Sword of Axia (The Arcadian Jihad)

Sword of Axia (The Arcadian Jihad) by Eric Schneider Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Sword of Axia (The Arcadian Jihad) by Eric Schneider Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Schneider
Tags: Science-Fiction
aboard and waited for the natural orbital path to take them over the far side of the planet. In the lead shuttle Gehlen manned the remote panel that released the outer hatch.
    “They might pick up the noise down on the surface,” he said worriedly. “If they’re scanning this area they’ll know we’re still alive.”
    “They are not scanning this area at present,” Serena said quietly. “They will not notice anything.”
    Everyone wondered exactly the same question. How did she know, and how much did she know? Some questions were best not asked. The hatch rumbled open and one by one the shuttles and lifeboats floated away and started their descent to the planet’s surface and Serena’s coordinates. Once beyond the planet’s curvature and out of scanning range they fired up their tiny motors and steered towards the surface, under automatic control of the navigational computers. The clear vision port showed the planet coming up rapidly, they were headed towards what looked like the dark mouth of a volcano. Ice or snow showed around the rim, they flew nearer and nearer, then the craft banked over and plunged deep into the dark crater. The collection of tiny ships made a soft, automated landing and through the viewport they glimpsed a small group standing a short distance away, waiting for them.

    System Standard 2728.1219 Surface of Planet Isolde
    “It’s alright, they’re my people,” Serena said. “They’ll cover these boats so that they cannot be seen from the surface. Just one thing before we open the outer hatch,” she smiled. “As I said earlier, we’re on the dark side of Isolde. It’s very, very cold out there, but as soon as we get inside you’ll find it more comfortable.”
    She nodded at Gehlen and the hatch hissed open, immediately the cold air rushed in. Cold didn’t describe it, Blas thought. It was bitter beyond belief, as if they had been dipped into a bath of frozen Co2. A man appeared in the hatchway.
    “Quickly, this way, the temperature is below minus fifty degrees.”
    They hurried after him, glad to be moving, there was no need for him to repeat himself. Crew and passengers were streaming out of the boats, they hurried towards an open doorway that proved to be an airlock outer chamber. Two hundred people jammed into the chamber, the outer door closed, the air temperature started to rise, then the inner door opened. They walked through into the blessed warmth of the Rescom base.
    “Welcome to the Rescom Federation,” Tell smiled. “It’s not much of a federation, but if we are successful in our mission here we will soon be able to expand our fledgling union until it is large enough to challenge and defeat the Axians.”

    System Standard 2728.1222 Surface of Planet Isolde
    They were sitting on a raised platform of a large dining hall where Tell was addressing a group of shipyard workers. Berg Smetana was watching everything, silent and grim faced. Blas noted how much had changed in the short time the Axians had been in control. These people were all thin, there was just not enough food to eat on the outer Systems, they were also shabby, their faces cowed and beaten. He thought about the few people he’d seen on Axis Nova, mainly during his passage through the courts, plump, well fed and well clothed. It was obvious that Axian rule did not extend to any concept of fair sharing. He listened to Guide Tell, alerted to a change in his voice, a sudden stridency.
    “You ask what can I offer you if you join us? Let me tell you about an ancient text I have been reading, it was saved from destruction when the Axians destroyed our planetary library. Another leader wrote it when his civilization was threatened with slavery and oppression.
    This man said, ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by

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