“Remind me again why we took the new ship so far away from the core, Gyver.” The words were quiet, yet firm, proceeding as they did from the mouth of Calvin Brock. The man wore a Dominion military outfit that marked him as a general, and the reasons for that position could be seen in the intelligence shining in his eyes.
He, along with several dozen other people, were in the most advanced ship in the Dominion Fleet… and the most recently constructed. The aptly named Slave Ship.
Gyver, a sniveling, short little man in a white lab coat, swallowed nervously and licked his lips. He hated being summoned to General Brock’s quarters… it always involved the man being in a bad mood of some sort… which ALWAYS lead to a near-beating for Gyver. “Er… sir, the Emperor wished to test the new forces away from outside influences, after the murder in the capital and the sabotage on the… former unit occurred in the same day.”
Brock sighed deeply, and ran his hair through his short blonde hair. “Bah. That traitor border pilot, if that’s what he really was, wouldn’t dare come after the spawn again. He very nearly died the first time.”
Gyver looked down at the ground, not bothering to note that, even if that border pilot had nearly died, everyone else that had been associated with the project (at least in the inner circle) had died.
“No matter. Just what is it the Emperor wished us to test the spawn on?”
“Nothing in particular, yet, sir. He just wanted us to test the full capabilities of the Slave Ship, as far as maneuverability, weapons systems, and the control paneling went.”
“Yes, yes, of course. How incredibly boring.” The general looked out of the huge window to his quarters. Just beyond view was, of course, a bit of the ship’s outer covering – due to the ship’s circular shape, one could see at least a bit of it from anywhere but the lowest levels – and then… the stars, various planetoids far off in the distance… space. “You know what’s just ahead of this point, Gyver?” the general said, sighing wistfully.
“The… Unexplored Sectors, sir.”
Brock nodded. “You know, I lead a team out into the Unexplored Sectors… about five years ago. It was my team that gave us what little knowledge we have of the areas out there…”
‘And what made you a general, you self-important little…’ Gyver shook his head before he could complete the thought. One never knew when such feelings could slip out into something audible… and such a move as that wouldn’t be wise if Gyver wished to live for much longer.
He didn’t have to bother stemming further such thoughts, for a lavoid spawn, it’s crimson spikes off-set with steel circuitry, went flying by the window, jarring Brock from his nostalgic recollection. He sighed, and turned back around to Gyver. “You’re dismissed. Begin whatever tests is it you were told to perform, and tell the scientists I’ll be out for a review in an hour or two.”
“Yes… sir.” Gyver replied, and promptly left the room.
Back in the room, Calvin sat down in a plush leather chair, and uncorked a bottle of vodka. ‘I won’t have too much right now… but having to look at those… things allows me at least a small sip.’
As he pulled a glass from a cabinet next to him, he was surprised to notice his hand shaking. ‘It’s all the fault of the lavoids… too much power… who needs this kind of power? I just wanted space…’
He filled the cup with the liquor, and set himself to knock back the entire glass in one shot. Just as the general began tilting his head back, an alarm sounded, causing him to drop his glass, and the bottle of vodka itself in sheer surprise. A bit of the liquor got onto his crisp white uniform, leaving a stain on the chest, but he ignored it, immediately rushing into the hallway.
“What’s going on here?!” he yelled at the nearest panicked guard.
“There’s a full force of unidentified ships trying to cross the border!!”
Ignoring the fact that the soldier forgot the ‘sir’, he crossed his arms. “Unionites?”
“No, sir. That’s what’s so strange! They’re coming from within the Dominion!”
Brock’s eyes widened, and, without a further word, he broke into a dead sprint for the bridge.
As he did, the guard could only wonder what on earth had stained the general’s uniform…
“Dead ahead, boys. There’s a full squadron out there.” Cynewulf had managed to wrestle the controls to Meryl’s ship from Terra as soon as the border patrol’s ships had come up on radar, and was now using his computer-like logic to gauge the situation over the radio connection he had with the Seeker ships. “About 6, 7 dozen standard snub fighters…this is strange.”
“What is it, Captain?” another of the Seekers patched in over the intercom. Cyne recognized the voice as belonging to member 5 of Apollo Squadron (the small squadron that had been sent with them).
“There’s some sort of capital ship out there… along with about 23 smaller vessels I can’t identify.”
Darrell, cocking an eyebrow, got up and looked at the ship’s radar. “What in the world would a Dominion capital ship be doing out here?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, Dar… but what really worries me is the fact that I can’t get a positive ID on the smaller ships surrounding it. God knows the Seekers pay enough to keep the data banks current…”
“Captain, our presence has come up on their radar. They’re beginning to move into an attack formation.” Apollo 3’s voice came in.
“Crap… maximize speed until we come within 600 yards of their fighters, then break off into a spread formation. We’ll throw them off.” As he spoke, Cyne motioned for Darrell to come man the weapons array next to him. “Meryl, Terra.” He looked back at the two for just a moment as he kicked the speed up as high as it will go. “Go back to the engine room, and make sure that all of the operating systems remain stable… I’m going to kick this thing up higher than it was meant to go as soon as we get a chance to push through.”
The two women nodded simultaneously, and disappeared out the back door of the cabin.
The scene that followed was rather impressive, or rather would have been had they been able to admire it from outside of the cockpits of their own ships. Twelve Seeker snub fighters and one trade ship suddenly breaking into a dead run, fire and plasma trailing behind in brilliant reds and blues. Before them several dozen Dominion ships covered the area, milling about in almost-random patterns as they sought to cover the immediate area.
And in the center of it all, the huge capital ship came into view, a saucer-like machnation mounted with all manner of guns and other weaponry.
Darrell looked closely at the twenty-three small ships circling that large ship, and drew in a sharp breath, his face going pale. Before he had a chance to say anything, though, Cyne took the ship into a barrel roll, around five or six Dominion fighters, and all chances to speak were gone when he came out of it.
They were quite literally surrounded with fighters, none of them friendly. Off in the distance, Darrell thought he could make out blue plasma from the other Seeker ships tearing into the Border Fleet, but it was impossible to be certain… he had problems of his own. Meryl’s ship had two laser cannons, one on each side of the hull, and each worked off of a separate camera and control shaft. The young Zionite was doing his best to operate both of them at once, with some degree of success. It didn’t take much to take down one of the Dominion ships, it seemed. One blast and boom, they were trailing smoke off into the depths of nowhere.
“This is strange, Cyne. It’s almost like they’re running without shields.” He commented in a momentary lull – caused by a particularly insane acrobatic maneuver on Cyne’s part involving twisting within 6 feet of the hull of a Dominion ship.
“I realize that, Darrell… and I can see why. You can tell they’re holding back… for that thing, I’d wager.” He motioned over at the saucer that now loomed across their entire field of view, and the tiny… things that surrounded it. “You have noticed what those 23 ‘ships’ are, haven’t you, Darrell?”
Darrell gritted his teeth. “I was praying it was just me. Just WHAT is going on, Cynewulf? Those are Lavoids… and under Dominion control!!!”
The Seeker shook his head. “I don’t have a clue how it happened, Darrell, but I can tell you, we’d better hope they don’t do what I think they’re going to do with them.”
“Who the hell are these people?!?!” Calvin Brock screamed angrily, his voice just audible over the veritable din of the bridge of Slave Ship.
“We don’t know, sir!” Gyver returned, even as his fingers moved in a blur over a control console before him. “They have no positive set of identification.”
Brock clenched a fist. “Unionites, then. How’d they get into the Dominion?”
“No, no sir. If they were Union ships, we’d have at least enough information to identify them as such! These things give no information whatsoever, and the design is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
The Dominion General and Captain of the Slave Ship gritted his teeth. “It doesn’t matter… we weren’t enlisted to think these matters out… just to test these spawn. And that’s what we’re going to do.” He sat down heavily in a chair. “Give the signal to all of the control operatives to use the Spawn.” ‘I don’t have to like this power…’ Brock thought as various military scientists scrambled for control pads all over the bridge. ‘I just have to display it, so that no one will ever dare to challenged the Dominion. The power of the lavoid race…’
Outside, the lavoid spawn that had been orbiting the ship suddenly ground to a halt,lights flashing in the circuitry weaved into their backs. And although their pronged ‘eyes’ remained shut fast, they sprang into motion, milling through Border Fleet ships and enemies alike as they made for their target.
They streaked across the area like crimson birds of prey, their maws bloody with the power of Chaos. And all that saw them learned a new meaning to the word ‘fear.’
“Holy… Apollo Squadron, Apollo Squadron!” Cynewulf yelled over the intercom. “Initiate evasive manuevers, I repeat, initiate evasive manuevers. The previously unidentified craft are lavoids, and they are beginning to attack!” The large Seeker repeated his command as he pulled the control stick on the ship back and to the left, sending them into a sharp, spiraling climb around several Border ships.
Several panicked voices came back upon hearing Cyne’s words, but nothing important was stated, and the cyborg soon told them to cut the chatter.
Darrell was still doing his best to shoot down the various ships before them, but they seemed to preoccupied with the lavoid spawn to be much of a threat. His eyes narrowed as the side mounted ship cameras picked up the lavoids, barrelling haphazardly through their own ships.
“Accursed things… even when under control, they still kill anything that stands in their way. And… oh, crap.” He looked over to Cynewulf. “One of them’s heading straight for us, though the others seem to be breaking off for Apollo Squadron.”
Cynewulf grunted in response, and pulled the flight stick to the right, bringing them around in a tight arc to face directly back where they had come – directly in the face of the oncoming lavoid, and the huge saucer-ship.
“What are you DOING, Cyne? Surely you know that the weapons on that lavoid would be more than enough for our shields!!” Darrell would have reached out and snatched control from the bigger man right then and there, but he only had the vaguest clue how to pilot a ship… and he wasn’t sure he make Cyne give it to him.
“Something occurred to me.” Cynewulf said, not even looking over at the young Zionite. “I have ether abilities. You have ether abilities. There’s no grand force that says they’re unusable simply because this is a space battle.”
Darrell scratched his head. “I guess you have a point there… but I’ve never heard of such a thing happening… not even in that book Lucia gave me.”
Cynewulf grinned then, a sight that Darrell hadn’t seen in weeks. “Like I said to Meryl some time back… you can’t stand on tradition when dealing with lavoids. So, get the biggest spell you can think of ready.”
His speech finished, the tall man gunned the motors to their optimum speed and closed his fists tightly around the steering column. Darrell searched his memory for something, anything that would be useful against a lavoid. The spawn before them seemed to grow larger and larger as they neared, and Cyne was forced to take some evasive manuevers when it fired out several large red laser rays.
“Wait for it…” Cyne said through clenched teeth. “If you hit it too early, it’ll recover before we can get past the range of that capital ship.”
The young Zionite nodded in response, and closed his eyes in concentration.
“Just a little more…” the burly Seeker said, flinching as several beams from the spawn hit their shields. “Five seconds…”
Darrell’s eyes closed even tighter, and he stretched out his hands.
He thought of everything that the lavoid race had done to him, and what had become of his home.
He thought of Grey Terin, and how the mad struggle for lavoid energy had led to his parents’ deaths.
His mind clouded with pure rage, and he felt the spell he’d been about to cast, a relatively powerful blizzaga, shift into something more.
He screamed out in agony and hatred, and his eyes fluttered open. Silver light veritably poured from them, and the young man found himself completely blinded by it. “Tsunami!!!” he yelled, and thrust the spell out from his body, willing it to form outside the ship.
The lavoid spawn screamed in pain as two tons of water, water that shouldn’t have been able to exist in space, poured over him at an almost supersonic speed. It ripped away bits of the circuitry that laced its body, and chipped away bits of armor along with that.
“Dear God…” Cynewulf muttered as he saw the extent of the damage, but there was no time to comment further than that. He flipped on a mic and spoke into it as Meryl’s ship screeched by the pain-wracked lavoid.
“Apollo Squadron, we should be passing into the Unexplored Territories momentarily.” Sure enough, there were very few Border Fleet ships still operable, and what few were there couldn’t react quickly enough to stop the speedy trader ship. “Keep up evasive manuevers against the lavoid spawn for a few more minutes, then get the heck out of dodge.”
He received various replies giving an affirmative, but there was no time to listen. He switched the com equipment to the speakers in the back of the ship. “Meryl, Terra… you two alright back there?”
After a moment, a voice came back. “Yeah, Cyne. We’re doing alright… the engines could be better, though.” It was Terra.
“They in good enough condition for me to gun them for another minute or two?”
“Should be… but we won’t be able to get back into the Dominion in this ship.”
Darrell reached up and grabbed a mic. “That’s okay, Terra… unless the lavoid’s back there, I doubt we’ll be back in the Dominion for a long time.”
Cynewulf grunted in agreement, and sent the ship into one last barrell roll as they passed what appeared to be the main bridge of the huge saucer before them, then took the speed up a notch and blasted off into the Unexplored Sectors.
“NOOO!!! Send more ships after them, Gyver!! Immediately!” General Brock yelled, slamming a fist down into the arm of his chair.
Gyver, who was furiously typing commands over a keyboard, shook his head. “It can’t be done, General. We’ve already lost three quarters of the Border Fleet stationed out here, and it’s going to take those we have left to hold off these other ships, not to mention getting that damaged lavoid back to the holding bay.”
“What’s the problem? It’s not going to go anywhere, is it?” Brock asked.
Gyver sighed, and turned to face the General. “Perhaps not, sir, but if we don’t fix the control circuits that were damaged, it could break free of our control. And then we’d all be dead.”
Brock shook his head. “Coward… are there truly NO ships that we can send out that way?”
“Is that not what I just said… you idiot?” Gyver crossed his arms and took a step to the now shocked general.
“What did you call me, Gyver?!?! This is insubordination in the highest degree, and I shall not tolerate it!! Do you not remember how I got you on the crew of this…”
“Just shut up, Brock.” Gyver said grimly. “None of us have to put up with you anymore. You won’t be a general for much longer, anyway.”
“Wh-what?! Mutiny?!!” Brock stood up in his chair, and put one hand to a blaster pistol hooked to his belt.
Gyver shook his head, and laughed. “Of course not, Calvin. I and all of these men are still loyal to the Dominion. But… a message was sent to the capital just before the fighting broke out informing his Excellency of your little… drinking problem.”
“Excuse me?! The alarm startled me, soldier, and there is no law against having a small drink in the Dominion.”
The tall scientist guffawed in response to that. “No, I suppose it is perfectly legal for you to have a ‘small drink’. But you, sir, have been going through the bottles at a rather alarming rate. Did you think that no one knew where the missing bottles in the cafeteria were going? Ah, no… the stain on your uniform today is simply the final bit of proof.”
Brock cursed and pulled out his blaster, pointing it straight at Gyver. “You… you little punk!!! I’ll kill you!”
Gyver sighed and gazed levelly at the former general. “Will you indeed? I think not… as acting commander, I was supposed to take you to Nova alive, but… we can’t have this. Commander Greven, if you would…” he waved his arm, and immediately Brock was knocked to the ground by a strong arm. His pistol went flying across the room, where it was caught by a soldier.
As he lay on the ground, pinned underneath a huge man’s foot, Gyver walked over to the captain’s chair and sat down. “You see, Brock? Being an ‘explorer’ isn’t enough these days. You didn’t have the ambition for this job… nor a proper respect for the power of the lavoid.” He looked up at the huge soldier, and nodded. “Kill him, right here.”
Author’s Note: I’m leaving this chapter, which strikes me as something of a landmark, quoteless. I’ve never gotten this far before… and it’s very interesting to have seen how this story’s developed. Let me thank anyone reading this for sticking with it this long, and I hope I keep you entertained with it!
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