The Milky Way

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 10, 2019

Reads: 76

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Submitted: June 10, 2019

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The Milky Way: Sector 20

By Allen L. Petro

Chapter One “Pi Kappa Five Lost”

A huge explosion knocked SeronTela to the floor.  Lights flickered on and off. With one final flicker, they stayed off.  After several seconds emergency lights came on. There goes the power station, he thought.  The corridor he was in was littered with debris and fallen comrades.  Luckily he hadn’t fallen on any of it. He lifted his tall frame upright, shaking off the grogginess of a possible concussion he had received earlier in the battle.  He started back down the corridor. Secondary explosions echoed in rapid succession, the ground shook, and more debris rained down from the ceiling.

He had failed. Guilt welled inside him.  There would be very little hope of the Coalition defeating the Dominion if this planet fell.  ‘If’, that was not the correct term. ‘Now’ that the planet had fallen would be more accurate.  Pi Kappa V was the main fuel production system for the Coalition. The entire system was rich with Tetrahydrol and Thoron, the two main ingredients in the fuel used for the hyper-warp engines.  If the Dominion gained control of the planet and the reserves stored here they would drive right through the last Coalition controlled sector of the galaxy. And there was that word ‘if’ again. Now the Dominion would control it all.

The reserves!  His mind battled to focus against the pressure mounting in his head; further evidence that he had might have suffered a concussion.  The reserves! He had to find a way to detonate the reserves. That would not be easy. They were not right down the corridor. The reserves were kept away from the command center; a mere 1000 kilometers away.  I can’t navigate the corridor, how the shaztar am I going to get to the reserves, he agonized.

Grime and soot-streaked his face. He wiped his forehead, expecting only sweat; he was slightly surprised to see the blue tinge of blood on his hand.  That would explain the headache, he thought, remembering the first explosion in the control room. He had been overseeing an inspection when the Dominion fleet appeared.  The base was a small one but had state of the art shields. Under an entire fleet’s barrage, however, the shields hadn’t lasted long. Nor had the 5th fleet that had been in orbit ‘protecting the planet’.

He pushed himself to a trot.  He needed to get to the lower hanger.  He weaved as he pushed himself along the corridor, unsure if it was the continual explosions or the concussion that caused him to do so.  Too many times he had to avoid stepping on debris or body parts. The carnage was monumental. A guilty question started to burn inside him, How did I happen to survive?  He tried to turn his guilt to rage.  It helped him focus momentarily. He had to get to the hanger!  He had to get in a ship! He had to destroy the reserves! The upper hanger was lost. The Dominion's first onslaught of phase torpedoes had brought down the planetary shields, followed by the more traditional anti-matter torpedoes which destroyed the upper hanger and much more. His only choice was the lower hanger.  With any luck that hadn't been damaged.

The attack had come sooner than he had expected, sooner than anyone expected.  How could their intelligence have been so wrong? There had always been humans that were against what their leaders were doing.  It had been easy to get reliable spies. Without the spies they had garnered in the past, the Dominion would have taken over the galaxy much quicker.  

SeronTela stopped and dove for cover.  Six shiny red metallic armored humans entered the corridor ahead of him. They saw him and started firing.  An energy blast nicked his side. He clenched it as he rolled behind the stack of fallen debris. He had no weapons.  He scanned the area quickly and saw a corpse just within reach with a phase blaster. He quickly grabbed it. The human military suits were resistant to laser blasters but not impervious, especially the face shield.  He took aim and dispatched three of the humans. The other three dove for cover. He looked at his side the blood from the wound was already starting to congeal. It was just a flesh wound. Phase blasts are devastating to internal organs and can even severe limbs, but to the flesh, it was self-defeating as the energy cauterizes the wound instantly.  He would not bleed out, but it burned like an inferno. Another explosion rocked the corridor causing the ceiling in the direction he was heading cave in. Bad news as he would have to take another route. The good news it cut off the remaining humans in the corridor from him. He took the only remaining corridor toward the hanger.

SeronTela was somewhat of an expert on Humans, as he had grown up on Earth.  His father had been the ambassador to Earth during most of SeronTela’s youth. The Humans had seemed harmless enough, and willing to do whatever it took to fit in. They learned all the Galactic Standards and did their best to contribute to societies everywhere.  They had been known as the Galaxy’s eager beavers. SeronTela had never seen a beaver, but he understood what the saying meant by it.

The humans started the first galactic war in over 3000 thousand years with an attack on Dalor two decades ago. It had come with no warning.  The last galactic war had wiped out a large portion of the galaxy’s population. From the ruins of that tragic war, a Galactic Coalition of Planets was formed to prevent another such war from happening again. With the combined the forces all races in the coalition, it still had taken nearly a millennia to recover and regain their prior technological and sociological advances. A hard lesson learned and ingrained in every species, except one. The Coalition also created a combined military force as a policing agency, but as time went on it had dwindled to almost nothing.  

Even the Human’s home planet, Earth, had been affected by the last Galactic War.  According to Galactic History, several renegades had sought refuge on the primitive planet and dominated parts of their culture. This was not discovered for hundreds of years.  The Tellorians visited Earth, unannounced to Humans, over 400 years ago to ascertain if these beings had done any significant damage to human culture. The Tellorians “pakor-blind” was hit by an out of control aircraft, thus exposing the humans to the fact that they were not alone in the galaxy and started the humans on their way to overpopulating every corner of the galaxy. They spread like a virus. Some had felt the Humans were a threat and they were too young a race to be given access to all the galaxy’s wonders.  More importantly, some had argued that Humans were too immature to handle all the advanced technologies, after all, they hadn’t even developed a united planetary government when the Tellorians secret Earth base was found.

There were some attempts to try and limit some of the technologies the humans had access to, but the Coalition Committee on Technology had indicated that the genie was already out of the bottle.  With a foothold nearly everywhere, it was fairly easy to move into the political arena and take control of much of the galaxy. The remaining sectors not in Human control watched helplessly as the Dominion formed. In a mere twenty years, the Dominion had forcibly taken control of 34 of the 37 recognized sectors of the galaxy.  Due to the fact that there had been peace for nearly three millennia, meant there was no significant military force to oppose them.

SeronTela finally stumbled into the hangar bay.  He braced himself against the wall with his arm and caught his breath.  He had been here three short hours earlier. He had seen his family off after their short visit to help him celebrate his 60th birthday.  So few happy occasions over the last few years.  60 wasn't a landmark age but his two children had insisted on the celebration, and his wife could never say no.  They should be near to their destination now.

He surveyed the damage. Even though the bay had been carved into the side of a cliff to provide natural protection, it was half gone.  Only a handful of fighter craft in a distant corner looked operable. The only viable exit was blanketed with a wall of fire, maybe. He wasn’t sure.  He wasn’t sure of anything anymore, was it the concussion, his injuries, or his contrition. SeronTela could feel only one thing, the weight of the Coalition upon him. He pushed himself off the wall and heavily plodded to the first available ship and did a quick walk around.  He found that this one had damage on one of the wings from debris falling from the ceiling. Another nearby explosion rocked the bay. A cascade of brick and steel rained down and the entire structure moaned. He moved to the next ship and it checked out. It seemed fine considering the wreckage around it.  He climbed into the cockpit and started the power-up sequence. The startup sequence would take five long minutes. There was very little he could do except wait and hope that this ship was ready to go.

SeronTela had started out as a small one-man freighter pilot.  By the time he quit flying he had flown most of the major types of ships in all conditions.  He stopped flying professionally when he ran for planetary council 30 years ago. He still loved to fly and kept a small interplanetary ship to toy with.  When the war broke out he found himself in charge of flight school and then quickly promoted to Deputy General of the third fleet. He didn’t feel he was a tactician, but he knew the ships and their capabilities and with few else qualified to handle the job, he was promoted.

‘Handle the job’ another poor use of words. He had no tactical experience and had never led more than a handful of men at a time.  The times he had led were very informal, and his style was not militaristic at all.

A voice came over the bay loudspeaker.  “Alert, enemy has entered the base...”

Another closer explosion rocked the bay, drowning out the remainder of the message.  Or perhaps it knocked out the communication system. Or perhaps it killed the person giving out the alert.

“Focus!” he said out loud.  His mind was wandering again.  He checked under the seat for the standard medical kit attached to all pilot seats.  He opened the kit and pulled out the antiseptic wipe and used it on his forehead. A lot of blood was wiped clean.  This also aggravated the wound. A wave of pain followed by a wave of nausea followed. “Focus!” he repeated.

One by one green lights in the cockpit flashed on.  Almost ready, he thought.  He readied himself for takeoff.  Just before the final light turned green, humans started pouring through the door he had entered.  He quickly flipped a couple of switches and the ship started to move up. Phase rifles would only singe the skin of the ship, but the magnetic propelled plasma grenade launchers he saw being set up, could do damage.  He grabbed the stick and pushed it forward and guided the ship quickly through the wall of fire. Several grenades followed and exploded in the intense heat. SeronTela was out of the hanger, but not out of danger, swarms of Dominion fighters filled the sky like clouds of insects. He checked his control readouts, at last, a bit of good luck the fighter was fully loaded with fuels.

He turned on the weapons system and flew the ship towards the storage tank facilities.  The Coalition had mined many planets dry. Tetrahydrol and Thoron were not ultra rare, but extremely hard to get to and refine for use.  Thoron had been used for several millennia as the standard slower than light fuel. It was capable of getting most ships to 50% of light speed and fighter due to the smaller mass up to 75% of the speed of light.  Experiments with solar irradiated power cells or solar wind sails had proved incapable of propelling ships as quickly as the standard speed engines or the hyper-warp engines. No one had even tried a new way of getting into hyper-warp for over 500 years.  

He flew the ship as low to the ground as possible.  He didn’t want to be seen easily on enemy scanners. Being low wouldn’t keep him off the scanners but it would make it tougher to find him.  ETA to the storage facilities was 5 minutes at his current speed. He didn’t want to push his speed too much, as he would need much of the fuel to escape the planet’s gravitational pull before making the hyper-warp jump and to one of the last remaining Coalition planets.  Pi Kappa V was the last system in sector 20 to fall, but luckily it was adjacent to the last two remaining Coalition sectors.

In the distance, he could seevapor trails through the stratosphere, an indication that some ships might make it off planet.  He felt a little relief that all might not be lost.  Sector 20 lies in a part far of the galaxy that is sparsely populated.  It had 25 systems with habitable planets. It was the least populated sector of the Milky Way, other than the Periphery or Outer Rim areas.  However, with the influx of refugees, it is now one of the denser populated sectors. He and the other escaping ships should be able to reach the new Coalition capital planet, Utail.  Refugees would have a more difficult time. Large usable hyper-warp ships not under Dominion control were extremely scarce.

An explosion rocked the lone fighter, shaking SeronTela out of the fog he had slipped into.  Glancing at his short-range scanner he saw three Dominion fighters coming at him from above. He was still two minutes from the storage facilities.  He accelerated and took an evasive course toward the storage facilities. More explosions rocked his ship. They were behind him now. There was a rocky canyon slightly out of the way that would offer some protection.  He steered into it hoping that his pursuers would follow. They did not, instead, they increased their altitude and sped up to try and cut him off at the end of the canyon. He slowed the ship slightly; perhaps he could get a few shots off on them if they were to beat him to the exit.  The Dominion fighters slowed in answer. He banked his ship hard to port to follow the canyon. One more time he slowed his ship. This time he decreased his speed drastically and climbed up. He flew up behind his attackers. He fired the phase cannons and destroyed one of the three. The other two peeled off in opposite directions.  He accelerated to full speed. Glancing at his scanner he noticed three more ships coming up behind and two coming from ahead of him. They would reach him at nearly the same time. The earlier two attackers were now swinging in behind him as well. More close explosions rocked the ship. He moved erratically trying to stay out of a weapons lock.  He tried to coax more speed out of the ship. There was still one minute until he was to the target. More explosions rocked the area as the two Dominion ships that were ahead of him flew by. He managed to get by them, he thought, slightly relieved.

 

*****

 

Deputy General BantaLon ran down a corridor of his doomed flagship.  He had gotten used to losing ships, but he had never lost his flagship.  The C.S. Protector had always managed to make it out in one piece, no matter how damaged she was.  He had also gotten used to being outnumbered in battle, just not to the extreme that had happened today.  Almost seven to one compared to the usual two or three to one it had been. Today's battle was over before it started.

BantaLon was not even sure you could call it a battle.  The Dominion ships had arrived approximately 30 minutes ago, and his forces were already down to a handful of capital ships and about 100 fighters.

He had given the order to abandon ship less than a minute ago.  The ship's engines were knocked out and the ship was drifting toward the planet.  It would burn up in the thick carbon dioxide atmosphere of Pi Kappa V if the Dominion didn't destroy her first.

BantaLon entered the fighter bay and saw only his personal fighter left on the deck.  At the opening at the end of the bay, he could see the red glow of reentry shimmering through the force field holding in the air of the ship.  It's a good thing all the fighters had been fueled and ready for launch, so mine should be ready, he thought.  I don't have much time!

He jumped into the cockpit, and the canopy started closing automatically.  Standard procedure in the fleet was to have all ships startup sequence done before the battle began.  Before the canopy was closed Banta had the fighter halfway to the bay opening. The shields around the fighter started glowing instantly upon exiting the bay.  Just above him, he saw two Coalition fighters trying to escape five Dominion fighters. Coalition fighters were slower, larger, and less maneuverable than their Dominion counterparts.  However, there were very few Coalition pilots that couldn't out fly every Dominion pilot. The two Coalition fighters he saw looked as if they were damaged and struggling to escape. Banta quickly changed course to intercept the Dominion fighters.  His fighter rocked as his flagship exploded. Banta fought the controls and kept on course to help his compatriots. He came upon them from the side, just before he pressed fire one of the chased fighters exploded. He slowed slightly as he fired ensuring that he could hit each enemy.  Two of the three exploded and the other three spun out of control. His fighter flew through the debris. He checked his instruments to ensure there was no damage.

“Thank You, Sir!” came over the intercom.

“Follow me! We need to get to the surface to destroy the fuel reserves.”  He was already glowing red as he finished the order.

“Acknowledged.”

The two fighters streaked downward through the atmosphere.  Once the red glow of reentry was gone BantaLon checked his scanner.  “Is your scanner working?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir.  I see it.”

“Increase speed, to intercept!”

*****

SeronTela struggled to stay ahead of his latest four pursuers.  He was in no shape to be doing extreme atmospheric acrobatics. Every time he banked too hard his vision blurred and he felt close to losing consciousness.  Taking the fight back into space would help him but would also take him away from his eventual target. Suddenly he saw two of the blips that were behind him suddenly blink out.

“We’ll take care of the final two, get to those storage facilities.”  Came a familiar voice over the headset.

“BantaLon, I should have known you would still be hanging around!”  SeronTela replied. BantaLon was one of SeronTela’s closest friends, a great pilot and a step below himself in rank.  Seron often felt that BantaLon had all the qualities that he himself lacked to lead the fleet. If Banta was actually in a fighter then the battle in space had been going worse than on the ground.

“I was on my way to destroy the storage facilities; rescue was not on the agenda.”  BantaLon retorted. “But you can now chalk this up to you owing me another one.”

The last of the pursuing enemy ships was destroyed as SeronTela reached the storage facilities.  He began firing on them, creating large explosions billowing into the air. BantaLon and his wing-man joined in on the destruction.  This was not enough. The facility was designed with a multitude of fail-safes to prevent the chain reaction they were attempting. Only continual firing would overwhelm the fail-safes.

Enemy ships closed in fast.  They were already within weapons range.  Alarms sounded as the enemy’s weapons searched for a lock on them. BantaLon and SeronTela were possessed. Destroy the fuel or die trying.  Suddenly, the brilliant purple flare of pure energy ejected ferociously along a pipeline.  A Tetrahydrol and Thoron reaction had been ignited. The plasma ejection, like a ray, shot straight into the sky and crept along the pipe eating its way to the storage tanks 50 km down.  The fuse was lit. They will not die, just yet. The explosions in the sky behind them obliterated their pursuers.

“What is that, three I owe you?”

“Five, but who’s counting.”

“I have 15 more enemy fighters entering scanner range, ETA 45 seconds.”  The wing-man informed them.

The three Coalition fighters flew straight up as fast as their ships would take them.  “Did the 3rd Fleet arrive?”  asked SeronTela. If the fleet had arrived, then it was a complete loss.  They had been badly outnumbered and outgunned. The twenty ships and two thousand fighters in the 3rd fleet would have made little difference in the outcome of this battle.  They had anticipated a total of 50 ships and about 10,000 fighters. All the intelligence they had pointed to the attack happening no sooner than a week from now.  The intelligence had been gathered from those Humans that had supposedly defected. SeronTela had been sent with the 5th fleet to ready the planet for the attack, with the 3rd Fleet arriving the next day to bolster the defenses.  They were surprised not only by the timing of the attack but the size of the forces that did attack.  There were nearly 150 ships and more fighters than could be counted. He had estimated close to 30,000.

“No, and there were only about 100 fighters and a handful of capital ships left when I started down to the planet.”  Replied BantaLon. He glanced at his scanner. “There are a few enemy squadrons headed our way it seems.”

“Well let’s take as many out as we can.”  Sighed SeronTela.

They would not reach orbit before the enemy reached them.  They would be more maneuverable in space if they could get there, and if they had a clear path once in orbit they could make the hyper-warp jump.

“I’d rather make the jump than stay and fight,” retorted BantaLon.

“An atmospheric jump!?” SeronTela exclaimed.  “You are crazy!”

BantaLon retorted, “No more than usual.”

“I don’t have a better idea, but I still don’t like it.”  Hyper-warp jumps were incredibly dangerous if calculated while in an atmosphere.  Ships had to reach a great velocity while making the jump and friction in an atmosphere sometimes caused overheating and failure in the hyper-warp engines.  There was no amount of adjustments that seemed to help. Destinations could end up being off by as much as two light hours. That could put them in the middle of a star or worse.  Perhaps if they jumped into the middle of nowhere it could work. They had no time and no choice. They needed to jump while in the atmosphere. The three coalition fighters flew straight up increasing their speed.  

“Getting a clear path might be a problem. I count at least,” SeronTela paused.  His sight was still cloudy and inconsistent. He rubbed his eyes. His eyesight cleared, but another wave of nausea and the acrid taste of bile came over him.  “Well too many to count.”

Explosions rocked their ships as the enemy closed in on them from behind as well.  

All three of them opened fire and continued firing.  “We've got a clear path now and for the next 15 seconds.  The navcom is calculating now.” BantaLon commented matter-of-factly.

“Sending you both my destination coordinates now,”  BantaLon instructed.

SeronTela hit a few switches quickly and set the computer to calculating the jump to the coordinates his friend just sent to him.  BantaLon’s wing-man exploded in response. This was going to be close. Hopefully, the ship would withstand a jump while in the atmosphere.

“See you on the other side, my friend.  Try and make it in one piece please.” Taunted BantaLon.

Before SeronTela could respond with more than a smile BantaLon’s ship winked out of view.  The ships ready indicator light came on. He didn’t understand the exact physics of hyper-jumps, but somehow after reaching light speed a bubble was created, taking the ship outside the fabric of space-time through a tunnel or wormhole of sorts.  Light was unable to penetrate the hyper-bubble created by the ship making the jump. No signals could reach a ship in hyper-jump. You couldn’t even see or communicate with a sister ship if it jumped at the same instant as you. One could go a little crazy with the lack of any light.  Jumps took as long as 30 hours if one was traveling across the galaxy. Each inhabited star system has at least eight hyper-warp Navigation/Communication buoys, usually five inside the system and 3 just outside the orbit of the farthest major planet. Uninhabited systems had only 2 buoys 10 light minutes above and below the main star of the system.  Other buoys were interspersed throughout the galaxy either as warnings to dangerous areas or as midway points between other buoys. Every buoy's location was in every ship's hyper-warp navigation computer.

SeronTela heard the strain of the engines.  An alarm bell told him he was now in someone’s weapons lock. He couldn’t deviate from his path.  The navcom was set to calculate a one light year jump only. Perhaps there was debris in his path, which would make the calculations take longer.  The ship’s hyper-jump ready indicator light came on. Seron flipped the final switch. He closed his eyes and pictured his family. Everything disappeared.

 


© Copyright 2019 Allen Petro. All rights reserved.

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