This is the short story I re-wrote and I’m once again pushing it out for Rachael Ritchey’s one year anniversary blog battle!
This story had been written for one of my previous blog battles, but in my usual way had bitten off more than I could chew. So this is the longer version of the story that I had originally envisaged:
The Enemy within the Rings
“Slowing the ship to enter Saturn’s orbit” was Hudson’s voice in Commander Scott’s earcom.
“Bring us as close as is safe to the rings, if there’s someone lurking out here then I don’t want to make our arrival too obvious” Scott had already gone over this approach when planning this mission, but he thought it never hurt to re-iterate.
Commander Scott was the commanding officer of the Earth Corps frigate called the Achillies. She wasn’t the biggest, fastest or most powerful spaceship in the corps, but he knew how to handle her when it mattered. Space pirates were always problem, but there was something different about what was going on here. Three mining vessels had disappeared in the last month in Saturn space and Achilles was the first ship on the scene to investigate the disappearances. The next spacecraft wasn’t due for a week, until then it was down to him and his crew to find out what had happened and secure the area.
“Do we have any unauthorised spacecraft in the area?” Scott was now walking along the spartan metallic corridors back to control. He wanted to make sure that this was done right and he had an uneasy feeling, this kind of thing hadn’t happened before.
“Nothing sir” came the reply from his operations manager. This was flight officer Gina Carella’s first mission and was young and new, but she was very good. Scott knew he could trust her to carry out a thorough job. “All I have on sensors are the mining ships M305, M370 and M42 is just leaving Saturn space.
“Good, I’m just on my way up, let me know if anything changes” Scott replied.
“Will do sir”
It was as soon as he had heard this that suddenly, for no perceivable reason a rising sense of tension, almost fear rose within him. He started running where he has been walking, the crew that saw him coming moved, the others that didn’t weren’t so lucky. Pushing them to one side or other he made his way to the access tube for the control centre. It was then that it happened, thrown from his feet to the deck floor, a massive explosion and the sound of grating, tearing metal reverberated though the ship.
The ships inertia was forcing Scott down, struggling up he made it to the access tube. The lift wasn’t functioning so he pushed his way up to reach the ladder, struggling with each step as the ship reeled. The control centre was only two decks up, but right now it seemed like a mile. He climbed the ladder, one step after another not stopping until he reached the level for the control centre.
Scott forced the door to the control centre slowly slid open, it open. He gasped as he entered to utter carnage. Hudson was on the floor, dead. His head had been shattered by shrapnel most of the rest of the control crew were seriously injured, only Gina was left unhurt, Hudson’s body must have shielded her.
“Sir!” She called over, trying to compose herself, as Scott approached she fell apart “I – I’m sorry… I saw nothing, it came from nowhere… Hudson”
“flight officer Carella… Gina” In a firm gentle tone he talked her back “We don’t have much time and I need your help. We have to take control and see this through, I’ll take Hudson’s place, I’ll be right next to you. Take a breath, get control, I’m here and we have to get these guys to survive and I need you to help me do it!”
Shaking, she returned focus to her controls “ok… ok… I can do that” Scott manned the controls on Gina’s right.
” I’m taking us close to the rings, hopefully they’ll give us cover” Achilles lurched, the ship groaning as the weakened metal structure stuggled to cope. Scott powered the and guided the ship to the millions of pieces of rock and Ice that made up the rings. “Power up the weapons” Scott commanded.
The sound of power engergising the weapons filled the control room, it was reassuring to Scott as it meant they were stil operational “Weapons powered and ready, but I don’t have a sensor target” Gina was starting the re-gain her composure, her willingness and eagerness returning. In the control centre medics and damage control had arrived and were helping the injured off the control deck, or taking take of fires. A few standby crew were manning positions that were still working. The chaos was blocked by the two officers now in control of the Achillies.
“There’s still nothing out there?” Scott asked with surprise, maybe they’re enemy was invisible to them which would explain a lot.
“Nothing, I can’t see anything Sir.” Gina reassured Scott, anxious that she may have missed something.
“You don’t need it – fire a wide spread directly behind us” With that, Gina let loose a fury of plasma fire directly behind them and out into space. Gina and Scott watched as the damaged but functional rear view screen showed the plasma rays lancing out, hitting nothing until, one beam hit an invisible object, a huge an monstrous shape emerged from the nothingness. It was glowing blue and white as it’s invisibilty shield collaspesed. The two officers looked on in horror at the monstrous ship charging straight at them”
“Let the auto targeting system take over now, we’re at the rings” Gina set them going, the exchange of fire was blinding between the two spacecraft, their enemy unable to distinguish Achilles from the rock and ice of the rings, but the huge enemy providing an easy target. Pounding their hull with blinding white beams of power. Scott guided Achilles through the ring debris, their eager enemy hunting them out.
Scott was manoevering the Achillies hard between the rock and ice that made up the rings, their enemy was closing fast, forcing him to increase the ships speed. Over and over Scott steered Achillies throught the obstacles and avoided the huge lumps of rock and ice, trying to get some distance between the Achillies and their enemy. “We’re not going to get rid of them like this!” pulling the ship down, Scott took Achilles down through the rings, hoping they wouldn’t follow – but to their horror they did. tearing through the rings, scattering the rock and ice in all directions as the relentless hunter powered ever closer toward them.
“My God, these guys want blood!” Gina shouted, “What now?”
“I’m going closer toward the planet!” Scott answered, swinging Achilles around the engines powering the craft at full speed. They both looked at the rear view screen again as a huge door opened on the monstrous craft. Despite it’s size it was easy to see that ploughing through the rings had damaged it’s outer hull. Scott was hoping that this could work in their favour… somehow. For what seemed like an age Scott was powering Achillies toward a collision with the gas giant, it was filling the forward screen more and more, the ships hull groaning as it tried to hold together.
“They’re almost on us!” Gina shouted, they were running out of time and power. The automatic firing computer was concentrating on the enemy, hitting them with a salvo of burning plasma.At that point a blast came from the enemy ship, rocking the already weakened Achillies.
“The albative armour had failed and we’ve lost power!” Gina yelled out. The control centre crew were furiously going about trying to re-route power back to the weapons.
“Look Carella!” Scott shouted ” They’re burning inside!” As the monster approached ever closer it was now easy to see that inside the enemy craft, the open door had given them the weakness they needed and was now engulfed in flames.
“Are the weapons still charged?” Scott asked Gina, with desperate hope in his voice.
“They are, but they don’t have much left!”Gina reported.
“Concentrate all weapons on that doorway, I have an idea.” Gina tapped away on the controls, focussing all the weapons on the one point.
“Ready!” she told Scott. All the control crew were no wathcing the events taking place. There was nothing more could be done.
“Give it to them!” Scott shouted. Achillies shot it’s plasma weapons like fire from hell into the now terrifyingly close enemy spacecraft. a huge explosion erupted from inside it just as it was closing on Achillies. They passed through into the cavernous ship, the inside totally ablaze and disintegrating. Still it passed over them, Achillies colliding with several obstacles and was thrown around until suddenly… the huge hulk of a ship was now in front of them. They were in free space again, watching as their enemy powered their way still closer toward Saturn.
“You’re not getting us!” Scott shouted, he pulled this ships engines into full reverse. The wash from the huge enemy engines rocking the Achilles. The metal of Achillies hull was grinding as she backed away, further out into space. Commander Scott, Gina and the control crew watched, waiting, hoping they’re gigantic enemy wouldn’t turn. Hoping the damage they had made was enough to have disabled them. They didn’t seem as monstrous now, ever smaller it glowed in the planet’s atmosphere, ever brighter a long trail of burning vapour followed it. The monster was now a large brilliant white spot… until a huge flash and a ball of flame scattered itself over Saturn planet scape. meant it was over. Whatever it was… whoever it was, had gone.
Scott and Gina breathed again. Looking at each other for a moment.. “Well done Flight Officer Carella” Scott said to Gine “inform command what has happened. Give them the casualty numbers and complete ships status. I’ll take us back to the rings.”
“Yes sir. Thank you” Gina replied, despite the victory, she couldn’t smile. Both her and Scott looked on as Hudson’s covered body was carried off.
Scott looked at the rest of the command crew “Well done people, let get the mess cleared up best we can.”
The Achilles returned to the rings, to await assistance. Commander Scott look out at the beautiful rings outside his viewport. Scott’s cabin was in a state with equipment, books and wreckage all over the floor, his ceiling had a hole in it big enoughfor him to easily fit through. He pressed a touch button on the computer desk in front of him.
“Ships log, 19.7.2374. We have survived the attack from the unknown spacecraft, the Achillies is broadly functional with signifacant structural damage at later quadrant 16, 17 and 18 and Ventrical quadrant 7.
Weapons systems and most functions running off the main power are either not operational or not functioning to full capacity. Main power is being worked on to try and restore these systems, but it is doubtful this can be done out here. I have therefore ordered the ship is to run on an energy ration to keep life support running until the Titan arrives, hopefully in five days.
20 crew are known to have died, only four bodies have been recovered and are in storage. 20 crew are injured, most seriously.
Commendations for Flight officer Gina Carella and chief engineer Dax Osman, Gina Carella is hereby promoted to flight officer second class with immediate effect. Her courage and resolve is noted, Dax is injured after being burned keeping the lights on during the thick of it.”
Scott sat silent for a moment, thoughts washing over him before he spoke again.
“Whatever that thing was it wasn’t made by humans, it would have wiped us out and looked round for more. we had no way of finding their vessel from a distance, it’s cloaking technology is something we haven’t mastered yet. It’s intentions were in no way benign, I just wonder what they wanted, what they were after. I just hope to hell there was only one of those things, we cannot possibly fight off another one in the way the Achillies is now.
I Just hope the Titan hurries up and get’s here soon it would be good to see the Intrepid and Endevour too. If word gets to them soon enough they’re fast enough to be here in two days. This waiting is murder. Commander William J Scott signing off”
Scott ended the log entry, sitting back in his chair he pushed some garbage off the desk and then stared at the rings, watching like an eagle eyed sentinel, hoping not to see anything. But knowing that even if there was, he wouldn’t be able to see it.
Copyright 2016 Simon Farnell
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