On Ithiria Deritan's main estate Carmilla and several other women were dancing on the tables that had been set up, the music loud the clapping and cheering loud. Massive tables laden with food and drink were set up here and in the small villages on the estate that the workers lived in. Victor sat at the head of the largest table, clapping his hands in time with the music and laughing. On the table Carmilla watched as he frowned and put his hand to his ear and started talking into his comm unit. She leapt off the table and bounced over to him. The look on his face told her all she needed. Something bad was about to happen.
"We have incoming, sub capital fleet supported by carriers. They are not answering hails and just brushed past the patrol sent to intercept and destroyed it. Outright."
"Who is it?"
"We don't know.... Where is your wife?"
Carmilla grabbed a datatablet and input a few commands.
"I don't know, she was here but her shuttle is gone. We need to know who these people are, get me some eyes. Scramble the fighters. Get everything we have in the air, anything we have in the system, next system... get it. Disciples, Serpentis, Victor.. we need to see what is going on."
Carmilla looked up at the sky, it was blue, crystal clear, but still she could not see, not guess at what was coming. Victor hobbled off and grabed a speeder and headed to his command bunker. Carmilla stood on the table and called for silence.
"Everyone... can I have your attention. We may have a slight problem...."
In the asteroid belt around the third planet a serpentis frigate, roaming recieved a priority call. The pilot acknowledged and input the co-ordinates and warped to the destination, cloaking enroute. As he decelarated into the co-ordinates his proximity warnings went off. Instinct threw the ship into a tight spin and vectored away at high gee from the ship. A thanatos class carrier, surrounded by an impressive sub-cap fleet. Already he could see on his systems that tracking fields were enveloping his craft. He downloaded his initial sensor scan and was about to depart when a small frigate lit a cyno beacon. Heedless of his safety he swung the ship around and activated the microwarp drive, targetting the frigate. His rail guns fired on the small ship, missiles tearing away from their bays and impacting the frigate which exploded quickly. The cyno died... but not quick enough. The blackness shimmered as the mothership warped in. He downloaded an upto date sensor scan and......
In his command bunker Victor looked over the partial scan data recieved from the frigate before it was destroyed. A mothership, but worse than that, he recognised this one. He'd seen it before. It was Eliza. And he knew why she was here.
"Carmilla.... Carmilla... pick up...."
"Sir, we're being jammed. Wide signal it's covering about twenty clicks around the house.....
"....We have incoming on the estate, mulitple signals....."
"....No dropships spotted.. repeat no dropships....."
"....repeat, no sign of Concord or local navy...."
Victor looked at the screen. No, there would be no dropships. She wasn't here for that.
"Carson, get on a speeder, you get as far away from the impact zones as you can, drive like your life depends on it... because it does and a whole lot more. Get to a communit, use this code, Contact these people, let them know it's an code ultrablack emergency, get as many of our people out as you can!"
From her position Carmilla could see the fighters taking off from their hidden bays deep on the estate. Wing after wing departed and took off. All around there was the shimmering in the air, the estate shields had been activated. It was an attack, there was no doubt in her mind. She gathered a group of the women and children and ran to the landing pads, dispersing them to the shuttles and cargo landers that were there, giving the pilots orders to disperse to the nearby estates, fly low and above all, get them there safe. In the sky new pinpricks of light began to show, the fighter wings had engaged. She watched as the shuttles and landers departed, their pilots all veterans of the Guristas flew, knowing the value of their cargo. With luck, they would make it, if anyone could get them out, they would.
"There are no more shuttles, but please, get anything you can, fly, drive, just get away from here. Someone is attacking us and we need to get to safety. Ithiria is safe.... please... get to the bunkers....."
A howling scream caused her to turn. Fighters were screaming over the estate, their weapons impacting on the estate shield. Then from above them beams, projectiles, rail gun charges, the bombardment had begun. The sky turned red as the shield was pushed to it's limits and began to break. A crimson blast tore into the house, demolishing a wing, fires leaping upwards. Another slammed into the ground not far from the statue to her Mistress, her lover, her wife. She screamed defiance as the statue toppled, a scream that was washed away in the fury of the firestorm that came with the collapse of the shield. She died, and not long after there was nothing and no one left alive on the estate.
When she opened her eyes at the cloning centre she looked up into the eyes of Kim. Victor was next to her. Her face looked ashen, sad beyond belief. Over the next few hours Victor, Carmilla and Kim looked at the reports that came in. Carson had done well, and got his message out. Although there was considerable damage, there had been some rescues. Serpentis smugglers had rescued the entire population of one estate blasting through the sub capital blockade with the support of a Gurista's Ewar wing. Three freighters and their human cargo smashing through the battleships and battlecruisers, assault frigates clearing their way, falcons and rooks counfounding their enemies targetting systems. On another estate however a freighter full of those evacuating was caught in orbit and destroyed, a second so badly damaged it had to land, where it was destroyed from orbit. Across all the estates stories of untold bravery were being relayed, militia forces in outdated equipment were taking the fight to them, allowing a few more to escape with their deaths. Serpentis and Gurista's forces attacked and ambushed where they could, while their transports, smugglers and any ship that could squeeze a few people in did so.
And yet there was a terrible loss of life. Nearly a hundred thousand were saved, but millions died. Damages in the billions, and people across entire planets shocked by the brutality of what had been done.
Over the next day, the ships arrived at Ishomilken. The guristas station became a crowded refugee outpost. Fleets of ships arrived to protect the station, even more to bring in the medical and food supplies that were needed. Across the landing bays the screams for vengeance were loud and all eyes turned to the skies demanding blood. Blood. Blood!
Carmilla listened to the screams, the oaths, the cries for vengeance. All were baying for blood. And they would get it. Victor went out amongst the people there, many recognising him and praising him for their escape, and offering prayers and thanks to him, to Ithiria, to Carmilla. She walked into her quarters and pulled out a blade, a long curved ceremonial blade and placed it on the table. Kim walked in and embraced her.
"What will you do now?"
"I have to go and find my Wife. I don't know where she is. I'll need access to the database so I can trace her clone. And once I find her, there will be a reckoning. This was genocide."
Kim nodded and handed her a kimono.
"I think this one is more appropriate than what you were going to wear."
Carm looked at the kimono she had picked up, it matched the one she had seen her Mistress in, had performed the ritual in. But it was not time for that. She took the kimono from Kim, a light blue silk one with irridescent dragon flies over them. As Kim was making sure she was dressed perfectly she realised.... her tattoo's were gone now. Her body was clean. Pure. She smiled a most dreadful smile.
"Tell Victor I'll be back."
Taking the scabbard to the blade she slipped it into her wide belt and made her way to the landing bays. She had to find her wife. Walking across the landing bay people parted for her, there were looks of adoration, whispers, blessings. Her resolve weakened with each step and she stopped. People crowded around her, hands touching with reverance, eyes filled with tears.
".... may the maker bless you.... you saved many.... we owe you our lives.... we will fight for you if you ask.... lead us.... Ithiria...."
She pushed her way through the throng and climbed on top of shuttle that shared the bay she was in. Looking around she saw the people clustering around, looking up at her. Thousands upon thousands. Victor stood beside her and a cheer arose, a cheer that grew with a life of it's own and was soon deafening. Victor... Victor... Victor.... Deritan... Deritan... Deritan.... Carmilla turned to him.
"These are your people Victor, you are Ithira's consort, you saved them."
"But she is your wife, and that makes you our leader until we can find Ithiria."
Carmilla walked to the edge and raised her hands, gesturing for silence, Victor standing behind her. He handed her a communicator he had linked into the station wide system.
"I... We.... stand before you humbled. Never before have we been shown such loyalty. When we first came to stand with you, it was as servents and lovers of your Mistress, your Holder, the owner of the estates....Ithiria Deritan. Now, we stand before you, the wife and consort of Ithiria. Would that she was here, she would be saying this... but we do not know where she is....."
She paused as the outcry shook the station.
"We will stop at nothing to find her. A crime has been committed against us all, against the Estates of Ithiria and we will bring the perpetrators to justice! All of us worked hard for what we had and that was taken away from us. But that will not stop us. You have seen from those who rescued you that we command great respect. The Serpentis and the Guristas both helped to rescue you and for that we offer them our eternal thanks, we will owe them a debt that cannot easily be repaid. And myself and Victor.... we will owe you a debt that we will never be able to repay. We could have rescued more, should have rescued more..... there is blood on our hands now, the blood of those innocents who were slain by the evil of Eliza and her horde. Never more so was there a hated foe than she who did this. And.... THERE WILL BE A RECKONING!"
As she shouted the words the cheering was deafening.
"No more will we let this happen to our people. No more will we be scared of those who would oppress us. No more will we stand for tyranny! We are the architects of our own destiny, and together we will make those responsible pay with their lives, their ships... and their blood!"
She pulled her dagger out and pulled up her sleeve. She ran the blade down her arm, scratching a stylized sigil on her arm, letting the blood run freely.
"I swear to you, my people, with my blood as my bond that this will never happen again as long as I live, as long as Victor lives, as long as our Ithiria lives. We will crush everyone who dares stop us."
She held the bloody dagger above her head and looked at the people with a religious fervour.
"Are you with us?"
The crowd screamed.
"Are you with us?!" She cried again, punching the air with the dagger. The crowd screamed louder.
"ARE YOU WITH US!!"
Kim watched from the window in Section 8 as her daughter and son jumped down from the shuttle and moved amongst their people like two messiahs. How much they had changed, from pirates to humanitarians. From people hated and loathed to people respected and listened to. She smiled and returned back to the medical bays that had been set up to deal with the wounded patients. There would be a lot of work to do before she could relaxe and spend time with Carmilla and Victor. But it would come.