- Author: Glynn Stewart
Read book online «Eyes of Tomorrow (Duchy of Terra Book 9) by Glynn Stewart (best e book reader TXT) 📕». Author - Glynn Stewart
Eyes of Tomorrow
Book Nine of the Duchy of Terra
Eyes of Tomorrow © 2021 Glynn Stewart
Illustration © 2021 Tom Edwards
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Faolan's Pen Publishing logo is a trademark of Faolan's Pen Publishing Inc.
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There are no pleasant final duties of a starship’s Captain. The best-case scenario was surrendering command to another. The worst-case scenarios were far more permanent.
“Scan complete,” a borrowed technician told Captain Morgan Casimir. “There are no life signs aboard Defiance.”
“What resolution did we run at?” the blonde officer asked. Morgan was in her mid-thirties, her promotions accelerated by a combination of war and her stepmother, the Duchess of Terra.
She’d spent most of her adult life aboard warships of one kind or another. First as part of the Duchy of Terra Militia, and then, after the first war she’d served in, as an officer of the A!Tol Imperium that ruled humanity.
The ! was a glottal stop, humanity’s pale attempt at the beak snap of their conquerors-slash-uplifters. The “A-tuck-Tol” were spacegoing squids—large and intimidating creatures like the technician she’d borrowed from Squadron Lord Tan!Stalla.
“Resolution was set at one-point-three kilograms,” the tentacled technician told Morgan, the translators both of them wore handling the unit conversion. “The ship’s working animals would have been detected.”
“Good,” Morgan agreed with a nod. She’d been surprised to realize how common having a dozen or so animals—dogs and cats aboard a human-crewed warship like Defiance—was aboard a warship.
Pests, however, appeared to be a universal factor.
The A!Tol technician was silent, turning back to her consoles aboard the shuttle orbiting Morgan’s cruiser. The once-elegant starship was a broken wreck. Her flared wings were missing. Her spine was broken.
Morgan’s command wouldn’t have been reparable even if they were closer to home…and Tan!Stalla’s fleet was positioned next to the Astoroko Nebula, on the far side of the Laian Republic from the A!Tol Imperium.
The Republic were allies, but Morgan had found something in the heart of Astoroko. Until someone else was in position to secure the Nebula, Tan!Stalla’s thirty-two capital ships were the only shield the galaxy had against that threat.
And Morgan was wasting time.
“Fire in the hole,” she whispered, tapping a command on her personal tablet.
Eight one-gigaton antimatter charges detonated simultaneously. Placed inside Defiance’s compressed-matter armor, the scuttling charges incinerated her interior systems instantly. The almost-unbreakable armor plates, robbed of their supports, scattered into space a few moments later.
And with that, Morgan’s command was gone. With Defiance’s death, Morgan no longer had a duty station. Given the fleet of insane bioships she’d discovered inside the Astoroko Nebula, though, she doubted she was going to get time to cool her heels.
“Take us back to Jean Villeneuve,” she ordered. “I have an appointment with the Squadron Lord.”
Jean Villeneuve was named for Morgan’s honorary uncle, the French Admiral who had commanded Earth’s defense against the A!Tol—and then commanded a mixed Militia-Imperial force to defend the system against two later attacks before his death.
Given everything Jean Villeneuve had been, Morgan agreed with the decision to make his namesake part of the five percent of the Imperial Fleet that had mixed-race crews. Squadron Lord Tan!Stalla was an A!Tol—the Tan! marked her as a relative of the Empress—but even her command staff had members of three races in it.
Her chief of staff, for example, was Ivida. Prott was short for his race, with darker red skin than most, but he had the unmoving facial features and double-joint limbs of his people.
Prott was the one responsible for leading Morgan to meet Tan!Stalla as she returned from scuttling her ship. He seemed to understand roughly where Morgan was mentally and didn’t attempt to engage her in conversation as he led the way through the superbattleship.
Finally, the Ivida stepped aside, ushering Morgan into Tan!Stalla’s office. She took a regulation four steps into the room and crisply saluted the Squadron Lord.
Tan!Stalla’s office was odd-looking to human eyes. Even for A!Tol, it seemed unusual to Morgan. There were sprayer systems set up along the walls, constantly misting the space with water. When Morgan had served as Tan!Stalla’s executive officer, her office hadn’t had those.
The A!Tol’s old office had shared the massive array of screens and controllers that covered one wall, allowing the Squadron Lord to survey every aspect of her fleet as she managed systems with her sixteen manipulator tentacles.
“Captain Morgan Casimir, reporting, sir,” Morgan said crisply.
“Have a seat, Morgan,” Tan!Stalla replied. A manipulator quirked and a chair emerged from a wall, trundling over to Morgan on powered wheels. “I’ve reviewed your report and we’ve discussed this, but…”
The A!Tol shivered, her skin darkening. The species wore their emotions on their skin, the colors shifting with their moods.
A tentacle flickered at the display.
“Your opinion on our ability to maintain containment, Captain,” the Squadron Lord asked calmly. “Sixteen Galileo-class superbattleships and sixteen Bellerophon-C-class battleships against what you saw.”
Morgan looked at the screens, picking out the warships of Tan!Stalla’s command. A surprisingly large amount of Imperial warship design had taken place in Sol over the last thirty years, with the Imperium using technology they’d begged, borrowed, and stolen from across the galaxy to