Part 42: Dark Reflections 3: Jagged Shards
Looking back honestly, I blame myself for not seeing the Jagged Knife coming. I should've realized that a man like Yang would never settle for second, not to anyone. Hell, if he's still in your senate, you watch your backs. He's just waiting for the right moment, and he's got the patience of a Drengin.
The Jagged Knife used a former Iconian pirate as their spokesman, but I don't think anyone was fooled about who was really in charge. Oh, yes, and it was around now that I killed you, Zak.
Well, I felt that you had betrayed me by feeding tech information to Yang. Half of my lieutenants had betrayed me and sided with Yang; Santiago he charmed somehow, maybe by telling her I wasn't destroying the other nations fast enough or something. Roze-do you remember Roze? She was a senate attaché before the coup-Roze was promised chaos in which to practice her hacking skills. Miriam, at least, stayed loyal. She's easy enough to manipulate, but only for certain people, and a "heretic" like Yang won't cut it. As for you, Zak, I became convinced that you were feeding Yang our technology information.
But why would I do so? I do not care about politics. And Yang would not need me to steal our technology, he has a high enough clearance to do so himself.
Yes, I realize that now, and later evidence cleared you of suspicion. But paranoia can do terrible things to one's sense of reasoning, and I was absolutely bathed in the stuff when the Jagged Knife rose.
Yang struck everywhere, all at once. For the most part, our lost planets came from the newly-conquered Torian territories, but to my eternal shame, human settlements rose up against my rule, too.
New Avalon, New Israel, Kirk, even the entire down-left spur threw their lot in with Yang. I'm afraid to say I took it all rather personally.
I ordered invasions against Jagged Knife planets immediately, of course. Thanks to their knowledge of Terran tech, as well as whatever the xenos had researched, the Knife troops were our equals, superior, even! Oh, Yang certainly gave me a run for the money. Thankfully, I had advanced the fight against the Torians by filling the galaxy with Hengests, and such troops came in handy against the equally numerous Jagged Knife.
We weren't the only ones affected, however, though we were the ones who felt it the hardest. Disaffected members of every species, tired of high taxes and middling approval ratings, joined up with the Jagged Knife. In the end, the Knife turned to my advantage.
You see, while we Terrans were still geared up for a galaxy-spanning conquest, none of the others had more than a handful of transports at any given time. Jagged Knife planets were "fair game" as far as anyone was concerned, which meant that we could take worlds that had once been Drengin, Yor, Altarian, or Iconian, all with but a single war and all their roaring approval. If Yang were still alive, I'd shake his hand for giving me such an opportunity. I'd then kill him for betraying me, but I still admire what he accomplished.
Oh, and we also had to contend with the Jagged Knife ships, the most fearsome outside of our own fleets. Fortunately, while Yang had access to battleship designs, he still couldn't just snap his fingers and make them appear on every planet he conquered. Yang may have been a devious devil, but he was never an able administrator. I recall hearing from my spies that he drove the Knife into insurmountable debt within the first few weeks of its existence, simply to get a few protecting frigates around some key planets. My dreadnaughts took some damage, but we wiped out Yang's fleets before they could begin.
Not without some casualties, though. The DICE fleets were wholly unprepared for a beam-laden enemy with shield technology to spare.
In the midst of all this, the invasion fleets continued in their attacks against the Arceans, who surrendered early into the War of Betrayal.
Overall, it took under six months to re-conquer over half the Jagged Knife planets. By that point, I was feeling secure enough to start working on the other species again.
Also in that time, one of the Drengin colonies which didn't throw in with the Knife grew dissatisfied with the tiny Empire and joined with us. This left the Drengin with only three planets in total, including the two orbiting their home system.
Let's see…oh yes, you might be interested in this, Zak. We managed to invent something called the Stellar Folding Engine. You know how regular hyperdrives fire energy into a higher dimension to warp space? The Stellar Folder fires energy into the next three higher dimensions, turning space into a piece of origami. You should look into it, if you haven't already.
Anyway, with only three planets to spare, the Drengin made an obvious next target. The hard part was making sure our assets were in place before the war began; I wanted to conquer the bears' planets before they had the chance to get spooked and surrender to someone else or some nonsense. By November, everything was ready to go.
The destroyer fleets moved in and started decimating the orbital defenses. The Drengin had fleets to spare, but most of their defenses were the poorly named "Super Dominators." Even contending against minimal armor plating, the Dominators couldn't scratch the destroyers' paint.
Sauron, their third planet, fell first.
Drengi herself fell just a few weeks later. One thing I must give the Drengin is that they are the fiercest warriors outside of Terrans I have ever seen. If they weren't hobbled by having a fourth of our technology, I have no doubt they would have made excellent opponents.
As it was, well…
The Yor would prove more challenging.