Jedrek looked up through the clear dome shield and at the moon looming above the surface. It’s size threatened to crash down upon him, but his planetologists assured him it this would not happen for another three thousand years. The planet’s gravity only decreased the distance by a mere three inches a decade, but Jedrek couldn’t help but believe the moon grew larger every day.
Ceroid was a planet rich in carbon-base materials. Its flaxen surface hinted at a low hospitality for life, and this was proven true by the fact water had to be brought in daily to sustain the few inhabited domes on the surface. There was only one reason to come to Ceroid and that was to put your life at risk for a generous paycheck. Jedrek made it as safe as possible for his employees, they were each a valuable asset, but accidents happened. Ceroid was proving to be the most profitable planet in the Galactic Consortium.
Ceroid’s moon, however, was deemed useless by the Vanguard. Bereft of profit, it consisted of a powdery substance that clogged even neutrino engines. Visiting the surface of the moon was costly. Therefore, Jedrek deemed it the most valuable asset against what was coming.
Having the city made was not an issue. The secrecy of it was not hard to maintain either. Ceroid’s moon had minimal rotation. Jedrek’s plans were precise, allowing him nearly two years before anyone on the surface would even have the chance to notice his little operation. Not that anyone would. Nearly everyone on the surface was employed in his factories.
Anyone traveling to the planet would potentially see it, but his calculations only granted visitors from the outer territories the chance, which were few at most and only workers who wouldn’t question anything they saw there. He still took the precaution to hide the parts of the city that penetrated the surface of the small moon. If anyone did notice, they would have no idea what the purpose was.
The city cost Jedrek a fortune even with his own factories supplying the graphene materials used in the construction. His caution added little more cost but gave him enough assurance he deemed it worth the price.
“Father? What are you looking at?” A voice cracked behind him.
“Just the future, son,” Jedrek replied. He looked at his son, barely beginning his journey from boy to man, and smiled.
“And what do you see?”
“A clever question. I cannot say for certain. All the best laid plans do not survive the passing of time. All I can say is that I hope. I hope for an easy future for you.”
His son, Rayner, took his words in silence and looked upon the vast horizon of carbon dust beyond the dome shield. No life existed outside the static screen.
“Are we in danger?” his son asked nonchalantly.
“Why would you ask such a question?”
“You’ve been on edge lately. Expectant. Like you used to be back when you feared a raid from the Okkunan in the forests of Baddan.”
“Things are different now than they had been on Baddan. We are a recognized coalition within the Galactic Consortium.”
“That is not an answer.”
“Perceptive. Good. I’m glad to know your lessons are proving educational.”
Rayner looked at his father and sighed.
“Fine,” Jedrek said, “I see you are finally at an age to comprehend the dangers of the high game. To answer your question, yes, I believe we at risk. Our operations have grown to a noticeable level and have attracted the attention of the elder coalitions. It would be unwise to believe another may try to usurp our position here. Even under the noted doctrines.”
“You expect a hostile union?”
“Within three years.”
“That soon? What can be done to prevent it?”
Rayner looked at his father. Disappointment visible in his eyes.
Jedrek laughed. “They will come with a force enough to destroy the scattering of domes we have on the surface. There is no sense in defending them. We will let them take the surface.”
“We will just give it away? Retreat without a fight?”
“Yes. The fight cannot be won and therefore not worth having. We will retreat, then wait a half year before we mount the counterattack. They will believe they took it with ease and we retreated into the outer territories when in fact we will have been here all along. Letting them settle into a comfort that will prove most fatal.”
“Bunkers outside the domes?”
“Go find Mende. Give him this,” Jedrek handed his son a small slip of paper, “he will know what it means. It’s time you learned the real reason we came to Ceroid.”
Rayner walked away in silence. Jedrek watched him, thinking how his son would inherit the planet in due time. He will do well here, he thought, I just have to ensure he has the chance. A beeping sounded from his wrist.
“Yes,” he called into the receiver.
“Sir, four cruisers were just picked up on the long-range scanners.”
Jedrek looked up at the moon. His moon. Then uttered his response into the receiver. “Keep an eye on the scanners. Provide me with updates as more arrive. Contact Rayner and have him meet me at the flight pads in B5. Stop all production and ready the men to evacuate the cities. I want full departure in one hour.”
This may prove easier than expected. He laughed as he strode off toward B5. The fools come from inner territories in full force. They will find an empty planet and let their greed fool them into thinking we ran. They may be cautious enough to scan the surface, but they will nothing. Once their battleships leave, we will make our move.
“Ten more cruisers and three dreadnoughts have gathered on the edge of the system sir.”
Jedrek raised the receiver to his lips. “Where is my son?”
“Last contact had him awaiting your arrival at B5’s flight pad nineteen with Tuhinga Mende.”
“Good. Begin the evacuation. Short range. Lunar sector eighty-six.”
“Do it. I’ll provide explanation when we land.”
“Full evacuation will be completed in forty minutes.”
“Well done. Ensure comm silence until we are secure.”
Jedrek ushered Rayner into the ship as he approached.
“Get inside. We are leaving.”
“I thought you said they wouldn’t be here for another three years.”
“I said they would be here withing three years. That included every second after the statement.” Jedrek eyed Mende.
“We will have much to review,” Mende stated as they entered the ship.
“Get us off this planet,” Jedrek barked at the pilot.
Jedrek secured himself in a seat. His mind raced through all possible outcomes. They would be secure beneath the moon’s surface before the ships had Ceroid in view. All he needed to know was which coalition had the audacity to attempt a hostile takeover so quickly. Once he had them identified, he could choose the corresponding plan that would annihilate their establishment. Not only the ones they built on Ceroid, but across the known galaxy. He would be ruthless, and it would only be the beginning.