The accursed Bacterians! The alien invaders had destroyed his home, all of their homes, forcing what was left of the United Orcs to flee into space in a desperate search for a hiding place. Everything was happening like it had before, so many years ago, during the Great Cataclysm of Orceron... First their birthplace had been destroyed, and now their new home was gone too, infested with Bacterian monstrosities and occupied by their armies. All he and his comrades had worked so hard to rebuild over the years had vanished in an instant, and no-one even knew why the Bacterians were doing it. It didn't make any sense.
His long life, Ovaap reflected, was not at all a blessing... It was a cruel burden, being forced to witness history repeating its greatest tragedies over and over again. Generations changed and entire civilizations rose and fell, but nothing ever truly changed...
Suddenly a holoscreen embedded into the table flashed to life, bathing the room in a green glow and waking up Ovaap from his thoughts. Like everything else in the base, the holoemitter was quickly put together and barely working, the image flickering irregularly.
Ovaap stood up, straightening the knertty he had bought on Reel 5. He approached the door of his quarters and keyed the controls, but the mass of metal remained silent. He activated his cranial implant.
A crackling voice responded inside his head.
The stained red light mounted on the door frame lit up, and the pressure seal opened with a cheerless rattle. Ovaap stepped into the corridor, a hastily welded together construction with a red floor and unpainted gray, hexagonal walls; it had been thrown together only recently to connect the two base complexes on the planet. Ovaap stumbled as he made his way over the doorsteps and exposed pipes that littered the floor.
Suddenly he heard a computerized voice echoing throughout the metallic passageway.
Ovaap accelerated his pace towards Command. The planet's low gravity helped, but he was still way too far from the secure areas. Resrek had seen the destruction the lightning storms of this miserable world could cause; the third base complex had been devastated completely by one. The entire upper levels of the structure had been torn apart, exposing everyone inside to the deadly atmosphere.
He could already hear the rumbling. Ovaap moved as fast as he could. Just a couple more meters ... Passing a large observation window, he saw massive blue bolts of lightning striking the planet's carbon-based soil. The hallway started to shake and felt like it could be coming apart any second, with ominous hissing emanating from gaskets.
Just then, Ovaap felt a flood of relief - he had made it inside the junction airlock. Immediately, he slammed the button labelled CLOSE. and the heavy metal door responded with a clang as it rolled from the ceiling towards the floor, until suddenly, it screeched to a halt. For a second that felt like an eternity, Ovaap couldn't believe his eyes. He reached for the red button again, frantically pushing it down again and again, but there was no response.
At the same time he saw freezing white gas starting to pour into the trembling hallway, so cold it froze the methane around it, turning it into snowy ice. The hallway had been breached. As he stared into the deadly cloud, suddenly in his mind he was back on Aldaain, buried under snow, freezing to death... The sound of power systems restarting interrupted the visions of his past. Another clang sounded from the door and it was sealed shut, like there had never been anything wrong with it.
He took a moment to exhale.
The Command Center seemed to be the only place on the planet with proper heating, although it too was a quick and dirty makeshift arrangement and looked unfinished; wires hung from the ceiling and the floor was covered in ductwork. In typical fashion, a large viewscreen had been placed on one wall, currently displaying a detailed simulation of the starship being constructed outside.
Ovaap straightened his posture and entered the room, performing an old-fashioned salute in the general direction of Päähemmo that went largely unnoticed, and sat down on a chair that looked like it had been removed from an old personal transporter.
The idle rotating image of the main display changed into a simplistic map of the last lines of defense the United Orcs had against the Bacterians. Päähemmo's expression darkened, his eyes studying the diagram.
A green dot on the screen disappeared.
This time, almost a half of the remaining dots vanished.
The Päähemmo and most of his entourage seemed horrified. Ovaap didn't feel any better.
The screen now displayed a rotating schematic of the finished HemmoCruiser.
The Päähemmo remained silent. He had never been this depressed in his life. When he had been elected, the United Orcs was still struggling to get through the Great Chaos, but he had never lost his resolve. There had always been a future to look forward to, something to fight for. Now his partner was dead, the Union was about to collapse completely, and he himself could be dead in three cycles. And in the middle of this utter hopelessness, they were still facing an internal enemy.
The Päähemmo looked like he wamted tp sink into his chair and disappear. The New Rebellion Alliance was a group of radical Orcish nationalist-speciesists who wanted to "free the Orcs from Hemmoian enslavement" by abolishing the UO government; their favorite method for accomplishing this was high explosives. It seemed amazing to him that even when they all faced extinction, they couldn't see past their hatred and petty political agendas.