#FridayFlash: The Battle of Cygnus V

Although Admiral Perryton made no protest when his guard shoved him down into the stool, he could not help exhaling sharply as his broken arms banged against his sides. The grinding of his tightly clenched teeth was almost loud enough to drown out the grinding of bone on bone as he tried to sit up, Academy-straight. He breathed heavily and deliberately, straining for breath in the hot, heavy, oxygen-poor room. Beads of sweat dripped down into his eyes.

First Citizen Reynold Karl Genesis Glassine, Chairman of the House of Glassine and leader of Cygnus V, continued studying the paperwork on his desk. With long, claw-tipped fingers, he turned page after page, marking and tabbing the synthpaper sheets in the binder. On its cover, a photograph of Admiral Perryton was captioned in red letters with his full name and title - Harcourt Mandelbrot Perryton, Admiral, 2nd Diplomatic Fleet, Earth Alliance, Commonwealth of Human Planets. Beneath this, in larger red letter, was the label ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.

The reptiloid skin of his fingerpads make a slight sound as he turned each section of the report.

Whisk. Whisk. Whisk.

Finally, First Citizen Glassine set the folder down. Its pages all turned blank when his finger left it, a security precaution that, on another world, would have been an indication of how important Admiral Perryton was as a prisoner of war. On Cygnus V, it was a normal part of the operational security that governed every hour of the rogue colony's existence.

"So... this is what the Commonwealth sent to destroy us." The First Citizen leaned back in his chair as he spoke, his fingers laced over his thickly muscled torso. His eyes were large and protuberant, with the silvery-red cast of a dog's eyes by firelight. "I am at a loss, Admiral. Perhaps you might enlighten me."

Perryton looked at his captor, but said nothing. First Citizen Glassine glanced at the guard and nodded. With a whistling crack, the guard brought a length of stiff wire rope smashing onto the Admiral's left arm, knocking him off the stool. Perryton cried out, then swallowed his bellow of agony, choking it back to a gurgling moan as he rolled face first on the polished concrete floor. The guard picked him up by the shoulders and slammed him back onto the stool.

For a few minutes, the room was filled with the sound of grinding teeth and gasping, shuddering gasps of pain.

"You have a great deal of courage, Admiral. Even though you are a baseline Homo sapiens, and would have been swept away when we emerged, I am forced to note that you do indeed have courage. This is what puzzles me about your defeat. This is what I wish you to explain."

"Go gene-splice yourself."

The guard raised the whip again and the Admiral flinched, bracing for another blow. Before it could fall, the First Citizen raised his hand. With obvious reluctance, the guard lowered his weapon.

"My dear Admiral, it seems we have loosened your tongue at last. How wonderful that you are able to make light of your situation. Truly, I had no idea that an unaugmented human would be able to make a joke like that when faced with the prospect of having part of his face caved in. 'Go gene-splice yourself', indeed! Perhaps this was intended as an insult, but, as the Houses of Cygnus V have already taken many, many steps down the road of genetic enhancement, it is rather like telling our common Homo erectus ancestors to go build a fire, go sharpen a stick... go conquer a world."

Sweating and breathing heavily, the Admiral said nothing.

"We will supplant the common humans we came from, just as Homo sapiens supplanted the Neanderthals. All the worlds of this Arm of the galaxy will be ours. We are stronger, faster, smarter and can live more easily under wider environmental conditions. It is through intelligent design of our genomes that we have improved our genes and ourselves. We have become our own gods, and the humans will be swept before us. And yet... and yet..."

The First Citizen paused, considering his captive.

"Now that we have solved the problem of genome instability that caused the infertility in our offspring, we are poised to expand outward from this lone world, ready to leave our secret laboratories and incubation chambers and take our rightful inheritance. We knew the Commonwealth would discover us eventually, but it seemed that they did so too late. So why did the Commonwealth Military Command send only you? With the certain destruction of the old humans facing them, why send only you and your pitiful 2nd Diplomatic Fleet? Why not send one of the Defense Fleets? Or one of the Battle Fleets? Why you?"

Admiral Perryton blinked away tears and sweat, still saying nothing, offering only as expressive a shrug as his injuries allowed.

"I thought you a coward, you know. The way your ships simply waited out near the Jump Nexus, refusing to answer our challenges. Scanning, scanning, scanning... but not acting. Then, when we chased you, you scattered and ran. Your ponderous missile salvos went wide, dragged off course by the solar wind and falling harmlessly into the sun. All of your ships threw themselves into close orbits, trying to lose our cruisers inside the orbit of Cynus I, but finding their Singularity Drives too weak to pull out of the sun's gravity. Almost every scrap of hardware you brought was thrown away in a clumsy, foolish retreat. Everything except your own flagship, which you surrendered. A foolish diplomat and a blundering coward, hopelessly out of his depth in a pitched battle... that's what I thought you were." He looked up at the guard, who raised the whip again. Admiral Perryton braced himself for the blow. After a moment, the guard lowered his arm.

"However, after eleven days of... this..." - he indicated the guard and the Admiral's arms - "I'm forced to conclude that you are no coward, nor are you a fool. Come, Admiral. Tell me what you are doing here. What is the Commonwealth up to?"

"Fourteen days? Is that how long I've been here? Fourteen days since I was captured?" Perryton looked down at himself. "Your... hospitality makes it difficult to keep track of time. I'd thought it no more than seven days, ten at the most."

"So? Seven, ten, fourteen, what's the difference? What are you up to, Admiral? What do you hope to accomplish?"

The human shook his head. "I've already done my job. It's too late, Glassine. You and your fellow genome-monsters have lost."

In under a second, the guard wrapped massive claws around the Admiral's neck and lifted him to his feet, shaking him. The First Citizen came around the desk, nose to nose with him. "Explain yourself."

Admiral Perryton twisted his grimace of pain into a snarling grin. "I allowed myself to be captured so I could see the look on your face when the first wave of fast neutrons from Cygnus hits this planet. All those missiles were loaded with microencapsulated black holes. Between them and the coordinated explosions of our Singularity Drives deep in the photosphere, Cygnus is going to undergo a swirl-nova implosion.  Every planet in this system, from the rocks to the gasballs to the little icebergs, every object in the Cygnus system is going to be ash and plasma in less than a week."

"You lie!" The First Citizen lashed out, slicing deep gashes in the Admiral's face with a sideswiping blow. Perryton didn't bother to contain his bellow of agony, giving full voice to it until it rang like a cry of triumph. "YOU LIE!"

"Go gene-splice yourself, you freak!"

"We'll evacuate the system! Launch our attack from another planet!"

"Not with the Jump Nexus evaporated, you won't. That was the diciest part of this plan. The hyperphysicists said it would take seven days for the solar instability to disrupt the this star's Nexus. I've been here fourteen, and you obviously have been more concerned with maintaining secrecy than testing your only way out of this system. You and I are stuck here, Glassine. We're going to burn up along with everything else."

"No... no!"

"The Commonwealth of Human Planets doesn't take half-measures to solve little problems like you. You should have known that."

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Great story! Good job! I love this kind of sci-fi!

  2. I don't often resort to abbreviated/txt speak, but I did ROFL at "Go Gene-splice yourself"!

    There was one typo where you missed the 'g' out in "cygnus"

    Marc Nash

    1. Villains bloviate; heroes cut right to the chase.

      Typo fixed - thanks!

  3. Go gene-splice yourself! Ahahaha, I love it! This is incredibly exciting Tony with super descriptions throughout. And I want that security feature where the words disappear when my hand leaves the page!

  4. Spiffy stuff, sir! I love it when people overlook things through their own arrogance. Pride comes before getting sucked into a black hole.

  5. Fun story and I liked the way you introduced the mutants. The moral of the story is: interrogate on day one!

  6. I love this! Go gene-splice yourself! Hahahaha! I picked up a vibe similar to the television series "V" that I dug a lot. Lots of fun this week.

  7. A fantastic bit of SF for my Saturday morning. Love how you weave it all together, Tony. Thanks!

  8. Love this, it's very entertaining! Got a great old-school sci-fi feel to it.

  9. 'Cos it's just no fun unless the baddies know just how badly they've been whipped before everything all blows up. And it will.

    Nice one.


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