Chapter One (continued)
Hamza and his guards transported to the war room and walked into controlled chaos. All branches connected to planetary security—space and ground, plus their subunits—were housed here, along with the Space Academy.
Harried males read reports from Castron, Lowbrett, and Kiton. Others dealt with status updates on the deployed fighter’s or news on starships en route. Each relayed the information to their commanding officers.
Hamza prowled into the middle of the chaos. “The Onfre are sending help, so be ready to assist when their warbirds arrive. Now, give me a report on the situation with—”
“Prince Hamza! Readings show a new wormhole opening! It’s not the Onfre. Three more Ne Reynian battleships are coming through. I repeat, three more Ne Reynian battleships have come through and are entering the atmosphere.”
Hamza snarled. The buzzing and eerie glow from the red alert annoyed his already frayed nerves. “Get a read on them. I need to know their targets.”
“Battleships descending unbelievably fast.” A male shouted from a computer. “It looks like…. Prince Hamza, according to long-range scans, one is aiming for us, and the other is targeting the palace. The last ship seems to be acting as a guard for the other two. ETA is five unit minutes for them reaching their targets.”
“Activate the red alert for Darkkit palace. Send a message through King Duran’s comm that they’re about to be under attack!”
“On viewing screen. I want to see what we’re dealing with.” The last of the three battleships acting as a guard appeared. It was huge, ugly, and loaded with weaponry. Gods. Hurry, dabba. “We need starships engaging the enemy now. Update?” Hamza snarled at one of the commanders.
“The starship Archon’s ETA for the palace defense is fifteen unit minutes. Two more starships are due to disengage from space dock within five unit minutes. Add another twenty unit minutes to that before they can engage.”
“Too long,” Hamza whispered. “Palace on screen, please.”
There simply wasn’t enough coverage. The palace was located in the heart of Darkkit, so the palatial city was in jeopardy too. All those people, helpless. Running for their lives. Neo’s at the Darkkit Hospital too. His heart pounded. No. Can’t think of that. If something happened to Neo, to any of his loved one….
“Fighters are engaging enemy ships, Prince Hamza.”
Powerless, he watched as a battleship targeted Darkkit palace. There was nothing he could do but pray. Please, please let them be okay. Please.
“Photon torpedo in-coming. Target is Darkkit palace,” someone yelled.
The flashed of light lit up the viewing screen as the palace sustained a direct hit. Hamza clenched his fists. Rage built as long unit minutes passed as the battleship relentlessly fired.
“Palace shields are holding but they can’t take many more hits like that, my prince.”
“Understood,” Hamza said. Please let them be okay.
“Sensors show the Ne Reynain battleship targeting us is powering weapons.”
“Shields are up too, my prince!”
Hamza swore softly. The very first thing he was going to do once this was over was have weapons installed here at the Tah’Narian Planetary Defense. They were helpless.
“Prince Hamza, a spread pattern of photon torpedoes has been fired at the palace. Detonation in three, two….
More flashes of light. Hamza wanted to scream in frustration. He checked his comm. There was no transmission from his dabba. Had they gotten Dayo and Szin moved in time? What about the patients in Medical? More unit minute passed as the assault continued. Now they seemed to be targeting certain areas. How much longer could the shields withstand such an attack? He squinted at the viewing screen. Was that smoke?
“We have confirmation of a breach in the shield! They’re hit, my prince, and shields are down.”
Hamza swore. “Where?”
“The sector that houses Medical.
Where the Royal Physician offices are located. “Damage report?”
“I can’t tell if that area took a direct hit but—” The console blared a warning. “Readings show unknown life signs in the vicinity of Medical.” The male typed fiercely. “Ah… Highness, they’re Ne Reynain.”
“What?” No. That couldn’t be right. Why would those females beam down and to that specific location? If the shields were down, why go there? “Report!”
“Scans are being disrupted due to the attack. I can’t get a fix on where the life signs are actually at in that sector, but they are definitely Ne Reynain and there are several of them.”
“Highness! Reports say our fighters are taking heavy loses too. They’re inflicting damage to the battleships, but—”
“In-coming! We have in-coming photon torpedoes at our position.”
Hamza braced himself. The building shook as the torpedoes were deflection by their shields, and the lights blinked. Males rushed around Hamza, calling out status updates.
“The starship Archon has arrived and is engaging the Ne Reynain battleship targeting the palace.”
“Thank all the gods.” Hamza watched as the battleship broke off its attack to defend itself. “Get me information on the palace. Now.”
“My prince, the Unity has its full crew complement and is leaving the space dock. ETA twenty unit minutes.”
“We have a worm hole opening!”
Sweat beaded at Hamza’s temple. Gods help them if it was another Ne Reynian battleship.
“It’s the Onfre! Five warbirds have dropped out of warp and are in-bound!”
Weak in the knees, Hamza grabbed the console next to him.
“The Ne Reynian battleships are pulling back. They’re retreating. I repeat, they are retreating!”
“Did they beam up those who invaded the palace?” Hamza barked.
“Unsure. I can’t raise the palace and can’t get a reading now.”
Cheering echoed around Hamza. He hardly noticed the slaps on the back. Why were they retreating? Were the Ne Reynian that afraid of the Onfre? He didn’t believe that, considering most Onfre officers were male, and they all knew how the Ne Reynians felt about males in positions of power.
He needed to get to the palace and find out what was happening. Hamza caught a flash of white from the corner of his eye. Relieved, he turned to face his dabba. The smile on his faced died when he saw Keyno standing there. A soot covered, clothes torn, Keyno.
Hamza’s heart beat faster.
“Hamza? I need you to come with me. Now.”