Back to Before
Part 6a

by MAC


Lillith of Velor, Copyright, 1997, 1998, Infinity Bridge. All rights reserved.

Arion Headquarters, Office of the Commanding General, 27 hours after the Massacre of the 48th

In the centuries-old history of the Arion Empire, there had always been one constant to their collective personalities, one unifying concept, one defining trait of their unique species. Nothing has ever appealed to the Arion nature more deeply than the liberal use of force.

The General was now in his element. His pleasure at the news could not be hidden from his staff as the reports continued to come in. They destroyed an entire mechanized regiment, thought the General.


The first reports of Tetrite activity were mainly just concerned with hit-and-run raids. Most were disregarded outright based on the timid character of those passive creatures. The General considered such low-level raids little more than local-sector problems, easily ignored by anyone above the rank of Major. When the first reports and vivid images of the charred remains of the 48th came in, that all changed. There was power behind this attack. The Tetrites had decided to strike head-on and in force! Wonderful! Maybe there was glory in this dreary place after all! There was definitely one thing on this Skietra-forsaken planet now - an enemy who was willing to fight! Now, the Arions could kill with more of a purpose! Now they could savor death seasoned with the hot spice of revenge!

The General paced rapidly as a plan formed in his brain. He had an enemy concentrated along one massive feature of the central continent: The Faldref Mountains. If he sent troops up into that rugged terrain, it would be months before they could show any positive results. A prolonged assault would run out of steam within weeks. He needed a plan so overwhelmingly powerful in its execution that the Tetrite question would be settled within days or even hours! He paused to look at the jagged contours of the problematic mountain range on a nearby map. As his eyes swept down the map to the smooth surface of the central desert, a subtle idea appeared within his brain. It grew rapidly as the General's conscious mind fed it the technical capabilities of the Arion Occupation Forces. In turn, the idea germinated the growth of a plan and the General slowly began to smile.

Arion Headquarters, 1600 hours, local Tetra time

The halls were filled with milling Arion officers. Everywhere, groups discussed various problems and possibilities as the sound of continuous conversation washed through the cold stone walkways.
Every military officer in theater was summoned to a mass briefing deep within the underground Headquarters complex. When they walked into the command post briefing room, the ground officers saw fleet officers waiting for the same briefing. That was a sure sign that something very BIG was in the works. The Fleet represented movement and massive firepower, two things that defined Arion offensive strategic thinking. The use of the Fleet meant an upscale conflict. The only remaining question was whether the war would be on this planet or on another target of conquest.

On the far wall hung a huge map of the central continent of Tetra. Arion troop stations were shown in green. Fleet dispersal positions were shown in blue. Along the top of the continent, an incredibly long range of mountains appeared without any green or blue marks. Instead, a cross-hatch of red stripes covered the entire mountain range. There was now no doubt in anyone's mind as to where this new war would occur.

The General walked brusquely in the doorway as someone shouted "UP!". Simultaneously, every seated officer jumped to his feet and stood rock steady. The only sound in the room was that of the General's bootheels against the stone floor. When the General reached the map, he turned, glared into each face, and ordered "SIT". Everyone sat.

The General began his show immediately.

"Have you all had a wonderful time here on this holiday paradise?" There was the appropriate amount of laughter that ended quickly. "Well, it seems that our hosts have decided to make our stay even more enjoyable. Whatever rumors you may have heard - forget them. I'm going to give you the straight story right here and right now." The General moved to stand beside the large map.

"The day before yesterday, the 48th mech. regiment was bivouacked near these mountains when they were brutally attacked by sneaking hoards of Tetrite infiltrators. Unseen by our troops until it was too late, the Tets killed our troops in such a cowardly way that I cannot bring myself to describe it! Our troops fought back bravely, but were overwhelmed by huge numbers of the enemy! The cowardly Tets could not face us in honorable battle, choosing instead trickery and treachery!" The officers hissed and cursed among themselves, some shook their fists in the air. The General raised his hand for silence.

"Warriors of Aria, I will not tell you that these cowardly bugs did not have a victory of sorts that day. They killed every one of our people. When our heroic troops were all dead, the bugs proceeded to destroy all of the vehicles as well. Did these primitive rodents think the machines were live creatures?" There were grunts of disgust mixed with the few laughs. The General waited until everyone was again silent. Then he waited a little more. When he finally spoke, his voice was low and deadly serious.

"It has been our policy to win the hearts and minds of as many of these disgusting imbeciles as possible since our arrival. Our programs to welcome them into the Greater Arion Co-Prosperity Alliance have been repeatedly rejected by their inability to comprehend even the most simple concepts of it. Every attempt at educating them has only resulted in their mindless stares."

Everyone in the room knew those stares intimately. The Tetrites were known for their long periods of silently staring at any nearby Arion. It was rare when a Tetrite would actually respond to any conversation. They would simply stare, sometimes for hours. The habit was beginning to have an unnerving effect on the Arion troops. All the officers mumbled their understanding and agreement.

"Well, the time for talking is over. The time for trying to assist them is done. The time of the Tetrites is at an end. We are going to eliminate this stinking species from the universe forever! We are going to bring the full power of our forces to bear on them in one massive blow that will annihilate these cowards! We will spread their ashes over the entire planet!" He slammed his fist on the red-striped area of the map. "WE WILL BRING THE FULL MIGHT OF THE ARION NATION TO BEAR ON THEM AND LEVEL THE FALDREF!!"

It was stunning! The audacity of it! The sheer magnitude of it all! The officers cheered! To kill was one thing. But to blast an entire major mountain chain to atoms just to eliminate a species was brilliant! It was so...ARION!

Finally they were going to go into battle against an enemy that drew blood. Those cowards will feel the full wrath of the Arion power on this planet! Those stinking bugs and their hiding place would soon be vapor! The General changed from an orator to a commander.

"Fleet officers!" Every officer of the Fleet jumped to his or her feet. "You will bring every capital ship to within 20 kliks of the south face of the central Faldref. Tight formation, no shields. You will lead the assault. Secondary weapons on targets of opportunity until you are above the foothills. You are then to commit your primary weapons. Coordinated, simultaneous firing." The room became active with voices murmuring. Finally, one of the senior Fleet officers questioned openly.
"Sir, you are talking about thousands of primary weapons discharging together. We've never done that. We do not know what the effect on the planet might be with such massive amounts of energy being released onto her. There is a real possibility that the planet could chain, sir. We could all be ki...." The General raised his hand.
"I have it on the best of authority that the planet will not chain-react. Well over 73% probability that it will only trigger a plate shift along the northern fault lines. That will only help us destroy those mountains and hasten the death of our enemies. Besides, a few tremors here and there will remind us all of home."
"But, sir. 73% is not a very comforti....."
"Any other questions?", interrupted the General. The senior Fleet officer sat down and shrugged. No one had any more questions as the General's glare defied them to come up with one.
"Then I shall continue. Fleet orders are being sent out at this moment. Ground troops will follow on to eliminate any survivors and to contain any attempt to break out of what is left of the mountains. Your orders are being sent out now as well. Final questions?"

The General looked once more around the room at the faces looking back at him. He didn't see the enthusiasm that he had hoped for. Time to play the trump card, he thought, and crank up the oration once more.

"Males! Females! Arions! You are the most feared warriors in the universe for good reason. You do not coddle your enemies, you kill them. You kill without mercy, you kill without regret, and you kill without end. For that, I salute you. For when we are done here, every species in the universe will hide under their beds at the mere mention of you. Think of it! An entire species annihilated at your hand! Mountains crumble at your feet! To kill at such a level only comes along once in a lifetime! Kill them! KILL THEM ALL!! LET THEM SEE CLEARLY WHY WE ARIONS ARE SO FEARED! KILL...THEM...ALL!!"

Every Arion in the room jumped to his feet cheering loudly! Now, he thought. Now their blood was up! Now was the time! He took one step toward the door.

"UP!" The room immediately went silent as if someone had thrown a switch. Everyone was motionless on his feet. As the General walked through the crowd of his officers, he could hear their labored breathing, he could feel their energy, and he knew their desire to begin. They would not have to wait long.

Over the central desert near the Faldref foothills, the next day, just after dawn

Units had been recalled and squadrons reformed. The sleepy phony-war was over. Troops massed together beneath the gathering ships in the early morning mists of the desert. The entire Arion task force was brought together in front of the Faldref as planned. It was, as it was meant to be, an awesome show of force.

The movement and gathering of so much power did not go unnoticed by Phil. He too had gathered every free Tetrite on the planet to this place. They could run no more; there was nowhere to run to. They could hide no longer; there was nowhere left to hide. They had taken the fight to the enemy and had made them amass all of their vast power against them. Here. Today. In the words of the William, Phil had asked for it. So he watched and waited, high in the Faldref Mountains.

It had taken most of the night, but it finally looked to Phil as if every ship and every element of the Arion task force were now sitting right in front of him. He did not know what the Arion battle plan was. He did not know how he would fight them even if he did. He did not know how any of the Tetrites would survive when all of that Arion power was unleashed. Turning away from the spectacle before him, he looked down in the direction of his old desert home.

Phil could barely see the old habitat area in the far distance through the haze. The faint outline of the fountain could almost be seen, but not quite. Home. So long ago, so many memories. The Mistress, the William, Flare - all gone now. He now knew deeply that he would never see that beloved place again. A knowledge that left him empty. Yet, so many others would never see their special place again either. To Phil, at that moment, death did not seem so terrible after all. He could only hope that it would come soon to take him from this lonely and horrifying universe. Perhaps the next would be kinder.

Phil turned back to continue to watch the Arions, and wait.


The Fleet Commander continued to watch the Faldref as the final preparations were being completed. He sneered as he focused his telescopic imaging cameras on Phil and the rest of the Tetrites gathered before him. Look at all the Tetrites up there! There must be millions of them all along the mountain range! There is no place for them to run, so they just stand out there. Typical Tets! So idiotic. Such simpletons. Well, just stay right there for a few more minutes and we will give you something to stare at! An officer broke the Commander's daydream.
"Sir, the ground commanders report that they are ready to proceed. Shall I notify the Fleet to spool-up the primary weapons?" The Commander nodded his permission. "Remind them to watch for any field interactions. We're holding one helluva tight formation to be charging weapons like this. Tell them to shut down at the first sign of resonance."
"Yes, sir!" The officer snapped around smartly and stepped quickly to the Communications console. Passing a few murmured words to the Communications Officer resulted in just milliseconds of a transmission burst filled with the new orders and the warnings. Everyone in the Fleet got the word.

Near the center of the hull under thousands of huge, black ships, an eerie, glowing blue spot appeared as primary weapons came on-line. Slowly the blue spot sharpened to a pinpoint of iridescent blue energy as the weapons stabilized. They were now ready to destroy the Faldref and the Tetrites on a simple command.

"The primary weapons are active, sir. No intership resonance reported. The fields seem to be stable." The Fleet Commander appeared pleased at this news. Maybe all of this will be all right after all!
"Very well. All ahead, slow."

The troops on the ground waited patiently as the lumbering hulks of the Fleet began their way to the Faldref. Thousands of ships rumbled less than a thousand feet overhead. Surely, thought many of the soldiers, these ships would have to climb above the Faldref heights before unleashing so much firepower! At this altitude, the ships would just ram the mountains! They must have assembled low to impress the Tets. What they certainly succeeded in doing was to impress their own troops!


The dark ships of the Arions were coming. Phil could feel a queasy feeling in his stomach as they grew larger. Under each of the larger ships, he could see a brilliant, sharp-edged blue point of light. He knew what they were. Phil climbed a nearby boulder so everyone could see him. If he was scared, he knew that everyone else was probably scared too. Perhaps seeing him would help. Perhaps not. But there on a large boulder, high enough for everyone to see, stood a very frightened and very resolute Tetrite named Phil. His people saw him. A few, very few panicked and ran at the sight of the Fleet's approach, but nearly all the Tetrites stayed. The Protector had told them to come to this place at this time. She had helped them to fight back by bringing them weapons and had promised to return. The Protector had promised. She promised!

As the ships came nearer, the ground began to shake. They were so close now that Phil could hear the whine of the automated secondary weapon turrets as they spun their guns toward the Tetrites. It was only a matter of seconds now. Phil, shaking from fear and the knowledge that everyone would soon die, closed his eyes so he would not see the guns fire. This was not the way it was supposed to be! The Mistress promised! She would never lie to him! As if praying aloud, Phil's nervous voice left his lips as he closed his eyes ever tighter.



At the far rear of the last platoon, a Beta noticed that the wind had come up rapidly. The desert dust swirled through the troops. He looked back behind him at the solid gray overcast that was lowering behind them all. He looked annoyed as he mumbled his disgust.
"Oh, Skietra, it's not going to start raining again, is it?"
A shake of his head and an angry scowl showed his annoyance as he turned back to the front of the ranks to watch the spectacle of the Fleet's move on the Faldref. No one else in the hundreds of thousands of Arion ground troops turned around to look behind them. No one saw.

At first, it was imperceptible. A tiny pinprick of intense light at the base of the gray, cloud-filled sky. Then it grew and began to rapidly rotate. The clouds swirled through long, sweeping arcs as they were carried along. Its brightness intensified, the cloud motion sped up, and the diameter grew. Something strange was happening in the sky! Something immense was forming in the upper atmosphere of the planet! If a new storm was building behind them, its fury would be terrible!

It was now impossible for the Arions not to notice. Within seconds, the attention of most of the Arion ground troops was drawn behind them. None had ever seen such a huge apparition! Just as the rotating mass filled the entire southern sky, a veteran soldier stepped forward in the hurricane winds! His eyes were wide with fear as he pointed at the sky and screamed to be heard above the roar of the wind!


The center of the mass split open with a frightening suddenness! A blinding, white light fanned out of the split just a millisecond before thousands of Velorian Protectors came pouring out of it! They spread out smashing holes through ships as if fired from a machine gun, destroying everything Arion that they came across! They filled the sky, taking on Arion fighter ships and shattering them! Some Arions panicked at the overwhelming sight of them! The Velorians were everywhere! Blonde females tore into Arion Primes and Betas alike with a vengeance!

The smaller craft flamed and fell instantly as the invulnerable bodies of the Velorians disintegrated them with one pass. The larger ships were repeatedly holed as one powerful woman after another tore through them!

There was Kara and her daughter Xara from Earth! Even Shar'n, the Scribe, was seen flinging an Arion Light Attack warship onto the ground! Faw'na, Kystra, Carpathia, and thousands more came flooding out of the wormhole with the intense desire to swiftly destroy the Arion invasion force!

On board the ships, the energy signature officers were screaming wildly! Their screens filled with the frighteningly unique energy patterns of pure Velorian Protectors. They did not need to watch the screens for long since sooner or later a Protector would smash through to the bridge of the ship. Then the ES officer could see one in person. At least long enough before she killed them all or the ship went down. Either way, their intruder saw that they all died quickly.

Radios crackled with frightened voices. "They're all over! They're everywhere!". "Help us! HELP US!" The transmissions were so numerous that they interfered with each other. The frequencies filled with squeals and howls!

On the ground, most of the troops were caught under the crashing ships. Thousands were killed instantly as warship after warship fell in flames onto them. Those who were spared that agony, were dealt with by the most powerful beings in existence. Not even Primes could withstand the onslaught.

The bridge of the light cruiser, Slin'l Twe

Vatar was shouting orders as rapidly as she could. Her cruiser was in a steep climb to get out of the dangerous cluster of the Fleet when a tall Velorian Protector smashed her way into the bridge. Flashes of heat vision from Arion Primes and the Velorian laced out at each other as the blonde attacked with a fury Vatar had never seen! Her First Officer was smashed into the Vendorian steel decking by the Protector before Vatar could grab the powerful intruder. Yet, Vatar was no match for a mighty Velorian as she felt crushing blows smash into her face. Nearly blinded by a sea of dazzling stars, Vatar kicked upward with all of her strength! She connected solidly with the Velorian, flinging her against the far bulkhead. In a flash, the Velorian rocketed back in full flight at Vatar with both fists locked out in front of the furious female. The mighty Velorian Protector smashed the surprised Arion officer completely through the bulkheads and outer hull of her own ship! Vatar jettisoned through the air, finally impacting hard against the outer hull of the flagship Fantag that was in flames abeam of her cruiser. The Velorian arced upward to engage another ship as Vatar fell limply to the ground, hundreds of feet below. The barely conscious Arion Prime female moved slowly in the crater left by her long fall. She could barely raise her head in time to see her ship erupt into flames and tumble wildly toward the ground. Her eyes widened in horror as she cried out. "My ship! MY SHIP!"

She never looked up to see the burning wreckage of the Fantag settling on top of her. Even with the horrendous sounds of the giant wreck descending above her, her only thoughts were of the Slin'l Twe. The proud ship and her Captain ceased to exist in the same final moment.


While the carnage continued, Lillith flew up to the Faldref Mountains where Phil and his Resistance Army watched with tears in their eyes. She proudly wore her red and blue uniform as she floated in front of Phil and the Tetrite Army. Her wide smile caused them all to burst into cheers! She held her arms out from her sides and spoke loudly to be heard above the rumbling thunder of the battle in the desert valley below.

The Tetrites were cheering wildly! She did not leave them! She did not forget them! She recognized that she could not face such overwhelming odds alone. She wisely gathered an army of her own!


The Tetrites poured off the mountains as Lillith rocketed back into the battle. Millions of Tetrites had taken refuge in the Faldref and they all charged back down the mountains together. Most were not armed, but weapons awaited them in the desert.

One Arion soldier looked toward the rocky peaks. So many Tetrites were descending the mountains that he thought for a moment that the mountains were melting! Millions of Tetrites came out of hiding to join the gathering army that now moved through the foothills and onto the desert floor. The ground shook from their charge! Shook like that first day the Arions came!

This time, it was the Arions who felt the fear.

The final Back to Before continues....