KnM Blade - In Destiny's Way

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Kixi Rajki, a professional high speed racer, is a seemingly average citizen of the United Systems of Sol in the 31st century. Going by the alias of Kay Blade, she is also a secret agent for an underground resistance cell intent on bringing down the powerful freedom restricting government. Mako Jhasmin Zaneca, alias eM Blade, and Kixi's lover, recently trained up as an agent, is also an expert computer slicer and hacker in her own right. She must accompany Kixi on what will be her first mission, and with all certainty, an extremely dangerous mission. Choosing arrest in order to save her lover, the two narrowly escape death, and consequently trigger in motion an unprecedented course of events. Unwittingly, her actions will forever change the balance of power, and with it the face of humanity as a space faring species.

Author's note

All my completed professional published eBooks can be found on my smashwords.com site below:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Kixi

Books are available in ePub, Kindle and PDF. These books are part of Smashwords' "Premium Catalog" and have been approved to ship to retailers that Smashwords works with. These then get distributed to online book stores such as Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Scribd, Ficton DB, Livraria Cultura, Barnes & Noble, that's just naming a few. :-)

Also note that for the proper published books for this title, each "Part" is published as a separate title and all in progress parts such as part 3 and the eventual part 4 will be separate titles as well. The professional published versions are also called just "KnM Blade" rather than KnM Blade in Destiny's Way.

Information regarding timelines of the KnM Blade universe including proposed timelines, current titles, in progress titles and other things about me can also be found on the site below:

https://kixi-rajki.wixsite.com/knm-blade
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104. Interlude: The Road To Imperialism.

Interlude: The Road To Imperialism.

 

Sometime in the later part of the year CE 3016. 

Ladus H7Q, DX Cancri System, some 11.8 light years from Earth.

 

Outside the USS Executrix raged a silent storm of tumbling megaliths and flashing plasma beam strikes, a hell of Grand Admiral Natasi Drex’s own making erupting inside the shattered pieces of the moon Tazuno. The fortress-destroyer, the USS Kryptoria, hung only a few kilometres away, blocking the mouth of a semi permanent passage and venting black smoke from the cavity that had once been her bridge. Long streams of bodies and flotsam were jetting from the melt holes in her forward hull, and hundred metre tongues of flame were shooting through the splits in her sagging midsection. And still Ilias Iklipso’s Tronix allies continued to pour plasma fire into the fortress-destroyer’s lifeless hulk, trying in vain to blast her out of the way so they could at last enter the heart of the debris field and attack the Executrix.

But at the moment, Natasi’s attention was not on the battle. Instead she was sitting in her command salon, where an Initiative for Human Supremacy News Network report was playing on a pop-up display at the end of the conference table. The report was a day old, but with the Gexin Combine’s leader, Ilias Iklipso and his fleet jamming all transmissions into or out of Ladus H7Q’s vicinity, it was the first newscast she had seen in nearly a week— and the closest thing to an intelligence briefing she had received since taking refuge inside Tazuno’s remnants.

“… scattered alien races allied with factions of Fifth Columnists are seizing this opportunity to settle old scores,” reported an intelligent looking woman with an oversized nose.

Her image was replaced by the flashing web of a plasma beam battle in deep space.

“When Keczan Qhon of the Tronix mobilised his fleet to assist the Gexin Combine’s CEO Iklipso, Xuna Niecurs of the Za’ha’meon attempted to annex Valhalla Station. Qhon was forced to divert to protect the integrity of his holdings. The situation is the same across all IHS territories, with Fifth Column traitors allying themselves with various different alien species skirmishing over border systems that have been contested since the Drex Dynasty took control, and from when those species sought refuge on the Osiris Space Station.”

The newscaster’s image reappeared, this time with a chart of current IHS territory hanging above her right shoulder. Red starbursts began to dot the map as she continued.

“Battles and invasions have been reported in more than a dozen systems. Drex Dynasty fleets are being forced to intervene in the Epsilon Indi System, Gliese 887, Lalande 21185, and Ross 154. At EZ Aquarii, a three-way fleet battle rages among forces loyal to Gexin Combine CEO and the combined Za’ha’meon-Fifth Column forces. Ryker the Younger and Xuna Niecurs.”

The newscaster’s face expanded to fill the entire display.

“The instability has caused turmoil in financial markets in IHS controlled systems, independent systems and the Osiris Space Station as investors brace for a descent into chaos. Unconfirmed reports suggest that two fleets of the Drex Dynasty Navy have been approached by powerful fifth column deserters attempting to buy the loyalty of their commanders. The Tronix remain divided as factions side with the Gexin Combine, while others remain loyal to their longtime Za’ha’meon allies who see through Ilias Iklipso’s lies.”

“Pause report,” Natasi said, bringing the newscast to a temporary halt.

She shook her head in dismay, unable to believe how badly her plan to expand the Initiative for Human Supremacy and properly secure all annexed territories for the Drex Dynasty was floundering. Her father had made her a grand admiral, which in theory allowed her to assume his role in his absence as commander of all fleets of the Drex Dynasty Navy— yet she was nothing more than his puppet. In his absence, President Atul Drex was allowing his own Dynasty to disintegrate into anarchy. And truth be told, Grand Admiral Natasi Drex was not merely allowing it to happen— she had caused it when she had failed to assume full control after Iklipso broke a deal with the Drex-Skycom regime in the Sol System, another of her father’s undoings. All the while, Iklipso took advantage of a volatile situation; false lies to the Tronix and other alien species that his powerful Gexin Combine would liberate them from the Initiative for Human Supremacy set out by the Drex Dynasty, and restore their former governments; a lie to the fifth columnists who have undermined the Drex Dynasty from within.

To be fair, though, she was guilty only of bad timing. Her father, the president of the United Systems of Sol, was great at ruling a single but densely populated star system, but he simply wasn’t up to the job of ruling a dynamic civilisation that spanned more than a dozen star systems. The rising insurgencies and the inability of any of the other admirals and commanders to coordinate a proper response to such uprisings, was the perfect example that indicated that a serious problem did in fact exist. Natasi took a calming breath, then faced the young spacefighter pilot, a Bladestrider who just happened to be the adopted daughter of Skycom CEO Gabriel Skyhawk, and had risked her life to deliver the report.

“This is madness,” Natasi said. “With all these uprisings, and my father’s inability in keeping all of our fleet admirals and commanders in check, my family’s dynasty is sinking into barbarism.”

“Exactly.” The young Bladestrider had narrow blue eyes and a wide mouth that seemed just a little too large for her face. “That’s why I felt I had to come to you, Grand Admiral. President Atul Drex is not up to the job of holding his territories beyond that of the Sol System together. These little insurrections of traitorous Fifth Columnists siding with either the Gexin Combine, the various alien species in question, or a combination of the two, are inevitably weakening the Drex Dynasty— your future empire. Although in respects to the enemy, I am confident that without a single leader to unify their cause, their rebellious actions will be short lived. We could for the short term have them fight amongst each other, but the key to success would ultimately be to have all of our fleets properly kept in check, and under one leader that is present on a regular basis.”

“These little insurrections caused by the lack of proper leadership shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Admiral Jonas Jamikotan observed. Seated in the chair next to Natasi, he looked on the verge of cracking himself, with purple circles beneath his eyes and skin as grey as rain clouds. “And that’s all the more reason we need to find a way to slip out of here— now.”

Natasi answered without taking her eyes from the young Bladestrider. “Escaping is easier said than done, Jonas.”

“If Bladestrider Skyhawk can sneak into this rubble pile, I dare say we can find a way to sneak out.” Jamikotan stood. “And the sooner, the better. We need to get back out there and take charge.”

“Take charge of what, exactly?” As Natasi spoke, she continued to study Raven Skyhawk, trying to figure out why a young woman who, presumably along with her younger brother Adam, had been deeply entangled in the short lived Skycom-Gexin alliance and who had only recently been released from a Gexin Combine prison, would risk her life to join the remains of a cornered, badly battered ship. “The assault on the City of Everlasting Unity that will put an end to all these futile insurgencies?”

“Not at all,” Jamikotan insisted. “I have friends— a great many friends. We need more than just our own ships and those of Skycom for our eventual dominance of the stars, the Osiris Space Station included. As soon as they learn of my escape, they’ll rally to our cause.”

“Assuming we do escape, or if we don’t, that we can hold out long enough for the arrival of my Ninth Fleet and crush the Gexin Combine, the Tronix, and the fifth column scum that support them.” Natasi locked gazes with Raven. “Assuming that Bladestrider Skyhawk’s miraculous infiltration of a very tight blockade isn’t just a ruse to avoid a bloody assault by luring us into a foolish attempt.”

The look of puzzlement that shot through Raven’s eyes lasted just long enough to appear sincere, then the corners of her wide mouth lifted into an approving smile.

“I knew I was right to come to you, Grand Admiral Drex,” she said. “No one understands how the Drex Dynasty has worked over the centuries better than you. You are after all, your father’s daughter, his eventual successor.”

“Your flattery is duly noted, Bladestrider,” Natasi replied. “It won’t, however, lull me into a foolish decision. If Ilias Iklipso didn’t allow you to slip through the blockade— one that even the Fifth Columnists alone could have kept sealed tight— how did you manage?”

“Isn’t that obvious, Grand Admiral?” Raven answered immediately. “Ilias Iklipso didn’t let me through. Someone else did.”

Natasi cocked her brow, impressed— but not certain yet whether it was with Raven’s coolness under fire, or her resourcefulness in accomplishing a goal.

“And does this someone have a name?”

“Not one that I’m going to share with the next leader of the Drex Dynasty,” Raven said. “You’re a woman who values duty as much as she does loyalty, and I wouldn’t want a black mark placed in his file for doing me a favour.”

“Of course not,” Natasi said. The Bladestrider was smarter than she looked, for that was exactly how Natasi would have reacted to someone betraying his commander and his ship. “But if you’re not here trying to lure us into a trap, why did you come?”

“To deliver a situation report,” Raven replied simply. “Which I’ve done. The rest is up to you. You’re the admiral, the grand admiral.”

“Be that as it may, you still made it alive,” Jamikotan said. “I assume you have a plan for leaving in the same condition?”

“I’m afraid that would be a poor assumption.” Raven’s gaze shifted toward the main viewport, where the Kryptoria’s lifeless hulk could be seen drifting backward under the steady maser barrage. “As I’m sure Grand Admiral Drex has surmised by now, my arrival did not go entirely unnoticed. In fact, it appears I may have caused them to come after you. My apologies.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Bladestrider,” Jamikotan said. “You’re the last reason Iklipso is coming after us now.”

A twinkle of wry amusement came to Raven’s eyes. “Is that so?”

“Absolutely,” Jamikotan said. “It’s the chaos in the territories occupied by the IHS. Iklipso is taking advantage of it, forcing the hands of the Fifth Columnists and the Tronix so he can seize power.”

“Who are probably carving off pieces of IHS territory that you were supposed to have secured as we speak,” Natasi pointed out. “And no doubt making a crippled mess of the rest of the Drex Dynasty, too. Overloaded with his USS duties, President Atul Drex isn’t up to the job of properly overseeing our operations out here.”

“All the more reason to be certain that one of us escapes this mess out here to take charge,” Jamikotan said, turning toward the exit. “Your Ninth Fleet is at best still a day away. We could all be dead by then so I’ll be returning to the Zenith to make my attempt now, Grand Admiral Drex.”

Natasi shook her head. “Not yet.” Even were one of them to survive the escape attempt, it still wouldn’t convince the Fifth Columnists nor the Tronix that Iklipso was deceiving them. If the situation they were in were not turned around in their favour, it would only deepen the current crisis— and one far more likely to result in the Drex Dynasty’s collapse than her own victory. “It’s too early for that.”

“I’m afraid my mind is made up, Grand Admiral,” Jamikotan said. “I wish you the best of luck in your own attempt, or you survive long enough to see the arrival of your Ninth Fleet.”

“I said not yet, Jonas.” She shot a commanding glance toward Raven, and the Bladestrider had a blaster pistol in her grasp so fast that her hand did not even seem to move. Natasi caught herself staring and turned back to Jamikotan. “Perhaps you could give me another half an hour?”

Jamikotan eyed the blaster for a moment, then said, “I don’t see how I can refuse.”

Natasi smiled, quietly relieved that Jamikotan had not forced her to have him killed. She was beginning to see an opportunity in the current situation of her IHS program, and if her idea developed into a full blown solution, she was going to need Jamikotan to serve as her puppet.

“Thank you, Admiral Jonas Jamikotan.”

Before she could motion him back to his seat, the voice of the Executrix’s captain came over the intercom.

“Grand Admiral Drex, it’s time. The masers are beginning to push the Kryptoria back.”

Natasi activated the ‘transmit’ switch. “Very well, Captain. We’ll be right there.” She rose and motioned for Jamikotan and Skyhawk to follow her. “You’ll want to see this.”

She stepped out of the command salon onto a bridge acrid with the smell of fear and exhaustion, then led the way to her command post. The Executrix’s captain stood at the combat information console, three days of grey stubble on his face, his bloodshot eyes bulging with caffeine overdose as he looked out over the frenzied discipline of a ship’s bridge in full battle.

“Captain Cuteddu, how do our chances look?” Natasi asked.

“We’ll know in a minute, Grand Admiral.”

Cuteddu pointed at a tactical display that showed a ten kilometre pocket of empty space surrounded by tumbling boulders. The remnants of Natasi’s battered escort cruisers were scattered around the makeshift redoubt. At the centre of the formation was the cruiser Infineon, her projection crews keeping the pocket more or less stable by carefully modulating the ship’s two gravity well generators. Jamikotan’s flagship, the USS Zenith, was positioned along the back wall, ready to attempt a desperate escape through a hundred kilometre maze of shifting megaliths. The derelict Kryptoria was still blocking the entrance tunnel, slowly drifting backward under the maser fire pouring into the molten mess of its bow.

Not shown on the display were two dozen smaller vessels out in the labyrinth maze, operating independently and doing whatever they could to harass the attacking forces. Natasi doubted the ambushes would actually repel Iklipso’s assault, but they would at least extract a heavy price in ships and lives.

Finally, the Kryptoria was pushed completely out of the passage. Sixteen spacefighter squadrons appeared on the display, their designator symbols going active as they broke away from their mother ships and swarmed to defend the redoubt. They had barely arrived before Drex Dynasty squadrons began to pour out of the tunnel, and the mouth vanished into a swirling cloud of designator symbols.

“Grand Admiral Drex,” Jamikotan said. “I really must insist that you release me at once. The time has come to take our chances and hope one of us survives this mess.”

“And that will serve the Drex Dynasty how, Admiral Jamikotan?” Natasi asked.

“By providing a figure for the other admirals and commanders to rally around,” Jamikotan said. “So we can do what your father has failed to do, organise ourselves better, and counterattack all these insurrections.”

“And turn chaos into cataclysm.” Natasi shook her head. “Simply taking charge from President Atul won’t work. Hypothetically speaking, what’s to stop any of the other admirals or commanders from trying the same thing? If that were to happen, it would result in a civil war amongst ourselves, and, a Dynasty at war with itself is as weak as a Dynasty in anarchy, and I have no interest in ruling an empty shell.”

“Ruling an empty shell is better than dying here,”  Jamikotan retorted.

“For you, perhaps,” Natasi replied. “But I’m beginning to see another way to defeat Iklipso and his Gexin Combine— a way that won’t destroy the very thing, the human dominated empire that I’m trying to create.”

As Natasi spoke, the maser fire resumed, pushing the Kryptoria farther back. She shifted her gaze from the display to the viewport. She could no longer even see the wrecked fortress-destroyer, only a long pillar of flame shooting ever deeper into the redoubt.

“So what do you propose?” Jamikotan demanded, paying no attention to the battle outside.

Natasi turned to Cuteddu. “I believe the time has come, wouldn’t you agree?”

The captain nodded. “I would,” he said. “It’s a pity we don’t have sensor data in there, but they’ve got at least one of the Tronix Battle Cruisers coming through. That should be enough to make them think twice.”

“Very well, Captain,” Natasi said. “You may commence Operation Crate Pounder.”

“Commencing Crate Pounder now,” Cuteddu acknowledged.

As the captain opened a channel to the Infineon, Natasi turned to Jamikotan and continued her conversation. “You’re wrong about us not being able to hold out until the arrival of the Ninth Fleet,” she said. “Very wrong.”

Jamikotan frowned, his gaze drifting toward the viewport. “You’re saying you have another way?”

“There is always another way, Jonas,” Natasi said. “I learnt that from the Bladestriders.”

As Natasi spoke, an excited murmur began to build on the bridge. She glanced back toward the viewport and saw the entrance tunnel to their redoubt collapsing. Two of the huge megaliths were swinging together as the Infineon used its gravity well projectors to pull the third out of alignment. As the gap closed, the maser fire grew more intense— then finally ceased in a single blue-white flash as the two pieces of moon came together.

A rousing cheer shook the bridge, and Natasi gave an approving nod to Cuteddu. “Well, done, Captain. How many squadrons of enemy spacefighters do we have trapped inside?”

“Close to sixteen,” Cuteddu replied.

“Excellent,” Natasi said. “Any pilot willing to surrender his craft to us will be offered a comfortable cell or an officer’s commission in my fleet, his choice.”

“Very good, Grand Admiral,” Cuteddu said. “And for those who prefer to fight on or destroy their craft?”

“They will be left to die in their spacesuits,” Natasi replied. “Make that very clear when you hail them.”

A hard smile came to Cuteddu’s mouth. “As you command.”

Natasi turned back to Jamikotan. “Now, where were we?” she asked, motioning him to follow her back to the salon. “As I recall, discussing how either of us intends to keep all our fleet admirals and commanders in check and end all these futile rebellious acts.”

“Your demonstration, effective as it may seem, is hardly going to persuade the other Drex Dynasty fleet admirals and commanders to favour either of us for the leadership,” Jamikotan said. “And while we continue to waste time and resources, Iklipso will only use that time to further consolidate his power.”

“Jonas,” Natasi stepped into the command salon ahead of him. “Out here, as we’ve already established, my father, the President of the United Systems of Sol, is nowhere— and, because of it, it’s difficult for him to keep all of the admirals, the commanders, you included, disciplined. It’s the reason why we have the fifth column problem and why Ilias Iklipso is gaining power. So, I was actually thinking of an election, an election of who should be in charge of all our fleets beyond the Sol System— President Atul Drex, my father, or I, Grand Admiral Natasi Drex, his daughter.”

“An election?” Jamikotan stopped at the threshold behind her. “Why in the blazes would your father agree to that?”

“Jonas, I’m supposed to be a grand admiral. This means that not only do I have the Ninth Fleet at my immediate disposal, but if I wanted to, I’m also supposed to have the authority to call all the fleets together. Yet I can’t because the others tend to ignore me, thinking that only Atul can call the shots,” Natasi said. “Now as you can see, that isn’t really working out given all the chaos around us. Nobody wants a dynasty on the verge of becoming an empire to actually collapse on itself— the admirals and commanders will vote as long as they are convinced that Atul himself has agreed to it.”

Jamikotan merely glanced at Natasi, his face expressing no surprise at the grand admiral’s intentions.” And when he finds out, eventually.” Jamikotan looked up at Natasi, a grim smile plastered on his lips, before nodding dismissively. “Daughter of his or not, he could have you charged for treason,” he said, finally following her into the salon. “Also what makes you think the other admirals and commanders will vote for you? Despite his obvious absence outside of the Sol System, he, with the entire might of Skycom Corporation at his disposal, has more resources than you do— and he is the current President.”

“A President that rules the United Systems of Sol alongside Skycom which is virtually non existent out here,” Natasi reminded him. “Nothing is more unpredictable than an election, Jonas— not even a battle.”

“In this case, I must disagree,” Jamikotan said. “You seem to be forgetting the low esteem in which the other admirals and commanders hold women— myself excluded, of course.”

“What makes you think I’m forgetting anything?” Natasi asked. “With you standing at my side, the other admirals and commanders will be persuaded to overcome their prejudice. Between your planetary resources and my military assets, we’ll clearly be a strong candidate— even without Skycom which we’ve already established is predominantly based in the Sol System.”

“But strong enough?” Jamikotan asked. “The votes of the other admirals and commanders are bought, not earned—“

“But it seems, that my father’s continuous absence, is the reason for the problems with political deserters forming their fifth column factions with species from conquered worlds, and worse still, with the Gexin Combine.” Natasi brushed back her thick hair, worrying her forehead with steepled fingers. “Admiral, our fleets have conquered many systems, all in the name of humanity. The birth of a Drex Empire is nearing, however it won’t come to fruition if everything falls apart. Thus why we need a stronger leader, one that will ensure that does not happen.”

“But until now, Atul has still delivered. We’ll have only promises.”

“Which is why you should suggest a general election, Grand Admiral Drex,” Raven Skyhawk said, stepping forward. “Then you wouldn’t have to settle for sharing the throne, since most commoners think more highly of women than they do conceited male admirals and commanders. Moreover, a general election would appeal to the other admirals and commanders, given President Atul’s lack of real leadership beyond the realms of the Sol System.”

“A general election?” Jamikotan scoffed. “Even if you win, the president will put an end to all this once he finds out. You’ll be dethroned, Grand Admiral.”

“He’s too busy dealing with the ever growing concerns of resistance insurgencies in the Sol System. You see, Jonas, the other admirals and commanders will be pleased at the idea as they all want stability and an end to all these little insurrections which I can deliver once and for all. Once Atul does find out about this election, and ultimately my rise to absolute power, it will be far too late for him to stop us, and, the other admirals and commanders will continue to back me.” Natasi said, growing even more enthusiastic. She nodded to Raven. “Well done, Bladestrider Skyhawk. I like it.”

“You? Beat President Atul Drex in a popularity contest?” Jamikotan shook his head in disbelief. “Irrespective of whether the president knows about this election or not, that will never happen.”

“But it will,” Raven said. “I can guarantee it.”

Jamikotan shot her a withering glare. “I suggest you remain silent, Bladestrider. You are the oldest child of Skycom’s CEO and yet you are not even the first in line to succeed him— your delusions here Raven Skyhawk, are becoming an even further embarrassment.”

Raven’s eyes flashed white. “To start with, you have your facts wrong regarding Gabriel Skyhawk, Admiral. He’s my stepfather, Gabriel has no biological offsprings of his own. The next heir to his corporation was supposed to be his sister in-law Emilia Langley, but she’s dead, so now it’s his niece, Kristy Langley. Anyway, all of what I’ve said are not delusions.” Without looking away, she asked, “Grand Admiral, would you permit me to prove it?”

“By all means,” Natasi said. “I’d welcome it.”

“Thank you.” Raven’s smile grew wide, and then her hand slithered up to rest on Jamikotan’s shoulder. “Admiral Jamikotan, you may prostrate yourself before your new ruler.”

“Prostrate myself?” Jamikotan demanded. “On your command?”

“It’s more of a suggestion.” Raven squeezed his shoulder, her fingers digging in so hard they seemed to actually sink into his flesh. “For your own good.”

As she spoke, Jamikotan’s eyes widened and his face paled. A cold sweat began to pour down his brow. After a few breaths, he finally collapsed to his knees and placed his palms at Natasi’s feet.

“That’s better.” Raven smiled, then shifted her gaze back to Natasi. “We can do this, Grand Admiral. I, along with the rest of the Bladestriders of the Sisters of Zica pledge loyalty to you, and offer our services and full support towards your cause.” The Bladestrider divulged, indirectly, but deliberately confirmed who had really allowed her to pass through the blockade unscathed. “Your true desire to rule as Empress once the Drex Dynasty is declared an Empire will be fulfilled— I promise you.”

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