Back | Next

Chapter 5

July 24, 2409 AD

Mission Star 74

Chiata Expanse

783 light-years from the Sol System

Saturday, 10:57 A.M. Eastern Time

“Admiral, CDC.”

“Sonofabitch! Go, CDC!” DeathRay replied through gritted teeth. Blue beams of death from Hell pounded into the Buckley-Freeman shields, causing the ship to jerk so hard that had the crew not been wearing armored suits and their helmets, as was standard combat protocol these days, they’d all have gotten broken necks. Even though the crew were all in their suits, casualty reports were still beginning to come in from all decks. A crack formed across one of the viewports on the starboard side of the bridge and builder bots appeared out of nowhere and immediately began skittering about the deck plates and bulkhead repairing the transparent super-alloys. For a brief second, DeathRay thought the bots crawling around on the equipment and screens looked a little like Dee’s pet that the Thgreeth aliens from the ruins had given her. The bridge dome material seemed to be holding strong. As far as Jack knew the engineers and scientists had yet to figure out what the dome material actually was made of. As long as the big-assed dome held up against the enemy fire he didn’t care.

“The reality space signatures continue to grow, sir,” the young clone from the Combat Direction Center said with very little if any detectable inflection in his voice—inflection no, urgency yes. Clones driven by AI computers or not, DeathRay was pretty sure that even they didn’t care much for dying. “It looks like at least two hundred megaships, sir. And possibly more still coming through.”

“Shields at seventy-one percent, sir,” the STO announced. Jack double checked the shield status in his own mindview. While it wasn’t grim yet, they had taken a good bit of damage. “That’s the third direct hit. I recommend against more of those, Admiral.”

“No shit, Two,” DeathRay muttered. He did his best to grasp the entire combat ball around him in his DTM battlescape view. The attack plan had been going exactly as planned until all of a sudden the number of enemy megaships increased by over a hundred times. The bastards were crawling out of the woodwork, so to speak. DeathRay knew an ambush when he saw one. He didn’t like it either. But the Chiata didn’t have QMT technology and what he couldn’t figure out was how they managed to get there so quickly unless they had been waiting for them. He didn’t have time to figure that out at the moment, because, at the present fucking moment his entire fleet was in a serious knife fight.

DeathRay was torn on what exactly to do. He debated his options which were: one, just chalk the objective up as lost and order a snap-back to safety, or two, pressing the advantage. He honestly had no idea but didn’t like not being able to simply react. Being a mecha jock was so much easier. And DeathRay’s first instinct from years as a fighter pilot was to do what he always did when outnumbered, and that was to press the attack. In a mecha, that was usually enough of an unexpected tactic that the enemy were caught off guard, giving him the upper hand. But, with the Chiata, it was difficult to tell. And extrapolating flying mecha to megaships was a little less exact a science. He did it anyway.

“What do we do, Admiral?” the XO turned to him. DeathRay was pretty sure that the clone had just simulated a million battleplans and the majority of them likely appeared unwinnable. “We are too far down on the numbers game, sir.”

“XO, I want you to rethink those numbers if we have two Buckley weapons active,” he replied.

Candis, get me Dee, he thought. I have to know how long it will be until we have a second megaship on our side.

Roger that, his AIC replied in his mind. You have a DTM channel to Major Moore open now.

It’s thick as shit in here, DeathRay, Dee’s mindvoice was agitated and clearly preoccupied with the overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional task of combat. It’s thicker than ever before as if they knew we were coming. I think this could be a trap.

I think you’re right. Can you take the ship, Dee? I need to know now. We’ve got hundreds more Chiata porcusnails in system all of a sudden. Without that other BBD, I don’t think we can take this system. I need to know, Dee. No bullshit.

Understood, DeathRay! Dee’s mindvoice almost shouted. Give me a minute!

One minute, Dee. That’s all you’ve got. Clock is ticking down now.

“Helm, QMT us right in the middle of that largest formation of porcusnails. We fire the BBD twice then jump randomly again. We pick one ship and target that one ship until it is done. All DEGs, all missiles, everything. Do it!” DeathRay ordered just as the next jump initiated. “We need to buy the Bringers some time by distracting the enemy fleet. Consider ourselves bait. At least it doesn’t look like the Chiata know what we’re doing with the target ship.”

59 seconds, Dee. Her AIC started a clock counting down in her DTM mindview.

“Shit, on your three-nine, Azazel!” Dee grunted against the crushing pressure of the rapid g-forces from her whirling mad spin. One of the Chiata porcupines was in the analog of bot-mode and had her wrapped up with its black tendrils and was slinging her about like an octopus slinging a rag doll. Fortunately, the Chiata tendrils had only wrapped her up and not torn through her vehicle, or her. And fortunately, her mecha was anything but a rag doll. She’d been there and done that and had promised herself to avoid doing it again if there was any way she could prevent it.

Bree, jump us! she thought. We’ve gotta break free of the alien bastard’s grip!

We are very close to interior structures, Dee, it isn’t advisable, her AIC replied.

Then lock this coordinate, bounce us outside in the clear, then bounce us right back in!

That is a good idea, Bree agreed. Done!

Instantly Dee could see open space spinning around her and the battle going on outside. There were porcusnail megaships and blue beams zigzagging across the attack bowl. The Penzington and the rest of the attack fleet were way outnumbered. The target Chiata megaship had all four supercarriers jutting out of it where the clone captains had rammed it as part of the attack plan. The amalgamation of the five vehicles looked like a cross between a porcupine, a snail, and an alligator and several other wild mechanized concepts thrown in just for fun. There were Chiata porcupine fighters and mecha from the clone supercarriers duking it out in the engagement ball about the megaship. Dee could see that while she had been inside fighting toward the engine room, the fight on the outside of the ship had become a serious furball. The numbers game was getting out of hand and overwhelming and she was even more certain that they had fallen into a trap. And then tracers pinged into her forward shields as the red and green blur of an alien porcupine fighter locked in on her.

“Shit!” Dee yanked at the HOTAS but her mad spinning from her entanglement inside the ship was overwhelming the reaction control system. She was in a mad and uncontrolled pukin’ deathblossom and there was an alien bastard lining her up in its crosshairs. “Shit, shit, shit! Bree, get us out of here!”

Reality space flashed. Just as quickly as she had been in open space Dee was back inside the targeted Chiata megaship near the engine room and exactly where she had been a brief second before. To her advantage, the previous twirling motion of her porcusnail attacker and the sudden loss of counterbalance mass, Dee’s mecha, had carried it a few meters forward and off balance by the time she had bounced back inside the ship. Her spinning slowed almost instantly as she hit the atmosphere of the cabin and it became more manageable as she banged and clanked into the bulkheads bleeding off energy with each spin. But with each bang and clank her body was thrown hard against the restraints.

“Damn, that’s gonna leave a mark,” she grunted.

The tactic had worked well, placing her bot-mode mecha directly behind the amorphous red and green blur Chiata mecha that was now spinning out of control with more angular momentum than it could bleed off rapidly enough to keep Dee from targeting—she hoped. The problem was, Dee was spinning just as fast and needed to bleed off the angular velocity herself. And, she was still a bit dizzy from her mad spin in free space.

But her years of training, fighting, and flying with DeathRay paid off. Like spinning out of a puking deathblossom maneuver Deanna used the momentum of her wild spin to carry herself over the alien mecha as the thing reached out with several tendrils. The tendrils groped at her and made metal-to-metal screeching sounds but they couldn’t latch hold completely due to their mad relative whirling motions. The friction from the Chiata porcupine’s tendrils, the bulkheads, atmosphere, and Dee’s reaction control propulsion system slowed her just enough to enable a judo roll. Her mecha went careening, making a screeching sound like giant alien fingernails on a chalkboard, into the alien ship’s bulkheads and deck plating, throwing white sparks and orange glowing metal cinders in every direction. She continued her roll until she almost had full control of it, bringing her to her feet with her cannon at the ready. Marine mecha jocks were known for eating their own puke for breakfast and going back for seconds at lunch. The spins the Chiata had induced on her were first-year cadet shit, nothing compared to the infamous pukin’ deathblossom.

“I got this shit!” she growled through her TMJ bite block as stims and oxygen blasted her face and she choked back bile. As she righted her mecha and released her abdominal muscles long enough to take a deep breath, the targeting X in her mindview turned red and she hit the guns. The alien mecha was still changing shape with tendrils swinging about trying to get itself balanced and under control. But it was too late for it.

“Guns, guns, guns!” The first volleyball-sized green plasma balls zipped from the cannon overpowering the thing’s personal shield system at such close range throwing a quick flicker of red and green energy across it. Dee didn’t stop firing and the cannon rounds continued tearing through the amorphous armor of the alien fighter throwing plasma and shrapnel from secondary explosions in every direction. It ruptured at what might have been the seams revealing the Chiata pilot inside. Dee leapt in a forward moving front flip, pulling her huge mecha feet up to her torso, then over, and then landing feet first as she stomped through the writhing alien creature’s body crushing what remained of life from it. It made a dying screech as viscous red and green luminescent liquids splattered about her feet and the alien ship’s deck plating. The creature’s tendrils went limp and collapsed to the floor.

“There’s you one Davy. Nice and messy the way you used to like it,” she whispered as she toggled her bot to eagle-mode enabling her more speed. The mecha rolled forward and altered itself to look like a space fighter with talons of an eagle and mechanical arms. One of the arms held the cannon at the ready. Deanna slammed the HOTAS full forward and to the right toward her wingman.

Dee, Azazel is in trouble.

I see him, she thought. Show me the energy curves.

Roger that.

“Azazel, cut right!” He was being locked up. “Fox Three!”

The mecha-to-mecha missile ripped across the corridor into the back of the armored Chiata that was trying to get the drop on Azazel. The violet plasma from the propellantless engine glowed against the smoke from the battle damage and then burst into an orange and white explosion that ripped one of the tendrils clear of the alien mecha throwing burning viscous glowing fluids in every direction. Apparently, the alien blood was quite flammable as the glowing spray ignited with dazzling bursts of blue green flames.

Dee had gotten the creature’s attention long enough for her wingman to QMT bounce out-and-in to a completely different position a few meters to the right of where he’d been. That truly caught the alien bastard off guard and unaware.

“Guns, guns, guns,” Azazel shouted. The Chiata mecha was so taken by surprise that its response was much like that of a deer frozen in headlights of an oncoming vehicle—it got splattered. The plasma rounds overwhelmed the alien’s armor and it was blasted to Hell and gone.

41 seconds, Dee.

Highlight the power conduits we have to hit. How far are we?

Here, here, and here, Bree replied as schematics of the ship appeared in her head. One deck down and over. We are almost there. At our current pace and projected resistance there are still many timely attack solutions but there is no time to spare.

Any reason to believe this ship is different from any of the others?


Then get schematics from megaships we’ve got and overlay them on the battlescape.

“Warning—enemy targeting radar lock is imminent,” her Bitchin’ Betty chimed. “Warning—enemy targeting radar lock is imminent. Take evasive action . . .”

“What the fuck?” Dee spun her mindview and Bree quickly overlaid sensor and energy data and an alien porcupine in, again what Dee would call bot-mode, released several rounds in her and Azazel’s general direction. It was clear that the thing was gunning for her as the rounds seemed to trace across to her.

“Look out, Major!” Azazel jumped into her, pushing both of them down into a roll. The plasma cannon rounds hit behind them, exploding into the alien ship bulkhead material. A gaping hole large enough to drive a hovertank through was blown out, the molten edges still glowing red hot. “Guns, guns, guns!”

“I got this shit!” Dee bounced up from the deck into a maximum speed run the FM-14X could do in bot-mode. She closed the forty-meter distance across to the alien continuously firing from the hip with her cannon. The alien did the same.

Like an Old West showdown, the two mecha dodged, dropped, jumped, rolled, and charged, constantly firing volleys at each other, missing and blowing out deck and bulkhead plating all around them with reckless abandon. Molten sparks flew, plasma rounds skittered about, and the noise of the two mecha going at each other was deafening.

“Guns, guns, guns!” Dee continued firing. One of the alien rounds grazed the shoulder of her mecha, knocking her sideways into a spin, but her shields held. She used the added momentum of the spin to sling her a full three hundred and sixty degrees around and into a diving tackle. As she tackled the alien, it launched a tendril at her. At first the shields held it off, but then the alien fired a plasma round point blank into her torso as they scuffled on the deck. That weakened her shields enough that the tendril ripped into her cockpit and jabbed at her suit.

Dee twisted her body out of the way twice as the tendril stabbed at her and then she managed to grab it with her left hand. But now she was flying the mecha one-handed and struggling with the alien inside and outside the ship. She squeezed at the alien tendril with her mechanized gauntlet afraid to let it go.

You’ve got to let the HOTAS go, Dee. I will take the controls until you can! Bree warned her. Let them go and deal with the attack inside the cockpit!

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

She let go with her right, grabbing the tendril and letting go of it with the left. Quickly, she deployed the blade from her left wrist and sliced through the tendril. Glowing red and green gunk squirted about the cabin and all over her. Instantly, the Thgreeth beetle sprang to life from its pouch on Dee’s suit. The legs extended as it flew from her and into the alien’s opened tendril with such speed that it was a blur itself.

“Get him, Skippy!” Dee shouted, detracting her blade and grabbing the HOTAS with both hands. She stomped the right pedal to the floor hard, kicking in the attitude control thrusters and inducing a spin on her bot. With all the mecha’s power she pitched it back and upright ready to blast the bastard, but then it went completely limp and fell to the floor. Skippy bore through the exterior armor of the creature’s faceplate and sat there idle. Dee extended her hand and it jumped up onto her mecha and skittered about finding some hidey-hole on the backside of her mecha to wait until such time as she could bring him back inside. The mecha self-repair system was already at full swing closing and repairing the damage done by the Chiata. The cockpit was airtight once again. The power indicator to the shields flashed from yellow to green. They were back online.

“Major, are you all right?” Azazel asked as his mecha clanked down next to hers.

“No! That took too much time and we have to move!”

I have the ship plans overlaid on our position, Dee. We have thirty seconds.

Calculate a jump point. Then jump me there. Dee knew it was risky, but they were out of time. Sometimes risks paid off. Sometimes you ended up melded to a bulkhead with your atoms starting a fusion fire with the metal there. She was banking on the former.

“Azazel, I’m bouncing to the target. Try to keep up if you can.” Dee braced for the possibility of QMTing into a wall, but it didn’t happen. She flashed in right where she needed to be. It looked just like the other ships she’d attacked over the past eighteen months. The long dull metal gray power conduits lined across the top of the corridor and twisted toward the belly of the ship where the power systems were. Red and green luminescent circuitry lined the pipes and the occasional blue flashes from Cerenkov radiation surrounded them.

“Fox! Fox!” She continued to say as she let missiles go that tracked into the bulkheads and power conduits creating blasts and secondary and tertiary explosions that followed down the tubes through the entire megaship. Large tens of meter long electric arcs danced about as the conduits failed. Seconds later Azazel bounced in just to her left and began targeting the remaining power tubes and blasting away at them. Plasma ruptured from the conduits throwing more and more electric arcs across the room for several tens of meters creating strong dynamic fields that caused Dee’s skin to tingle even through the mecha and her suit. There was an X-ray warning popping up in her mindview, but her suit would protect her. Fires and secondary explosions continued spreading along the path of the conduit. Most of the Cerenkov radiation ceased.

“Couldn’t let you have all the fun,” Azazel told her between blasts from his cannon. Dee was shocked.

“You almost made a joke, Azazel. And at the right time, even,” She spun about, going to bot-mode drawing her cannon and tracked the highlighted conduits in her mindview. As the targeting Xs turned from yellow to red, she went to the plasma guns. Azazel again followed suit. The two FM-14X’s weapons were formidable and wreaked havoc on the internal power flow systems of the alien ship. There was so much chaos from the erupting systems that the Chiata in the engine power room scattered with what seemed to be random fashion and, Dee hoped, fear. Occasionally one of them would attempt to get a bead on her or Azazel and fire through the fireballs and secondary explosions, but Dee and her wingman bounced about, making difficult targets of themselves. On two separate occasions, Skippy flew from wherever his hidey-hole had been on her mecha and devoured two of the unarmored Chiata and it only took him seconds for each.

“Guns, guns, guns,” Azazel pressed on. “Watch your six, Phoenix. There’s one trying to get the drop on you.”

“Got it!” Dee dropped and rolled backwards and up to a knee bringing the large cannon up to her shoulder to fire it. Green glowing plasma spewed across the room tracking the alien. The targeting X turned red and the plasma balls hit home. “Must have been an engineer or something. He wasn’t even wearing armor. And the ones Skippy got weren’t wearing any either.”

19 seconds, Dee.

“Bringers Bravo Team, give me a sitrep on the control room!” Dee looked at the blue force tracker for her squadron in her mindview and could see herself, her wingman, and the other four mecha from Alpha Team near her and engaging a hornet’s nest of Chiata. About a kilometer up and forward of her was Bravo Team moving in on the bridge dome.

“Phoenix, this is Molloch.”

“Go, Molloch!”

“Yes, ma’am. Bravo Team has taken the bridge and are holding it. The self-destruct sequence has been triggered. You must stop the feedback in the power conduit system within a minute or the ship will explode.”

“Well, we’ve got less time than that or DeathRay is pulling us out,” she replied. “Find a target and fire the BBDs as soon as we stop the self-destruct so he knows we have the ship!”

“Roger that.”

10 seconds, Dee. The builder bots have already connected the Buckley weapon from the supercarriers. Her AIC added. As soon as you take out these conduits they can fire the weapon.

“Guns, guns, guns!” she shouted over all the inputs crowding her mind. “Come on, Azazel, we’ve only got seconds.”

Dee spun to her right just as a red and green blur zipped past her. She did an out-and-in and came up just beside the armored Chiata, grabbing three tendrils with one of her mechanized hands. She popped two missiles loose from her shoulder harness and grabbed them with her free hand and stabbed them through the alien’s midsection. In a mad whirl, she completed an aikido-style flowing circle taking the alien mecha’s energy through the circle, generating crushing centrifugal force just as she let it go.

“Detonate the missiles now, Bree!”

The mecha squirmed and spun with tendrils flailing trying to get at the missiles that had been jabbed through it and just as a tendril pulled one clear it was too late. The alien mecha exploded at the instant it impacted the backflow energy conduit creating the self-destruct build up wave. The conduit and alien and the missiles exploded simultaneously, generating a blue-white fireball and a spherical burst of electrical discharges across the deck. The shock wave rocked both her and Azazel off their feet and onto their backsides with a resounding metal to metal kathunk.

“Phoenix, this is Molloch. The self-destruct build up has stopped. Preparing to fire the BBDs.”

“Come on, Dee!” DeathRay said anxiously as he watched her minute tick away to seconds and then to zero.

“Do I order the snap-back, Admiral?” the XO asked. The Air Boss turned to watch their exchange as well. “The Bringers of Hell are out of time.”

At that moment a blue beam erupted from the target megaship and zigged across space between two ships in front of the Penzington, made a port turn, and then zagged directly into the same ship the gunner had been targeting.

“Hot damn! Nothing like waiting to the last second, Dee.” Jack was elated. Dee had taken the ship and that blue beam of death from Hell was her signal of triumph. “We’re not tucking tails and running just yet. Get me some Buckley weapon solutions.”

“Admiral, CDC.”

“Go, CDC.”

“Sir, there appears to be more hyperspace activity about an astronomical unit out.”

“I’ve got them, Admiral,” the STO reported. “Looks like a completely new fleet of megaships.”

“Shit,” DeathRay took a deep breath and cleared his mind for the brief instant it took for the Penzington to perform her next quantum membrane out-and-in maneuver. As reality space appeared back on the viewscreens and DTM interfaces he had an idea.

Penzington, this is Phoenix, copy?” Dee’s voice penetrated the million inputs in Jack’s head getting his attention.

“Go Dee!”

“The Bringers have stopped the self-destruct and the ship is under our control. If the Army tankheads want to help mop up in here they could join us,” Dee announced over the control net.

“Great, Dee! Ground Boss, make that happen!”

“Aye sir.”

“Dee, I’m sending an attack plan to you. Get the Buckley weapon ready to fire as soon as you see the Penzington let hers loose, understood?”


Candis, you see where I’m going with this. Relay it to the bridge crew DTM.

Done, Jack.

“Alright helm, next bounce is right there in the middle of those ships an astronomical unit out.” Jack highlighted the area in the bridge-wide direct to mind battlescape view so everyone was clear of his plan. “We pop back in on the outermost side of them, then gunner, as soon as we hit reality space, fire the Buckley weapon.”

“Aye sir. Jumping in three, two, one.”

Reality space phased out about the Penzington and then there was the ever-familiar brilliant white flash of light and the sizzle and crackle in Jack’s ears. And just like that, they had moved several hundred thousand kilometers in the blink of an eye from one hornet’s nest into another. And these hornets were fresh and ready to attack.

The Chiata ships around them were almost uncountable as they popped up in the nearscape view in DeathRay’s mindview of the battle. The hornets turned to swarm but little did they know that Jack had the perfect bee zapper ready and waiting.

“Fire the Buckley weapon!” Jack ordered.

“Aye, sir.”

The deck plates of the ship started to hum as the immense power surge from the converted alien power generators fed through the bot built supercarrier’s Buckley-Freeman point barrier shield projectors.

Full-system wide battlescape DTM Candis, Jack thought. Share it with the bridge. And keep a pop out window open zoomed on us unless something else happens we need to see.

Roger that.

A direct to mind projection of the system filled the room over his head. A battlescape sphere appeared near the center, filled with a magnified display. The U.S.S. Nancy Penzington was exactly in the middle of it, along with a small fleet of alien megaships. The blue force tracker icons filled the projection. Jack noted that the number of red dots was significantly higher than the blue dots. He hoped that the new out-and-in capabilities on the mecha was a force multiplier that would even the numbers a bit.

The Penzington looked like a strange giant alligator. The snail antennae that were the tuning forks for the big blue beams stood erect upwards and out of the top just a bit forward of the middle, and the four supercarriers jutted out on each side, two in the front and two in the back, as squatty mechanical legs gave her the appearance of something built from necessity and not for beauty. But to Jack she was perfect, the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. And at that moment the Chiata were about to see that beauty up close and personal—the awful hellaciously deadly beautiful payback.

He was giving them payback for all the death the alien bastards had caused so far. It was only a drop in the bucket as far as he was concerned. They deserved a whole lot more killing. In his mind nothing short of genocide was good enough for the Chiata for killing his wife. Jack didn’t realize it but a single tear rolled down his cheek as he unconsciously wept for his lost wife—the namesake of the Hell being brought to the Chiata bastards at the present moment. His suit quickly slurped the moisture into the organogel layer and recycled it.

Emanating from the toes of the strange beast at the nose of each of the supercarriers were the blue and white flickering Buckley-Freeman barrier energy shields. At the moment they were absorbing more energy from the quantum membrane that made up the universe than they could withhold within themselves. Since the age-old law of physics that energy could neither be created nor destroyed still held true, all that energy had to go somewhere. Fortunately—for the humans—that was—the brilliant chief engineer of the U.S.S. Sienna Madira had figured out where to send it in a previous engagement with the Chiata.

As the shields drew power from within the alien starship’s membrane extraction system, the barrier spread from the tips of each of the alligator legs and grew and then thickened and darkened and continued to spread. The four separate barriers grew until they collided with each other and then melded into a sphere about the Penzington. The sphere of immense impenetrable energy grew and grew. And grew.

As the Buckley weapon redistributed the energy from the quantum membranes that made up the multiverse into reality space of this universe, the barrier continued to spread and the multitude of blue beams that zigged and zagged into it had little if no effect. Likewise, any matter the barrier came into contact with was instantaneously vaporized. The ball continued to grow out to about fifty Earth radii or so, destroying everything in its path in a matter of seconds. It took another fifty Earth radii for the barrier to dissipate to negligible energy levels, inflicting various levels of damage to ships within it along the way.

The DTM battlescape popout view above them suddenly zoomed out and back into a second blast. The second Buckley weapon effect could be seen several hundred thousand kilometers aft and starboard and more inward to the system. Dee’s team had fired the weapon and the alien megaships surrounding that ship were being vaporized.

“That should put a dent in them,” DeathRay breathed a sigh of relief.

“Sir, they are still popping in and out of hyperspace further out.” The XO turned and pointed at the battlescape waving her hands until it zoomed farther out. “Look here, sir, at about ten astronomical units out.”

“That has to be over a hundred more ships!” Jack exclaimed. “They knew we were coming. There are more ships here by orders of magnitude than we’ve ever faced. This damned engagement is a trap! STO, how long ’til we can fire the weapon again?”

“Several minutes, sir. It will take the bots and the fire crews some time to replace and reroute the burned-out conduits,” the STO replied.

“Understood. Alright, keep up the out-and-ins and fire the BBDs and all weapons at will,” he ordered.

“Sir, if it is a trap, shouldn’t we make our exit?” the XO Teena clone asked. “We have never tested the main weapon for that many multiple shots.”

“Good point, Seven,” Jack replied as he reconsidered their situation. “I say we push them until it becomes too much for us and then we get the hell out of here. Maybe we can steal another megaship to take home with us.”

“Understood, sir,” the XO acknowledged.

The alien ships in the battlescape ball began to hyperspace jump all around the Penzington and Dee’s newly acquired ship. It didn’t appear as if there was any intent to ram the ships, but the Chiata seemed to have developed some new tactic. They were jumping in so closely that they were almost rubbing into each other. Jack knew instantly what was about to happen, because it is exactly what the Separatists Hauler Battleships would do.

“Sound the alarms and stand by!” he shouted. “They’re going to try and board us! Helm, start random jumps now!”

“I’m getting no response from the jump drives or the QMT controls, Admiral.” The clone at the helm replied. DeathRay wasn’t certain but he thought he could detect a slight amount of concern in the Mike clone’s voice.

“CHENG to Captain,” the chief engineer’s voice sounded over the bridge speakers.

“Go, CHENG.”

“Sir, the vortex projector will need another minute or so to recover enough energy after firing the main weapon,” the CHENG said. “We will not have hyperspace drive for a bit.”

“What about the QMT jumps?”

“They draw power from the same system, sir.”

“How long, CHENG?”

“Two minutes. And I suspect the other ship is in similar shape.”

“Get me some sort of jump back online CHENG. Now!”

“Aye sir.”

“I am beginning to believe this actually was a trap, sir,” the XO turned to him. “Maybe they want to see how our weapon works.”

“They shouldn’t know about it unless we’ve let some aliens escape previous attacks that we were unaware of,” Jack said. “This stinks of something else. Ground Boss! Have the tankheads ready to engage as the damned aliens attack. Air Boss, get every mecha you can on the hull of this ship.”

“Aye, sir.”

“DeathRay to Phoenix!”

“Phoenix here!”

“Dee, we’re about to have two very bad minutes.”

“Understood, DeathRay. I see it coming. We could scuttle and snap-back with the wrist bands.”

“Last resort, Dee, but if it gets too hairy over there you all snap-back to safety, understood?”


Back | Next