Fighting the Homm: part 8

Chapter fifteen: more clean up.

The freed slaves had already been prepared for what was to come by Odyssa’s teams and the first batch was sent over to the Deara with the captured transport and its team of Amazons. But before Odyssa started on the healing she set more things in motion for her psychological warfare. She asked Sori to find out where the next pirate base was and then communicated with Kasu through Circe, telling her what she had in mind. The two destroyers should stay here as kind of show of force, in case the pirates came to find out why their base was silent.

Meanwhile the two Battleships and the Deara would go and attack the next base. On their way back any ship or ships sent to investigate what had happened here would be caught between the two destroyers and the Deara and the two battleships. Only thereafter would they return return to the command base. She was determined not to pass up any chance to inflict damage. In case the Homm showed up, the two destroyers were to stay away and join the main squadron to be able to attack the Homm as a unit. Sori was exited. Finally she would be fighting back. Too long now how this war was fought had been determined by the Pirates and their allies. Now it was time to hit back and her new chief of operations was one to not only hit back, but hit first. Odyssa was the commander she had dreamt of for a while.

Oda had similar thoughts when Kasu told her of Odyssa’s plan and as LaSaDa and Sala returned having scourged the surface twice, LaSaDa was also happy about her sister’s idea. The second battleship was informed as well as the two destroyers, whose captains asked about the huge explosion, the flash of which they had even seen on the other side of the planet. As Sala explained what it had been she was met with incredulous silence, so Lurm sent some images the Pa’an had recorded of the fight for the slaves. LaSaDa was happy for them to go over the ether. The more Homm and Pirates would see that, the better. A whole group of Homm annihilated by one single fighter should get some people thinking. And then that would possibly be followed up by another hit in short order. The enemy was in for a surprise.

Kasu, LaSaDa, Sala and Oda checked back with Ara where the nearest bases were and mapped them out for Odyssa. There were three within a distance they could still reach that day. Odyssa replied that she might need more time for the healing and asked how many slaves they had freed. There were almost 150 this time. She had her work cut out. She replied to the Pa’an, that she did not want any spells active, after they started moving, so the soldiers and fighter pilots were ordered to rest while Odyssa went to work. To her surprise Elaria wanted to watch. After the third “patient” she asked Odyssa if she could have a go. As Odyssa looked at her she could see, that her transformation had progressed more quickly. She now was even taller than Odyssa and had small breasts and definitely more feminine hips. Her voice had changed, too. There was no chance mistaking her for a boy any more. As Odyssa looked at her she produced a small flame on her hand.

“Elaria, my child, have you found your own fire?” She asked.
“It has grown within me, my Queen, but it is only suitable for healing. It is what is healing me, too.” Elaria answered “I have watched you here and I watched as you healed me, please let me help, Odyssa.”
“Well, that is an unexpected side effect, to say the least. Get the lady Circe to watch if the spell actually flees, and if it does, you’re on.”
With that she gave Elaria a motherly hug. The next slave sat down and Elaria did exactly as Odyssa had, took her hand and let her flame enter her. Then she concentrated and scrunched her nose in a rather cute fashion. Finally she warned her patient of the impending pain and shot her flames out of the girls piercings. Circe confirmed that the spell had gone and so did Odyssa, after she had made sure Elaria had found it all and eliminated the spell completely. She had!

“Well, Elaria, it seems you already are a healer and a seer, a welcome addition to my Amazons. When the teams are all here I will introduce you. Now lets get to work.”
As there were two people now eliminating the spells, the process would hardly last any longer than the last time and soon the next load arrived, and with them another team of Amazons. The were quickly informed about Elaria by their fellow Amazons and there were some amazed looks but also happy faces about the fact, that Odyssa now had help. Circe communicated the change in Elaria to Kasu, who was more than just amazed and came over in the next transport, to meet Elaria herself. The former boy was more than awed, when the tall woman with the markings and the golden eyes took her hands and looked into her eyes, as they silently communicated. Finally Kasu spoke to Odyssa.

“Odyssa, this is rather interesting. The fire you used to cure her has kindled one of her own, and that has helped her change herself to become what she dreamt of since she saw you fight at Eure. As far as I can see it will still get stronger, but as she said, it will only heal. She is too gentle a being to become a fighter, but I think you should make her an Amazon anyway. Oh, and she already is a full female now, womb, ovaries and all. In a day or so she will be a fully grown woman.”
Now it was Odyssa’s time to take Elaria’s hands and look into her eyes.
“Elaria, as it was my fire that started your power, I regard you as my daughter and therefore a princess of the Amazons. As A healer and a seer you have an honoured place among the fighters, of course.”
Elaria cried happy tears of joy, as Circe, Helena, Thorgal and Odyssa gave her a hug. Then Circe changed her clothes to those of the Amazon warriors.

“Welcome Princess Elaria” Sori, who had come down from the bridge, was the first to congratulate. She shot Odyssa a significant look and Odyssa said:
“Elaria, please continue while I have a look at what Sori needs to show me. Helena, Thorgal, you look after your new sister. Circe, Kasu and I need to talk to Sori.”
Sori, who was as much of a telepath as Kasu or LaSada, had received the information about the nearest Pirate bases from the Pa’an. She showed Odyssa the rough map she had drawn. There were indeed three bases reasonably near. Odyssa scanned the information they had about strength of the bases and how many ships were near each.
“Kasu, can you see any of them send a force to investigate?”
“I can only see an airborne fight, that does not involve the Homm, Odyssa.”
“I wish I knew how these lizards think.” Odyssa mused “what I want to do is bypass the squadron or whatever force they send and attack the base they come from and destroy it, then catch the ships on the way back between us and the ships that remain here.”
“May be they will come from the base that has the most ships?”
“If it was me I’d expect us to think that and use another, but then, as I said, I have no idea how these buggers think.”
“Maybe we should involve Elaria? It was her after all, who spotted the Homm in hyperspace.” Circe said.
“That’s probably our best bet.” Odyssa conceded.

They sent an Amazon down to get the new princess to the bridge.
“You sent for my, my Queen?”
“Princess,... Elaria, you don’t have to be formal. If mum is too personal for you, please use either commander, when we are talking military issues, or simply Odyssa for anything else. Unless you are responding together with your fellow Amazons. Then of course it is my Queen.”
“Yes Odyssa.” Elaria replied with a happy smile.
“Now, darling, can you see anything about a fight in the near future?”
“I see an airborne fight, mum, the ships dropping out of hyperspace … they are coming from the direction the Homm came from, but they are not Homm.”
Odyssa pointed to the base deeper into the enemy territory.
“As I thought. They are coming from the base they think more safe, rather than from the one that has the most ships. We’ll go for that base, once they are leaving we will already be there in hiding and wipe out the base, then catch the ships on our way back. Tell command and Ara to get the data room to watch that base especially I want to know when they are ready to leave. How long will it take us to get there?”

“Not longer than the transfer to Lordeen from Eure, commander.” Sori said.
“Good. That is our target then. We will only use the Pa’an and the Deara for the attack. The other battleship and the two destroyers will have to hold their own here. Do we have reinforcements we can call in?” LaSaDa asked.
“Sala said there is one other small squadron cruising here, do you want to call them in?”
“Yes please, and put them on high alert, just in case.” LaSaDa replied.
So now their battle plan was there. Everyone had adapted to Odyssa’s new strategy of hitting first and spreading fear and confusion. While Kasu returned to the Pa’an and Sori, Oda, Sala and LaSaDa prepared the battle, Odyssa and Elaria returned to their healing. The last batch of freed slaves arrived with the last of the Amazons, who would stay on the Deara. Their transport would take two batches of people back, as Kasu had gone back in the other that had arrived with the previous batch. Everyone was set to go on the next raid soon.

As soon as all the people were cured and sent back to the battleships Odyssa and her Amazons sat in a circle on the hangar deck and looked at a hologram that somewhat showed the base they were going to attack. They would be the first of the assault force, as soon as possible to be reinforced by Muk's unit. What could be made out were several structures that looked like barracks, but those would most probably be at least half empty, if a relief force was sent to the base they had just attacked. There were hangars, too, so those would have to be checked and any ships destroyed.
But first of all LaSaDa would have to repeat her stunt from Lordeen and take out the power supply. There were six of those fighters in all on the Pa’an, but with the experience at Lordeen there was no telling, how many of the pilots actually were as reliable as they should be. Fortunately the squadron, that was soon to arrive, had another battleship of the class of the Pa’an leading, and there were six more of those fighters on board. The squadron consisted of the battleship and four destroyers and was led by an actual admiral. The meeting, Kasu and Sala thought, would be interesting.

Just as the last batch of freed slaves arrived back, the squadron arrived, too. Kasu immediately called a meeting of the commanding officers and started it even before Odyssa’s arrival by showing her first at home during the attempted abduction and then during the raid of the day before. The looks on the faces of the admiral and all the commanding officers of the squadron were very telling. They simply could not believe their eyes. Yes, they had heard of the new chief of operations, but a chief of operations, who led from the first row of fighters had not been since LaSaDa had disappeared long long ago. Of course everybody was awed to be told that LaSaDa had come back, and so, for this once she introduced herself to the meeting as the golden girl with the golden sword everybody expected. Then Odyssa arrived with her honour guard formed by the remaining Amazons on the Pa’an and her and LaSaDa, Kasu, Sala and Oda demonstratively embraced.

“Sister!” LaSaDa greeted her “Finally it is time to hit first.” she turned to the assembled officers “This, ladies and gentlemen, is Chief of operations Odyssa, the Queen of the Amazons, her chief of staff, Brigade commander Ara is keeping control at the command base.”
She led Odyssa towards the admiral, a seasoned humanoid man with greying hair. He took one look at Odyssa and saluted smartly.
“Admiral Kan at your service, Chief.”
Odyssa’s beautiful smile surprised him after the steely look he had encountered first. He was not in the least intimidated by it, rather he had taken it as a sign of assured authority and power. And after what he had been able to watch on the recordings he could only advise anyone to stay on her good side. He found himself actually admiring this supposedly human woman.
“Admiral Kan, it is a real pleasure to meet you and your squadron’s commanders. I will excuse myself in case I cannot instantly remember all your names. But as time is scarce, we will keep this meeting short.”
Kan actually bowed much to the surprise of his fellow officers.
“Queen Odyssa, I feel honoured by your friendliness but even more by the fact to be fighting with you in this skirmish or maybe even battle. What are your plans?”
And so Odyssa LaSaDa and Kasu explained, what they had learned from Elaria’s visions, what they knew about the Homm and how to fight them and the new strategy of taking the initiative and spreading fear and confusion. The look on the admiral face told Oda, that he, like her, was relieved to find a commander after his own heart.
“Commander Odyssa,” Kan said “may I say that your and LaSaDa’s arrival gives our army new life. Too long now we had to just react. I am sure that our soldiers and pilots will be glad to be able to go on the offensive after having been pressed by the enemy for so long. I am with you all the way. Let’s go and win this war, that has been going on for far too long.”

A collective cheer rose on the bridge of the Pa’an. The roles were distributed and Kan was happy to be in command of the force remaining here to receive a possible relief force of the pirates, as he understood, why Odyssa preferred the smaller and more mobile destroyers for her assault. Three of his destroyers were going to join the assault force, so that two battleships and three destroyers would remain. In all they now were a sizeable fleet: Two first and one second class battleships and seven destroyers. Odyssa was more than just pleased with the admiral. Kan had proven to be perceptive, intelligent and a good leader in just a few very simple sentences. She had taken an instant liking to him. LaSaDa too, eyed him with respect. Things were beginning to look good.

Chapter sixteen: retribution?

All last preparations finished the Pa’an, the Deara and the three other destroyers took off towards their target, hidden by Circe’s spell, so that they could watch invisibly as the enemy squadron took off. This base here actually had a small city next to it and that was the reason for the first change in Odyssa’s plan. While she wanted to spread fear and confusion among the soldiers, she had no intention to do it at the cost of civilian lives. Therefore she advised the Pa’an that yes, LaSaDa and Sala were to take out the energy supply of the base, that fortunately seemed separate from the city, but that she would land with the landing force next near the barracks to attack the soldiers, while the other ships shot up the hangars and military equipment, but spared the city, even if some soldiers might escape to it. So while the two fighters, made invisible by another of Circe’s spells, took out the energy grid of the base and thereby disabled enemy fire, Odyssa prepared her Amazons and Muk’s force for the attack on the barracks.

The two invisible fighters made short work of the energy grid of the base and like at Eure the Deara blasted herself a free space to hover and let out the Amazons and the soldiers, who immediately went for the barracks. Alerted by the explosions of the generators and other stuff Lizard fighters emerged from the buildings still in the process of arming themselves. Odyssa leading her Amazons as the tip of a wedge was among them before they could properly group and the gruesome slaughter began, her Amazons spreading out as soon as the forming line of Lizards had been broken. There were some of the Lizards that were trying to escape towards the city and a group of Amazons broke away to cut off their retreat. Mari was one of the first there and just about to kill the foremost lizard when Odyssa found herself driven by Blade to stop her at the last moment by blocking the strike.

“You can’t kill her, Mari,” Blade said through Odyssa “she is a female and with child. I am sworn to protect females. She may be an enemy, but her child is sacred.”
All fighting had stopped at the unlikely sight. Everybody was watching Odyssa. The lizard woman looked up at her and Odyssa knew that if she had the possibility she would have cried.
“Please … have mercy.” she whispered “There are those of us who wanted to stop this war a while ago.”
‘What is going on?’ Kasu asked Odyssa telepathically.
‘I am going to find out, Kasu, no firing yet.’
“Are you honest about what you just said?” Odyssa asked the Lizard thanks to Blade’s translation services in her language.
She looked up at Odyssa aghast at hearing her speak to her.
“Yes, us women have been tired of mourning our husbands and sons for quite a while.”
“Then why keep on fighting?”
“The Homm. They have been decimating our species first, then they offered to spare us if we found them other victims.”

“Who is leading the Squadron?” Odyssa had mellowed considerably.
“My husband.”
“Will he listen to you?”
“About what?”
“A truce and possibly peace.”
“Why? How?”
“I may be able to protect you from the Homm.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I am a warrior and the Queen of the Amazons. And the sworn enemy of the Homm. Will your husband listen to you?”
“I hope so.”
“Then you are going to have to come with us.”

Odyssa ordered her Amazons and the soldiers to let everybody go to the city, then she ordered the military equipment destroyed by the ships just in case. The soldiers boarded the Deara first, while Odyssa and her Amazons retreated like the last time in a shrinking half circle protecting the soldiers. Odyssa firmly led the Lizard woman by her arm into the Deara, as the firing on the hangars and all other buildings and equipment began. Odyssa hurried to the bridge. Sori looked at her expectantly awaiting new orders.
“Back to the main body of our squadron, Sori, as fast as we can. I hope it is not too late. Please notify the other ships, that we have the lizard commander’s wife here and she wants to try to persuade him to sign a truce, so that we can concentrate on the Homm. We need to stop the battle.”
“As you wish, my Queen.”
“You really are their Queen and you fight in the first line?” the Lizard woman asked surprised.
“Always have done.” Odyssa replied “And since I am the only one that can destroy a Homm by my simple touch it is even more necessary here.”

Odyssa turned to Circe.
“Where are Helena and Thorgal?”
“In Sori’s cabin to be out of the way.” Circe replied Muel is with them.
“Can you please get all three, my love?”
“Sure. But what is it with that Lizard? Why did you stop Mari killing it?” She asked.
“She certainly is no it. She is with child and Blade stopped Mari through me.”
‘You did?’ Circe asked Blade.
‘I did. She is female, even if another race. I was made to protect females, so I did.’ Blade answered her.
Circe laughed.
‘Welcome to the sisterhood, Blade, seems you’re all girl now.’
Did Blade giggle just now? Odyssa asked herself.

In any case they had to sort out what to do, how to do it and quickly. They might want Elaria as well. But first of all Odyssa wanted to know if Helena could show the lizard woman what happened if a Homm touched her. Odyssa and the lizard woman were standing next to one another awkwardly, even Odyssa felt a bit out of her depth. Sori was busy preparing to jump to hyperspace in the hope, to get back before the battle was in full swing. The rest of the small squadron was just blasting away at the last of the hangars, as Circe came back with Muel, Helena and Thorgal. Thorgal looked at the lizard woman wide eyed. The lizard woman was not less amazed by Thorgal. She looked backwards and forward between Odyssa and her son.

“You are a mother too, why are you fighting like a demon?” she asked.
“Some of your people tried to abduct him, Helena and my wife for the Homm.”
It seemed to Odyssa as if the woman’s skin got lighter and assumed, that she was shocked. Her words confirmed that.
“I cannot believe, that my people have sunk so low.” she whispered “That explains a lot.”
Odyssa asked Helena, if she thought she could show the Lizard woman what happened, when a Homm touched her. Helena replied, that there was only one instance she could show, that would not involves piles of butchered Lizards, Odyssa’s memory of the first Homm that touched her as she stopped the abduction. But she would have to touch both of them. Odyssa explained what Helena would do. The woman blinked her eyes in disbelief but agreed. Helena took a hand each and the Lizard’s eyes went wide in shock, as she saw the Homm explode. She turned towards Odyssa.
“I believe you. My name is Taka and my husband is chief Tak. I will speak to him, if you promise to protect us from the Homm.”
“My name is Odyssa, as you know I am the Queen of the Amazons. I assure you you that I will do my very best to rid this world of them.”

“Ready for the jump, Chief.” Sori announced.
“Off we go then, Sori.”
The Deara jumped to hyperspace. In the short while they had before dropping out of hyperspace again Odyssa and Sori debated how to go about breaking up the battle, if it was already in full swing. One order from Odyssa would be enough to make their side stop firing, but what about the Lizards?
“Can we broadcast to them with images?” Odyssa asked.
“I am not sure. Taka, do you know if your husbands ship can receive our communications in full?”
“I am sorry, Queen Odyssa, but that I don’t know. I know they listen to your communications in a fight, but if they can see anything you send … I cannot say.”
“Well just have to chance it then. Sori, the moment we appear sent the cease fire command and then I want to drop right in front of their flagship and send and offer of a truce and negotiations and an image of Taka next to me.”
She turned to Taka.
“Then it is up to you.”

Circe informed Kasu, LaSaDa and Sala about Odyssa’s plan and the crew of the Pa’an was more than surprised at the sudden change, but everyone trusted Odyssa and so the orders were relayed by Sala to the other three destroyers. And then they were dropping out of hypersace already to find that engagement just beginning. Taka pointed out her husbands ship and Sori dropped right in front of its nose, her crew sending the messages and pictures as agreed. Then Taka started speaking. There was evidently a lot to say, as she went on for a good moment, venting her anger at the attempted abduction and then explaining what had happened at their base. Then everybody waited anxiously for Tak’s reply. It came hesitatingly.
“And you are with the enemy on your own free will, my wife?”
“If it was not for Odyssa you would now be alone, my husband. I know she has been fighting us cruelly, but I now know why. And she was right. How could we have sunk so low to side with the Homm?”
“You know as well as I do, that we have no way of fighting them.”
“Neither had the Alliance, my husband, but they had the courage to ask for help and found Odyssa, Queen of the Amazons and terror of the battlefield. She can kill a Homm with a simple touch.”

“There are rumours that she brutally butchered many of our kind.”
“That is no secret. But remember, that our kind agreed to abduct her children and wife for the Homm. She is a mother, and in every race mothers fiercely defend their young. WE should not have sided with the Homm at all.”
“I agree to a cease fire for the time being. Let us get down to the surface and negotiate.”
So that was what they did. Two delegations were formed, the Alliance had LaSaDa, Odyssa, Sala, Kasu and Kan. The Lizards side had Tak and four officers from other ships. They met between the hovering Deara and the Lizard’s flagship, away from the remains of Odyssa’s assault. Taka, to everybody’s surprise, stayed with Odyssa until her husband had agreed the truce.

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