This week we showcase part two of a story from Steve Rzasa. Steve is the author of several science fiction novels and a Hugo award nominee for “Turncoat”, a short story published in Ride the Red Horse, an anthology of military science fiction and fact. His latest fantasy novel, “The Bloodheart”, comes out next month. Check out his website at http://www.steverzasa.com/.
“Patrol Craft 606” is a tale from the Albion Empire in Takamo Universe. Part two of a two part series is presented here. Part two will be posted later this week. Enjoy.
Patrol Craft 606 – Part 2
An alert flashed in Blacksword’s helmet readouts. The power level indicator shared by the patrol craft spiked high—and its proximity increased dramatically. At the same moment, the pilot cut in on his communicator’s emergency frequency, his panicked tone distorted. “…closing! Repeat, energy lev… consistent with discharge of plasma…”
“Down!” Blacksword shouted into the platoon frequency.
His men and women dived for whatever cover they could find, which consisted mostly of open hatchways and collapsed girders. A purple-blue flash rippled through the air, exploding around one of the girders in a supernova of red sparks. The girder disintegrated into globs of molten yellow metal.
“Lasermen, up!” Farris shouted. “Guards, ready!”
A triple repeat of the plasma blast took huge gouges from the corridor wall, and obliterated another girder. One of the lasermen tumbled backward, screaming, with a shard of metal half a meter long spearing his right leg. Blood bubbles streamed out until the suit’s injury suppression systems clamped down on the breach, sealed in the air, and injected the laserman with a coagulant to slow bleeding.
“Target and fire!” Blacksword snapped.
The two remaining lasermen sliced through the girders at the opposite end of the hall with their beams. The lasers were invisible en route, but a dazzling red and white at the emitter lens of the long, slender white weapon showed that they fired off several bursts. Girders were severed in neat lines; perfectly straight troughs were ripped in the bulkheads.
No sign of any assailant.
“Overhead!” Canderspell shouted, his voice cracking.
Blacksword looked up in time to see the dark shape leap down from the ceiling grates, knocking Glidden and the laserman aside. It was man-sized, but twisted mix of robotic legs and human appendages—human torso and arms, with eight sharp-clawed legs of black metal. One of the arms was augmented with a thick, stubby weapon the likes of which he’d never seen, but the purple-blue glow from the business end told him precisely what it was used for.
The other hand was modified with claws, a pair of pincers that tore open the front of Canderspell’s suit.
Blacksword and Farris opened fire with their mag-pulse fusils, spitting tungsten projectiles accelerated down tiny electromagnetic rails in the weapons. Their shots exploded far too distant from the creatures—and Blacksword realized they shouldn’t have exploded at all. They should have shredded the creature without any incendiary effects.
Then he understood the nature of the power surges. “Personal shield! Fall back, the thing’s shielded!”
The creature had no human face remaining, only a single glowing orange optical scanner in the middle of its head. Where the mouth and nose should have been was a strange, bulbous black unit that trailed wires and tubes to the backside.
Blacksword flung himself back as the creature lunged for him, clawing desperately in the negligible gravity. Its claws stayed maddeningly fastened to the deck. Magnetic grapplers?
“Sir! Our mag-pulsers can’t cut through that shield!” Farris yanked him back behind a girder, putting more distance between them and their attacker.
“Understood, Sergeant!” Blacksword snapped. “Fourth platoon! I want the EM Brute here now!”
The swirl of sigs from all his soldiers tightened around his position as the platoons moved in to support their commander. From far behind the creature, a laser strike dazzled Blacksword, its full blinding effects damped by his helmet’s imaging systems. The creature twisted its arm at a hideous angle and sprayed the end of the corridor with plasma blasts, reducing the deck to a blackened, molten ruin.
“Lure it back!” Blacksword said. “Back to the junction! Farris, where the hell’s my Brute?”
“One damn sec, sir!”
They sped backward down the way they’d came, suit thrusters spraying as they emptied their magazines at the creature. It kept on after them, firing that damned plasma gun, though its aim was shaky enough for Blacksword and Farris to avoid the shots. His sensors told him that the remainder of First Platoon had regrouped and was tending the wounded, staying fortified and out of danger—and plugging the gap if any more of the beasts decided to join the fray.
Blacksword and Farris flew back out into the broadest portion of the main corridor, nearly colliding with half the men from Fourth Platoon. Two of them lugged a bulky weapon that, once they stabilized it with thrusters, unfolded itself to its full two-meter length. The muzzle was a broad ovoid that split into four equal segments.
“Stand clear, sir!” the operator shouted.
Blacksword shoved Farris headlong, using a burst from his waist jets to careen them into a bulkhead.
The electro-magnetic pulse projector—a Magi Industries Brute, Class EGW Four—expelled a wave of green energy, as tangled as any spider web. The blast rolled over and through the creature, ignoring the shield. Sparks exploded along the joints and backside, and it convulsed, staggering down the corridor. The creature stumbled over half of its eight legs, which had gone dead and were as useful for navigation as those broken girders. It collapsed onto the deck, rebounded, and floated up silently, its magnetic grip terminated.
Soldiers immediately surrounded the creature. A corpsman scooted by on thrusters, headed to the First Platoon wounded. A second corpsman, a raven-haired woman named Wainwright, floated up to Blacksword. “Are you okay, sir?”
He nodded. “We’re both fine. Check on the—on our attacker. I want a full medscan on whatever it is.”
The corpsman went to work with her array of instruments. Farris turned to Blacksword. “It’s not—this wasn’t a human, was it, sir?”
“I don’t know, Sergeant,” he said. “What I do know is Command will want this moved out of here on the double.” He triggered his communicator. “Patrol Craft Six-oh-Six, this is Blacksword. Send to Albion Command: We have found a dormant Cyber installation. We are holding position and awaiting further instruction.”
Blacksword cast a wary glance over the inert creature. The benefits from analyzing its technology could be huge.
They also carried grave risk.
What does this mean for Takamo Universe players?
Stories, data fragments, items and personalities in stories are all content that players may encounter in the game. The acquisition of the content will permit the discovery and use of new items and technologies in the game. They may also be used as clues for hidden artifacts and knowledge throughout the galaxy.