Daxion: Chapter Three

Daxion

General Rouhr called all members of each strike team to his conference room for a meeting.

I arrived first, followed by Tu’ver, Vrehx, and eventually all the others, including Engineer Thribb. Axtin and Sakev were the last ones to arrive, laughing as they entered the room.

Rouhr started as they took their seats. “We have some serious things we need to talk about, and I want to start with the biggest issue on our plate.” He paused, but I knew what he was going to say. We all did.

“The Xathi.”

Since Sakev’s return from Einhiv, there had been only one conversation swirling through the crew, apparently even bleeding over into the gossip of the refugees, judging by last night’s interaction with Amira.

Should we find a way off the planet or continue to fight?

“We need to decide if we are going to stay on Ankau and continue to fight the Xathi, or if we’re going to take the information we have already and try to get off-world,” Rouhr said, echoing my thoughts.

Axtin was the first to respond. “Are we even able to leave? The Vengeance is still partially buried, and there aren’t enough materials to fix her properly, even if we had everyone in Duvest working to get us the parts.”

Thribb responded to Axtin’s comment. “You are very correct, Axtin. The ship is in a very awkward predicament at the moment, as are we.”

Thribb got up from his seat and walked over to the main screen. He brought up an inventory list and continued, “Our current situation does not afford us much opportunity for repairs. If we could conduct repairs without interruption, I estimate that it would take us just under a year to make the proper repairs needed for sustained space travel.”

“How long just to get her in the air?” Axtin asked.

Thribb nodded at Axtin. “That would still take us several weeks, if we were uninterrupted. However, with the Xathi threat and the constant need for defense and patrols, we will need several months in order to get the Vengeance flying again.”

“Then what is the point in trying to figure out if we should stay or not?” Karzin asked. “Seems to me, our circumstances have already decided for us.”

I had to agree with him to a degree. If the ship would be that difficult to repair, then all our efforts should be on stopping the Xathi.

However, there was something he had missed, and I wasn’t the only one who saw it.

Takar spoke up. “Except we have a problem with our supplies, Karzin.” He looked at his team leader. “We don’t have the munitions needed to maintain a prolonged battle with the Xathi. Even if we were able to get weapons from the humans who are on our side, our own supplies are running low.”

“What about those grenades Axtin and his human managed to create in Duvest?” Rokul, Takar’s brother, asked.

Takar turned to look at his brother. “They are useful, but not fool-proof. Also, their range is limited, and their efficiency is dependent upon how many Xathi are in the immediate area.”

Rouhr spoke up, taking control of the conversation. “Takar makes a valid point. We are limited with our supplies, and with more humans coming to stay every week, our stores are being taxed more than expected. We need to choose which direction is best for us. I see four possibilities, and one of them is not even a choice.”

As he spoke, I agreed. Four options, none fabulous.

Choice one, we could continue to fight the Xathi and try to figure out what they were up to.

Choice two, we could concentrate our efforts on repairing the ship and leaving.

Choice three, we could split our concentration between ship repair and fighting, which is what we had been doing, with limited effectiveness.

Choice four? We could decide that we no longer stood a chance and conduct a final assault where we would most likely be destroyed.

“Sir?” Everyone turned their attention to me. I rarely ever spoke during meetings unless addressed first.

I didn’t need to add extra words to the briefings. Usually things were pretty clear-cut.

But not anymore.

“What are we looking for exactly in regard to the Xathi?”

“May I?” Vrehx asked Rouhr.

Rouhr nodded and Vrehx got to his feet. He always talked better when he walked around.

“The Xathi are not acting as they normally do. When they attacked each of our planets, their method M.O. was to simply attack, destroy, and drain as many resources as possible, correct?”

Everyone in the room nodded in agreement.

It was how the Xathi had always worked. They would swoop in, cause devastation, and while the Soldiers were fighting the planet’s defenders, the Xathi Workers and Harvesters would denude the planet of whatever resources they could get.

It had happened on each of our homeworlds.

It wasn’t something any of us would ever forget.

“They’re not doing that here,” Vrehx continued. “They’ve changed direction since we first landed, started an entirely new operation, as far as we can tell. They’re working on creating the hybrids, taking over the human population.”

He paused, scowling. “My original thought was they were using the humans to repair their own ship, but our patrols indicate that that’s not happening, at least as far as we can see. The holes we blew in it,” he said with a nod to Axtin, “are still there. They’re using the humans for something else.”

General Rouhr took the conversation back from Vrehx. “That is why we need to figure out what they’re up to. This is a complete flip from what they normally do, and it has me concerned.”

Thribb spoke up again, his distaste at his own words showing. “Sir,” he said with a hint of respect in his voice, “I humbly disagree. As stated earlier, we are running low on munitions and other supplies. And despite the admirable showings of the humans that are working with us, we are limited in skilled warriors. I can’t believe that I’m about to say this,” and he shook his head as he did, “but I believe we should concentrate on fixing the ship and leaving this planet. It is better to live so we can fight again than to throw away our lives and never fight again.”

It was an old Valorni saying, but every species I’d ever met had a variant of it.

Didn’t mean I liked it.

“If the Xathi are acting differently, there must be a reason, and we need to know what that reason is. It could be the answer to defeating them,” Takar argued.

Tu’ver nodded in agreement. “There is a chance that the humans either know something or are in possession of something that the Xathi want. That could be beneficial for us if we found it first.”

Engineer Thribb spoke up. “That is a very logical argument, Tu’ver. However, our current limited supplies do not afford us an opportunity to conduct such an investigation. Our best course of action is to repair the ship as best as possible, then make our way off the planet and back through the rift.”

Rouhr stood, silencing the rest of us. “Let me pose this question to everyone. If we were to leave the planet and escape through the rift, how would your consciences handle the idea of abandoning the humans here? Humans whom we have become friends with, might I remind you.”

The room was quiet. Each team had their own human contacts around the continent and had made friends with several of the humans on board. Tona and Skit, as well as other guards and soldiers, had already made an impression on each team, as had the women who had become part of our crew’s families.

Evie was invaluable in the infirmary and in her study of the hybrids. Jeneva had taught each of us how to survive the wilderness where even the trees tried to kill you.  Mariella and Leena worked in the lab, finding new ways to deal with the Xathi and how to modify the neuro-weapons we had invented.

Rouhr broke the silence. “I, in good conscience, cannot fathom the idea of leaving behind so many people to try to defend themselves against an enemy that even we, with superior technology, struggle with. Even if it is the logical decision,” he said with a nod to Thribb, “I believe that it is the wrong decision. But…that is my belief.  Each of you have laid out your thoughts, at least most of you have, and you all make compelling cases. We just need to figure out our plan of action. We can’t split our concentrations anymore. It’s holding us back and hurting us. We need to choose.”

I already knew my choice. I wanted to know why the Xathi were behaving as they were. If there was something in the human mind, or whatever, that could benefit all of us, I wanted to know what it was.

Then, something occurred to me. “Sir? What about the Aurora?”

Rouhr looked at me and smiled. “Thank you for bringing it up. According to Fen’s latest reports, the Xathi population in the Kangeti wetlands is negligible. She estimates single digits and believes that it is because there are no humans left in the wetlands, so they’ve left the Aurora alone. Any that were there have either been infected or escaped. Actually, hold on.”

The general looked down at his tablet, then smiled as he looked up. “Some good news, for a change. Fen and her people have agreed to share whatever resources they can spare.”

A slight relaxing of tension rolled around the table. It meant that we had a little more to help keep ourselves going, no matter what decision we made.

At least for a little while.

He looked at Vrehx. “I need you and your team to go back to the Aurora and coordinate with Fen to run a proper inventory. Find out what kind of resources they have and what we can use.”

“Aye, sir.” Vrehx responded.

“Sir?” I asked.

“You’re mighty talkative today, Dax.” Rouhr smiled. “What is it?”

“I’d like to include Amira on this trip, if you wouldn’t mind.” It was a calculated gamble, but I had to ask.

“Why?”

“She’s deeply embedded with the refugee population. We know how quickly rumors can fly when a crew is under tension. If the humans don’t have information, they’ll jump to conclusions. It’s far too likely those conclusions could be an additional problem we’ll need to attend to.”

I shot a sly look towards my strike captain. “Besides, if Amira can participate and show her worth, that will make Jeneva happier, which will make Vrehx happier, which makes all of us happier. Sir.”

From the corner of my eye, I could see Vrehx’s scowl.

Rouhr grinned. “I understand. Very well, take her along.”

This was going to be interesting.

***

Daxion is a work in progress. I’d love to know what you think!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my Update List!

Powered by EmailOctopus