On the far-flung planet of Hayveon Blaze, a plucky army commander, is fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. In a universe where empires span solar systems, a great war has split the galaxy into three. UCEF, the Union of Creature Energy Force, is an alliance of aliens fighting for freedom and justice. But set against the Cosmaratic Empire and the Barrens, an empire with mind-controlled citizens, UCEF must achieve the impossible in order to win peace.
Veel-ra-sah led Blaze to the rear wall of the cavern and into one of the many passages; it was lit by more of the strange glowing green stuff. The tunnel looped round and rose steeply, before emerging on a small rocky balcony higher up in the main cavern. It overlooked the Dino camp and also the entrance to the cavern itself. Blaze could see the scurrying and skittering shapes of creatures of The Family lurking in the shadows, now seen from above he could begin to appreciate the sheer number of the things.
Veel-ra-sah jumped nimbly onto a small lump of rock and crouched there, eyes scanning the cave below her, before turning her full attention to Blaze. He stood stoically by the tunnels mouth, his head held high, only the support of the PASHAS keeping him upright. Internally he was exhausted, as much in need of sleep as the rest of his troops, but he could not appear frail in front of the Queen.
“You wanted to talk?” Blaze asked, his projected voice echoing slightly. He was not particularly sure why she had brought him up here, but he guessed she wanted privacy.
“Face to face,” she replied pointedly. It took Blaze a few moments to realise what she meant before he figured that she meant literally face to face. He released the lock on his helmet and the two pieces that comprised it unfastened and slid to their respective sides. The stench of the cave once more pounded upon his senses, but he did his best to block it out; thankfully it was not as bad as it had been in the tunnel. He blinked several times as his eyes adjusted to real light, having been used to seeing with the artificially enhanced vision of the PASHAS visor. He waggled his ears, stretching them out, finally free of the cramped helmet. The air on his face was not as cold as he had expected it to be, considering he was a fair way underground.
“Better?” Blaze asked, his voice now a lot weaker and quieter, the tiredness in it no longer wholly concealed by the amplifier.
“Yes, you must tell us what you know of the Humans, in return we will answer your questions,” Veel-ra-sah replied, pupil-less eyes staring intently at Blaze.
“Very well. The Barrens, as they are known, are an empire of Humans, twisted people under the control of a ruling circle, called the Kazma Elite. The Barrens spread out from their own solar system about a century and half a century ago and have been pressing on into the rest of the galaxy ever since. Those Humans who don’t opt to join them are forced into service by way of a vicious sort of mind control. We, UCEF that is, have been at war with them for years; immune to their mind control they simply seek to destroy us. They are violent and expansionist and have no remorse for the worlds they crush and pollute. They give no mercy and care little for anything or anybody save themselves and their empire. Recently they’ve begun a counter offensive against us; their attack on this world caught us off guard. As it currently stands there are thousands of them swarming the land above us. They’ve more or less conquered this world and we few hundred are all that remains of the UCEF presence on this planet,” Blaze explained wearily.
“What is… UCEF?” Veel-ra-sah asked, tilting her head to one side.
“The Union of Creatures Energy Force, we’re an alliance of various races who’ve banded together to fight back against the Barrens. I’m a Dino, those shapeshifting creatures down there are Queaksys, there are others, Lyddites, Scorpops, Froaws to name but a few.”
“There are a few who’ve joined us, but not many and not on Hayveon,” Blaze answered. “Our name for this world,” he added.
“Do the Barrens have other races on their side?” she asked.
“No. They believe in Human supremacy, that they alone should rule,” Blaze spat.
“Interesting,” she murmured, looking into the distance. Blaze was intrigued to note that she had not bothered bringing a bodyguard with her, either she trusted him or she had faith in her own abilities to defend herself; he was not sure if she did trust him and the latter could make life interesting. As he knew nothing about The Family he had no idea what they were capable of… and that bothered him. While Veel-ra-sah looked more or less like a mutated Human he knew looks could be deceptive, he himself looked like an overgrown humanoid rabbit, but that did not mean he could not snap somebody’s neck in seconds.
“What do these Barrens have?” she asked.
“Guns, tanks, artillery, spaceships… everything,” Blaze replied with a note of resignation. He did however notice Veel-ra-sah’s peculiar alien eyebrows rise at the mention of spaceships.
“And they are coming down here? Chasing you?”
“Yes, it’s only a matter of time before they work out where we went and follow us into your caves. They’ll come well-armed and with hundreds of men,” Blaze warned.
“We will deal with them, The Family will grow,” she replied with a sly smile.
“Yes about that… where DO you come from?” Blaze asked, his curiosity finally getting the better of him. The question he had just posed was one that had been rattling round his mind ever since they encountered The Family.
“We have been here all along,” she replied simply. “This planet was our home long before you arrived.”
“But you wear an old uniform, whose?” Blaze inquired, nodding in her direction. Veel-ra-sah flinched as if something had startled her, then went very still, her black eyes blinking as if she had just woken up. Blaze tensed wondering if he had said something he should not have.
“I… I…,” she stammered, Blaze’s concentration peaked, he had not heard her stutter or talk in first person before. “I… didn’t use to be Veel-ra-sah… I… I was a girl called Sarah… Sarah Veel…”
Look out for Part 30 of Matthew Gill’s story!