Doom Star: Book 06 - Star Fortress

Doom Star: Book 06 - Star Fortress by Vaughn Heppner Read Free Book Online

Book: Doom Star: Book 06 - Star Fortress by Vaughn Heppner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vaughn Heppner
Tags: Science-Fiction
greater.
    Hawthorne swallowed in a dry throat, and he flexed his fingers. Had he guessed correctly or was Marten Kluge right? Infighting among humans and Highborn with the cyborgs threatening everyone, it would be suicidal madness. Surely, Cassius couldn’t be that arrogant.
    The stars shined so brightly up here. It was beautiful and serene. Hawthorne frowned as he studied the stars. It came to him that he was more than weary of leading Social Unity. The weight of responsibility was crushing. The deaths of so many soldiers that he had ordered into hopeless situations…
    It is time I risked my life against the cyborgs instead of just ordering others to their deaths.
    The combined Highborn-Human Fleet would soon begin the long journey to Neptune. It would take over eight months to reach the enemy system.
    I must go with them . The stooped Supreme Commander nodded, and he took a deep breath. Who would lead Earth in his absence? Who had the fire, the cunning and desire to match wits against the—
    Behind him, the door swished open. Hawthorne turned his head. His eyes widened.
    A nine-foot-tall super-soldier filled the entrance. The Highborn wore combat-armor, which was against their agreement. With a clang of magnetized boots, the Highborn walked into the chamber. Behind him, the door swished shut.
    “Grand Admiral Cassius, I presume.”
    The visor rotated open, and a wide face filled the helmet. The eyes with their oily film and the slash for a mouth, combined with the sharp planes of the face…Hawthorne understood Kluge’s objections better now.
    “This is a pleasure,” the Highborn said.
    Hawthorne tightened his slack muscles in order to suppress a shudder. The voice was inhumanly deep and rich with authority. This was a soldier born to command. He felt inadequate standing in the Highborn’s presence.
    “I am Grand Admiral Cassius. You are James Hawthorne?”
    Hawthorne nodded as the feeling of inadequacy grew. The sheer vibrancy of the Highborn awed him, the coiled intensity of the soldier…
    “I am glad we can finally meet,” Hawthorne managed to say.
    “You have come unarmed?”
    “I have,” Hawthorne said.
    “Excellent. I knew you were an honorable man. You have fought a good fight, preman. You held us at bay from Eurasia longer than I believed possible. It is the reason we are in this fix.”
    “You wanted to speak about Admiral Sulla, I believe.”
    Cassius checked a chronometer on his armored wrist. “We have little time, which is a pity. Never fear, Sulla’s days are numbered. He would eliminate you premen, a strategic piece of folly that I cannot allow. As a species, you are too needed in order to work the factories, at least until the cyborgs are destroyed.”
    The direction of the conversation…it made Hawthorne sick. He had guessed wrong, it seemed. Marten Kluge had been right. He should have listened to the expert on Highborn. With a gentle shove, the Supreme Commander of Social Unity pushed himself off the ballistic glass toward Cassius.
    “You understand what must happen,” Cassius said. “I see the knowledge in your eyes. With you gone, Social Unity will split into factions. In their fear of death and dishonor, the weaker factions will turn to us for help. Using that, I shall easily occupy Eurasia and Africa, completing my conquest of Earth.”
    Hawthorne shuddered. The Highborn were killers. It was their genetic heritage.
    “Even as you attempt to be brave, you show your fear,” Cassius said. “It is the great preman weakness.”
    “What about my security team? You can’t hope to fight past them?”
    “Thirty premen against three Highborn?” Cassius asked. “Bah. The odds are stacked in our favor. We cannot lose such an encounter.”
    “With the cyborgs ready to destroy us,” Hawthorne said, “killing me is a mistake.”
    “The cyborgs are the reason I must kill you. To defeat them, I need unity of command.”
    “We’re already allied.”
    “Loosely,” Cassius said. “I

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