In the Emperor's main office, Desslok was looking over the
minutes from the last Assembly meeting. The numbers were encouraging but deep down he
was worried. He didn't like the direction of his government. It was becoming too open
and democratic. Too many people were questioning his ability to rule. His power was
Desslok was wearing his gray uniform and flowing black cape which was attached by a small golden peg to his left shoulder. The inside of Desslok's cape was red. On both sides of his red collar were two golden bars signifying his military rank.
But before Desslok could get too lost in his thoughts on how to deal with the governmental power struggle, Talan Masterson entered the room.
"Leader Desslok, we are getting an emergency message from Earth," said Talan with a worried look on his face.
The Galman leader, surprised by the news, immediately stopped what he was doing and stood to welcome his aide and good friend.
"From Earth?" Desslok asked. "Are you sure?"
"Yes Leader Desslok," Talan answered.
Desslok was intrigued. He was reminded of his attempt to conquer Earth, a green and beautiful planet, and was filled with anger. How could he have destroyed the world that reminded him so much of Iscandar, the home of the only woman he loved?
"Well then," said Desslok "let us see what they want."
Desslok sat down at his desk and an image of an older man wearing a Captain's hat appeared on Desslok's large view screen. Desslok knew right away that he had met this man before. Desslok remained seated while the Captain stood and saluted the Galman leader.
"Emperor Desslok, I am Captain Hudson Taylor of the Space Battleship Omega representing the planet Earth. It is an honor to speak with you."
Desslok could not remember when or more importantly where he had seen this man before. But he had to ask.
"Have we met, Captain?"
The man on the screen smiled.
It was the year 2186.
A battle was about to begin near the tenth planet of our solar system. Planet Minerva was Earth's furthest outpost and its base had been attacked and destroyed by a mysterious race known as the Gamilons. Following the attack, the Gamilons insisted that Earth surrender to its rule but the world's government refused. As a result, the Gamilons attacked and destroyed the Earth's base on Pluto.
Fearing an invasion, the Earth's government decided to take a stand against the Gamilon's hostile aggression. They sent Gamilon an official declaration of war and dispatched a defense force to the planet Minerva to face the massing enemy fleet.
Captain Taylor commanded a squadron of destroyers in the Earth fleet. The battle was about to begin and Taylor was addressing the crew of his ship.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we must stop the Gamilons here and now! This will not be an easy task. The Gamilons are a powerful enemy. They have easily destroyed our bases on Minerva and Pluto but I know you will all do your best! We fight for our dear planet Earth!"
The Gamilon Empire was located in the Great Megellanic Cloud and was ruled by Leader Desslok. Aboard his command cruiser near the planet Minerva, Desslok also rallied his troops for the Great Battle.
"Gentlemen, as you all know we are desperate in our search for a new home for our people. Our beloved planet Gamilon is dying and we need to find a new planet before our world becomes inhabitable. To the delight of our people we have finally found that planet and its name is Earth. The people of Earth have ignored our requests for unconditional surrender. Instead, they have decided to send a fleet of ships to Minerva to try and stop us from advancing in their solar system.
"That will be their undoing. The people of Earth will not stop us from immigrating to their planet. We will take it by force if we have to! We fight for our survival and for our beloved Gamilon!"
Chants of "Desslok! Desslok! Desslok!" could be heard throughout the Gamilon fleet as the two sides in the Great Battle were on the brink of all out war.
On Taylor's command ship, the crew began final preparations for its attack on the Gamilon fleet. Taylor's first officer rushed to his side. Stress had already begun to show on the young man's face. It was a look of uncertainty and fear.
"Captain, all ships in the squadron are in position and are ready to fire at your command," said the first officer. "The remaining Earth fleet is also in position. They will begin their assault on the Gamilons shortly after we begin our attack."
The Captain looked at the young officer. He could see the boy trembling and was sure a great many of his crew were doing the same.
"All ships open fire!" Taylor ordered.
The squadron's main guns had targeted the Gamilon ships. The green lasers collided with the enemy vessels but had no effect. Before the Earth fleet could respond, laser blasts from the Gamilon fleet began to rain down on the Earth ships. The ship on the starboard side of Captain Taylor's vessel exploded and debris from the explosion hit Taylor's ship knocking it slightly off course.
"Captain, we have lost ships thirteen, fourteen and fifteen!" First Officer Jeffries reported.
The Earth's ships fired again but this time, two shots from two different Earth ships hit a Gamilon cruiser simultaneously. It exploded on contact and gave Captain Taylor an idea.
"Our guns must not be powerful enough to pierce their ship's hull! We must hit each ship with two blasts at the same time in order to destroy it. Mister Jeffries, coordinate this with the rest of the fleet. Hurry it up, we don't have much time!"
Taylor's squadron started eliminating some of the Gamilon ships with their new tactic but their success was short lived. A laser blast slammed into Taylor's ship sending the captain to the floor. Sirens blared throughout the bridge as smoke and debris filled the room.
Captain Taylor slowly got to his feet and noticed that his young first officer had been thrown hard against the far wall. He made his way to the boy and grabbed his wrist to check for a pulse. Taylor failed to notice the young man's head flopping freely on its shoulders. The boy's neck had shattered in the attack.
As the battle wore on, the Gamilons tore Taylor's squadron apart. Realizing that his ships would be wiped out if the battle continued, Taylor acted quickly. He opened up a communication link to the ships in his squadron and the rest of the Earth fleet.
"All remaining Earth ships retreat to the Pluto system! Repeat, all ships retreat to the Pluto system."
At Pluto, Taylor made the grim discovery that the rest of the Earth fleet had been obliterated and only ten of the ships in his squadron had survived the battle. He tried to contact Earth Defense Headquarters to report the news but their long distance communications equipment had been destroyed by the Gamilons.
Being the last senior officer alive in the Earth's fleet, Taylor decided to lead one of the most daring and most professionally damaging offensive maneuvers in the history of space battle. He transferred personnel from five of his remaining destroyers to the other ships in the squadron. He then ordered the crews to load two of the empty ships with as many explosives as the squadron could spare. Once that was complete, the remnants of Taylor's squadron left the Pluto system to return to Minerva.
Taylor began the new offensive by sending three of the unmanned ships at full speed into the heart of the Gamilon fleet. Confused by the tactic, the Gamilon fleet split in two.
Aboard the flagship of the Gamilon fleet, Talan Masterson approached Leader Desslok with the latest news from the front.
"Leader Desslok, what remains of the Earth's fleet has launched a counter attack. For reasons unknown at this time, they have sent three Earth destroyers into the heart of our fleet. We are awaiting your orders, Sir."
The Gamilon leader was confused by the tactic. It made no sense. The Earthlings were completely out numbered and out gunned.
"This is certainly an interesting development," said Desslok. "The people of Earth must be desperate. They must know they are doomed and their world will soon be ours. Destroy them immediately!"
Captain Taylor watched the drama unfold on his view screen as laser bolts from the Gamilons ships began to pierce the hulls of the three Earth ships. The Earth destroyers were easily eliminated from the battle but Taylor saw that the operation was a complete success. The Gamilon fleet were separated.
Captain Taylor knew there was little time. The Gamilon fleet would soon regroup and would strike the final, fatal blow. Taylor activated the remote guidance system and the two remaining unmanned ships, loaded to the gill with explosives, began to move toward the two centers of the separated Gamilon fleet. The Gamilons were not going to sit idly by so Taylor ordered the remaining five ships of the Earth fleet to fire hoping it would give the two decoys some cover.
When the decoys were in the right position, Taylor turned off their engines. The Gamilon fleet, thinking that the ships were damaged from a previous battle, began to converge on the helpless targets. They moved in for the kill and began to open fire.
Captain Taylor saw this and remotely triggered the explosives.
The explosion destroyed not only the two Earth ships but half of the Gamilon fleet. The force of the explosion sent the remainder of the Gamilon fleet out of control. One by one the Gamilon ships began to smash into each other and explosions spread throughout the fleet.
The Earth fleet continued to fire at the stunned and confused Gamilons. For the first time the Earth fleet had the upper hand. Captain Taylor, not wanting to give the Gamilons a chance to recover, ordered a full pursuit as the remaining Gamilon ships retreated further into the Minerva system.
Desslok ordered the remainder of his forces closer to the Planet Minerva to regroup and to carry out one of the most heinous acts in the entire Gamilon War.
"Get me the leader of the Earth's fleet on the main screen," ordered Desslok calmly.
Moments later Taylor's face appeared on Desslok's view screen.
"I am Leader Desslok of the Planet Gamilon. I must commend you. I never expected such a resourceful move from a being with such limited thinking. "
"I am Captain Hudson Taylor," said Taylor proudly. "We are here defending our solar system against your hostile aggression."
Desslok laughed at Captain Taylor.
"If you do not turn your ships around and head back to Earth we will destroy your fleet," said Desslok.
"We will only turn back if you agree to cease any and all aggression towards our system," replied Taylor.
"I repeat what I said earlier Captain," said Desslok. "Return to Earth now and tell your government that we want unconditional surrender and I'll spare your lives."
"Earth will never give in to your tyranny," said Taylor defiantly.
"You are very naive," said Desslok. "You have only seen a glimpse of the power of Gamilon. Always remember Captain, the only battle that counts is the last."
Desslok turned off the communicator.
"Talan, order the fleet to destroy the planet Minerva," ordered Desslok. "Then do a space warp. I want to be as far away from this planet as we can."
After communicating with Leader Desslok, Captain Taylor continued advancing his fleet toward Planet Minerva. He knew he had the advantage but for how long? If he wanted to destroy the Gamilon fleet he must do it before they could regroup and get reinforcements.
But something was wrong, the Gamilons had stopped just above the atmosphere of the planet and were dropping objects onto the planet's surface. After scanning the surface of Minerva, the results were conclusive. The planet was on fire.
Used mostly for mining, Planet Minerva was rich in explosive ore. If thousands of Gamilon bombs were strategically dropped onto the surface, they could cause a chain reaction in the planet's core. Captain Taylor knew what the Gamilons were planning but it may be too late to do anything about it.
"All ships reverse course immediately! Repeat all ships reverse course immediately!" Taylor ordered. "They're trying to blow up the planet!"
The planet exploded.
The blast destroyed all of the Gamilon fleet and two more ships from Taylor's squadron. Taylor's ship and another destroyer were the only two remaining ships in the Earth fleet. They were bruised, battered and defeated. They limped back to Earth not knowing when the Gamilons would strike next.
A month later.
The Earth had begun to rebuild its space fleet after the devastating Great Battle. But now the Earth was facing another terrifying danger. The Gamilons had begun to establish a base on the planet Pluto. From this base the Gamilons would begin launching radioactive planet bombs that would destroy the Earth a city at a time.
In the Earth Defense Headquarters building in Tokyo Japan, the fate of Captain Hudson Taylor was about to be determined. After returning from the Great Battle at Minerva, Taylor was arrested and brought up on charges. The government felt that Taylor was responsible for destroying his own ships and for the destruction of the planet Minerva. The prosecutor, a young General Stone had been tearing into Taylor since the beginning of the trial.
"Captain Taylor, in your own words, please explain to us the reason why you destroyed your own ships and killed over a hundred soldiers in the process?"
Taylor sat in the witness chair in the Earth Defense Headquarters main court room and the Commanding General Todo sat in the head chair. Many people had testified on Taylor's behalf but the evidence against him was overwhelming and the public demanded that heads roll.
"I think I have been fairly clear on this issue General," said Taylor. "My fleet was hopelessly out numbered and out gunned. All of my superiors had been killed and all of our long range communications were either destroyed or being jammed by the Gamilons. We needed to do something to shift the tide of the battle. The Gamilons were pounding us and their ships had incredibly strong armor. It was the only thing we could do."
"So you sacrificed five ships because you thought your plan would work?" asked Stone. "Captain Taylor, if not for the testimony of nearly everyone in your crew praising you for saving their lives, we would have you thrown out of the service! You're lucky it's not my decision or I'd have you shot!"
Todo slammed the gavel down. The sound echoed throughout the courtroom as Taylor jumped in his chair.
"General Stone, please stick to the facts," Todo ordered.
Stone smiled. He had just been promoted to General and he was feeling a bit cocky. He would never be promoted again.
"The prosecution rests Commander," announced General Stone.
Taylor began to get out of his chair but he stopped himself and sat back down.
"Commander, may I speak?" Taylor asked.
"Commander, this is totally out of line!" General Stone objected.
Todo slammed his gavel down once more. "You may continue Captain."
Taylor took a deep breath. He knew that what he was about to say may save not only his career but his life.
"I do not deny the fact that I purposely destroyed five of our own ships. That much is true. But what I do deny is the charge that I killed my fellow soldiers. As soldiers we all go into a battle knowing that it may be our last. And as soldiers we are taught to survive. That is what we did. We survived against impossible odds.
"If not for my order, the Gamilons would have hunted each one of our ships down and slaughtered us. Their ships were much faster and a lot stronger than anything we had at our disposal. As it was, it was a miracle any of us made it back at all.
"The Gamilons destroyed our base on Pluto. The Gamilons destroyed our defense fleet and the Gamilons destroyed the planet Minerva. Don't blame me for this terrible war or the deaths of our soldiers. Blame the Gamilons."
Two days later the Commanding General entered the courtroom with a decision. Hudson Taylor stood behind a large table with his military attorney. He knew Todo was a fair man but the public wanted a scapegoat.
"Please remain standing," said Todo as he took his seat. "This was a very hard decision to make. As you all know we are at war and sometimes our leaders on the battlefield need to make difficult decisions. But sometimes there are better alternatives. Captain Taylor, you could have retreated to Earth instead of facing the Gamilons head on and thus avoiding your drastic measures and unnecessary losses. My decision is this: you will keep your rank but are here by removed from field service until further notice."
General Stone slammed his fist down in anger.
"General Stone, do you have more you would like to add?" Todo asked.
Stone was clearly upset. He wanted a full conviction but the decision was barely a slap on the wrist. It was equivalent to early retirement.
"No Commander," Stone despondently said.
Captain Taylor prepared to leave the courtroom. He was a defeated man but knew that he had made all of the right decisions. He walked past Stone and gave him a sharp, stern look. No words were needed. It would not be the last time these two men would clash. On the way out of the room some of Taylor's crew came up to console him and to thank him for all he had done to save their lives.
Captain Taylor was later assigned to the Earth Defense Academy where he would teach for twenty-three years.
"Yes Emperor," answered Taylor. "We fought against each other in the Great Battle of Minerva in the year 2186."
Desslok remembered the battle all too well. Taylor's tactic set Gamilon's plans back months. It also set in motion Desslok's evil plan to exterminate all life on Earth.
"What is the reason for this communication," Desslok asked.
"I wish we were not meeting like this Emperor," said Taylor. "We have a problem and I am hoping that you may be of some assistance."
Desslok listened carefully as Taylor explained the situation. The further the story went the more Desslok's face turned grim.
"Captain Taylor, as you are aware, the war between the Galman Empire and the Bollar Federation has never truly ended. During the height of the war, the Bollar Federation turned to biological warfare as a way to try to rid the universe of the Galman people. What you have encountered is a Virus Missile probably launched from a Bollar Biological Battle Cruiser. The virus has a tendency to attack each person differently. If gone untreated, the Bollar Virus is fatal. You could start seeing fatalities within the week"
"What can we do Emperor Desslok?" Taylor asked. "Is there a cure for this terrible disease?"
"Yes. But the only available cure is found on the planet Ombroyo located on the outer reaches of our star system," Desslok answered.
"Unfortunately the explosion has destroyed our warp drive," said Taylor. "Is there an alternative?"
Desslok began to input information into his local computer and star maps with fleet deployments appeared on his computer screen. The Galman fleet was spread throughout the galaxy with high concentrations of warships near the Galman home world. With the war close to being over, Desslok reassigned most of his forces to return to the Galman system to prepare for an all out assault on the Bollar Federation. The estimated numbers had Desslok's forces at a fifty to one advantage. It was more than enough fire power to destroy the Bollar Federation. Unless of course, the Bollars had done some research on the Great Battle Of Minerva.
"As you know Captain, I owe the people of Earth a great deal," said Desslok. "I cannot take back what has been done to your planet but I can try to help change the course of its future. What I will do is dispatch enough of the antidote aboard a fleet of Galman destroyers and they will meet you at the following coordinates."
Desslok transferred the information to the Omega. The coordinates were five days travel time at auxiliary speed. It was a long distance but not nearly as far as Planet Galman.
"Do not come in contact with any other beings during this time," Desslok said. "The virus is highly contagious. If you were to enter an atmosphere of a populated planet, you run the risk of killing every living creature inhabiting that world."
"Thank you Emperor Desslok," Taylor answered. "We will meet the fleet at the recommended coordinates."
Desslok smiled. "It was good meeting you again Captain Taylor. Maybe one day we can sit down and discuss radical military tactics."
Taylor smiled back. "The pleasure was all mine Emperor."
Captain Taylor's face disappeared from Desslok's video screen.
A look of concern appeared on Desslok's face as he turned to his Executive Officer. "Talan, see to it that a fleet of destroyers meets the Omega at the appropriate coordinates."
"Leader Desslok, shall I keep this quiet?" Talan asked.
"There is no need," answered Desslok.
"Making a move like this without the Assembly's approval may cause friction," Talan replied.
"I am the Emperor of Galman!" Desslok spat. "I will deal with the Assembly in due time!"
The Galman Assembly was about to convene for the evening. General Plimkin, one of Desslok's long time supporters, had one more piece of business to bring to the Assembly's attention.
"People of the Assembly, there is a report of a fleet of Galman destroyers heading toward the Earth system. As is customary with all matters of defense, the Assembly requests an explanation."
Talan looked uneasily at Desslok. He had no idea how he would respond.
The Emperor rose from his chair. "The crew of an Earth battleship has been infected with the Bollar Virus. I have offered some assistance. As you know, the Earth was our ally in the war with Bollar."
"But will this fleet weaken the Empire during this time of war?" General Vleen asked from across the room.
"Agreed, some considerations must be made to our war campaign." General Shoru added.
Before the conversation could get out of control Desslok slammed his palms on the table and the room was stunned into silence.
"I am the Emperor of this world and my decision to send the fleet is final! It will not hamper Galman's campaign against the Bollar Federation. The Bollar Federation's space fleet has been reduced to ruins and total victory will be ours in as little as three month's time. You're dismissed."
Desslok began to walk away from the table. He stopped and looked back at the group of individuals who had stood to salute him. A few of the men did not look happy.
"Patience Gentlemen," said Desslok. "Ultimate victory is in our reach."
The door to the Assembly slid shut and Desslok and Talan walked onto a moving sidewalk that ran about a hundred meters down a long, deserted corridor. The sidewalk ended at a shiny metallic door that slid open to reveal an outside landing platform and Desslok's personal security detail. They herded the Emperor and his General into a small transport vehicle just off to the side of the platform.
The transport left the platform and effortlessly glided through the Galman capital. It came to rest behind a huge building with a tall round spire on its roof. The men exited the transport and entered the building through a secret entrance that opened into the Emperor's main office.
Desslok sat down behind a desk covered with data pads and technical readouts. He picked up one of the small computers and looked at its display. It showed the results of the latest battle in the Bollar War. A Galman fleet had destroyed a Bollar submarine division and a large heading reported "Total Victory Imminent!"
"You were right Talan," said Desslok. "We will keep all future matters of the Omega and Earth private."
The Emperor turned his chair toward the large window that overlooked the huge capital of the Galman home world. The beautiful city was all lit up and alive with activity. It had only been a few years since Desslok had found the people of this world, descendants of the Gamilon people, enslaved by the Bollar Federation. He freed them from bondage, renamed the planet Galman and declared war on the Bollar Federation.
But as the war went on, Desslok found he had little time for trivial matters. He created the Assembly to handle a lot of the day to day domestic issues. But the Assembly had started to gain power in the eyes of the Galman people.
"The people of Galman have become spoiled with greed and complacency," Desslok said to Talan. "They forget the work that went into creating this Empire. We must deal with those foolish bureaucrats before they steal the soul of the Galman people away from us."
Desslok turned and noticed Talan was reading the latest intelligence report. His face seemed to grow darker and more concerned the further he read the report.
"What is it Talan?" Desslok asked.
"I have had my suspicions for some time but I wanted to wait until this report came back from our spies before I brought it to your attention," Talan answered. "Emperor Desslok, I believe the Assembly has been and could still be compromised."
"According to this report the late General Forca was a prominent member of the Circle," answered Talan.
Desslok's heart sank. How could he have been so blind?
"It also says that an attempt on your life could come as soon as tomorrow," Talan continued. "I think we should put headquarters on alert and strengthen security."
Before Desslok could respond, an explosion tore through the room sending them crashing to the floor. Roof support beams toppled and dust and debris fell onto the two Galman leaders burying them under the rubble.