Writer’s Note: Instrument of Surrender (Part One) was published originally in Jump Point 4.5.
[June 24, 2610 — Elysium System]
At the end of the jump tunnel, space shimmered, rippled, then revealed the Kaleeth’ala System. Corath’Thal stared into the dark void from the bridge of his ship. His view of the expanse that lay before his fleet danced slightly as the shield that enrobed the full length of the massive craft readjusted and settled into place almost with a life of its own.
From the edge of his vision he could sense the shieldmaster making her practiced adjustments, but he could also tell that under her calm exterior, she thrummed with excitement. This was more than the rush that always followed a battle. This was something new. Something that none of them had dared allow themselves to feel before now.
Even though the distant drift spread before him looked similar to other systems, he knew it was so much more. After everything they had been through over the past seven years, he had finally brought his people home.
The remnants of Corath’Thal’s main fleet poured from the Centauri-Elysium jump point. He didn’t have much time to lead the survivors to their homeworld of Kaleeth. The UEE forces that ambushed them on the Centauri side of the jump would not be far behind, and Corath’Thal had made up his mind. This war would end on his terms, whether in victory or defeat.
Corath’Thal signaled Rados to carry his voice to his depleted fleet.
“When we started down this path, we had no home. Only a world once ours that was ripped away. I vowed that if you fought with me, I would bring you home. That the Rijora would provide us a path to victory . . .”
Corath’Thal paused while the words in his throat quivered.
“After the events of today, I know that either the Rijora has failed us, or we have failed the Rijora. I’m not sure if there’s a difference anymore. But what I am sure of is that I will fulfill the first promise I made myself and all of you. I am going home.”
Before he could continue, the clear resonance of the warning chime vibrated through the hull and echoed through the halls of the capital ship. Corath’Thal checked the scans. Human ships burned to their position en masse.
“Those who wish to commit themselves to the lands of our ancestors, follow me. Those who don’t, use my advance as your chance to escape. May you live to fight another day. Goth’raj doah!”
Corath’Thal scanned the faces of those who served on the bridge; none meet his gaze but instead stared towards where their home lay ahead in the far distance. Each accepted their fate in their own way. Sensors screamed as the ship’s shield absorbed the first wave of attacks from the approaching UEE forces.
“Goth’raj doah!” Rados bellowed, barely able to keep emotion from overwhelming his voice.
In unison, the crew responded, “Goth’raj doah!”
As the Tevarin fleet blazed across Elysium towards their homeworld of Kaleeth, UEE soldiers raced to battle stations in anticipation of an all-out assault on the world they had renamed Jalan. In the sky above, UEE Navy ships scrambled to form a semblance of a blockade.
But the Tevarin fleet did not fall into their traditional phalanx formation. They did not even return fire when attacked. They either fell to the barrage of shots that perforated their hulls or shrugged them off and went faster. As the Tevarin ships approached Kaleeth’s atmosphere, they lowered their powerful shields.
Corath’Thal watched the Tevarin ships before him pierce the atmosphere, then rip apart. Sadness swelled as he grasped the terrible fate that awaited his people. Would he be one of the last Tevarin to see their homeworld?
The ship shook violently as it pushed into the upper atmosphere. On the horizon he noticed something breaking through the bed of clouds. Could it be the peak of Mount Supteek? Corath’Thal staggered to the front of the bridge and laid his hand on the glass.
He last saw Mount Supteek as a child fleeing Kaleeth with his parents. Its peak was one of the only memories he still had of his home.
The glass grew hot, but Corath’Thal kept his hand in place. The beauty of Kaleeth, even from above, overwhelmed every ounce of his being. The clouds parted; now he could see the cities the Human invaders had built around their temples of old. It sickened him. He was suddenly consumed with regret for not killing them all as the ship disintegrated around him.
The Second Tevarin War was finally over.