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3500AD - Part 7
Saturday, 21 June 2014
Part 7

After many battles, Dr. Walcott and Dr. Sar are finally nearing the colonies on the moons of Saturn. On the bridge of the Walcott plans are being laid for an attack that will liberate those colonies...

"Ensign, scan the target area!" Dr. Walcott commanded.

"Hmmm... besides the large number of alien ships like those that we’ve been fighting, I’m getting some very unusual readings..." the ensign replied.

"Unusual..? How so?"

"It’s reading like - how shall I say... pockets of gravitational force."

"Pockets of gravity? Yeah, that’s unusual all right. How powerful are these gravity pockets? Do they pose a threat?"

"Not very strong. Not nearly enough to cause us any trouble. But then again, I can’t get a thoroughly conclusive reading due to their jamming."

"It’s probably nothing. But continue the scan - including during the battle. I want to know more about these gravitational anomalies."

"Yes sir!"

"We’ll need to end this battle as quickly as possible, to reduce any possibility of nasty surprises these aliens seem to be full of..."

"What do you have in mind?" Dr. Sar interrupted. He was connected via comms link the entire time.

"Let’s use cooperative firing pattern Sigma One as soon as we drop out of lightspeed. That’s the fastest way to wipe out those guys..."

"Sounds good, if totally unoriginal..."

"Hey, whatever works. Lay in a course for the Titan colony at top speed!"

"Course laid in! Engage on my mark..."

"Any day, now..." quipped Dr. Sar.

"Shut up, Robert!"

Robert grinned and chuckled to himself.

"Mark!"

Both vessels disappeared in a flash.

"Look alive people! Less than ten seconds until we’re upon the enemy -"

CR-CRASH!!!

Dr. Walcott was interrupted by a massive impact. The shock was so sudden that almost everyone was knocked to the deck!

Dr. Walcott stumbled to his feet after flying from his captain’s chair. "What the hell was that?!? Report!" He yelled.

"Sir, we were hit by something... scanning now." replied the science officer.

"What could hit us while travelling at many times the speed of light?"

"Dr. Walcott!" the tactical officer shouted. "Our shields are at... 13%!" His face was pale with fear.

"How can this be? What could possibly have hit us with that much force?" he replied.

An image of a bruised Dr. Sar appeared on the comms panel screen. "Adrian, my shields are at 15% after that impact..."

"Hold on Robert! We’re analyzing it now..."

"You’re not going to believe this sir. The scan has detected traces of what could only be... uhhhh..."

"Well spit it out now!"

"Neutron-degenerate matter... we were hit by some kind of slug comprised of neutron-degenerate matter..."

"Colloquially known as neutronium..." said Robert.

"Neutronium!" cried Adrian.

The tactical officer chimed in. "The projectiles came from two huge vessels within the alien battle group! We’ve never seen this kind before! Looks like they were waiting for us..."

"This isn’t good. We must withdraw for now. But gather all the data you can!" said Dr Sar.

"I agree. Lay in a course back to the Eris colony. We need a new strategy..." Dr. Walcott replied.

"Course laid in! On your command -"

"Hold on, Robert. Let’s wait until they fire again so we can evade - I’d rather not get a dose of neutronium up my backside at lightspeed."

"Heh heh. Good idea."

About a minute passed...

"Sir, I’m detecting energy surges in the giant vessels! They are firing!" the ensign cried.

"Engage!"

The two vessels vanished in a flash. Two ominous dark projectiles rocketed harmlessly through empty space, just missing their intended targets.

"We got some good readings on those projectiles. Hopefully we can figure out how they work..." noted Dr. Sar.

"What’s our status?" Dr. Walcott asked the ensign.

"No damage, our shields are replenishing normally, sir."

"Good." He briefly examined the data on his console then turned to a science officer. "What do you make of the data we gathered?"

"It appears to function in a fashion similar to a... railgun." the officer replied.

Dr. Sar chimed in via the comms system. "A railgun, huh? Makes sense. There’s no obvious propulsion system on those projectiles. But there is a distinct energy signature..."

"Perhaps a powered containment system of sorts?" asked the officer.

Dr. Walcott scowled. "Yes, that makes perfect sense for neutronium, as unstable as it is..."

"And that would most likely explain the gravity pockets we detected earlier..."

The two vessels – IPV Walcott and IPV Sar arrive at the Eris colony. They rendezvous with a large space station orbiting the dwarf planet to resupply and regroup.

"Quick, let’s analyze the data we collected. But let’s remain at full alert, just in case..."

"I see! There is a tiny amount of neutron-degenerate matter in some kind of containment system which keeps it stable. There is a power source for that system, all encased in a super dense alloy slug. Simple, but effective."

"And launched with a railgun like mechanism. Wow, talk about cosmic artillery."

"The real question is how was the neutronium harvested and contained initially? That’s what I’d like to know."

Dr. Walcott lost his patience. "What we need to know now is the best way to counteract this new threat."

"Don’t you think it’s strange, Adrian?"

"What do you mean?"

"These aliens, they take a long time to learn from their mistakes – if we were fighting against other humans who had these kind of ships, they would have used them a lot more strategically, to avoid so many losses..."

"They are aliens, I don’t expect them to think like we do. But I do think allowing us to slaughter so many of them, lulling us into a false sense of security, and then lure us into a nasty neutronium trap is an excellent strategy."

"But so much loss..."

"Maybe they’re an insectoid race, with expendable worker and soldier types, like ants. As long as they have more, they woudn’t care."

"That doesn’t sound good. The numbers are frightening as they are... How much more must they have?"

"I don’t want to think about it. Let’s just focus on a possible countermeasure..."

"Well, for now, we can use multiple shield generators and arrays. It will let us survive more than one direct hit..."

"Well, let’s get to work on that, then. Until we can devise a better solution."

"Better? That’s the fastest solution that we can actually use on such short notice. We could be attacked at any moment, you know!"

ALERT! ALERT! INCOMING PROJECTILES! INCOMING ENEMY VESSELS!

"Dammit, Robert! You had to say it!"

Robert stared open mouthed for a moment.

The colony is suddenly under attack - neutronium slugs tear through the space station, obliterating over half of the structure.

"Holy Crap! They followed us back to Eris!!" Robert finally exclaimed. "They were aiming for the space station? But why now? They haven’t attacked civilian structures before... All those people..."

"For helping us. Resupplying us." Adrian responded coldly.

"This is bad. We need to take out those artillery ships now!"

"I know, Robert. Leave that to me. You rescue as many survivors as you can, and get the hell out of here!"

"But Adrian -"

"Go now, Robert!"

Dr. Walcott disengaged the comm link.

"Charge the main cannon. I want that output 50% over maximum. I don’t care what the consequences are, we must take out those ships!"

"Yes sir!"

"Helm, lay in a course to put us right alongside those artillery ships. At lightspeed."

The helmsman nodded nervously. It was unheard of to make such a short distance lightspeed jump. Well, except in old science fiction stories.

"Charge complete! Safeguards off, power output set to 50% over normal!"

"All right! Engage lightspeed!!"

In a flash, the IPV Walcott appeared alongside the alien heavy vessels.

"Hard to port! Target closest vessel! Line us up to take them all out in one shot!"

The Walcott swiveled into position.

"We’re in position, sir!"

"Open fire!!"

An ultra-bright flash appeared in front of the Walcott as the main cannon engaged. Then a wide powerful beam of energy tore through the two giant alien ships, as well as all the other ships in the line of fire. Almost half of the battle group was destroyed.

"Now get us out of here!"

The Walcott vanished in a flash. As they were fleeing, some of the remaining alien ships who were too close got sucked into the wreckage of the giant vessels.

"Damage report!"

"Main cannon is offline, all other systems green!"

"Alright, let’s get that cannon back online ASAP!"

"Repair crews en route, sir!"

"Lay in a new course - we’ll rendezvous with the Sar and assist with evacuating the survivors."

ALERT! ALERT! INCOMING PROJECTILES!

"What?!? From where..."

"From behind us!!"

"Evasive maneuvers, now!"

Two slugs nearly missed the IPV Walcott.

CRASH!!

But there was a third slug, and it connected. Dr. Walcott and his crew were knocked from their seats.

"Shields at 14%!!" cried the ensign, grasping at the console.

"Dammit!!" Dr. Walcott exclaimed.

CRASH!!!

There was also a fourth slug.

"Shields are down!!"

"Get them back up, stat!"

"Shield systems are offline, sir!! We have multiple hull breaches from the slug debris! If we weren’t evading, that slug would have shredded us!"

"Get us out of here. Away from any colonies. Maybe they’ll come after us. That should buy Robert some time..."

The IPV Walcott vanished in a flash.

To be continued...
 
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