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Starsword
06-04-2009, 11:44 PM
CHAPTER 1

Space was infinitely silent as the Belfast swam through the endless abyss. The Lincoln-class cruiser was one of the fastest ships in the Alliance fleet, and her engines burned bright blue as they propelled the ship toward her destination.

A few hundred miles ahead, the refugee ship Innocence drifted lazily in the zero-gravity. Holes peppered her gray hull, and streams of oxygen spewed out of it, escaping to the vacuum beyond.

Commander Leonard Rash didn't like the view as the front camera of the Belfast zoomed in on the tiny ship. The small ship was only designed to carry a few hundred people, and he was amazed that it had withstood the damage it has taken. He sat in the captain's chair on the command bridge and his frown deepened.

"Tactical", he barked, "Are we getting anything? Life signs, power, other ships, anything?"

"No, sir", the tactical officer, Ashley Bards, reported. "It's just drifting there. There are still around fifty humans alive, sir." She glanced at him grimly, then turned back to her console.

Rash took a look around the bridge, saw the anxiety on the officers' faces, and said, "Red Alert." He thumbed a switch on the armrest of his chair. "Force-fields, up and going. Get our eyes to the guns and teleporters, be ready for rescue." Rash turned the comm off and spoke to Ashley again. "Is the captain on his way? We have a situation here."

She nodded and didn't reply, too busy with her computer to take the time. "Sir, I'm picking up some residual ion energy. It looks like a much larger ship has been through here. Mixed with it are small scraps of tungsten and titanium, the same material for our rounds."

Rash nodded. The small Innocence wasn't the kind of ship to carry weapons. That meant that it had to have been attacked by someone. "Send the report over to analysis." He nodded at the analytical and science chief, Kurt Ragnold. He nodded sharply as well to signify he had gotten his info, and bent over his terminal.

Rash turned back to the viewscreen. "Ventral camera", he said, and the screen switched. They were approaching the Innocence now, and again he flicked his comm switch. "Teleporters, ready or not, here you go. Grab the refugees and get them to the sickbay."

"Copy that, sir, the comm beeped, and Rash heard it click off.

"Helmet view of Alpha One, please", he said, and the screen of the bridge changed to show the first person view of the inside of the helmet of Alpha One. Inside the Innocence, the lights were almost completely dark, and garbage and bits of metal littered the ground everywhere. Rash saw Alpha One raise his semi-automatic pistol and begin to walk forward. He motioned with his hand for his team to follow and he turned. The men were listening, although some were still appearing in midair. They all headed down the dark hallway, watching for movement of any kind.

Rash felt his heart quicken as a small figure ran down the hallway, toward the team of men. They raised their guns and shouted, "Hold it! Don't move any closer!" The figure stopped, and as the gun-mounted flashlights found her face Rash recognized her as a woman. She gestured to a door to the right, down the hallway even more. "Some of us are in here", she said quickly. "Thank God you've come, we thought they would never go away."

One started to say, "Who?" but she disappeared into the darkness and strode into the room she had pointed to.

One and his team followed and entered, and Rash was relieved when he saw the tired and scared faces of twenty refugees all looking at the rescue team and exchange looks of hope with one another.

The men lowered and holstered their guns and Rash said to One, "Go on ahead and bring them back, one at a time."

"Gotcha, Commander", One said, and as he began to make his way toward the crowd of people, and elderly woman gripped him by the shoulders and shook him with surprising strength.

"He's here!" she hissed, and Rash saw her eyes go almost black. "He's come back! A trap in the heavens for the Angels!"

One pushed her off and said sharply, "What, who're you talking about?"

She only shook her head and said very softly, "Lucifer is here."

That was when, simultaneously, Rash's bridge and the Innocence bucked under ferocious impact. Rash watched as Alpha One grabbed the woman who had led them to the refugees by the shoulder and the viewscreen switched to static for a split second as he teleported back to the Belfast. He let her go and returned in the same second and Rash, still reeling from the hit the ship had taken, saw men from the team disappearing and reappearing several times; the team was getting the people as fast as they could.

Rash shouted, "Fire all guns at the offender! Show them our broadside, engines to full, bring us about and next to the Innocence!" Men and women on the bridge scrambled to repeat his order on the comm and on their computers and Rash said, "Ventral camera!" Someone complied and the screen switched to a view of space and the Innocence plus one object.

The object of notice was a very large ship, and when Rash saw it he paled. It was a Titan-class ship, the biggest in the fleet. It had hundreds of guns and it might have been a welcome sight, save for the fact that half of them were raining bullets down on the Innocence.

Rash didn't have a chance to look away; the smaller ship had no chance under such an assault. It broke into pieces and fires and explosions ripped apart the quiet night of space.

Rash regained his composure and was about to yell another order when the guns turned on the Belfast and the ship was hit by a barrage of bullet-fire. Rash almost fell out of the command chair and he brought up his personal data pad. It was connected to the armchair and he swiveled it around to his lap. He typed in commands with both hands and he brought up tactical data that matched what he was seeing on the main viewscreen.

"Starboard camera!" he yelled and the view switched to the side of the Belfast. Its many guns fired volley after volley at the attacking Titan, but Rash could see the near invisible flare of the opposing force-fields deflecting the fire.

He thumbed his comm button. "How are the force-fields holding up?"

His reply was not positive. He saw on his data pad screen the shield room, the most stable in the ship, near its very core, so that it would not be bucked or moved so much by damage. The Force-fielder sat belted in her chair, eyes closed and sweat beading on her forehead. The attendant to the shielder said quickly, "It's not looking good sir. She's going to be overwhelmed soon." The attendant shook her head and ran back to stab the shielder's arm with a stimulant to keep her conscious for another few minutes.... or seconds.

Rash flicked off the comm. "Bring us about! Give them our aft and power the engines to full. This is one fight we cannot win. We can outrun them." He saw his bridge officers nod nervously as they typed in commands so quickly their fingers blurred.

The Belfast accelerated forward and shot through space. The hail of gunfire slowed, then stopped altogether as the slower Titan fell out of range for its guns. Rash exhaled in relief, and he gave a confident nod to no one in particular, then said, "Get the Jumper ready to make it back to Earth. This is a top-priority case. A rogue Titan is bad news for-"

He stopped in mid sentence as he saw the massive ship appear out of thin air in front of the Belfast, a few hundred kilometers in front of the forward camera. Rash's jaw dropped; the giant was also moving towards them, he engines burning and propelling the machine forward.

Ashley said, "I can't believe they did that. You can't teleport a moving ship. It's impossible." She turned to her console and shook her head. "It's impossible", she repeated.

Rash glared at the ship. "Get the jumper ready for-" He stopped again, and watched in horror as five missiles streaked toward the Belfast.

"Point-defense!" he shouted. The Belfast's guns spewed bullets at the missiles and two of them exploded a few hundred meters away, sending shockwaves across her bow. The other three impacted her midsection.

Rash did fall from his chair this time and slammed his head on the metal floor. His vision swam and he heard screams.

Sometime later, he found that he could think straight again and he weakly said, "Report."

Kurt spoke from a few feet away, staring at his computer console as reports from the other decks of the Belfast came in. "Force-fields down. Jumper is dead. Major hull breaches in the middle section of the ship, and sir...... the captain was almost here. He's dead now, too. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the head."

Rash sighed and got up, holding his head. "When did they hit us, Chief?"

"About five minutes ago, sir."

Rash sat back in his command chair, and realized that it really was his chair now. The thought was vaguely foreboding.

"Give me what power you can, Chief. And tell everyone to stop sending in reports; we know what's going on."

"Aye, sir." Kurt went to work silently, and Rash saw that, somehow, the main viewscreen was intact and operating. The Titan was waiting, floating just a kilometer away, as though it was inspecting its prey to see if it was dead.

Rash suddenly knew what was going on. "Turn off all power!" he hissed. "They're seeing if anyone is still alive on this ship."

Kurt hit the power button on his console and all of the lights went dark except for the emergency red glow rods attatched to the floor, which provided basic illumination on the bridge.

Rash watched silently, holding his breath, hoping beyond hope that the enemy would simply turn and leave, as it had done to the other ship.

Then the Titan's guns turned toward the Belfast and fired.

In the midst of another assault from the opposing ship, Rash gripped the command chair and closed his eyes.

Kurt saw Rash and yelled to him over the roar of battle and destruction. "Sir, you can't jump! It'll kill you!"

"Stabilize the ship as much as you can and hold on", Rash ordered, and then he blocked out everything else from his mind. Inside of his consciousness, he found the section of his brain that held within the entire universe, with anywhere and everywhere illuminated before him.

He focused on one place, Earth, and with a flick of his thoughts the location was locked in his mind. As he retreated from his innermost thoughts, he found that he already didn't have the strength to open his eyes. His arms fell limp and he slumped against the chair.

He heard a series of crashes, some sparks fly to the metal deck, and then there was silence, and the only sound being made was his breathing.

Then that fell quiet, too.

Edit: Sorry, guys. I just reread the chapter again and found a ton of grammatical issues. A TON. Very sorry for the inconvenience and I'll try to do better next time. Hopefully I fixed most of them.

machievelli
06-11-2009, 11:33 AM
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