STARFIGHTER! The Iconoclasts
By: Tom Sczepkowski
With editing and clean-up by: Frederick P. Kopetz
Copyrights: STAR TREK is © 2004 by Paramount Pictures, Inc. STAR BLAZERS is © 2004 by Voyager International, and, STAR WARS is © 2004 by Lucasfilm, Ltd. GARGOYLES is © 2004 by Disney Entertainment. The Technomugar Empire is © 2004 by Frederick P. Kopetz and is mentioned here by the author's permission. All original elements of this tale are © 2004 by Tom Sczepkowski. All rights reserved, not to be copied without the author's permission.
Comets are small, fragile, irregularly shaped bodies composed of a mixture of non-volatile grains and frozen gases. They are natural objects of space. In our solar system, they have highly elliptical orbits that bring them very close to the Sun and swing them deeply into space, often beyond the orbit of Pluto.
As comets approach the Sun, they develop enormous tails of luminous material that extend for millions of kilometers from the head, away from the Sun. When far from the Sun, the nucleus is very cold and its material is frozen solid within the nucleus. In this state comets are sometimes referred to as a "dirty iceberg" or "dirty snowball," since over half of their material is ice. When a comet approaches within a few AU's of a star, the surface of the nucleus begins to warm, and volatiles evaporate. The evaporated molecules boil off and carry small solid particles with them, forming the comet's coma of gas and dust.
This is the scientific explanation of what a comet is unless you are one of the many systems under the siege of an empire known as the Comet Empire. To them, a Comet is a huge space fortress rivaling the largest cities; its firepower surpassing the most powerful Galactic Star Fortresses. Its occupants are more ruthless than the Sith Lords, the Gamilon Empire, or the Jem Haddar. They delight in either ruthlessly enslaving worlds that are useful to them, or destroying those who stand in their way. Now, they look upon their next conquest with lust, contempt and malice. What is their next conquest? A newly revived tiny war- weary planet third from its sun in the Milky Way Galaxy. A blue little world known as…Earth.
Indeed, a Comet Fortress and its fleets were a terrible weapon. Only the most decorated Princes of the Empire were allowed to have the distinction to obtain such a command Even Kahn Noonian Singh himself would not be eligible. One of these Princes was Prince Nevar Zordar. Although a handsome and vibrant man, he ruled with an iron fist and contemptuous heart. The youngest of the twelve ruling princes, he had one weakness.
Invidia Zordar was known in some circles as a “snake stabber.” Meaning even the serpents were not safe from her evil backstabbing. Yet her father repeatedly sought her council…and each time he did thousands of innocent people were needlessly butchered. Prince Zordar’s other two advisors were known as Dire and Gorce; whom he had regarded as his friends and he had known and bullied since childhood. Invidia felt they both dealt from weakness. Zordar continued to employ their consul. Zordar conquered half a galaxy with these people and why destroy a good thing?
The fortress had trappings to rival the greatest mansions of a thousand worlds. In fact, they had been plundered from them when their worlds had been conquered by Zordar's Fortress. Such was the lavish appearance of the main reception room, which had their intended prize on display on a tactical monitor on the floor.
Zordar looked at the planet and nodded in approval. “Earth….at last.” Zordar said to General Dire. “Looking at this planet, seeing it makes all my other conquests unimportant. This…This Is the Jewel of Jewels.”
“It will be the crown Jewel of your Empire, my Prince. And your power will be known throughout the Galaxy. When you make this conquest, no one will dare defy the strength of the mighty Zordar,” said Dire with a bow. Invidia smirked at him as he did so, thinking, Foolish toady! But, you might be useful to me someday.
“My power. It is known throughout the galaxy.” Zordar said “Which is why we must strike quickly. All the Dominion is watching us…all our conquered planets are trembling….This Earth is valuable…In just one year they have made it bloom again! Looking at it one would not think it had been devastated by Gamilon Planet Bombs.”
Zordar turned to see Gorce standing there with a dissatisfied look on his face. He would not openly challenge his Prince. Zordar knew this. At times however, he enjoyed the form of a debate; thinking that there would be no one to oppose him and that the campaign would go easily put him in a good mood. So he walked down to where Gorce was put his hand on his shoulder and smiled at him.
“You are uneasy, Gorce.” Zordar said
Gorce shook his head. Regarding your confidence…no, my Prince.”
Zordar laughed aloud as Gorce remained silent as Dire walked over to join the conversation
“You fear the Federation?” Dire said “They do not exist here! This is a different reality! Even if they could come here they could not intervene…. Where was the Mighty Starfleet when Bajor was invaded? Or Calix IV …or their mighty Deep Space Nine when it fell to Gull Ducat?”
“The Federation has an amusing way of deciding on what matters they can intervene.” Gorce said
“Times are changing for the Federation.” Zordar said “But they are too involved with their struggle against the Borg, the Cardassians and the Dominion to even notice what happens here. In time we will deal with that universe. In time, we shall make the forces of the Federation kneel before us.”
Gorce nodded, a smile passing across his Romulan features. Things were different in different versions of the multiverse, and here, Gorce was a Romulan from the Federation universe, just as Zordar and his people were Orions. Gorce and the others, then, were alien to this particular universe, hoping to capitalize upon its weaknesses. No Federation was here, and no Klingons, and no other Romulans. This universe, this reality, was far from "home" for them--a universe ripe for their jackal-like picking. In another universe, Gorce was of a different descent, as his Cometine people came from the Andromeda Galaxy. Things were different in other facets of the multiverse, such as the universes where the Black Nebula Empire existed…or, the abomination known as the Grand Technomugar Empire.
“I’ve fought against humans and I’ve seen them fight.” Gorce said. “And, I find that they are a most resourceful race. If you are going to quote history, Dire then understand what you are preaching. The humans will not roll over like the Bajorans.”
“Other than the nose I see no difference whatsoever.” Dire said. “Just like I can see no difference between your race and the logic-mongering, vegetarian Vulcans!"
“Of course you couldn’t tell a difference between a Vulcan and a warrior Romulan like myself.” Gorce said, “But it's not about what they look like… for, the humans are still in their infancy…Yet their history has proved that they always possess and command power and are more advanced than their years. They will fight harder and more savagely than the Klingons. Or even my people. If they are to lose their world, they might use their power to destroy it rather than to allow it be subjugated…. This has always been; from the Struggle of the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire to the Federation’s Losses against the Borg, yes, even in the recent Gamilon campaign it has been learned, that they will never allow themselves to be conquered.”
Zordar cracked an evil smile. “Yes. as you see it."
Gorce sighed, “What I see is all I have to contribute, my Prince.”
Zordar nodded. “Hmmm…interesting. If the Humans are just as you say, then they would be an asset to the grandeur of the Comet Empire.”
Dire nodded. “Yes. The humans will soon see how lucky they really are, when they become part of our great domain.”
Gorce nodded “Always, I defer to your judgment, my Prince.”
Zordar patted him on the shoulder “True.” He said with a hint of jaded sarcasm and returned to his chair Gorce took his place next to Dire…the debate was over.
“Our advance fleet is in position.” Gorce said, “We await your command to begin the campaign.”
Dire nodded. “My Prince…our superior strength will overwhelm the humans immediately. My distinguished Romulan colleague makes very valid points…We however, will succeed where others have failed! We do not make the mistakes that history professors constantly point out of other would-be conquerors!”
“General Dire!” spoke an ominous, mellow voice from the other side of the room. “You make it sound all very easy!”
“Ah, Leader Desslok!” Zordar said with pleasure as he got up and walked over and shortly embraced the tall, blue-skinned Gamilon. His appearance was quite a contrast to Zordar’s green skin. Both men were the same height and Muscular build.
“I know I’m early.” Desslok said, “I trust, however, that I did not arrive at an awkward moment, Prince Zordar.”
“Not at all!” Zordar said. “Prepare for the Banquet!” Desslok bowed to Zordar slightly. “Sir, Thank you but more than anything I am interested in your strategy for conquering Earth.”
Zordar gestured to Dire who cleared his throat nervously and touched a small console where the floor view screen changed to a tactical map.
Dire explained the strategy of the advance fleet the and the names of the generals who commanded them. This was trivial to Desslok. General Dire reminded him of his late chief of staff…General Krypt. He had always been there telling him how easy it would be to stop the Earth battleship racing for Iscandar for the equipment to save their planet, and in the equation losing his own world, instead.
He heard the strategy before…a million times. Gather information…disrupt power sources, confuse them before the initial strike.
He still half listened to Dire's battle plan when he offered him command of a small task force to “Mop-Up” resistance along with their tank commander General Scorch. Desslok had no interest in Earth itself whatsoever; his interest was in just one tiny aspect of Earth…one tiny nuance that now plagued him every moment of his life. A loose end from the previous war, but a loose end that mocked his existence and his honor. It had done so ever since that day when he had been blown into space by a mere human boy. And, later, rescued by Prince Zordar.
As Zordar's daughter Invidia gave her father a goblet, he raised it to Desslok and then drank. As Invidia brought a glass for him, he glanced at a old Earth book he was holding. It was a book that his long-time friend and now chief of chaff Senator Talan had given him. It was a book that he treasured and often referred to. It was the greatest gift he had ever received for it gave him new purpose on his quest. However, he thought. This time my own personal White Whale will not escape as in the book.
“Your battle plans are most impressive General Dire.” Desslok said in a bored tone of voice. “However you have overlooked one thing…something very important.”
Dire looked at him, annoyed that Desslok had the impertinence to interrupt him
“And what is that…Leader Desslok?”
Desslok cracked a smile, then chuckled slightly “Them…General Dire.” Desslok said almost whispering. …Them!”
“He’s referring to the Star Force.” Zordar said
“Star Force?” Dire said "What is that?"
“The same Star Force that destroyed your planet Gamilon single-handedly? That Star Force?” Invidia said.
“Gamilon Still exists.” Desslok said “Gamilon is me and I am Gamilon…and as long as I live and breathe and fight on so will the home world…as long as I live… Gamilon lives.”
Invidia looked back at her father as if to say outright that Desslok was mad. But, then, she thought better of it.
“I have not yet fought my final battle with the Star Force!" Desslok said looking at the floor monitor.
Dire looked at Gorce who only shrugged. Dire smiled. “Leader Desslok, I have viewed all available intelligence on the Star Force. The diseased old man who led them is dead, and they are relegated to minor tasks. Mere patrols on the edge of their solar system.That’s what their defense command thinks of their mighty Star Force! Nothing!”
“Admiral Avatar!” Desslok snapped pointing at Dire. “You shall refer to him with respect! Avatar defeated most of my best Generals. You can hate an enemy but never show them disrespect. I knew that he was dying during our last encounter…A boy told me that…..Not a boy….No…a dark-eyed little demon….as cunning as a serpent.”
“Their leader now is a mere boy named Wildstar.” Gorce said. “He was…Avatar’s second-in-command. If a boy is in command of this Star Force, they can't be any threat to our plans…He has no battle or command experience.”
"Yes, he is nothing," said Invidia.
“Silence, Invidia!" snapped Zordar. "Desslok! Was it not the same Wildstar who orchestrated planet Gamilon’s destruction by discharging their main weapon at the base of your largest Volcano?”
Desslok’s eyes filled with rage as he turned from Zordar and looked at the book again. ”Aye…., it was,” he said in a strange tone of voice that caused Invidia to back away. “It was Derek Wildstar…who tore my planet's soul and body until they bled into each other….Yes, Derek Wildstar! I’ll chase him ‘round Balan, across the rainbow galaxy, and ‘round perdition’s flames before I give Him up!”
“They're nothing more than a band of adventurers!” Gorce snorted.
“Was it not you that was warning your Prince not to underestimate the human resourcefulness?” Desslok said “And you’d be right…you don’t know them…I have met them in battle and they are a force to be reckoned with…your powerful war machine is not enough. …The Star Force has a purpose, and a power…it must be destroyed with equal purpose and power. That is why I have come….Prince Zordar.”
Desslok turned to Zordar who could see the madness of vengeance in his eyes. "This I swear to you, Prince Zordar, and to the Comet Empire. I swear that I will hunt their ship, the Argo until she spouts black blood and rolls dead out!”
Desslok swiped the glass from Invidia and drank.
“I understand.” Zordar said as he sat back down and watched the tactical display with extreme interest.
End Chapter 2.
TO BE CONTINUED....
To Return to the Introduction to Starfighter: The Iconoclasts, click here