Authors: Thomas DePrima
Against All Odds
Copyright ©2005, 2011 by Thomas J. DePrima
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Cover art by
Martin J. Cannon
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An appendix containing technical data pertinent to this series is included at the back of this book.
Creating a series like this would be impossible without the support of many people. Encouragement from my good friend Ted King kept me writing new episodes during the years when I sought an agent or publisher, while his technical expertise kept me focused on making the science sound believable even when it was simply a product of my imagination. Invaluable suggestions and proofreading by Michael A. Norcutt greatly facilitated my efforts to keep elements of the story consistent with Navy ship design and military protocols. My beta readers James Richardson and Adam Shelley have helped keep the details straight and in concert with previous books while improving the grammar of the final draft. This book is probably the most error-free of the series to date and owes much of its grammatical accuracy to Myra Shelley for her outstanding editing work. Thank you all.
A Galaxy Unknown
Valor at Vauzlee
The Clones of Mawcett
Against All Odds
When The Spirit Moves You
When The Spirit Calls
~ September 12
, 2281 ~
"Suicide!" Minister of Intelligence Vertap Aloyandro said fervently after viewing the vid message received from the Uthlaro Prime Minster. It was rare for him to display personal emotion in front of his King. He then closed his eyes and shook his head sadly, both because he had let his emotion show and because he was witness to something that might destroy them all.
"Suicide?" King Jamolendre, the monarch of all Hudeera, echoed in surprise. "I asked for your most
"And I have given it to you, my King. Our recent military actions have allowed us to regain significant territory lost to the Milori over time. No longer are we restricted to travel within our own solar system. But this endeavor, rooted in avarice, will certainly result in our ruination. This proposed pact will be our undoing; it is tantamount to— suicide."
"Lord Melendret and the noblemen loyal to him favor the pact. They hold great influence among the other nobles."
"Your Highness, we both know they are drunk with power. They saw our massed military attacks on sparsely populated and lightly defended Milori outposts as great victories, although they were nothing more than lightning raids against an enemy whose reduced resources were stretched far too thin to properly protect its vast territory. When the Milori withdrew their forces, deserting all forward positions along our border, it was to marshal those units in defense of their home world against attacks by Galactic Alliance warships. The nobles foolishly looked upon the withdrawal as a magnificent triumph by
forces. Our nobles have deluded themselves into believing we somehow
the Milori out."
The king stood, stretched his six-foot ten-inch frame, and stepped from behind his desk. As he silently circled his enormous office in the royal palace, his scaly, mottled, greenish-brown skin shone brightly, absorbing welcome warmth from the bright daylight streaming in through the windows. The three fingers and opposing thumb of his left hand tightly gripped the right behind his back, and his glance never left the embellished, hand-woven carpet beneath his feet as he passed elaborate sculptures and the magnificent paintings that lined the walls. On the third pass, he stopped near the seating that surrounded a large circular fireplace occupying the center of the room and dropped heavily into his favorite chair. The massive, thickly padded piece of furniture covered in a red velvet-like fabric had been made to his specifications and body contours and included the normal rear cutout for the short reptilian tail all Hudeera males have. He often lightheartedly referred to this chair as his
seat of power
and always enjoyed its wonderful comfort while he presided over the frequent, informal meetings with the rich and powerful noblemen of the ruling class.
"If signed by all parties," Jamolendre said, "this pact would combine the military might of four interstellar powers. We know the Galactic Alliance is more powerful than our own meager forces, but surely even
can't stand against the combined might of all four nations."
The Minister of Intelligence moved nearer his Sovereign but didn't presume to occupy any of the empty chairs without an invitation to sit. "My King, I'm not prepared to agree with that assessment. Admiral Carver has a deserved reputation for defeating enemies who underestimated her abilities and resources. As the senior ranking officer of Space Command in the former Milori territory, which they now refer to as Region Two of the Galactic Alliance, she would be the one to direct the action against any incursion. We would be pitting our forces against hers. I can't imagine a more dangerous opponent."
"The Galactic Alliance apparently believes they're entitled to annex all of the territory formerly claimed by the Empire simply because they conquered the Milori. How can they possibly control an area that large when they didn't have enough warships to cover Galactic Alliance territory
it was tripled in size?"
"It has long been an accepted reality of war that to the victor belong the spoils, my King."
"I don't deny that the Milori, bent on conquest of the galaxy, invaded Galactic Alliance territory on two separate occasions, but our noblemen don't feel that one small fact entitles the Galactic Alliance to
the territory of the former Empire. We suffered at the hands of the Milori for generations and we are entitled to a share of the conquered territory.
"That the Milori twice invaded the Galactic Alliance is not what concerns me, Sire. It's the fact that Space Command twice defeated the Milori invaders handily. And they did promptly return the former Gondusan and Hudeera territories taken by the Milori during our decades of hostilities as was agreed before we commenced our raids against the Empire's border positions. They promised nothing else."
took our former territories back ourselves, Vertap–– although the actions of Space Command against the Milori certainly helped make it possible by drawing off the forces protecting the border."
"My King, this proposed pact calls for the entire area annexed by the Galactic Alliance to be divided equally among the four signatories; that's considerably more than a
of the conquered territory. The Galactic Alliance isn't being asked to share, they're being ordered to get out. They won't leave without a fight."
"Their presence is no longer needed here, or wanted. With the Milori defeated and beyond any hope of ever resurrecting their forces, this part of the galaxy rightfully belongs to those who suffered for so long."
"The Uthlaro and Tsgardi never suffered under the Milori, your Majesty; they were active trading partners at all times and benefited greatly from their association. Do you feel this entitles them to half of the conquered empire?"
"They're included in the pact because we need their ships," Jamolendre said angrily. "Like the Gondusan territory and ours, their realms border the former Milori Empire and neither has any particular love for the Galactic Alliance."
"And what of the Ruwalch Confederacy? They share a significant common border with the former Milori Empire as well."