Once Jordan and his men were safely back aboard the Independence, he headed for the bridge. He sat down in the captain’s chair and began to think. The meeting had clearly worked, the Dark Avatar would, or would try, to convince Lord Kona, the emperor of the Drengin Empire, to stop the Korath, which would hopefully trigger the civil war Ordo had calculated. I hope Ordo’s right about this civil war happening, or this strike against the Drengin is going to be a disaster.
After watching the Ka-Akathanis leave, Ashley set a course for the nearest friendly star system.
Zane checked an alert. “Altos is hailing us, Jordan.”
“Open a channel,” replied Jordan.
Altos appeared on the bridge, dressed in his full uniform. “Did the meeting go well?”
“It went fine.”
“It seems so, seeing that you’re in one piece. Did you convince the Dark Avatar to do what Ordo wanted him to do?”
“Starting what could be the biggest civil war in history? Yes, it did. Why are you dressed up so fancy. This is a resistance band, not the Navy.”
“We are planning a celebration, Jordan. Did you hear about what happened recently? Or do you still not watch GNN?”
“I was busy.”
“Let me explain, then. It seems your friend Ordo is doing some damage to the Yor Collective. Scouts from the new Terran Alliance fleet found that several fleets of the Yor were shooting each other. Either Ordo was attacking, or the rest of the Collective was attacking him. Either way, the two sides somehow drove each other out of the Terran Alliance and Altarian Republic. With the Drengin gone too, which confuses me, our civilizations are now secure. This is why we are celebrating. We Altarians may not like violence, but even something this important is something to rejoice at.”
“Cool,” said Jordan. “I’m the partially the reason why the Drengin left. I negotiated with the Dark Avatar to pull back his ships. I’m sure the fleet took care of the rest.”
“Excellent job, Jordan!” said Altos with a smile, “Now, the reason I wanted to talk with you, besides discussing the meeting, is to let you know that you are invited to this event aboard my ship. You have more than earned it.”
“Thanks, Altos,” said Jordan.
“This is a formal event, so please, dress nicely, wash, and for heaven’s sake, cut your hair! If you can’t even do that, tie it back like they do in the Navy. Altarian men do not have shoulder length hair.”
Jordan grinned. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“The party will begin in four hours. See you then.” The channel closed.
“Ever been to an Altarian party?” asked Zane.
“No, but I’m the parties I’ve been to are much more, well, crazy,” replied Jordan.
Zane laughed and turned his attention back to the bridge.
A few hours passed, then Jordan began to get ready for the party aboard Altos’ ship. The proper thing to wear would be his uniform, but that was ripped. He managed with a dark grey dinner jacket and slacks. He then checked in the mirror, and found that his do-it-yourself hair cut looked surprisingly good. He then headed for the docking bay, where a shuttle from Altos’ ship was waiting.
After a quick shuttle ride, Jordan walked to where the event was supposed to be held. The door was open, so he went in.
Inside, the room was filled with Altarians doing various things. Most were crew members, but others were had the looks of the wealthy and elite. The majority of the attendees were doing some sort of Altarian rhythmic dance. The others were in small groups talking amongst themselves.
Altos walked up. “Good, you’re here, and looking somewhat respectable. I’m sure you'll stay for the whole event, right?”
Jordan shrugged. “Depends. Ordo is probably wanting updates on what I’ve been doing, and he probably won’t give my men any peace until I talk to him.”
“Well, I’d like you to stay until Alan Bradley’s address to the Terran Alliance and Altarian Republic is broadcasted.”
“What’s he talking about?”
“The whole offense against the Drengin. It’s a rallying speech, one to give us hope.”
“Good. We all need some of that.”
“Indeed. Now, go talk to some of the people here. I’m probably the only who knows a lot about you.”
“What about Tres-” Jordan began to ask, but a glance from Altos told him to drop the subject.
“Enjoy the party, Jordan,” said Altos. He then turned and began to talk with his crew.
I really hope that old hag isn’t here, thought Jordan. For once I’d like to come aboard this ship without her screeching about how bad of a person I am. If there’s a bad person, it’s her. If she didn’t have so much power and authority, I would have blasted a nice hole in her damn skull long ago. Perhaps I can get Ordo to kill her and call it an “accident” .With a cruel smile, Jordan headed for one of the groups of people.
The other Altarian acknowledged Jordan with nods and smiles. One offered Jordan a sweet tasting drink. One girl moved closer to him. “Welcome to the party,” she said.
“Thanks. What exactly is this?”
“No, the party.”
She smiled. “This is a Glythiaul. It literally means ‘Party of Gratefulness’ is English.”
“What’s everyone so grateful about?”
“The whole push against the Drengin! Don’t you know?”
“Yeah, I do. I was just wondering.”
“It’s all right.”
The two of the watched the dances going on. Rows of Altarians danced rhythmically to ambient music. The grace of the dancers was amazing. Since this was rather scaled down event, Jordan wondered what the real events would be like. As the girl watched, Jordan began to notice just how beautiful she was. Jeez, I’ve seen loads of hot girls, but this one beats them all. Like almost all other Altarians, she had a blue tattoo on her forehead, which was partially covered by her hair. “You never told me your name. What is it?”
“You’re name’s as pretty as your face.”
Aelytha blushed. “You’re so sweet!” she said with a big smile. “What’s yours?”
Her eye widened. “Jordan Locke? Altos told me a lot about you.”
“You know Altos?”
“Know him? I’ve practically become one of his best friends. He’s a good person. He’s also told me a lot of stuff about you.”
“What has he said?”
“He says that you’re a good guy to know, that you’re smart, determined, impulsive, and a leader. He envies you, Jordan. Feel honored.”
“In a good way. He says a lot of other good things about you, unlike some of the other people aboard here.”
“Tresia and her buddies,” Jordan spat.
“Yes,” said Aelytha, looking down at the ground.
“Why does she hate me so much? We got off on the wrong foot to begin with, but she seems to hate me and my men with a vengeance. Why is this?”
Aelytha looked around, then spoke softly, so no one else could hear. “She part of a movement that has been gaining ground in recent months. It’s called the Uslynthinis Movement. It’s a movement filled with arrogant people who believe Altarians are superior in all aspects to Terrans. It’s disgusting and disrespectful. These people go against our values by doing this.”
“I probably know why. Our species-”
“Terrans and Altarians are exactly the same, Jordan,” said Aelytha.
“Okay, our people are known for violence and killing each other.”
“So are the Drengin.”
“Yeah. Can you let me finish?”
“Needless killing goes against the morals and religion of Altarians. So, some zealots wouldn’t like us for that.”
“That’s still a silly reason.”
“It is. But there may be a better reason for them to hate us, and that’s Hyperdrive. It’s amazing how much suffering that piece of technology has caused. It seems that by giving Hyperdrive to the galaxy, we’ve caused isolation, the race for planets, and war. Now our civilizations are in ruins.”
“Giving Hyperdrive to the galaxy may have been a bad decision, but it had good intentions. Your ancestors wanted to create some sort of a galactic utopia with it, with peace and trade. They just didn’t realize how bad some civilizations can be. The followers of Uslynthinis may claim this as a reason to be so hateful, but it is still a bad reason. The Terran Alliance has done much for us.”
“We have. Have you ever spoken out against these people?”
“You don’t understand the power some of these people hold. They have formed a council that decides what to do. Altos is not all-powerful. The council, which Tresia and her followers are a significant part of, could replace Altos and turn on you if they can persuade the council to. Thankfully, they are held in check by more sensible members. I have spoken out against them, but they have tried to get me to be quiet. It is with words now, but they might not be so nice in the future.”
“If they’re giving you crap, you can come aboard my ship. We’re a more welcoming group.”
Altos moved toward the center stage and began to speak. “I’d like to thank you all for coming here today. As you all know, this Glythiaul is to celebrate the push against the Drengin, and to free our friends. The President of the Terran Alliance, Alan Bradley, will be making an address about this. A projector will activate and show it. Thank you.”
A projector appeared from the ground and displayed a screen. GNN, or the Galactic News Network, showed its logo. A newscaster appeared. “Now, we are proud to show the much-awaited address by President Alan Bradley. Please enjoy.” The screen changed to show a stage which Jordan knew was at one of the capital cities of the Terran Alliance, though he wasn’t sure whether it was at London or Washington D.C. Admiral Jim Ebyon walked up onto the platform. Jordan’s heart skipped a beat. Jim began to speak. “As you know, President Alan Bradley is here to make his address today. Many of you are unclear and frightened about what has been going on in recent months, but I’m sure he will explain it. Thank you.”
“Jim…” said Jordan in a low voice. Jim had changed since they had last seen each other. Jim still wore his hair closely cut, and had a thin beard, but his temples were much grayer now. His face also looked much older. It’s been a long time…
With thunderous applause, President Alan Bradley started his speech. “My fellow citizens, we have begun to reach the light at the dark end of the tunnel. As I said earlier, the war against the Drengin was not a defeat, but merely a negative event. We have gone forward, pressed the attack, and now we reclaim what is rightfully ours!” Applause echoed not from wherever Alan Bradley was making his speech, but also aboard Altos’ ship.
“This new offensive is only the beginning. We will retake our territory, liberate our friends and allies, the Arceans, who showed us the way into the stars and inspired us to create Hyperdrive. The Torians are not forgotten. We will save them, too. Let us not forget how they came to our aid at our most desperate hour at the Battle of Altaria, and drew off Drengin ships during our organized retreat.
“The Drengin will answer for what they have done. This I promise, and more. I swear to you that Lord Kona and his fellow Drengin officials will stand trial for war crimes, as well as for simply starting this war and causing so much pain and suffering. They will not get away!” More applause.
“We will break the back of the Drengin war machine. We will annihilate their ships, shut down their factories and wretched slave pits, and slaughter their legions in victories that will be told throughout the ages! We will be victorious!
“We shall also deal with the Dread Lords, a civilization we once thought dead, which was has chosen to rampage across the galaxy. We have partially defeated them, but they still remain. As long as they remain, they galaxy will never be safe. But be assured, when this is all over, the fires of war will vanish. The rushing currents of peace and justice will quench them once we break the back of the Drengin Empire, so they can never do anything like this again. I urge all of you to remain calm. Do not be afraid. Be strong, strong like all of our brave men, and the souls waging a resistance against intolerable Drengin occupation.” The president continued for around fifteen more minutes, then applause roared throughout the stage like a crashing wave. The cameraman showed people cheering, shouting, stamping their feet, and doing other things. Alan Bradley’s speech had clearly had an excellent effect.
“Short but sweet,” said Jordan. “This guy’s approval ratings are gonna go through the roof.”
Jordan started to laugh, but something else caught his eye. Tresia and some of the people that were at the meeting where Jordan explained his plan had come into the event. Shit…
Aelytha saw what he was looking at. “Don’t worry,” she said.
Suddenly, the projector screen flashed. It changed from the regular news that it was showing to a scene is space.
“This is a breaking news story,” said the reporter, “We are near the border of the Drengin Empire, where the scene is in utter chaos and destruction. Just a minute ago, ships from Drengin Imperial Fleet opened fire on ships from the powerful Drengin Korath Clan. Already, multiple ships have been destroyed, and the battle is only intensifying. We do not know the reason for such an event to take place, but what we do know is-. Sorry, we are getting more updates. Reports are coming in from all over the Drengin Empire over battles between the Drengin Army and Navy and the Korath.” The camera zoomed in on the battle. The Drengin and Korath ships were shooting and launching seemly every weapon they had. A large red flash appeared next to the Korath fleet. “Wait, something’s coming out of that red area! We…We have a confirmed Dread Lord sighting! Two ships. They’ve just attacked one of the Drengin capital ships, and it seems they have dealt a death blow. The ship is breaking apart.” The camera showed a massive explosion, which engulfed a smaller Drengin ship. “Each side is fighting with everything is has, wait, the Drengin are retreating! It seems that Korath are too much, but why did the Dread Lord ships not attack the Korath? They are sending a ship our way, so we must retreat. Expect more updates.”
The room was silent. Jordan celebrated in his head. It seemed everyone couldn’t comprehend the fact of a possible Drengin civil war.
Jordan turned and saw Tresia and her fellow Uslynthinis members moving toward Jordan. Jordan scowled.
“Come on, Jordan. Let’s not get in any trouble,” said Aelytha, grabbing his shoulder.
“Fine. If you want to, I can show you my ship.”
“That would be great. Wait by the shuttle for me.”
The two of them left the room. While Aelytha headed for her room, Jordan turned his mind back to the battle. Mission accomplished.