Korzac: Nördicon of Dern, Most High Admiral of the Fleet of Reverential Destiny, Honorary Moon God of the Exalted Planet Cloorbius, Holder of the Scepter of Gloptium Prime, Wielder of the Sword of Infinite Cuts, Prime Mate of Nizbo, Progenitor of Hazna, Quizbo, and Yath, Prime Mate of Ilxhan, Progenitor of Ooklsa and Horth, Prime Mate of Unquin, Progenitor of Jaexx, Wongaloo, Hipth, Sarf, and Tronk, Secondary Mate of Kandok, Junhre, Lorpa, and Krad, sat hacking into his claw like a skiggling zak.
The Dernian armada needed him to be focused and, for the most part, he was. His Vice Admiral, Oxlis, was a fine mind in his own right and made sure Korzac stayed on top of his game. And he hadn’t become Nördicon by having bad game.
Despite his current illness, Korzac was a prime specimen ,of the best Dern had to offer. Over six and a half feet tall with knee- length purple hair, perfectly oiled, cascading over his black and blue shell. His upper claws glistened naturally and his lower arms, with the traditional six fingers each, were finely muscled. His legs were thick and firm, and his hooves were perfect triangles. His pale blue skin and yellow eyes were straight out of one of those modeling books young femmes liked to swoon over.
Well, normally all that would be true. Right now his shiny black lips were dull gray, his bright yellow eyes were rheumy, and his smooth skin was oddly mottled. He knew what he had, and it wasn’t fatal, but that didn’t make it any more welcome.
He’d attained his rank while only having to use the Right of Assassination twice. The fewest in the history of the Nördicons. His ascension was the stuff of textbooks for all future Nördicons. He supposed that was something to be proud of. Maybe when he retired.
System 232: update.
Quantum bridges complete
Total loss of life: 6.38 billion
They’d slid into Wala-Un-sook space unnoticed. The Deceptor Shields having done their job, magnificently, again. Unlike that backwards planet, Earth, which had been kind enough to surrender right after they’d blown the first hole in one of their continents, the Wala-Un-sooks showed no inclination of being polite. In fact, they were being downright rude.
System 17: update
Quantum bridges detected
Current inhabitants reside on 4th planet from solar center
Population: approximately 1.72 million
Technological status: pre-industrial
Chance of survival… … Zero
He’d been forced to implement attack plan Gama Zed Zed Minor to counter the Wala-Un-sook. Which was fine. He knew his crew preferred a good battle before conquest. He watched as two battle cruisers pulled past his flagship and raced towards the edges of the Wala-Un-sook armada. They had placed their smaller fighters as protection and he wanted them taken out before he committed the destroyers.
They had their work cut out for them. This was the last system their scientists needed to create the Quantum Entanglement Grid, which would keep the invaders out of this third of the galaxy.
Of course, in accordance with the Diplomatic Gnosis of Necessity, they’d asked each planet for permission first. The Grid enablers on each planet would only kill about a third of their population and each was, naturally, offered time to evacuate within their system. All had declined. Earth had even threatened legal action.
That announcement had led to days of laughter in the High Council chambers. It was also the reason Korzac had decided to lead the assault there personally. No one sued a Nördicon and lived.
The Wala-Un-sook, on the other hand, would be offered an honorable defeat. Even as their entrails drifted into the vacuum, they’d earned that much.
He let out a garnoofing sound which caused the bridge crew to cringe without comment. He privately admitted it wasn’t pleasant while appreciating their decorum.
He hated being sick.
He heard a gentle rustle beside him and turned to face a young cadet. He forgot her name. She was holding a clip-pad with several icons highlighted.
Not everything was glory and battle when you were a leader. He motioned for her to speak.
“Forgive my presence, sir,” she began . “I have the updates on the Grid you requested.”
He nodded for her to continue.
“Since the Earthlings have agreed to participate in Xhak-Ko …”
His raised claw stopped her.
“What? With no Wark-Hana or Quandikran first? Are they that eager naturally or did Ilzak come up with some new threat?”
“As far as I know, neither sir. It seems there was some sort of fertility or rebirth festival going on when Ambassador Ilzak arrived to oversee the installation of the grid. It’s called…” she checked her notes, “e-stir, I believe. Our linguists are having problems with their many languages and religions, most of which contradict each other. Anyway, sir, he decided to take advantage of it to see if he could get the work going earlier. About thirty percent of the population agreed to join in Xhak-Ko with us so he issued the Formal Writ of Apology for the little hole you left in some place which used to be called … le-wee-zee-anna … and repatriated the citizens of that continent to other locations, either on their planet or in their system, depending on their wishes. He is currently setting up the grid unit on the empty continent. He reports he is one galactic year ahead of schedule.”
He hacked again. Flushed with embarrassment, he nodded.
“Ilzax is one of the good ones. I once saw him stop a war with a simple orgy and some oils. Well, I hope the Xhak-Ko with those primitives was worth his time.”
“Yes, sir,” she continued, “he reports he has personally had carnal relations with eleven different humans, that’s what they call themselves, and says, despite their limited amount of orifices, they really seem to enjoy everything and, he enjoys them as well.”
Despite himself Korzac laughed. Then he garnoofed again. The cadet didn’t blink.
“Very well, cadet, is there anything else?”
“Yes sir,” she smiled, “the remaining thirteen grid units are now complete and have successfully finished testing. The ones on inhabited worlds have produced fewer casualties than predicted.”
“That is good news.”
She bowed slightly.
“Yes sir. Will you be needing sex before I go?”
“Sadly, no. I’m so glumped I’d never make it past your first chamber.”
She giggled at the old joke, bowed again, and left.
Korzac adjusted himself in his chair to better see the battle screens.
The destroyers were arcing into the main force of the Wala-Un-sook armada. The battle would be fierce, but the ending was inevitable. Wala-Un-sook would soon be the property of Dern.
System 837: update
Quantum bridges complete
Total loss of life: 1.31 billion
Survivors: 2.33 million
Rescue ships have been launched
Another look at the battle screens showed him all was going well outside. Oxlis could handle things from here on out. He nodded to him, rose from his chair, and exited the bridge. He was grateful the rituals of salutes and obsequiousness were abated in times of formal battle.
He was almost to his cabin when the ship’s doctor greeted him in the hall and handed him a small bag.
Korzac shrugged, took the bag, and huffed it into all six nasal slits. He immediately felt better. He could feel it, go glass-ice in his veins like the shatter-shatter of his youthful indiscretions.
He turned to the doctor and smiled.
“Believe it or not it’s an Earth remedy. Something called Anthrax. Doesn’t seem to do them any good but it tested out perfectly against the Gorfian flu. How’s your breathing?”
“All clear. I can’t feel any congestion at all.”
“Good. You’ll still need a day of rest so go to your cabin. Your skin and muscles should be fine in two shifts.”
Korzac wasn’t due back on the bridge until then anyway, so this worked out perfectly. Instead of five days of misery he figured he could easily get to the fourth chamber now. He heard his lung rattle and decided that might be pushing things.
Still, he did feel better.
He got to his cabin and sat at his command desk. He pulled up the files on the invaders to see if there was any new information.
They’d been discovered one hundred years ago when Operation Oversight had been put in place. He was barely old enough to play with dolls when it happened. Dernian scientists had launched a probe one billion parsecs above the galactic plane. Their intent was to get a real-time map of this galaxy and its relation to as many others as they could. The idea was that a single location would garner the most complete data when all distances were equal and there was less time dilation to deal with.
What they found, instead, horrified them. An entire section of the galaxy, over forty systems, was connected by quantum bridges and those bridges were expanding. Someone, or something, was, literally, knitting together the galaxy and whatever life forms had been there were gone now.
All attempts at communication had been ignored. They didn’t know if the invaders were organic or cybernetic. All they knew was Dern, and its whole section of the galaxy, was in their path.
All the best scientists, and even many of the lesser ones agreed, within two thousand years this half of the galaxy would be under the control of the invaders.
In another ten thousand the whole galaxy would be overrun. Something had to be done.
An elderly scientist, named Quizex, had tried one last attempt at communication. He’d mapped out where molecules here were quantumly entangled with molecules inside the invaders territory. This would allow real-time communication. His plan was to send a variety of signals, ranging from the lowest audio to the highest visual, simultaneously, and see if they responded to any of them.
The plan was approved by the High Council and put into effect on the fortieth anniversary of the discovery of the invaders.
The quantum connection was enabled, the signals were sent and, then, something amazing happened.
One of the bridges erupted and shattered. They’d seen its demise through the entanglement andhirty years later, when the quantum ripples hit the probe above the galactic plane, they had confirmation.
They still didn’t know anything about the invaders but they knew how to stop them.
Scientists had spent those intervening years figuring out how to best use this knowledge. The day Korzac was announced as the new Nördicon was the day they had confirmation of their theories and presented their findings.
They would place quantum entanglement generators on fifteen worlds evenly spaced around Dern. Once enabled they would create a Quantum Dome which would protect them from an attack in any direction.
Their research had also led to these glorious Foldspace ships which could travel from system to system in a heartbeat. Combined with the Deceptor Shields they already used, they had the stealthiest––and most powerful––fleet known.
Within five years the entire grid would be active and Dern along with its sudden, if reluctant, allies, would be safe.
Korzac settled into his cabin, well pleased with the progress. He poured himself a snifter of gwindakwan, confident the doctor wouldn’t complain too much, and settled in to catch up on the latest news.
System 54: update
Quantum bridges detected
Current inhabitants reside on 3rd planet from solar center
Population: approximately 2.71 billion
Technological status: interstellar
Chance of survival: 40%
He silently toasted those who would be lost, and those who preceded them. Their numbers increasing every day. There was no way Dern could save them all.A glance at the grid screen showed him that, in this section of the galaxy, those few survivors would be safe and able to start lives on new worlds.
Now, if only someone could tell him who these invaders were and what they wanted, that would be great.
Bill McCormick began writing professionally in 1986 when he worked for Chicago Rocker Magazine in conjunction with his radio show on Z-95 (ABC-FM). He went on to write for several other magazines and later transitioned to blogs. He currently writes a sports blog at Jay The Joke, as well as a twisted news blog at World News Center. The latter provides source material for his weekly radio show on WBIG 1280 AM, FOX! Sports. Yes, you read that correctly, he does a show about anything other than sports on a sports radio station.
In 2011, Bill started submitting some fictional short stories to various publishers. Much to his surprise, and the consternation of linguists everywhere, they began publishing his efforts. Bill has expanded his repertoire to include comic books, graphic novels, and full length novels. He has currently penned everything from dystopian nightmares to cuddly children’s stories.
Bill is a big fan of nicotine, vodka, music, and this rambunctious redhead (formerly a bottle blonde) who keeps waking up in his bed.