Friday, November 30, 2012

When Brothers go to War - by John Frek

Chapter 1
The Announcement
“A Call to Arms”

The glass that stood before me reflected that which gazed upon it without prejudice or malice, and was unshaken in its convictions to hold strong and steady. While sitting idle, it slowly released its fizzle one bubble at a time, each sphere escaping into the atmosphere; it had no desire for its world to change. Having already had its secrets indulged upon, the firm glass maintained its stature half full in content. Removing what privacy there was left for it, I slowly peered down upon it revealing the eerily dark liquid it contained. Most notably there were three clear frozen cubes whose only purpose was to quickly eradicate the energy that surrounded them. I could feel the success of these cubes as I withdrew my hand from its cold, paralyzing grasp. The glass had sat stagnant long enough to have the condensation collect around its being, quickly overshadowing any other action that was currently taking place. Quietly I pondered over this feat, intently watching as each new droplet formed over the outer perimeter until I caught sight of two beads converging onto each other. Apart from one another they stood secure and stout, bothered by none and it was not until the other decided to invade did they both fall. As one droplet grew too heavy, many others in its path were condemned to meet the same fate that would become of this forsaken particle. Countless others could only await their doom, watching as it dragged other droplets down with them. After just mere moments, all that remained of the initial conflict was a clear path of destruction to the bottom, absorbed by the unquenchable thirst of the coaster that the glass resided over. Bringing the cup back up to my lips, I slowly allowed enough into my mouth to momentarily satisfy my cravings.

                My concentration was abruptly shattered as the 1-MC intercom flickered to life and relayed the message, “Admiral, sir, you are needed on the bridge.”

Suddenly remembering where I was, I gathered my thoughts and placed them neatly in the back of my mind in an effort to clear my brain of anything that dared to distract it any longer. Such effort it took not to be burdened with the current events that were shaping this war. I knew what awaited me on the bridge. I could see the communication beacon brightly flaring up as it processed another message from command. Knowing it was important, I could not afford to hesitate or delay getting to it, but the thought of what it contained deeply concerned me. I took the same passage way I always take traveling towards the bridge, but this time it was longer. Knowing full well that the physical limits we lived in could not possibly allow this corridor to alter in length at will, I still perceived each step I took to be one stride in the opposite direction. As an eternity passed, the depths of the bridge finally became clear and I claimed it to be my own once again.
“I have the bridge” I solemnly stated,

“Aye, Sir” called out the Lieutenant, “Admiral has the bridge.”

“What news have you, Lieutenant?” said I,

“Admiral, sir, we…are being reassigned to a newly formed battle group destined for the Luminaire System.  We have been tasked with taking control of the orbital zones of Caldari Prime.”

                “Has this message been verified?”

                “Of course, sir”

“Very Well Lieutenant, have the helmsman bring the Kairiola around to bearing one-five-zero with a five degree up angle and obtain a warp speed of one astronomical unit per second.”

“Aye, aye Admiral. Helmsman, bring the Kairiola to bearing one-five-zero with a five degree up angle and obtain a warp speed of one astronomical unit per second.”

Retreating back to my thoughts, I knew full well of the strength that the Federation Navy commanded; I could only imagine what High Command had in store for us. Reading the message with my own eyes divulged that the information presented to me prior was merely a preliminary objective. This was not just a mission to reclaim Orbital Zones of Caldari Prime; no this was much more than that.

As it read, “Admiral Tovil-Toba, we are hereby ordering you and your crew aboard The Kairiola, to engage hostile forces surrounding Caldari Prime. It is imperative that you take control of the Orbital Zones currently being seized by the Gallente Federation vessels stations there. Your primary objective is to create a distraction allowing planet side operations to commence evacuation of Caldari Citizens. This distraction must ensue for a duration of at least one standard galactic month. You are authorized to take any measures you see fit to complete this mission. “

“This war will be the end of me one day.” I sighed. Looking up at the Lieutenant, I could see the glee in his face knowing he was going back into the fold for another round. It is as if the entire part of the evacuation order went right past him and what was left was the thought of earning medals. Obviously staring him down at this point, I finally settled on these words to subtly express my discontent with his eagerness while not exploding with rash fire;

“Lieutenant, are you a family man?”

“No sir, Admiral.” He replied, “Had the Navy felt the need to give me a wife, they would have issued me one back at the SWA.”

“Cute. But I need you to remember that we are not just fighting other sailors out there. We are fighting someone’s son or daughter, wife or husband.  That each vessel that goes down is a family destroyed because of our actions. The required decision to strike is not one that you should take joyfully, Lieutenant. “

After a moment of hesitation I could tell he was deeply troubled in what I said. For fear of him bursting all over my bridge, I prompted for his response with a gesture of my hand.

“Admiral, with all due respect, my brother is still on the surface of Caldari Prime. Killing these tyrannical Grones is the only thing I can do to see that my brother is safe from harm. This evacuation means more to me than you could ever understand.”

“Lieutenant, you will refrain from such language in my presence. Regardless of how you feel towards our enemy, we are above racial slurs.”

“Grones, Sir?”

“You are dismissed Lieutenant. See to it that the next time you are on my bridge, you find it within yourself to behave and speak as an officer of the Caldari Navy.”

Watching him stand fast and salute me was exactly what I needed from him. No matter our feelings for each other, his obedience was absolute. This minor lashing may not have done anything for his morale, but it did solidify my superiority. I raised my salute, giving him the silent permission needed to leave my presence. As he marched off I heard one of the other officers stop him right outside in the passageway, and chastise him for his ignorance.

“Were you born in zero gravity?” exclaimed the Ensign, “Yakia Tovil-Toba has a Gallente brother guarding Caldari Prime, and he is the last person you want to use a Gallente racial slur in front of. If that wasn’t bad enough, everyone knows that his wife and daughter are still planet side. You think you have it rough? When is the last time that either decision you had in front of you still destroyed your family?”

The Lieutenant stood quietly, as if trying to get the polish from his boot out from between his teeth. Quickly turning his embarrassment into aggression the Lieutenant lashed back at the Ensign.

“I was born in zero gravity, butter bar.” (Butter bar, referencing the gold bars of the lowest officer rank, the ensign) “I may not have known about his family affairs, but if you are going to be the one to educate me on our Admiral, at least get his name right. It’s Yakiya, not Yakia.”

Fools, I thought. How many years have I been in the service, how many text books have been printed with me in them and not a single person can spell my name correctly? After so long, you stop correcting people because whether they get it right or wrong, someone is always there to correct their pronunciation to the other way. Alas the fact of the matter was not my name, but that after years of bickering, my brother and I would be reunited in the only way befitting our relationship to each other; on the field of battle.

Chapter 2
When Brothers go to War
“A reminisce into the past”

“How could this have happened? This is just horrible, completely horrible.”

These words left my mouth and I knew that there was no going back. Time is said to be the best cure for any problem, so what happens when this “cure all” has been poisoned, tainted by abhorrence? Why is it that as each day passes, my desire for retribution only grows stronger? What will it take to quell my bloodlust? Then again, do I really want to suppress it? As I lay down at night my sleep is taken from me by the vivid images of death. Each time I kill it is the same systematic way, each dark night the same victim.

“Was he the victim?”

Was it not I that was wounded by him? How is it so that I can refer to the one that has caused me such misery, my brother, as the victim? Maybe it isn’t because of how he injured me so, but because it is the meticulous way that I bring about his demise. Oh yes, that is the finest part. I can feel my blood thicken inside my very veins as I envision this dream, this torment of the tyrant. It is in those veins of his that my freedom reigns.

Having bared witness to this coming act many times in my slumber, recalling it is as trivial as remembering my birthday. Always fighting, bickering, and never over anything meaningful until this fateful night, my brother loses his temper and strikes me hard in the face, forcing my teeth to protrude through my lower lip. Not stopping he continues the assault, lost in his lust for war. Losing it myself I draw my blade and achieve what I never could in life. My resolution ends the conflict with three stab wounds into his ribs with my knife no longer than three inches in length. As the pierced flesh drips ever so gracefully to the earth, I finish the precise thrusts. I would have started from the side of his lower right rib cage just above his hip, striking exactly between the bones as not to catch my blade, and as I move three ribs higher to make my next hollow, maintaining a straight line up his side, I can see the pain finally seeping from his eyes and into the muscles of his face. The third and most crucial blow, which raises another three ribs in height now in-line with his chest, is intended to deflate his right lung. Most would speculate that this is done to prevent him from calling out to any soul who would redeem him from his fate, but I, having felt the need to draw breath and subsequently lacked the ability to do so before, knew exactly the pain and panic that it caused to lose one’s air especially as you drown in your own life source. The glory of this kill would not end with me spouting some clever last words that would haunt him into the afterlife, better yet; I would have the honor in watching his mistress beg whatever being she acknowledged to not take her bread and butter away. This is the consequence that must be exacted when wrong hath been done unto thee. And only by my hand may this righteous cause be concluded. The key to the prison of my soul demands it, and as such is demanded for my freedom.

Gasping for air and dripping with sweat, I woke suddenly from my sleep. As we warped closer and closer to Caldari Prime, my emotions started to surface much faster than I had hoped. I quietly contemplated the events that I had yet again bared witness to in my dreams and one question stood out among the rest, “What monstrosity am I capable of when those who wish me harm succeed in their endeavors?” Wiping the sweat from my brow, I let out a single tear in mourning for my late father. Between my brother and me I was the younger of the two of us, but we shared only a father and not a mother. I was there when my pop begged him not to join up with the Federation Navy, and I was there when it escalated into his death. Maybe it was easier to hate him, being that he was only halfblooded of my family, but that didn’t stop him from killing our…my father. Hot headed as he was and so quick to temper, he slew my father for protesting his entry into the Gallente Ranks. Having watched it all unravel so quickly, I charged my brother only to meet his fist into my face.

This will be my greatest struggle, setting aside my personal war for the greater good of Caldari.

Chapter 3
To Victory, or Death
“The war around us all”

                Just like clearing cockroaches from a room with a light switch, we quickly pushed back the Gallente fleet blockading Caldari Prime with relative ease and commenced the evacuation efforts. No one had expected to have such a decisive victory, but our Sparrow class fighters proved too much for their cumbersome battleships fit as bombardment platforms; they had no chance against such a maneuverable fleet. They were left with no choice but retreat. After the weeks that ensued from that pivotal engagement, it had become clear that High Command had no further guidance to bestow upon us, nor did they fully understand the hornet’s nest we had stirred up. The entire Federation was still bitter with the taste of the destruction of Nouvelle Rouvenor and the half million that perished from the Caldari sabotage that took place, and they were not going to give up Caldari Prime without taking more of us with them. The fact of the matter is though; we have Caldari Prime under our control and with that built the confidence we needed to continue with this mission. With half the population evacuated it was only a matter of time before our job here was finished, but could we do it before more bloodshed ensued? I knew we were just sitting in the eye of the storm and not a soul could prepare for the surge that was to come.

                “Sir, another scout appeared on scan.”

                “Has it been properly locked down?” I inquired

                “Of course sir, the fighter-carrier Carbomol has it within a warp containment field and is ready to engage.”

                “They may engage, and ensure that they offer any vessels amnesty should they desire to surrender.”

                “Uh sir, they are already reporting that the vessel has been destroyed sir. We intercepted a transmission from the craft just prior to its destruction however; we’re triangulating where the signal was sent to and trying to decrypt it as we speak.”

                “That will be all, keep me posted about that message.”

I know they’re testing us. I know they mean to present a counter-attack. Each scout we return to scrap just solidifies this fact for me. Waiting for them to engage on their terms simply puts us at a horrible disadvantage.  I cannot let that happen, but with no orders from High Command it seems my hands are tied. Should the Federation Navy emerge on our position with their entire force, we would be at their mercy and our evacuation efforts would be halted indefinitely. The only question left is, “How do we stop a giant from squashing the ant hill?”

“Admiral, sir!” exclaimed my Ensign, “The transmission sent just informed the Federation of our fleet numbers and ship types. They know exactly what they are up against.”

“Calm down, Ensign. Were you able to determine their position?”

“Yes sir, they are gathering at Gallente Prime. It seems to be a sizable force, led by…” his voice trailed off for a second as he reread his report. “Sir, it’s… it is Admiral Chris…it’s your brother.”

                In my mind I was instantly paralyzed by those words. “It’s Christopher, my brother.” I was not yet prepared mentally to engage him in such a mortal combat. I had not even given him the satisfaction of saying his name in the last two decades, hearing it set my heart ablaze. My mind frantically raced with all the possibilities that have now been presented before me, but one stood out with such clarity and tactical ingenuity that I could not ignore it. They are preparing to attack, not defend. Much like our initial assault on Caldari Prime, they were not prepared to deal with our offensive aggression. In that same thought, it made much more tactical sense to keep the fight away from Caldari Prime so that the evacuation could continue unscathed. I had to assault Gallente Prime to disrupt their battle plans and to continue the safe departure of those remaining Caldari souls. I had to stop and ask myself, “Is this decision too rash and emotionally charged? Was I heading the tip of the spear in a personal attempt to dethrone Admiral Chris from his warhorse?” The facts still remained, we needed to evacuate Caldari Prime and we could not do that if there was a full scale battle happening in our orbital zones. He could not play a role in my decision; I would have to make it regardless of his position in this war. My personal mission to not let his presence cloud my judgment or affect my ability to command is now paramount. I owe it to my men not to let that happen, and hesitating now would only endanger more lives. We had to attack their fleet.

                “Lieutenant, send out a secure message to the Fighter-Carriers the Carbomol, the Cimonóce, and the Chetigol to align their vessels with the Kairiola towards Gallente Prime. They are to relay this instruction to any vessels currently patrolling with them and prepare to warp on my mark.”

                This had to be quick, precise, and without reluctance. Watching the clock above me, I quietly calculated the many align times I was forced to memorize during my years at the State War Academy. Marking each second with the tick of the clock, my heart synchronized to its beat. Five… Four… Three… Two…

  Each ship rocked forward in perfect unison, entering warp precisely at the same time. So exact was our formation that the warp field generated by each ship built upon the other to form one uniform ring around the fleet. Looking out the Starboard porthole I could see the few dozen ships at my command flying on my wing. “What a glorious site.”

                “Lieutenant, hail the other vessels and open coms with them”

                “Aye, Sir. Coms are open.”

                “Commander Jim Hoslef of the Carbomol, Carl Stover of the Cimonóce, and Lt. Commander Ken Jameson of the Chetigol, this is Admiral Yakia Tovil-Toba of the Kairiola. In exactly four minutes we will be emerging from our current warp into the staging platforms of Gallente Prime. The enemy fleet is preparing a sizeable force to reclaim Caldari Prime and continue its military rape and pillaging of our home world. We cannot allow that to happen. Instead, we shall bring the fight to their front door and knock with the sounds of war!”

                “For Caldari!” cheered the many ships listening in. Songs of praise erupted on the decks of each vessel as they warped towards Gallente Prime. Taking a moment to let the morale bolster, I took a deep breath before finishing my grim tale.

“Let there be no delusions of grandeur today men. Many of us will be sacrificing our lives so that countless others may be set free from the tyranny and oppression of the Federation. Be smart, listen to my orders, and we may yet survive this day. Man your battle stations,” I ordered to my crew. “Prepare to engage hostile targets.”

“Exiting warp in three…two…one…”

“Sir, we have multiple targets within our range. The Cimonóce is requesting permission to engage.”

“All ships focus fire on the following targets: The four Gallente Battleships within the C3L Quadrant of Gallente Prime. Commence engagement of hostile targets.”

The unmistakable sound of a fleet’s missile fire launching all at once was enough to adequately announce our presence to the devil himself.

“Primary target has been pacified. Engage secondary target on my mark.”

“Launchers have been reloaded, sir.”


Exiting warp in perfect battle formation, we surprised the enemy fleet, quickly destroying two stray battleships that were unlucky enough to be within range of our missiles and fighters. As I imagined, they did not hesitate to engage us. Within mere moments of us entering Gallente controlled space, munitions filled the void between our fleets and our shields took notice. This was the full force of the Federation we were staring down, we would not last long.

“The Chetigol is reporting shields at 40%, Admiral. We are holding steady at 55%, but many of our other crafts will not make the next cycle.”

                “All vessels engage your emergency over ride of your safety protocols and do what you must to keep your shields up.”

                “There are no more targets within range, Admiral. We are at the mercy of their sniper ships until we close the gap sir. Shall we continue the engagement?”

                “No. Give the order to retreat. All vessels align to the moon Floreau. We’ve done enough damage for today.”

                As I had hoped, The Federation was furious. Having been caught with their pants down twice now, they were looking for retribution. I spent the next few hours plotting our withdrawal strategy with my other officers and for the most part, it was a solid course of action. Each time the enemy warped onto our location, we fired on the first vessels to exit warp then proceeded to leave the area.

                The Federation was getting better with their fleet jumps in the coming days. It reached a point where there was not ample time to engage any enemy vessels before their full force was upon us. Jim Hoslef was the first of my commanders to lose his ship. The Carbomol took a direct hit to their main engines, disabling their warp drive. Instead of panicking or calling out for help, he took his helm and drove it straight at the enemy. His selfless act gave us the time needed to remove more enemy ships from the equation before leaving the battlefield once more. Each passing engagement was filled with more acts of noble valor, until only a handful of us remained. Limping through space, this game of cat and mouse could not continue any longer and what is worse, the enemy knew it. My ship was badly in need of repairs, but if I stopped now I would not be able to keep the enemy from launching their offensive. My mission would be a failure and we would not be able to finish the evacuation. Much to my dismay, the Gallente Flagship Rouvenor sent out an unencrypted message to my ship asking for the impossible.

                “Admiral Tovil-Toba, you are outnumbered and cut off from receiving any reinforcements, we are offering you the chance to surrender your vessel to the Gallente Federation and be placed under arrest for your acts of terrorism. We will allow you to enter the Gallente Prime orbital zone to allow a regulation boarding party to commandeer your ship and take you into custody. Failure to comply with our orders will result in the immediate termination of you and your crew.”

                Such a blatant ultimatum didn’t sit well with me. Never would I surrender my crew, or my ship. I checked my timeline for the evacuation and we were still short by a week. At best, a formal surrender of an Admiral would take roughly 2 days for the proper ceremony to take place, and that would be with me stalling for time. Refusing their offer would only result in my death, offering little more than a few more hours for the evacuation. By protocol, any weapon systems I have in use would be forced offline prior to entering warp towards Gallente Prime. Should I fail to do so, it would be viewed as a sign of hostility… so I can’t really rely on any last minute attack to slow them down. Surrender seemed to be my only option at this point.

                “Admiral, we’ve done all that we can. We cannot return to Caldari Prime, for they would just follow us there and stop the evacuation. I know it is considered honor less to surrender, but if we used this as a method to stall them from engaging our home planet I think it would be for the best, sir.”

                “Lieutenant, those are wise words. We’ve both been bothered by this, but I agree that it would behoove us to take their offer. Go ahead and relay our answer. Ensign, take our weapon systems offline and prepare the ship for her final warp.”

                I was left feeling dissolute, depraved of my honor by even considering giving up my ship. I looked around and I understood from the looks of my officers that the feelings were all mutual.

“Sir, the Kairiola is prepared for her final voyage. The Gallente boarding party has just come out of warp and is ordering us to open our ships hangar.”

“Very well, Ensign. Transfer the call to the 1-MC”

“Admiral Yakia Tovil-Toba of the Caldari Separatists, you will follow my words to the letter or so help me I will end your pathetic existence,” called out a most horrific voice.

“Identify yourself,” I responded, not being in the mood for insults.

“Who else do you think they would send to take you into custody?” exclaimed Admiral Gavin.

Admiral Christopher Gavin. Formerly Christopher Tovil-Toba, obvious reasons forced him to change his name in an effort to distance his involvement with the murder of my father.

“Who does he think he is?! Close communications Ensign, I’ll not utter another word to that man. On second thought, do we still have a smart bomb online?”

“I was just about to take the last one offline, sir.”

“Stay your hands. I want you to engage the thermal smart bomb the minute that shuttle gets within range.”

“Uh, sir? I thought we were giving up. Won’t that cause them to engage us and fire?”

“What ships do you see on grid, Ensign? Destroy that shuttle! I will not have my deck tainted by that man.”

The fire that burned in my eyes caused my blindness. How dare they insult me by sending him to be the one to commandeer my ship! There would be no surrender ceremony; he would have executed me in front of everyone on my very bridge. Such is his track record, the heartless bastard. We would have a five minute delay from the time the shuttle was destroyed to the time that the Federation Fleet would retaliate.

“The shuttle is almost in range, Admiral.”

While personally waiting to energize the smart bomb, I sat and thought about what my life meant. Counting down the seconds until my father’s death was vindicated, I thought of nothing else but avenging him.

“Admiral,” stated my Lieutenant, “If you only had five minutes to become a hero, what would you do as a last stand to the Federation?”

Thinking on it for a second, I smiled and nodded my head.

“I’d shove my ship down their throats.”


                With those final words, Admiral Tovil-Toba not only destroyed his brother and the boarding party vessel, but he set a collision course with Gallente Prime. He recalculated the exit of his warp to release the Kairiola right into the atmosphere of the enemy home world. A ship of that size was never meant to enter into such a gravitational pull, and as such cracked under the force applied. Shattering into several burning pieces, it rained fire onto the Gallente populous below resulting in what is now known as the Hueromont Incident, killing roughly two million people. His sacrifice gave Caldari Prime the precious time they needed to finish the evacuation. Since AD 23155 to YC 113, no other name would be held so dearly to the hearts of the Caldari, and as such the people have immortalized him as a National Hero.


  1. wow! that was a very deep and emotionally inspired story. The other candidates are going to have a hard time topping that!

  2. I connected so well with your characters, I didn't think it was possible to get that much development in 5000 words or less! I really liked how you incorporated such an intricate back story throughout your piece of fiction. Such an amazing piece of work! Bravo!

  3. I have to say; for a 5k limit this is a well composed short story. I thought you did a great job with developing your main character, Admiral Yakia Tovil-Toba. I was able to understand the Admiral's mind workings enough to make the current story compelling. Along side with connecting to him as the story developed.
    I always enjoy a good revenge story. Goes well with the old saying about revenge. You will have to dig 2 graves. One for your enemy and one for you. I especially enjoyed how you ended it in a dramatically humorous conversation.

  4. Guys, thank you for taking the time to read my story. I poured my heart and soul into it!

  5. I registered just so that I could comment on your story. After reading this, the symbolism clicked about the glass cup and those droplets. This isn't just some words on a webpage, you've got deep thoughts showing here, and that's really amazing. I haven't seen anyone else go beyond using simple emotions or basic dialogue. Kudos mate, this is impressive.