Beyond the White Stars, part 2 – Short ThursdaysThursday, May 6, 2010 at 9:07 am
This week’s new short story is part 2 of “Beyond the White Stars.” Next week I hope to have the new epub books ready on the site. Those with ereaders, be sure to check them out!
The downloadable version of this story will be available once full story is told.
“Beyond the White Stars,” Part 2, by Adam Casalino
An eruption of yellow and white flooded the launch grounds as ships from the various fleets flew into the sky. The momentary blindness caused by the sight faded and all that remained on the ground was a sinking cloud of smoke. A score of glistening crafts pierced through the atmosphere. After a minute’s time the clear blue of earth’s sky was peeled away, revealing the endless black of space.
The ships took their positions. The swift cruisers formed the outer ranks. Behind them were the heavy-hitting bruisers and warships. A voice squawked over the pilots’ com, directing the fleets and reminding everyone of their mission.
“Cruisers will engage the escort. Bruisers and warships will hold their positions and intercept any that attempt to evade us. Remember: we’re there merely to slow their progress. We can’t expect to take them all out. Once it gets too hot, we’re pulling out.”
Henry clicked on his mic. “Sir, why don’t we just engage the carriers? If we strike preemptively, we might draw out all those little fighters. With luck, their numbers will be too low for the assault on earth.”
“Because Captain, this is not a suicide mission. We don’t have enough ships to engage all their fighters. Besides the carriers aren’t equipped to fight. It’s best we focus on their escort.”
Within fifteen minutes they passed the moon and saw the first of the enemy. They were massive crafts, more like floating cities than transports. Five of these carriers were closest, with many more behind.
A voice piped up over the com. “Sir, I don’t see any accompanying ships.”
“There has to be,” came the commander. “Carriers can’t maneuver well enough to fight.”
“I hope you’re right,” Henry added. “Because the cruisers are about to engage.”
“Dammit Brill–” Henry turned off the main com and switched to the cruiser fleet’s channel. “This is Captain Brillson. We are engaging the carriers. Cruisers follow me.”
Henry’s ship dropped out of formation and banked right. The cruisers followed. They approached the nearest carrier, forming into the usual attack formation.
“On my mark…”
The cruisers opened fire. The blasts slammed against the ship’s hull. It rocked backward from the impact. The fleet circled around and prepared for a second assault. The carrier responded. There was a blinding flash of white. A screeching sound filled the pilots’ com. A wave of energy knocked the cruisers into disarray. It continued until it struck one of the bruisers. It exploded instantly, igniting several nearby crafts.
After the blazing light subsided and the ringing left his ears, Henry regained his bearings. The blast had knocked him further than the rest. In the distance he could see the fleets scattering as the carriers attacked. Their hulls were opened and swarms of fighters had emerged.
He pulled on his thrusters but his ship wouldn’t move. A red light appeared on his computer display. His engines were dead. His fingers flew over the keys of his console. He entered every command he knew, but the ship would not kick to life. Another warning light appeared. Ships were approaching from behind. Henry cocked his head around to look. He tried to curse but the words got caught in his throat. Twenty of the massive enemy carriers were moving towards him.
Without thinking Henry unclasped his restraints. He pulled his emergency oxygen mask over his face and made sure his gun was in his belt. His hand moved towards the ejection switch. Floating through space was a better option to him than waiting helplessly for his ship to explode. The cruiser lurched forward and his hand missed the switch. All power left the craft. He sat in the dark cockpit, the only light the flashes of battle miles away.
His ship lurched again. There came the sound of bending metal and he began to move. Henry knew what was happening. One of the enemy vessels was pulling him in. The cruiser was moving backward and he twisted himself uncomfortably so he could see. Through the small porthole in the back he peered out. The largest of the carriers was drawing in his ship. It’s great front parted as the little craft was swallowed up into a black maw. Captain Henry sat in the void of light and sound, his hand on his pistol, waiting for the inevitable.