Beyond the Sky: Chapter 39

Full Alert

  Two dozen missiles shot out from two dozen jets, half and half racing towards the center. Selva cut in the laser beam and picked them off—crack-crack-crack-crack-crack—in flashes of blue lightning. A clean slice, right as the planes closed.  
One zoomed past, close enough to see the pilot.
What is THAT?” a female voice shouted over the radio. Selva had tapped into their transmissions.
“Our missiles, they’re—gone!” a male Flyer, this time. “The Malgies’, too!”
A third voice: “I have weapons lock. Firing!”
“Oh no you don’t!” Selva grinned.
The scoutship turned on a coin, protected from the airstream by a lenticular bubble of deflector fields, and blasted the approaching missile with a laser bolt. The jet arced overhead. “He’s flying backwards!”
“Use guns!” The flight commander.
The scoutship banked, a gaggle of fighter jets followed.
“It’s confirmed.” Warmaster Nellan lowered the phone, hand trembling. “Nuclear blast, off the Forsaken Lands. We’ve lost contact with our fleet.”
Through a door in the upper balcony, a Fesk man in fancy robes arrived. Prime Minister Wirar. Delvar motioned him down, and explained the situation. His fur straightened.
“We must move to launch preparations,” King Delvar said. “The Malgies want a war, they’ll get one!” From a pocket he removed a piece of paper, folded and encased in plastic, and turned to the War Room council. “Gentlemen, the day we long feared has finally arrived. Though peace was kept for forty years, it was not to last. We face now the grim duty of our forefathers in the Long War, and those many trials before. But I have faith in you, and we shall prevail. For the good of the Realm.”
He cracked the plastic, and unfolded the launch codes. Warmaster Nellan stood beside a launch-control console and the officer seated at it. He took Delvar’s codes.
“Third from the top, verification Sapling-Riverfruit-Sunrise.”
The officer punched it in.
“Chief Warmaster, for the record,” Nellan announced himself, and opened his own codes. “Second from the bottom, Fifthday-Fisherman-Wagonwheel.”
All eyes fell on Wirar, who looked on the verge of collapse.
His lips quivered. “No.”
“What?” Nellan swiveled his ear.
“I said, NO!”
“I’m not sure this is such a good idea!” Selva’s jolts and turns were so hard Velli felt the cabin-repulsors have trouble compensating. Tracer rounds filled the sky like fragments of molten metal.
“Good news is, they’re out of missiles.” The last one whizzed past. “I’m still trying to pick up the fleets.” A screen beeped. “Got a Malgie harassing a Mespreth further back.”
She banked and poured on the impellers. One jet chased another, in arcing curves with minigun firing. Slowing, Selva deftly slotted the scoutship between the two combatants. The attacker pulled up and screeched away on afterburners.
“Just need to keep them disoriented,” said Selva. “They’ll run low on fuel. Eventually.”
The echoes of Deep One speech filled Glint’s ears again.
“They will deal with the plotters as they wish,” Carter translated. Scores of them filled the sea outside, now. “They question our motives, whether we truly are what we say and if we owe allegiance to Mespreth or the Amalgamation.”
“Tell them no, and if it does work they’ll be punished fivefold!”
The swimmers grew agitated. One released the cylinder on the end of his staff, it floated upward and exploded against the drone’s deflectors with a dirty bubble of cavitation. Glint thudded against the padding.
“We have overstayed our welcome.” With a clunk, ballast weights dropped away and the drone ascended.
Captain Benson clipped his harness into place, bridge crew doing likewise. “Sound general quarters, activate combat mode and bring the warbrain online. What’s our position?”
“Coming up on the Amalgamation, sir.” Heather checked her screens.
“Load the targeting program.” The tactical officer complied. “Warm up the impellers, stand by to detach observation shield.” He dared not drop it now, the appearance of a huge spaceship on their radars might be just the thing to tip them into nuclear war.
He leaned forward in his seat, and waited. When the history books were written, when the xenologists got a feel for the Lemurians, what would they say? Did they overcome their failings, the instinctual baggage of their evolution? Or did they, in a fit of hatred, stupidity, or sheer accident march themselves to destruction? On how many dozens of worlds, in Stellar Compact space alone, had these events taken place?
He wished with every fiber of his being that it not happen here.

Cover image: by Arek Socha


Please Login in order to comment!
Powered by World Anvil