Thursday, November 22, 2012

War Angel: part eighty-two

Jack felt the deck vibrate beneath him as a cacophonous explosion roared throughout the Kan’Tar. He pressed his hands flat against the table, steadying himself as the shockwaves roiled through the guts of the massive ship. Alarm claxons rang out, and the lights dimmed, then went out. After a moment, a bright blue glow began to emit from the ceiling and from the floorboards.

“Well. They must be on their way,” he thought. Lifting his hands from the table, he slowly turned his head and spit a glob of blood onto the nearest wall. It splattered as it hit, dripping down the wall like the claws of a demon. The blue lighting gave it an almost fluorescent look, causing Jack to briefly admire his work. He then began the slow process of standing up again. “Better get ready. Soon,” he thought. “Soon.”

B’thah K’alat wiped away the blood from the gash in his forehead. After he finished, he stormed across the bridge of the Serr’Donn to the sensor station. “What is the status of that ship?” he demanded.

The warrior responded without looking up from his station. “They hit us hard. We have momentarily lost helm control, but it should be repaired in –“ Before he could finish, K’alat grabbed him by the shoulder and threw him out of his chair and onto the deck. The Omegan captain then stomped down on the warrior’s neck with the heel of his boot.

“I… said… what is the status of THAT ship! Not this one, fool!” He relaxed his foot. “Do your job, or you will be replaced!”

Nodding his head, the warrior got up off the floor and returned to his station. He studied his instruments for a moment, and then turned around, lightly trembling. “My Commander, they are… the enemy ship has used its weaponry to destroy the inner hull and has begun making its way inside the Kan’Tar.” He paused, his hands shaking. “It is continuing to do so, firing its weapons in all directions.” He swallowed, his throat going dry. “They have made their way through ten percent of the ship so far.”

K’alat went silent for a moment. “May the dead hunt well in Erestia.” The Omegan closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them wide. “They must be stopped. Helm, get us to this end of their wake and put us into a position to fire all weapons. They have nowhere to run. We will have them.”

Kate continued to study the data Richard was sending her, adjusting the cannons and firing at a steady clip. As they made their way deeper into the Kan’Tar, she shifted her pattern. Her thinking had been two-dimensional at first, the optical illusion presented by the inside of the Omegan ship playing with her head, but as she began relying on the sensor data, she realized that she could use the guns on every axis. She fired forward, backward, to each side, up and down… suddenly she could picture the insides of the beast as no different than being out in space. She had a full sphere of tactical targets surrounding her, and the hunting was very, very good.

All around the War Angel, the Kan’Tar was dying in pieces. The cannons were cutting large chasms through the decks, destroying everything in their path. Equipment, vital systems… none of it was safe and was to be expected. But the crew of the War Angel was taken by surprise when the bodies started hitting them.

Initially, there was just one. Gina saw something on the viewscreen that looked a little larger than most of the debris they’d seen until that point, but it took until it impacted the shields to see that it was an Omegan warrior. He was missing an arm and a leg, and half of his face was burned off, but there was no mistaking it: this was the face of the enemy.

Gina turned pale. “Oh, no,” she whispered. “Please no.”

Kate opened fire again. “We killed how many with the bug and you’re worried about that?” she yelled from the weapons station.

“This is different,” Gina replied, anger rising in her voice. Four more bodies rained down upon the War Angel, bouncing away like limp sacks of meat.

“Debate later,” Sarah interjected. “Clover, how close are we to Jack?”

Richard eyeballed his data screen. “Sending Kate a firing solution that should cut us a hole that will get us as close as fifty meters now, Commander.”

“Received.” Kate punched in the solution and fired. “Path cleared. I’ll gear up and go get him.” She stepped away from the weapons station to find Sarah standing in front of her at the door.

“Belay that, F.A. You have the conn.” Sarah gritted her teeth. “This one is on me.”

Kate sneered. “That’s garbage and you know it. You want to play military ship all this time, and now pull this? You know this is inappropriate, Commander. Your place is on the bridge. Period.”

Sarah stepped through the door. “Not right now it isn’t.” She started walking away, Kate watching her as she went. Over her shoulder, she yelled one last command: “Cover my six, F.A.!”

Kate sighed heavily. “Yeah,” she muttered to herself, “because that’s worked so well for me today.”

The landing bay door opened, and Sarah hopped down to what was left of the floor beneath the War Angel. She admired the old ship’s destructive power for a moment, then set off in the direction of Jack’s transponder. The last cannon blast had cut a new hallway through the Kan’Tar, and she followed it steadily, gun pointed ahead of her in case of unexpected company.

All she saw, though, were dead bodies.

It amazed her, the numb sensation running through her body. It was like an electric current that kept her from feeling anything else. Days ago she would have considered herself to be something of a pacifist; now she was using biological weapons to commit mass murder of the enemy, and those untouched by the bug were fodder for the weaponry of the ship she had helped restore and bring to life. “One is resurrected, another dies,” she thought, trying not to admire the symmetry and failing.

She reached the end of the “corridor” and saw the hallway where she had walked earlier. A quick right turn, and a few doors ahead on the left was the dining hall. She approached cautiously, and then opened the door. Standing with his back against the wall, next to the door, was Jack. He blinked twice, clearing his vision, and then gave her a wan smile. “What,” he groaned, “took you so long?”

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