Thursday, August 25, 2011

Land Leave 16

No pic for the day, just a great link to the scale of things in sci-fi and real life.

Bill pulled out of the hole first. He was the first small craft to successfully pass through a wormhole. The excitement of holding that honor quickly evaporated as he realized what was in front of him. A fully powered up fleet of Jovian vessels twice the estimated size. “Uh oh.” Bill looked at his map, the cube and the fighters had pulled through, but the main fleet was missing still.

“I got double estimate on hostiles, all copy?” Bill spoke into the comm.

“I copy, I'm getting increasing small craft signatures; here it comes.” James felt his stomach churn and his heart race. “Cube, where is our fleet?”

“Wait, they are coming.” the cube was not in a rush. It had not been briefed on the military aspects of the operation.

Hundreds of small fighter and bomber craft launched from the vessels and made a beeline to the small group. “Incoming,” Bill saw the distant launches of heat-seeking missiles. He blasted a wall of flares. The missiles changed course and collided with the flares.

“This can't be right,” James sounded unsettled, “I'm reading 3 AmU ships, one of which is the Continental.”

“I read it too. What are they doing?” Bill was very unnerved. The Continental was three times the size of the Eve and was the flagship in the AmU fleet. It appeared to be at the head of the hostile fleet and assisting them. Bill read as fighter signatures emerged from the ship. He clenched his teeth and got on the comm, “James, what do we do?”

“Get stubborn. Follow me.” James was determined. The eight fighters moved out of formation with the cube, and broke through the fighters ahead of them. They scattered emp bursts and throttled went to the central turret ridge of the Continental. As they tightened in on the ship, they scattered formation and left a trail of flares behind them. At that moment, the AmU fleet pulled through the wormhole. Almost immediately a large laser blast struck one of the Jovian ships.

Debris scattered everywhere. Over the comm, the captain's voice came through, “fleet, this is the Eve, status?”

James spoke up, “we have hostile AmU forces. Something's up. The Continental is leading.”

“I read that, we are initiating phase two.” The captain's voice was steady.

Bill deftly avoided a narrow collision with a debris cloud, He checked his sensors and saw the second phase was in action. The cube's gravitational field was throwing objects into large elliptical orbits. At the same time it had opened another pinhole that was absorbing a majority of the incoming fire.

“We don't have much time, there will be a nasty kick-back soon,” Bill swung his ship around and headed for the fleet. The opening of the second pinhole meant the beginning of the tough part; it was going to be much harder than simply doing something unprecedented.

Bill registered incoming hostiles, the two fleets were almost equal in number. The addition of the AmU flagship contingent, ships that should have been defending Earth from the Jovians, was confusing and scary. But the AmU ships hadn't pursued the Eve to Ares. Something was wrong. Bill watched as four fleet ships passed through the pinhole. The remaining six ships split into two groups of three.

The Eve headed straight toward the Continental with two other ships—the Dawn and the Siren. All fighters formed a large sphere around the three. Then on all comm channels, the captain's voice came through, “AmU Continental, you are in clear violation of inter-planetary law and have committed an act of violence against your own fleet, stand down and surrender.”

The captain was bluffing slightly. He knew that the Continental was significantly more powerful than the Eve and his move at Mars meant that they probably were the hostile fleet. But he tried anyway. He checked the status of the cube, it had pinholed through. He felt relieved and tentative. The cube had opened a separate pinhole to an undisclosed location with the four fleet ships. The other three ships were pinholing to Earth, Mars, and Jupiter respectively. They were ordered to gather any information.

The captain looked at the rear view screen. He saw a wave of energy from the kick-back coming toward the ships. “Order all fighters to quick dock! Move to use the hostiles as a shield against the incoming wave.” That was all part of the plan anyway, but the order may have come too late. The Continental was out maneuvered by the Eve, and the remnant fleet settled behind the ships as the shock wave hit. “Easy now. Give the pinhole order. Now!”

The Eve and the three ships all opened their pinholes. As they did so, a Jovian ship swung in front of the Siren's field. The pinhole shut and the two ships exploded together. “Brace yourselves!” The captain ordered. A large chunk of debris was headed toward the Eve. The Eve was mid-thread as it approached. Dr. Kelvin stood breathlessly as the enormous chunk filled the bridge, then she was staring at the dark side of the moon.