Vyaeh Skirmish Flotilla 21 consisted of a single cruiser, three frigates, and twelve auxiliary vessels including barracks ships, tenders, and a prize of war recently captured from a rebellious Krne settlement. The cruiser was known as the Cunynak, after the Old Vyaeh god of mercy, and like all Vyaeh vessels had been purchased by a private citizen and manned with recruits and “conscripted races” they had mustered themselves. In this case, a wealthy trader from the Vyaeh Core with connections to the Silent Court had purchased the ship, named himself commander, and recruited the officers from veteran and recently graduated members of the small but potent military class.

Though the merchant herself maintained official command, and her donation had earned her the rank and pay of Commander, she remained safely in the core and actual day-to-day command rested with Subcommander Lhayr. A dedicated lifer, but one who was from a poor family from far outside the Core, Lhayr herself could aspire to no further advancement unless by an extraordinary act of the Silent Court itself.

Such honors were only earned in battle, which the Skirmish Flotillas were well-equipped to provide.

The flotilla had not seen much action; swatting down a rebellious Krne settlement and “conscripting” the surviving adults of military age was hardly an action worth noting. The Krne were stupid brutes who rose at least once per decade per colony, and the single frigate defending the settlement had not even possessed any ship-to-ship weapons, trying instead to ram the Cunynak at sublight speed. Lhayr ached for meatier foes and more glittering prizes, and had written frequent dispatches to the Core requesting such, or information that might lead to such. Given the sorry state of Vyaeh bureaucracy and the billions of similar petitions clogging the Silent Court’s docket, she had no doubt that her missives continued to circulate endlessly in the encrypted Vyaeh FTL communications network–her civilization’s greatest shining achievement aside from its wealth.

So when Aspirant Ryll, Lhayr’s communications and liaison officer, reported an incoming message detailing the location of a lightly defended human colony, the Subcommander was all to anxious to hear.

First, she demanded to know the source. Ryll had none to give, as the message had come through the FTL network with no sender and no metadata. Lhayr then requested a targeted long-range scan of the world in question; when the results same in, they confirmed the message’s content: a human colony on the specified world, with only a handful of light vessels in orbit.

Lhayr called for opinions from her command staff and the adjutants in charge of the other vessels in the flotilla. Ryll himself urged caution, warning of a possible trap given the duplicitous behavior for which humans were known. Each of the three frigates were of the opinion that the continuing low-level conflict over systems and resources required sharp, savage blows to be struck against the humans–either to bring them back to the negotiating table or, ideally, to bring about a conflict in which the Vyaeh could assert their rightful suzerainty or reduce the impudent humans to the status of a “conscripted” race like the Krne. The auxiliary ships advised caution as well, given that the location in question was at the extreme limits of the flotilla’s range and as such they could expect no reinforcements. And the barracks ships, predictably, inquired only as to what percentage of any prizes of war they could expect.

At the end of the deliberations, Lhayr silenced her subordinates and addressed the flotilla over an open channel. The humans, she said, had too long behaved as if they were equals of the Vyaeh. History had shown that they could only be taught the error of their ways through terror, and as such terror was what they would receive. Skirmish Flotilla 21 would be the instrument for delivering a powerful and unambiguous message on behalf of the Silent Court.

And if it so happened that this message, this terror, this victory brought them glory and advancement in the eyes of any who would care to take notice…so much the better.

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