Firing of the Crucible by Michael Eves Shaffer
Firing of the Crucible: Heroes are not born. They are made is a science fiction book by Michael Eves Shaffer.
The Empire has thrived for millions of years with very little war marring the peace. It spans a large portion of the galaxy. Less than a hundred years ago the Empire found a young race, the Easlank. They were a race apparently recent to space travel but who consider all other life to be either slaves or food. The Empire decided to correct this view and help them integrate into the Empire. Your ship was the only one to survive The Last Battle. The High Court is in exile. All other planets and races of your fallen Empire lie at the mercy of ravenous hoards. Your last hope is a planet that was sealed away from the rest of the universe and used to try and breed the ultimate warrior. A project started over two hundred thousand years ago. Only a few minor problems lie in your way. You must get there without the enemy following you. A process made difficult in the extreme as they can apparently track Emergence some how. Going there without direct permission from the Emperor means your mind will will wiped. Or you will be executed. Or both. Getting his permission at this point is not an option. There is also the slight problem that the project was terminated because the resultant race was too violent, too uncontrollable, with too much of a chance of killing their handlers instead of their targets. Best case scenario is finding a few survivors who might be able to slow the advance of the Easlank while your Empire recovers. The planet’s name in the records means “terrifying experiment”. The natives just call it Earth. May Goddess have mercy on your soul.
A Word from the Author
Imagine for a moment you are ship captain of an empire that has stood for millions of years. Not through draconian suppression of everyone else, though there had been a bit of that when necessary. But because almost all races in the galaxy are by nature peaceful. And those that aren’t that you’ve met has been so behind you, technology wise, that it usually only took a few battles to convince the aggressive race to give peace a chance.
Until you ran into the Easlank.
Your ship is, as far as you know, the only ship to make it out of the Last Battle. You managed to save thirteen other captains and some of their crew before you had to make your escape in a ship that was barely holding together. The Imperial Court has cut and run, hiding to try and come up with some way to beat back an enemy that views all other sentient races as either slaves or food. A race that has made it clear they don’t really care what anyone else thinks. You have one last, desperate, treasonous¸ play.
You’re a hundred and fifty-eight years old. You are facing the thirteen captains you saved and must convince them to join with you on this plan. And the youngest of them is twice your age with five times your experience.
Did I mention that the plan is to try and salvage a genetics project that was started hundreds of thousands of years ago in an attempt to breed a race of creatures to fight these sorts of battles for you? A project that ended being terminated, in all senses of the word, because the race had proven too aggressive, too good at killing, and impossible to control. You’re only hope is that some of them survived and might be willing to help you. You can see the planet out your view port. The project’s name for it means “Terrifying Experiment”.
The natives just call it Earth. And it looks like they didn’t get the memo about being “terminated”.
(Michael Eves Shaffer, August 2016)