The Casidan (A short story set in the Ulandi Universe)
The locals were hurrying about their business. He watched as one man exchanged what looked like a cage containing a slimy mammal for a brown sack which he presumed contained some kind of seed or animal feed. On the other side of the market square he could make out more locals trading goods and talking. He scanned the area looking for anything that seemed suspicious or out of place. He had been watching the same area for three Kkrag days and apart from a village youth stealing fruit from one of the market traders nothing of interest had happened. He placed the Techbios to one side and looked towards the horizon, the sun was beginning to set and was creating beautiful colours over the distant sea. Nodding his satisfaction, it was time to call it in.
‘E6 day three shift, nothing of interest.’ He spoke into the comlink integrated into his helmet.
‘Confirmed.’ returned a voice ‘Am on my way.’ He nodded again and picked up the Techbios to continue watching the market. Most locals had already gone home, and the ones that had not, were now starting to pack up their belongings and place them into carts. Such a simple life, he thought. The Scytons lived on the planet Tern, they had little in the way of technology. The race was in its infancy and it was decreed by the Grand Alliance that they must be allowed to grow and develop on their own without any interference from the outside universe.
E6 agreed with the good intentions but thought them somewhat short sighted. Tern was on the outer rim and had only recently been discovered. Maktin Yada was taken by surprise when her team had discovered the world. It wasn’t unusual for new exoplanets to be discovered in a galaxy as large as Ulandi but they were mostly barren of intelligent life. To find a planet with an emerging race was most strange. Yada’s team spent months undercover investigating the local traditions before reporting back to the Alliance.
E6 believed that they should just come clean, and explain to them about the rest of the galaxy and invite them into the fold. But they were deemed too immature to handle the facts. Short sighted he thought, sooner or later someone else would tell them the truth. Someone would manipulate them, someone evil, and it would be another race that, in years to come he would end up fighting.
He let out a little sigh, the resulting politics had made Tern a haven for corruption. Smugglers and thieves who had discovered that Tern is protected and were now using the planet rules to their advantage. They had discovered that if they could sneak past the planet defence, then they could hide out on the surface indefinitely, or until a Casidan trooper found them.
He carried on watching the square, waiting for his successor to take over the shift. The last of the market traders were now leaving, and the square was almost empty. He watched the last cart trundle down the dirt road when a shimmer of distorted light caught his eye.
‘I have something.’ He said into his comm, something had just disturbed the air around a single object in space and time. They had traced an unnatural energy source to this area, but so far they had failed to pinpoint it. Whatever it was it was sophisticated, he presumed a cloaking device of sorts, but it was giving off almost zero energy. He logged its exact position then packed his equipment into a shoulder bag.
’Am moving in H395-67 to V243.’ He grabbed his Icus phaser weapon and began to make his way through the dense forest. Moving silently through the thick bush and down the side of the hill. The terrain opened up as he reached the bottom and he moved closer to the fence line and quickened his pace. The square was only meters away now, not much cover he thought. He scanned the area and noticed an abandoned market stall. Switching on his holosuit function, he ran from cover ducking under the stall, and back out again to the other side of the square, finally resting at the side of the corn exchange barn.
Moving down the side of the barn, he realised that if the cloaking device was as sophisticated as he had suspected, then they must also have the tech to monitor this entire area. They must have picked me up, he mused. He was only meters away. He stopped to contemplate his next move. He could sneak around the corner, or head for the rooftop for a surprise attack, or he could just turn off his holosuit to gain back full protection from his armour and step out of the shadows. He opted for the latter, he was convinced that they knew he was there. The situation was fragile, and he knew that he couldn’t be seen by the locals, but he thought what the heck!
He stepped out to discover what looked like a burnt out shack, it had been there all along but he never noticed the energy fluctuations until now. Looking up he realised why, a piece of timber from the side of the corn exchange had come free and was now resting on what seemed like thin air.
‘Not as sophisticated as I thought, you can hide your energy signature but you can’t hide from bad luck.’ He stood staring for a moment at the wood resting on seamlessly nothing. He then turned again to look directly at the fire damaged cart. A second later he heard a hiss of air, a plume of oxygen danced free from a shimmering light around the bottom of the wagon. The veil then fell, a flare of light shone to reveal what was under the cloak. There, sat in the market square was a white habitation pod from the factories at Trinyadd. The habitation pod began to pixelate itself, and the hard light projected image returned back inside a hover drone that was elevated 5 meters in the air. Once finished, it then fluttered down and rested on the open palmed hand of its owner.
E6 and the hover drone owner both stood in silence for the briefest of moments. He didn’t recognise the species, but it seemed female to him.
‘Execution or Detainment?’ She asked.
‘Detainment.’ replied E6. She nodded.
‘I see.’ she said before running off around the corner off the barn, one single leap and she jumped onto the corn exchange roof heading south through the village.
‘How the…no time! In pursuit, unknown species, possible female.’ He engaged his holosuit again and began to run after the outlaw. They darted through the village, silently and invisibly, passing the locals who were unaware of there presence. He followed her as she skillfully navigated the roof tops, jumping from one to another with an elegant grace. She wasn’t firing at him, so she either had no weapons or she knew the Alliance directive about Tern.
‘I have her in the scope E6.’ Came a voice from his internal comm. ‘I can take down the felon if needed.’
‘Negative, I almost have her.’ He didn’t understand why he just said that. If K4 had the target then it would be more efficient to execute the stun. He was a Casidan and efficiency was in their blood. He shook his head to clear his mind.
‘K4 do you still have the’…the comm went dead, ‘Arrr somethings blocking transmissions, K4 do you still have the target.’ No reply ‘Dam it!’ He looked up in time to see her jump from the last roof top and back down onto the dirt road. She began to head out of the village in the direction of farm lands. He followed in pursuit, this new direction suited him more. Once away from the populace he could use his equipment to finally end this hunt. He chased her up the dirt track, despite her agile frame he seemed to be catching her. She darted right off the trail and jumped over a wooden fence into an open field. E6 followed suit, he could see on the other side of the field a wooded area. ‘Perfect’ he said to himself. Once covered from the outside world and in the woods he would use his phaser to bring her down. He quickened his pace to reduce the gap, she was nearing the woods now, only a few more meters. At the edge she nimbly leaped into the air, over the tree top canopy and dropped down somewhere out of sight in the forest. E6 was not as nimble; he crashed through the wooded doorway with his shoulder and fell, rolling into an opening. He looked up to discover she was standing over him.
‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I am unarmed.’ E6 picked himself up off from the forest floor, phaser in hand, he didn’t point the weapon directly at her, more aiming down towards her legs.
‘You are in direct violation of the Grand Alliances treaty number 148. No outer world beings are allowed to trespass on this….’ She cut him off before he could finish.
‘I know, I know, this planet is deemed protected under the order of the Grand Alliance. Yeah yeah, look you got this all wrong am not the badie here they are.’ He paused before continuing.
‘You are in direct violation of the Grand Allian….She cut him off again.
‘Look I know, I shouldn’t be here, am trespassing, you said that already. But you got to believe me, my intentions are honest.’ E6 raised his weapon and aimed it directly at her head. He had arrested many trespassers on Tern, some, like her, tried to talk their way out of it. Some tried to fight their way out of it. But they all failed, and they were all brought to justice. But this somehow seemed different to him. She seemed genuine.
‘Who are you? What race are you?’ Said E6
‘My name is Reyin, you will not know my race, but I know yours, you are a Casidan are you not? Feared protectors for the Grand Alliance.’
‘I am’. He replied.
‘And I presume, being a Casidan, you have no name or rank?’
‘That correct, but as I am the one holding the gun, I believe it is me who should be asking you questions. Now what are you doing here on Tern, Reyin of the unknown race?’ he said.
‘Am hunting mercenaries, they stole from me people.’ Said Reyin.
‘What?’ He enquired.
‘A book, and we need it back.’
‘A book?’ He quized. ‘And what is so special about this book?’
‘It is an ancient artifact…off religious value.’ She said. This he presumed was a lie, no advanced race believed in the old ways. But he would give her the benefit.
‘Ok, fine, a religious book, and what does a religious book, a gang of mercenaries and an outlaw have to do with Tern?’ He asked.
‘They’re here on the planet’ She said.
‘Impossible! We would have picked them up. How many?’ he asked.
‘Six.’ She replied.
‘Six! Here on Tern, that is not possible.’
‘I’ve been tracking for over a week, they’re here, in this village. Look I know how politically sensitive the Tern situation is, which is why I’m here on my own.’
‘Who do you work for, on whose authority?’ Said E6
‘It complicated to say the least, let’s just say am on your side OK?’
‘Not good enough! Whose authority, give me names and numbers!’ Shouted E6, he had enough now of the conversion and wanted some straight answers.
‘Tell me straight who authorised your passage to the planet, show me your credentials.’
Reyin was well trained, she knew that the Casidan wouldn’t believe her without evidence. She had dealt with these soldier types before. She had even fought on the front line with them, but he wasn’t to know. To him she was just another rebel dodging the authorities. But she realised that, for the sake of the mission she had to come clean. The alternative was to kill him and she already had enough enemies.
‘Am going to get something out of my pack OK, don’t shoot me.’ She slowly slid the pack from over her shoulders and placed it on the floor in front of her. Opening the main compartment she placed her hand in and pulled out a token of office.
‘Where did you get that?’ He asked.
A token of office was a rare medallion made from Thrille, one of the rarest metal in the Ulandi galaxy. To be a holder of a token of office meant you were under direct instruction from House Trivian directly and you answered to no one. Reyin held her hand open, palm exposed, to show him the token.
‘You know, I don’t have to answer that question, don’t you?’ She said. ‘But I need to gain your trust, so I will tell you. My name is Reyin, I was given passage to the planet by Tunni, brother of Dalion from House Trivian. I am here on Tern to recover an artifact lost by my people. I’am a Dyrin from the planet Natel. Now, if I have your trust, I would very much like you help.’
He examined the token using the advanced vision that his helmet gave him. A moment later he lowered his weapon.