Starshock: Part Four

Starshock: Part 4

By Roger Bennett

If you havent read parts 1, 2, & 3 yet click here for Pt1, here for Pt2, or here for Pt3,

Lieutenant Dawson peered over the head of the technician and read the scanner himself. Nothing. Still nothing. He sighed.

Ogre had followed the trail of radiation until it disappeared. The novaship had to be nearby, but Ogre’s damaged scanners were unable to detect it. Most of the damage to the scanners had been repaired, along with all the other major systems on Ogre, but only several weeks in Valia’s repair yards would set Ogre to rights.

‘At least Glamdring will be here soon,’ Dawson thought. ‘She might be able to find that damned novaship. And she has the firepower to deal with it, too.’

“Give me an estimated time of arrival on Glamdring,” he said to the scanner operator.

“Glamdring is about twenty-two minutes away, Sir”

“Good. Maybe she’ll be able to find this damned thing.”

“I dunno, sir, she’s gone to ground pretty good.”

“Hell,” swore Dawson, “It’s a novaship. It can’t just’s out there somewhere, Ensign, and we’re going to find it.”

The comm squealed, and then a voice spoke. “The sensor array repairs are finished, Skipper.”

“Dawson here. Thanks, Chief.”

“No problem...just find that bastard, sir.”

“We’ll try, Chief. Dawson out.” He broke contact, and turned to the scanner.

“Try it again, Ensign. See if you can locate a reactor signature.”

“Aye, sir, scanning.” The Ensign sounded unsure of himself. Dawson pitied him...this was his first trip out, and they had to run into this...half the crew dead or injured, including the Captain; every major system damaged. And a novaship still on the loose.

‘I’d be pretty unsure of myself, too,’ he thought.

“Wait a minute,” the Ensign said. “That’s odd. I’m reading a power source, but it doesn’t match the one I recorded from the novaship earlier. The output is lower...what...Skipper, the power levels are jumping rapidly. That’s it! There she is!”

“Where away?” asked Dawson, excitedly.

“Bearing 342.6 by 28.9. She’s stationary. I don’t think she’s seen us yet.”

“She’s hiding behind that asteroid there. Helm, pull back...maneuvering thrusters only, I don’t want them to spot us.”

“Aye, sir.”

The trim little scoutship began to back away slowly. Dawson ordered a new course, bringing Ogre in behind a medium sized asteroid, shielding them from the novaship’s sensors.

“Comm, get me Glamdring on a secure channel.”

“Aye, sir. Contact established.”

Sanderson’s face appeared on the monitor.

“What’s up, Dawson?” he asked.

“We’ve got her, sir. I’m sending you her soon can you be here?”

“We’re about nine minutes away. What’s your status?”

“We’re hidden ourselves. Most of our systems are back on-line, but weapons are minimal and we still don’t have shields. We won’t be much use in a fight.”

“Just keep tracking her for us, Dawson. We’ll take care of her when we get there.”

R’gal tossed in his sleep. The faces of his mother’s attackers circled him, crying out. He cringed under the hideous sound of their screeching cries. He must awaken! He must escape! He must...

Fighting his way to consciousness, R’gal realized that the cries in his dreams was in fact, the ship’s combat alarm sounding. A’zani was in danger.

R’gal stumbled from his bunk and reached for the comm. He activated it, and T’kul’s voice answered.

“What’s happening?” He managed to croak. “Why...what’s the alarm for?”

“A Confederation Excalibur-class destroyer has come within scanning range, Captain. She’s on a direct course for us. Too early to tell if her weapons systems are armed yet.”

“I’ll be right there.” He broke contact, dressed rapidly, and made his way to the bridge.

“Do we have maneuvering power?” he asked T’kal.

“A little. Our power reserves aren’t up to a big strain, but I could manage a short run at maximum thrust.”

“And then what, T’kul? That destroyer isn’t just going to give up. What’s our weapons status?”

“We have only minimal weapons power, Captain. Not enough for a prolonged fight.”


“Not many, Captain.”

“We can’t run and we can’t fight. Not like this.” R’gal paused, thoughtful. “What about our main battery?”


“Are the reserve power banks for the main battery still charged?”

“Yes, Captain, but I don’t see...”

“Good,” R’gal cut him off. “Load a target simulation into the main targeting computer and prepare to fire at my command.”

“ what?”

“We’re going to fire along our escape route, which” R’gal indicated a plot on the chart. “We’ll align the main battery along this course and fire as we come into their weapons range. If we’re lucky, the burst will catch them by surprise.”

“And if we’re not lucky?” asked T’kul, apprehensively.

“Then, T’kul, we die.”

“She’s moving!” called out Starrett. “Target bearing course 316 by 17.7.”

“Right down our throats,” growled Sanderson. “Stand by all batteries. Hold your fire until I give the command.”

N’tal looked up from his instruments.

‘Captain, try to target her Command and Engineering decks. Please try to spare her crew, if you can.”

“Commander N’tal, that is not my first priority. I’m here to stop that novaship, whatever it takes. I’m sorry about your people, but a whole lot of mine are already dead...and I’m going to make sure that no more die. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Captain.” N’tal fell silent, and returned to his screen. The A’zani showed clearly now, inbound in a tightly intersecting course, almost head-on to the Glamdring. The tiny Ogre swung away from her shielding asteroid and took up station behind Glamdring.

“Target is eighteen thousand kilometers and closing,” called out Ryan.

“Stand by to fire all weapons. Let’s hit her where it counts, gentlemen.”

An alarm chimed from N’tal’s screen. He swore softly.

“Captain, transfer all power to your shields.”

“I beg your par...”

“Do it! Now!”

“Enough! Commander G’rvan, I will not allow you to interfere. Master-at-Arms! Escort our guest...”

“He’s fired on us!” N’tal shouted. “Shields, now, or we’re all dead!”

“All power to shields!” shouted Sanderson.

“All Hands, brace for impact!” shouted Ryan.

“Rice!” shouted Sanderson. “Contact Ogre and...”

A sudden violent blow struck the Glamdring, sending her tumbling. N’tal was thrown from his chair and went crashing into the bulkhead.

A massive power surge swept through the ship, overloading her main systems. Lights exploded like firecrackers, and system after system on her bridge shorted out and exploded.

Ryan clung to his console desperately as the ship’s decks swung wildly beneath him. He looked over at Sanderson, who lay sprawled in his chair, harness in place. He appeared to be bleeding profusely from a large gash in his forehead.

Zeigler fought the help desperately, at last bringing Glamdring back under control. The deck stabilized, and Ryan found the floor.

“Call Sick Bay. Get a med team up here, the Captain’s been hurt.” he ordered. He looked around, and saw N’tal’s crumpled form in the corner. He went over to check him. N’tal was unconscious, but nothing appeared to be broken. He had a few small cuts, mostly superficial.

The med team arrived, and began to treat the wounded. Sanderson had lost consciousness, and was removed, along with N’tal. The rest had only minor injuries.

‘N’tal’s warning saved us’ he thought. Aloud, he asked about Ogre.

“She didn’t make it, sir. Her hull collapsed.”

“Damn,” said Ryan. “Get me a damage report from all decks.”

The damage turned out to be surprisingly light. The hull and thrusters were intact, and the damage to Glamdring’s electronic systems could be repaired in a few hours. Even N’tal’s instrumentation was in good order, and Starrett had begun to use it to plot the novaship’s projected course. Ryan breathed a sigh of relief.

Things could be worse. The damage would have to be repaired before they could hope to pursue the A’zani, but from the reports Ryan was getting, there were no fatalities, and the damage was mostly superficial. All in all, Glamdring had been lucky.

Damn lucky.

On board his flagship, the Invincible, Admiral Stancil reviewed his fleet. He had managed to assemble a surprisingly powerful force. The Battleships Sussex, Invincible, and Constellation formed the heavy core, supported by the carriers Lexington, Saratoga, Yorktown, Kiev, and Princeton. Destroyers Albion, Duranthal, Anduril, Narthung, and Sting held the flank, and there were numerous Gnome-class scoutships, and a number of Dragon-class heavy Cruisers.

Following his orders, Stancil had formed the fleet. They had departed Valia two days ago, and were still more than three days away from Point Alpha along the T’zirian Border. Once there, Stancil was to take up a defensive position and await further orders.

“Admiral, there’s a message for you,” said a yeoman. Stancil nodded, and turned to the viewscreen. It was Sanderson.

“Good to see you, Brian,” said Stancil. “Ryan’s last report had you on the injured list. What’s your situation?”

“We are under way again. A’zani’s projected course will put her in Sector Four by this time tomorrow.”

“Sector Four. She’s headed for either Draconis, Findshorn, or Mitaka.”

Sanderson nodded. “That’s what we figured as well. Trouble is, we don’t know which one.”

“Has Commander G’rvan been able to give you any insight?” asked Stancil.

“Well, he’s the one who kept us from winding up like those poor devils on Ogre. He detected the A’zani’s fire and warned us just in be honest, I thought he was trying to sabotage our attack. I almost had him removed from the bridge.”

“Has he regained consciousness yet?”

“Not as yet. Our doctor tells me not to worry, that T’zirians often take longer to come out of unconsciousness...something about the difference in body fluid levels.”

“When he comes to, thank him for me. Not every day a T’zirian saves my best ship and crew.” The Admiral grinned, then grew serious. “Listen, Brian, we’re only three days out of Point Alpha. It’s imperative you locate and neutralize that novaship. The political climate back on Earth is quite chaotic. The Hawks are demanding a punitive strike on the T’zir, and the President is only just able to maintain order in the Council. If he keeps on destroying our outposts, we won’t be able to keep a war from starting.”

“Admiral, we’re trying. Our best guess is that he’s headed for the Findshorn’s the largest of our colonies in Sector Four. We’re headed there now.”

“I hope you’re right, Brain. For all our sakes, I hope you’re right.”

“T’kul, alter our course. New course is 227.4 by 92. Maximum speed for 8 z’hostas, then run silent. I’ll give you the final course then.”

“Aye, sir.” T’kul paused before speaking. “Captain, how many more targets before our mission is ended?”

“That is not for you to know, T’kul. You will be informed when you need to know.”

“I am the First Officer of this vessel. If you are incapacitated or killed, it is my responsibility to complete the mission. Yet you withhold the information of that mission from me. How am I to complete a mission when I have no concept of what the mission is?”

“If I am incapacitated or killed, T’kul, the mission is ended. You may then run home like the coward you appear to be.”

T’kul bristled.

“I am no coward. I flew the Emperor’s ships before you were born, Captain, against the humans, against the Dhrshir, and never have I fled or even shunned battle. Nor do I now...I am a warrior in the service of my Emperor, and as I stand before you, you accuse me of dishonor me.” He turned and headed for the hatch.

“T’kul!” barked R’gal, “I have not dismissed you. Return at once!”

“If I am dishonored, Captain, it is by your hand. If you will not tell me what the mission is, then I shall contact the fleet and ask them.”

“You are not to contact the fleet, T’kul. That is a command directive.”

“Why? What reason could you give?”

“The fleet does not know of our mission, T’kul. It is a secret mission known only to the Emperor and myself,” lied R’gal.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Believe what you will, T’kul. I care not. But you will perform your duty. Or you will die.”

“He’ll be all right, Mr. Ryan,” said Blake. “He has a mild concussion, and some assorted bruises...he’s going to be sore for a while, but he’ll live.”

“Then why did you send for me?” asked Ryan.

“There’s something I thought you should know. When he came in, I didn’t know if there was any internal bleeding, so I checked to see if we had any compatible blood, just in case. You’re the closest match, so I checked a sample of his blood against yours.”

Blake paused, hesitating for a moment. Ryan grew impatient.

“Well?” he demanded. “What is it?”

“Mr. Ryan, there’s no easy way to do this. Commander G’rvan’s blood was a perfect genetic match for yours. There is no doubt.”

“What are you saying?”

“You and G’rvan are brothers. You have the same parents.”

The revelation hit Ryan hard. He felt for a chair, and collapsed into it.


“Congratulations, Mr. Ryan, or should I say Mr. G’rvan. It looks like you finally found your family.”

“Does the Captain know?”

“Not as yet. I am required to report the facts to him, but I felt it was necessary to inform you first.”

“I’ll tell him, Doctor,” said Ryan. “But I don’t quite know how he’s going to take this. hell, I don’t know how to take this myself.”

“Why don’t you try taking it one step at a time, Mr. Ryan?” suggested the Doctor. “I’m sorry, but regulations require that I be the one to inform the Captain. I would suggest that you speak to G’rvan when he wakes...which should be shortly.”

The doctor left then, to find the Captain. Ryan sat down beside N’tal’s bed, looking over his brother’s features.

‘He’s family..’ he thought. ‘Where is he from..who are his parents...our parents..’

Ryan wept.

The disturbance woke N’tal, who looked over at Ryan.

“What troubles you?” he asked, hoarsely.

“N’tal,” said Ryan, “We need to talk.”

To be continued...

Click here to go directly to Part 5. Copyright by Roger Bennett 1996

R.R. Bennett was the Founder,Senior Editor and a contributing writer to Dragon's Lair Webzine. He likes Science Fiction and Fantasy, particularly when it has a humorous twist to it. He enjoys the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Robert Asprin, and Andre Norton, among with many others. He is also a BIG fan of the Science Fiction Television Series BABYLON 5.

R.R. Bennett resides in Bel Air, Maryland, with his wife and children.

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