Voice of the Chosen (Spirit of Empire, Book Three), page 1
Spirit of Empire
Voice of the Chosen
Lawrence P. White
Voice of the Chosen (Spirit of Empire, Book Three)
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Lawrence P. White
Published by Lawrence P. White
First eBook edition March 2012
To email the Author: email@example.com
Cover design by Duncan Long
The Spirit of Empire Series:
Last of the Chosen
Knights of the Chosen
Voice of the Chosen
Table of Contents
About the Author
Voice of the Chosen is the third book in the Spirit of Empire series. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the first two books before embarking on this third book.
* * * * *
The Empire consists of hundreds of thousands of worlds spanning a portion of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s leaders, women who come from only one bloodline, are called the Chosen. That bloodline produces certain Traits found nowhere else in the galaxy including an ability to read the mind of any creature, thereby determining the truth of that person. The results of such mind readings, called Testings, are never divulged without the individual’s permission.
The Chosen read minds, but they are burdened with a compensating Trait: they cannot lie, ever. But while they cannot lie, they are not compelled to reveal the full truth.
With the aid of these Traits, the Chosen have successfully resolved disputes between worlds for many thousands of years. Assisted by Knights of the Realm who speak in the name of the Chosen, an acceptable peace has existed throughout the Empire.
But no longer. Senior government and military leaders staged a coup after partnering with the Chessori, another empire from across the galaxy. The Chessori are diminutive creatures, but they wield a terrible mind weapon called the scree which completely incapacitates every known creature. Together they wipe out the line of Chosen and usurp the reins of power, ruling with an iron fist.
The vast military resources of the Empire are powerless against the scree.
Unknown to the Rebels, one Chosen escaped. Ellie, the Last of the Chosen, flees to an emerging world called Earth with the Chessori in pursuit. She nearly succumbs, but at the last minute a man of Earth, Mike Carver, saves her. Together with Otis, her Protector and one of the most lethal warriors in the Empire, they defeat the Chessori. In the process they learn that Mike, and by inference everyone else on Earth, is immune to the scree.
They flee Earth in a damaged ship and spend a full year reaching a safe haven. Ellie knows that if the truth of her existence ever becomes known, the rebellion will fail, but she has no resources with which to fight back.
Meanwhile, a young woman named Krys begins having visions of the future. Distrustful of these visions, she nevertheless feels compelled to act when she senses the danger to the Empire and to her adopted mother, Ellie.
Krys knows that Ellie is alive, and she undertakes a voyage to spread the word. Along the way she enlists fleets of loyal Empire ships, but she has no idea where Ellie, who is now Queen, is. Krys’ forces hide out in obscurity in deep space, unable to fight but accepting new recruits for the day a means is found to deal with the scree.
Ellie names Mike Carver her First Knight of the Empire. He undertakes a voyage to Earth where he recruits thousands of soldiers and sailors, their purpose to fight the Chessori.
Krys eventually reunites with the Ellie and Mike. She leaves that reunion with an augmented crew of Terrans and continues her voyage of spreading the word that one Chosen remains. Meanwhile, the Queen’s forces, led by Admiral Raymond Trexler of Earth, engage the enemy on several fronts, fighting vast battles the likes of which the Empire has never known.
Krys forms her new crew into a spear. She frees a district from the Chessori and steals the plans for the hypercom from the Chessori on another world, but in the process she learns that she is more susceptible to the scree than everyone else - it blinds her.
She receives a vision that sends her back to a sector that was just freed by Trexler’s forces. The Rebels have chosen to make an example of that sector and have sent a force of gleasons to take sector headquarters back.
Gleasons are the most feared creatures in the galaxy. Some seven feet tall, the gleasons are exceedingly difficult to kill, and they are invisible unless seriously wounded. They are not smart, but they are cunning.
Krys, though blind, nevertheless sees the gleasons in her mind. She leads her crew into sector headquarters and battles the gleasons. In the process, some of her crew are wounded, and her amour, Tarn Lukes, is mortally wounded.
Book Two ends with Krys in the hospital on Orion III. She has sent her Rider into Tarn in hopes that he will survive. Across the galaxy, Admiral Trexler has just won another decisive battle against the Rebels at Aldebaran I, but nearly all of his ships are damaged. While waiting for repairs, he decides to take two undamaged squadrons to Earth to check on the progress of several programs there.
Krys awoke with a start and sat up, her black hair in disarray. Blind eyes instinctively searched the room while other senses strove to fill in the blanks. She felt the bed under herself, and her nose identified the antiseptic smells of a hospital.
“Who’s here?” she called.
“I’m here,” Terry Washburn, her personal Protector, answered.
“Call the ship. We’re leaving.”
He lifted a communicator to his lips and spoke to M’Sada, their pilot. Krys was climbing from the hospital bed when he finished.
“Resolve will be here in a few minutes. What’s going on, My Lady?”
“Your home world is under attack. Where are my clothes?”
“I don’t know! Tarn can’t be moved, Krys. Is our presence there necessary?”
“It is.” She bit her lip, frowning as she turned toward the sound of Washburn’s voice. “We’ll come back for him.”
“Captain Stven and Borg are in tanks, too. Stven has a fractured leg and a broken wing, and Borg has some pretty bad gashes.”
“Stven! What happened to him? Please tell me he wasn’t part of our fight against the gleasons.”
“He was, My Lady. He grabbed the last gleason and jumped out a window. Well . . . he flew
She leaned back against the bed for support and asked, dreading the answer, “Did we lose anyone?”
“No. Tarn and Borg are the worst. A few more are walking wounded.”
She lifted a shaking hand and ran it through her hair. “I’m sorry.”
“What did you expect? They were gleasons, Krys.”
She shook her head, then her lips compressed into a thin line. “I hate to break up the crew, but we have to go, now. I won’t leave Tarn without Protection. Will you see to it, please?”
It took longer than she wanted, but three hours later Resolve lifted from the front lawn of the hospital. Captain Stven limped aboard in a cast beside the Great Cat, Borg, who lay on a floater. Borg went directly into the tank in sick bay. Two Terrans and two Great Cats, all of them wounded, remained behind in the hospital with Tarn for protection.
M’Sada and O’Brien, Resolve’s pilots, fast-shipped all the way to the outskirts of Earth’s system. When Resolve dropped from hyperspace days later, M’Sada’s upper hands began a rapid preening of his whiskers.
A great battle raged. The one thousand Chessori ships of Admiral Buskin’s vision had arrived.
Trexler’s foot came out of the tank three days after leaving Aldebaran on his way to Earth. His doctor forbade walking on it for two more weeks, and Trexler was forced to move around the great cruiser on a floater with his foot stuck straight out in front of him. He hadn’t collided with anyone or anything yet, but he’d had some close calls.
This was his first visit back to Earth since he’d gone into space. So much had happened that it seemed like a lifetime ago. He and his men had learned to function in this amazing Empire, they’d fought great battles and won, and he had been invited to join the Queen’s Inner Circle as one of her closest advisors.
He shook his head as he lowered the helmet into place and joined the net. He had never seen Earth from space – his initial departure from Earth had been as a passenger – and he wasn’t going to miss this for anything. He anticipated a lazy arrival on the outskirts of his home system.
When they dropped from hyperspace in the far reaches of the system, it took a while for his screens to refresh. When they did, the scene before him took his breath away.
“Beacons off!” he ordered his own and the accompanying squadron.
The inner system was too far away to distinguish detail, but the Artificial Intelligence enhanced the view as much as it could. A great battle raged, with the attackers positioned about a week out from Earth and headed inbound. The AI displayed friendly ships as white, Rebel ships in red, and Chessori ships in blue. Every ship here was either white or blue.
From this far out, radio messages would take hours to make the round trip. Fast-shipping was much quicker. He ordered the two squadrons to close in with their beacons off, but not to join the battle. When they neared the battle, he had no way of knowing which ship Godfries, the local commander, was on, so he made a general broadcast.
“Stu, the cavalry has arrived. Call me.”
His tightbeam lit up a moment later. “About time, Ray.” The relief in Godfries’ eyes was clear to Trexler. “How many are you?”
“Two fast squadrons at the moment. You can expect a few more, but it will be a couple of days. We had no idea you were in trouble.”
The relief in Godfries’ eyes disappeared. “Just two? It’s bad, Ray. These are Chessori military ships – big ones.” His eyes shifted to the side. He spoke briefly to someone, then he turned back to Trexler. “Give me five minutes and I’ll be back to brief you.”
Trexler nodded, but he kept the tight beam connection in place. He set his own staff to studying ship displacements and tactics, something he was certain Godfries had already done.
At first blush, there seemed to be little order to this battle. A number of fast frigates and fighters were fully engaged against the flanks of the Chessori. They seemed to be effective even though they fought hardened military ships flown by all-Chessori crews, something he had not yet encountered. His hopes went up a notch, but those hopes would need a lot more notches, and soon. Slow ships from the planet were just now merging with the leading edge of the approaching Chessori horde, and the battle was heating up.
Godfries returned, and Trexler directed his staff to sit in on the briefing.
“We’re up against 1,963 Chessori ships,” Godfries said. “These are not squadrons – they don’t seem organized in any manner at all. Most of them seem to be equivalent in size to a frigate, though there are 65 larger ships, probably equivalent to our cruisers. We haven’t engaged any of the large ships yet, so we’re not certain.
“I have 56 cruisers, recent arrivals who answered Krys’ call, but none of them are fast. I’ve accumulated 193 frigates, of which 29 have been modified here on Earth into fast ships. They have the upgraded shields, but not the upgraded weapons. They’ve been engaged for days. I’m pulling them back for a breather while our slow ships complete the engagement process. They just got here, and we’re still deploying.”
“How’s the attrition rate?”
“Too soon to say. The fast frigates have been effective, very effective. I’ll know how the unmodified ships perform in a few hours.” He looked hard at Trexler. “I’m trying to force the Chessori to stay in a group. I don’t want one of them to break away and head for the planet. Their purpose here is unknown, but I’m assuming this is a bioweapon attack. With a fleet this size, they’re likely bent on wiping out all life on Earth.”
“I ordered all your capital ships sent to Aldebaran for the battle there. I’m glad now that you refused.”
Godfries lowered his voice. “I didn’t. Buskin made the call. I fought him, but he refused Chandrajuski’s order, your order, Reba’s order, and my own. I have no idea why, but we’d be in serious trouble here if he’d bent to our demands. We were all wrong, Ray.”
The two admirals stared at each other. “Okay,” Trexler said, “that’s behind us. We learned a few things at Aldebaran I. We won by the way.”
“What did you learn?”
“I’m not sure it applies here. We discarded all of our fighters and just used cruisers and frigates. The fighters were completely ineffective.”
Godfries frowned. “I’m not ready to do that. We’ve separated the fighters from their squadrons, so they’re no longer support for the capital ships. We’re operating them as attack units in flights of four, and I have 140 flights. I’m holding the few fast fighters that I have in reserve in case some Chessori break away from the main battle and try to go around us. It’s too soon to say if these flights will be effective, but I think they will be. Reports are that the Chessori shields and weapons are not up to our standards. As for my capital ships, every one of them is fully manned. We’ve done a lot of recruitment, Ray. Our gunners don’t have to manage a battery all by themselves. Each gunner has just one gun, so the batteries are fully capable.”
“Hmm. This should be interesting. I have not had the pleasure of seeing what our guys can do with a fully-manned ship. The other thing we did at Aldebaran I was to pair up cruisers. They lasted a lot longer that way, and their combined firepower overwhelmed their opponents. Additionally, we assigned minimum readiness levels that required them to disengage before they got too damaged. In some cases, we managed to bring in fast ships to hold off the enemy while they disengaged.”
Godfries’ eyes narrowed. “We’re so outnumbered here that we’ve assigned each ship its own target.”
“You might want to experiment. Two-ship units will reduce the number of simultaneous engagements, but in the long run I think it will lead to better results, and it’s safer for them.”
“We’ll give it a try, Ray.” His lips thinned. “The odds are not on our side. At best, it will be close. I’ll have projections in a few hours.”
“Okay. We’re trying to discern
“We’ve been working on that for days. We haven’t seen anything but full ahead from them. Each ship seems to be on its own, and they’re in one big group.”
“Hmm. Not very good tactics.”
“My initial thought, too, but I’ve had a while to think about it. I think we caught them by surprise, Ray. If you couple the fact that they underestimated our resources here with the fact that they’ve never really had to fight because of the scree, it makes sense. I think they’re accustomed to just coming in and cleaning up at their leisure. They won’t have a leisurely time of it here.”
“Where do you want me?”
“For the moment, I’m assigning all fast ships to you. My fast frigates have been at it for days. Give them a rest before you put them to work. Your assignment is to work the flanks with fast ships while I focus my slow ships on the leading edge of the attacking forces. I might take back some fast ships if my guys need help disengaging for rest or repairs. I’ll let you know. Be on the lookout for anyone breaking away.”
“I won’t need to combine my cruisers. Stu, they’re fully modified with the stronger shields and weapons. What they did at Aldebaran was amazing. I’ll see about combining your fast frigates when they come back from break, but I might not have to. With full Terran crews, they’ll be formidable, more so than my own. You can expect reinforcements from Aldebaran in a few days, and they’ll be fast squadrons.”
Godfries signed off, and Trexler made assignments. He had a tremendous volume of space to cover, and he had to spread his forces thinner than he wanted. Each cruiser would act alone, and each of his four frigates would act alone. His 24 fighters would be divided into 6 wings of 4 each. All told, he had 12 individual fighting units, but when Godfries’ fast frigates finished their break, he’d have 29 more. He might end up combining ships into flights of two, thereby reducing the number of flights but improving their effectiveness. He would make that decision after he had a better feel for the battle.