What follows is a short story based on the history behind the novel I’m writing. This story surrounds events that take place over 10,000 years before the start of the first volume of my story. These events have no bearing on the events of that story, and are unlikely to be referenced in that story. Instead, this is more of a chance for me to practice my writing skills in the universe that I’ve created. I hope you enjoy it.
Admiral Shuren Fenjeelin stood glumly on the bridge of his flagship, the Starfortress Radiant. Radiant and the other 63 ships he commanded were in orbit around the Imperial world of Cortaris, which they had been besieging for the past five years. Admiral Fenjeelin served in the Grand and Invincible Army of Fangalin, which had been at war with the Empire for over 400 years. For much of that time, the Invincible Army had lived up to its name, reducing the Empire to a shade of its former glory. But the current Emperor, Belatras I, known as Belatras the Terrible by those who opposed him, made the Invincible Army seem like it was commanded by raw recruits, and had dealt several severe blows to Fangalin. The siege of Cortaris was part of a plan to reverse the gains made by Emperor Belatras. Admiral Fenjeelin didn’t fear the Empire, but even he had to admit that the prospect of encountering Emperor Belatras made him a little uneasy.
He didn’t believe that was too likely to happen, though. Cortaris was an important world, perhaps the most important world in the Empire (short of the capital, Trisitania) but the Emperor had too many irons in the fire to personally lead a fleet against any one besieging force. Not when another Fangalin fleet was also besieging Medradi, the world where the Imperial Fleet was based. Besides, the fleet commanded by Admiral Fenjeelin was surely far superior to anything the Empire could muster to oppose it.
The Admiral had more important things to do than worry about the Emperor, anyway. Admiral Fenjeelin’s counterpart on the ground, General Vek Mortollin, was constantly hounding him about providing more support to the ground forces. As if General Mortollin didn’t already have the largest single force in the entire Invincible Army under his command. Fenjeelin really didn’t know what else he could do to satisfy General Mortollin, and truth be told, he was sick and tired of dealing with the man.
“Admiral Fenjeelin!” an ensign called out, “General Mortollin wishes to speak with you, sir!” The Admiral sighed and strode over to the comm station.
“What is it, General?” he asked. As if he didn’t already know.
“Fenjeelin!” bellowed Mortollin, “I’m taking a pounding from Imperial artillery down here! I need you to transfer three flights of Nightwings to my command immediately so I can bomb them to hell!” Nightwings were a type of medium fighter equally adept at atmospheric and orbital operations. Which is why Admiral Fenjeelin needed them to stay in his command.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, General,” Fenjeelin replied with a sigh, “I need them in case an Imperial fleet shows up to try and break the siege.”
“Break the siege!” bellowed Mortollin “Nonsense! If you can’t hold off the Imperial Fleet short three flights of Nightwings, then you don’t deserve your command! Now get to work!” With that, he abruptly severed the connection, leaving the Admiral to swallow his reply and begin rubbing his temples.
The problem was that, although General Mortollin was not superior to Admiral Fenjeelin, neither was Fenjeelin superior to Mortollin. Fenjeelin and Mortollin were supposed to be jointly in command of this operation, but too often, Gen. Mortollin treated the Admiral like a buck private.
Admiral Fenjeelin looked around for his XO, Captain Jendrin Soromine. Soromine was another person who Fenjeelin would rather not deal with on a regular basis, but not for the same reasons as Mortollin. Soromine was Fenjeelin’s nephew, his sister’s son. He had a brilliant military mind, but he was cold and arrogant to his subordinates and contemptuous and dismissive of the Empire. Fenjeelin had made his nephew XO of the Cortaris Fleet as a favor to his beloved sister, but it was a decision he was slowly coming to regret.
“Captain Soromine!” Fenjeelin called out. The Captain appeared at his uncle’s side immediately.
“Yes, Admiral?” he said. All respect and deference on the surface, but even in those two little words there was a hint that Soromine believed he was better suited to command than his uncle.
“I need you to go down to the planet and speak with General Mortollin,” Fenjeelin said. “The General is under the mistaken impression that the forces under his command are more important than mine. Your mission is to make him see that what we do up here is as important, if not more so, than what he does on the planet’s surface.”
“I see,” responded Soromine, “And how exactly do you propose I do that? Sir?” Just a slight hesitation at the end, not enough to discipline him for, but enough that Fenjeelin knew exactly what his nephew thought of him.
“It’s not my job to tell you how to do your mission, Captain,” Fenjeelin snapped, “You are an intelligent man. Figure it out.” Captain Soromine saluted, turned on his heel, and stalked off the bridge.
Admiral Fenjeelin returned to sighing and rubbing his temples. All around him, there was a hum of activity as the officers on the bridge went about the tasks that needed to be done to keep Radiant in a constant state of readiness. In some ways, the crews on the ships in orbit around the planet had a harder job than the soldiers on the ground. Oh, sure, the men and women on Radiant and the other ships lived in climate-controlled comfort while the soldiers had to slog around in the cold and the mud. And yeah, the ships’ crews didn’t have the constant threat of enemy soldiers shooting at them and trying to kill them. But they did have to be on guard in case the Empire decided to send a fleet to try and break the siege. Five years of being on constant alert put a terrible strain on people.
And the alert had to be constant, because there was no way of detecting ships traveling in subspace. If the Imperial Fleet arrived, Fenjeelin’s forces would only have a few minutes to prepare before the battle began. Five years of waiting for an attack that might never come was making everybody’s nerves a little frayed. They had a duty to carry out, and Admiral Fenjeelin was beginning to wonder if they would be able to carry it out if the time came.
To be continued…