Veils After Desires

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

Chapter 6 (v.1)

Submitted: February 27, 2012

Reads: 117

Comments: 3

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Submitted: February 27, 2012

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THIRD QUADRANT - UPSILON SECTOR

Borutesu Tiranjii, informally known as 'Wings', exited the Luxor City spaceport and punched through the atmosphere of Shandiseria, rocketing into the outer reaches of space toward the Space Hangar Slammajamma. His left hand stayed on the throttle of his advanced Starfighter named Prime Time that had been quickly reconfigured with the latest weaponry from Lindsey Tactical Systems while his right hand toggled switches and dials.

Tiranjii frowned at the screen that noted his objectives: 1) Destroy Slammajamma, 2) Destroy Prime Metallo Guardian Squadron and lastly 3) Destroy Mercenary Sergeant Ahuri Bashlure.

Tiranjii thought of his meeting with the director of Lindsey, Dalyno Icereaper, and told him his reservations about getting pulled out of retirement - he hadn't fought after the Senditisa War and turned in his Strike Commander badge, declaring he'd never fly again. Instead, the corporate engineer informed Tiranjii that he'd be given a new Mecha created by Sundowner Implementations once he completed his mission and blew off his worries, telling him it's just flight jitters.

Tiranjii sighed heavily. Though his hands slightly trembled and his body twitched, he knew it wasn't a mere case of the jitters or reaction of not having a groggy drink in several days - it was pure excitement, anticipation of flying and fighting again. Though it had been four short cycles since the Senditisa War ended - he quit in the middle of the eight-cycle war - Tiranjii felt if it had been ten cycles instead of eight, since he'd put on some weight from drinking all the time and not keeping up with his training. Also on his downtime he'd waste Drachs at the Arcade, playing Starman Jones - his favorite laserlight game.

Tiranjii snorted at the thought that the Representative Sphere still even considered him, despite his early retirement. There were younger and more qualified Winger Jockeys that could easily take his place, even with several Junior Star Officers willing to fill his post that he had rejected in disgust.

A low drone pierced his headset and Tiranjii glanced at the screen. Six Blue Betties ahead - blue triangles on his Sun Navigator that indicated enemy fighters. Tiranjii flipped a switch to run a scan on their Codex and a larger icon of a black Starfighter with the initials PMS in red came into view - indicating the Prime Metallo Squadron. Moments later several smaller icons appeared: a red Thunderbird sprite, a violet Wolf, a yellow Falcon, a blue Ram, a green Tortoise and an orange Bear.

Tiranjii sucked in a shallow breath - he was never informed that Ahuri had Mechas! Having already sent his war declaration to what he thought was the crew of the Slammajamma, only to find Olymaeau Rascalfiend instead, Tiranjii knew with a Peacekeeper onboard, it would only make destroying the Space Hangar tougher since Olymaeau was now a Cyberoid - outfitted with cybernetic parts.

She was tough to kill, armed her constant companion, a smartpad she called 'Obie' and having a tracker-seeking eye that had 3 levels of sight: night vision, infrared, and magnification up to 5 levels deep. Also trained in a deadly fighting art that had a strong defense as well as offense, Olymaeau was also known as a Mecha Breaker - a tinkerer that could create new machines out of discarded parts, though not necessarily skilled in repair.

Tiranjii decided to leave the Slammajamma for last since he knew whatever damage caused to the hangar, the woman could easily repair it and outfit it with assembled parts to create a deadly weapon no one had ever seen, like the rare and dangerous Phased Cranium Sterilizer, informally known as an Eraser Pointer.

Shutting down his screaming boosters to get propelled forward from the forced motion, he silently sneaked up on Ahuri's crew. Since his Star Fighter was equipped with radar shielding, there was no way the crew of the Slammajamma would notice him - until it was way too late.

Tiranjii wondered how a crew of misfits that were always sent out on suicide missions continuously returned alive - though maybe a bit broken up and their Star Fighters busted - seemingly impervious to any danger. Of the six squads Ahuri went through that alternated between a crew of five to seven, his was always considered the smallest, since most crews had 13 members. And how such a small group could be so destructive and immune to whatever orders sent by the Commander Director of Agents, Tiranjii wanted to find out.

He touched the keypad, banishing the file that hosted his directives and displayed the next that was even less satisfactory. Constant viewing and reviewing failed to register in Tiranjii's head, since Ahuri's actions and his profiles never quite matched. Even his personality report that was conducted on all green Winger Jockeys when they entered Flight School, everything seemed normal - Ahuri received above-average marks, was never a maverick Jockey unlike his classmate and fellow Mercenary Sergeant Baron Kuroumoa. There was nothing that indicated that he'd rebel against the Sphere's training nor become a rebellious anarchist.

Verifying that Ahuri's last mission was successfully completed - his most recent was gathering Intel in the Taurean Sector - it also showed that the three assassin squadrons secretly dispatched to dispose of him were very much dead, though in the file it appeared as 'unknown enemy Star Fighters killed in space'.

Now tasked in bringing back Ahuri for his death sentence, Tiranjii reviewed his own efforts at tracking the now -branded criminal and knew that the Mercenary Sergeant would be an elusive target, as he had been countless times before and knew fighting him head-on would be a flaw in reasoning.

Tiranjii tried to tell the Agent Commander about her error in her conclusion of assigning him the task, but she refused to hear of it. Saddled with the mission that had 3 main objectives he had taken while under the influence, he almost backed out until threatened with death as well - it was do or die time. Being assigned the project of asserting without doubt the whereabouts and condition of Ahuri Bashlure would never prove easy, no matter how easy it appeared to be.

Tiranjii blew a hard sigh in irritation. He reached the point where it was a matter of retracing Ahuri's past steps, thoughts, actions and conclusions. His old office he reluctantly returned to had eventually became cluttered with records of the Mercenary Sergeant's past missions.

Being the Chief Winger Jockey and Star Officer, Tiranjii had been granted maximum clearance to the records of all Jockeys, Argonauts, and anyone related to the Star Flight School.

Obtaining Ahuri's former Jockey files, then Scouter and Argonaut, then to his position of Mercenary Sergeant, Tiranjii had the computer read them back to him over and over, tracing his evolution from green Winger to battle-hardened Sergeant. The computer's mechanical voice that stated with precise phrasing and pronunciation cut into the few hours of unsettled sleep he obtained. After absorbing everything, Tiranjii had no clue about Ahuri's true nature.

Certain matters were obvious: all sanctioned escape routes remained unused during all his missions, even to the end or when his coils were depleted; the Space Hangar Slammajamma mostly remained empty in orbit around Shandiseria, and the Mercenary Sergeant only used unauthorized maneuvers in dire emergencies, unlike Baron Kuroumoa that used them every chance he got, even to the point where it put his crew in danger.

That note made Ahuri stand out - he always accounted for his crew members, no matter what squad he partook in, and made sure they were safely returned from whatever the mission may be, being always the last one to return.

Past missions illustrated Ahuri's resourcefulness, as had been the case in the last few previous missions. He always trained in alternative methods and prepared and rehearsed situations of all kinds in the Slammajamma's danger room or the Sphere's training center to the point of exhaustion.

Yet this time, there was no alternative to Ahuri's fight against the secret squadron - he reacted mainly in fear of the unknown having been taken off guard and retaliated with maneuvers he learned from Kuroumoa - using unofficial techniques that could easily cost him his own life, but when used sparingly and with precise timing, served to save himself from what seemed to be a dire situation. So due to the failure of the squadron, the data Tiranjii had in hand after going over extensive study of his enemy had too few variables to marshal as anything worth going on - even Ahuri's perceived weaknesses were incontestable.

Furthermore, Tiranjii studied the Sphere's tactics and as much as the Interior Agent Department taught and had demonstrated, that one of their own would have to be removed for breaking training and obtaining an illegal weapon.

Tiranjii wondered why the Sphere hadn't confiscated the Phased Cranium Sterilizer sooner, since the Directorate wished to ardently pursue its own needs - utter control of the 30 or so planets in the known galaxy. It seemed clear that a significant portion of Ahuri's success had been from usage of the Eraser Pointer, though not in accordance to Sphere directives.

Several chilling question entered Tiranjii's mind. What did Ahuri tell those anarchists and enemies of the Sphere before he declared them 'killed in space'? Also, why was the Interior Department suddenly interested in a Jockey that barely made a bip on their radar years before?

Tiranjii closed the file and glanced at his Sun Navigator one last time as he pulled down the visor of his helmet. Six Mechas sent from the Slammajamma, all with unknown class tags. Tiranjii tapped at the screen, scanning for information and wondering if Ahuri's crew built them or if he had them on special order from Lindsey Tactical.

A single sentence in cyan digital text appeared on the screen: THAT IFORMATION IS RESTRICTED.

Tiranjii cleared the screen and entered his Directorate-given decryption key. There was a microsecond of hesitation and the same information appeared again. Tiranjii swore under his breath.

"What the spitting shock is this?" he muttered. "How can these Mechas be restricted to the Directorate, unless --" Tiranjii frowned in thought and tapped at the on-screen keyboard with his Security Override key. The screen displayed a bar that slowly filled to the side of the screen - taking time to process the new request, and then the letters of the message slowly appeared character by character, as if the computer itself were perplexed by the answer it had to give.

UNIVERSAL ACCESS OVERRIDE. REQUEST TO REMAND WITH INSTRUCTIONS. ACCESS DENIED.

Tiranjii grunted. If the Directorate found Ahuri was piloting illegal Mechas, everything he had contact with - from the stations he visited, to the various people he spoke with, even the spaceports he docked - would be destroyed under the Directorate's Anti-Anarchist Law of aiding a criminal, whether or not if willingly known. Tiranjii swallowed hard. It would also mean his end as well!

Switching on his Blasters, they whined as they came to life. Tiranjii dialed in Ahuri's broadcasting Codex and emitted a pulse signal to get him to open his line.

"Who's pinging me?" Ahuri's voice called back over the headset. "Open your line and access your Vocomm."

"Acknowledge and report," Tiranjii said in response.

"Permission denied," Ahuri shot back. "Where are you? I don't see you and you're not broadcasting."

"Denied."

"Request permission for Identification?"

"Granted." Tiranjii puffed a sigh before answering. "This is Borutesu Tiranjii, Chief Winger of the Star Command's Strike Force of the Representative Sphere, Badge Number 539761472..."

"Wings?!" Ahuri said in shock. "Saints and blind priests! How do I know it's really you and not some imposter?"

"Boy, nobody can fly as great as me, not even Baron Kuroumoa or even the former Star Officer, Vic Commodore."

"Vic Commodore!" Ahuri whistled. "Nobody these days knows about Vic - he died nearly 30 cycles ago." He grunted. "All right, I believe you."

"Permission to speak?"

"Granted," came the reply.

"I'm only telling you this once, Boy, so listen close. You and your entire crew and the Slammajamma are going to get wasted," Tiranjii said seriously. "That includes me as well."

"What?" Ahuri squawked. "Why? I didn't break any laws!"

"You're flying illegal Mechas and I've been ordered to shut you down."

"I captured these buckets in the Senditisa War!" Ahuri yelled. "We were allowed to keep anything we captured off enemy hands because the Sphere hates spending money!"

"Maybe they're using a loophole in the law... you can keep whatever you capture, but using enemy weaponry is hence illegal since it isn't sponsored by approved Directorate corporations."

"Damn them all to Nifelheim!" Ahuri screamed.

"It gets worse," Tiranjii interjected. "They'll most likely institute following the Anarchist Law..."

"Wings, not you too! How can they dispose of you like that?"

"We're expendable..."

"Permission to speak?" Yinusindo's voice suddenly inquired.

"Request Identification," Tiranjii said.

"Yinusindo Gatecult, Dynarunner Wreckernist of Junk Killer Unit of the Prime Metallo Squadron, Badge Number 385027305... Chief Tiranjii, I think it has something to do with the Sphere wanting the Phased Cranium Sterilizer, and our recent finds of the illegally-sanctioned Nanodroids we came across several hours ago."

"Nanodroids, you say?"

"We captured the head of one and its weapon when we rescued our Captain when he was illegally held prisoner in the Badlands."

"All right, I have an assignment for you kids - query details about that Nanodroid and report back to the Slammajamma as soon as you can."

"Orders denied," Ahuri snapped.

"Listen Boy," Tiranjii growled, "I'm trying to help you out here; that's why I'm transmitting on a scrambled line!"

"What?" Huare's voice cried. "What's going on?"

"My assignment to kill you kids came from the Interior Department itself! Now with such caustic intelligence, I'll have to open fire on you all."

"Crew, return to station immediately - warp speed," Ahuri ordered. "That's a direct order!" The other Mechas departed from following behind Ahuri, leaving only the Mercenary Sergeant and Tiranjii behind.

"Look, you kids are mucking around in deep goo you hardly know about and running afoul of training and customs," Tiranjii said in annoyance. "It's one thing to shunt information from Terminal Broadcasting, even hiding information that nobody's bothering to look for. If you dumped the hidden file somewhere thinking nobody would be wise to catch on, then you're sadly mistaken."

"What are you saying?" Ahuri retorted.

"Because of your tampering with the Cantra, they will assume all the Drachs you've saved up will have gone to the purchase of those illegal Mechas."

"But you know it's not true!" Ahuri objected. "If they desire the truth, then I'm more than happy to give them all my information regarding my funding sources and expenditures!"

"They think you're a liar, though I know you have no reason to lie. The Interior Department will not turn a blind eye to what they see as an undermining of their authority."

"But --!"

"Do you think it's wise to check all contingencies before committing such vast resources?"

"I don't see how," Ahuri said thoughtfully. "I mean, it's nearly impossible to anticipate what the Sphere is going to do! They've been doing so much out of the ordinary..."

"There are several ways to look at something, Boy," Tiranjii said firmly. "Don't assume because you've seen one or two ways that you've got it all figured out." Tiranjii let out a long sigh. "Though I'm at the service of the Directorate, I'll assist you kids only once."

"I'm in debt for you concern, Wings."

"I was only given partial data about the Sphere's intentions, but as I read more into it, I started to wonder why would the Sphere trouble itself to invade something so unimportant?"

"Wait - who are they invading?"

"Search for the answer yourself, Boy. Now fly hard as you might, and fight hard as you might, because only one of us is going to suffer the hands of death." Tiranjii switched off his Vocomm and punched his Photon Blasters, slamming into the back of Ahuri's sleek Mecha, immediately taking out his Boosters. The craft was abruptly sent into a death spiral in the deepest reaches of space, hurtling out of control, then suddenly hit warp speed and Tiranjii followed the tracers, keeping close behind him.

As the coils sputtered and Ahuri hit Mach 10 instead, Tiranjii went on full assault mode, destroying the complete back end of his Spacejet. A piece of metal came flying back and Tiranjii rolled out, banking to the left to avoid collision, only to smash into another piece of space debris that cracked his cockpit cover. The Negative Nancy blared that the Star Fighter was hindered and the cracks in the laser-reflective and penetrative-resistant glass grew longer, larger, and with more rivulets that led toward the band of fittings that held it in place.

Tiranjii quickly strapped on his Oxy Canisters and emergency Booster Pack and switched the Star Fighter in reverse as the Mecha suddenly pitched in the opposite direction. He banked right and rolled out towards dead space, trying in vain to avoid the quickly disintegrating Mecha before him. Tiranjii saw that Ahuri pulled with difficulty, trying to point the nose of his Mecha toward Shandiseria and quickly dropped as it was consumed with forces that yanked the machine into its orbit.

The old Winger Jockey heard his Star Fighter stall and it kept spinning further and further away from the planet, not even its trajectory directed toward the moon where Lunar Command was located for stranded Winger Jockeys and researchers.

"I normally don't pray," Tiranjii thought as guilt overwhelmed him for using such an underhanded maneuver. "I know the boy will pull out and save himself somehow, Goddess willing..."

The cracks became wider and Tiranjii ejected immediately to save himself from the flying glass that could puncture his suit and suck him into the vacuum of space.

A piece of spinning glass jammed into his Data Pack strapped on his shoulder and Tiranjii quickly turned on his Boosters, rocketing toward the moon. Once he flipped on the Positioning Transmitter attached to the arm of his suit, Tiranjii hoped the Booster Pack would hold out and Lunar Command would pick up his Relay signal in time to send a support ship.


© Copyright 2018 KP Merriweather. All rights reserved.

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