Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 6

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 6

Holonews

Bush sat in silence for the ride back to the city, a direct route now that there was no need to hide the destination. The meeting, did not go exactly as Bush hoped ("Thargoids?! Send all the fleets right away!") but the Emperor seemed to have a head on his shoulders for such a young man, and he did ask -well, order- Bush to stay in the city. The only thing that Bush was worried about was the appearance of the three Princes at the end; overall, the Baron had a very low opinion of Princes since the Biggs colony fiasco, and he prayed the Emperor chose the wise course of action. Any other course could mean damnation for the Empire.

It was dark when the hovercraft touched down outside Bush's hotel in the city, and the dark skyline was dotted by millions of lights as the underbelly of the city came to life. Capitol was a nice enough planet, and being the center of power for the Empire it was probably the safest one in the Imperial systems, but even the elite police of Achenar couldn't completely eradicate the seedy areas of the cities, although they had managed to contain the majority of the crime to one section of the town. Once in a while a particularly dedicated assassin had managed to slip into the upscale suburb Bush was staying at, however, so the old man wasted no time making his way into the New Hilton.

The New Hilton was "the" hotel to stay at while in Achenar, and was frequented by many holoscreen stars and business men alike. Most of rooms currently were populated by CEOs of various manufacturers, including Sirus Corporation, Falcon de Laucy, and Sharoma Enterprises, as the fifth annual Intergalactic Starship Convention wound down towards its end, and the hotel's security was at full alert while the convention went on, intent on upholding its sterling reputation during the high profile event. Bush had to pick through the milling crowds of techo-geeks in the lobby, and was harassed by no less than four security officers despite his Baron's uniform and the fact that the Hilton's security was mostly comprised of ex-naval officers. It was a little known fact that when high ranking military officials were dismissed from service the Navy generally found them jobs with corporations "friendly" to the Empire, such as Sharoma Enterprises and the Ironfrost Shipyards, and also set up lower ranking officers from the Army with security providers like the Exiocian based Hard-line Security Systems, who ran the Hilton's protection, in order to have an almost ironfisted lock on all the militaristic forces in the Imperial Core. Bush knew, however, and gave each uniformed rent-a-cop a brief bow of the head as he passed.

Bush let out a deep breath when he finally made it into his room, a top-floor luxury suite. The bustling rooms downstairs reminded him why he made for the more dangerous but less crowded frontier systems of Reidquat and Diso- at least there were peaceful interludes of silence between the frantic moments of defending your ship from pirates, but in Achenar and the rest of the Core systems there was always the low buzz of civilization, no matter the time.

Bush threw himself on the waterbed in the center of the room, exhausted. One wouldn't think that simply talking to someone could so completely drain a person, but that all changes when talking to the Emperor himself. Bush yawned, thinking he should probably change out of his uniform so that it didn't get wrinkly. Then he was asleep.


It was the holoscreen that woke him up. After the night of the Thargoid assault on Achenar, in which an estimated three hundred thousand people were killed in bed due to not hearing the alarm klaxons, the Empire made it mandatory for corporations that manufactured the holoscreens to include a feature that switched the object on to full volume if a major Imperial message relating to safety was telecast, because research showed that more than ninety five percent of all households in the Imperial Core had the devices in them, and the Emperor at the time considered this to be a more reliable way to contact the populace during an emergency. It only had been used once since the Thargoid's disappearance -during the Biggs colony incident- because other than the random little border confrontations with Independent colonies, the Empire had been in a time of relative peace. This came to an end with the activation of the holoscreens in billions of households across the Imperial systems, and a countless number of people turned fearful eyes to the little image of Duke Lorenzo Charon, Chief Public Relations Officer, that suddenly appeared in their homes and foretold grim tidings.

Bush, even though he had only gotten four hours rest before being awoke, was at attention immediately; he had a horrible feeling that he could guess what the transmission was about, and prayed he was wrong.

"People of the Empire," the small, powerfully built Duke began, "It is a grave time. A terror unseen for a generation has returned to the land, and its shadow begins to eclipse the bright sun that is the Empire. My fellow Imperials, tonight the Federal dogs have cast aside the peace accord that we so strenuously worked to create and abide by. Tonight, with help from an outside factor, the Federal dogs have attacked an Imperial city."

Bush felt a cold hand twist his insides.

The Duke's picture faded out, replaced with a small, three dimensional diagram of a star system with multiple suns.

"Good people, this is Cegreeth, a small mining system on the northern border of the Imperial Core. It's citizens are normal, unassuming every day people just like you and me; why the Federal dogs chose this peaceful area for its treachery cannot be explained. The attack happened in the time just before dawn for the Cegreethians, about twenty two hundred Achenar time. The mining community of Fortress Strauss on Morris's Planet was the target of the attack, at an hour when most citizens were sleeping peacefully in their beds." The diagram slowly zoomed in until it only a spinning planet filled the screen. Morris's Planet, going from the information printed below the globe, a small, secluded planet with an atmosphere comparable to that of Earth in the early nineteenth century.

"The early risers of Fortress Strauss were just getting out of their beds when the skies above the city screamed to life. Expecting to find the beautiful predawn that the rising of two suns gives the town, the people were greeted by the sight of a task force of Constrictors, Vipers, Hawk Airfighters, and a ship of independent origin-" Bush could guess what ship that was; the Empire probably didn't want to say over the air that Thargoids assisted in the attack. "-sweeping in over the town. The local police tried heroically to mount a defense, but the city, never expecting such a violent and evil ambush, had over the years slowly phasing the major battleships that were once the staple of a border system out, leaving the small force with only a few rusted Vipers to stand against the invaders. Despite the superb Imperial training of the men, they had no chance against the overwhelming Federal fleet, and were quickly destroyed.

"Exactly what happened over the next half hour is unknown at this time. When supporting soldiers from a space station orbiting Morris's Planet arrived, they found Fortress Strauss razed, the women of the town ravaged, and the bodies of the town council swaying gently from trees outside the city, all hanging from the nooses still around their necks," Duke Charon's voice continued. "The only people left alive were those who hid in closets or basements. Also lining the streets were the dead forms of three dozen soldiers in Federal garb.

The image of Morris's Planet faded away, and Duke Charon's grim face once again stared at billions upon billions of people. "This outrage will not be tolerated. The Empire's fist will hit the Federals with the force of a hammer and the swiftness of a cheetah. The Empire will keep you informed of the situation." Then holoscreens around the galaxy went silent again.

Bush sat, amazed at the nerve and swiftness with which the Federation had attacked. He was still gaping when a knock from his door.

"My lord Baron, the Emperor, may he live forever, requests you presence right away."

Bush now had a reason to be glad that he fell asleep in his uniform.

Continue the story with Chapter 7