Cortal has been destroyed, the entire plant obliderated by a Seaportian armada. but not all of the inhabitants are dead. Several hundred thousand colonists fled before the destruction with hopes of a new life, free from persecution by Cortal. But Seaport, believing them to be a renegade group of escaped soldiers, deems them terrorists and sends an elite force to hunt them down. Now a small band of colonists, aided by the infamous mercenary Mercy, must make a final stand against the Seaportian fo
Cortal, birthplace of the human race.
Hundreds of countries living in peace.
Then began the Great Expansion, the sadistic empire of Cortal, named after their planet, began an aggressive campaign to annihilate their competition, the great country Seaport.
After conquering dozens of countries and drafting hundreds of millions of soldiers, they attacked. With over a billion warriors behind them and the belief God was with them, they overran Seaportian defenses through sheer numbers within days. Moving as quickly as possible, Seaport fled on a fleet of ships, escaping with faster-than-light engines and abandoning planet Cortal to its fate.
With the Seaportians, the only power capable of opposing the Cortalan soldiers, gone, the rest of the planet quickly followed, swallowed up by the growing armies of the sadistic nation.
Three hundred years later, Cortal was dying. Given advanced technology by the mysterious Ticki-Tickalie race, they built a powerful empire that stretched their solar system, crowding every planetary body with cities and stripping the asteroid belts to create massive fleets of ships. But with a corrupt and outdated government system, the planet was falling apart. The massive cities blanketing the world were killing it, soon it would not be able to support life.
In an attempt to help ensure their survival, they made an alliance with the Drish Command, a greedy alien race battling the Seaportian Confederation, which after fleeing Cortal had bloomed into a massive and powerful galactic government. Seaport, already hard pressed by the Drish, was alarmed by the possibility of fighting two different empires at once. So in a desperate attempt, an armada jumped out of JumpSpace just outside Cortal, and before anything could be done, set the atmosphere aflame with energy weapons. As the world burned below, the two massive fleets slaughtered each other in orbit. The Seaportians finally retreated after suffering and giving heavy casualties.
Almost all of the Cortalans died that day. The only survivors were a few hundred warships, and one hundred thousand colonists who had fled before the destruction, rebelling against their government and seeking a new life, free from oppression. However Seaport did not see them that way, they saw them as renegade super-soldiers and deemed them a massive threat which had to be exterminated. In the following months, Seaportian Special Forces hunter down and exterminated the colonists, one by one.
Finally, one last group remained in hiding on the remote planet of Kandalash.
The former Cortal had two main classes of soldier, Tobis troopers and Rechel troopers with the earlier being the elite. On Cortal there had been 500 Rechel troopers to every one Tobis and there is no surprise that the majority of the colonists were soldiers. The Rechels were unbelievable fighters but were no match for the almost supernatural seeming ghost squads that the Seaportians had sent to deal with their small colonies. In their desperation the Rechels enlisted the help of a newly arisen Ticki-Tickalie Carb mercenary named Mercy.
The meeting was held underground in the village cellar. Six people in armour sat quietly on crates with only a few candles for light. It must have been -70 but none of them could feel the cold.
The armour worn by four of the party was the same. It was white and covered with scratches that showed the original green color underneath. The helmets were rounded and had an orange visor. The back had a backpack built into the armour for extra protection and to hold supplies. The body, arms, and legs were smooth and thick yet graceful and could take one heck of a beating.
The armour worn by one was small and flexible looking. Around the wrists there was an impressive amount of tools and weapons matched by the tools and weapons on his waist. The armour was gray and trimmed with gold and had a black cape hanging off the left shoulder. The helmet looked like a grey and gold sugarloaf helmet with a few exposed tools on it. This was and still is the armour of Mercy the ironically named mercenary and the most expensive armour in existence. With the money it took to build this armour you could open your own airline.
The news they exchanged was grim. Not three days ago they had learned that a Seaportian satellite had been orbiting their small planet. There was only one reason they would be surveying this planet. They intended for Kandalash to be there next target, the only question was when.
“The Ticky-Tickalie told us about the satellite right after it was hit by a meteor. The only thing it had recorded was a couple minutes of our ship coming in for landing on the dark side of the planet. They didn’t see where we landed but that was three days ago,” Ferin spoke up. Before Ferin had joined the colonists he had been a tactical stick coordinator for the Rechels and a well respected man. After he joined however, he was regarded with less respect than the average criminal, his name became an insult. Ferin had been the first high ranking military official to join the colonists but he was far from the last, tens of thousands would follow in his footsteps.
Cortal was close to the point of self destructing, the whole planet was covered with city and there was no forest left. Pollution was killing the world and people were hanging on lies told by their leaders and poverty was running rampant. The majority of the population were little better than zombies and within 20 years life would not be possible on the planet. The government needed something to stop the people from realizing this and the colonists were just there at the wrong time. The colonists were accused of plotting to destroy the planet and to be traitors to God. Before long Cortal was trying to hunt down the colonists but with little success. The Thral adopted the hatred for the colonists from their allies and cut the colonists off from the rest of civilization.
For Ferin the destruction of Cortal couldn’t have come sooner, now if only the Seaportians knew that. The colonists had been living like fugitives for years and the only reason that the Seaportians had just discovered them now was because now they were looking for them. The Seaportians however believed that they had just formed. With the two largest empires hunting for them, the colonists had no one to turn to except themselves.
“What could they know now?” repeated Ferin
“You’re assuming they have more than one satellite!” said Parlin
“They always have more than one!” yelled Ferin, Tarlish, and Mercy.
“Didn’t you learn anything on Falmango?” asked Ferin.
Parlin thought back to the battle on Falmango. He and Ferin had been pinned down by a sniper in a shallow shell crater next to their twisted and burning getaway car. Ferin had spotted the sniper in an apartment and no sooner had he pulled the trigger than Parlin stood up and bolted for a collapsed house, only to be shot in the back by a second sniper.
“That’s different.” groaned Parlin as he sat back down.
“Ferin’s right,” said Mercy. “The Seaportians always have x-rays on their satellite. They could be watching us right now!”
“Actually you’re wrong on that,” said Varkin who had been standing in the corner. “As you are probably aware, this whole planet is draped in white fungus 16 meters high. Now, these funguses contain a high amount of metal and like it or not, nothing electric works through it.”
“Then what are you doing here? It’s -70 at all times and all there is here is fungi.” asked Mercy
“The trees are edible and produce an antifreeze that makes a great lamp fuel.” answered Tarlish who had been sitting in the middle of the room.
Tarlish had never been happier than she was while she lived on Talramagon, and from the way she acted you would have guessed that she had lived there her whole life. She moved silently through the trees and grass and often sneaked so close to the skittish wildlife that she could have grabbed them. This was fine for the people living there as she was also their chief hunter. When her turn to go to Kandalash came up, she was sent there with only three other girls and the monotony of her days was obviously starting to affect her mind.
“Is that what’s in all these urns?” asked Mercy.
“Yes,” replied Tarlish.
“Isn’t that interesting,” said Mercy as he pulled a bomb out of his bag and put it behind a pile of urns.
“What’s that for?” asked Parlin.
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m putting it here,” replied Mercy. “So what are you doing here?” he repeated.
“Back on Talramango,” Tarlish’s voice faded for a second, “There were lots of animals but not a lot of plants besides grass. We decided to send about 80 people here at once to gather the trees.”
“I thought they were fungus?” Mercy said.
“Trust me, after four minutes in that forest you’ll be calling them trees too.” Tarlish shot back. “Anyway, they send us out here to gather the trees and send them back so that the people on Talramagon don’t die of scurvy.”
“How long have you been out here?” asked Mercy.
“Three months,” Ferin said coldly.
“Why don’t you just leave?” asked Mercy.
“We can’t! We have one ship loaded with food that can carry twelve people. If we dumped the food we could get fifty people on board and we have more than ninety on the planet!” yelled Tarlish
“Plus they would see where we went and then get everyone there.” said Varkin.
“How many Seaportians are coming?” asked Mercy.
“Three plus a four man crew,” said a deep voice that was hot with anger.
Mercy sat bolt upright. The person was hidden by the shadows.
“When was the first colony attacked?” asked Mercy.
“Here is everything we know. There are three of them, they came from Seaport, they attacked there first colony fifteen days ago. Since then they have killed 600 people, and they are heading here next.” The voice paused, “Right now they are three days away but on their last mission their ship took damage and they have to do repairs before heading here.”
“Then we’d better get started,” replied Mercy, sounding more confident than he felt. “They will probably stop for repairs on Reen so that gives us seven days until they get here.”
“This is Thouabin.” explained Ferin “He has made it his personal responsibility to look after all the colonies.”
Harakin stepped out of the shadows. His armour was slick silver, graceful, and deadly.
“Someone has to or these devils step in and start claiming lives!” spat back Thouabin.
“Well you are and still they come!” Ferin yelled back.
The two had argued this before but they looked like they were going to start a fist fight.
A fist fight in armour thought Mercy. That would be a stupid waste of time.
“Exactly how many people are on the planet?” asked Mercy.
Both Ferin and Thouabin turned toward Mercy looking surprised, like they had forgotten he was there.
“121,” answered Tarlish.
“So Thouabin, what’s with your armour?” asked Mercy.
Thouabin walked over and shook Mercy’s hand.
“I am the only Tobis on this rock and probably the only one you will ever see.”
“Do you have a map?“ asked Mercy.
“Of course.” Thouabin showed Mercy a blank piece of paper. He put it on the ground and dipped his hand in the oil of an urn. He then put the dots on the paper. “This is where the villages are.”
Mercy dipped his hand in oil and squatted next to Thouabin.
“Well, tell them to take their valuables and run to this point.” Mercy made another mark on the paper. “And while your there, put one of these in with their oil.” Mercy pulled out the box he was sitting on. Inside were sixteen bombs the size of phone books. “Tarlish, I want you to put one in each of these seven locations.” Mercy put seven more marks on the paper. “Ferin, contact Talramango and tell them to send three transports and nine frigates to get here in eleven days. I’m going to meet our friends on Reen. I’ll leave as soon as it gets dark so the satellites can’t see me.”
“Fine by me.” said Thouabin. He then bent down, set the paper on fire and walked out of the cellar.