Episode two final flight.., p.1
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       Episode Two: Final Flight Of The Phaseship Lelantos, p.1

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Episode Two: Final Flight Of The Phaseship Lelantos
The Final Flight of the Phaseship Lelantos: Part 2

  Copyright 2013 Cory McCoy

  “16 systems down. 6,734 within subluminal to go.”

  “And counting with each passing day.” Lelantos added.

  “You knew what you signed up for. Besides, you've got in the field combat experience in five different enviroments now. I bet you wouldn't even die immediately if I weren't around.”

  “Damn right, Vel. I haven't broken a single bone in any of the last 11 systems.”

  “In addition, I have begun an algorithm to find any unusual patterns in the systems the mark has left traces upon.”

  “Utter disregard for life, in any form, seems to stand out,” Vel replied. “Speaking of which, how long until we have feedback from the terrabots we left with the displaced inhabitants of target one?”

  “Sustainability of the new eviroment should be received within the week. Would you like me to recall the bots once the packet is received?”

  “Let's hold off on that decision. I'd like to do a long scan as well if the initial feedback is positive.”

  “Rosie, What happens if it isn't?”

  “Either they die slow, agonizing deaths or we make our way back in a big damn hurry. After that? We try again in a different system.”

  “Has anyone ever gone back to a failed terraform to see what it looked like?”

  “I've been to a few. No matter how many worlds I traverse, nature always ends up surprising me. More than a few had begun to form completely new rudimentary lifeforms in the ruins.”

  “What ruins?”

  “The ruins of whatever was left to die,” Vel said. “No. No, it's not as morbid as it sounds. Those corpses and habitats can become seeds for an entirely new and beautiful world.”

  “We've cleared the system and are ready to procede to our next target, on your mark.”

  “Strap in, kid.” Vel said, a faint smile played across his face as he recalled seeing the primordial life that had defied odds on a nameless rock in some unrecorded prim.

  “What's that?” Ariel asked, caught off guard by Vel's lightened spirit. “Are we under attack? You never smile unless we are...”

  “Holster that sidearm,” Vel laughed. “Lelantos, Mark.”

  With that command reality bent and flexed around them as the fastest ship in all the Civs tore through this undeveloped universe at a speed that its inhabitants couldn't hope to achieve in ten thousand years.

  “Ariel, do you know what yugen is?” Vel asked as the ship roared through star system after system.

  “I don't know what that is Vel. Is it something on the command console?”

  “Nah kid, it's almost like a type of serenity.”

  “Yugen, an ancient japanese expression for the emotional response a homosapien might feel when confronting an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and meaningful for words.”

  “Well thank you, Mr Definitionary. Does the database also have a wordasuarus?” Ariel giggled.

  Three more hours in the black. Lelantos passed through indescribably huge gas pockets and into systems containing exotic, but unusable worlds. The core had to be right in order for the mark to build his rudimentary phase device. A core that wouldn't survive this disgusting and dangerous method. The death of the system containing Target One would be nothing compared to the destruction this would cause. A hole in space. Nothing there and uninhabitable for all time, ever expanding until it destroyed another system or collided with a black hole.

  “Battle stations,” Lelantos bellowed as they neared their next destination. “I repeat, Battle stations. We are being intercepted by a class four asteroid bearing 37 degrees starboard on our stern.”

  “Lelantos, options!” Vel Barked as he leapt toward the main gunner's console a deck above. “Ariel, man the astronav!”

  “At this speed our only options are to brace for impact or to make an emergency jump out of this universe and into the next closest.”

  “No. We can't jump. We might lose the area completely when we return. I won't give that bastard more time to rig a dirty Phase Station.”

  “Bracing for impact. All droids deployed,” Lelantos came back “What are your orders, Captain?”

  “All sensitive materials to the crunch deck. Slide the fleas as far toward our stern as you can.”

  “Understood. Awaiting flight adjustments.”

  “Head on Ariel,” Vel shouted down to the trembling, inexperienced new pilot. “Lelantos is one tough son of a bitch. Hit that rock head on and then drop us hard and fast through the debris. Let that stupid fucker think it worked.”

  “Aye aye, sir.” Ariel replied, steeling her shaking hands.

  “Impact in 17 seconds.”

  “Correct course to match bogey. Full power from all engines. All weapons free!” Ariel yelled.

  “Impact imminent.”

  The collision was so violent that Vel was thrown from the weapons console and completely over the open flight deck.

  “Vel!” Ariel screamed as she watched him fly toward the crunch zone and a certain death.

  “Not today, sir.” Lelantos launched a maintenance droid directly at Vel. As it closed the distance, Vel kicked off of the droid, back toward the deck. The droid wasn't so lucky, it landed in a crunch zone just moments before the area compressed to absorb the shock for the rest of the ship.

  “Full power to the engines topside, get us below this shit storm!” Ariel said, frantically swiping around the control panel.

  “Lelantos, release coolant to the outer decks and utilize all noise dampeners,” Vel gasped, climbing back toward his console. “He won't have tech much more advanced than heat scanners. Make this bird invisible.”

  “Affirmative,” Lelantos chirped. “Vessel and mining operations detected.”

  “Arm weapons,” Aariel screamed.

  “Awaiting confirmation.”

  “No, not yet.” Vel told her. “We're going to give him a lift off this planet, but I can't do that if you cowboy up and start blowing the place all to shit.”

  “He's earned this death, Vel!” Aariel shot back, slamming her fist into a panel, “You made me your pilot for a reason, now let me do my fucking job.”

  “You're right,” Vel calmly replied, “I made you my pilot, but I sure as shit didn't make you Captain of this vessel.”

  “Go fuck yourself, you alien freak,” Aariel jumped up from her chair and sulked out of the command center.

  “I believe your pilot is angry with you, Rosie.”

  “You don't say?” Vel laughed. “Once we drop far enough off his sensors, swing us around the planet and prep two Fleas.”

  “Two fleas, sir? How many droids will you need?”

  “Two fleas and nothing else, Lelantos.” Vel told him, “Tell my lovely pilot to get her ass to the med bay. I've got a broken rib or three that need tended to.”

  “For the record, you humans are one of the most freakish races i've ever seen. I mean, hell , look at your enormous, impractical ears.”

  “Did you just say I have big ears?” Aariel asked as she gave him a quick jab to the bandage.

  “Thank god for the bots, you'd be useless in a fight.”

  “That's what plasma cannons are for, dumbass.”

  “The only ones on this ship weigh more than you do.”

  “Well then i'll put it on a cart and roll the damn thing.”

  “Good plan,” Vel told her. “Oh and just make sure you patch the Aariel sized hole in the wall after the kick launches you thirty feet.”

  “If your plan works, and I dont think it will, i'll gladly fly thr
ough a wall for a shot at that bastard.”

  “It will work,” Vel reassured her, “He's never seen the ship, just a flea.”

  “You think Lelantos could fix my ears, maybe give them a logical little point on the top?”

  “My ship ain't doin' some of those damned body mods on you.”

  “However, my systems are fully capable of accomplishing such a trivial task.”

  “Oooo, did you hear that Vel?” Aariel asked, “Me and Lelo are gonna have a girl's night and do makeovers. Maybe i'll get him to augment my skin to that peculiar bluish-grey hue you've got goin' on.”

  “You can put lipstick on one of the prettyboys, but it'll still be the same ugly ass old bot.”

  “Yeah, but it'll look fucking fabulous.”

  “The 'Pretty boy' model droids do not have any discernable lips.”

  “Oh shut up, Lelo.”

  “Lelo?” Vel asked, arching an eyebrow.

  “Yeah, we're pretty much best friends now.”

  “Good to know,” Vel replied, “I'm going to check on my new toys, I suggest you come.”

  “Gods be damned, how do you ever find your way around this thing without the maps up?”

  “Because my species didn't evolve from simians.”

  “What exactly did your species evolve from? An Asshole-asuarus Rex?”

  “I'm pretty sure that wasn't a real dinosaur.”

  “You're not a real dinosaur!” She shouted, struggling to keep up with his quick pace. “Answer the question or i'll make Lelo break out the infographics again.”

  “My 'verse was the second to ever break through the walls,” Vel lied. “There aren't many species left that can definitively say where or what they came from.”

  “Wow, I had no idea.”

  “Yeah you did. You read about it as a kid, i'm sure,” Vel replied, “You just never realized I was one of them.”

  “Wait,” she said, struggling to remember lessons long gone. “You were. Are. One of war relics? Exactly how old are you?”

  “Relic. Yeah, that's a good word for what I am,” Vel smirked. “You humans typically punch out around 250 these days, right? Well, my ancestors have the ability to activate genetics rejuvenators to keep us young. You could say that we're ageless.”

  “Do you take the meds or is it encoded?”

  “I choose not to.” Vel responded, “I prefer to get back to nature, wherever I might find it and let the process happen naturally. Every fifty years or so, give or take a few hard fights in between.”

  “Are you just being coy about your age? You've never struck me as vain.”

  “A long time ago, I chose to stop measuring my life by meaningless numbers.”

  “Well, I suppose that saves you a whole lot of mathin'.”

  “Sure does,” Vel told her. He reached a hand out and gently caught Aariel's shoulder, delicately spinning her around. Her face flushed red. “This door, kid.”

  For a few long moments Aariel stood in stunned silence, simply staring at the project Vel had been working on for the past few months. Finally, she asked, “How in the bloody hell is it doing that?”

  “Think of it as a molecularly unstable super-diamond.” Vel told her. He reached out, grabbing the handle of a weapon that was hovering in its display, shifting shape from sword to axe and all other manner of melee weapons. “I've got 150 presets in it. The handle is an ultra dense rubber compound housing the controls, so certain unexpected electrical surges won't affect it one bit.”

  “How sharp can you make it?” Aariel asked, surprised by the sudden anger that was overcoming her. Aaric's death was still so fresh.

  “It'll cut through just about anything with minimal effort,” Vel told her as he shifted the weapon into a traditional longsword and swung it in a perfect arc. “Lelantos, simulated core sample please. There are about two dozen, by the way.”

  “Fuck me...” She gasped as Vel split the miniaturized core of a planet in two. The nanotubes quickly reassembled themselves and returned to a resting position in the stasis field.

  “If slicing through the equivalent of a small planet's core turns you on, then I feel like I should be seriously worried about you.”

  “Alright Lelantos, have that second flea in orbit behind the asteroid debris as soon as we open weapons on his work site.”

  “Affirmative, sir.”

  “Remember Aariel, precision shots,” Vel said, knowing she probably wouldnt listen. “We aren't trying to kill him. We just want him to take the bait.”

  “My hands are feeling extra slippery today. Must have caught a touch of the Bolenza Slime Bug,” Aariel replied, glaring at Vel. He laughed. She glared more intensely. Eventually she gave up, he didn't give a damn if she needed this or not. It was his ship, his rules. Fuck him and his ship. Well maybe not the ship, Lelantos was pretty bitchin'.

  “I feel compelled to remind you that we can not phase without Rosie's authorization.”

  Ok, fuck the ship too. Stupid robo-asshole.

  “Hard drop out of orbit, don't tear that flea up in atmo, but get it to my beacon as soon as the first takes off or you two will be stuck dealing with this fucker by yourself.”

  “So you want Lelantos to blow the second flea and maroon you long enough for me to flay this son of a bitch?” Aariel said, not entirely joking. Her brother deserved revenge. She should be the one to pull the trigger, not Vel. What did it mean to him anyway? He was a glorified bounty hunter, he'd probably killed thousands of dirtbags before. This one was hers, whether he liked it or not.

  “Not exactly. Don't do anything stupid and get yourself killed. This thing can match me in raw strength,” Vel told her, sensing she would try to anyway. He didn't need to be able to read her to know that though.

  “Alright kid, weapons free,” Vel whispered into his comm once the flea set down a few clicks from the worksite and the mark's ship. “Remember, no casaulties. He's to be brought in alive.”

  Aariel didn't respond, but Vel knew she had commenced firing within a moment or two. He stepped out of the flea and watched as the orbital bombardment came blazing through the atmosphere. The mark had picked up the Flea as it set down, Vel made sure of that. He didn't bother turning on the camo or dampeners.

  Vel watched the explosions for a few moments, waiting until he was satisfied that no escape pods were launched. He put on his helmet, which he only wore when he absolutely had to and sped off into the jungle. This planet was already dying before their target had arrived. A recent impact had layered the sky with thick, choking dust. Even under a young sun, the sky was a hazy red. A pilot had to rely on instruments alone to navigate or he'd end up flattened against a cliff before he realized it was there.

  “Alright Lelantos, bait is in position,” Vel pressed a few buttons on his palm display as he ran, activating the suit's stealth capabilities. “Three clicks to rendezvous site. Send the flea down as soon as he hits orbit. Commence full radio silence. No response from any systems unless ordered by myself or your pilot.”

  “Affirmative,” Lelantos chirped and the comm went dead. The Flea would now be on manual controls only. By the time mark realized that Lelantos had a central AI, he would be in the bowels of the mainship itself and it would be far too late to escape.

  All these dead trees. It's a damn shame. Vel thought he had even spied massive bones of some long dead animal as he was shimmying up a tree to get a view of the Flea taking off.

  Vel was beginning to think Aariel had fragged the son of a bitch when he finally saw the afterburners of the ship cutting a hole in the smoke. His ride back would arrive any moment. The flea would drop out of orbit and into the haze, out of site thanks to the smoke and undetectable by the other Flea.

  “Fuck,” Vel groaned as he watched the other Flea tilt off course and plow a hole through the canopy more than five clicks away. Something had collided with it as it left the holding position. The mark would have a good ten minutes longer than he had anticipated. In that amount of time, there
was no telling what heavoc he could wreak.

  Vel dropped from the tree and sprinted toward the crash site. Even as fast as Vel was, the distance felt like a hundred parsecs. He couldn't let another mistake cost him another pilot.

  “By the gods...” Vel gasped when he reached the Flea. She had a massive hole in the right rear thruster. The damage couldn't have happened in the debris, Lelantos would have compensated long before hitting atmo. Could she really have done this? Is she even capable of....

  Vel couldn't worry about that now, he needed to take that thruster offline manually and hobble back to the main ship before the mark tore through the first set of security doors.

  Aariel smiled as she fired one extra shot, finishing off the bombardment. Now all she had to do was wait. Before long she watched as a crippled flea struggled into the planet's grasp and another burst through the thick layer of sediment.

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