The Galactic Gala was a goodwill gesture by the KMF to the EIT, and was a ball thrown by the Karnasaur Emperor Clar Kahn himself in 4A 4. The Gala was hosted in the Halls of Regality, the Emperor's personal palace on Karnas, in the KMF Capital City of Sauris. The guests were strictly VIP only, and strict security details were assured to convince those invited to attend.
- Clar Kahn, Emperor of the KMF
- Sree Jzur, Vizier of Domestic Affairs
- Spah Ackk, Vizier of Foreign Affairs
- Ackk Barh, Vizier of War
- Hanh Sulo, Vizier of Intelligence
- Sree Krer, Head of the KMF Department of War
- Kesh Krer, Head of the KMF Department of Foreign Affairs
- Rikr Look, Head of the KMF Department of Domestic Affairs
- Erko Look, Head of the KMF Department of Intelligence
- Hess Kuun, Supreme High General of the KMF Military
- Hasar Ka'had, Overseer of the Logistics Division of the Department of War
- Renr Hesn, Overseer of the Special Operations Division of the Department of War
- Sree Kesh, Overseer of the High Risk Operations and Training Subdivision
- Agon Kru'shep, Overseer of the Protectorate Relations Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Suree Kash'Turn, Overseer of the Domain Relations Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Agash Tuur'Got, Overseer of the Domestic Revenue Division of the Department of Domestic Affairs
- Resh Wurr, Overseer of the Colonial Development Division of the Department of Domestic Affairs
- Kadee Vuu'Ken, Overseer of the Private Establishment Oversight Division of the Deparment of Intelligence
- Suree Ken'Ash, Overseer of the Public Establishment Oversight Division of the Department of Intelligence
- Kenn Adar, Overseer of the Historical Recordkeeping Subdivision of the Department of Intelligence
- Kene Thes, Secretary to Kenn Adar
- High Admiral Renr Resh, 1st Dread Fleet
- High Admiral Renr Adre, 4th Dread FLeet
- High Admiral Rnee Adre, 101st Expeditionary Fleet
- High Admiral Sree Renn, 5th Expeditionary Fleet
- High Admiral Eekr Werr, 25th Special Operations Fleet
- High General Rore Rorn, 121st Mechanized Infantry Legion
- High General Tuee Kuun, 85th Rapid Infantry Legion
- High General Rnee Werr, 54th Heavy Armor Legion
- High General Ress Rewr, 88th Enginnering Legion
- Renr Sesh, CEO of Star Docks Starship Manufacturing Corporation
- Korn Kasr, CFO of Paradise Jewerly, Inc.
- Kree Lern, CEO of Lern Arms, Inc.
- Tyue Hasj, CEO of Hasj Electronics, Inc.
- Renr Seew, CFO of Lifeline Medical Equipment
- Kren Lern, CFO of Lern Arms, Inc.
- Colonel Etah Owar, Galactic Senate Special Operations Corps
- Ivanov Monore, Supreme Commander of the EIT
- Marshal Petronela Yakovlev, Command Brigade Infantry Rifles
- Marshal Cenek Kaufer, Command Brigade Artillery
- Marshal Ruben Lawniczak, Command Brigade Special Weapons and Vehicles
- Marshal Axel Nikica, Command Brigade Seaships
- High General Tomica Matthaus, 403rd Army Group
- High General Annika Skovgaard, 115th Invasion Army Group
- High General Sten van Daalen, 1st Central Defense Army Group
- High General Terezija Chmela, 63rd Northern Army Group
- High General Mislav Gaal, 547th Northern Army Group
- High General Brecht Bartosz, 621st Northern Army Group
- High General Lukas Christoffel, Council of Generals member
- High General Ulrica Paulissen, Council of Generals member
- High General Tygo Ahlers, Council of Generals member
- High General Thyrza Leva, Council of Generals member
- High General Rudolf Meinard, 925th Eastern Army Group
- High General Bohdan Wirner, 77th Harbingerlands Army Group
- High General Hermann Mogens, 601st Central-Southern Corps
- High General Vera Gogopov, 773rd Invasion Corps
- Command General Karoline Novak, Council of Generals member
- Command General Heinz Hoth, Council of Generals member
- Command General Ivanov Chitomir, Council of Generals member
- Command General Bogdan Zhukov, Council of Generals member
- Command General Nikita Germogen, Council of Generals member
- Lieutenant General Pavol Marijus, 6,073rd Armoured Quadrant Army
- High Admiral Johann Ralph, 17th Central Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Gabija Meeuwis, 96th Convoy Interdiction Fleet
- High Admiral Nadja Fleckter, 1,205th Assault Fleet
- High Admiral Genn Simmon, 341st Assault Fleet
- High Admiral Ferdynand Somogyi, 768th Central-Eastern Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Blaz Schovajsa, 1st Maliskian Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Tarja Brinkerhoff, 2nd Maliskian Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Astrid Barbora, 4th Maliskian Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Boris Kaleva, Council of Admirals member
- High Admiral Ionel Lukacs, Council of Admirals member
- High Admiral Petrov van Baarle, Council of Admirals member
- High Admiral Angelika Miega, 2,351st Assault Fleet
- High Admiral Magdalena Fnechor, 1,875th Rapid Strike Fleet
- High Admiral Theodor Heikki, 90th Light Strike Fleet
- High Admiral Lisa Samrov, 5,067th South-Western Defense Fleet
- High Admiral Okropir Siemowit, 2,692nd Rapid Reaction Fleet
- High Admiral Manfred Wolter, 383rd Shipyard Defense Fleet
- Command Admiral Marita Brandt, Council of Admirals member
- Command Admiral Sergey Krupp, Council of Admirals member
- Vice Admiral I Predrag Bazyli, 1,875th Rapid Strike Fleet
- Vice Admiral I Konrad Larenz, 9,558th Transport Escort Force
- Petur Dragomir, CEO of Krunoslav Mining and Minerals
- Branislava Sinason, aide of Petur Dragomir
- Gyula Kolen, CFO of Dorchev Orbital Construction
- Edvin Kozlov, Chief of Corporate Security for Dorchev Orbital Construction
- Brigitta Koenig, CEO of Mogdov Solar & Geothermal
- Zofina Holgersson, CFO of Mogdov Solar & Geothermal
- Ingo Pulnik, aide of Zofina Holgersson
- Tymoteusz Zhevhyit, CEO of Prolsevich Industries
- Waclaw Zhevhyit, grandson of Tymoteusz Zhevhyit and corporate heir
- Erich Zhevhyit, grandson of Tymoteusz Zhevhyit and corporate heir
- Gertrude Munz, aide of Tymoteusz Zhevhyit
- Petar Scaldigseg, CEO of Scaldigseg Mineral Company
- Helena Andrejs, aide of Petar Scaldigseg
- Aurelia Tar, major Scaldigseg Mineral Company board member
- Hieronymus Zigmund, COO of Cyryl Shipyard Industries
- Syuzanna Normansson, aide of Hieronymus Zigmund
- Benedikt Zitter, CFO of Gwerder Mining and Minerals
- Jolanka August, COO of Gwerder Mining and Minerals
- Irina Halldor, aide to Jolanka August
- Bratumil Gerlach, CEO of Northern Export Shipping
- Hinrik Djuradj, aide to Bratumil Gerlach
- Jonatan Karpati, COO of Galactic Shipping
- Siegbert Jaroslav, aide of Jonatan Karpati
- Lidia van Donk, representative of CEO of Central-Northern Freight Company
- Guus Borya, CFO of Central-Northern Freight Company
- Sander Gerstle, major Central-Northern Freight Company board member
- Merten Vlahovic, CEO of Andor Heavy Construction
- Wlyadyslawa Geert, aide of Merten Vlahovic
- Franjo Valdemar, COO of Chechnir Manufacturing
- Wilhemina Schlimme, Chief of Corporate Security for Chechnir Manufacturing
- Olvir Ilya, CEO of Igor Serp Heavy Industries
- Cekna Stanek, CFO of Igor Serp Heavy Industries
- Elisibeta Leszek, CEO of Radboud Mineral Company
- Leonhard Baars, COO of Radboud Mineral Company
- Ebbe Zikmund, representative of COO of Milenko Orbital Construction
- Artur Geeleb, aide to COO of Milenko Orbital Construction
- Bertn Appelo, CEO of Appelo Shipyard's Alliance
- Isaak Raimo, major Appelo Shipyard's Alliance board member
- Visvalids Bul, major Appelo Shipyard's Alliance board member
- Helge Valter, CFO of Mefodiy Mining and Minerals
- Lorand Nemecek, aide to Helge Valter
- Rita Tvrtko, CEO of Imperial Shipmakers of the Core Worlds
- Germogen Hartmann, representative of COO of Imperial Shipmakers of the Core Worlds
"Your Majesty, the Viziers and Department Heads are all in agreement; If we're going to engage in mock invasions with these aliens, it would be of wisest choice to have the more... agressive... engage in a cultural exchange. Surely, some form of... soiree, or... gala would do. Yes, a 'Galactic Gala'! That would do nicely, Your Majesty!"
Clar was so tired from the past year; The EIT and DFM were discovered four years ago, but diplomatic relations only opened a few months back. So much diplomacy, so many treaties, and now this; A request for annual, international mock invasions. Clar liked the idea, but it was all so draining. Spah wouldn't stop talking about this whole cultural exchange, so Clar simply got up and gave the royal decree of assent; A nodding of the head.
"Excellent ,Your Majesty! I'll send invitations at once! Who from the EIT should we invite?"
"Give their Head of State carte blanch on invitations. I don't care who or how many come, as long as they come."
"As you wish, Your Majesty."
Some time later...
After the herald had announced the excruciatingly long list of Eteno guests as they arrived, one by one, he was almost finished with the Karnasaur list as the guests from the Emperor's own list of invitees arrived. It was always custom for the host to arrive and be announced before the guest of honor. The Eteno guest of honor, Supreme Commander Ivanov Monore, was to arrive and be received before the Emperor, as an act of tact and etiquette. The Supreme Commander had just arrived as the rest of the Karnasaur guests were announced.
"And now, presenting the Foreign Guest of Honor, Executive Head of the EIAF, Civil Leader of the Conquered Worlds, Administrative Chief of the Imperial Congress, and Supreme Commander of the Imperial Triumvirate, Supreme Commander Ivanov Monore, of the Eteno Imperial Triumvirate." The herald announced.
The Supreme Commander entered, wearing his finest Eteno Navy Dress Uniform, with all manner of pins and ribbons adorned across the chest, giving an air of regality, in a military sense. A single star adorning his shoulders identified his rank as Supreme Commander, and all Eteno in the room turned and, save a few corporate guests, saluted him. Eteno musicians, already in the room, took this as their cue to start playing the Eteno Naval hymn, as per previous orders from the Supreme Commander himself. A few Karnasaurs looked at the band with some annoyance, as such nuisance would be insulting to the Emperor, had it come from a Karnasaur. But this was a separate culture; They were allowed to to as they pleased within reason. When the hymn finished, a few Karnasaurs made the mistake of applauding, as per their own tradition at the end of any hymn, but were met with sour glances from several Eteno, and, taking the hint, ended the applaud quickly.
The herald now had the honor of making the next annunciation.
"Now, presenting the Host and Master of the House, the Lord of Sauris, Most Merited Man, Regeant of the Kingdom of Karnas in absence of her King, Emperor of the Karnasaurs, Emperor Clar Kahn, of the Karnasaur Meritocratic Federation."
The Emperor entered, with tremendous fanfare. The Karnasaur musicians, seemingly a little competitive now, blared the Royal Anthem with all due volume. The Karnasaur guests immediately fell to one knee in supplication, with only the highest ranking guests still standing, but still with heads bowed down. Some Eteno followed, but the Supreme Commander set the example for the majority by standing still. A minor cultural transgression, but still forgivable.
When the fanfare ended, the Emperor gave leave for the guests to stand, though the Eteno already took leave for themselves.
"Greetings, friends. I welcome you to my home. Before I deliver the traditional initiating speech that officially begins the gathering, we have one more guest who has yet to be annunciated. As Karnasaurs know, but the Eteno may be curious to learn, the Host and Master of the House always has one Guest of Honor which he or she announces personally, and is kept anonymous until he or she is announced. And so, it is my honor and pleasure to present to you, my Guest of Honor, Hero of the Battle of Karnas, Champion of the Karnasaurs, Last of His Clan, 'The Immortal Colonel', Colonel Etah Owar, of the Karnasaur Meritocratic Federation."
Colonel Etah entered, wearing his finest military dress uniform; A black leather outfit with scarlet trims. His Colonel's Insignia adorned his left chest, with innumerous ribbons below it. On his right were pins and medals beyond counting. His left shoulder carried his clan's insignia, with patches indicating his HIRIOT and ELICAN status below it and each other, respectively. On his right shoulder was the KMF Coat of Arms, with the GSSOC Coat of Arms directly below it. To top it all off, he had his personal, katana-like ensis in its silver gold-trimmed scabbard on his left hip. The scabbard was purely aesthetic (He'd never use a bludgeon), but the ensis it contained was lethality incarnate. Perfectly forged in every way; Only a Titan artifact could rival it. He was a sight to behold; His stormy silver eyes, his devilish half-smile, his erect posture, his gloriously adorned uniform, his ensis and its scabbard, all combined made a figure so charming and handsome some Karnasaur females almost swooned at his sight. He was certainly worthy of the numerous 'Sexiest Karnasaur Alive' awards he recieved from several Sauran publications.
Approaching the Emperor and Supreme Commander, Etah bowed before both, keeping his left hand on his scabbard, as per tradition.
"Your Majesty, Supreme Commander. I thank you for allowing my presence, and respectfully supplicate myself before your superior authority, as given by merit, Your Majesty, and by the voice of your people, Supreme Commander. I also humbly request you acknowledge my own merit, and treat me with all due respect. No more, yet no less." Etah said, with an almost prayer-like tact. He always ahd a knack for charisma.
"Stand, Colonel. I acknowledge your merit, and will treat you with all due respect. No more, yet no less." The Emperor replied.
The Supreme Commander looked curiously at the Karnasaurs.
"Karnasaur tradition when addressing a superior, Supreme Commander. It is an honor to be formally introduced to you. I am sure you will learn many more Karnasaur traditions, as we will learn many of yours. That is a large point of this get-together. Your Majesty, if you would commence the gala?"
"Of course, colonel. I officially declare this gala... Commenced!"
As if the Emperor's words shattered some sort of invisible wall, the once-segragated groups of Eteno and Karnasaurs melted into each other. Eteno generals and admirals sought out high-ranking Karnasaur military officers, eager to learn of the tactics and strategies applied by the draconic race. Conversely, some Karnasaur military leaders endeavoured to learn more of the Kklxin, and what sort of strategies had proved effective in the field of battle. On the corporate side, business leaders covorted. While many initially strived for merriment and diversion, the conversations always steered towards conspiracy against the public. Mining and shipping rights were exchanged, consumer data discussed, and stock speculation went on under a shroud of friendly conversation.
The gala was, in all ways, fulfilling its purpose admirably. Krek Kreh, the chief of KMF security for the event, watched the commotions from the entrance to one of the many passageways running through the Emperor's palace. Satisfied, he turned and ambled down the passageway to check up on some of his sentries. It took him only a few seconds to realise he was being followed, and turned to face his short-statured pursuer.
"You are the head of security here. Krek Kreh, I presume?" The Eteno spoke flawless Sauran in a thick Vadimian accent, evading all of the errors that foreign speakers generally encountered.
"Why, yes I am. May I help you?" Krek wasn't too keen on interacting with curious guests at the moment; he had sentries to check on.
"I am Colonel Yeltsin, EIT chief of security for this social gathering. I must say, this palace is simply the finest I've ever seen. Only a true artist could ever conceive it."
"By all means, it is. Its architecture is simply-"
"And what a fine burial ground it would make if I or any of my men get even the slightest inkling that you would, knowing or not, allow even a minor scratch on any of my charges." Yeltsin's eyes darkened, and his voice became icier than the most frigid worlds in the far reaches of desolate star systems.
"If you are threatening me, then I'll-"
"Listen very closely, hjetspad," Yeltsin gripped a knife hanging from his belt as if it was the most precious woman, and quickly raised it to Krek's throat, slowly running the sharp side against the Karnasaur's neck, "If we find out, or even suspect that you are failing in your duty, your life will be ended here, and now. If you try to run, then we shall track you to the farthest reaches of the universe. We shall corner you, bruised and beaten, and bask in the scent of fear rolling off of your pathetic body. In one motion, my blade will impale your heart, and mark the end of your existence. On your bones shall be carved the words, 'this was a man who crossed the Fatherland.'"
"I... I..." Krek's attempts at maintaining a straight face were failing spectacularly. He could hardly remember how he'd been silently amused at the height of the alien security and guests, nor fail to notice the ten or so more Eteno that had arrived, blocking off any retreat.
"Nobody shall remember a name, nor a single accomplishment. All they will know, is that a fool died after failing his duty, and that he died at the hands of Zvezda. We expect you to perform your duty, Karnasaur..."
Yeltsin spun on his heels to face the new Karnasaur behind him, who was also surrounded by EIT Zvezda. However, unlike the official chief of security, this one showed not even the smallest sign of fear.
"Colonel Yeltsin, member of the elite EIT Zvezda. Your organization is renowned for cold efficiency and ruthless defense of your Fatherland. It's also not as subtle as you may think. You were invited here as guests to the Emperor, and you will show respect to him and the KMF by behaving yourself while here. Focus on your own duties so you don't get cocky and fall behind. If that happens, we can see about whose burial ground this will be. Crossing the Fatherland means swift and terrible retribution from the Zvezda, and crossing the Meritocracy is no wiser. But crossing me..." Etah narrowed his eyes.
"Crossing me will make you want to turn your back on the Fatherland and beg for mercy. And you will be denied. And on your bones, when I am finished, at the end of days, when time itself dies, will be written, 'this was the fool who challenged the Immortal Colonel'. Am. I. Clear?" Etah's voice was dripping with intimidation and malice.
Yeltsin glared right at the newcomer, his face rigid and unmoving. An odd staring contest began between the two, which created an uneasy air of malice that even the other Zvezda officers were mildly disturbed about. It ended with Yeltsin breaking his normally awe-inspiring glare and replacing it with a smirk, turning his head to the still-shaken chief of security.
"Krek, if you had but a miniscule fraction of the confidence the Immortal Colonel has, I would have no need to doubt your skill," Yeltsin turned his head back to face Etah, "Take the position from this wyrmling, handle security yourself. I will have no reason to suspect that there will be bloodshed tonight." Yeltsin eased his blade back into its sheath, caressing the hilt before he slowly, and almost disappointedly, returned his arms to their comfortable outwards resting position.
With that, Yeltsin and his men all but vanished into the gala, ever-vigilant for even the smallest of threats.
Exchange of StoriesEdit
"Admiral Larenz, would you care to go into detail regarding the mission?" Leonhard Baars suggested.
Larenz had been discussing the protection of Prolsevich cargo vessels with a certain Tymoteusz Zhevhyit, a duty that he had been assigned years ago. Almost eighty cruisers were under his command, with supporting corvettes and frigates. From distribution stations at the heart of the empire, Prolsevich Industries cargo ships would steam towards Imperial Armed Forces equipment depots close to the Kklxin front, protected from convoy raiders by Imperial Navy cruisers and destroys. Larenz commanded one of these escort task forces, and he shielded the largest transport fleets with his ships.
"Of course. We started a few systems away from Herit, where my ships linked up with the Prolsevich convoy. It was a bit larger than usual, and the leader said they were carrying some experimental gear for field testing. I wanted to get some more cruisers under my command for the run, but it was too late at that point. We set off fifteen minutes later. The first two days went fine, but on the third, the lead transport had to stop for repairs. We ducked into a little shipyard on our route, and waited. Less than an hour after we stopped, we had raiders."
"Kklxin?" Jonatan Karpati asked.
"Harbinger remnants as well as Kklxin. They had twice as many ships as we did, and they all opened fire on the lead transport while it was under repair. I put ten of my cruisers in front of it. Obviously, it was carrying something important if our two big enemies were willing to kiss and make up like that just to raid a convoy. They only paid attention to that one hauler, so I was able to move the rest of my ships to their flank. With some careful maneuvering and the sacrifice of two ships, we routed the raiders and took out nearly half of their ships."
The rest of the group slowly nodded their heads.
"I did convoy escort for a while. I was a bridge tech for a light carrier for a few months before I left the military..." Petar Scaldigseg began, absentmindedly twiddling his thumbs, "There was one particular run where our group came upon another convoy already being attacked. They lost all of their escorts, so my carrier and a destroyer went over to protect them. Some of the raiders started shooting at us, and they hit the bridge pretty bad. Most of the deck depressurised, and I was almost sucked into space trying to carry someone into the medical bay."
"Getting sucked into space is no fun. The same thing almost happened to me. I'm glad that the self-sealing mechanisms have been improved." Larenz commented.
"That's why I didn't join the Navy," Karpati stated, "If I get shot at planetside, I at least have a better chance of staying alive. That, and I got to drive tanks. You know how many tanks the Navy has?" Karpati shook his head, "Not a one."
"False," Scaldigseg challenged, "The Imperial Naval Infantry have some Conqueror tanks."
"Yeah, well, show me a dedicated INF tank unit, and then we'll talk. Being part of a real tank column is probably the best thing to do in the armed forces."
"Speaking of tanks, my grandson Erich is transferring into armour. Any tips I could pass along?" Tymoteusz inquired to Karpati.
"Oh yes, you have your grandsons... Of course. I would tell him that our tanks can ford deeper rivers than the instructors say. Tell him to remember that the official maximum fording depth is about 75% of the actual fording depth. How is Erich, anyway? Last I saw him was... Was it six years ago?"
"I'm unsure. Erich's been doing well, along with Waclaw, Rainer, Eckehard, and Ingrid. He's quite the tall young man, now. He and Waclaw both went into engineering, but like I said, Erich's transferring into the tanks. I thank Marana that my grandchildren's childhoods were relatively unaffected by the war. Everything was fine except for that damned Tholker..."
"Tholker? I've heard that name... What happened with him?"
"My son's only failure is that boy... He nearly killed Waclaw and Erich. I told him I wouldn't consider him to be a corporate successor, but that didn't seem to phase him much... That Tholker Zhevhyit... I swear, his attitude is going to get him killed."
"Is that so? How are so certain?"
Turning to see the newcomer to the circle of generals, the Eteno saw Colonel Etah taking a seat among them.
"Colonel Etah, I assume? Tymotuesz Zhevhyit. Why do you ask such a question?" Replied the elderly yellow sentient.
"Hmph. Let me tell you something, Colonel: That boy nearly killed two of his brothers. Would've finished the job, too, I'd bet, if Marana didn't shoot some sense into him at the last second. I removed him from my list of corporate heirs, but the brat didn't care. Humans have a phrase for it; 'Sour grapes'. He's just pretending he doesn't care he can't be an heir because he knows he'll never be an heir."
"You didn't answer my question. I asked how you're so certain his attitude will kill him."
"Because that snide, contemptuous bastard won't always have something to fall back on! He had the military for him to go to when he couldn't rely on the family business, and when he gets dishonorably discharged for some kind of failing, and I know he will, he'll have nowhere to go and end up getting himself killed in some crime gang or something!"
"How do you know he'll be discharged?"
"Because that's what he does! Fails! Hes gonna get angry at some squadmate and try killing them! And this time, he won't stop."
"Do you know where he's assigned now, Tymoteusz?"
"Probably some backwater Harbinger world or something. Hopefully he'll get blown up and sent off without his arm. That'll teach the yujthapfer."
"Actually, he's already been blown up.He lost every limb on his body and most of his head. He was rebuilt with cybernetics and is now serving alongside me on my current assignment. Perhaps you've heard of the team I've been assigned to. The Galactic Senate Special Operations Corps?"
"What? Impossible! Why would a killer be on GSSOC?"
"Because he's not a killer, he's a soldier, and he's not just a soldier, either, he's a supersoldier. He's the best the EIT has to offer for the Galaxy, according to the Council of Generals. He's managed to save my life once, and it's because of his expertise that our operations of been such successes! I will mourn the day he retires, but I most certainly cannot say I will mourn the day he forgives you!"
"Forgives ME? Why would that murderer forgive me??"
"Because you've harmed him more than he's harmed you. Your toxic words and attempts to poison his reputation... my people would never forgive one of our own who did such things. But I know Tholker. He'll forgive you someday, when you work up the wisdom to know you ought to apologize to him. After you do that, though, I look forward to seeing the impossible day when you grow the ichen to look him in the eyes."
"Yep. I most certainly do."
Flabbergasted and exasperated by the actions executed against him, Tymoteusz turned and left the circle, seeking some new crowd to converse with, and undoubtedly spread word of his treatment.
"I must say, Colonel, that was a bold move, saying those things." Said Scaldigsid. "Lucky for you, we Eteno like boldness. Come, we've heard fables of you. 5,000 years is a long time. Surely you've got a tale or two to tell?"
"Indeed. There was this one time a few centuries ago, when I controlled the entire Sauren military and gave an order to an Emperor..." The Colonel began. He always knew how to hook an audience. Especially when it came to Eteno.
van Daalen's MenEdit
As a high-class party of pomp and leisure was well underway, a different kind of demonstration of power began outside. The sounds of Eteno voices and their synchronised singing of Dreif Gautzlancloi preceded 5,600 Imperial Marines marching before the Halls of Regality. A vanguard of armoured vehicles surrounded the formation, rumbling along at a snail's pace with the infantry.
On the streets and sidewalks lay thousands of leaflets scattered in advance, their grey and blue colour pallette doing little to make the papers stand out in the obscure evening dusk. Legions of faceless soldiers stood before rows upon rows of tanks and artillery, with sprawling formations of aircraft crowding the skies above. In the rectangular space between the land and air armadas were four transparent figures. An Imperial Air Force ordnanceman, an Imperial Navy engineer, an Imperial Army artilleryman, and an Imperial Marine rifleman. In bold Sauran text on the bottom half of the poster, a single call to action was written in a jagged, blood-red font:
"Why are you missing from this picture? Karnasaurs! Enlist!"
Almost no one had heeded the request, but those responsible for the leaflet's distribution had never expected that in the first place. Their purpose was not to attract volunteers, but to beef up the image of the gargantuan Eteno military, whose tentacles seemed to extend everywhere. To a limited extent, the leaflets completed their desired goal. The Marines marching to their embassy from Sauris' premiere spaceport did seem like a living embodiment of the seemingly-endless formations depicted on the leaflet.
On account of the congregation of so many important KMF and EIT figures on Karnas, Eteno embassy security officers requested a temporary security increase. With a handful of patrol boats and just a few hundred inexperienced soldiers watching over the compound, it wasn't difficult to see why. An organised attack on the Halls of Regality would inevitably spill into the embassy and pierce the security detail like an artillery shell through paper mache. Now there would be over 6,000 men, not to mention tanks and a limited number of artillery pieces. Officially, embassy protection was still directed by an Imperial Army officer, but High General van Daalen, also an attendee of the gala of such intense focus, was the de facto chief of all military operations in and around Karnas.
In addition to securing Eteno interests at the embassy, van Daalen's forces would react to any conflicts at the Halls of Regality in a supporting role to KMF security personnel and Zvezda teams. Curiously, the general had arranged for his formations to report only to him during the Galactic Gala, so as to ensure no treacherous infiltrators would distract or provoke them. After that order had been issued, van Daalen, without even the slightest hint of irony, proceeded to polish his plans for the embassy soldiers and their upcoming raid.
A Curious GirlEdit
"Come on!" Pried Scaldigsid.
"Nope. Can't tell you." Replied Etah.
"Come on, Colonel! You can't build us up like that and just leave it!" Larenz insisted.
"I'm sorry, boys, but I all I can say is that the Dragonslayers were approaching orbit around Karnas, and fifty years later we ended the war and the Second Age by obliterating their empires. The rest, as they say,"
"Is classified!" Answered the entire circle, in laughter.
Etah drew quite the crowd. His technical boss, Sree Kesh, was there. He never listened to her; HIRIOTs did what they wanted, but she could overturn operations they shot her way (provided they aren't already running it). But ELICAN HIRIOTs like him were above all authority save the Emperor. Hess Kuun, leader of the KMF MIlitary, could issue orders to Etah under emergency powers, but that's under WARSTAT 0. He was there as well.
"Could you tell us about GSSOC, Colonel?" Asked a female Karnasaur.
"Perhaps a thing or two, dear lady. Anything in particular? Interested in regalia?"
"More like fact. I was curious about how much the Treasury pays for GSSOC."
"Were you now? I got curious of that myself, and after an inquiry to the Overseer of Foreign Expenditure, I found the KMF spends about N7 billion on GSSOC, about half the expenditure. The EIT and DFM catch the rest evenly. It was decided that since the KMF Treasury was the most well-stocked of the original Senate States that they would cover repeating expenditures while the EIT supplied military-grade hardware and the DFM offered to cover electronics and construction of our HQ."
"What of the new additions to the Senate? The Delsons and GHD?"
"The GHD are honorary members, they supply GSSOC with a member and occasional intel and naval support. As for the Delson, they provide us with unique vehicles and naval support."
"Historic Recordkeeping has records of GSSOC operation reports from you classified as SCL2. Any reason for that?"
"Just making sure some details about our ops don't fall into the wrong hands."
"Do you know how the Overseers of Peacetime Military Oversight and Military Industrial Relations interact with GSSOC?"
"They don't. GSSOC is completely controlled by the Senate. I myself and my team mates do not operate as members of our militaries but rather as GSSOC Operatives. We're officially on loan to the Senate."
"But you maintain the chain of command with your militaries?"
"Yes. May I inquire as to why you are so curious?" Etah's interest was aroused by this curious girl. Curious, that is, in two ways.
"Forgive me, Kene Thes, I'm with the Historic Recordkeeping Division. I was just curious. My boss allowed me to come and when I saw you arrive, I thought I'd ask."
"I see. Do you have any more questions, Kene?"
"Well... well, no, no, I don't want to detract from your time."
"No no, please. Gentlemen, I pray my stories of times long ago have regaled you for the time. I believe that if any of you are interested in hearing further tales of my time, I shall return here within the next hour or so."
Many Eteno rose and shook hands with the Colonel, thanking him for his time and admitting the honor it was to meet him. Leaving with Kene, Etah felt a twinge of something for her. For a second, she looked... beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. But this faded, and he continued to follow her to a relatively secluded area, where she began asking him several questions.
Another salvo of artillery fire arrived on the well-prepared defensive positions of the Kklxin-captured Eteno fort. Befitting Imperial Army design, the fort was constructed deep into the mountainside only a few hundred metres away from Lance General Hoff's command post. Searchlights brought up from an AA battery behind the lines were used as makeshift target painters, lighting up the night sky while casting luminous, white circles on Kklxin artillery gun nests. The AA guns in the battery themselves brought down heavy, albeit inaccurate fire upon the heads of the fort's defenders. Smaller Bofors guns, mixing old, rugged human design with modern Eteno targeting technology, poured rounds on any muzzle flashes facing Eteno troops.
Commander Ivanov Monore stood in his command trench, anxiously awaiting word of the 56th Mechanised Battalion's push on the fort's flank as support for the 2nd Armour Regiment, under Commander Seweryn. Noncoms and low-ranking officers scurried in and about the trench, brushing past Monore as they went. The commander listened in intently to the radio device in his ear as it crackled to life.
"Commander Monore! This is Captain Angelov, 56th MB! We got hit pretty bad by Kklxin anti-tank guns hidden in the mountainside, and we're trying to pull back. Half my unit's pinned down though, and we need immediate support!" The sounds of tanks, lasers, and rifles firing in the background nearly drowned out Angelov's request.
Monore took a mental inventory of his remaining assets. He still had five battalions of mechanised infantry as part of his company's reserve, but they would be little help in this sort of situation even if he could have them detached. Two armoured battalions were dedicated to the frontal assault, and all that left the commander with was an AT battalion and AA artillery unit. The sound of almost 170 Quad Bofors guns saturating the front of the Kklxin fort with explosive rounds was a constant reminder of the last.'
"Hold on Angelov, I have guns on their way!" Monore yelled in reply.
The commander immediately flagged down a lieutenant working communications equipment, dividing his attention between two tables of radio gear.
"Lopotenant, tell the 93rd AA to move half their guns forward and left twenty feldegrams, and to be ready to move! Then, get two platoons from the 100th AT to move with those elements and provide mobile covering fire!"
"Yes sir... Yes Ilotovnik!"
Monore left the junior officer to his work, confident in his abilities to get the orders through quickly. Most higher-level unit officers distursted green lieutenants, even though most of them had proven themselves capable at the same stage of their careers. Monore was not one of those officers. He always trusted the regimental officers to get things done on their own without any oversight, and they almost always did.
One thing shared by most all Imperial Armed Forces officers, including Monore, was the tendancy to lead from the front.' The commander climbed out of the trench, and retrieved a JL-17 rifle from a supply tent. Noticing that some of his officers were directing their guns and AT infantry forward, Monore loped to his designated meeting spot', twenty feldegrams forward and left. 'There, he encountered another junior officer observing the thoroughly-beaten Kklxin fort through high-powered binoculars, most likely wondering if he and his men were moving to support the frontal attack.
"Sir, the men are assembling and the gun carriages are being hitched up!" The officer turned and reported as soon as he heard Monore approach.
"Good. We're going around to provide covering fire for the 56th's withdrawl."
"Where's the 56th?"
"They went with the 2nd Armour Regiment trying to break through Kklxin defensive lines to the West of the fort. They got pinned down, and now half of the 56th is immobile."
"Are we mounting an attack, sir?"
"No way. We don't have the firepower for that. We're just going to shut those god-forsaken Kklxin guns up for a minute to let the 56th pull out."
"So that's what the guns are for. Why are Jurgen and I's AT platoons coming along?"
"I'm certain that Kklxin troops are going to try and surround the pinned down troops," Monore turned to see men and guns arriving, "Time to head out."
Ivanov stood before the assembly, equivalent to about one understrength battalion, and beckoned it forward. A squad of riflemen immediately shadowed the commander, on the watch for any sharpshooters or hidden Kklxin guns. Monore and the AT troops maintained a quick pace, keeping good distance between themselves and the gun-towing trucks, driving cautiously to avoid hitting anything or getting stuck in the pitch-black brush, illuminated only by weak headlights, as floodlights might give away their position to the Kklxin fort's gunners.
When Monore and the AT troops arrived at the 2nd Armour Regiment's fallback position, a handful of tanks still remained, offering meagre cover fire for half of the pinned down 56th. The other half of the unit had seemingly fallen back to the reserve positions with the rest of the 2nd. In the distance, silhouettes of smoking armoured vehicles were visible, as well as bursts of laserfire coming out of the mountain before them.
"Alright, here we are. Guns are to set up here and train on whatever gun positions you can spot in the mountainside. AT troops are to sneak to the pinned down 56th with me, and dispatch any resistance along the way. Guns will fire when I give the word." Monore ordered.
The Quad Bofors unhitched from the towing vehicles, whose crews began unloading ammunition and stabilising the carriages. Monore crouched, and slowly paced towards whatever was left of the pinned down Eteno troops. His AT troops followed in a wide vee, with riflemen moving a few metres ahead of the heavier infantry. Only three or four Kklxin advance scouts were encountered, and immediately dispatched. When Monore and his infantry were only thirty metres or so from the 56th, he ordered the guns set up behind them to fire. The entirety of the mountain's West side was coated in fire. As per their training, the gun crews walked their rounds up to their targets, necessitating a steady stream of fire. The replies of Kklxin guns never came.
"All troops, lay down fire around the 56th!" Ivanov commanded.
As soon as the order was given, scattered rifle erupted from the vee centered around Monore, pelting much of the surrounding area. Small groups of Kklxin infantry and gun emplacements in the tall grass attempted to silence this covering fire, but the random suppression changed to pinpoint fire on the heads of those once-hidden Kklxin. Now with both sources of Kklxin resistance at least temporarily nullified, Monore rapidly withdrew with the disembarked remnants of the 56th sheltered around their vehicles' burning hulls, diverting some of his Bofors' gunfire on the vacated field.
"...and that was the highlight of my career, Emperor. That was my quickest promotion, and after that it was just a short step up to a brigade command." Monore ended.
Clar seemed to enjoy the story, smiling and nodding along with the observations of a tiny pack of EIT and KMF military leaders making up the rest of the group. He excused himself for a moment, saying he needed to ask a question of one of his staff. In actuality, he retreated to a side room and assured that the RESP, or Royal Electronic Secretary Program, had taken note of the military information unknowingly surrendered to the KMF in the story.
"RESP, did you record all of that?"
"Yes, Your Majesty. Supreme Commander Monore's story has been recorded and saved into my files. I will que it for analysis and review for tomorrow."
"That'll do. Good work, RESP."
"Just doing my job, Your Highness."
An Excellent QuestionEdit
"Actually, Captain Zhevhyit has violated Bunker security protocol before. He's brought in a non-authorized civilian for an indefinite amount of time." Etah corrected. Kene had just mentioned how Tholker would never violate Bunker security.
"Really? Why would he let in an unauthorized civilian? I thought Eteno never broke the rules." Kene responded.
"Well, let me give you a hint: She's a woman, he's a man." Etah hinted.
"Oh, well then... That explains it." Kene said, with a little embarrasment in her voice.
"Indeed. Karla Frankewitz is her name. She and Tholker... they're close. She threw a knife at me once because I needed to steal her boyfriend from her." Etah recalled.
"Really? Is she... possessive?" Kene poked.
"No, not at all. Tholker had been teaching her and she wanted to try it out. I just so happened to give reason for her to try it on me."
"I see." Kene responded.
"If you don't mind me asking, would you mind telling me about yourself, Kene?" Etah inquired.
"Me? Well, I'm Homeborne, like I said. My parents are both in the Fleets, they're with the 181st Expeditionary, along with my little sister, Rene."
"181st? The guys out in EIT space?"
"The same. I'm 213 years old, if you were wondering. I've always liked foreign worlds and cultures. The Eteno, for example. They're so fascinating. A race that loves war but isn't hostile? Or the Dhragolon, with their odd religion and archaic taste in weapons. I'm also a bit of a loose wing; I love flying, it's wierd, I know, but I love it."
"Love flying? Every Karnasaur flies, why is it so special to you?"
"I don't know. It just kind of... makes my problems disappear. You can probably tell I'm big into history, too. That's why I'm with Historic Recordkeeping. I actually specialize in classified documents; I know more about you than anyone else." Kene paused as she realized what she just said.
"I mean... your assignments, and all..." Kene rushed to say, her wings twiching slightly, showing embarrasment.
"Heheh, relax, friend. It's good to be able to talk to another Karnasaur about my work without having to remember their clearance. SCL 1, right?"
"Yes. I can access anything in the government databases. The only thing I can't see is SCL 0 stuff like national secrets and stuff. But I'm sure you read into all that stuff on a daily basis, Colonel."
"Indeed. Let's just say the conspiracy about the Emperor working with Hashaeons isn't as stupid as it sounds." Etah said, serious as death.
"Wha-what?" Kene asked, shocked.
"Ha! I'm joking, Kene! Sorry, I just love doing that sometimes."
"Don't scare me like that!"
"Oh, forgive me, I just wanted a kick, didn't mean to upset you."
"It's alright, I suppose. What about you, Colonel? Anything about you I don't know?"
"I'm terrible at chess."
"Absolutely. I can never play it, never. I'm also allergic to certain perfumes worn by Eteno. The phermones don't go well with my immune system."
"What, you start sneezing at shorter women?" Kene teased.
"Oh, yes, I secretly have a wild fetish for Eteno females..." Etah joked, sarcasm blatant in his voice.
"What else?" Kene inquired.
"You know how they call me the Immortal Colonel? I didn't come up with that. It was First Galactic War propaganda when I was leader of the ELICAN squad. Kind of like And remember, wryms, the Immortal Colonel is fighting on the frontline for your future!"
"Interesting. Colonel, may I ask you a... personal question? Since you've asked about me?" Kene asked.
"It depends on the question."
"What's the most beautiful thing you've seen?"
Etah stopped a moment and thought. It was a very good question. He had seen many, many things. Stars of all ages, empires of all stages, he had even seen the first amphibians climb onto a sand bar on a primordial world. Cities, planets, species, black holes, all manner and a plethora of things. He had seen terrible things, too; War, death, poverty, defeat. So many things...
"I... honestly can't say. I'm not sure, that is. Never really thought of it. What is the beautiful thing you've seen?"
Kene looked solemnly at the floor.
"When I was just a hatchling, my father took me to the coastline. We lived in a little town near the eastern coast of Dominatum. It was still night, of course, but the moons were setting. It was very early, and he wanted me to see the sun rise over the water. I napped most of the time, but he woke me just at the right moment to see Saurasol rising over the water. I could see its light glistening off the light water, scattering across the ocean. I literally lost my breath to it. Everytime I think about it, I remember feeling the first beams of sunlight on my scales. That... that was the most beautiful thing I've seen."
"Such an amazing sight. I can only imagine."
"You've never watched the sunrise?"
"Not like that. Whenever I experience it, it just means I have to find cover until night to move, or that the fleet is almost here, or reinforcements should arrive soon... but never like that."
"Oh. I see."
"It is an excellent question, Kene. One I promise to answer." Etah said. At that moment, a Karnasaur walked over. He seemed very impatient and not particulalry attractive.
"There you are, Kene! Come on, I told you that if you were going, you were going with me! The band is playing a Sauren song soon. I expect you to dance with me, as agreed."
"Of... of course, Kenn. Colonel, Kenn Adar, my... my boss. I hope to see you again."
"Of course, Kene, good day."
And with that, she left.