The Mirus was angry. He had just begun the peaceful slip into communion with his hypershard, a state of consciousness similar to dreaming for a human, when a loud jarring sound, and the report of explosions, woke him from sleep.
He swore something vaguely obscene in Kai’Siri as he sat up and focused his attention on the display in his quarters, his eyes narrowing with concentration as he cleared his thoughts.
The alert klaxons of the Imegaa Enzael were sounding in response to a hull breach stern to port of the vessel. Apparently, someone had just used boarding pods to gain entry. The ship’s internal sensors read the presence of six intruders, five of them of roughly human size and one much larger, all of them heading for the great battleship’s habitat block, where he was.
Biological sensors registered them as species Pseudoreptilia tenax — Dragons — rivals of the Mirus’s former masters in the games of galactic power-play. Suddenly, the readings went blank.
Whoever they were, they were using sensor masking.
He was now fully awake, and stood still for a few seconds while automated systems dressed him in more suitable garb for the occasion, a black and red uniform vaguely reminiscent of an earthly military dress-suit, though not nearly as ornate.
He sighed, and strode from his room, down the corridors of his ship, having noted from the display overlaid on his vision by the hypershard where his visitors were headed.
The ‘shard had been merged with his brain for some years now, and he still wasn’t certain of its nature, whether implant or symbiotic organism, or both, since it clearly had some characteristics of a machine, but seemed to be almost alive, before he mastered it, even seeming to have a mind of its own.
He had unwanted guests to deal with, and this was going to get messy if they proved uncooperative.
He stood waiting for them when the smaller Dragons turned the corner, followed by the giant, itself about 3 meters tall, half a metric ton in mass, and looking like a refugee from a Toho studios monster movie, its massive clawed feet making *thud* with each step, powerful tail swaying from side to side with anticipation. It was unarmored, but didn’t look like it needed to be, and it’s scales were resplendently adorned with black lacquer from head to toe.
Hmmm. Ritually prepared for sacrifice. Mine, maybe. Well, let’s see…
The hypershard entered speech translation mode, and the Mirus spoke, guttural, staccato, alien, sounds issuing from ‘shard-calibrated vocal equipment:
“So, what’s the occasion, Bazrikoss? You realize that you made a mistake in disturbing me…I was just drifting off to sleep when you boarded — And, no, I’m NOT happy to see you. Don’t you people ever ask before entering?”
“Old…friend,” the giant began, “I’m not here to harm you, not yet, though your ship’s systems are sorely in need of improvement. It was far too easy to bypass the point-defense weaponry with our humble means of entry.” The giant drew breath and continued, “If I wanted to kill you, I would have, but that’s not the point of my being here. You get, how do you say it, a failing grade on your combat readiness test. I needed to see you personally to…tell you something, without being overheard by your ship’s artificial intelligence, for I suspect it’s being monitored by someone…else. This discussion is confidential.”
“Very well…speak.” The Mirus’s brow furrowed as he said this. Bazrikoss was right, he hadn’t been feeling himself recently, not been as alert as he otherwise would have been for the last several months.
There was something nagging him in the back of his mind, and he was lately unable to get his thoughts in order. The Dragons must have bypassed all internal monitoring systems after they boarded, or his android Emissary would be here to assist him. For the first time in a while, he felt unsure, so he decided to let the Dragons have their say.
“You are not the only one of your kind. There were at least three others from your world with capabilities like yours. All had hypershards, all of them fully integrated, and all had the same sort of inherent brain architecture as you. There is an entire species of beings like yourself, and I tell you this freely because it serves my purposes. Look for them…Seek them out, for you may need their help when once again we cross paths. I may not be so generous as to spare you next time. Remember this, and learn, pup, lest your overconfidence be your undoing.”
The Mirus stood as the Dragons turned and left the way they came, and began to think now that he knew what was bothering him. In the back of his mind, he knew that he wasn’t alone. He must find those like himself, and the first place to look would be Earth. He must find, gather and unite those of his species he could, to prepare for what was to come.
The left corner of his mouth rose just a bit as he thought, This was going to be interesting…The universe just got a lot bigger.