The edge, p.25
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       The Edge, p.25

           Leslie Lee
bowels of the ship, they heard the screaming of tearing metal. The ship slammed to a dead stop. Alarms shrieked. The hull had been breached.

  Mak held onto Brenn as they pounded painfully into a console. He tried to shield the Gold Ghost pilot from debris hurtling through the air. Panels and consoles tore loose to become deadly missiles crashing into the walls. Hardened plastic shattered. Shards sliced through the air. Mak saw one Hellborne decapitated, his tough skin sliced through like a tomato's, something gushed out of him almost like dust. The lights flickered on and off, before the emergencies held. Fires flared up from ruptured conduits.

  "I can see them," Brahms shouted.

  Mak looked up to where Suth and Chou should have been standing. A girder had fallen and both men were pinned beneath. Crew members were trying to free them.

  Mak left Brenn and stumbled over bodies to Brahms.

  "Where, sir?" he asked the Science officer.

  Brahms stared at the bodies pinned beneath the girder. Mak shook his arm

  "Where are the targets, sir? Sir? Brahms!"

  Brahms roused himself and pointed to a screen. There were orange targets, amorphous, changing shapes almost like gelatin.

  "I need to send the coordinates to weapons," Brahms gasped out.

  Mak staggered over to where Chou lay. The First Officer was dead. Mak pulled the comm from his head. The meds were working feverishly on the captain. He saw the captain's comm lying on the floor next to a bloodied hand. As he reached for it between the meds, Suth suddenly jerked, grabbing his arm in a deathlike grip. The meds tried to calm him down but he yelled out, "Chou? Chou is that you?"

  Mak looked at the ruined face. Suth was blind. "It's Mak, sir," he said quietly.

  "Save my crew, Chou," he gurgled out. "Chou, save the crew."

  The meds tried to release the Captain's grip on Mak's arm.

  "Promise me, Chou." The words were urgent. "Promise me."

  One of the meds looked at Mak almost with exasperation.

  "Yes sir," Mak said, firmly. "Yes, sir. You have my word on it."

  "Thank you," Suth said, finally relaxing. "Thank you. It's been an honor serving with?" He slipped away into unconsciousness.

  A med, bereft of hope, pushed Mak away.

  He staggered backwards, his flight suit glistening with blood. He intended to hand the comms to Brahms. The Science Officer tore at the console in front of him mining the computer for information. Mak looked around. He shrugged. Oh well, he could help out Brahms for a little while. Somebody else would come along to take over soon.

  "Weapons," he murmured into the comm. He didn't want to shout. Be calm.

  "Here, sir," the woman was obviously yelling. Mak tried to find her in the confusion.

  "Brahms is sending you coordinates."

  She coughed. "I have them sir."

  "Target the closest one and fire."

  "What firing pattern? They're not scanning as? as anything."

  "Use your best guess, and if that doesn't work try something else. But slam them down."

  "Yes sir!" This she could do.

  He grabbed the arm of the paramedic who had helped him earlier. "Where's the second officer?"

  "She collapsed before the impact."

  "Helm," he said into the Comm.

  "Helm here, sir."

  "Get us out of here."

  "Engines are offline, sir. We should be drifting but we're at a dead stop."

  "How about thrusters?"

  "Been trying to move us, but whatever's got a hold of us, thrusters are not going to do it. It's tearing the X apart."

  "Belay that then. See what you can find out from Engineering, and get back to me."

  "Aye, sir. Uh, who is this?"

  "Blue Box Leader."

  "Weapons to uh? command?" said a woman's voice.

  "Go ahead, weapons," he answered.

  "Ready to fire on your command, sir."

  "What're you going to do?"

  "We're going to try to cook it with a beamer,"

  "Then do it. Brahms, what're the?"

  A voice in his ear interrupted him. "Sensors here, sir."

  "Go ahead," he said.

  "The Colossus group is on the move. They look like they're maneuvering for an attack."

  "These are the ships that were drifting?"


  "Brahms, is that wave gone?"

  "The big ones are but the field is still active," he said. The board told him the M'hin'rah were still in the area.

  "Comms, tell the M'hin'rah and?" Mak turned to Brahms who pointed to one of the screens showing two ships clustered together, "her group of ships to intercept."

  "Ah, sir, you'll have to order them to do that," Comms said.

  Brahms nodded knowing what the comms was saying.

  "What the hell is the chain of command?" Mak asked Brahms, muting the comm line.

  "In terms of the personnel on the Bridge, it's me. But I'm busy. So you have command." He turned back to his station.


  Mak glanced at the screen. The Kyrzal ships were closing in. He would have liked to argue.

  "That big wave is gone," Brahms said pointing to a cracked console display. "But those blobs. They're starting to reform into bigger blobs. Every time they do, that wave gives a little blip. Not strong but it's there. We've got to figure out why the hell we're not moving." He continued to mutter to himself ignoring Mak.

  "Got it." He turned away to let Brahms do his job. "Comm, connect me with the M'hin'rah."

  "Exeter, this is the M'hin'rah, what's going on over there?"

  "This is Mak, Blue Box Leader. I'm helping out Brahms. We need you to intercept the Kyrzal force. How's your Gold Ghost pilot?"

  "She's collapsed, goddammit! In some sort of coma. What the fuck's happened to the command structure over there?"

  "Suth is injured. Chou is dead. The second officer is incapacitated. Brahms is running science. I'm here."

  "Holy crap." There was a pause. "Holy fucking crap. Okay, we got it."

  "I'm launching half the squads to support you. Make sure you and those other ships have an exit solution. You won't be able to Jump. You're operating independently. Keep them off our backs."

  "Understood, Blue Box Leader."

  "X out. Comm, connect me with Squad Ops."

  "Squad Ops here, Mak. What the hell's going on in there?" It was Diego. What had happened to Tenor?

  "Launch four squads to support the M'hin'rah. They're intercepting the Kyrzal."

  "Mak, why are you giving out orders? Where's Suth?"

  "Suth is injured. Chou is dead. The second officer is incapacitated. Brahms is busy."

  "That's not the command chain."

  "Noted, Squad Ops. Launch the pods." He held his breath. Diego could raise more questions and things could get nasty. He wished Tenor was running things but there was no sign of her. And there was blood and... Other stuff splattered on the glass.

  "Pods launched."

  "If the S'reh'du gets any closer, we're going to intercept them as well."

  Brahms came and stood next to him. He pointed at the tactical screen.

  "S'reh'du Group is slowing but if they make a move, we can't take on both a Colossus and a Dime."

  "And the blobs. What are they and how can we destroy them?"

  "Don't know what they are. Not even sure what ripped a gash out of the side of the X. But this I know, the more the blobs coalesce, the stronger that field gets."

  "If we have to, we'll send the rest of our Dime out of here along with the Squads."

  "Not everyone can get off the X onto the other ships."

  "Yeah, I know. Let's make sure we don't have to do that." He spoke into the Comm. "Weapons."

  "Weapons, aye sir."

  "Have you destroyed any of those blobs?"

  "Negative sir. Even at high intensity, the blobs seem unaffected."

  "Try lowering the intensity."


  "A Colossu
s fired it's FBG at this thing and it did nothing. But we ran into it like a truck. Maybe low power, big mass things or something will work."

  "Maybe roll down a window and throw my boot at it," she said dryly.

  "Hey, if it works. What do you think Brahms?"

  "I'll work with weapons."

  The air scrubbers whined noisily trying to filter out the acrid smoke. At least the fires had been put out. Mechs and techs were trying to get stations back online. The Bridge was usually dark but now it seemed close to pitch black.

  Mak clambered over debris to a station he knew was damage control. The crew member at the main station was bloody and bruised but she seemed more angry than anything else. She did pause when she noticed the comm. Mak hadn't realized it before but the comm he had taken from Suth was different than others. In fact, the one he'd taken from Chou was also different. He'd never noticed before. Pod comms were all the same as each other.

  "What's the status of the Bridge?" he asked her.

  "Most systems are on secondary systems, uh, sir. We've lost about forty per cent Bridge personnel due to injury or death. We're going to have to unseal if we want replacements."

  He nodded. "Let's get the injured off the Bridge and bring in fresh personnel. You should get to sick bay."

  "If it's all the same to you, sir, my place is here."

  Again he nodded. He'd have to stop doing that since it made him feel woozy. "Alright, what's the X's status?"

  "We've got an external view from the other ships," She pointed to her screen.

  The X had been gashed almost from the bow to the middle of the ship on the starboard side. Debris floated around and he thought he could see bodies. They were venting air into space. He'd never seen such damage to a DN before.

  "How many casualties?"

  "Over five hundred confirmed dead and an equal number missing. About three hundred and fifty injured. We've lost all the squads on that face." Mak's stomach lurched. Purple Panther and Indigo Ice. Gold Ghost would have been destroyed as well. "Weapons on that side are gone. We're trying to seal

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