In the wake of war

in Slice of Heaven

Nedesun II

“Status report.”

Captain Tellarac paced through what remained of his ship’s bridge. The Lamorn class battleship ‘Vek’Lar’ lay shattered on the planet surface. The battle had been glorious, but brief. They had been ambushed by a Terran destroyer, who managed to shoot out their Vortex drive, crippling their systems and plummeting the Vek’Lar into the planet’s atmosphere before the fight had gotten well underway.

The general on-board alarm had been sounding for the past few hours now. Around him, he saw the bodies of at least seven of his bridge crew lying beneath what remained of their stations. He himself had only survived the crash by sheer force of luck and he thanked Johas for that.

One of his senior officers, commander Sintek, responded. His head wrapped in a bandage, his right arm splinted and bound against his chest. “Casualty reports are still coming in, sir. Estimates are in the high ninety percentages. Vortex drive is shot and on the verge of rupturing, we need to evacuate.” Tellarac shook his head.  “How is the planet surface? Anything on the atmosphere?” Sintek remained quiet. He hadn’t gotten to that. What they could see through the fractured bridge windows was an uninviting landscape, covered in rock and dirt.

A female voice, which Tellarac vaguely recognized, jumped into the conversation. “Captain, if you please. I might have some information for you on that.” Tellarac looked at the woman who had spoken. She wore ensign markings on her tattered uniform. Her almost gray skin was covered in smudges and grime. Her braid was ruffled and required some serious maintenance to get back into the ornate shape it had apparently been in before. Her red eyes however looked at him with intellect and vigor, mixed in with an appropriate amount of humility. “And who might you be, ensign?”

The woman saluted him promptly. “Sir, ensign Kil’seh, sir. Assigned to your medical staff. I have been tending to the wounded on this deck, sir.” Tellarac couldn’t help but look at Sintek, who nodded to confirm her claim. “Speak ensign, what do you have to add?” Kil’seh cleared her throat. “Sir, we have crashed on Nedesun II. It has a carbon-ogyxen atmosphere, but it rotates around the sun in the shadow of it’s larger brother, Nedesun Prime. Temperatures on the surface are 300 below. At any given time…

Tellarac grunted. “Perfect weather for a Navak then.” He looked outside. “No ice?” Kil’seh shook her head. “No sir, fairly no water on the surface. No indigenous lifeforms as far as Directorate databases go. There is fairly little we know about this planet, sir.” Sintek interjected. “Sir, we really need to get everyone off the ship. Regardless of the weather outside, if the atmosphere is breathable, we should go. If the Vortex drive blows with us anywhere near it, no information in the galaxy can save us.”

The captain could not help but agree. He walked over to the nearest com terminal and addressed his crew. Or at least, he hoped he was. With all the damage to his ship, the com system was likely out on most decks. “This is captain Tellarac. All personnel report to the nearest escape pod cluster or airlock. Situation critical. Abandon ship, I repeat; abandon ship!”

“We should go, sir.” Tellarac looked around the bridge one last time. Those that were still alive had already gathered and were heading out to the emergency hatches. Apparently the elevators were defective. He wondered why that even surprised him. He motioned Sintek and Kil’seh to go first before being the last to leave the bridge.

The nearest airlock to the bridge was several decks down. It took them a while to make their way through the emergency access tunnels, since they were clogged with debris at a couple of key junctions. Eventually however, they exited near the airlock on deck five. No one else had apparently gotten there before them. All of the environmental suits were still in place, aswell as all of the weapons, power cells, rations and other gear. The alarms still sounded. Sintek punched in some commands on a nearby console. “Sir, Vortex drive breach is imminent. Security protocols are in effect, so someone in engineering was still alive at least, but that still doesn’t give us much to work with. We should hurry.”

They rushed into their suits, grabbing as much gear as they could carry before stepping into the airlock. The sharp hiss of the door closing behind them drowned out the alarm. Another sharp hiss announced the opening of the other door.

The ground was at least ten meters lower. They looked out the airlock to the ground. “Alright, throw everything down, hook up your rappelling line and jump.” Sintek and Kil’seh didn’t bother to argue. They simply did what their captain ordered.  Within seconds they were down below. Another few seconds later they had unlatched the cords on their suits, grabbed the equipment they had taken and started walking away from the ship. Tellarac moved his right hand over his left hip. With an audible click he activated his signal beacon. The others did the same. “Sir, look up.” Sintek pointed to the sky. Tellarac looked up. What he saw filled him with a mixture of awe and dread. The sky was lit up like a candle. High above them fires burned. Large shadows were struck over the planet surface where massive battleships blocked the sunlight. Debris shot into the atmosphere like a constant rain of fire. “This will be a battle to remember.”

The three of them walked at a good pace, away from the ship they had served on, which was now reduced to nothing more than a huge pile of scrap metal. Scrap metal and bodies. Hours passed before they even considered stopping to rest. Kil’seh took out a scanner from one of the kits she was dragging along with her and started to take some readings. “Ensign?” Kil’seh looked at the readings, which were presented to her in a bright 3D display. “We should be clear of the brunt of the blast, should the engine go sir. We will still need to get out of radiation range though. That should take a good day or two on foot.” Tellarac nodded. “On a more interesting note sir; I detect life signs just over the ridge up ahead.”  

“No beacons?” Kil’seh shook her head. “Odd. Let’s move out and investigate.”

They cleared the ridge and as they got a view of what was on the other side, instantly ducked down. Sintek armed his Kli’Zar rifle, which came to life with a subtle humming sound as the power cell charged. Carefully they looked again. Just over the ridge was a Terran ship, which had apparently landed only recently. It sat close to the remnants of a larger vessel, also Terran in origin. “Seems the Terrans took a hit or two aswell.” Sintek grinned. He glanced over the rock he sat behind. “I see at least one of the ugly dwarves in the ship. The rest is probably out scouting the wreckage.” He turned to Tellarac. “Sir, might I suggest we seize that ship and use it to get off this rock?” Tellarac nodded.

“Lock and load.”

The three of them readied their rifles and rushed down the ridge under the cover of several large rocks. No one seemed aware of their presence and they made it to the Terran ship without incident. Sintek looked at the door. “By Johas, the humans are so small. We might have to enlarge the door to even get in.” Tellarac grinned. “We’ll make it fit commander. Now let’s go.”  The airlock into the ship wasn’t sealed. The outer door opened on their approach. “These humans are even more stupid than I thought.” Sintek exclaimed. “Never underestimate your enemy, commander. That only leads to defeat.” They had to crouch to even move through the ship’s interior. It was a small shuttle so they did not need to go far before reaching the cockpit. In it were two humans in UNPPF uniforms, watching the monitors. “Hands up, Terran pond scum!” The humans jumped at the sound Sintek’s voice as it boomed through the cockpit. “Holy shit! Some of them survived!” was the only thing one of them managed to exclaim. Tellarac laughed. “Yes. We aren’t as frail as your measly race. Now then. We are taking this shuttle. I trust you don’t object?” The humans shook their heads. “Ofcourse, since we can’t fly anything with buttons that small, you two will stay here and pilot it for us.”

“Never!” The sharp zing of a laser blast sounded as a nice little hole appeared between the eyes of the man who had just spoken. The other one squeeled in terror as Tellarac pointed his rifle at him, the barrel still glowing slightly. “I trust you will be more accommodating?” The other man nodded. “Sir, why not just shoot him too? I’m sure we could fly this even without their help.” Tellarac looked at Sintek while Kil’seh had started hooking up some of her equipment to the cockpit’s flight computers. “There is no honor in shooting an enemy that shows no sign of resistance to our request. Besides, he carries no weapon. It would be shameful to end his life.” Quickly he raised his rifle again, discharging it twice past the helmet of Sintek, who was slightly baffled at his captain’s action. “Sir?!”

The rifle charged down as Sintek turned around, looking at the bodies of two armed Terran marines who had just walked up behind them.

“Ofcourse, there is great honor in killing an enemy that is trying to sneak up on you and kill you from behind.” He removed his helmet and spat on the corpses. “These humans have no honor.” They removed the bodies by simply laying them outside the shuttle. By the time they had finished, Kil’seh had finished her work and disposed of her suit, which was cumbersome and made moving in the human made shuttle even harder than it was.

 “Icom?” Sintek took a metal case that hung on a strap over his shoulder and handed it to the captain. He snapped the top off to reveal a portable field Icom, which was tuned to the Gohorn secure frequency. A few button pushes later, Tellarac had an open channel to any Gohorn in the immediate area. “This is captain Tellarac of the battleship Vek’Lar to any surviving Gohorn. We have commandeered a shuttle and will meet any remaining survivors at the following coordinates on the planet surface for twenty four standard hours before departing. For Johas!”

With that he motioned Kil’seh to get the shuttle moving. She in turn conveyed the order to the shivering human in the seat next to where she had sat down. “And no funny business, or you get one between the eyes just like your dwarf friend.” Tellarac laughed. “We’ll be in the cargo hold, for now. Keep me apprised of anything of note.” Kil’seh didn’t stand up during her salute. She would have hit her head. It shamed her she couldn’t. “Aye, aye sir!” 

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