“I noticed that there’s a shuttle on the roof,” Boyd’s digitally amplified voice said over the Class V Fighter’s loudspeakers. “Need a lift?”
In illustrating the innocence of the query as well as the logistics of the offer, he swung his ship around and poked its left wing through the open window.
“Wait,” General Canoy reached out for Mexico who, along with Corinna and Jocelin, was already in an instinctive process of turning to head over toward the metalized olive branch while questioning, “how can you be sure that this person can even be trusted?”
“Perdón,” Mexico paused the inevitable processional in order to remind the General that, “I’m not even sure about trusting you,” before trailing his attendants on over and onto the wing. The footing was tight because of the sturdy triangle design, tricky to fit everybody on there, and slippery because of the continuing rain, so they each maneuvered along the wing via safety-minded crouches which kept their centers of gravity grounded and limited the chances of falling off one of the sides. He turned back to offer a hand to induce her to stop messing around where she stood and join them.
A scowl met the sentiment as General Canoy wondered ‘how dare’ Battletry to show her up. But aside from what her pride had to say, her options were limited – so the latter was swallowed so that the former could be allowed to prolong her life. She slung her laser rifle away, hurried over to the wing, and accepted that hand.
That whole episode was not lost on Boyd who sat behind the concealment of his outwardly blackened cockpit. Neither his nor Mexico’s covers were in danger of being blown, and they would continue to play off each other for times like these when people like the General did not seem to originally fit into the scheme of things but had to be a missing piece of the puzzle nonetheless. Her entire squad was dead? She was the only one that survived? This being their second meeting? It seemed about as convenient as a botanist who only wanted to use the enormity of the power from the Deew to assist others and nothing else. The Enforcer hated being played but decided to play along for the purposes of seeing how things would play out. Now, the word ‘play’ happened to be used in this paragraph five times, but this was neither a game nor an act to anybody involved. At the cost of sacrificing his own generals, he did consider taking Janette’s out the equation with a purposely accidental dip of the left wing but instead cautioned, “Brace yourselves,” and kept the fighter straightened up in order to fly right.
Vertical takeoff and landing thrusters were yet another technology which was perfected under the stress of military trials that made almost more sense when released to the general public. Designed for a time when the optimal stretch of runway might not have been accessibly available for a smooth running takeoff or landing, which was most of the time during campaigns, ships now had the ability to simply raise and lower themselves to the demands of the terrain. Weather conditions, tight spaces, confined holding patterns were no longer an issue; and flight-based planetary and interplanetary public transportation were the welcome beneficiaries of the common sense aerospace advances.
Combined with its stabilizers (tiny thruster pockets which surrounded a ship and created frictionless flight conditions in water and air while providing superior handling in space), the subtle thrust of sideways flight became a reality. Stabilizers were more of compensators for corrective activities that a pilot would not perform nearly as efficiently as the flight computer but could be used for limited tasks such as this which were not so taxing on their secondary responsibilities. With the aft thrusters sitting in an idle state, Boyd turned his attention away from the twin yokes and toward the keyboard that jutted out from the monitor (like a laptop) between his legs in the control column and simply used the arrow keys for directional control. Pressing the right arrow key initiated the fighter’s slide to the right which retracted its left wing from the window. The speed of this precision endeavor was controlled by a selectable macro which erred on the side of tedious caution. Vessels like these could reach the sun from Earth in about an hour with their theoretical top speed, and there was no telling how the Enforcers had augmented those velocities and the surrounding materials to be able to withstand that strain; but to put this in perspective and with four people sitting nervously atop the leftmost wingspan, it was just best to use first gear at present.
Upon feeling the elevation of a taut (rather encouraging and reassuring) ascent, Mexico turned toward the canopy and said, “I don’t know who you are, but I’m sincerely hoping that you’ve brought some sort of backup with you.”
The lap belts and safety harnesses came in handy for the Cockpit Section, holding its occupants down during the turbulence of the first Carriveaua shot being absorbed. Still jarring nonetheless, each of the four people who were instrumental to the space station’s continued function scrambled to recover or perhaps maintain their bearings.
The point of the ruse was to draw a bead on the enemy vessel from the trajectory of their first attack which assumed, even with the ship being in motion, that a sufficient spread of return laser fire from SpaceStation Konxerus’ six swivel guns would be more than sufficient enough to down the Carriveaua threat. Those ships had little to no shielding and thrived from the virtual shadows because of this limitation, but the light of a speedy counterfire would expose them to an unmasking of destruction. The panel worker at Weapons Com had never lost sight of the firing button on the console, even during the whiplash torrent.
Responsible for righting the purposely effectuated tumble of allowing the spacestation to be blindsided, the panel worker at Left Com’s main focus stayed on keeping the ship from slamming into Dio Qze’s planetary shielding which would have meant its own destruction. At a much larger level, stabilizers performed what might have seemed like an almost impossible task (had it not been conceptually engineered expressly for these situations) of stopping the relative skid prior to impact with enough drama to cause Carriveaua mouths to salivate in the anticipation of an almost sure victory which never came.
Right Com lit up that panel worker’s console with the incoming trail of evidence which could be traced back to an origination point. And from there, the computer could extrapolate any number of fleeing points where the hidden Carriveaua vessel could reach in the time between the attack and this very moment. All this information was being fed to Weapons Com for the purposes of providing a veritable feasting from the potential retaliation, and that same information accounted for and adjusted seamlessly to any changes that were occurring out the Left Com station.
But the ‘thud’ was all wrong. Captain Borcuk knew the weapons strength of Carriveaua vessels, and that…was not…the laser fire…from a Carriveaua vessel. SpaceStation Konxerus was able to withstand the brunt of the initial attack, but it would not be able to survive too much more. Then, time sped up.
“Return fire!” The Captain ordered.
“Yes, Ma’am!” The panel worker at Weapons Com obliged by using the legendary three hundred and sixty degree firing radius of a spacestation’s swivel guns to light up two hundred and seventy degrees worth of space. From the frontal wings that lined either side of the Conference and Ranking Officials’ Living Sections to the dual battery placements attached to the sides of the Soldiers’ Living, Science/Medical, and Engineering Sections to both spots in the center of the massive wings that accentuated the Giant Thruster Section in the rear; the orb-shaped turrets swiveled about their enclosures when unleashing a spiky barrage of laser-laced vengeance.
The planet got in the way of the other ninety degrees, so the panel worker at Left Com not only used Dio Qze for partial cover (as the supposed Carriveaua vessel sent in an astute second salvo) but a thunderous acceleration point which allowed SpaceStation Konxerus’ swivel guns the chance to attack all the remaining degrees worth of targetable objective by default in its continued moving. Everybody within the cockpit worked in tandem, and the threats normally necessitated this machinelike unison, so although the person remained tight-lipped (read: intense) while performing the flying deed of evasion, there was no doubt how tight-knit everyone in the section remained during the action.
“Shield is down to twenty-five percent!” Tracking the hits now – from both ends, the panel worker at Right Com caught a computer-reconstructed glimpse of the vessel that the Carriveaua laid claim to. It was often said that pictures had a certain amount of words associated with them, so the visual was put up on the right quarter of the giant views-screen for all to see – as an added part of the person’s nonverbal contribution to this internal conversation of war.
For the Captain, the image served as confirmation. She already knew what they were up against from deciphering the sting of a…pulsar attack…but fingered her Ear-To-Mouth Com to make Boyd aware, “The New Alliance is already here.”
“What?” Boyd questioned as Mexico, Corinna, Jocelin, and General Canoy had finished hopping down from his fighter’s wing and making their way over to the shuttle’s opening back, ramp door.
“They’re using the Carriveaua for staging,” Captain Borcuk explained over Boyd’s Ear-To-Mouth Com – which in her mind made sense because of this push to usurp control over Galaxy Bloc…right within the Space Force’s own backyard, “and have added their stealth technology to the latest design of NA Destroyers.” This spacestation and the Enforcers were not the only ones who happened to be capable of reverse engineering co-opted technology; and the Dorans, in general, or their New Alliance sect, in particular, made that behavior popular with that whole ethnic cleansing thing of genetically reformatting whole races to not only their cellular structure but whim as well.
Upon hearing the bad news and realizing its dire implications Boyd cussed, “Fu–. I wonder how many of the Carriveaua leadership have been converted at this point. Their soldiers probably don’t even know why they’re doing this – carrying out what originally seemed to me like insanity with a nobody faction trying to challenge the Space Force.”
The Captain replied in a wise yet short tone – out of urgency’s requirement and no kind of admonishment, “Chaos is always sponsored. Finish up whatever you need to do down there. I’ve gotta tell General Pile about of this.”
“Understood,” Boyd agreed.