Here we go… the first chapter of the Second Book of Camden’s Follies! Please enjoy.. ~ * bow * ~ Yeah, this is me throwing people right into the action sans preamble.
War comes from the Stars
© 2018 Jon Corres Pirate Poet
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.
The Garinthian empire rises to battle
“ Cut to port on my mark. Damn it man hold together!”
I yelled over the howling winds of the now open cockpit to Cynthia and a slightly ill McTavit. The shock-wave rocked the small craft and sent it plummeting towards the valley floor as a second energy wave started up behind it. The cruisers took off the tops of both mountains as the shuttle sped, almost helplessly, on what appeared a collision course for the canyon wall. Rock and debris flew in odd chunks in the air and through the sky. The wireless crackled in the background in a guttural language as Cynthia fought with the controls. I fought the flames on the interior of the passenger cabin as McTavit steadied himself with aid from mister Cafar as all struggled to maintain their balance. My thoughts were to Cafea and the other vessel. Four Garinthian cruisers in low orbit watching the same activity, two for each shuttle.
“ Now! Hard to port!”
We used the downward momentum and avoided being smashed to bits on the rock wall. I fiddled with the communications set for a moment.
“ … pinned down… need assistance.. James? Can you read me?”
“ Aye Cafea, I can and am on my way. Germain and company may be doing a permanent clean round at this rate… Be there shortly, hang on the the three of you….”
We sped off back in the direction of the fireballs that were warships a short while ago. Some simple raid this turned out to be!
Three Days prior…
“ All right you scabrous dogs, look lively!”
Captain Ackban cried with captain Germain standing just behind and to his right. Dr. Cuthbert looked a bit taken aback while he was holding onto Cafea’s recovering Liondarg cub. The rest of us ignored him and miss Longgrave who was assisting him with mister Canery.
“ Not you three!”
The old pirate yelled at part of our science staff.
“ Take the cub back to the pen or to the ward, we’ve got business to attend to… The rest of you lot, attention!”
I distinctly heard confused mewing from the cub as the three expediently made their way back over to the lifts, miss Longgrave struggling with the majority of the Liondarg burden. Mister Canery was nursing his arm and watching the cub warily as doctor Cuthbert made sure to stay far opposite the creature.
“ Mister Camden, I’ve need of you and your raiding parties. We’ve been eaves dropping on the Garinthians and it looks like we can do a bit of skulduggery on ’em soon. The dreadnought is busy on the other side of the planet doing some sort of survey of the area looking for us. That leaves only three cruisers and a nearly finished base. We’ve kept quiet long enough men! Misters Cafea, Azfar, Cafar, McTavit, Fizbark, Belle – Anderson front and centre! You and mister Camden will be using the two shuttles for the dual purpose of destroying their energy supply and raiding for supplies. There should be no problems, mild resistance and so far no orbital support, emphasis on “should be”. What we need from them are engine and weapons parts on the main, maybe food packets if ye can wrangle them.”
He began to pace.
“ If there be signs of that monstrosity coming back for support, with or without the plunder, you will leave in all haste.” He hesitated then added, “ Captain Germain and I have decided that that would be best course of action. We’re thin on the crew side and can’t afford to lose our best… that’s all for now, get back to your stations.”
Very brief, non informative and to the point. Then again, since the good captain Ackban has asserted himself as the more dominant captain most meetings have been roughly this way. We knew what it was he was trying to get across to us, however, it just seemed as if he preferred to be in the thick of things with the rest of us as opposed to waiting in the wings. We, meaning Cafea, Cynthia and I, all felt this might not change for a good long while. At least nothing new seemed to be coming on that horizon for certain.
So, to summarise, he wants us to hit the base, steal some items we’re running low on and then get the hell out. Brilliant, in an overly simplistic fashion that fails to take caution into account. Later that day I went with Cynthia on one of the shuttles to do a reccie of the area. I was quite impressed by the scope they had, those Garinthians.
An entire valley was now a vast sea of mechanisms. Plants, manufacturing areas, mobile mechanised heavy weapons like cannon and such were being produced or repaired on a grand scale.
There had to be thousands of troops here, if not around a million. I could see where they were placing their fuelling or refuelling sites. There were even mines by some of the nearby mountains we could see from our vantage point above it all.
I had the impression this was more of a city in the making, sans market areas. This admiral Tack – So was going beyond all out for us. I also counted three massive hangers or dry docks, especially the one in the centre of the centrally located complex. That had to be the one for the dreadnought. The other two looked large enough to for a dozen cruisers laid out end to end. I finally saw what appeared to be a launch area that I didn’t see back on the planet. It resembled one of the super cannon the German lot were working on before I left on this crazy adventure.
The only difference was, this was far larger and you could fit an alien cruiser into it. Well, that explained the bullet shape to the outer hull any way. Our stealth mode kept us off their radar ( as mister Azfar would say) for the most part. There were moments when I swore a few of the troops looked straight at us, or possibly they were looking through us?
We returned post haste back to the base and reported on what we saw as we had no cameras to record anything and mister McTavit insisted on not putting anything else on the shuttles other than the wireless despite a very good argument by Fizbark to the contrary. Personally, I just thought it was because mister brilliant hadn’t thought of it first and Fizbark did, but that’s just me, Cafar and Cafea’s thinking… so far. Speaking of one of my wives, Cafea seemed to think that our reconnaissance went too easily and we should exercise a great deal of caution. Tack – So, as she would say to us, was a crafty old fellow and his sub commanders and subordinates weren’t far behind. She did also theorise how this could be just the Garinthians way of establishing a new fortified position as part of their support group initiative. Apparently, they were keen to never be caught short handed or out gunned if they could help it in any way. I called the two teams together the day before and had a final chat.
“ … so you see, we can’t do this the same way as before. I’m certain that our opposition may be counting on us to try, thus the overkill of soldiers in one area along with the accommodations for so many small ships. I also don’t like the ease of the spy mission and I tend to think if I were them I’d have some sort of artillery or big ship support. My thinking is if they were to have anything, it would be in radio range and if it were a ship or two it would be on our alternate side. Anyway, we should keep our eyes open and ready for any thing at any time! Anyone have anything to add?”
Azfar looked at Cafar while Fizbark seemed to be studying me for a moment. McTavit also seemed riveted to both me and Azfar as he kept looking between us for some odd reason.
Azfar seemed to take a thinkers smirk before talking.
“ So you think Tack – So is winding us up and trying to lure both the Bernoulli and the War Dragon Fire out?”
I nodded yes.
“ Thought so. He could be testing his underlings out on us and just hoping we’re weak enough afterwards to pick up the clean kill without a great deal of effort.”
“ Full camouflage is what we’ll be using till the last second no matter what. We can use the mountains as part of the escape route in case I’m right about the support they may have waiting in the wings. I hate being outflanked…”
I got a hug and kiss of reassurance from Cynthia at that point.
“ Anything else folks? If not, meeting over and see you in the morning… oh, and good hunting to us all! I want everyone going out to come back in one piece, yes?”
“ Aye, aye captain!”
Fizbark, Cafar and Azfar said together. McTavit just saluted before leaving with the guys.
I awoke the next morning, not exactly in anything shy of subdued spirits, and with a little assistance got dressed and headed down to the dry dock and the Bernoulli hangar bay. Everyone else was there, including, surprisingly, captains Ackban and Germain.
“ Captain Ackban, captain Germain.”
I saluted and had a polite, but curt return.
“ What are your plans mister Camden?”
Germain asked first before Ackban could speak. The alien captain looked at Germain long ways briefly before turning his attention to me.
“ Basically, we go in camouflage mode. Mister Fizbark, myself, mister McTavit, misters Azfar and Cafar will be part of the raiding teams to get the requested supplies and possibly plant explosives and other traps along the way to cause confusion and mayhem to set back their progress and buy us extra escape time.”
I paused ever so briefly to take a breath and continued before anyone could interrupt.
“ My alternate goal is to make them believe that the shuttles are the only ships available to us or we’re acting independently of the Bernoulli and War Dragon Fire. In case of an emergency we’ll lead them through the mountains to the north of this position and use the cruisers bulk and lack of atmospheric manoeuvrability to our advantage. Despite the lack of evidence to the contrary, last count there were 3 fleets and from what I could view there was room for all of them in that area. I know scans haven’t picked up anything, but I’d rather be safe than sorry, act is if everything in their arsenal was there at their disposal. In other words I’m treating this as if they know we’re coming and are fully prepared for any assault.”
Both men nodded in approval or at least understanding. Out of the corner of my eye I caught Cafea nodding in the affirmative and looking both captains in the eye. An awkward pause followed until Ackban spoke, his voice sounded a tad distant and his face was hard to read.
“ Very well then, off you go and good luck, Magda protect you all.”
He and captain Germain walked off silently and looking straight ahead. That was not a good sign for this mission…
When we were airborne I radioed Cafea and let her know to have mister Azfar scan above in the upper atmosphere and keep an eye out for in coming cruisers or the dreadnought. Cafar would be on the look out for anything from ground level coming at us.
The best laid plans…
As soon as we made the airspace of the Garinthians, alarms started going off all over. Nothing showed up on scans immediately, but I saw movement below near the hangars. Not one, but two cruisers launched and barely missed us as they ascended very fast from the hangars, had they been launched from the cannon like device I had a feeling we’d have been either dead or close to it! I noted we were in line with the device and staring down its muzzle after the two ships just missed us.
Cafar and I, along with mister McTavit looked over the readings and the plans of the other bases we destroyed before for similarities. It was roughly the same, just larger and with a couple of new wrinkles. One of which was the launching area for sending vessels into space, the command centre and the energy plants.
Fizbark mentioned that the energy producing plants utilised geothermal energy or heat rising from beneath the moons upper crust. They used this to make electricity to run the plasma gas producing machines. If we were to succeed, we’d have to blow up at least one of those.
I coordinated with Cafea via our old wireless radios and decided to hit the hangar we could get spare parts from and the armoury at the same time. Something about the lingering lack of activity was really starting to bother me and I didn’t know why. I chose the armoury as our target and had Cafea take the hangar.
We entered our destination via a roof level entrance. McTavit, using a device that suspiciously looked like mister Fizbark’s handiwork “hacked”, not sure why it was called that as the machinery was left intact, the computer coded lock and we swiftly made our way down. It wasn’t until we were on the level of where the weapons were kept that we ran into soldiers. Oddly enough there were only roughly 50 of them in the area and one subordinate officer.
Now I was getting paranoid. This place should have at least a full legion of troops and this was it? We went with stealth as the troops went about their security rounds. When we opened the armoury doors is when we finally figured out why so few troops. A pair of giant sized robots stood on either side scanning with a light beam over the arms lockers and walking about with heavy steps along the perimeter. I motioned for my two compatriots to follow me to an area just out of their sight.
“ All right, now what? We need explosives and such and we have two dirty great robots between us and an easy haul! Someone tell me something we can do to alleviate this dilemma and quickly!”
McTavit rubbed his beard and raised his eyebrows.
“ Your radio lad, the one from the Bernoulli, let me have it so I can attach it to my scanner.. no time to explain… just hand it over lad…”
I did so and dawning recognition came over Cafar’s face.
“ That ought to work, if the frequency is the same as the one our spider robot uses…”
I was about to ask what, when, with one final twist of the knob that controlled tuning, I heard the two metal behemoths stop cold!
“ Yes! Success…thanks lad! That should buy us an hour before they start up again… now let’s get cracking before we have to fight them off shall we?”
“ Shouldn’t we tell Cafea and the others? They could be up against it right now!”
McTavit’s eyes nearly popped out!
“ Blast it all! Radio. Now. You two get the items we need…”
I didn’t stop to ask I just followed Cafar out to the nearest locker and watched as he picked it in seconds. I held the bag open we brought with us and he emptied whatever was important in to it.
I have no idea how long it took, it felt like forever, but out of the blue, I heard the radio and the sounds of energy fire coming over it.
McTavit practically screamed as he made his way over.
“ Too late boys, we have to get out of here… NOW!”
We took the bags and pulled out our weapons and made a run for it. I’m not sure who was more surprised, us or the group of Garinthians who marched into us. Awkward moments like this, in hindsight, can be hilarious – just not in the moment when your life flashes before your eyes. I have no idea who shot first, but I just recall seeing a bright light and a group of soldiers fly backwards dead! We ran for the staircase as an alarm started to sound, blasted through the roof door and sprinted into our shuttle.
“ Went well as usual I see…”
Cynthia grinned at me as she hit the throttle to get the ship to rise and move forward. In front of us a large ship, one of the cruisers from earlier had gotten in front of us and was making for the hangar! I saw Fizbark, Azfar and Cafea running and shooting as they went, Fizbark was carrying the parts and they managed to make it to the shuttle just in time as another ship floated up from behind the hangar and started shooting blindly. I must explain at this point that we kept the camouflage on while we were looting and this was the reason why! We had nearly no time and I decided to hang the sense of it all and just blast the first ship and give ’em something new to think about. Just my luck as Azfar got on the radio and Cynthia put him on loud speaker.
“ Damn! I wish someone would have mentioned guard robots.. why the Verilda did it have to be giant guard robots ?!?”
Cafea got on right after with some not so welcome news.
“ Oh Magda! Incoming! Two more from the atmosphere… you were right captain, they had ’em on our blind side!”
I had no idea how I did it, but I managed to get to the radio.
“ Quit talking and get moving! Head for the mountains as planned, we’ll split at the first gorge and meet up later… NOW!”
Back to the present….
“ Cynthia, get the cannon, I’ll take the wheel… you and Cafar are better at the big guns than me….”
I then whispered loudly to myself, “Hold on Cafea we’ll be there shortly as I said we would!”.
We barely missed more flaming wreckage from the destroyed cruisers as we made our mad dash to get the other shuttle. McTavit informed me that we were a few minutes away at current speed, so I increased it a lot! As we came upon our comrades I saw something in the sky above…
It was the dreadnought with two cruisers for support! There was smoke coming from the other shuttle as we came along side her. Cynthia and Cafar laid down a wicked fire on the two cruisers and McTavit launched a grappling hook to snare the the weakened craft.
The radio came alive…
“ I know you’re there! We can’t pick you up just yet on short range scanners, don’t worry, our guns will be charged and ready momentarily and then we’ll incinerate the entire area… and you, once and for all…”