Friday, December 7, 2012

SPARK of Tyranny - Part 56: The Needs of the Many


“Are you kidding me?!” Jade shouted into the hatch. “We barely got off the ground, barely! How can we not be ready to leave yet?!”
Kwame poked his head out. “You are the one who flew reentry like a meteor crashing onto the planet. Did you ever consider just how much damage you did with your flying?” Kwame asked, ducking as a wrench came flying at his head.
“Guys, this isn’t going to work if you’re yelling at each other!” John said, also ducking away from a flying wrench. Jade was readying another one when she heard the Bucephalus’s engines fire back up.
She leapt back up the ladder to the cockpit. “That’s my baby, I know my baby.” she said. Kwame followed quickly after.

As she climbed into her seat, the console blinked out. “NO!” she shouted, slamming her fist down. As if the ship knew to quit pissing her off, the console came back to life. Jade pulled the ship into an ascent so quickly that Kwame was almost knocked off of his feet as he clambered into his co-pilot’s chair.
“Let’s see what we are getting into up there,” Kwame said as he flipped on the com.
“…ostiles. I repeat, there are hostiles closing in on refugee ships. proceed directly to your jump points… do not attempt to engage…”
“Sounds like our kind of party,” Jade said, punching the accelerator.
Kwame’s hands flew across the controls, bringing up the weapons systems, charging the shields. “John, is the main gun online?”
“We’re ready to go back here.” John replied over the intercom.
Marc popped his head up through the hatch. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“You might want to grab hold of something,” Jade said. “As a matter of fact,” she tapped the intercom, “Ladies and Gentlemen, for lack of a better term, things are about to get a little rough out there. Make sure you are strapped in.” Kwame cleared his throat. “Oh, right, and don’t forget that, per the waiver you signed in exchange for being delivered from a fiery death, the crew of the Bucephalus is in no way responsible for any injuries incurred during our valiant and courageous escape from Kilon oppression.”
Ahead of them, Jade could make out the inky blackness of space. Across their field of vision warships were boxing in refugees, blocking their escape to the edge of the gravity well and the jumping off point for hyperspace. To their right, she could see a destroyer bearing down on a slow moving transport. “Two o’clock, Kwame,”
“On it,” Kwame said. “they did not even bother to raise shields…”
“Why would they, just defenseless passenger ships out here… light ‘em up”
Kwame took a moment to make sure he had a lock on the Destroyer’s bridge, and let loose with the Bucephalus’s canons. John spun the big gun around, his fire following Kwame’s. the destroyer never knew it was being hit, not even redirecting its fire from the transport to the Bucephalus before its bridge exploded.
“Okay, Jade said, “whose next?”
“Converted cruise ship,” Kwame pointed at the HUD, “there.”
“I see it,” Jade said, “moving.”
“Hey, I hate to be the one to say this,” Marc said, “but we have a ship load of refugees here who need to jump to somewhere safe.”
Jade didn’t bother to look back. “That cruise ship has a capacity of around five thousand people… five thousand souls. We aren’t running until we can at least give them a chance.”
“But… that’s a dreadnaught bearing down on them,” Marc said.
“Kwame, help me out here,” Jade said.
“At its current speed, the cruise ship can make the jump to hyperspace in… 237 seconds. We can provide a window to make that jump.
Suddenly the ship shook so violently that Marc had to grab the bulkhead to keep his feet. “Fighters inbound,” Jade said in montone. She brought the Bucephalus around to meet them head on, Kwame thinning their ranks a little as Jade weaved through the squadron. “Dreadnaught’s broken off of the cruise ship.”
“And it’s heading this way!” Marc said. Jade yanked the wheel, throwing Marc to the floor.
“Keep quiet, or leave the cockpit! I don’t need your panic right now,” Jade shouted. The ship shook again. “Kwame…”
“I see it… I see it,” Kwame said. “I’m giving them all we got…”
“Okay… now we run,” Jade said, pulling the ship into a sickening turn.
“Rear shields… powered to full…” Kwame said.
John came in over the intercom. “Let me cycle some shots through the shield!”
“Can’t do it, we are taking too much fire,” Kwame replied. The ship shook again. “Shields are down 50%,” he said.
“Got any miracles up your sleeve?” Jade asked.
“Not in particular,” Kwame said. “Wait a minute… we’ve got more incoming, several warships coming in from hyperspace… bearing down on the other side of the refugee flotilla…”

“Oh, come on!” Jade shouted, smashing her fist onto the console. Her rage quickly turned to despair, her head dropping to her chest.  “Can’t we just catch one break?”
The com crackled to like. “Earth refugee ships, this is Admiral SiderĂ©nios of the Martian Defense Fleet. Allow us to assist.”
“It’s the Ares!” Jade shouted.
Aboard the bridge of the Ares, SiderĂ©nios stood in the center and examined the situation in front of her. She coolly began to give orders. “Battle Groups Three, Four, and Five, rendezvous with the Earth defense forces on the other side of the planet. Groups On and two, you’re with me, securing the refugees.”
She walked down to the combat control center. “Bring us here, in between that dreadnaught and the cruise ship. Shields set to zero, energy weapons on full. Let’s see what this armor can do. Bring those bastards down.”
Jade and Kwame watched in awe as the Ares swooped in between the cruise ship and the dreadnaught, its weapons firing away, a full away of energy weapons tearing through the dreadnaught’s shields, the Ares’s tearing through the dreadnaught’s now exposed hull like it was made of paper. The dreadnaught returned fire, but it merely bounced off of the Ares’s mutonium hull. Caught by surprise, the Martian fleet made short work of the ships sent to attack the refugees. 
Kwame and Jade wordlessly watched the turn of events, unsure what to think of what happened. The silence was broken when they were hailed directly. “Bucephalus, this is the Ares, do you need assistance?”

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