Welcome to Beyond the End of the World. My name is Aaron Dennis, and I will be presenting this published novel to you one chapter at a time. The entire novel is free for download via Barnes and Noble online.
This is an action-packed, scifi military novel. Some language may not be suitable for minors.
They Lurk Among Us, Lokians 2, has officially been released, so make sure to visit www.storiesbydennis.com too!
Chapter Twenty Two
Swain and the Thewls dismantled the satellite. All the electrical components were fried. Thankfully, the ship’s engineering lab had plenty of useful parts stored away. While doing repairs they came across a few tools none of them had ever seen before. Swain kept those where he found them, believing they probably went hand-in-hand with whatever other tools were in the vicinity. It took some doing, but they were making headway.
Meanwhile, on Eon, Yon helped relay messages between Humans and Thewls. The admirals agreed to station Thewlian units in order to slowly integrate the two peoples. Initially, the Thewls landed miles away from Eon’s base camp, or Horizon, as it was dubbed. As the process unfolded, Humans and Thewls found working together most enjoyable. Soon after, Thewls were given permission to work in plain view of non-military personnel.
After that, a perimeter was set up both on land and in orbit. Scanners and weapons platforms were erected, and Presh was devoted to weapons research based on Thewlian technology. Modifications were even made aboard the Phoenix. Unfortunately, a degree of tension arose when Humans wondered if such a defensive stance was going to arouse Lokian suspicions.
Since Lokians had never presented themselves to Horizon, colonists believed staying off the radar was the safest course of action. The Navy, however, believed it a necessary precaution to prepare for war. Admiral Lay continued building relations, hoping to unify with the Yvlekesh. To Lay’s chagrin, Admiral Yew had no success in contacting them as of yet; both Humans and Thewls grew more concerned as time passed. It seemed that their greatest hope was the traveler and the spec ops team.
As Day meandered through space, Swain and the Thewls finished work on the satellite. A Thewlian distress signal relayed a repeating message stating that an Explorer landed on a nearby asteroid in need of repairs. O’Hara ordered the drop in the vicinity of an asteroid caught in a planet’s orbit. Then, Day engaged stealth systems before flying circles around the rock in an effort to leave a hint of energy residuals. She then shut down all nonessential systems, slowly listing away, thus hiding the fact that they had left.
The crew waited patiently for the Lokians’ arrival. The only problem was the dwindling supply of rations. They had been aboard the ship a week since the departure from Eon.
Returning to Eon or the Carrier was out of the question. O’Hara had confidence in his plan, but the first twenty four hours passed with no incident. With so much downtime, they found themselves huddling around the traveler; on occasion they got a little refresher course on their abilities. Thewls had little else to do, so they attempted the meditation techniques given them.
The second day, the helm dinged. Only Day heard it. She checked the readings to find a subspace disturbance. She notified the crew, and they all ran to the bridge.
“Battle stations,” she yelled.
The crew perked up, momentarily confused. They frantically looked around the bridge before realizing the joke; Day was in control of the vessel’s every aspect. The rest were just willing participants along for the ride.
A few thousand miles away, a black hole opened and faster than light speeds registered in Day’s mind. Then, a strange energy signature negated the black hole, leaving two, large signatures.
“Two transporters...I think,” she breathed. Her scanners tracked the movement. Aliens headed for the satellite. “At their current rate of speed, they should arrive at the bait in under two hours.”
“Good…here we go,” O’Hara said.
“Soon as they’re in range, I’ll nail them with a photon beam. I should be able to destroy one with a precision strike. Likely, they’ll both release fighters. If I keep moving while cloaked, they won’t be able to pick up our trail, hopefully. All I have to do then is disable the other ship, and hook it with the electron, tractor beam,” Day reported.
“Sound plan,” Franklin commented.
The crew was on edge, feeling helpless. Their fingers itched for part of the action, and worse yet, they didn’t know for sure if they were equipped to deal serious damage. Day was nervous, but composed when the transporters came into view.
Her new and improved perspective allowed her a better look at the enemy; they looked like Sidewinder, fighter ships, an old, helicopter-like, space vessel. The fins, or wings, did look like fish fins with webbing half way down, but that was pretty much where their aquatic likeness ended. She sluggishly listed to the left then let loose a white photon beam, busting through a Lokian.
The photon cannon was a mobile weapon with a lens used for harnessing energy attached to a flexible, alloy tube. The tube propelled the photons in their pre-excited stage into the lens, which provided the helmsman the ability to unleash the attack beam in a most complex manner, not unlike the movement of the arc laser. As predicted, all the fighters scrambled and barreled towards her former position.
Immediately after entering combat formations, the fighters revealed their telescopic cannons. Day hurriedly elevated to a position above the Lokians, firing another photon beam. White light punched through fighters, sending wreckage to areas unknown. The remaining enemies whirled and moved to her new position. Each time they regrouped, they let loose their own volley of red lasers, but thanks to her vessel’s unique, stealth system, there was no way for the enemy to get a lock; they were firing blind in an effort to hit an invisible enemy.
Suddenly, readings indicated they locked on to her weapon’s energy. Her heart skipped a beat when red beams barreled towards her. In response, Day engaged shielding, inevitably shutting off cloaking.
“Hold on,” she gasped.
Blasts hit the ship with no effect. No one felt a thing, and she maneuvered around the insects, shearing them in half with multiple bursts of white lightning; fighters were downed with ease, but the drop ships started swarming like jelly fish, moving in short pulses; their tentacles whipping aimlessly.
In a final act of defiance, fighters hurled themselves directly at the space cat. The crew felt those impacts as a jostling force not unlike light turbulence. Exoskeleton flew off in every direction; a result of the useless kamikaze strike.
Once Day found a particle accelerator missile system located under the ship’s mobile, photon cannon, she swooped around, aimed her rear at the assailants, and fired both weapons. Laser arcs twirled glinting patterns, and missiles exploded, igniting chitinous debris, eradicating the fighters. She made an obscene sound by vibrating her lips and tongue when the second transporter released more fighters.
“Round two,” she said.
The crew shook their heads, bracing for impacts. Glances went around the austere bridge. Huffing in exasperation, they just milled nervously.
Day’s skilled mind and hands allowed her to execute a barrel roll as she fired. Brilliant lasers crackled all around, and the ravenous, alien forces were quickly overwhelmed. Only the drop ships remained, darting through space, giving chase, and firing innumerable, red beams.
“God damn it! What’s happening?” O’Hara yelled.
No sooner said, Day discovered a monitor, and swiveled it out from the bridge’s wall to face an impatient crew. A three dimensional rendition of the ship’s perspective allowed them to see a portion of what the helmsman experienced.
“Nifty weapons,” Fitzpatrick commented. “Oh, look out. Shoot that one. Get him. C’mon, Day.”
“Shut up,” she giggled.
“Yeah, try to avoid destroying everything,” Franklin added. “We do need one of those things.”
A transporter had fluttered onto Day’s six, and the rocket blew its nose, fins, and tentacles to smithereens. Going for a precision strike to knock out its power source caused her to miss the enemy. It flew beneath her, turned perpendicular, and blasted the crew with all remaining weapons while the other drop ship snuck in from the flank. More and more red beams bounced off shielding. Sparks sizzled out in a dizzying display, causing the bridge to flash like a rock concert.
“A few more blows like that, and we’re gonna’ take some damage,” she yelled.
“You can do it,” the crew cheered.
Rolling up and away from enemies, a tight, spiraling surge pierced a Lokian power source; the vessel went dark, and melted chitin floated off. “Got it! Uh-oh,” she cringed.
“What is it,” Korit snarled.
“The other one’s opening a black hole!”
The pull of the subspace tear started affecting her maneuverability, but the Lokian had to remain stationary to complete its escape path. Day nailed it just behind the fore tentacles, puncturing its power supply. Energy signatures dwindled, and that ship also drifted off.
“Oh, my gawd,” she groaned. “That’s a wrap, Cap’….”
They all hollered in triumph. Some slapped hands. Others hugged. O’Hara was ecstatic, praising Day to the heavens.
“We got two, huh,” Swain asked.
“One’s busted up pretty bad,” she replied. “My readings show the other’s okay, just, I don’t know, unconscious.”
“One’s all we need,” Adams nodded.
“Unconscious,” Nandy muttered. “Is that safe?”
“That’s the one we need,” O’Hara asserted. “Grab it, and let’s get the Hell out of here.”
“Copy,” Day said.
She punched a wormhole in space, engaged the tractor beam, hooked the sleeping vessel, and flung it into the space-time aperture. Then, she went right in behind it. Moments later, they emerged before the Gemini system.