'Sticks and Stones', by Bruce Corbett



Copyright  2003  Bruce Corbett


Smashwords Edition







Much writing starts as a challenge. I set myself a difficult goal, and then find a way for my hero to achieve it. How can a small band of alien rebels take on the galaxy's greatest military power and win? That was this story's challenge.

This story tells the adventures of a human military officer who finds love and a new destiny with an alien princess. Freed of his military brainwashing, he joins the Vuorrans, an alien race targeted for annihilation by an evil Terran emperor. He soon finds himself commander of a rag-tag force of alien civilians, fighting the greatest empire in the galaxy.
Eventually, this and other short stories became chapters, and the whole eventually transmogrified into a Science Fiction novel, The Vuorran Pogrom.



The Emperor's Chief Advisor bowed gracefully the requisite three times, prostrated himself before the master of the entire known universe, and waited for permission to move. The silver-haired man, leaning back on his ornate throne, nodded politely and spoke with his melodious voice.

"Rise, Sir Reginald, and tell me what is on your mind today."

"Thank you, Majesty. There is one item that caught my attention this morning."

"Then speak up, Advisor."

"Sire, it has come to my attention that the Arizians have placed an order for one thousand Evan's hyper-drive warp generators."

The Arizians . . . hmm . . . There is no way those second class inhabitants of a third class star system could use an extra hundred warp generators, let alone a thousand."

"Exactly, Your Majesty! They are clearly fronting for the Vuorran rebels. We must move fast and punish the bastards!"

The Emperor smiled. "Whoa, Sir Reginald. Let us think this through a little more carefully."

The advisor looked puzzled, but he merely nodded. "As you command, Majesty."

"I applaud your eagerness, Sir Reginald, but just what exactly would the Vuorrans do with a thousand warp generators?"

"A thousand Vuorran warships could probably bring commerce throughout the Dominion to a complete halt, Majesty. They have done pretty damn well with the few dozen ships they have managed to hijack so far."

"No doubt true, Sir Reginald, but what is the cost of constructing a single trader?"

"Close to a million universal credits, Sire."

"And a small battle-cruiser?"

"Closer to three."

"So if we let the Vuorrans purchase the Evan's hyper-drive warp generators, then they would have to spend a minimum of a billion, and perhaps as much as three billion credits, before they would actually have a functional fleet."

"They might choose to not build a thousand, Majesty."

"Then why buy a thousand warp generators?"

"Perhaps stockpiling for future use, Sire?"

"Sir Reginald, the last surviving Vuorrans in all the universe are hiding on some dirtball somewhere out on the Rim. Their very survival depends on them successfully hiding from our navy scouts. They have no economy, nor an industrial capacity worthy of the name. They do not have a billion credits, and no one in their right mind would loan them that sum."

Sir Reginald sighed. "They have stolen a great deal of money on their pirate raids, Majesty."

The Emperor laughed out loud. "So they will pay us for the warp generators with our own money."

"Sire, with all due respect, I fail to find the humor in that."

"Relax, Sir Reginald, and let us think this through a little further.

First, we give the Vuorrans the warp generators they covet. Cite national emergency and charge the Arizians double. We have a monopoly, so they will hardly be in a position to argue. How is the economy doing on Albacrom II?"

"Disastrously, Majesty. There are few orders for space ships when the Vuorrans are pillaging and looting the space lanes."

"So if we let the sale go through, we provide several man-centuries of labor for a planet that is suffering massive unemployment due to the rebellion. The Vuorrans are forced to go on to a massive industrialization drive to build the ships. All their money and effort will have to go towards that single goal. And don't forget; each time they build a factory or are forced to purchase a ship part from us, they leave a potential trail. Even if we don't find them, we bankrupt them."

"I understand, your Majesty, but we also loose a pirate fleet a dozen times larger than what is plaguing us now."

The Emperor grinned. "Of course. And then the colonial planets that were growing restless under our paternal hand are reminded of the value of the Dominion fleet. And if the furry little bastards leave as much as one single clue for us, then the Vuorrans are finished!"

"I hear and obey, Majesty."

The emperor smiled. "But you do not agree."

"I accept your logic, Majesty, but I would be less-than-honest if I did not tell you that I think the risk is too great."

"That is why you are my chief advisor, Sir Reginald. I am surrounded by sycophants. I need an honest man to guide me. Oh, Sir Reginald, before you go, I have a last question. Are the warp generators permanently sealed?"

"Yes, Majesty. They have been carefully designed. To open them is to destroy them."

"Excellent. Then tell the design engineers that I want flawed generators produced."

"Flawed, Sire? How exactly?"

"I want the generators to have a life expectancy of no more than a hundred jumps."

"Majesty, they generally have a life expectancy of over a billion jumps."

The Emperor grinned. "I know. In a couple of months from now, I want a lot of Vuorrans to make a jump somewhere, and then discover the design flaw first hand."

Sir Reginald grinned in return." It will be my pleasure, Sire! I will see to it personally."



Admiral-of-the-Fleet Bennington stood on the bridge of the Planet-Crusher H.R.M. Hermes. At his side stood the young nephew of the Emperor himself, and through the view ports the planet Nirvana, known throughout the universe as the Emperor's private residence, turned serenely.

The young boy's voice piped irritatingly through the bridge. "Admiral, what is such a great emergency that you have brought fully half of the fleet's Planet-Crushers into this space sector?"

"The dastardly Vuorrans have threatened Nirvana, your Highness."

"Nirvana is known throughout the universe as the emperor's personal residence, Admiral! What foul creatures dare to threaten the emperor's personal domain?"

"The Vuorrans are a cowardly feline race, Highness."

"Are they mad at my uncle?"

"Some months ago your revered uncle, long may he reign in peace, ordered the interdiction of the Vuorran home world, and the arrest and extermination of any Vuorrans found in the Terran Dominion."

"Were the Vuorrans bad people?"

"It is not mine to question, Highness. That your uncle ordered it is enough for me."

The thin face stared haughtily at the admiral. "But why?"

"Highness, your uncle said that the Vuorrans had become a source of serious danger to the Terran Dominion."

"Then why were they not crushed like my uncle ordered?"

"They were, Highness. Many were killed. Millions more were arrested and are being held both in concentration camps and on their home planet."

The young prince's voice became suddenly shriller. "Then why, Admiral, are we standing here fearing for the safety of the emperor's residential planet? And just how did the Vuorrans manage to threaten a planet which has half of the universe's Planet-Busters circling it?"

"It appears to have been surprisingly easy, Highness. The idea is no doubt another cute trick from that renegade Centurion known as Timm Bruce. The Vuorrans snuck into the asteroid belt and surreptitiously mounted rocket engines on thousands of rocks of varying sizes."

"And just why would that endanger Nirvana, Admiral?"

"By various slow burns, the asteroids were all re-directed at the planet, Highness."

"Will the asteroids collide with Nirvana, Admiral?"

"They would have, Highness, except that the burns were detected in time for us to assemble the fleet."

"But if you know they are coming, and you have enough sheer firepower to destroy a sun, just what is the problem, Admiral?"

The Admiral sighed. The first asteroids were coming into range very shortly, and he would have dearly liked to focus on the last minute details. It was not expedient to ignore the emperor's nephew, however.

"We know how many approach, and their trajectory, Highness, but we must make sure that no large asteroids enter the planet's atmosphere.

"What danger are these few rocks to the planet, Admiral?"

"Highness, there are several hundred of them, and most of the asteroids are over two-hundred meters in diameter."

"Won't the asteroids just burn up in the atmosphere?"

"You are right, Highness, to a point."

The boy showed a flash of his famous family temper. "I am either right or wrong, Admiral. Which is it?"

"Past a certain size, an asteroid will not burn up in the upper atmosphere of the planet, but will hit the ground, or, equally disastrous, explode near the planet's surface. The resulting burst of energy is equivalent of hundreds of fusion bombs. If such a thing happened, there is even a chance that the lives of the members of the royal court could be at risk."

"You said that the Vuorrans were interned. Just who dares do such a thing?"

"Highness, it is unfortunately true that some ragged remains of the race escaped the galaxy-wide sweep and found a hidden sanctuary. Allied with some enemies of the Dominion, they have gradually begun to strike back."

"How can a few thousand, or even a few million, aliens hurt my uncle's Dominion? Didn't you say they were just some kind of giant cats?"

"They are an ancient race evolved from felines, Highness. The Vuorran fugitives have stolen merchant vessels, and thus have gradually built up a fleet. This pirate fleet now attacks the length and breadth of the Dominion's star lanes."

"Admiral, you have half of the universe's Planet-Crushers floating out here in space. Surely just a few of these flying moons could take care of a few rocks?"

"Highness, the beams from a Planet-Crusher battlewagon can overload the strongest force fields in seconds, and then slice an enemy vessel into pieces. Once an enemy hull is breached, the ship is generally finished as a fighting vessel."

"Admiral, I am aware of this. What has this to do with a few asteroids?"

"If your Highness would be patient, I would be pleased to explain it to you. What happens when we carve deep into a hurtling rock?"

"I don't know. I suppose it melts."

"If you are lucky, you might split it. Now you have two enormous rocks hurtling towards Nirvana."

"I think, Admiral, that you are trying to tell me that an asteroid is harder to destroy than a ship."

"Exactly, your Highness. That is why there will be several levels to our defense. Any asteroids that make it past the Planet-Crushers will be vaporized or broken up by either Ground Defense or the rest of the fleet."

The royal nephew started to look alarmed. "Is it really possible that any asteroids will make it to the surface, Admiral?"

"Highness, this fleet is probably the most powerful in all the universe, and I have reinforced it with the full weight of the Planetary Defense System. And just to be sure, I have called in contingents of several other sector fleets. I want to be absolutely sure that there is no chance of any large asteroids entering the planet's atmosphere."

"It is as well that you did, Admiral. My mother says that Uncle will order executions if so much as a single rock hits the ground."

The admiral sighed. "Your Highness looks tired. Perhaps now you would like a nap?"

"Don't be annoying, Admiral. I intend to stay on the bridge and watch how you handle the asteroids. My uncle tells me that one day I will be a great military commander."

"I have no doubt, your Highness."...............................This story is available for purchase at, Apple eBook store, from Sony, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, and, soon, Amazon.