The five giant nomad ships, black silhouettes against the distant stars, were about to connect.
Watching the progress of the ships on the theatre-sized screen, Yug Evahsadeen climbed the curved steel stairway up to the centre of the raised platform in the middle of the cavernous and dimly lit bridge. He took up a standing position in front of an ornately adorned chair and bowed. “Reporting as ordered, Sovereign Tihsadeen.”
Sovereign Dug Tihsadeen stroked his black furry chin and looked Yug up and down. “It seems your plan has worked, Yug. I congratulate you. The penetration and infiltration of the nomad ship was successful.”
Yug bowed once more. “Thank you, sovereign.”
“But it is a shame that two bounty hunter ships followed you here.” The sovereign lowered his voice. “And it is a shame that a small but significant portion of my fleet were destroyed or damaged.”
Yug felt a wave of nervousness wash over him. “I apologize, sovereign. I was failed by my recruit on Repugnius.”
Sovereign Tihsadeen glowered for a moment, and then his expression relaxed. He shrugged. “It is of minimal consequence. The two bounty hunter ships fled into subspace as soon as they could. Bounty hunters and their ships are mere bugs compared to the might of this fleet, and despite the losses it is still a mighty fleet, if not the mightiest! And any reinforcement the bounty hunters have asked for from their pathetic palace will not arrive for quite a while. Our success will not be affected.”
To either side of the sovereign stood a Nin. They were both performing manicuring tasks on the sovereign’s hands.
Sovereign Tihsadeen looked at the Nin and then back at Yug. “Where is your servant? He should be grooming you constantly after such a long mission.”
“Aj Nin was partially incinerated by the final bounty hunter attack on my ship, sovereign. His injuries were extensive. The skin on his face had vaporized and half of his abdomen had fried in its own fat. He was in agony. After the exemplary service he has given me over the years I could not let him suffer. I shattered his skull with the butt of my largest blade to end his pain.”
The sovereign frowned. “Compassion is a weakness, Yug. I do not want my senior officers infected by such emotional vulnerabilities.”
Yug thought quickly. “It was not compassion I felt, sovereign. Ending his life was a reward for his service. Had he performed badly I would have let him suffer a lingering and excruciating death, and I would have enjoyed watching.”
Sovereign Tihsadeen grinned. “That’s more like it!” He operated a control on the fat arm of his chair. A smaller chair rose out of the floor to the sovereign’s right. “Take your place at my side, Yug. You have earned it.”
Yug Evahsadeen sat down, his belt of knives clattering against the arms of the chair. He looked out over the expansive bridge, across the rows of crew members sitting below, to the giant screen ahead. The nomad ships had now connected. His mouth spread into a broad brown-toothed smile. Being offered seat next to Sovereign Tihsadeen on the bridge of the Sadeeni flagship was the ambition of all officers of the Sadeeni Legion. He had fulfilled that ambition, and from this esteemed position he would now get to watch the Sadeeni Legion compete its boldest plan. It was a plan he himself had helped devise, and a plan he himself had put into operation with the successful penetration of the nomad ship.
A crew member below spoke. “Sovereign, the nomad ships are connected and the bio-minds merged. The ships are turning.”
Sovereign Tihsadeen nodded. He was still stroking the fur on his chin. “Good. Move the fleet into flanking positions around the nomad ships. Place this ship directly overhead.”
“Yes, sovereign.” His hands flashed across his control surface. “Orders are dispatched. The fleet will be in position in six minutes.”
“When in position synchronize with the nomad ships’ bio-mind and go immediately to subspace on the programmed course.”
Almost immediately the note of the flagship’s background hum changed as its sublight engines redirected its huge mass.
The sovereign waved away his Nin servants and turned to Yug. He spoke quietly. “I have an urge. It is many days since I impregnated a female.”
Yug was momentarily startled by the sovereign’s statement. He quickly regained his composure. “For me it has been more than two years, sovereign.”
“Then you are in need far more than I!” Sovereign Tihsadeen said, laughing. He glanced at the giant screen. “Once we enter subspace we will have several hours to spare.” He looked back down at Yug. “You must join me in my chambers. There are six females there who are fully trained and lubricated.”
Yug could not help but smile. “It would be an honour, sovereign.”
The sovereign laughed. He reached down and slapped Yug on the back of his head. “They will all be with child in no time!”