Aphelion Issue 287, Volume 27
September 2023
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Space Battlefield

by Gordon Rowlinson

Johnny dropped his one man fighter-destroyer out of light speed and quickly hid his craft behind the Mar's oddly-shaped moon Phobos. Checking the position of the massive alien invasion fleet orbiting Mars, he observed no changes in flight paths of all ten alien battleships. No one had noticed him—yet. Scowling at the sight of the dark, sinister saucer-shaped ships on the strike computer, he picked up the radio.

"Earth defense central, this is Viper 1," said Johnny. "I'm preparing to enter the space battlefield zone. The strike computer is showing ten alien battleships orbiting Mars preparing to attack the Earth."

"Viper 1, you are one of Earth's elite pilots and the only one standing between the alien fleet and Earth, "came the reply from Earth Defense Central. "Human beings have ruled this planet for 300,000 years. You're our only hope of us continuing to rule this planet."

"OK. Let's kick the tires and light the fires," said Johnny. "I'm going in."

"Mars is the Roman God of war. This is war," replied Earth Defense Central.

Johnny raised deflector shields, powered up the lasers and grimly engaged the engines. Focusing intensely at his advanced ship's high tech controls, he slipped out from the cover of Phobos. He circled the angry red planet, and started his attack run by approaching the unsuspecting alien fleet from behind. With a single pinpoint shot from his laser cannon to the battleship's power supply, Johnny set the fleet's trailing battleship ablaze. Then he was then able to score a direct and disabling hit on the next ship's engines before the alien fleet realized they were under attack.

The alien battleships reacted and swarmed after him like a band of angry hornets. The dark void of space was instantly filled with the bright flashes of deadly laser fire. Johnny expertly twisted his ship, mixing up his expert, quick maneuvers so automated alien gun computers would not pick up a pattern in his movements. Moving too fast for the larger battleships to lock laser cannons on him, he managed to hit the control bridge of an alien battleship, leaving it adrift. Then Johnny spotted three battleships foolishly moving in close formation.

"Bomb them back to the stone age!" he said for reasons unknown to even himself. He easily picked off the first two ships. But he missed the third ship as it broke formation and fled. With his palms sweating, Johnny put his craft into a tight turn to attack what appeared to be the alien flagship. Suddenly the entire ship shook from an alien hit. Warning lights lit up the control panel like a Christmas tree. Then all the lights went black and the ship's power shutdown.

"May have bought the farm this time!" Johnny said in disgust. He desperately tried to restart engines, but the control panel was dead. He was powerless, adrift and a sitting duck. Looking out the port window, he saw the alien flagship idling directly aside his ship. Johnny grimaced. It was worse than he thought. Instead of finishing him off, the aliens were preparing to board his ship. Knowing that the aliens didn't take prisoners, he gamely drew his laser sidearm and ran to the control room airlock.

The green, repulsive insect-like bipeds were already coming out of the hatch when he got to the airlock. He gunned down three of the aliens before they he felt several slimy green claws grabbing him from behind and knocking away his weapon. They dragged him back to the center of the control room. One green insect-like alien wearing commander's rank on his shoulder walked up to face Johnny.

"One of Earth's top fighter aces," said the alien commander. "This is quite a prize. You have in depth knowledge of Earth's defense systems. We have been studying the drawn and quartered torture method from your planet's medieval period. In 20 minutes, you will be talking and begging me to kill you."

Johnny quickly reached for the hidden space grenade that was secretly on his belt. He tossed it at the alien commander and the guards. Exploding on contact, the grenade knocked Johnny off his feet onto the hard metal deck. Dazed from the blast and sudden violence, he found he was covered in splattered green alien blood. The green insect aliens were dead, dismembered, and lying in pieces in pools of green blood. Then Johnny heard a shout and saw four more insect-like biped aliens running from the airlock. He looked wildly around for his laser sidearm.

Suddenly the running alien guards became transparent and then faded into nothingness. The military control room faded in color, and dissolved into nothing. Johnny found himself face down safe on the soft plush carpeted floor of his bedroom. The Space Battlefield hologram game system projector was still humming as it powered down.

"Johnny, I called you three times!" his mother said. "It's time for dinner! Now get up off the floor."

"Mom," said Johnny. "You turned it off the game system without saving the game! I was winning and I almost reached level 20."

"You shouldn't be playing your game system when you haven't done your homework." His mother frowned in disapproval. "You were supposed to read your history book about the Orion space programs and first manned Mars landing. What is all that green slime on you?"

"That's just alien blood from the game," said Johnny as he slowly got up off the floor. "I threw a bomb and killed an alien monster and his guts splattered back on me. It was really cool."

"That video game is way too realistic," said the mother. "You shouldn't be playing something so violent."

"Aw, Mom." Johnny whined. "All the kids at school have parents that let them play Space Battlefield."

© 2023 Gordon Rowlinson

Gordon Rowlinson is a writer and retired pension consultant and income tax guy during tax season living on the South Shore of Massachusetts. His book can be purchased at: Time Wars and other Sci-Fi Tales

Find more by Gordon Rowlinson in the Author Index.

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