Galactic Battles: The Dark Menace: Chapter 6

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Well, ‘ello everybody. Here is chapter six of our story, in which Richard gets driven out of his base. Also, I will be a bit slower this week cos of tests and junk, so, yeah, enjoy. 🙂

VI

Admiral Branko Neven Dragovic

Date: Jan 5, 900 A.C.

__________________________________________

The GIC (General in Command) of the Grand Imperium’s armies stormed up and down, to and fro, stamping and stomping his feet in rage and frustration. He had just received the news that some Admiral, he could not remember his name, was coming to replace him and take his place as GIC. And the order was directly from the Imperetor! The little man could fairly have jumped up and down with the disappointment he felt at being relieved of his post during his first command!

To make it worse, the person relieving him was not even a native of the Grand Imperium. He had been one of the few prisoners the Imperetor had taken, and soon had become the Imperetor’s pet. So far this new Admiral, for Imperetor Malvolent had taken the liberty to christen him so, had not proven himself in real combat, so how could the Imperetor have decided to send somebody of no merit to replace him? A seasoned warrior? The GIC smashed his hand onto a control panel and winced as a sharp pain radiated through his fist. He whirled around at the sound of a remonstrative voice:

“Don’t smash up our control panels, General, they are very expensive, and even though they are plentiful, it would be as economically wise as possible to save as many of them as we can. Now, for the formal presentations.”

An officer, dressed in the sparkling white starched uniform of the Grand Imperium stepped forward.

“General Edwards, I present to you Admiral Branko Neven Dragovic. As he is from the planet Wourd, his first name is Neven, instead of Branko, as you might expect, but the liberties that you may take are up to him.

“Now sir, if you please,” the officer said.

At this, General Edwards stepped forward, and unwillingly, as it seemed, formally handed over the command of all his troops to Admiral Dragovic.

“Thank you, General,” the Admiral said, speaking for the second time. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind telling me the precautions that you have taken against the Freedom Fighters. I take it that you have at least posted a cordon of sentries around their base?”

General Edwards sullenly spat out a single word: “No.”

The Admiral looked surprised, and shocked. “Well, I hope you have taken the trouble to stop any messengers from going in our out from the base? And I take it that you have driven them to such straightened a state that they can be broken with a single snap?”

“No.”

“Are they not beleaguered in their citadel, unable to go in or out?”

“No.”

“Have you done anything at all?”

“Ye– uh, no.”

“I see. Well, then, today, we will do something. I need a battalion of mechanoid snipers.” The Admiral said, clapping his hands. As the mechanoids came into the room and stood before him, the Admiral continued. “You will fire on the east wall of the place, force them to keep their heads low and to group there. Make as if you were a large force readying for assault.”

“Sir,” the General said. “They have an energy shield.”

“I know,” the Admiral said, crossing his arms over his sparkling white uniform. “I checked the frequency as I was landing. That shield is set to absorb the bolts of heavy cannons. Blaster bolts will pass through it. It’s shield range was about 0.5 to 0.9, with an average of 0.7. Blaster bolts are 0.3, General. You don’t mean to tell me that you have never even scanned their shield?”

The General remained silent.

“Now, officer, come here,” Admiral Dragovic or Neven said, to a flight officer.

“Sir!” The officer said, saluting and clapping his heels neatly together as he did so.

“Take one of the spacecruisers and tell them to fire all cannons, hundred percent, onto the east side of their base.”

“It doesn’t work,” General Edwards said glumly, his flabby chin sinking into his hands. “They just transfer the power from the west side of the city to the east side. Their shield technology is highly advanced and they can concentrate their shield where the bolts are sure to hit.”

“What if that was my purpose?”

“What?” The General asked dumbly.

“Never mind,” the starched voice of the Admiral spoke out. “I will capture that base today or die!”

***

Meanwhile, Richard had left the control room to head to his own home and break the news to his mother. Caddie had been uncertain as what to do, but Richard’s sober invitation decided her, and, not wanting to be left behind, the austere commander had decided to follow.

Richard led them down narrow dusty streets and soon arrived at a door, not unlike the others they had passed. Walking up to it, he stood on the doorstep, obviously waiting. He was not disappointed as a camera soon scanned his features. As he was recognized, the door slid open and he entered, Caddie and Commander Grennet following.

In an instant, he was surrounded by five children, the oldest being around fifteen and the youngest being a toddler. They all stood around him jumping around, and the toddler clamored for attention. Richard picked the baby up, bounced him a little, put him back on the floor, then turned to the fifteen year old.

“How is mother, Ivan?” Richard asked.

“Her condition is worse,” Ivan said, shaking his head mournfully. “I’m not sure she’ll live through this baby.”

“She has to,” Richard said, urgency coloring his tone. “She was the figure of leadership for all the soldiers’ wives. If she dies, they will lose heart.”

“Is mom’s political use all you can think about?” Ivan said, an edge in his voice. “What about her value to us? Do you even care?”

“Listen Ivan, I do care, but as my role as Leader of the Freedom Fighters of Darthamoor, it is my job to see beyond my own feelings. That’s still one thing you have to learn, Ivan.”

“Stop treating me like a kid! Listen, I’m fifteen years old. Why won’t you let me go out there and help fight? I’m old enough to do my share, I can’t stand being left in here like a baby!”

“Is that what it is about?” Richard, asked, turning from his course towards a door in the dark recesses of the room. “You’re still bitter about that day huh?” Turning to a girl of twelve, Richard continued. “Well, Eva, do you think you could look after these children while Ivan joins me outside to battle against those robots?”

“Is that Richard’s voice I hear?” A weak voice, punctuated by hoarse coughing was heard from behind a door.

In an instant Richard had turned to the door and slid it open. He found his mother lying on a bed, looking paler and sicker than ever. “Mother,” was all Richard could manage, as he went down on his knees beside his parent’s bed.

“Richard, my boy,” his mother said, her thin hand coming to rest on his shoulder. “What news do you bring me? Have you defeated our enemies and driven them off?”

“No, mother, I bring – I bring sad news. Mother, father is dead.” Richard looked away sadly as he said this, when he turned back to his mother, her eyes were closed. He could see a tear glistening just below her eyelid. Her hand slid off his shoulder and her head tilted slightly to one side.

“Mother!” Richard exclaimed. “No! Mother, you can’t have died. Mother!” But his desperate pleas were not answered, and Richard fell forwards onto the bed, his entire body shaking with emotion.

“Richard! What–” Ivan did not need to be told what happened when he saw the scene.

“What’s happened?” Commander Grennet asked, stepping through the doorway. The next instant there was a loud explosion as smoke filled the room and tumbling masonry could be heard. Then a voice tinged with evil and hatred cut through the air:

“I’ll tell you what’s happened, com!” And before Commander Grennet could react, he was thrown against the wall and sank to the ground.

“Commander!” Caddie exclaimed, rushing over to the prostrate com in a desperate attempt to save him.

The hooded figure who had caused all this chaos looked around at all the children huddled around Richard and Ivan who in turn were crouched beside Caddie, trying to revive the Commander.

“Argh! Since I do not know who is the one, I will kill all of you!” So saying, the evil man raised his enerblade to cut them all down. Down his death-bringing blade came, until it stopped, blocked in its way by its green counterpart.

“Not so fast, Vilth. I will not allow you to kill harmless civilians.”

“You stupid Defen!” With this, the Vilth hurled the bed upon which Richard’s mother lay at Savantone with all his might.

Savantone jumped over the flying projectile and leapt at the Vilth, his enerblade upraised. Turning, the now uncloaked figure deflected the blow with his own enerblade. Then the Vilth kicked Savantone back and, closing his eyes and sheathing his enerblade, the Vilth crossed his arms across his chest, and disappeared.

Richard was on his feet in an instant and ran over to help Savantone to his feet. Savantone looked wearily around, then for the first time it seemed, he noticed the over turned bed, and from under it protruded several limbs.

“Oh no,” he said, at the same time telekinetically lifting the bed so Richard could crawl under and extract the prostrate forms of all his siblings and his mother, Ivan excepted, as he had been with Richard the whole time. “The Vilth wasn’t trying to kill me, he was trying to kill them!”

“No!” Ivan screamed, rushing over to the sides of his recumbent siblings. Then he fell forwards over them, weeping.

Richard ran from Savantone towards Ivan. He knelt down beside the weeping form, his eyes scanning the closed eyes of his siblings. He thought he saw a flutter of eyelids and reaching forward, put his hand to her mouth and felt a faint breath.

“Eva’s still alive!”

“What?” Ivan asked, turning to look at Richard, then at Eva, who had by now begun to move. “Eva! You’re alive!”

“What– happened?” Just as the words left her mouth, the sound of heavy artillery was heard bombarding the place.

“They’ve tried that before,” Richard murmured, rushing out of the room.

A couple of minutes later Richard made his way into the control room. “Move the shield over from the other side and concentrate it here!”

“Acknowledged; concentrating shield on east side of the base.”

“They’ve got a plan. Their new general must’ve arrived by now. What could be his purpose in firing on this side of the base when he knows we can simply concentrate our shield here?”

“Sounds like distraction tactics to me.” Commander Grennet said. “What you got stowed in all those containment facilities back there?”

“Ammunition.” Then as if realizing something, Richard exclaimed again. “Ammunition!” Richard turned to the man sitting at the shield control. “Diverge all power to the west side of the base, now!”

“But sir, diverting all power to the west side would mean that we would have nothing protecting us from the fire of this cruiser. We would be open to potential structural damage.”

“Forget the technical talk!” The Commander, who had stepped up beside Richard, said, rushing past the man. He slammed down a few commands into the control panel and the shield slowly transferred from the east side to the west side of the base.

“It’s too late!” Richard said, as two of the enemy spacecruisers emerged from Machspace.

“Run for it!”

All of them were thrown against the control panels facing the east wing as the ammunition in the containment facilities exploded. The entire west wall of the base was blown in. Not only that, but as the shield now settled in its position on the west side of the base, bullets from the spacecruiser on the east side of the base began hitting the base.

“We must get out of here!” Commander Grennet said, slinging the now unconscious form of Caddie onto his shoulder in an emergency carry position. “Do you have a way out of this command center, one that is not exposed to their fire?”

“Yes, but only if the base is not in emergency lockdown.” Richard said, running over to a control panel on an undamaged piece of masonry and punching in an access code. As a reply, a center circle in the floor rotated and split into two semicircles as it slid apart, revealing a circular opening leading down into the floor. “You need some help, commander?”

“I can handle her, all of you just get down that hole.”

“You go down first, commander,” Savantone said, removing his enerblade from underneath his robe. “I will guard your backs.”

Commander Grennet knew there was no chance of arguing with Savantone, even if arguing with senior officers was allowed under standard protocol. He swung onto the ladder mounted at the side of the vertical shaft and slowly climbed down into the abyss of the command center.

***

“Well, what do you think of my plan now, general?” Neven said.

“It’s – astounding.”

Just as the command center exploded, the soldiers on the wall all leaped to their feet and most were instantly shot down. Mechanoids mounted with jetpacks began landing inside the base and soon, the announcement came that all was clear.

“All troops, into the base,” Neven turned to the General. “I’ve captured the base, general, in one day. Your case is pitiless. I shall report your incapacity to the Imperetor’s Executor. I doubt he will be merciful.”

“Sir,” a mechanoid said, turning to the Admiral. “The base is secured. There had been no resistance. Everybody is dead.”

“Everybody?” Neven questioned, facing the mechanoid as he did so. “What happened to those who were inside the command center?”

“Uh, sir! There was nobody there.”

“No bodies?”

“No bodies, sir.”

“Secure the base perimeter! I will go personally to investigate.” Neven turned to leave when a hooded man entered and blocked his way. His demeanor did not seem to be disrupted overmuch as he addressed the man who now stood in his path. “My lord, I have found a failure. How that imbecilic General Edwards got promoted I never know, but his efforts in attempting to capture this base have been utterly useless. It seems that he has not even tried. I leave it to you, Executor of our illustrious leader, to decide a fitting punishment.”

“Death is too good for somebody who delays Imperetor Malvolent’s plans.” The ironic quietness of the Imperetor’s Executor’s anger made the unfortunate General quail. Then suddenly, he began grasping at his chest. His face contorted into a mask of intense pain. Several loud pops were heard, as his ribs broke and pierced numerous internal vital organs. He collapsed to the ground, dead, eyes still wide open with shock and pain.

“Take him away,” the callous figure said with a careless wave of his hand. Turning to Neven, the Vilth continued without missing a beat. “There are still live people in that base.”

“Yes, we have taken some prisoners.” Neven said, crossing his fingers and hoping that the beast who stood before him would not command him to slaughter all the prisoners he had taken.

The brow of the hooded beast darkened slightly when he heard this but he seemed to shrug it away. “No, there are people running free. Six people, four males and two females. Find them and bring them to me. They must not escape. Is that understood?”

“Your will is my command, but surely this is more suited to your line of business?”

“Yes, my private business.”

Neven instantly understood. This was a high-class Imperium code, made so that any informers would be confused as to what actually was happening. He was to stage a large search to distract the escaping fugitives while the Vilth himself would personally go after them.

“Yes, Lord Vengance.”

***

Richard now led the way inside the hidden tunnel.

“I’ve told my brother and sister to join us at junction four.”

“You seem to have quite an extensive network of tunnels under this base.”

“Yes,” Richard said with a smile that somehow made him look sadder. “We had it built for this reason, not that I ever hoped we would have to use it.”

They now turned a sharp left. Caddie, who by this time was now conscious, felt a cool current blowing down the length of the tunnel. She looked up to the left and the source of the current was explained, for mounted in the wall was a ventilation shaft.

Another bend found them facing a distraught Eva and disturbed Ivan. “What’s happened Richard?” Ivan asked anxiously.

“The base’s been taken. Come on, we have to hurry.” Richard said, as a faint clanking echoed off the reinforced tunnel walls. “Sounds like they’ve broken into the tunnel network. Come, quickly.”

Caddie was bewildered by the number of tunnels that Richard led them through, but eventually they came to a secret hanger where a spaceship stood. In the eyes of the nervous fugitives, it was beautiful, even though it was just the opposite. Paint was peeling from the transport freighter, and in several places plating had fallen off and wiring was exposed. However, the real problem was the battalion of mechs that appeared to be guarding the ship.

“I’ll take the mechs,” the Commander said. “You guys get in the ship and get ready to go. I’ll jump in just before you leave.”

“Wait,” Savantone said, laying a restraining hand on the Commander. “Let me create a distraction first.” So saying Savantone closed his eyes and seemed to lose all connection to the world.

A few tense seconds passed, then a large container box fell from its dangling position and smashed open, spilling dust everywhere.

Instantly, all the mechanoid’s heads turned towards the box. A clear path was to the ship before the mechanoids became aware of what was happening. Then an enormous crossfire opened up on the escaping fugitives. Savantone drew his enerblade and activating it, cut down several mechs as he mentally activated the boarding ramp for the space freighter from inside.

Caddie opened up on the mechs with her small handgun as she backed up the ramp into the fighter with Eva. Savantone went up next. Just when Ivan and Richard were twenty feet away from the spaceship, a mech ran to the foot of the ramp and began spraying blaster bolts in their direction.

Ivan and Richard immediately began ducking and weaving, their acrobatics drawing them closer and closer to the mech. When it finally realized the predicament it was in, time was already up. Ivan and Richard rushed in together and while Ivan knocked its blaster out of its hand, Richard broke its neck. Richard and Ivan were about to congratulate each other on their success when a hail of blaster bolts in their direction decided them into hurrying up the ramp.

Now the only person left outside was the Commander. He was in the middle of the mechanoids. Kicking some aside, and blasting others, all the time jerking head, body, arms, and legs away from blaster bolts that threatened to hit him. Those that did hit him were blocked off by his armor. That is, until one penetrated a joint and hit his leg. The ill-fated Commander fell to the ground, and a blaster-bolt through his helmet silenced him.

“Commander!” Richard called out, upon seeing the heroic figure fall. “Commander Grennet!”

“It is too late,” Savantone said, walking up beside Richard and closing the boarding ramp. “Commander Grennet’s fate no longer lies in any of our hands. Fly us out of here Caddie, before this bucket of bolts is ruined any more.”

Caddie flicked on a couple of switches and pushed the throttle forward. The engines revved up, then gave a stutter and died.

“Not good,” Caddie whispered to herself. “So not good.”

***

The Imperetor’s Executor towered over the reporting mech at his tall two meters. The pair of horns sticking out of either side of his head added to his malignant look. For this Vilth was not human. Instead it was a DAMARC Type M34, created by DAMARS, the society that had mastered ultimate control of DNA and genes. They had created the Imperetor’s Executor by combining a bull’s genetic code and the genetic code of a human. So, now the Imperetor’s Executor had the strength of a bull and the agility of a human.

His head was human, but the horns altered his face drastically. His chest was bare, and waist down he possessed the legs of his father, the bull. His knees were jointed backwards and his feet were hooves. What added to his frightening look even more was that his skin was completely red from festering brand wounds. Even his face had not been left off this disfiguring torture. One of his ragged ears was pierced by a golden ring, and on his forehead, cheeks and chin he bore black triangular tattoos. His eyes shone brightly evil from underneath his hood and cloak while his warm breath condensing in the icy air of a Darthamoor morning veiled the lower part of his face, forcing the mech to look straight into his wild, orange eyes.

Though it was impossible, the mechanoid actually appeared to quail before that malevolent creature as it made its report.

“Sir, the fugitives are now inside the spaceship. We have disabled the engines and locked them inside. We are now awaiting your orders.”

“I will handle this personally. Make sure they don’t escape.” The Vilth, Draconian Vengance, turned, his cloak swirling as he swung himself onto a scooter that seemed dwarfed by his massive bulk. The engines whined protestingly as he revved them mercilessly. The next instant he had roared off at the top of his speed.

***

“What’s the problem?” Savantone asked Caddie.

“It seems that the engine starter circuit is wired in a series wiring style with the wire in between them outside. The wire in question seems to be malfunctioning.”

“Is there anything we can do about it?” Richard asked.

“As repairing it from the outside is out of the question, we would need to fix it from the inside. The first step would be to get through that thick back wall,” Caddie said, looking hopefully at Savantone’s enerblade.

Savantone placed it in Caddie’s outstretched hand immediately, saying:

“They were never meant to be weapons anyway. Come, I will help you.”

The two of them walked to the rear of the spaceship. With all her spaceship experience, Caddie was able to guess the exact location of the terminals. She looked down at the enerblade handle in her and was about to ignite it when Savantone hurriedly interfered.

“Careful! You are holding it backwards. Ignite that and it will go through your thigh. That’s right, turn it around. Now you may ignite it.”

The snap fizz startled Caddie, almost causing her to drop the weapon, but she mastered her nerves and in a few seconds, cut through the back wall. In a matter of minutes she had reconnected the two terminals and returning to the pilot seat, flew them off; just seconds before the arrival of Lord Vengance.

******End of Chapter 6******

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

Click Here for Chapter 5!

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