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The Eagle Tattoo by Keith Kitchen
SUMMARY: Sam Baker is cut off from everything: His ship has been destroyed, he's lost on an alien planet and he has to warn the Terran forces the reforcements they need aren't coming!
The Droxians attacked with no warning, wreaking a swath of destruction through the Empire as they bored directly towards Earth, the capital. The Empire had only been aware of the Droxians for perhaps a year, having discovered a heavily damaged transport on the edge of Imperial space and attempted to salvage the craft and find the race that had sent it.
While having been the premiere Imperial power since the Great War against the Rigellian Confederation that reunited the human race after millennia, the only truly alien race that had been discovered prior to this had been the Daemons, a race so called because of their close resemblance to demons out of Earth's myths. Indeed, the Daemons had at one time had space travel of their own and claim that they once ruled Earth, thousands of years ago, although no evidence has ever been found either on Earth or their homeworld. Their own myths say that a great enemy came out of the depths of space and destroyed their own empire. Daemons are highly intelligent and very loyal and a large number of them have served with distinction in the Imperial Marines since the discovery of their planet, but only a very few have served in the Imperial Navy and fewer still have become officers.
Caught completely by surprise, the Imperial Navy was swept aside time and again until the Droxians actually entered the Solar System. The battle with Home Fleet lasted for days, with the Imperial fleet being driven back slowly but surely. No battle like this had ever been experienced by humans, not even the terrible battles during the Rigellian wars. Most space battles until now had lasted only hours at most, but the level of attrition here was unprecedented.
Finally, as the Droxian fleet pushed the Imperial Home Fleet within the orbit of Mars, fresh reinforcements from Altair came against the alien fleet from behind and the Droxian attack fleet was utterly destroyed.
The Droxian threat; however, wasn't. This was just the beginning of a war that was to last for decades. The Imperial Fleet had lost a full forty percent of its ships and seventy five planets had been lost to the Droxian Dominion.
It would take years to take them back.
Many, bloody years.
The task force had been bringing reinforcements to Walken Five, the homeworld of the Daemons. The Droxians had taken the planet in the great drive for Earth, twenty years ago and it was on the edge of what the Imperial Navy now called the "Disputed Zone". The Imperium had always treated the Daemons well and even before it could possibly strike back made sure that weapons and supplies were provided to the Droxians to continue the fight.
Slowly, so slowly, the Imperial Navy drove the Droxians back out of Imperial space. Sometimes, it seemed that it would never happen. Yet, finally, Imperial forces arrived to take back the planet. The Daemons fought the Droxians every day of the occupation, a drawn out war that the Empire couldn't ignore. Every year, Imperial ships made dangerous supply runs, delivering weapons and supplies to the beleaguered Daemons, aiding them every way possible and promising that they would invade as soon as possible to eject the Droxians.
Three days after the Imperial Marines landed, the Droxian Fleet attacked Rigel in force.