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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, '10, 8:36 pm
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Vahal Fort: Third part.

***


Rune Valduran was deeply lost in idle contemplation, her legs widely spread in a stretching position as she meditated in silence. Merely dressed in an adjusted tank-top and tight shorts to match, her slightly pointed newman ears discreetly showed through the thick mane of her long, flowing dark blue hair, let loose over the fair skin of her shoulders,. Sweat gently rolled on her athletic body as she rested after a tiresome training session. Such sessions came every day, she was a hunter and her role was vital to the military high command, she needed to remain fit and at the peak of her athletic skills.

The repeated gunfire sound did not even disturb her anymore. Not ten feet away from her, Luna, her sister in combat, was firing dummy-shots at a computer-controlled target.

Luna suddenly stopped, her eyes shifting left and right, she looked like she was about to jump on a hidden prey only she could see. With a precise and nearly instantaneous movement, she set both her firearms back into the holsters on each side of the thick belt that surrounded her thin but agile body. She was taller than Rune and although less muscular, her fit body looked more robust than her delicate sister. The fact that her daring cold blue stare was matched only by the intense fiery color of her scarlet, shoulder-length hair intimidated most people. Her role in the military made some people uncomfortable as well, she was a loose cannon that traitors and cultists alike came to fear. Covered in her dark crimson fiber suit, she looked like she was made of pure heat energy, ready to strike in a flash of light. She spun around and looked at Rune.


-Hey, did you hear that?

-… no, what?

Rune's voice was low at first, as if she just came out of a dream. Luna's voice was excited.

-There, again! It sounds like cannon fire!

As soon as she finished her sentence, she felt a terrible tremor and nearly fell flat on the floor.

-Holy crap! Someone's firing at us!

Rune took a deep breath and closed her opened legs. With a gentle push from her arms, she quickly jumped back up.

-The mission must have started, but Adam didn't say anything about a space battle…

Luna frowned.

-He can't know everything in advance. Let's get geared up, he'll be calling us anytime soon now.

As soon as she finished that sentence, a voice came from the speakers in their quarters.

-Luna, Rune, meet me in the main cannon room. We're teleporting in a few minutes.

Rune sheepishly smiled as she was putting on her armored battle gear.

-You were right.

Luna smiled.

-Let's go, it's time to play bodyguard for our general again.


***


Blood gushed from Stern's right shoulder where a poleziax struck with one of its spiked metallic arms. The pain was bearable but the blood loss hindered his aim so the captain could not use his handgun just as well. His trusted Pamela had always been a reliable companion in combat, but for now, he would have to rely on his techniques. He saw that Sandy Ryan had a hard time recovering from her initial firing position. Since she had been temporarily immobilized by anchoring to the floor to allow her arm cannon to reach full power, she was not able to evade the first blasts from the large enemy forces and her powersuit had been badly damaged. Erad saw that she was still able to move about and fire, but her mobility was limited and she had a hard time evading attacks.

Pointing both hands forward, Erad invoked the sashu technique, manipulating surrounding gravity fields to create an inertial barrier around his commanding officer. A quick nod from Sandy told him that she was aware that the technique landed and the combat resumed. He spun around and focused his attention on Major Kurtz to see how he was doing.

Kurtz was engaged in melee against too many opponents for Stern to count. The major's green eyes sparkled with energy and his tied-up long red hair was flailing left and right as he was striking wherever his weapon found a target. He was already badly wounded but, as usual, he did not slow down. A mental technique learned from the Espers allowed Kurtz to shrug off pain to a certain degree. Erad was constantly concerned about the overuse of such a technique. No matter how much the mind wants to evade pain, the body ends up taking its toll and can eventually break down.

Erad pointed his right arm again and manipulated surrounding energy fields to accelerate Kurtz's cellular metabolism, repairing tissue faster than humanly possible. The technique was called resta and Kurtz was as much an addict as could be imagined. The major did not acknowledge his friend's work as he kept striking opponents down with his blade or with a powerful kick, pushed back the poleziax that came to daringly close to him. Stern did not take outrage, he was not looking for thanks, he was looking to keep his comrade alive and fighting.

They were outnumbered, they were suffering heavy wounds, but Erad was content, they were still doing well. And with this thought, he unleashed his gra technique, crushing a trio of poleziax with huge gravitational forces.

Kurtz simply did not think, his mind was quiet. He was busy staying alive, fending, striking, kicking, dodging and striking again. To him, it was merely an annoying delay coming between him and his greater destiny. He did not feel any fear because he knew, he would not die here, he was meant for a greater battle.

Sandy Ryan was glad she was with two seasoned veterans. Her angelic face lit up with every flash of her weapon as she fired doom on her opponents. In her beautiful golden eyes, there was the dread of dying here without seeing her loved husband one more time. She knew he would come soon. As long as she held to that, she would not die.


***

The cannon room doors opened and General Freeman stepped in. The only people present were two maintenance technicians. Although there were a lot of trained forces able to use the regular Nova cannons in the fleet, the only person who was ever asked to use the Grantz cannon was Aurian Walsh, current de-facto leader of the Espers and he was not part of this current mission. The only two other known people who could use it were General Freeman and (in theory) Lutz, leader of the espers who had been in cryogenic sleep for centuries. The cannon was monitored by its own powerful computer and the only actual reason or need for any military personnel in this room was to back up and assist the user in case of a mechanical malfunction.

The two technicians snapped at attention.


-At ease gentlemen. Is the cannon ready for operation?

The technicians relaxed. They had been informed by the bridge crew of the General's arrival and purpose.

-Yes General, you may enter at will.

"Excellent" Said Freeman with a nod.

The first technician activated the hatch mechanism and Freeman stepped in the small, antechamber. The only apparent device there was a seat, which looked rather cushy and comfortable; it was inclined like a dentist chair. Besides that, once he sat on the chair, all Freeman saw were sensors; they were virtually everywhere. The light was dim and the air warm. It was perfectly soundproof.

As the hatch closed behind him, Freeman looked for the controls. It was the first time he actually sat in the Glorious Light's cannon chamber and it looked different from the ones he sampled during the conception of the fleet. He gave out a perplexed look as obviously, the controls he got used to activate in the regular Nova cannon chambers were simply inexistent here. His first thought was the realization of how little he knew of the most important weapon he had on his very flagship.


-Too many hours commanding troops, not enough studying my own ship. A shame.

As if activated by his last sentence, a soft feminine voice spoke. It was so natural and warm, Freeman felt he had almost expected it.

-User unidentified. Scanning…

Freeman waited.

-You are not Aurian, but my scanners indicate sufficient potential to power up the Grantz cannon. Have you come to replace him? Who are you?

Freeman was about to answer, surprised to see that the computer was equipped with a personality matrix. Equipping a personality matrix on anything else than an android citizen was highly illegal, Eva was supposed to be the only one and she was a top secret military project. He would need to have a talk with his engineers, and with the espers. The computer didn't let him answer.

-Wait no, let me feel your presence...

-Feel me? Freeman was wondering if he needed to be worried or amused.

-Ahh, I see. I was wondering when we would finally meet. Adam Freeman, Full-General, currently posted as chief commanding officer of the global Mota-Dezo defense forces, DNA inconsistent with current Algo database… Scanning… DNA confirmed, Terran, age 47, 5'8", 188 pounds, known heart condition, force class, rank 8. Setting maximum cannon output to 85%.

Freeman was too astonished to make any sense. The single fact that she knew he was Terran meant there had been a major breach of information in the system, or simply that this computer could tap directly into Eva. He spoke the first thing that came to his mind.

-Set it to full power, we don't want to have to fire a second time.

-As you wish, Adam. It will be a great strain, but your metabolism should be able to handle it. Increasing heart condition monitoring. Necessary adrenalin and trimatein standing by in case of heart failiure.

-Excellent. The success of this mission outranks my well-being, remember that.

The voice took a motherly and concerned voice.

-There is no need to be a martyr Adam. We can very well do this without having to suffer from a bad experience. Why don't you try and relax. The results will only be better that way.


***


The fight was escalating in violence and intensity. The three smaller Novas were still generally unscathed, except maybe a few hull scratches, but the Nemesis and the Aeroprism were both suffering extremely heavy damage.

On the bridge of the Glorious Light, the lieutenant in charge of navigation, a bright and young woman, looked at Captain Serra, who was in command while Freeman was away in the Cannon room.


-Captain! The Nemesis has managed to out-maneuver the Aeroprism and left it stuck in the crossfire between the second pirate ship and the Nova wing. It has locked its supernova cannon on us and is about to fire!

Serra did not answer immediately. He looked first at his display console. He raised his head and looked at the exterior view display in disbelief.

-They're bluffing… or they're insane! They suffered heavy damage on all decks! Their nova weapon matrix is out of alignment and they have photon leaks everywhere! They must know that they can't use their weapon in this state.

The navigation officer replied.

-They're locking on. They're not bluffing sir… here it comes.

The Nemesis's main gun glew with angry might for a split second. Some of the officers on the Glorious light closed their eyes, ready to receive a quick death and join the great light in infinity.

Serra kept his eyes opened. Even in the face of death, he chose to trust his own judgment.


-Fools… How far will they go for their fanatic cause…

The Nemesis' main gun began to shake frantically, energy sparks flew all over her hull. It once had been a proud military vessel, fighting against oppression for the rebel cause, but now, as an accursed pirate ship, the Nemesis exploded in a great blast of energy that sent a powerful shockwave through the whole sector.

-Their ship was too badly damaged. They should have known… Said the navigator.

-Lieutenant, what's the status of our shields?

The lieutenant looked at her console and answered in a dark, resigned voice.

-They're still down, captain. The blast will reach us in seven seconds.

The whole crew literally stopped breathing as they saw the transparent shockwave mercilessly coming towards them.

The shock came as violently as they expected, they felt the ship being rocked from port to bow but to their greatest surprise, it remained whole.

Like a great angel of steel that comes to shield them from the wrath of hell, the D.S.S. Aeroprism gradually appeared on the front display monitor, daringly close to them.


-REPORT! The captain's voice was anxious.

-It's the Aeroprism captain! She positioned herself in the shockwave to protect us with her shields! She took most of the shock; she lost main guns and main engines. Our engines are down as well!

-What about the Grantz cannon?" Serra dreaded to hear the answer. The navigator took a few seconds to double check.

-Still operational and usable sir, but it reports 0% charged. Sir, the Preator also lost main engines but she's using her lateral thrusters to come about and point her main ordinance weapons at us. She will be ready to fire in 84 seconds unless we can recuperate our ability to move."

-Serra to Freeman. General Freeman, please respond!"

A few seconds passed. A voice finally answered.

-Bridge? This is Luna. The general is inside the cannon room. He has been there for over ten minutes. There seems to be no way short of shutting it down to communicate with him.

Serra took a second but decided.

-Let's trust the General. Lieutenant, alert the other ships. Signal any other fleet ship in the sector that we need immediate assistance.
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