Here is a short story I wrote. Perhaps this might tide you over while I work on new Jayden and Crusader. It might not, as they are quite disparate, however I still thought I might share.
“The Burning of Martian Anchorage.” There it came again, that querulous, high pitched, scratchy voice. You knew the moment you heard it someone had had a bee in their bonnet for a long time. It was going to go on and on, buzzing until the bee was removed. “The Burning of Martian Anchorage is where it all went wrong.”
“No, no, peace could still have been achieved.” A quick fired, swift response answered. This voice was animate and unreserved in its sense of rightness. It moved so fast you could scarcely hear mandibles clatter. “If the delegation to the Federal Colonies had been willing to pay restitution then nothing would have come of it. A minor border conflict as a new species entered the galactic congress.”
“The Burning of Martian Anchorage took out half their fleet, not to mention their president,” the first voice said. There was a clatter as tentacles readjusted eye-glasses. “They weren’t going to forgive that, no matter how many goods were paid.”
“There were two events that turned the Federal Colonies against us,” The second voice continued. It barely seemed to notice the diversion; it was giving a lecture, not having an argument. “One came long before the Burning of Martian Anchorage and one came far later. The former was the development of anti-matter reactors. In that moment they had the distinct technological advantage over our deuterium-tritium fusion, and the energy to achieve efficient FTL. I don’t need to tell you how that became useful.” The first speaker sucked air through his beak and tutted. “The second event, the second event,” the second speaker ignored the interruption, “was the Battle of Selrinar – I mean, Alderbaran as they call it now – that battle showed the Federal Colonies that they could win even against a galactic alliance. That was the moment, the very moment; they abandoned their intent of defence, that was when they turned to conquest.” There was a clatter of chitin on wood as the second voice clapped his hand to the table.
“No, no, you see, the Burning of Martian Anchorage was much more of an emotional blow than either of those events-”
“Trust you to believe emotions are what matters-”
Professor H’Lrex rubbed the skin over his third eye. All this arguing was giving him a headache. He had no more patience for his colleagues.
“Could you two please, please give it a rest?” H’Lrex stood up and turned a tusky mouth towards the noise makers. “Surely you have some degree work to do.”
“Not until we get the sample cores back from the lab,” the first voice said. “And it’s an important issue. When did the Federal Colonies turn against the Galactic Congress is the defining question of our age. This is going to be what they ask history students about for the next thousand years.”
“You’d had this argument three times already Eyes-Weak,” H’Lrex sighed. “I think if there was an answer to find you’d have found it.”
“Indeed we did, anti-matter reactors and the Battle of Alderbaran,” second voice crossed his first set of arms and raised his antenna in a smirk.
“Don’t start Klxklz,” H’Lrex raised a hand.
“The Burning of Martian Anchorage resulted in more deaths than any other-”
“You see! You got Eyes-Weak started again,” H’Lrex collapsed into his chair in a huff and shaded his eyes from the bursts of bio-luminous rage coming from Eyes-Weak.
“We could take it outside,” Eyes-Weak gave H’Lrex a guilty glance and moved his glasses back into place with a shy tentacle.
“No, you’ll only bring it back again,” H’Lrex grumbled. Silence reined over the room, broken only by the gentle hum of the computer coolant. “You want to know… when the Federal Colonies turned against us? When they decided that conquest and subjugation was the only way to have peace with the distant stars?”
“How old do you think I am, Eyes-Weak?”
“About, fifty, maybe sixty, by the galactic standard?”
“Don’t flatter an old Lauranot,” H’Lrex closed his third eye and glared with his other two. “I’m almost two hundred.”
“Never!” Eyes-Weak’s tentacles fluttered.
“A well fed and cared for Lauranot can live almost three hundred galactic standard years,” Klxklz’s antennas shook in smug superiority.
“Yes, thank you Klxklz, not all of us get that far,” H’Lrex rolled his head from side to side for a moment and then sighed. He put down his data pad from his hands and his pen from his trunk. He wouldn’t get any work done until this was solved. “I was there at the moment the Federal Colonies decided conquest was the only option. Or maybe no-one was there… they decided it a long time before I was around…”
“Don’t get all metaphorical professor, if you’re going to tell us something worth listening to, just tell it!” Klxklz’s vestigial wings clicked in their sealed casings.
“When I was a young scientist, scarcely 100, I was chosen to represent the University of J’Ling along with three others of my peers in a First Contact Delegation being organised by the Galactic Congress,” H’Lrex said slowly. “I didn’t know at the time of course, First Contact delegations got sent out every few years around that time – ”
“You were there!” Eyes-Weak fell out of his chair with a bump and burst of blue and red light. As he pulled himself back up he continued. “You were there for First Contact with the Federal Colonies!”
“It was unusual,” H’Lrex only frowned at the interruption, “for a delegation to be sent so late in a species’ development. However their home-star however was so weak, so utterly pathetic in the heavens it was invisible after fifty light years and crowded out by so many other stars we never noticed it. If we could have got to the Federal Colonies when they were still in the atomic age – when they were still fractured and divisive perhaps we wouldn’t be having this conversation… but “if we could have”s get us nowhere.” H’Lrex raised his hands to the heavens and shrugged with his trunk.
“Go on professor,” Klxklz demanded.
“There were seventy three of us,” H’Lrex continued. “That’s a core of twelve diplomats, twelve artists, twelve scientists, twelve historians and ooh… about twenty odd others. I can’t remember what they did, but it was meant to be important. I was one of the scientists of course. The Federal Colonies knew we were coming. We never figured out how until later, but that damn PHASE array they had tracked us as soon as we passed Selrinar – Aldebaran, I should say – and they had a ship waiting for us.”
“So… they prepared a First Contact delegation as well?”
“Yes. For the first time, perhaps ever in the history of the Galactic Congress a First Contact delegation was met by well… another First Contact delegation,” H’Lrex picked at cut on his wrist and then blinked in irritation at the bad habit. “You know what struck me when I first saw them? The Federal Colonists? They were so small. I’m what, three and a half hurspics high? They were barely one hurspic. I think only one of the diplomats was their height… How terrifying we must have seemed.” H’Lrex blinked. “No, tell a lie. It was the smell that hit me first. They reeked of esters. Apparently they think their smell is pleasant, reminds them of their home world, but it stank. Their whole entourage stank of esters and sugar and… and decomposing lactose.”
“So when was it in the First Contact meeting that the Federal Colonists decided they had to conquer the galaxy?”
“Such a small species, and so simple. Two arms, two legs, two eyes. Nothing more than they needed, nothing less than they needed. And such strange hair patterns…”
H’Lrex looked his two colleagues up and down. They were so much younger. They had never known a time when the galaxy was free. They viewed it all as an intellectual exercise. They didn’t understand.
“Professor, when did humanity decide to conquer the galaxy? When did they decide our outstretched appendages of peace had to be met with war?”
“Humanity decided to conquer the galaxy the moment their ape-eyes saw the stars,” H’Lrex said. “And that decision crystalised the moment they met us, there, at that First Contact delegation. That moment, the very moment they saw us and their hands twitched reflexively for their weapons they decided there would be no peace until they ruled us all.”
The three of them sat silently in the office. A distant roar of the crowds suggested the university home team had just scored at Yarsh’Tik stadium. Wind rustled leaves in the window frame.
“I… I still think it’s anti-matter reactors,” Klxklz said after a moment with a worried expression. “Like you said, if we could have got to them in the atomic era maybe-”
H’Lrex picked up his data pad and turned away. Tomorrow he’d invest in ear plugs.