The quiet whirling of his own motors was all Hōrō-Sha could hear as he stared out into space from the bridge as they came out of the wormhole to the Defile system. The stars and nebulas were so bright, so peaceful, a dream that seemed so close, but ultimately out of reach.
Looking down at his own hand, Hōrō-Sha wondered if he would ever be able to feel the biting pain of the cold, or the soothing touch of the sun’s warmth again. He no longer remembered the sensation of touch, or pain, things that showed you were alive.
Suddenly, Hōrō-Sha’s mind flashed back Sssyyk’s limp body in his arms, blood covering his silver armor plated chest. The wet ragged breaths echoed through the hall as Sssyyk shuddered in pain from the gaping hole in their chest. It was all his fault, because he had attacked before asking questions, before getting answers. Was he falling into depravity? Had he been in this body for so long that his morals, his honor, was fading? Was he becoming completely unfeeling, becoming as cold as the metal that made up his own body?
“- should go back to Khasyyq and figure out what sort of technology they’re using to terraform planets. Maybe we can barter for it, and then we can take it back home.” Patrick’s voice snapped Hōrō-Sha back into reality. Silently, Hōrō-Sha closed his metal fist and looked back up to his new companions.
“We can also use this chance to establish a good relationship with Khasyyq even though we can’t join the Unity.”
“Patrick that… Actually isn’t a bad idea. Newie, turn the InAnna around and lets head back now.” Dayan spoke with authority, overseeing the rest of the crew.
As InAnna started to turn around, a bio-ship exited from the wormhole, Sassy’s ship to be exact.
“Wait, Captain, I’m detecting something near one of the planets. It’s just a void in scan, near Defile. It looked almost like a ship, silhouetted against the gas giant.” Geneva interrupted, her black skin rippling from her muscles as she turned to look at Dayan.
“WE NEED TO GO THERE, THAT’S THE GODDAMN BUGS!” Patrick practically jumped out of his station. “We need to notify Khasyyq and then turn our asses around and destroy that ship so it can’t return back to bring the rest of them!”
Dayan looked at Patrick for a moment, weighing the choices before he spoke. “Newie, send all our data on that ship to Sassy, tell him we need additional support to go take out that ship. Then turn around and head to its last known location. Geneva, keep scanning the area, look out for any further voids in the scans. Patrick, we’ll make sure we get them.”
Newie nodded, relaying the message to Sassy in the Khasyyq language. “Captain, they said that they can offer us some support, so we can make a kinda space net, and catch the bugs in it.”
Dayan nodded, “Good, lets put them to use. Newie, gun it.”
“Aye aye Cap’n!” Newie put the thrusters to max, the InAnna screaming through space.
Hōrō-Sha stood up from his station and went to Geneva’s sensor station. “I require your station, Geneva. I have a plan I wish to try.”
Geneva looked up at Hōrō-Sha’s expressionless face for a brief moment. “Go for it. I’ve been getting a feeling you might be better at sensors than myself.” Geneva stood up, matching Hōrō-Sha’s height as she moved past him and let him sit at the station.
Hōrō-Sha took a seat in the chair, and immediately opened up the sensor panel, accessing the wiring beneath. Delicately, the metal giant began switching some of the wires, sparks occasionally reflecting off of his face plate.
Closing the panel, Hōrō-Sha’s finger started to dance across his screen layout. “Captain, I have managed to boost the sensors and addition 40%. Void detected dead ahead of InAnna’s current course.”
“Captain, permission to open fire?” Patrick had a white knuckled grip on his seat, the anger and hatred he felt palpable in the air.
Dayan was silent for a moment, in deep concentration with his machine. “I’ve hacked their stealth system, Patrick open fire!”
Without a moment of hesitation, Patrick unloaded every weapon the InAnna had, piercing straight through the Silaron ship’s engine.
The ship exploded almost instantaneously, the shockwave rippling outward as it washed over the InAnna. Debris floated through space, the wreckage filled the entire view of the bridge.
“Hōrō, scan for any signs of a black box, anything that might have survived the blast that might have information.” Patrick jumped up from the gunner station and ran to Hōrō-Sha.
“Of course, my friend.” Hōrō-Sha began scanning the debris, cycling through the data of everything floating in front of them.
“Cap’n, Sassy has been made aware of the invading SIlaron’s. He said now that we have evidence, he’ll bring word back to Khasyyq. He, uh, didn’t sound too happy to have them sneakin around their system like this. Said something ‘bout them bein a little too conquest happy, and that they, uh, not compatible with their Unity.” Newie turned to look at Dayan. “Also wanted to give his thanks, so I think that’s the good relations and what not that Patrick was lookin for.”
“Black box has been found intact amongst the wreckage.” Hōrō-Sha stood up. “I believe I should be the one to retrieve it. I am the only one who does not require air, and it should be no issue to retrieve it.”
Dayan nodded to Hōrō-Sha. “Go ahead. Take the medivac. Newie, go with him to pilot, we’ll continue scanning for anything else that might have survived the explosion.”
Hōrō-Sha and Newie nodded to Dayan, and left for the medivac.
“Don’t worry mate, I’ll get you as close and I can, we’ll just try you to the ship that way you cant float off and then we’ll get you back like it never even happened. It’ll just be like a little walk through the vacuum of space, you know what I mean?” Newie said cheerfully as he got into the pilot chair of the medivac.
Hōrō-Sha stayed silent as he secured the cable around this armored frame in the back of the medivac.
As they approached the black box, Newie flipped the ship around, and sealed the airlock. The air hissed around Hōrō-Sha as the void greedily devoured the oxygen from the ship. Pushing off from the ship, Hōrō-Sha floated weightlessly through space, smaller debris bouncing off him until he found the box, slowly turning amongst the wreckage.
Grabbing the box, Hōrō-Sha opened a channel to Newie. “I have the box, returning now.”
As he slowly was reeled back in, Hōrō-Sha looked back at the floating space debris. He had seen this scene what felt like thousands of times before. So many more times than what he was able to remember. The death, the destruction. How much pain did the crew of the ship go through when they died? Was it necessary to kill them? Could they have tried a more diplomatic approach?
No, they couldn’t. Patrick had told Hōrō-Sha of the atrocities the Silaron had committed, and Hōrō-Sha trusted Patrick. He had always been there for Hōrō-Sha, accepting him even though his people were apart of the fall. He had promised Patrick he would help stop their spread, to save the innocents that would otherwise be slaughtered, he had to steel himself against the upcoming conflicts.
Hōrō-Sha’s thoughts were interrupted as he collided with something in space. Seeing nothing in the void in front of him, Hōrō-Sha realized the void was what he had collided with. It was a sheet of metal that blended into the backdrop of space seamlessly. Hōrō-Sha never would have noticed it if he hadn’t run into it. Was this apart of their stealth technology?
Grabbing onto it with his free hand, Hōrō-Sha thought it might be useful for the group to examine it, maybe they could find away to use it to detect the Silaron’s in the future.
Quickly returning as fast as the medivac was able to, Hōrō-Sha had a chance to examine the black box. Grabbing some of the repair tools on the medivac, the armored giant began to work on the box, trying to carefully to open the box without damaging the contents inside.
The door to the medivac opened, and Dayan walked in as Hōrō-Sha managed to open one of the side panels of the box.
“Hōrō, let me take a look at that with you, we need to figure out how to turn off it’s locator as well as access whatever information might be stored in there.” Dayan motioned for one of his drones to assist him.
Hōrō-Sha moved to the side, allowing Dayan and his drones access to the box. The two worked in silence for a moment, both trying to understand the technology in front of them.
After a moment, Hōrō-Sha managed to turn off the locator on the box. “I’ve managed to turn off the beacon. I should be able to turn it back on if nece-“
Dayan’s drones started beeping, data displaying on a nearby console. “There are 26 other ships that came with this one…” Dayan’s voice was quiet as he read. “They’ve been splitting into smaller and smaller groups with each jump… This was the only one in this system, and there are supposedly two other in the next system.” Swiftly, Dayan stood up. “Tim, relay all this information to Sassy, let him know that we’re going to go after the other two ships. Tell them to be prepared just in case.”
“Um, sir, it’ll be about 21 hours until we make it to the next system, so it’ll be some time.” Tim sounded nervous, as if he didn’t want to head after the ships.
“Then we’ve got time to prepare. Everyone be ready for whenever we get out of the jump point.” Dayan gathered his drone and a copy of all the information and began to head in the direction of his room.
“Hey Hōrō, do you want to look at the panel you brought back in?” Newie came up behind Hōrō-Sha, slapping his back.
“I cannot. I must use this time to convert the laser sword gifted from Geneva. I have not had the time to work on it at all.” Bowing slightly to the grey giant of a man, Hōrō-Sha headed to his room.
Gathering all his materials, Hōrō-Sha began to work on the sword, taking the hilt apart, losing himself in thought once more.
The Silarons had begun to infiltrate deeper into space, like Patrick had told him they would. How many worlds had been lost already? Would the crew of InAnna actually be able to stop them? Or even rally others against them? Would he, Hōrō-Sha, even be able to protect his new companions? He had to, he was tired of being alone, losing those close to him.
“Steel your resolve, Hōrō-Sha. Your heart must be as unyielding as your body in order to protect them.” He muttered this to himself, like a mantra, determined to do what he felt he must.
Suddenly the entire ship shook, alarms flaring.
“Um, guys, there seems to be an issue.” Tim was panicked. “We just had a micrometeor break through our hull and now we’re losing air. We gotta make repairs now.”
Immediately Hōrō-Sha got up, following the sounds of the crew yelling, scrambling to find a way to repair the small hole in the ship. Calmly, he strode to the hole and examined it, thinking about what was on hand at that moment. Looking down at his hand for a brief moment, Hōrō-Sha had a flash of inspiration.
Sticking his index finger into the tear in the ship, Hōrō-Sha waited until he could no longer hear the hiss of air escaping. Disconnecting his finger, Hōrō-Sha flexed his hand. “That should hold until we are actually able to make repairs to the ship, or until it managed to repair itself.” Without another word, he returned to this quarters until they reached the jump point.
p. Hōrō-Sha was walking back to the bridge when the alarms started to sound again.
“Five Silaron ships somehow managed to get the jump on us! Tim, raise shields, Patrick, open fire, Newie, put some distance between us!” Dayan’s voice could been heard down the hall and the InAnna rocked violently from an multiple explosions.
Making it to the bridge, Hōrō-Sha scanned the situation. One of the five Silaron ships was dead in space, their engines dead as missiles and lasers flew through space, explosions outshining the stars in the distance.
“Captain, I’m heading to the boarding pods. I’m heading to the ship with engine trouble. We might be able to capture their tech and learn more.” Hōrō-Sha turned, without even waiting for permission.
“I’ll come with you, we don’t know whats going to be on that ship.” Geneva followed after Hōrō-Sha, her talons clicking on the floor with each step.
They each stepped into their separate pods, nodding to each other before they rocketed into space. There was a split second before they impacted with the ship, the pod violently shaking as it burrowed forward. The pod door ejected off, bouncing off the walls of the Silaron ship.
Hōrō-Sha stepped out, into a small one bed bunk, a hall leading directly to the cockpit, the insectoid Silaron looking back in alarm to the black chitin covers woman, and the silver armored machine.
The scene began to change before Hōrō-Sha’s eyes. The walls slowly disappeared, fading away and becoming wooden huts, all ablaze in a bright orange inferno. Bodies littered the ground, blood mixing into mud on the ground, the sound of people dying all around.
There was a guttural roar, grabbing Hōrō-Sha’s attention. A large horned reptilian creature stood before him, covered in furs, raising a crude axe in challenge as it charged. Swinging, its axe at Hōrō-Sha, it roared in victory as it connected with the armored giant’s chest.
Its triumph was short lived as it’s axe shattered against Hōrō-Sha.
Rage built up deep within the silver knight. Grabbing the creature by the throat, Hōrō-Sha pulled the creature close, slowly crushing the thing’s windpipe. “It’s all your fault. You slaughtered this village. The women, the children. The innocent and the defenseless. Their lives were cut short, all by your greed, your bloodlust. May you fall into the deepest parts of your own hell.”
Raising his sword, Hōrō-Sha let the creature’s throat go, as it tried desperately to breath. He regarded the creature for a split moment before bringing his sword down, splitting it down the middle. Bright red blood sprayed out, covering Hōrō-Sha.
Disgusted by the creature that was in front of him, the scene faded away, Hōrō-Sha returning to the cockpit of the Silaron ship, his laser sword blazing brightly, the Silaron dead on the floor as Geneva moved the corpse out of the seat.
“Time to help try and level the playing field.” Geneva grinned as she opened fire on the other Silaron ships.
Hōrō-Sha quietly turned off his blade. For the first time he could remember, he felt something hot, like something was burning deep within himself.