Saturday, September 3, 2011

Land Leave 19

Some really cool wind sculpture at the art fair.

Land leave 19

Bill's laser cutter was slow to say the least. He had to keep the power down and the targeting precise. The computers helped stabilize the ship a little but the weird air currents created by the mega-structure made the ship hard to control. As he cut, large chunks of debris spilled off the gash he had opened: papers, wires, pieces of wall, glass, and useless desk trinkets. He had made it about half-way through when he felt the sonic booms.

He glanced at his radar and saw two large ships looming in the distance. He looked down and saw smoke coming from the lower levels of the mega-structure. He had missed the initial hits in his fervor to cut and now he had his back to two warships with enough firepower to blast the mega-structure into a very large pile of junk. The entire mega-structure contained nearly 35 million souls, all nearly guaranteed to be trapped by the collapse without any of the necessary air traffic.

Bill had taken ten minutes to cut through those floors, now he needed a quicker solution. He loaded up his cluster missiles and put a linear pattern on their detonations. Hopefully he would be able to blast through the floors that way. He armed the missiles and locked the target, and took a final assessment of the gash. He looked and saw a shadow take a huge leap over the gash. It was a Navy pilot's uniform. Bill smiled, “James.” Bill put on the bullhorn, called out his detonation sequence and hoped that James had cleared the area.

Bill got on the comm, “a-frame detachment in 10 seconds. Mayday, mayday.” He waited, hoping the chief he had met heard him, and pressed the little red button. A stream of three missiles shot out in front of him and sliced through the remaining structure of the building. He looked at the initial blast zone, and watched 10 stories of the pillar collapse. It fell mostly in a mass; Bill realized immediately the danger in a large chunk coming down. He started descending with the piece firing everything at it to try to break it up. Huge chunks broke apart, scattering over a larger area than he had hoped.

“Hopeless,” he mumbled. The piece crashed down somewhere onto the replica city of Boston, shooting up a cloud of heavy dust. Bill pulled his ship up sharply and turned to the two ships that had just shown up around the mega-structure. “Just need time.” He lined up and kicked his thrusters, accelerating to his death. He loaded all his weapons and fired them blindly; knowing the shields would largely keep the impacts from hitting their marks. He knew he was in range of the turrets and he fired out his flares. The fighter turned red as his ammo ran out and his radar picked up that he was targeted.

Bill turned off his alarms and took a deep breath, he turned the cockpit toward the bridge of one of the ships and accelerated to full speed.

The bridge exploded, and the ship split in two. Through the flames and smoke, Bill glimpsed the Eve, with three other ships, all launching into a heavy assault. Bill momentarily let go of his controls. For a moment a long squeak, somewhere between a scream of joy and complete terror, emanated from his mouth. He got on the comm, “this is ensign Tan calling the Eve, come in.”

“This is Sorensen, status.”

“Aside from hostiles we have major damage to the mega-structure; I don't give it much time. I believe Rojas is alive inside the upper levels,” Bill kicked his thrusters hard and turned to resume his rescue mission at the structure, “use channel 4 to comm with rescue leadership.”

On the bridge Sorensen looked at his screen. The Eve was barely functional. The fusion engines were all completely wrecked, barely able to keep the ship in the air. After pushing four consecutive pinholes in such a short time, two of the fusion engines had overheated. There was a breach and they had to be shut down. The shields couldn't be supported and the laser weapons were out of commission. Only traditional artillery was functional. They were just lucky that they had entered into atmospheric conditions because life-support was barely working.

The gamble had worked though, one pinhole to the cube and they had called back the remnant fleet. The cube was a godsend, able to generate a near infinite number of pinholes and send multiple ships through. Sorensen got on the comm, “AmU vessel Yorktown, you are surrounded and we have multiple locks on you. Surrender your ship and prepare to be boarded.” Sorensen gave the signal to launch the boarding team; they would take command of the Yorktown and proceed with rescue operations on the mega-structure.

The captain came into the room, “are you ready captain?”

Sorensen smiled, he would take command of a ship. If anything, a field promotion was worth something. Sorensen nodded to the captain and moved to the elevator. He checked his sidearm and held his breath. Hopefully everything went off without a hitch. This war was already too costly and until the AmU fleet was under control, outside nations were refusing to aid in rescue operations for fear of making the conflict more international.

Sorensen stepped in the elevator and called out the shuttle bay. The doors shut and he felt the elevator move. He exhaled and realized how lucky they had been. The Jovian fleet scattered when the Continental's starboard was heavily damaged after the kick-back from the pinhole. There would be major fall-out once this was done.

At the hangar, the armored personnel transport shuttle, or APT was ready to go. Sorensen jumped in and gave the order. They shot through the launch tube, “captain, we have lift-off.”

“Good, just got news, the Yorktown has surrendered. You are clear to dock.” Sorensen was relieved. No more conflict. They pulled into the docking bay. When the team exited they were greeted by the first officer there.

“I should have you all arrested, but we're on rescue and need help. Direct your men to prioritize civilian retrieval on the mega-structure.” Sorensen nearly spat at the first officer. His contempt for the situation was almost too obvious, “I am also relieving your captain of duty. Put him in the brig and hold him there until this is over.”

The first officer looked at him and swiftly turned to carry out his orders. He knew that their coup had failed and understood the severity of their crimes.

Sorensen arrived at the bridge of the Yorktown. The captain was nowhere to be found. He turned to the first officer, “where is he?”

“We confined him to his office fifteen minutes ago. After he ordered the destruction of the mega-structure, we mutinied,” the first officer was obviously remorseful.

“Let me see him,” Sorensen commanded. The first officer led him to the office and unlocked the door. It opened. Blood was everywhere. The captain's body was slumped over his desk and in his hand was a gun.

“He must have hidden it in his office, we searched him before,” the first officer's comments seemed detached, unable to process what had just happened.

“Get someone to clean this up, and pull in tight on the west pillar of the blast zone. I want a flawless rescue,” Sorensen turned, the battle was over, but the biggest losses still loomed.