On that day, the Sun God Promus rained terror and wrath on the wicked masses of its precious child, planet Piasha, and ushered in a new era of unity and peace under the new Masters of the galaxy...
excerpt from Myths and Legends of Piasha, by Zebberman
Boros province, Southern Jedozia, planet Piasha
“Where’s your unit, Varlinov?” enquires a United Army soldier, crunching on a chunk of chocolate and then tossing a second piece to the other man.
“I was with Jedozian Intelligence, Borzov,” says Serge Varlinov, chewing on the chocolate and swallowing it. “The Command Center I was in was completely destroyed by Artican armored units.”
Both soldiers are wearing battle caps with the purple star of the United Armies. Their uniforms are filthy and torn. Their weapons, battered and scored with battle damage, are practically useless.
“You were in the capital?” asks Borzov.
“Yes, I was in Bremlov,” says Varlinov. “The Articans marched in virtually unopposed. They have seized control of almost all the cities and towns. King Valesky has abdicated.”
“Is there any good news?” groans Borzov.
My unit was the 32nd Mobile Corps,” says Borzov, panting slightly. “We lost all of our armored vehicles defending Belkburg. The Articans had some kind of weapon which penetrated our shields.”
“So I heard,” says Varlinov.
The whine of long range proton cannon rounds sends both soldiers diving for cover.
“The Articans are getting closer,” says Varlinov, wiping dirt and dust of his uniform. He can dimly make out missiles and rocket bombs arcing into targets just beyond the horizon.
“I am going to surrender to the first Articans I meet,” mutters Borzov.
“I will not stop you,” grumbles Varlinov.
Borzov looks at Varlinov, his face sweaty, dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, and mumbles “How did this happen?”
Varlinov doesn’t answer. But in his mind he thinks: the Articans must have control of the whole of Piasha by now. The Artican Masters have won the war in a week. He struggles to fight back tears.
“How did the Articans catch us so off balance and slice through our defenses like butter?” enquires Borzov. “How? How?!?”
Another whine of proton rounds sends both men diving into a ditch.
Varlinov recalls where he had been a mere week before, before the invasion, when Jedozia had been free…
Jedozian Military Command Centre, Bremlov city, Nevos province, Central Jedozia
“The Articans have mobilized all of their units and moved them into forward positions,” says a voice.
“All our forward units are at first alert and all of our air units are ready to be scrambled at a moment’s notice,” says another female voice.
Captain Beros Varlinov adjusts his headphones, then looks around him and smiles grimly. He sees hundreds of his fellow Jedozians at their stations, all determined to defend their country and send the enemy reeling back to Articus with their tails between their legs if they dare attack.
On the battle monitor above him is the Kingdom of Jedozia and its defenses. He admires the extensive defensive positions and fortifications which consist of three layers. If the enemy were to overrun one layer, then Jedozian units would withdraw to the next layer. Jedozian artillery and air units would then pound the enemy, forcing them back to the frontier of Greater Articus. Then the Jedozian space fleet is the largest on Piasha. Any attempt by the Artican Space Corps to make any landings would be thwarted. He knows, too, that similar strategies are being employed by Paradeshia, Bercia and the other seven nations of the United Army Confederacy. But the bulk of the Artican armies and their allies are massed at the Jedozian border. This is where the main blow will fall. The fate of Piasha would depend on this battle. The Articans are strong, no doubt, but Captain Varlinov is confident. The Jedozian Liberation Army is the best trained and most powerful force in Piasha. In a war of attrition, Jedozia would undoubtedly win.
“Our satellites have picked up extremely intense bursts of radiation originating on Promus,” says an iron voice.
A solar flare, Varlinov thinks.
“It’s an X-class flare,” adds the voice.
The Captain knows that solar flares, travelling at the speed of light, or 300 000 km/second, will strike Piasha in approximately 540 seconds. X-class flares are the largest and most dangerous, as they can cause electromagnetic interference which can effect radio and satellite communications. He also is aware that X-class solar flares are extremely rare, so that this event is likely an anomaly, a once in a century event.
“There’s more solar flare activity, this one even larger,” says the voice. “Definitely X-class as well.”
Varlinov feels an aching feeling in his stomach. What is going on?
“There are two more flares,” says the voice, a little shakily. “All of them are X-class.”
Varlinov’s mind is spinning. That’s impossible. Solar flares never occur in such quick succession. Unless..
“Two more have been detected!” The voice is shouting.
Could the Artican Masters be responsible for this? Varlinov thinks. It’s simply inconceivable! Yet why had he thought of such a possibility? Wild rumors of the hidden powers of the Artican Masters had been circulating for years, but Varlinov had always thought them as myths and exaggerations planted by the enemy themselves. Could they possibly be true?
Varlinov turns and sees one of the technician’s faces has turned white.
“What?” Varlinov blurts. “What is it?”
“The solar flares,” the technician stammers, “are heading directly on a collision course with five Confederacy countries. The largest two are aimed at us.”
“You mean…” begins Varlinov, but something stops him from uttering the unthinkable.
“Someone or something seems to be controlling them and aiming them at specific targets.”
The Artican Masters, thinks Varlinov.
On one screen is an image of the star, Promus, racked by multiple solar flares, and they travel relentlessly through space towards Piasha. Hundreds of pairs of eyes are watching this computer simulation, bug eyed.
Within moments, the Command Center is a scene of shouting voices and pandemonium.
“Condition red! We have lost contact with all our air units!”
“All our satellite links are gone.”
“Main battle computers are frozen!”
“All systems are offline!”
Varlinov stares at the blank screen that was once the main battle map. He has an image of masses of Artican armor, artillery and air units pouring across the border now, and United Army units scrambling to respond, just as all our command and control systems, which coordinate and direct our artillery, air units, space fleet, armor and infantry become completely useless. Somehow, too, he knows that the Artican communications and command and control systems are operating normally, as they have prepared in advance for this. And that this same scenario is being played out in every single nation of the United Army Confederacy. This, no doubt, had been planned years ago by the Artican Masters, and now all their plans for global domination are coming to fruition.
Captain Varlinov can see all this in a flash, but he also knows that it is too late to stop it.
Too late, too late, too late… he utters silently through parched lips.
Varlinov, to his shock and slight horror, finds himself almost admiring the tactical brilliance of his great enemy, the Artican Masters.
He stares upwards in the direction of the star Promus.
Oh Promus, thou mighty Sun God! The Captain mutters to himself. We shall never forgive you, oh Promus. For you have delivered us into the hands of our enemy of enemies...
interior of Novlov Mountain, Greater Articus
General Shoor chuckles and relights his cigarette.
Operation Thunderbolt, now in its fifth day, had gone off practically without a hitch. On his monitor, Artican mobile units can be seen pouring across the frontiers of the Kingdom of Jedozia. The two outer rings of defenses have already fallen without a fight, and the invaders are moving steadily towards the third and final line of fortifications. He has an image of the United Armies command and control systems, deaf blind and dumb.
The battlefield belongs to us, Shoor thinks. The enemy have no choice but to surrender or flee… It will be simply a matter of mopping up the survivors now…
A part of him feels disappointed. It has all been too easy, the enemy doesn't even try to resist us. Shoor had envisioned a great ideological struggle for the ages in his mind, in which great armies and set piece battles would be fought, in which heroism and glory would be displayed by both sides. However, he knows that destiny favors the Artican Masters and that they cannot be defeated by mere mortals. There have been whispered rumors among Articans for years that the Masters possess some kind of mind beams and exotic super weapons which make them invincible.
Shoor, however, is uncertain even if such psychological or physical weapons even exist. What does it matter to him? Artican troops would soon be in Bremlov, drinking toasts with Jedozian liquor and beer. And he, General Shoor is destined to be the military governor of the soon to be declared Artican protectorate of Jedozia.
Shoor stubs out his cigarette and considers the solar flares. No doubt, they had been triggered by the Artican Masters. But how had they done it? Had they launched atomics into Promus or altered its chemical makeup somehow? The thought of such abilities makes the general’s head spin. The sheer power and audacity of it makes him feel feeble and weak. How glad he is that he is not an enemy of the Artican Masters!
As he thinks this, he stares at the four colored dragon emblem of the Artican Masters suspended on the wall behind him.
“Akim paktar eternicus!”(may their rule be eternal) he blurts.
“Akim paktar eternicus,” echo several Artican marines that were within earshot of him.
Battle reports from the frontlines are pouring in. All the news is good. Enemy units are withdrawing or surrendering. All objectives have been taken ahead of schedule.
Artican casualties are light or virtually non-existent. Entire enemy armies are being encircled and cut off.
The war should be over within a few days, Shoor thinks.
Warships and space craft continue falling out Piasha’s exosphere and falling down through the atmosphere into Southern Jedozia.
On the ground, scattered United Army units from mixed nationalities are gathered together in groups, waiting. Artican long range rockets and proton cannon salvos are falling amongst them, and they run, dive and flee for cover.
Some spaceships, most of them Jedozian warships, fully loaded with United Army soldiers, are lifting off. They are bobbing and weaving, evading Artican ground fire. A few are hit, and fall, spiraling and smoking to the ground before exploding. Other warships begin landing and the awaiting troops file in frantically.
Everywhere, the same story is repeated: how a sudden solar flare strike had knocked out all their command and control
Artican armored units, which have encircled the embankment zone, are closing in. Already, their proton cannons and multi rocket launchers are beginning to rain ordinance on the some of the United Army units in the rear.
What’s this? Shoor roars to himself. He magnifies the battle map of Southern Jedozia around Lake Khuzok. The map indicates large numbers of enemy units and space vehicles concentrated there. Artican armored units are closing the ring, but United Army units in the rearguard seem to be holding fast.
They are trying to escape! Shoor thinks. We must stop them to complete our conquest of Piasha.
He watches, with rising irritation, as more and more enemy space vehicles fly out of Piasha’s atmosphere. He knows, of course, that the Artican Space Corps will have been alerted, and they would be hot on their trail. However, he is also aware that the Artican Space Corps is relatively weak, and that some, if not many of the enemy ships are likely to escape the blockade.
Shoor is watching the enemy warships on a scope as they begin to escape out of the Promus system. Where will they go? he ponders. If they have star drive, they could go practically anywhere. How will we find them again?
Another officer, Yurgy, is also watching the little blips heading out of the solar system. "Roteans," he mumbles.
"What did you say, Yurgy?" enquires Shoor.
"They are like the Roteans, aren't they?" says Yurgy.
Roteans are a tribe in Beurlandian legend that abandoned their homeland to their enemies save their own skins. Greater Articus now occupies what was once Beurland.
"Roteans... runaways," mutters Shoor.
"Someday we will find them and bring them to heel," growls Yurgy.
"Or they may come to us," says Shoor, a sly smile on his face.
“The war is over you, my Jedozian friend,” says a burly Artican marine, aiming his blaster pistol at Borzov, who has his arms raised in the air.
Captain Varlinov, however, has other ideas. As soon as the Artican soldier had approached, he had made a break for a nearby village, and shielded himself behind an old woman who ran out of her house, hands in the air.
The Artican soldier takes careful aim and fires.
“No!” screams Borzov.
A pink bolt strikes the old woman in the chest, but, incredibly, she doesn’t fall or even blink. The bolt passes straight through her and hits Varlinov, sending him spinning onto the ground.
Borzov blinks, thinking he had only imagined what he had just seen.
The Artican marine is grinning. “Like our new toy?” he snorts. “It’s handy when cowards try to hide behind innocent civilians.”
Borzov watches the old woman, who is touching herself, a look of shock and amazement etched on her face.
A squad of Artican marines appear out of the nearby bushes.
“Search the prisoner and then take him back to regimental HQ!” barks the burly marine, gesturing towards the squad.
Borzov is seized, searched, and then his arms are bound by a force field.
The Jedozian Liberation Army has been smashed, the burly marine thinks. Soon we will control the whole of Piasha…
The Captain, crew, and all the United Army units crammed into the Jedozian pocket cruiser Jamus are staring at the little blue and white orb in the rear viewport. Gradually, it shrinks and finally it is swallowed up into the black inkiness of space. The warship begins to accelerate, along with the countless dozens of other ships in the fleet. On the radar scopes, falling further and further behind, is the Artican Space Corps, giving chase.
As they stare at the space once occupied by their home planet, Piasha, now completely occupied by the enemy, the Artican Masters, all the men and woman and children on board the cruiser, staring out into space, have the same thoughts.
They know that they must find a suitable planet to colonize, to survive, to prosper once again in the cosmos. But they also have another desire, even stronger and more potent. They must return to Piasha and liberate it someday. For now, however, they had to leave Piasha in the hands of the Artican Masters.
The star, Promus, had betrayed them, but it is still shines on their true home planet, Piasha. However, every surviving Piashan and fugitive in the fleet now exiting the Promus system now is determined to never give up the struggle to wrestle back control of Piasha from the Artican invaders.
Once they have passed safely through the Baclovian asteroid belt, all the ships of the fleet activate their star drives and they vanish into the star mass.