Chapter One

Lerna III Moon Base (LMB), Tau Ceti
John awoke feeling sick to his stomach. The surprise appearance of a lizard pocket destroyer in Gliese667c just as they were on a rescue mission to extract the crew from Home Space Station made his stomach churn. The destroyer was easily four times the size of any ship in the Terran Navy. That on its own was an ominous sign. A cliché came into his mind, ‘Where there was one, others were bound to follow’. Interrogating Rezulin, the captured War Leader, had now jumped to become a top priority.

John shuffled over to the bathroom like a drunken sailor, trying to compensate for chaotic shifts in gravity. The Lerna Moon Base(LMB) grav plating must be playing up, again. He could never fully adjust to sleeping in gravity that flip-flopped from one-third gravity to one and a half Earth normal in as many minutes. It was far worse than normal Zero-G space sickness. The stomach did somersaults even without the champagne hangover. John cursed, the Squishy technology they had reverse engineered, it always seemed to have bugs. He tried to remind himself that one G some of the time was better than one-third G all the time.

Walking gingerly to the refresher, John splashed water on his face while he rubbed his hand over his scratchy stubbled chin, he looked at the mirror. Tired, bloodshot eyes stared back. Once again, a night of nightmares, Lizard kidnappings. Then there was Amanda Riley, the Deputy Sherriff. As much as he tried he couldn’t get the thought of her being eaten out of his mind. It had invaded his dreams, like the fires of hell turning them into nightmares. He supposed he should have expected that given the day he planned.

John stepped into the shower cubical and shut the door. Turning the water on it always seemed to be in slow motion. He recalled the nasty shock he’d gotten when he almost drowned because of it. Despite the low gravity causing the water to fall slowly, one still had to breath at a normal rate. John had turned the water on full blast accidentally filling the shower cubical. The slow vacuum drainage nearly killed him. It was one more reminder they had to incorporate new standards of OH&S in everything. Even the mundane things we do on Earth could spell disaster in outer space. Lerna Moon Base(LMB) was no different.

Quickly drying and dressing in his duty suit, John kissed the still sleeping Jen and left the small cabin to head for the transit zone. Jumping from one Terran Naval Base to another was becoming routine despite the danger involved. Small probes were sent to recalibrate the targeting before any unprotected Humans were sent. The last thing they wanted was to transport somebody into the middle of a mountain. John nodded at the Marines on duty holding their weapons as he passed through into the secure transit area. The bright orange platform was marked as ‘Transit to El Paso Research Base’.

Ever since T.N. scientists had reverse engineered the faster-than-light Alcubierre drive (FTL A-Drive) they had acquired on the Squishy frigate, John had insisted the bulk of T.N. use the slower A-Drive rather than the Jump drive (J-Drive) he invented. John rationalized the teleporter was a thousand times more dangerous than a nuclear weapon. Imagine if an unscrupulous person decided to transport the center of the Sun to the Earth’s surface. Instant Human extinction event… no double-take, no chance.
Waving to the controller his ready status, John flashed from Tau Ceti to Sol system in an instant. The motif of a cactus on the wall confirmed his safe arrival at El Paso Research Base.

Gathering his thoughts and making a quick pat down to check everything had arrived, John walked from the transit platform. Marines on duty lowered their weapons as they recognized the T.N. Admiral and CEO. John walked off the platform and past their station nodding to acknowledge the OD, Officer of the Day.
“Lieutenant, is it all secure?” John asked as he headed for the door.
“Yes, Admiral. Director Hughes is expecting you.”
John nodded once again and waved off the military escort offered by the Lieutenant.
Looking around he was surprised at the changes to the Research Base as he made his way through the base. He had been away for some time, buildings and fixtures had sprung up like weeds. His recent absence was partially attributed to his most wanted status and avoiding being grabbed by US authorities. There was an unwritten arrest warrant still out on him; The President even now had him in his sights. John wouldn’t be surprised, if there was a shoot on sight order out on him.
Many of the long-term employees stopped and stared at their commander. Just when John was getting used to wearing his Admiral’s uniform in space, he felt it’s uncomfortably heavy weight here on Earth. It never ceased to amaze him that people had such faith, however, misguided he thought it was.

John had served in the US military as a Helicopter Captain. It somehow didn’t seem right to wear his T.N. uniform on US soil. He quickened his pace and headed for the Admin Building. It was T.N.’s de facto HQ in the US. As John walked past the security checkpoint in the lobby, Director Hughes was just exiting the lift.
“Thurston, good to see you,” John clasped his hand warmly. The small dark-haired man had aged; wrinkles framed his eyes despite the smile on his face.
“John, you did it, you really did it.” Thurston was referring to the rescue of the ‘Taken’. The thirty-five plus people kidnapped by the Lizards.
John was silent.
Thurston could read him. Not everyone came back. The two men took the lift back to the top floor offices.
“I’ve come because of the Godzilla. We have it in Tau Ceti.” Thurston was not aware of all the details surrounding the rescue. Very few people aside from the Taken and the Company of T.N. Marines in Lerna III Moon Base knew the real story.
Thurston shook his head in astonishment, “You got another one, another starship?” he said in disbelief.
John smiled. “A warship this time. A frigate called Godzilla of all things.” The Godzilla’s actual name was Godilla but with the lizard’s rasping speech patterns, it sounded like ‘Godzilla’. It would be their next major reverse engineering project.
“Once we clear all the Lizards, I’ll need to form some teams to see what we can salvage.”
Thurston shook his head and smiled while taking out his data pad to make notes. The two friends walked into the nearest conference room.
“We need to do an initial survey, then we can decide the priorities. Who can I have right now?”
Thurston thought for a moment, he oversaw all the research assets, including scientists. “Pete is free…?”
John sighed, then nodded. The man was more unusual than most of the weird scientists he’d employed. He was brilliant even though he was socially challenged. John thought Pete may be on the autism spectrum.
“We have a few new faces… I’ll send you a summary so you can veto anyone.” Ever since Dr. Adrian Wallace’s defection they had been a lot more cautious. John knew that Elvis would probably kill the man if he saw him again; the two had had a very acrimonious relationship. Adrian’s defection would tip the scales even more.
“Fine,” John said as his eyes roamed the room.
Thurston could see John was anxious and had something else on his mind. “We’ve been friends a long time John, spit it out.”
“S’sank spoke with some of the Godzilla’s crew. He said that a fleet is on their way to deal with us. We are talking a lot of ships and powerful ones.” S’sank was a lizard engineer that John had captured in the first skirmishes with the lizard warship. They had allowed S’sank to visit the POWs from the Godzilla’s recent capture.
Thurston blinked, then blinked again. “Powerful you say?”
John nodded. His fists balled tightly.
“We don’t know, but I intend to find out. The Godzilla’s War Leader, … Rezulin, has held out against interrogation so far, but well crack him eventually. Bills on the job.” Unlike humans, Lizards called their ships’ Captains or Military Commanders, War Leaders.
Thurston could see the determination in John’s eyes. There was a cold edge to it that made him look reptilian. Thurston blinked and turned his head to excise the image.

Just then Ryan, T.N.’s Operations General Manager, knocked and stepped into the room.
“I’d heard you had arrived in El Paso,” Ryan said with a smile. Despite the pressures over the last few years, Ryan’s appearance hadn’t changed. The spritely older whitehaired man was full of energy. “John, it’s good to see you. That was a fantastic job you did with the Lizards out at Gliese and the Tau.” The ‘Tau’ had become the nickname for the Tau Ceti star system.
“No, Ryan, it was your preparation and set up that got us through,” John smiled. Ryan had been instrumental in building the cavern within Lerna III’s moon in the Tau Ceti system where they captured the warship.
Ryan smiled briefly at the acclaim, then looked between John and Thurston. “I’ll come back later,” he said as he started to exit.
“Hold up, Ryan. Thurston, is there anything more that we need to discuss right now?” Thurston shook his head.
When Ryan and John were out the door, John made for the lift with Ryan following, “Ryan, I’ve seen your progress report, but, I need to talk to you about what we can shortcut.”
Ryan look sharply at John, “What’s happened?”
John stopped, looked around to ensure no one was within earshot, “The Lizards are sending a fleet to Earth. A fleet of very powerful ships, not like the frigate that we captured.”
Ryan stood still, his eyes zeroed in on John. “Are you…”
“Yes, we’re certain.”
“How much time do we have?”
“That’s the big question. We need that carrier you’re building, like yesterday.”
Ryan’s body sagged a little. “I’ll go over everything with the boys in Indonesia.” The carrier’s frame was being constructed in T.N.’s shipyard there. “I will send you a revised schedule, ASAP.”
John nodded with a sympathetic smile, then turned off heading out the lift. Ryan stood there, staring at John’s back as he strode off past the guard checkpoint in the lobby.