Axelle lingered near the external windows of the ship looking out over the massive space station, hesitating to let herself feel excitement. The darkness of space around the station made the massive installation seem so small, even though it was the largest hub of life in the Tao system. Onboard the watery decks of the Olympia, a Trilarian missionary ship, it was hard to forget that she was surrounded by cold steel. Axelle missed the open waters of Trilar, the familiar swaying seaweed and the gentle currents of home.
It was her first trip off of Trilar, homeworld of the Trilarians, without her family, and the crew of the Olympia weren’t headed for friendly shores and tourist hubs she was used to. The Outer Rim was dangerous and uncomfortably close to Trilarian space, causing concern among the highest ranking officials in the Shoal government.
Axelle was a soldier, but like all Trilarian soldiers, she was a believer in the ways of the Old Gods. Benevolent beings who granted advanced technology and education practices on her ancient ancestors, the Old Gods were what all good Trilarians aspired to be. War was not what they believed in, but it was so often an inevitable course of action for some of the less civilized races of the galaxy. She was trained to hold her fire, but when the moment came she would not miss.
Whipping her tentacles through the water of her personal cabin, she swam up through a vent to reach the main bridge. The water of the ship’s cabins was the same comfortable temperature and composition of her region of Trilar, the area surrounding the capital city of Hsshn. It was almost enough that if she closed her eyes, she could mistake the chamber of the ship for one of the rooms of her family home. Then, as if to intentionally disturb her reverie, the ship would whir or a machine would crack her focus and bring her back to reality.
Most of the crew of the Olympia was a varied combination of soldiers and missionaries. There was some cargo on board, a nutrient dense form of kelp from Eooran that was used to create an efficient paste used as emergency rations in deep space. The kelp delivery was also the official reason for visiting the Outer Rim hub. In reality, this mission was something between a missionary trip, resupply drop and a scouting mission on behalf of the Trilarian government.
“Axelle, do you have reports on the organization of the Outer Rim trading hub?”
She fluttered for a moment before swimming forward in a single, precise movement. “Yes, Captain.”
Captain Evrard, a seasoned veteran of the Trilarian military and a respected missionary of the Old Gods, input commands into a dimly glowing touch panel. A slight pressure in the water told her the ship was accelerating away from the station. “By all means, you can begin the debriefing when you’re ready.”
Axelle nodded, nervous about wasting such a valuable leader’s time. “The Tao trading hub is officially leased by corporations owned by members of the Human Republic, but Meklar and Mrrshan organizations are both on the official masthead.”
The Captain barely seemed to register her as she spoke, which didn’t bode well for the quality of her report.
“There have been evidence of Klackon ships in the area, but they have been barred from entering the trade hub’s control space.” Axelle’s mind flitted from highlight to highlight in the formal reports she kept on her desk, but she was delivering the report from memory. It was a quirk of Evrard’s that he hated people who read from a tablet instead of absorbing information meaningfully.
With that, his attention turned to her directly. The Klackon were long enemies of the Trilarian, close enough to cause chaos on their borders and confident enough to disregard the Trilarian’s calls for peace. Worst of all, they believed in nothing beyond their own limited consciousness, disregarding the existence and plight of others if it interfered with their interests.
“The Klackon have access to our trade manifest?” The Captain’s voice dropped, quietly so that only she could hear him.
“If they could intercept it from the main relay of the trade hub, which is under suboptimal security measures in my research, then yes.”
They both immediately realized the danger that they were in too late. As they came around a small asteroid field, three smaller ships with blacked out exteriors emerged from the shadows. They took an aggressive formation around the Olympia, strategically arranging themselves so it would be difficult for the Trilarians to escape. The clumsy attempt at pretending to be pirates did not suit the Klackon ships.
The Klackon, far from their native lands and allied space, would be far from their resources. The Trilarian colony and trade hub had cut them off from what were most likely critically needed supply lanes… and in comes a Trilarian ship carrying nutrient rich paste that could sustain the Klackon for months. The two empires were already on tense terms and in the isolated Outer Rim, the consequences of such an attack may never be discovered. The Klackon’s picked the ambush spot well – this area of the asteroid belt made communications to the colony and hub garbled at best.
A call from the lead ship overrode the Olympia’s internal speaker system and the jarring voice of the Klackon echoed throughout the watery chambers. “Disarm your weapon bays and eject all valuables from the ship.”
Captain Evrard kept incredibly cool, “We are but humble mercenaries of the Old Gods, we carry no valuables but our word.”
The Klackon seemed to hesitate for a moment. They moved into a secondary position and Evrard motioned to other crew members, directing them to take position at their various battle stations.
“We would gladly offer you some supplies if you are running low, in exchange for our safe passage through the Outer Rim.”
The Klackon had already played their hand though, and were exposed to not just Trilarian weapons, but repercussions between their respective governments. In the few moments that the Klackon were weighing their options, the Captain released a spray of water from the personal cabins and cargo levels into the void of space. The water exploded into a crystalline frozen structure, a dazzling defensive capability built into the ship. It was little more than a distraction, but the ship burst from the confusion shooting down one of the three ships before the “pirates” could retaliate.
As the Olympia cut around the explosion, the other two ships bolted into action, chasing after the accelerating Trilarian food source. Evrard helmed the ship with calm confidence that only comes with decades of experience. The Olympia cut deftly through asteroids and the two remaining Klackon ships scrambled to follow. The Klackon seemed hesitant to fire, obviously afraid to damage the food they needed desperately to salvage from the Trilarians. With every moment that passed, the Klackon began to fire more aggressively. The Trilarians would not be allowed to survive and report the attack back to their government.
Evrard ordered the crew to drop stores of seaweed into space, the heavy insulation of the cargo protecting the precious goods inside. The two Klackon ships were confused by the cargo drop with one ship eventually turning back to inspect the drop. The other ship, expecting that this was a merciful act from the Trilarians, slowed its chase on the Olympia.
Of course, that was a mistake. Evrard turned the ship in a single fluid movement. Targeting the slowing ship, it neatly split in half, the black ichor of the organic Klackon ships seeping into space. The second ship, already at a near standstill near the ejected food rations, turned to engage. It was too late, the Olympia had the initiative and the Klackon ship was eviscerated.
Through the captain’s command panel, the cargo crews acknowledged preparations to recover the kelp. As the Trilarians coasted slowly through the wreckage of the Klackon ships, the crew of the Olympia offered quiet thanks to the Old Gods for their guidance in battle. The Klackon were their enemies, but they were driven by the same hunger that they themselves answer to as well.