Mates

Fiction by | January 11, 2009

(An excerpt)

matesThey knew each other. From the moment they first laid eyes, he recognized her, and she him. Nothing would separate them; not even the war that had caused so much misery, which brought their once magnificent civilization to its tragic downfall. Nothing would interfere with their bliss. They were soul mates.

Together with fellow human survivors in the escape fleet, they fled the havoc wrought by their nemesis, the Banac’ans. Their home planet had been pierced through its very core, causing its horrendous destruction. With it, the civilizations, the lives they once knew, the whole planet itself, vanished from the face of the galaxy.

Yet with the seething menace lurking in the vast shadows of space, the survivors could not tell when the enemy would strike again. Banac’an probes discovered their underground colony hidden in an obscure planet and a bloody skirmish ensued. Noble warriors sacrificed themselves and fought valiantly, desperately, just to buy the precious seconds that would allow their beloved kin to escape towards the starship carrier fleets and into the expanse of outer space.

The Leadership assigned her to the communications sector of an escort starship cruiser; he, in turn, commanded one of the enormous carriers with its precious cargo of civilian survivors. Though the war had momentarily separated them, both remained grateful that the other was yet alive. They waited for the time when peace would finally return, so that they might be reunited once again. But hope remained elusive. The overshadowing darkness of the conflict asserted its presence over their diminutive existence.

The surviving fleet hid at a nearby solar system, positioning itself in between the aggregate belt of a ringed planet and a medium sized sun. The sudden enemy attack had left them ill-equipped to proceed with the original escape plan. They needed to amass enough energy to power a massive warp-space that could teleport the entire fleet. Already they had identified the coordinates of a distant star system, whose uncharted course could yet spell hope. With raw tachyon harvested from solar flares and hydrogen fuel from water accumulated from the ring aggregates, they hoped to recharge their energies before the agile Banac’an probes could penetrate their lair.

A Banac’an probe capable of penetrating their stealth defense systems came threateningly close. In a last ditch effort, they launched a paralyzing web over the unmanned craft and bombarded it with frequency scramblers. It was futile but might still gain them time to prepare for hurried teleportation. Experience had taught them that destroying the probe instead hastened the enemy’s arrival. But the probe activated its own self-destruct mechanism: reacting against the suppressing mesh, its internals triggered an ignition. The exploding probe appalled the survivors as they braced to fight their indomitable foe to the death.

* * *

First came the borers. Innumerable metal piercing abominations swarmed towards the fleet with swiftness capable of dodging the rapid shots of their defense turrets. Small enough to fit into passageways and air ducts, the borers were programmed to penetrate deep through a ship’s shield defense sector and annihilate any who stood their way.

Shield defenses of the first-hit ships collapsed, leaving them vulnerable to the vicious enemy. Lumbering, shieldless starship carriers blazed under the ruthless attack of enemy fighters as Banac’an battleships delivered the final blow with powerful death rays.

In the midst of the chaos, she silently hoped that his ship survived the onslaught even as her fellow crew struggled to resist the overwhelming invasion. But that was not to be. The borers penetrated deep into his carrier and reached its shield sector. Death rays tore through chamber after chamber of his ship. He signaled the alarm to abandon the carrier. Crew and passengers scrambled towards available escape pods and vehicles.

The countdown to open warp-space ticked on. It was a race for survival. The accumulated but inadequate energy could only accommodate a portion of their fleet. But true to the ideals of their once glorious civilization, the survivors stood firm. In the midst of the widespread destruction, nobility, heroism and sacrifice ruled over the tense atmosphere. For the last time, families and friends strengthened each other.

Over her wrist-held com-link he informed her that he had survived the destruction of his ship. With a hundred survivors, he managed to board an escape vehicle. They hoped to dock with the nearest intact ship but only debris seemed to surround them. He told her not to wait for him, that she must go on. He could only ask for her to survive, and nothing else.

All inter-ship communications abruptly stopped. All remaining energy had to go to the teleportation procedures. With deep heaviness in her heart, she proceeded with the task assigned to her as their ship braced for hyperdrive.

At hyper speed, all the surviving, and still functional battleships, cruisers, and carriers raced towards the warp-space portal. The survivors suddenly found themselves in another space; the distant stars shimmered, the deep darkness suddenly serene. A brief battle ensued as one of the enemy ships managed to trail behind them. It was promptly eliminated before the enemy could send the coordinates. Eerie calm again pervaded in the unfamiliar space.

She called to him from her com-link. No answer. She tried all means of communication that the ship technology could provide, but still no answer. She cried.

—-
Ric is the artist-in-residence for Dagmay. His other scifi stories are at http://maharlika23.blogspot.com/.

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