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Random SciFi

One

“I hate this.”

“Know what? I love it.”

Xyn banked hard to port to let the chuck of rock in front of them pass harmlessly. The asteroid belt before them was full of rocks of all sizes. The shields would take care of the little bits, but he’d need to keep his eyes open for the larger ones while Zian manned the scopes and watched for League ships.

“Best hit the shields, Z. We’re getting close now.”

“You would love this,” Zian replied sourly. “All alone on the Edge. Two hours from the nearest help and looking, actually -looking-, for League ships. It’s madness.”

“It’s our job to look for League ships - part of what we signed on for when we joined the Federated Planets in the first place. Besides, it’s fun! We’re actually on the Edge, Z. On the other side of these rocks is the Great Unknown!!! Billions of worlds could - no, Should, be out there just waiting to be discovered. When this war is over with, we’ll be able to get back to what we love - exploring.”

“Why do they always hide in asteroid fields anyway?”

“No clue. Maybe they’re looking for something.”

“Like what?”

“Who knows? Got those shields in place?”

“Yep.”

“Good. Keep your eyes peeled for-”

“What the hell?!”

Alarms started squealing and the HUD lit up with fireflies seconds before the ship shuddered and shook violently. Xyn banked hard, kicking the thrusters up to max and spiraling away from the attack.

“What happened?! Where’d they come from?”

“No idea! They just appeared - the scope was clean and then they were just there!”

“Some sort of cloak…?” the ship shuddered again, and again Xyn took her into a spin, trying to come around and bring his own weapons to bear on the enemy fighter. “I can’t shake em….”

The forward view flared and popped as the fire from the enemy pulse cannons impacted on the shields and the debris from the asteroid field. They were capable of firing hundreds of energy bolts per second and Xyn needed to get out of that fire if they were going to make it out of this barrage alive.

Staring out the view, he got the craziest idea he’d ever even considered - his only choice was to turn into the asteroids and use them as a distraction. Throwing the engines into full, he tucked his tail and flew for cover.

“What are you doing?! You can’t go into an asteroid field!”

“Watch me…”

Setting his course for the biggest asteroid he could see, Xyn made a beeline for it while the cannon fire intensified…

“They really don’t want us going in there,” Zian commented.

“Dump the power from the forward shields into the aft -they’re gonna start hitting us before we make it in. I don’t have enough room to outrun em.”

“That’s insane!”

“Do it!”

The ship lurched as the League fighter found it’s mark. Xyn let them hit the aft shields, then pulled back on his speed just enough to make it seem, he hoped, like he’d been damaged, then as the League fighter closed in, he fired an aft torpedo.

The torpedo shot back and then shattered into a thousand pieces, each one glittering with energy and striking out to the one before it, and so on until an energy net had formed in the path of the oncoming fighter. it all happened so quickly there was no way for the League fighter to dodge, passing right into the net where the energy pulsed and rippled across and through it’s hull, cutting it’s forward momentum in half in the blink of an eye.

“Got em!” Zian shouted from his spot in the navigator’s chair behind the pilot.

“Only slowed em. We still need the cover of the asteroid field to turn this whole thing around. Put the forward shields back up.”

“Aye.”

Xyn took his ship up and over the asteroid in his path, then dove behind it as he fired torpedo after torpedo at seemingly random targets. They exploded, causing more and more debris to help hide their path. unfortunately, it also hid the enemy.

“Lost em…”

“I know. Hold on to something…”

The sleek ship curved and banked and spun to avoid the chunks of rock that could easily destroy it, killing the pilot and navigator. Xyn charted a course by sight alone, what they used to call ’seat of the pants’ flying, and it took all he had to get them through the asteroid field safely, emerging on the other side, and into the Great Unknown…

“…um”

“Calm down, I know what I’m doing.”

As he stared out at the deep, dark nothingness between galaxies, Xyn wasn’t actually sure he believed that statement.

“Contact aft!”

“What?! Already? How?!”

“I don’t know - but they’re back!”

Xyn kicked the engines back into maximum again, trying to build up a little speed and bring his weapons to bear, but the League pilot was too quick for him, and the shields were once again flaring as energy bolts struck again and again.

“What in Fel is that?”

“What?” Xyn launched an aft torpedo, but the League pilot shot it down before it could even arm. New coordinates popped up on his HUD and he blinked. “What’s this?”

“I don’t know - something big.”

“Better look then.”

The League ship’s fire intensified and Xyn decided to skirt the edge of the asteroid belt, swinging in and under the rocks and debris, cutting a zig-zagging path in and around to the coordinates Zian had fed to his HUD.

“…my God, what is that?”

Through the forward port he saw a massive ring, wider in diameter than any ship of the line he’d ever seen. Lights pulsated all along the rim of it and bits of energy snaked along the surface like lightening. As amazing as it was to see, Xyn found his eyes fixed on the armada of League ships assempled before the ring - more ships than he’d seen in all his days, and certainly more than anyone thought they had.

“That,” he said to Zian, “Could spell the end of the war…”

“The ring is powering up…”

Xyn watched as the ring flared to life, the center becoming a swirling, mottled mass of energy and light.

“It’s a hyperspace jump gate!” Xyn shouted, and kicked his engines into overdrive, diving for the ring.

“What are you doing?!”

“They’re gonna use it to move that fleet of ships to the heart of the Federated Planets and pull a sneak attack! We gotta stop em!”

“How?! We’re one fighter!” The ship shuddered again - the League fighter was on their tail again. “With the enemy on our butt and in front of us! This is insane!!!”

“We can do this!”

“Do what?!”

Xyn ignored his friend and partner - he needed to fly now. He knew that his ship was faster than the League fighter, that she could also take a lot of damage before it became serious. He was counting on both to save him til he could get to the ring, and fire his weapons.

Already the armada of ships were moving forward but he knew that he was faster, he prayed that he was faster. Even as she shuddered under the barrage of attacks from the fighter behind him, she still managed to spring forward towards that portal. It -had- to be a sneak attack! What else could it be?!

“…hold onto something,” he said as he fired his remaining six torpedos at the ring, and dove into the center of the maelstrom.

Two

Xyn screamed.

It was the only thing he could do. He’d seen from the corner of his eye the impact of one of his torpedo’s against the great ring, saw how it had exploded, ripping through the metal and causing the maelstrom of light before him shift and blink as the nose of this ship crossed the event horizon.

Then there was only pain.

Searing pain from every molecule of his body that was capable of feeling pain. Screaming was the only option left open to him at that moment. Vaguely, he was aware that Zian was screaming as well, but it wasn’t something his mind could concentrate on.

If he’d ever been curious what it must feel like to be burned alive, he knew now that it was akin to this.

Whether seconds, or for a milennia, his mind didn’t know - but the pain lasted and he writhed and wriggled and wanted to claw at his flesh, at his eyes and rip away whatever it was that seared him so until it was simply over, and he half lay, half sat in his seat. Panting.

Slowly, ever so slowly, he became aware again. Sensations; cold, hungry - a pounding headache behind his eyes, the sound of soft sobbing behind him. Opening his eyes created a whole new pain, white and hot that snapped them shut again. Watering, he blinked and blinked until he could see again - his blurred and gloved hand waving in front of his eyes. He ripped away the glove, fully expecting to see the ruined and charred remains of his hand-

-it was fine. No burns or scars, no charring. Elated he touched his face, expecting the same kind of damage, but it was smooth and fine. Whatever the burning had been, it wasn’t physical.

He tried to call out to Zian, but his throat was dry - it took half a bottle of water before he could get the words out.

“Z? Z? It’s okay - we’re alive.”

More sobs behind him, and he couldn’t blame his friend and navigator - that was the roughest trip they’d ever made together. He needed to get his bearings - for both of their sakes. With Zian still recovering, he took control of the Nav computer and started taking readings.

“…single star solar system Definitely not where I thought we’d be. Lot of planets though… gas giant. Here. Third from the sun - oxygen rich planet - suitable for life. No signs of any kind of orbital stations or defenses. Some odd signals though - system can’t seem to figure them out. Better take a closer look - especially if the League was interested in this place. I’ll set the computer to finding reference points for mapping.”

Xyn ran a systems check - found that the ship was none the worse for wear, but energy output had dropped by fifty percent. He couldn’t puzzle that out since there didn’t seem to be any damage to the drives or core. He made a mental note to have Zian check it out when he’d pulled himself together. In the meantime, he set course for the third planet.

“…single moon, decent orbit. Not a bad little place. I wonder why-”

The ship shuddered before the alarms went off. The League fighter had managed to follow them through the hypergate!

The shields spat and flared as the enemy fire found its mark again and again. Xyn tried some maneuvers, but the ship was sluggish and not responding the way she should. Cursing, he continued on his course for the third planet, blue and white and starting to fill the view through the forward port while he tried to pull a miracle out of his hat.

He had no torpedos left, the enemy was dug in on his six and he doubted he could shake em with the ship acting the way it was. What did he have left?

He didn’t like the answer much, but he didn’t think they had much choice left.

“Z? I need you to strap back in, okay? Z?”

His friend still sobbed. “Z?! Strap in! Do it now! I’m gonna do something stupid!”

Watching as the aft shields started to fail, he knew he could wait no longer. Killing the port engine and gunning the starboard, he spun the ship around to face the enemy fighter. Still using his momentum to propel him towards the blue planet, he killed on his engines when his weapons were brought to bear, and then he poured on the fire from his own cannons.

Both ships fired relentlessly, shields dying and damage ripping through them until the canons ceased and their momentum took them on towards the blue planet.

Xyn cursed, using the fire extinguisher to kill the flames in the cockpit. He could still see the League fighter but there were explosions rippling across it’s hull, just as he knew there were on his ship. Neither seemed capable of maneuvering anymore - which was good and bad. They could no longer attack him, but he could no longer pull out of his trajectory.

The rumblings of the deck plating told him they were already entering the atmosphere of the planet - falling uncontrolled. None of his thrusters or engines responded as he tried to turn the ship around, gain some control. The temperature began to rise.

“Z?! Z I need you to get me power to the flight systems!!!”

There was no answer. He kept pushing buttons and flipping switches until they became to hot to touch any longer, and then he still tried, burning his finger tips. He could no longer see the League ship through the fire licking across the forward view.

“We have to go!” he shouted, leaping from his seat and swinging around to where his copilot in this tiny bridge sat. Z was strapped into his seat, his flight suit sealed and his visor down. He wasn’t moving. Xyn grabbed him and dragged him the four feet to the escape pod and strapped him in, then strapped himself in, and hit the release.

The door slammed shut, then the pod exploded out from the ship and gravity took over. Spinning and tumbling, they fell. Xyn knew they would never be able to escape the planet’s gravity well, he could only hope that the breaking systems on the pod would be enough to save them from a horrible death crashing to the planet below.

He actually held his breath until the breaking systems fired, and the pod leveled off. At that point, he allowed himself a small hope that they would land safely, and they did.

Crawling out of the pod, he pulled his helmet off and tossed it aside, gulping in the clean, crisp air. For a time, he just lay on his back, staring up at the blue sky and white, puffy clouds above him. The sound of a twig snapping brought him back to reality, and he slowly rolled over.

Before him stood what was probably one of the inhabitants of this world. It was tall and walked on two legs instead of four, and had only two arms and two eyes.

The same as the humans of the League. It pointed a long, metal tube at him and then there was an explosion, pain, and darkness.

~~~

“Sir? It was moving.”

“I understand, Airman.”

Lieutenant Ramey stared down at the creature before him - some sort of insectoid with multiple arms and legs, and shuddered.

“You did the right thing….”

“What is it, sir?”

“I don’t know, Airman. I don’t know.”

Three

Louis fished around in his pocket for some change for the pop machine. Summers here were killing him, so hot and humid he didn’t think he had any sweat left in him. Water was fine, sure, but every once in a while you needed something a little sweet. The entire base had Coca-cola machines, which was okay - but he preferred Pepsi. Only when he’d mentioned maybe offering a little Pepsi on base, they’d laughed at him. Southerners and their love of coke - it still amused him.

Cursing softly, he realized he had no change. Dammit. That bottle of coke had his name on it too.

The LT must have gotten laid the night before or something ’cause he took pity and slapped some coins in his hand when he turned to pout. With a grin, he slipped em in the slot and gave that bottle of coke a yank, freeing it from the machine. The opener on the side took of the cap and he took a long, slow pull.

“I swear, Louis. If you’d drink more water you wouldn’t be thirsty all the time,” the LT said without even looking from the folder in front of him.

They worked in an office that had six desks but only three people at any one time. The LT was Camp Liason with the local town, which meant he had to deal with all the complaints over drunken brawls and lost virtue that came up when you mixed soldiers on leave with townies.

Louis was an assistant who answered phones mostly, but he got the job because he could type, and because it was a cushy enough position and he didn’t have to be out on maneuvers or fighting or doing calisthenics and the like anymore.

“I drink water,” he said n his own defense. “I also drink coffee, pop and when off duty I’ve been known to drink a beer or two.” Louis grinned and the LT chuckled.

“Only two, huh?”

They both laughed as Louis settled back at his desk and touched the little ‘Statue of Liberty’ he had there. He always gave the little torch a touch with his forefinger. For good luck.

Sometimes he missed New York, sometimes he didn’t. But with the Lady on his desk, he never forgot, and that’s what he thought was important. It always amazed people when he told them he was from New York since he didn’t have the accent people associated with the city. He would shrug and say he was half Chicago - on his dad’s side, and they’d usually laugh.

He managed another long pull on the coke before the phone started ringing. Answering, he gave his usual greeting but got interrupted before he could finish.

“What the hell do you people think you’re doing?!” the voice shouted angrily at him. Blinking, he knew he’d have to let the man rant. “You destroyed a good portion of my crops and I want to know who’s going to pay for that?!”

“Sir, if you would calm down I can help you. Can we start at the beginning? What’s your name?”

“My name is Charlie Brown asshat! You people and your planes flying all hours of the day and night’s bad enough but now you crash one in my field?!”

Louis snapped his fingers to get the LT’s attention, who turned to look over his shoulder.

“Sir, you’re saying that a military aircraft crashed in your field?” The LT’s eyebrows climbed near off his forehead at that question.

“Hell yes that’s what I’m saying! Are you some kind of retard? Now what are you going to do about my crops?!”

“If you’ll give me the location of the crash, sir, I can assure you we will launch a complete investigation…” Louis scribbled furiously as the man started giving him useful information. When he was done, and the phone on the hook again, he waited while the LT made a phone call of his own, staring at the notes.

“Jim? This is Barry over in Liason. I got a farmer says one of our birds crashed in his field. You got anybody lost or unaccounted for? No? Well then what the hell- Yes. Uh-huh. But look- Right. Okay, we’ll check it out.”

The LT hung up the phone, and stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. “Grab your rifle.”

“My rifle?!” Louis said, jumping up from his chair.

“We’re gonna go check this out, Ariman. You have a problem with that?”

“Sir. No, sir!”

Louis could only puzzle over what might be waiting for them as he pulled his rifle from the rack on the wall, and snapped his belt in place along with his sidearm. The LT put his gun-belt on as well, and retrieved his hat from the hat rack.

“You’re driving,” the LT said as he climbed into the passenger side of the jeep. Louis nodded, starting her up and backing out. “Take back roads and speed.”

“Yes, sir.”

Louis concentrated on driving the jeep as they made their way down dirt roads full of holes and ditches. The LT just stared out at the country side, seeming to take in the scenery. But his face was twisted up in concentration of his own, and Louis was dying to know what had him all in a bunch. Just what the hell were they getting themselves into out here?

“Russians,” the LT finally said as if to himself.

“Russians, sir?” Louis asked.

“We aren’t missing any planes, Lou. We could be riding out to find some kid of new Russian long range bomber that crashed or something.”

Russians?! Louis had that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, the one he felt the first time he actually had to fire his rifle knowing there were people in front of it. He had to bite his tongue not to curse - he’d forgotten to touch the Lady for luck again before they left!!! How could he be so stupid?!

“Take this turnoff,” the LT said, pointing off to the left and a road that took them down into a gully and over a rickety old wood bridge. “His farm should be just a mile or two the other side of this creek.

Louis nodded. He could already see the plume of smoke rising up above the trees. Parking the jeep, they went the rest of the way on foot, Louis holding his rifle tightly and pointed before him, eyes scanning all around, waiting for some Russian bomber pilot to jump out at him in some Communism induced rabid state.

What they found, neither of them were prepared for. It was a silver triangle, smoking and burning and dug half into the ground. There was a rectangular hole in the center of it, and a piece that looked like it fit perfectly was resting on the ground nearby. Louis could only stare at it. He’d never seen anything like it in all his life.

….then he noticed the…thing, on the ground a few feet away from it. Lying on it’s back, it had the head of an ant with giant pincers and feelers that were twitching. The Pincers were clicking open and shut. Multiple arms and legs were spread out and it was staring up at the sky. If the feelers hadn’t been twitching, he would have thought it dead.

….then it rolled over and looked at him. It’s eyes were pitch black, and the way it stood looked like an animal poised to pounce and attack. It tilted it’s head and he knew they were going to die unless he did something.

Pulling the trigger, he fired his rifle again and again until it stopped moving.

“Sir? It was moving.”

“I understand, Airman.”

Lieutenant Ramey stared down at the creature before him - some sort of insectoid with multiple arms and legs, and shuddered.

“You did the right thing….”

“What is it, sir?”

“I don’t know, Airman. I don’t know.”

“It…it looked ready to attack….”

“I don’t think these are Russians, Louis….”

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