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Alien General's Fated (Brion Brides 5)

By:Vi Voxley

CHAPTER ONE

Ryden



The world was ready for a change, he could feel it.

The signs where clearly visible all around Ryden, there to be noticed and understood. He was a Brion, which meant belonging to the most feared species in the galaxy. It was less glamorous than it sounded, because dangerous creatures were always the biggest threat to themselves. After only narrowly avoiding civil war, they were on the brink.

One way lay madness, giving in to their violent nature and becoming the terror to others half the galaxy believed them to be anyway. The alternative was showing even greater strength than that of the power of arms, and refusing to become those monsters.

Contrary to what most thought of him, Ryden believed only the second option held any future, but it was a treacherous path.

The captain looked around. He was standing in the midst of other ranking officers in the biggest meeting arena on the warship Conqueror, and it was more crowded than ever. The air was thick with anticipation, with emotions threatening to boil over. In the dim light, the valor squares on the necks of the gathered warriors shone brightly and furiously.

Something was coming, but none of those present were sure what it was exactly. The options were many, and none of them pleased Ryden. A captain always had his ear to the ground, listening to the ship's pulse, its beating heart.

Change was in the air, but it was not yet clear if it would be for better or worse.

Ryden knew he was one of the few people in the room who sensed the brink so keenly. He could almost feel the sharp edge of the blade they all stood on, unknowingly deciding the fate of the Brions for the coming generations.

Yes, he believed it. The only way to go forward was to rein in their terrible inner core, force it to obey them and not the other way around. But he knew it was difficult to say the least, because he could feel the temptation as well as they all did. And the funny thing was...

Not funny at all, actually.

Ryden turned his eyes to the man standing in the middle of the arena. General Hagen was, in a way, the reason why it was all happening.

He wasn't a bad man, nor a lousy warrior. He couldn't be called incompetent or a horrible tactician. The truth about him was much worse, in Ryden's mind. The problem with the man who was about to die very soon was that he was competent and that was it; that was all that could truly be said.

The old general was doomed, because it was the wrong time to be merely good enough. Ryden figured that of all the fifteen Brion warships, only a few were teetering on the edge of the knife like they were. Most of the generals had a strong, secure grip on their ships and their warriors, but Hagen was letting the leash slip, and the end had come. One of his warriors would challenge him and whoever emerged victorious from the duel would rule over the Conqueror, and guide the ship to its new destiny.

The funny thing was... to ensure that the dark days of the Brions wouldn't return, blood had to flow. One way or another, there was no escape from it. Words had their time and place, so did inspiring by example and other non-violent ways of leadership, but this was not one of them. The only way to prove you were worthy of commanding an army was to show you had the might to take it.

The expectation was so heavy in the arena that it seemed to suffocate the warriors present. General Hagen hadn't said a single word since he called them there. He was a Brion like all of them and he undoubtedly predicted what was coming. All that remained to be seen was who would be the one to break the silence, step forward, and gamble their life.

Ryden closed his eyes and listened to the crowd. A warriors' senses were so sharp it was difficult for him to drown out meaningless noise, like the breathing of the non-military personnel, or the beating hearts of those too inexperienced to utter a challenge. And among them, a silent clearing of a throat, and a little farther a roll of shoulders, and a deep breath somewhere to his right.

He wouldn't accept any of them as his general. They all burned too brightly, too close to the dangerous path of mindless violence instead of a purposeful one.

Ryden opened his eyes. The decision had been made.

"I challenge General Hagen," he said.



The old general slowly turned to face him, as Ryden felt the gathered officers let out a collective breath. For some, it was one of relief, for others one of disappointment. He guessed a few were very disappointed. If he lived through the next hour, he'd have to see about those.

He stepped forward and the warriors parted way for him to pass, closing after him until only Ryden and the general were left in the middle of the circle. Still, complete silence reigned, but it was no longer filled with anticipation. Instead, the quiet was almost holy, revered.#p#分页标题#e#

General Hagen looked at Ryden with his cold gray eyes. He was broad-shouldered and tall like the captain himself.

It seemed to Ryden as though there was a glint of gratitude in the general's eyes. He didn't seem surprised in the least. After all, it had been Ryden who had warned the man a challenge was coming.

"Captain," the general said.

"Sir," Ryden replied.

It was not how he'd wanted his promotion. Ryden had been fighting for his place ever since he'd been a child, always keeping the prize before his eyes. His own flagship, leading an army. And he had killed many men to get to his position, some of whom had been perfectly decent warriors. He would kill many more. It was simply the way things were done.

This was different, though. All the while he'd been arrogantly boasting that he would be the next general, he'd been hoping Hagen would step down. It wasn't unheard of; after all, the Brion Elders needed warriors in their ranks as well. Hagen would have fit in perfectly with the rulers of their people. But even after it had become clear he'd die on his ship, Hagen had refused to leave.

Ryden respected that. It merely wiped the grin off his face, stopped his boasting, and removed the arrogant swagger from his walk. It was all an act anyway.

He stood there before the general a simple captain. At least Ryden had the comfort of the general approving. More than once, Hagen had hinted he would prefer Ryden to succeed him.

It didn't mean he'd give him any quarter.

Slowly, Ryden brought his long, heavy battle spear on guard. Without a word, Hagen did the same. The arena flashed brighter than day when he attacked. More than a hundred valor squares were pulsing in excitement, illuminating the room to a degree where it was hard to see.

But Ryden saw all. The squares on Hagen's neck were telling him everything as he attacked and parried, one blow after another. The general knew he'd die, but he wasn't going to make it easy for the captain. The spear in his hands was mercilessly aimed at Ryden, at times coming so close to slashing his throat it hurt without actually touching him. Time passed in unknown ways until Ryden couldn't be sure if they'd fought for minutes or hours.

None of that seemed to matter when even a fraction of a second of distraction could have cost him his life and every mistake either of them made left them bleeding. A lucky blow Ryden didn't dodge quickly enough cut a red line across his throat, making the captain stagger back. In the next, he caught the general's spear with his own, locking them together.

It signaled that playtime was over, the initial warm-up done. Ryden allowed Hagen one moment to realize his strength was greater and then pulled the weapons apart before Hagen could even blink, showing he had speed on his side too. It went quickly after that.

Both of their attacks lost their controlled restraint as the fight became one of life or death. Ryden saw his opportunity when one of Hagen's blows went too wide. He dodged, feeling the razor-sharp blade cut thin air above his head, and slammed the butt of his spear into the general's face in the next heartbeat.

A warrior as experienced as Hagen resisted the terrible pain of having his nose broken and half his face slammed in and didn't raise a hand to his face, but he did stagger. Ryden crouched, and a devastating blow so fast he heard the spectators gasp in surprise knocked the general's feet from under him. Hagen hadn't even touched the ground before Ryden was up and his spear was lodged right in the general's heart.

Hagen kept his rank for another short, raspy last breath while Ryden stood over him, victorious. Then the valor squares on the commander's neck went out and the arena exploded in a deafening, praising roar.

Ryden raised his gaze from his fallen leader to the warriors who now belonged to him. While the congratulations rained on him, the former captain couldn't stop wondering which of them would be the one to kill him when the time came.

He was a general now.





CHAPTER TWO

Aria



Ambassador Aria Harris badly wanted to punch something. Hard. Throwing something expensive, irreplaceable, and preferably made of glass would have suited as well.

She firmly put it down to Ilotra being populated by politicians, but there were surprisingly few ways to vent there. Aria thought it was a massive oversight. The moon was the center of the Galactic union  , the place where literally every important decision was made. In her opinion, it desperately needed some rooms for recreational violence.

In the end, she had to bite her tongue not to scream at Sota. Her apparent boss, despite the fact they were both ambassadors of Terra.#p#分页标题#e#

"With all due respect," she said, gritting her teeth. "I was not informed this job had a trial period."

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