“Superior 1501-255-330 to Alpha! Superior 1501-255-330 to Alpha! Target has been sighted!”

Deep within the ultra-efficient mechanical bowels of the Star Watchtower, two elegant, sinuous figures in full body smartsuits watched a wall of flickering displays. Fully adapted for space travel and long range teleport, one a striking yellow, the other a more subtle shade of cyan that blended in to the cold metal structures in the background whenever the range of blue lights blinked on – the lighting was adapted for their nocturnal eyes – they both had the jagged, spiky collars that marked them as of a commanding rank, the golden slightly higher rank than the blue. The one she was addressing over the intercom was of even higher rank - in fact, she was the Alpha of the entire Watch, equivalent to the General of an interplanetary army. Her face did not appear on the display – the Superior did not have authority to see the Alpha's face – but her voice was the same as that of all Starmen – a mechanical near-monotone with a hint of static.

“Input co-ordinates.”

The Superior did as she was told. The tiny ship they were tracking appeared as a small red blip on the map of the galaxy.

“How conveniently close to a Watchtower. The target must not know that he is being followed.”

“But we shot him down…”

“Unit Final 1101-095-706 did not leave stealth during the attack. It is possible that the target did not pick him up on his radar at all.” said the Superior, “But still, it is best not to be optimistic when fighting even an ordinary Dictory warrior. I have authorised you to send two units of Finals and two units of Ghosts to intercept the target. You are in command.”

“I will not fail you, Alpha.”

“That would be a wise choice, Superior. This close to your base, you would be leaving yourself open to infiltration and attack. Remember who you are fighting.”

After a couple of seconds' lag, the new orders were uploaded to the base computers. Superior 1501-255-330 set about deploying the ships, keeping a close eye on the flashing red blip. She turned the Watchtower's shields to maximum as well, and set all the automated defence systems to 'paranoid'. The metal diamond in the sky flared cyan, briefly highlighting its shining facets and the beauty of its mechanical workmanship as it spun on its axis. Then sixteen bolts of light, eight red and eight purple, shot out of it like comets.

Gyiiyg saw them fire upon him just as they came out of stealth.

His communicator had gone back to normal, although he was still worried about what had been causing the distorted noise. There was a very strong energy source in the direction he was travelling – especially strong for the small satellite that seemed to be emitting it. He threw up a psychic shield that was amplified by the ship's computer to cover the entire hull. Then he rolled out of the way just as the first few laser bolts arced towards him. By the time they had realised they had missed him, he had already worked out a strategic place to counter-attack them, working from some memory he wasn't sure whether he himself held. Another unit appeared behind him. There were sixteen of them.

The comm-link bleeped. He wasn't sure whether it was wise to answer it again after what happened last time, but when he did so, there was no distortion apart from a little static.

“This is Starman Superior 1501-255-330 of Star Watchtower 255. You are wanted under suspicion of interplanetary war crimes and crimes against the Starman nation. You will surrender immediately or prepare to be evaporated.”

The face that appeared on the main screen was completely covered in some kind of metallic mask, domed with a visor over its eyes, that was part of its suit. Gyiiyg recognised it from somewhere but he couldn't quite remember where.

“A Dictory warrior does not surrender.” he said. Then he concentrated all his will on causing the ship to dart away again, firing as it moved, an Omega-level PK Beam being channelled down the ship's cannons and sending a bolt of pure blue psychic energy towards one of the faint purple shadows that was one of the ships. There was a rose-shaped flare as it hit the other craft straight on, hitting the shields and knocking it backwards. He took the opportunity to fire three more shots, then sped in the other direction, away from both the source of the attack and the direction he originally came from. There was a faint signal from somewhere in the distance.

A deadly game of cat and mouse had begun, a game where the cats were very hungry lions but he was the kind of mouse that roared. The Starman crafts blinked in and out of sight, firing shots out of nowhere. It took all his psychic strength to reinforce the shields in the right place at the right time – he didn't have enough power to keep the entire ship shielded and he was worried about running out of power travelling at this speed for this long. A few of the streaks of blue and red lighting up the sky like a celestial After Dark screensaver were his own, and three of the Starman ships were down, fizzling and crackling purple and red veins of electricity before teleporting awkwardly back to their home base. He wondered whether he should just turn around and launch a surprise attack on them – he could probably shield himself for a few minutes. But he wasn't sure how far he would get as one person against an unknown enemy force. On the other hand, he didn't know how far away the place he was heading to was, or whether it would give him a friendly reception, or how long these Starmen would bother to pursue him for. 'Interplanetary war crimes' were what he had been accused of. Maybe the entire galaxy was against him, and he wasn't sure why…

His mind faltered only for the split second it took his enhanced mind to think such thoughts, but it was already enough time for five of the ships to appear before him in a V formation. His sensors told him that four were coming in from behind. He wasn't in a good position. Pushing his mind further into every tiny area of the ship, grabbing the shield with immaterial hands and wrapping it around every corner, he was beginning to feel the strain. He would have to end this battle soon, he knew, or his enemies would end it for him. The Universe could not afford another bad ending, a voice inside him said. What the hell did that mean?

Then he saw his opportunity.

A new blip appeared on the main screen. Not as big a blip as the others, but he knew what it was. A small body made up of unrefined energy with no life signals.

A star.

Gathering every last vestige of his psychic energy, he astrally hurled his mind out into the black void. After a few agonising seconds of total freefall, sick with fear that he had miscalculated, he hit a chaotic maelstrom of white.

He pulled himself to a halt. He did not want to fall into the star, only to touch its edges. Swerving at a right angle and grabbing on with his telekinetic feelers, he scraped the edge of the star, violently shook it, loosening the excess energy until the shimmering motes fell away like sparks from a firework. He batted a few of them with extra force to make sure they hurtled clear of the atmosphere.

His body reeled as his mind fell back into it. The massive expenditure of psychic energy hurt like hell, even with the military grade cerebral enhancers fitted all the way through the ship that he was wired to. A ripple of agony passed through him. He gritted his teeth, making his face appear even more skeletal, and a groan passed through them. A couple of words escaped from his mouth in the Dictory language:

“PEE KAY STARSTORM OMEGAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

With a noise like thousands of marbles falling onto a giant glockenspiel, the loosened stardust swarmed through space towards the enemy ships. They darted away, their jerky teleport patterns like an online game character with lag. Only two were actually hit, both evaporating instantly in the white-hot light and massive psychic overload, but the others had retreated and bought him time. He brought the thrusters into full speed and darted again into the sky, towards his unnamed benefactor, the white star, that had given him a day of its life.

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!

The Superior watched as her squadron retreated at full speed, leaving behind the smears of stardust that had once been two Final ships. They had barely escaped the range of the immense amount of energy released.

“What in the name of the Omega was that?” she demanded.

“A Starstorm?”

“The enemy can use the Starstorm too? Well, I'll be… our own weapon used against us… this opponent is truly formidable… I suppose we were underestimating him.” she said, “Well, he's still an idiot if he thinks he can use a Starstorm at such close range to a Watchtower. What does he think our reactors are powered by? If he wants to play with the power of the stars, let's show him how to do it professionally! All units, stealth mode and stay clear! Activate Star Fission!”

“But, Superior, we'll drain our reactors…”

“They can be replenished! There are plenty of stars in the sky close enough for me to move this thing into orbit with them even at minimal power!”

“Yes, Superior. Stealth mode activated. Star Fission charging in nine… eight… seven…”

Suddenly, a couple of light years away, he heard a foreboding rumbling. It was like the furnaces of Hell itself were about to overload. It buffeted his ship, causing his steering to go wild. At the speed he was going, he barely needed to touch the wheel before he was knocked away from the star, spinning over and over.

Then a blinding light knocked the main screen out of array. He used his rudimentary ESP to see just outside the ship. The light of the star was now a solid pillar extending as far in either direction as he could see. To either side of the massive beam of light, the ships were returning.

Gyiiyg looked at the star charts. The large energy source was still four light years away – too far away for him to fly if he was going to survive in a space battle with opponents who, while definitely not superior if they were fighting fairly, outnumbered him and had some kind of celestial beam of light. (Was the star angry at him for scraping it or something?) There was nothing he could do to reach that point… well, almost nothing… but he would have to be insane to use that at such long range, with the amount of damage already inflicted on himself and his ship.

He grinned, outlining the contours of his gaunt face, his ears flattened to the base of his skull. Insanity was no stranger to him. Maybe a little madness lingered in him still.

Entering his ship's psychic lattice once more, he scanned it until he found the relevant sector, in the middle of the warp drive. As he accessed it, a flashing red text box flashed up over his cybernetic channel.

SYSTEM WARNING: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? YES NO.

Still grinning, he thought Yes.

SYSTEM WARNING: SYSTEMS ARE DAMAGED + INSUFFICIENT POWER. ARE YOU REALLY SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? YES NO.

Dimly, he felt his body shake from the rebound as the ship was hit again. His shields must be almost gone if they let that much damage get through to the pilot. Spitting out a tooth, he thought 'Yes' again.

FINAL WARNING: THIS OPERATION MAY RESULT IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THIS SHIP AND/OR TERMINATION OF THE PILOT. ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU WANT TO PERFORM THIS OPERATION? YES NO PLEASE TYPE FULL WORD 'YES' OR 'NO' WITH CAPITAL Y OR N AND LOWER CASE LETTERS WITH A FULL STOP.

Using his pop-up ouija board, he spelled 'Yes' exactly correctly. The millisecond the computers gave him access, he hurled his entire pool of psychic energy into one single technique.

“PEE KAY TELEPORT OMEGA!” he screamed.

Starman Superior 1501-255-330 watched the squadron close in upon the interloper. While he had managed to dodge the Star Fusion Cannon, he had been thrown out of his momentum and completely sacrificed his initiative by the move. To the Starmen, who had regrouped into their usual formation and tracked him without leaving stealth, he would be an easy target.

Suddenly, just as they were about to fire again, the ship began flying around in a circle. The circle became wider and wider, tracing wild spirals, until when it was an inch from clipping the side of a Ghost who had stealthed in to try and score a shot at him, there was a flash of red light and he was gone.

“Unregistered psychokinetic teleport signature detected!” said one of the Watchtower's lesser Operators, a Deluxe. “He can't have gone far with so little power. Scout all immediate probable areas.” she said, “I have a hunch at where he has gone.”

 
chapter_4.txt · Last modified: 2009/12/11 18:15 by doan
 
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