto her, leading Clara to panic and jab the creature with a knife, killing the Gorgonian and buying herself time to escape. She initially climbed up the trees as the Gorgonians pursued her with spears and rocks, they surrounded the tree she climbed up on and howled at her. Suddenly, the glee of the Gorgonians turned to panic and it was as if they sensed something enormous was coming. The sound of a rumble in the distance was enough to cause the Gorgonians to freak out, squeal and scatter from sight as a large shape cast its shadow over the jungle. The noise got louder and louder, turning out to be a sound that Clara had never heard before, the sound of roaring jet turbines.
Curiously, Clara looked up, unable to scream as she saw the vast shape of a metallic vessel that had twelve turbine engines, six on either side of the front and stern of the craft. This craft was bristling with ordnance all over it and a control tower was positioned as extending from above the centre of the ship.
Although she sensed that the ship was probably owned by the humanity that she longed to reconnect with, Clara felt uncomfortable in its presence and so she retreated further and further into the jungle.
In the vessel’s control tower, the hard faced and grey-haired captain was observing the holographic map at the centre of the control room. All around him, uniformed crewmen, overseen by officers with peaked caps, were operating the controls and listening to radio calls. His vessel was on a surveillance mission that was instructed to map out Xephal, as he sipped his tea, the captain heard an officer saying. “Captain, the recon dropships have been checked and geared! They are good to go!”
“Very well! Order them to launch!”
“Yes sir!”
Launching from the flying fortress, three small dropships were deployed and darted across the jungle. One of the dropships was co-piloted by a young man with short flaxen hair and blue eyes, his body was fully suited and protected by an armoured suit and flight helmet while his gloves were wet from perspiration as he held onto the controls as firmly as possible. Beside him was the pilot, a grey haired and moustached man who asked. “So Dimitri, what really brought you into this sorry life of flying recon runs for the home guard? You should have been a Legionnaire if you wanted actual action!”
“Simple, Sergei, I couldn’t truly settle down after my experience during the machine wars as a kid. But at the same time, I didn’t have the heart to become a legionnaire.”
Sergei burst into laughter as he said, “Didn’t have a heart?? Dimitri, those boys get superhuman strength and all the glory and prestige! I mean look at the one who saved you, Zach? He’s seen as the modern King Arthur!”
“That’s true, but he couldn’t marry…and from what I saw of him last, the glories of being a Legionnaire were of little comfort to that brute fact. For that reason, I didn’t want to give up the chance of getting married.”
“Are you in love, Dimitri? Did you leave sweetheart back on Earth or on Mars?”
“No, you know that I didn’t, Sergei. I’m just keeping my options open. I’m only twenty-three!”
Suddenly, the dropship shook and the lights flashed on and off. Sergei slammed the controls and swore as he heard a computer voice announce in alarm, “Warning! Warning! Turbine malfunction!”
The control panel flashed red as the voice continued in different languages so Dimitri asked in panic. “What? What just happened? Did we get hit?”
“No, we’re having what is called “technical issues”, the engineers who checked our dropship must have been drunk because they didn’t fix one of the turbines properly so now it is malfunctioning! Come on, boy, let’s land this machine as safely as possible.”
The small twin turbined craft made a bumpy journey to the forest floor. In its small cargo bay, a troop of home guardsmen were thoroughly shaken around, clinging onto their firearms as they heard the intercom announce.
“Gentlemen, your attention please!! This is the pilot speaking; we apologise for the turbulence but we have a slight malfunction with one of the turbines!! Please remain calm as we find a safe place to land!”
One of the men cynically remarked,
“By Saint Olaf!! That is the last thing that we need! To be trapped on this god forsaken planet!”
“Not excited for a little adventure, Ulf? Imagine, this will be our first time on dry land since we left Mars, I wonder what the women will be like on this planet?”
“Really Felicio, is that what comes to mind?”
Silence invaded the cargo bay as the sergeant looked at the two, speaking in a firm voice lumbered by a Northumbrian accent. “Settle down, gentlemen, a bit of fresh air might do you lot some good!”
The dropship swooped down, hoping to reach a clear spot, but the tail fin got caught in a taller tree trunk and got yanked off the high speeding dropship, causing the vessel to suddenly spiral down in a violent circle. It crashed into the forest floor and then skidded sideways, smashing the foliage in its path before finally coming to a brutal stop.
Within the cockpit, Dimitri’s armour and helmet shielded him from any serious damage but he felt incredibly dazed as he tried to sit up. He took off his helmet as if in some sort of shock. In an attempt to lighten the mood, Sergei chuckled and said sarcastically.
“Well, Dimitri, that wasn’t too bad, was it?”
Before Dimitri could say anything, a loose piece of metal suddenly fell and jabbed through Sergei’s back. Horrified, Dimitri shouted. “What?? Sergei?? Sergei, no!!”
As he shook Sergei’s body, both Felicio, the medic and Sergeant Hawkins came into the cockpit. The sergeant asked sternly,
“Is he dead too?”
“Yes, sarge. Quite dead, just as we landed, a piece of metal stabbed him in the back!”
“Christ, that’s the last thing we need. Half our squad along with our lieutenant are dead too!”
The news of this did not comfort Dimitri at all, but sergeant Hawkins simply snapped.
“Come on, help us set up the beacon! If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to signal a dropship for rescue! Chop! Chop!”
Starring at the crashed dropship, Clara looked bewildered. Despite being born to humans, her rearing among the Alf made human technology look strange and alien. She observed from the foliage as she saw the surviving men get to work and set up the beacon. Though their bodies were covered by green uniforms and shielded by brown body armour, the beardless faces of the men that were currently uncovered by their helmets was enough to remind her that they were human. Not just that, but they were the first humans that she had seen since her parents had died. Of particular interest to her was the pilot, a youth that wore a dark green jumpsuit and sleek dark brown armour. He didn’t wear a helmet so she could see his short flaxen hair that matched his young beardless face. That youth, Dimitri was currently programming the beacon with the needed messages. As he set to doing this, one of the privates, Fionnbar asked. “Hey Dimitri, is it me, or are we being watched?”
“Watched? That would make sense, after all, this forest is probably full of life so who knows?”
Noticing how uncomfortable Dimitri looked, Fionnbar asked, “You alright?”
“Yeah, now that the beacon is sending messages to the nearest vessel, I need a leak.”
Fionnbar chuckled as he Dimitri stumbled off into the trees. However, in reality Dimitri was still in a state of shock after what happened. While they were setting up a meagre defensive position, Ulf asked Fionnbar. “Hey, where did Dimitri go?”
“Went into the woods. He needed a leak and unlike on the forward assault ship, there are no toilets on Xephal!”
There was a nervous chuckle among the men.

Meanwhile, Dimitri just kept walking into the jungle, going further and further away from the crash site. As he did so, he took in the sight of the beautiful yet bizarre jungle that seemed barren and yet organic at the same time. He sat down and tried to relax, worn out by the experience and so exhausted that he didn’t notice how far he was from the crash site. He closed his eyes and his mind drifted. But the distance was enough for Sergeant Hawkins to task Ulf to lead a small search party to look for Dimitri. Around this time, Clara, overwhelmed by curiosity to see another human up close, scrambled towards Dimitri, examining his uniform and even scrutinising some of his items, commodities and tools of the like which she had never seen before. This meant that as Dimitri regained his stamina and strength, he opened his eyes to see a beautiful, young and very well-built woman who had aqua marine green eyes. At first, he recoiled in shock, sitting up against the tree trunk as he took in the sight of the woman before him.
Clara was white, but she had dark tattoos decorating parts of her body which was scantily clad. She wore sandals on her feet while a long, patterned cloth was wrapped around her upper body and reached down to her knees. Her long blonde hair fell in thick curly locks down her back and covered her shoulders. Having not used English for a long time, Clara mostly communicated in sign language to try and relay information. Still in surprise of encountering her, all he could say was. “You’re human?”
“Yes, you and me, we’re both human!”
The woman, though she understood the concept perfectly, seemed to be bewildered as this was the first conversation with a human that she had since the loss of her parents. As if in a determination to prove his humanity to her, Dimitri stood up. He unstrapped and removed his glove, extending out his bare hand. It was as if he wanted to show how much it resembled hers. Looking at her own hand, Clara reached out to hold onto Dimitri’s and the two shared eye contact. She looked sad but she was now starting to smile, as she did so, she noticed the ID badge on his jumpsuit and asked. “Dimitri?”
“Yes, I am Dimitri.” He said this as he pointed to himself. He asked “And who are you? Do you remember your name?”
A silence developed as the young woman before him finally said,
“Clara, Clara’s my name.”, One could tell by the weight in which she said that that she was making a great effort with what little English she had.
Some time had passed and by the evening, Dimitri and Clara were sitting by a fire, getting to know about each other. “So, you were cut off from your parents?” Clara asked,
“During the machine wars, yes, I mean, that happened back in 2356 but the whole experience feels as real to me now as it did then. Thankfully, I was rescued but ouch, it did hurt.”
Clara, having grown up all her adolescent life among the Alf had difficulty imagining what the machine wars must have been like.
“So, how long have you been here for, Clara?”
“Here? Since I was born…I never knew what Earth or Mars looked like, my parents were killed by Gorgonians when I was young, I was raised by the Alf.”
“I can see that, you even dress as if you were one of them, but why aren’t you among them now?” As soon as he asked that question, Dimitri wished that he hadn’t because from the reaction he got, he could see that it triggered a raw nerve in Clara. But she just said,
“I don’t really know, but I guess they just didn’t want me anymore…so they threw me out!! And now I don’t have a home!”
Dimitri was afraid to ask anymore, he couldn’t imagine why anyone would just throw a beautiful young woman out into the jungle like this. At first, he stayed quiet, but then as she started to sob, he came over and wrapped his arm around her as he said, “Hey, just because you don’t have a home now doesn’t you can never have one again. Believe me…I know what that is like, I lost mine when Thorne flattened Saint Petersburg…”
“But you did find a new home, you were rescued, were you not?”
“Actually, my family found a new home in a place called Trosmo. Maybe if we stick together, we might find you a proper home, alright?”
For now, Clara seemed to nod. Exhausted, he and Clara fell asleep for the night. The night of Xephal was pitch black, save for the bugs who emerged from sacs attached to the trees. Their bulbous backs glowed in different colours. They immediately flew away as the search party continued to make their way through the jungle. While searching, Ulf asked.
“Isn’t it getting a bit late?? Who knows what sort of horrors are here on this planet?”
Only for the sergeant to snap, saying, “No disagreement with you there, private but all the more reason not to leave Dimitri out here! So come on you lot, keep up!”
In the early hours of the morning, Dimitri and Clara were still snoozing together when suddenly, Clara heard the sound of buzzing wings and this caused to stand up and panic. But just as she stood up, there was a sudden thump on the ground as standing before her was a towering humanoid with amber golden skin patterned by black tattoos. He had amber golden eyes and curved ears. His flowing black hair was long and it went down his back, a loincloth covered his waist and large dragonfly like wings extended from his back. His wrists were decorated with bracelets as he clasped a spear. He said sternly.
“So, there you are alien! I’ve been looking for you across the whole jungle!!”
“I thought the Queen exiled me, Kuvoc? Was it not you who challenged the prince over me? It wasn’t my fault that you killed the prince, but I was the one who was banished for it!”
“Clara, be reasonable! You won’t stand a chance out here in the jungle alone! After all, was it not us who took you in? I’m sure the Queen has forgiven you for the death of her son!”
As if insulted, Clara snapped. “Forgive? I have nothing to be sorry for…I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the Alf Queen for what you did. So let me go back to my own kind.”
Kuvoc smirked as he grabbed her by the arm, snapping,
“You would really take one of those alien parasites as your mate? One of those unclean bleached, mud or black skinned foreigners who covers himself in metal and rains fire and brimstone onto our world. I know you were born to them, but they are not worthy of you, they don’t deserve your beauty!”
“That’s not for you to decide!”
A struggle ensued between Clara and Kuvoc and it woke up a sleeping Dimitri. Dimitri’s eyes widened as he saw the fair-haired maiden that he had bonded with struggling to be free from the grasp of this golden skinned warrior. As he saw the Alf warrior grab onto Clara, Dimitri knew what he had to do. Without thinking, Dimitri sprung up, brandished his knife and lunged at Kuvoc, grappling onto him. So surprised was Kuvoc that he let go of Clara and began to wrestle Dimitri. At first, Dimitri did well, successfully wrestling him and even managing to inflict a few blows on Kuvoc with his fists. Clara looked on in panic but Dimitri turned to her saying, “Run! Run Clara, get out of here!!”
But as he said this, Kuvoc kneed him in the groin, forcing him to let go and stumble to the ground in pain. As Dimitri used to the tree to help him reposition himself, Kuvoc spat with contempt as he said.
“So, you are what Clara seems to covet? You stupid, stupid alien! You travel all this way across the stars with the intention of making yourselves sovereigns of this world, only to lose in a basic fight! Pathetic, you have no right to be her mate!”
Dimitri didn’t understand what Kuvoc just said, but he refused to back down as Kuvoc picked up his spear, readying himself to plunge it into Dimitri’s chest. Clara desperately clung onto the spear as she said. “Kuvoc, please stop!! You’ve…”
But Kuvoc simply slapped her to the ground. Dimitri was able to push the spear to the side and he even reached for the pistol in his pocket.
But just as he grasped it, the rattle of gunfire was heard across the jungle. Hearing the gunshots was enough to scare Kuvoc and he flew away in panic as Ulf emerged from the foliage, clad in full body armour and holding a smoking assault rifle. The sight of Ulf and the others was enough to give Dimitri a sense of joy as he said.
“Boys, at long last! You came in the nick of time!”
“Yes, you strayed a long way from the dropship! Why were you wrestling an Alf? That could have diplomatic consequences you know!”
“It’s complicated…”
Clara, having recovered from her wallop, suddenly felt very exposed and vulnerable again with all the troopers looking at her. She clung onto Dimitri as Felició remarked.
“Well Dimitri, I see that you won first prize?”
“It’s not that simple, the Alf you just saw wanted to have his way with her. Since she clearly didn’t want that, I had to stop it.”
“Well, that’s a good start, Dimitri. You’re going in the right direction boy!”
The troopers laughed but the laughter was cut off as sergeant Hawkins snapped.
“Lads, enough! This isn’t the time for romance, a dropship has finally arrived to give us a lift home and recover the wreckage.”
Dimitri turned to Clara and said.
“Come on, Clara, we’re going home, or at least to a safe place.”
“Home? I have no home.”
“We’ll find you a home. Wherever humanity goes, that will be your home.”
Eyes shining with relief, Clara embraced Dimitri before they all headed to the dropship.
Although in a better position after she was rescued, Clara’s life was not the Disneyfied happy ever after that she probably hoped. Although she was welcomed warmly by the humans, especially her great aunt, Samantha Weaver, who had often promised rewards to any human explorers who could find her missing niece, Clara was still a feral woman by nature and she had difficulty truly fitting back into human society. She visited Earth, even exploring the upper echelons of the Terran capital of London but she never truly fit in with its rigid norms. Thus, she returned to the colonies on Xephal. But Clara was not delicate, she could swim in deep water and she was better-adapted to life on this alien planet.
Clara did find love with Dimitri, and they were married on Xephal. And even though his military duties as a dropship pilot often separated them, she did not stay idle, becoming a schoolteacher for the children of the home guardsmen on Xephal and even having a child of her own. Whatever her ordeals, Clara Weaver’s position as the first human born outside the Solar System gave her a special place in human history.
Although it would be her son, Lawrence that would ultimately be the youngest of the Founding Fathers who lead the Alpha Centaurian humans to independence from Earth, it was she who was truly seen as the foremother of the Centaurians (The term for a human born in the Alpha Centauri).

Helios Smiles by Declan Cosson

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

Thomas Babington McCauley’s Horatius

The Solar System had become a chaotic zone of death and destruction, for as a result of the long period of peace which the Solarans had enjoyed for centuries, no amount of training could have truly prepared them for the all-out war that they had to endure when the Drakkar lustfully tried to claim their territory. The Drakkar had managed to punch through the Alpha Centaurian colonies, leaving death and destruction in their wake and were now besieging all of the core planets of the Solar System such as Earth, Mars and Venus, stretching the Solaran fleet thin as they tried to defend their planets. However, while many other races would have keeled under the sheer savagery that the Drakkar intended to inflict, the Solarans, descendants of humanity, were not a race of men that would go down without a fight. Thus, every fleet in Solaris was embroiled in a battle with the Drakkar invasion force in a desperate attempt to defend their home system.

Thus, Icarus was there, for he and Kaspar, safely enclosed in their egg-shaped fighters with swept curved wings, swooped through the immense battle that extended across the Solar System. Currently, they stuck with their squadron as they darted past an enormous battleship that was firing off all its plasma gun batteries and even shooting off torpedoes as it turned the more monstrous looking Drakkar vessel into a flaming wreck that was on the verge of exploding. Both sides deployed countless such vessels as these battleships, shielding them with a screen of frigates, cruisers and swarms of fighter craft.

Having lost the element of surprise that had gained them great victories at the start of the war, the Drakkar were beginning to be overpowered and driven back by the massive Solaran battleships which when properly organised and arrayed, could form an almost impenetrable position, firing hails of plasma bursts while soaking up the enemy’s plasma rounds with their gleaming shields that hugged their metallic hulls as tightly as a cocoon. The sight of all these vast but sleek and elegant emerald and amber coloured vessels that were the Solaran ships holding their position was enough to make silvery haired Icarus smile. His icy blue eyes were nicely shielded by the visor of his helmet as he focused on the battle around him, staying close to his comrades as they flew in a disciplined formation. As he flew, he could hear Kaspar ask him via radio.

“Grim sight, isn’t it, Icarus? The whole Solar System is alight tonight!!”

“Yes, but let our patron God Helios smile this night, because for once, it is our boys that are pounding these savages…”

“Yes, we might finally get a proper victory, but let’s not get too hopeful, this is a war so anything can happen…”

Before either Icarus or Kaspar could continue their banter, they suddenly got an order from their squad leader as he announced,

“Cupid Group! This is Cupid Leader! King Akatarr’s flagship the Tiberius is being attacked and cut off from the rest of the fleet by the Drakkar! All Solaran forces are to be redirected to his location! Over?”

“Understood, over and out!”

Hearing his squadron being called “Cupid” made Icarus chuckle to himself, for he knew that earlier humanity saw Cupid as the God of love who made people fall in love by firing arrows at them. But that irony only made successful engagements all the more satisfactory. As the battle continued all around him, Icarus asked sarcastically.

“Kaspar, you enjoying the view up there above me?”

“Eh…I presume so, I mean space is beautiful when you don’t get your spacecraft shot out of the stars…you’ll make sure that this doesn’t happen, right?”

“Of course, Kaspar, you know you can count on me, as long as I can count on you! Just like in school, right?”

At first, Kaspar laughed in a reassuring tone but then he suddenly blurted out,.

“Oh, sweet Gaia, Mother of Mercy! Would you look at that…”

Looking ahead, Icarus could only gasp in a strange sense of awe as he saw the flagship Tiberius, the largest of all Solaran ships, a vessel that was half the size of a planet being swarmed and encircled by Drakkar vessels of all forms from fighters to battleships. For it seemed that the entire invasion fleet was having a go at the Tiberius. Yet for all of the pummelling that this Leviathan class flagship got, the Tiberius just continued on, determined to burst it’s way out of the Drakkar encirclement as it fired its turrets at the Drakkar vessels, shredding many of them with hails of plasma. As they looked at the macabre sight before them, Icarus heard the squad leader say.

“Don’t be afraid, gentlemen…Helios is our God, for he will guide us sons of Solaris to victory or to Paradise!”

Upon these words, Cupid squadron, joined by many other Solaran craft of all forms, swooped in to relieve their King’s flagship. In doing so, the Solarans formed an encirclement of their own around the Drakkar, hoping to blast their way through. For if their king couldn’t make it to them, the Solarans would make their way to him.

This meant that Icarus and his comrades began the dirty task of murder as they would either kill or be killed. Icarus avoided repeating the stubbornness he had displayed earlier on in the war, for dying slowly and in pain alone in the cold voids of space without anyone by his side was a fate Icarus would do everything to avoid.


Upon the Tiberius itself, the scenario had turned very bleak for the surviving men as all of the sick bays were filled to the brim with injured men whose bodies had been burnt by the plasma and their armour melted through during the attacks. Despite the degenerating situation in which even the shields of the ship were basically useless, the Solarans, knowing that the Drakkar would simply eat them or rip their hearts out continued to fight on, even as more of them got sucked out into space when torpedoes slammed into the Tiberius’s hull, puncturing the enormous flagship with holes. The corridors were dark, but their walls flashed blood red while alarms wailed throughout the ship as soldiers, marines and crewmen rushed through them.

Up at the bridge, a towering Solaran with white but tanned skin, a beardless face and smooth tidy grey hair looked ominously as he saw the Drakkar encirclement continue despite Solaran attempts to breach it. Still the Solaran attack gave the Tiberius some breathing space to recover. As the space around their vessels flashed green and blue with the shots of heated plasma and ion weapons, the captain approached and announced to him.

“Your Majesty, this ship can only take so much punishment, and if it collapses, you risk going down with it. You must get to an escape pod…”

Hearing this, Akatar stubbornly snapped,

“No! It is not in my nature to just flee to safety while the rest of my kinsmen face the chance of a violent and cold death…”

“But your majesty…you are more than the rest of us, you are our K…”

But before the captain could continue, the whole vessel shook and rattled as if something had just slammed into it, leading all those who were standing to cling onto railings in an attempt not to lose their balance. Amidst all of this chaos, a crewman announced.

“Captain! Sire! The Drakkar have breached the hull of the Tiberius with one of their largest battleships by ramming it!! As we speak, their warriors are storming into the vessel, killing all in their path and are heading towards the core of the Tiberius, what do we do?”

Hearing this was not pleasant for Akatarr, for he had already lost his two eldest sons in the defeat at the Alpha Centauri, the younger had his heart ripped out ritualistically as a sacrifice to the false Drakkar God, Bhoolakar. The youngest son, Helius was still back on Earth, but the boy was too young to rule a civilization as vast and as complex as Solaris in times of war. Yet despite the implications his death would inflict, Akatarr still announced,

“Focus our defence around the core of the ship!! Solarans, those of you who can fight!! With me!”

Thus, Akatarr himself gathered what remaining legionnaires and marines he could find and they used the ship’s monorails to travel as quickly as possible to plug in the breach that the Drakkar had made in the Tiberius.


Meanwhile down in a corridor leading towards the core of the ship, a troop of Solaran soldiers, dressed in their silvery armoured space suits, clasped their plasma rifles in their gauntleted hands as they anxiously waited in the increasingly dark corridors where the flickering lights flashed blood red. Their suits and weapons had spotlights to help illuminate the vast corridor which was becoming pitch black. A tense silence caused the men to shiver with dread but despite every instinct telling them to just run, the soldiers just stood their ground, positioning themselves behind a makeshift barricade. Then the moment finally came, the rumbling, the snarling and finally the loud brutish shout. “Bhoolakar!!!”

A horde of towering crocodilian shaped reptiles poured into the corridors, their amber eyes glowing with the glee of a confidence built up by many victories, not just against Solaris but against many races before them. The bulk of them charged at the Solaran barricade, bearing thorny jagged blades and spears while some of them took cover, positioning themselves to fire plasma guns at the Solarans. Despite the ferocity and cruel snarls of the Drakkar, the Solarans didn’t take a step back and just fired plasma rifles at the Drakkar. They lit up the room with the countless rounds of plasma which sliced through many of the advancing Drakkar, slaying them. One of the Legionnaires, Creon, who was little more than a Solaran boot on the ground, just gripped his plasma rifle and fired it for as long as he could while two of his comrades manned a tripod plasma gun that was beginning to pin the Drakkar down. As Creon fought on, he could hear his squad leader asking through radio,

“Sire! The Drakkar are overrunning our position!! What are your orders??”

“Hold your ground, sons of Solaris!! We are on our way to relieve you!! By Helios, ensure that they don’t reach the Core of the ship!”

Creon, hearing this, was not relieved at all, for he wanted to escape this nightmare. But he knew he had his orders so he slew another Drakkar. Just as his comrade next to him got a burst of plasma in the chest which slammed him back across the corridor, another soldier flung a grenade from where that plasma came from. Although Creon could see the explosion, he couldn’t see the result as he had to dodge a spear which was flung at him by a charging warrior. Positioning himself at the barricade, Creon continued to fire back at the Drakkar till his gun was drained of energy ran. Before he could recharge it, a Drakkar warrior charged at him, his attempts at blocking the creature’s blade resulted in his gun being chopped in two. The Drakkar then knocked Creon to the ground. But Creon was able to roll out of the way as the Drakkar swung his blade, getting it stuck in the floor.

Taking advantage of this, Creon restabilized his balance, and activated the glowing energy blades that were attached to his suit’s gauntlets and thus was able to say the Drakkar warrior with a blow to the beast’s stomach. His boggy green eyes readjusted themselves as Creon sought to reorientate himself, only to be bumped into by another Drakkar, knocking Creon to the ground. As Creon looked up, the Drakkar snarled with a toothy grin as he plunged his spear into his hip, trapping Creon to the floor. Creon tried to swing his energy blade at the Drakkar but the Drakkar was out of reach, while his comrades fought back desperately and most of them by now were using their energy blades to chop up the advancing Drakkar. One by one, they started to be killed off and dismembered. But then, in this chaotic darkness, more blasts of plasma suddenly came shooting from the Solaran side, forcing the Drakkar into a bitter retreat and lighting up the darkened room. Creon looked up to see that the Drakkar who was spearing him, suddenly got a glowing energy blade piercing his chest, killing the monster in the process.

Surprised as the body of the Drakkar fell upon him, Creon struggled for breath as he looked up to see none other than King Akatarr standing before him, his silvery suit now spattered with blood as he heaved the Drakkar corpse off Creon. He then knelt down and reached out his gauntleted hand asking Creon. “Can you stand, soldier?”

Nervous, Creon grasped onto his sovereign’s gauntleted hand, feeling a sense of pure pain as he stood up. Much to his surprise, the spear had not pierced his flesh as he yanked it out, it gotten stuck in the layers of armour that covered his body. As he stabilized himself, Akatarr asked sternly, “Can you still fight, soldier?”

“Eh…I think I can, sire…”

Giving Creon a plasma rifle, Akatarr announced,

“Then onwards, soldier, with your brothers, you shall make Helios smile! For at long last, a victory is in our hands!!”

Then Akatarr turned to the men behind him and ordered,

“Sons of Solaris!! The very existence of our race is at stake, fight on, for Gaia, for Helios, for Solaris!!”

At these words, the Solaran soldiers let out a cheer as they reorganized into a layered firing line, supported by another row of men that reinforced the makeshift barricades. Giving the refreshed Solaran line more firepower were heavy weapons crewmen who manned both tripod plasma guns and handheld torpedo launchers. Certainly, having these reinforcements boosted the confidence of the exhausted men like Creon, even as they heard the rumbling once more of the Drakkar.

The Drakkar roared out again, shouting, “Bhoolakar!!!”

To which the Solaran men shouted back in a cheer,


Soon, the Drakkar found themselves being slaughtered like sheep by the reorganized Solaran lines who peppered them with a hail of plasma and torpedoes. Panicked and terrified at seeing their kin been slaughtered, the Drakkar panicked and rushed back to their ship, trying to fire back at the determined Solarans who just kept firing their plasma rifles, rail guns and torpedo launchers till the Drakkar had slunk back into their ship.





Roddy Doyle’s Ten Rules For Writing

  1. Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
  2. Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph –
  3. Until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety – it’s the job.
  4. Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.
  5. Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don’t go near the online bookies – unless it’s research.
  6. Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g. ‘horse’, ‘ran’, ‘said’.
  7. Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It’s research.
  8. Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called The Partitions. Then I decided to call them The Commitments.
  9. Do not search for the book you haven’t written yet.

10.        Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – ‘He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego.’ But then get back to work.

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