Writing the Beast has always been an interesting proposition. He has abilities and senses that humans simply can't, and his perception of reality is always twisting a little as he becomes a creature made from many different species that is forcefully balanced using framework technology. He's an unnatural being with a strangely familiar perspective.
Work on Broadcast 10: Freeground continues, and I'm happy with what I have so far. Here's this week's preview chapter, enjoy!
Spinward Fringe Broadcast 10: Freeground Preview Part 5
The Beast In Repose
The Overlord could sense Fleet Admiral Dron the instant the door slipped open. Clark Patterson rested in a pool set in the middle of his ready quarters. The warm, viscous high nutrient solution relaxed him. Clear thought was easy to accomplish in the thick bath.
He examined the scent of the Fleet Admiral, clean, purely human. He always found the lack of fear in the man remarkable, most humans carried at least a hint of it with them whenever they were in his presence. Instead there was confidence, and his curiosity was so intense, it should have been the first thing he noticed. Interpreting the nuances in the scents of humans was easy if you had enough time around them. It was a talent he’d always be grateful to the issyrian race for. The man had also recently been through a vibro shower.
“Sir, I have a significant report from Haven Shore,” Dron said into the perfect darkness.
The lights turned up just enough for Clark to see him with his normal eyes, and he stood.
“I’m sorry to disturb your rest, Sir,” the Fleet Admiral said, “but this is important enough for me to report personally and immediately.”
“I understand,” Clark replied. Still, no fear from the man, but his apology was sincere enough. He could sense his sympathy. “Please, render your report, Fleet Admiral.” He gestured to a half circle of wood framed seats facing the pool.
Dron moved to the seating but stood in front of it instead of sitting. “I’m afraid we’ve had forty-nine spies on Haven Shore go dark. Citadel reports that they’re missing someone too. They were all attempting to gain entry to a fast track officer training program for Triton Fleet. We have copies of three of their qualification tests, as well as the location of two testing facilities, but that’s the last of our intelligence. I don’t expect we’ll be hearing from any of those assets again.”
“They couldn’t remain hidden forever. Did any of our people get in?”
“It’s unlikely,” Dronn said. “Our intelligence suggests that those were all of the assets who could make an early attempt at entering the academy. The rest are in minor positions, most not even in Haven Shore proper. I’m certain a memory scan was used to reveal the applicants true purpose and experiences. The remainder of our operatives will be discovered if Haven Shore begins making surface memory scans standard across the populace.”
“How many assets do we have left on Tamber, exactly?”
“Thirteen. All of them are low-level. The two we had in the Rangers were also discovered because they applied for the Officer Program.”
“Tell General Ohnen to send the soft elimination signal, I don’t want any more assets captured with their memories of the Order or our fleet intact,” Clark ordered.
“Yes, sir. I’ll send the message using a secure, high speed drone immediately.”
“Has there been any word on Shozo?”
“I’m afraid that we’ve verified that she was killed aboard the Fallen Star during Citadel’s attack on Kambis. There is a report of one survivor, a low ranking member of the pod named Yiriu. We’ve determined that she has built a home on one of the unsettled coasts near Haven Shore, and is attracting other issyrians.”
“At least one of them found a home,” Clark said, sitting on the edge of his pool, a very human posture. There it was again from the Fleet Admiral, that whiff of sympathy. Did the man think he look tired? Sad? Vulnerable? “Are you still confident in the strategy we will be using in our search for the Primary Freeground Station segment?”
“Yes, this will work if we keep with it,” Dronn said. “I must say your recent orders surprise me.”
“The order to destroy Freeground,” Clark confirmed.
“Yes. If you don’t mind me prying, Overlord, I was under the impression that you once wanted Freeground and especially the original crew of the First Light left alone. It was a point of study before I met you, and the reason why I expected to be executed the first time you met me.”
“I considered it,” Clark said. “I had a lot of time to think it through as I travelled to your shipyards. The assault you arranged on Freeground forced me to face something about my old home. The people I loved there are gone. The government, and the individuals that are responsible for the murder of my sister and my exile are still there. There is a piece of instinctive knowledge amongst the Issyrians that relates to this. Once one of their number grows to a certain age in isolation the impurities that they took on over the years begin to infect the surrounding flesh. Their ability to expel toxins and rotting tissue is the first to go when they are away for too long, and they begin to rot from the inside. It’s a miserable existence, and it can take decades for the solitary issyrian to die. Many of them leave the water behind so they may dehydrate in the sun instead of suffering through the slow death of gradual necrosis. Freeground should have left the water and dried out a century ago, or found its way back to human civilization to revitalize. Backward ideas and xenophobia ruined a strong culture, and I’d rather force it into extinction than watch it ail on for decades longer. My revenge on them for costing me everyone I loved as a human is a fitting end.”
“What about the predictions made by the Oracle Base’s Prescient Analysis Software? Didn’t it predict instability in several sectors if Freeground fell? I know that’s what I was working against while our allies began their assault.”
“You were successful. The limited stability your efforts provided in that region using the Vindyne assets you were able to take control of were enough. Even if they weren’t, I’m not as obsessed with prescient technology as my predecessor was. He let whispers from the future guide him to madness and ruin. He forgot that a few tips from a machine cannot take the place of good strategy and being prepared for the worst outcomes.”
“I couldn’t agree more, Overlord,” Dron said. “Thank you for telling me. Do you think the First Light crew are no longer significant in matters here? They’re still famous, beacons for resistances wherever we go.”
“Those people, the people who once crewed the First Light no longer exist. Jacob is gone, Ayan’s body rests with Wheeler, why he wanted it is a mystery to me, but she is dead nevertheless. Jason and Laura have been gone for some time now, and the rest have joined Jacob in his delusion that they can defeat us. All the while Carl Anderson plots, and builds, and insinuates himself into a new position of power. No one injured Clark Patterson more deeply. The First Light crew are nothing but shadows. They were a dream, and like all dreams we lose our grip on them once we wake, the details slip from our minds like water through our fingers. I’ll stand on Haven Shore, and I’ll chain Carl Anderson to a post as the first Edxi brood ships land there. Tamber will be devoured as penance for the defiance of their people.”
“Sir,” Dron said, sympathy and awe oozing into the air around him. “I’m grateful to you for sharing your thoughts. These insights are helpful, now I have a better idea of what level of restraint I should take while developing our plans going forward.”
“You don’t have to grovel, Dron. I enjoy speaking to you. Your mind is always open, and you’ve never failed to understand me. That is why it pains me a little to send you to the Glorious. It’s time you took command of your own battle group. The plan remains the same while we search for Freeground. We scout the nebula for sites where we can leave bases behind so our enemies cannot hide here. Is the main fleet still set to arrive on time to develop sections of the nebula?”
“They will be able to send resources and manpower to sites we’ve marked for development next week. We should have complete control of the Iron Head Nebula in five months.”
“Three. We need to make this space ours in thre so we can continue moving into the sector beyond. Former Vindyne space must be connected to Regent Galactic’s seat of power before the British Alliance can drive a wedge between them and extend the war by years, perhaps decades.”
“Yes Sir, I agree, Sir. I think you for your trust in this, Overlord. When would you like me to take command of the Glorious?”
“I’ve spoken to the Admiral of the Glorious Battle Group. He would like two days to prepare a proper welcome, and the journey will take one.”
“I’ll leave tomorrow morning then,” Dron said. “Thank you again, Overlord. I will make the Glorious Battle Group the greatest in the fleet. Except for yours, that is.”
“No, do your best to surpass me and my success,” Clark said. “I could use a challenge.”