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The Pax - Chapter 1 [Collated]

Oubliettes so foul that entire war machines have been ground to dust simply under the action of the environment and the combatants themselves are left with nothing but those gifts bestowed upon them by evolution.

Council Fleet General Kluat, his broad horns gilded and polished addressed the contained fleets commanders upon the bridge of his flagship whilst broadcasting to the assembled battle-group.

The sentence will be commuted under the following conditions.” “One, should you breach the systems containment perimeter.” “Two, should one of your races completely annihilate the other.” “Three, should you devolve to such a state as to be classed non-sentient.” “Do you understand?” The two commanders eyed each other and answered in turn to their captor.

Whilst Howoho’s head hung low when he said, “Hyup.” The General turned to his second and said, “Very well, let it be entered into the record that they both assented.” Turning back to his captives he gestured to the guards to ease up on the chains and continued.

Us lot would have been in awe of him anyway, but the large silver medallion attached to a broad red collar, ‘For Exemplary Action in the Face of the Enemy’, hanging round his neck made him even more imposing.

For some, it will mean sacrificing yourself to save your friends.” He paused and looked down at his medallion again, “And for others it will be sacrificing your friends to save yourself.” “That’s what war will show you.

Its leader gave me a look that said everything about what he felt and all I could say was a quiet, “Sorry.” He paused, looked at me and said, “I’d have done the same, sir.” My head dropped and the shame of what I’d done hung heavy, but the anger at myself lifted me back up, “Let’s get these bastards” I growled.

If, we ever get off this pestilential planet, I’ll beg borrow and steal as much soap as possible and spend the rest of my life being washed to get rid of the filth from my fur.

The medical officer followed shortly after, but at least before she died she gave us a glimmer of something that might actually make the people who sent us here quake in their boots and shake up their high and mighty Pax Universum.

We have some things to discuss and I would like us all to be comfortable at least until the end.” The Mewken grumbled but acceded, “If this is a trap I have but to give the call and you will be slaughtered.” “Please, I feel nothing but good will towards you and called this meeting to make peace between our races.” Most of the Mewken sat across from me looked on incredulously, even some of those on my own side who knew the nature of the meeting blanched at my statement.

Something has been brought to my attention that puts our petty squabbles into the perspective they really deserve.” I sat looking at him with a wide honest grin for the first time since arriving on the planet and signalled to have the creature brought forth from where it was being held.

It’s skin was just visible through the light fur covering its body and it looked around the clearing obviously scared of the Mewk and the other members of my race, but when it was released it quickly stood by my side and grabbed the thick fur on my side.

It is.” “Explain, before I leave you to this insanity.” “It and what appears to be a small family group was snagged trying to steal supplies from one of our food caches.” “We thought it nothing more than another opportunist animal until we did some tests.” “Why keep it alive, looks to be some good meat on the thing?” “It is a nascent sentient with basic self-awareness, but it is sentient nonetheless.” “Good god.” “We have spent the last few months looking for and studying them, they live in a loose familial pack similar to ourselves but they also have a fiercely individualistic streak.

They usually practice familial sexual bonding, but because they usually travel so widely and often meet up with other groups during their migrations genetic abnormalities aren’t that much of a problem.” “What do you propose?” “We cease all hostilities and give these things the full benefit of what remains of our joint medical technology and in essence give the Council the biggest problem in the Pax, a sentient that has evolved on a War World.” My opposite number among the Mewk turned to his men and started discussing it as I sat down and while I waited the little biped picked the insects out of my coat.

We’ve been working to get it up and running and it should be good for at least as long as we need.” “The council won’t use this place again for at least a few million years and in that time think of what we could do with these things.” “They already hunt as a pack.

The rest of the team would be chosen at our own discretion.” Nahbus had had the chamber prepared for a long time, he was ready to enter the stasis pod for the last time.

The last of the group put into the stasis pod had died due to exposure to the toxic environment and been interred beneath this very chamber, Heseshbub, how he missed her companionship.

A flotilla of smaller craft carefully flew around it, there were the sight-seeing yachts, the yahoo’s in their junkers and the ones she really wish weren’t there, the diplomatic gigs.

The navigation buoys surrounding her flight path burned red against the void and she had little to do but wait for the last of the stragglers to move out of her path.

Her path stood in front of her at almost 0.1 AU in diameter and passed from the shipyards in orbit around Io across the inner system to Pluto orbit and docking with the Orpheus Installation on the surface.

She could just hear the FTL engines whine through the bulkheads and remembered why her path was so wide, if the engine suffered a critical failure, nothing within 50 kilometres would survive and the backlash of hard radiation would be fatal out to nearly a thousand.

Icarus base, are you reading me?” “Icarus base here, loud and clear, pre-flight checks are showing green on our end, please confirm?” “Green across the board here, Icarus base.” “GTG Code is Green.

The ship came alive around her as all the places where tolerances weren't quite right started creaking as the power built and the gravity trough was constructed in front of her ship.

She looked outside at the thing forming in front of her ship, to anyone else it would have looked like an acid fuelled psychedelic kaleidoscope, but to Mackensie it looked beautiful.

At the centre of the meniscus that separated her from the gravity trough they collided and coalesced into a bright corona of tendrils that seemed to reach to her, beckoning her forward into FTL.

She sat back into her seat for a moment to gather herself, checked her ship status then whispered into the microphone, “ … Jenkins.” It was three months later and the polish still hadn’t really worn off.

Luba was the gentlest and sweetest women you would ever want to meet, wrapped up in a body that made any woman that hadn’t actually met her hate her.

Cool calm calculating, but her mind seemed to drift off into a trance like state and when she came back it would be with a chunk of the science and translated into a mental schematic.

I think you once called it a gravity filter” “The effect I saw is caused by the light caught between those two layers being intensified due to the amount of energy in the system and magnifying otherwise invisible stellar objects.

“This is an image taken during your flight, it was constructed using data from five of the cameras pointed in that direction, here you can see the initial image.” Luba moved on through the gallery of images, “These successive images show us eliminating known extra-solar bodies.” “The one we’re here to discuss is the one produced when we used a red-shift filtering algorithm to show only objects within a relatively close proximity to the solar system.

Its giving all of us here a serious case of brain itch I can tell you.” “Any idea how big these things are?” “Just estimates, but our reasoning goes something like this, to be visible by reflected light at that distance they have to have a certain albedo, which when we run that number against the amount of light we’re detecting.

Which is why I can hand off now to our resident MIB.” The government suit by the door to the room stood and nodded to Luba and stood in front of the display, “Can we lose the goofy backdrop, Luba, I need to be serious here.” she nodded and the screen faded back to a pastoral image.

It could churn out FTL fighters in batches of 200 a day, but at the moment it was laid out in three rhomboid channels each 2 kilometre wide and 10 kilometres long and as each of the contact ships was constructed it would slowly inch along the channel.

Its captain, Arturo Nunez, paced slowly around the bridge of his ship allowing the camera to see each of the bridge crew and allowing them a moment to camera before stopping standing at the shoulder of his chief pilot, Mackensie Skinner.

Lets go make history.” Mackensie raised an eyebrow to the captain, “Yay, again.” She shifted the dynamic display in front of her to dual FTL and HELM thruster control, with one she began the process of calculating a gravity trough to their destination and on the other she seamlessly shifted their attitude to re-orient them with their destination.

Permission to engage HELM.” “Con, Aye.” “ETA, a little over 12 hours, engaging HELM.” The ship moved off toward their destination, a meeting that would have a profound effect on the human race and a universe that was about to get a lot stranger for humanity.

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