Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 4

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 4

So Close, So Far

If it was anyone other than an Elite pilot with more than thirty years experience flying fighting ships and battling Thargoids, that person wouldn't have stood a chance. If it was any Elite pilot other than the legendary Baron Wolfsheart, they still would have been hard-pressed to avoid the gigantic purple shaft of energy that flashed towards the ship with no warning other than the seemingly pointless message that came blaring out of the ship's speakers scant seconds before the beam comes with all the deadly accuracy of a viper. But it was Wolfsheart driving the Minos that day, the sole survivor of the Fourth Fleet Incident, and the second he heard the message that signaled the death of so many his hands were on the ship's flight controls, and by the time he had looked up to see the oh-so-familiar shape of the Thargoid Mothership flash by, he was already driving the Minos hard to the left, fully aware of the Thargoid's tendencies to open initial fire to the right side of a ship where most models placed the pilot's seat, and his face was totally calm; Bush was gone, and the Wolf had come out to hunt.

Many pilots, even those that called themselves Elite, may have made the mistake of continuing hard to the port after the initial laser burst, but Wolfsheart remembered all too well the next step in the deadly dance a battle with a Thargoid was. Even as the original beam of energy dissipated barely twenty five meters to the right of the ship, Wolfsheart was already pulling the nose sharply upward, and was rewarded with the distinct sound of a laser bulling through the air right below the ship as the alien's next attack again missed the Minos by a hair. Any other pilot who somehow managed to survive this long most likely would have felt the hairs graying on their head, but the pilot of this ship had seen too many fights to get worried about anything (though his heart did feel as if it was working a thousand beats a second, probably due to the high-g space maneuvers he thought to himself). Besides, the hair on his head had long been gray by this time.

"Computer, set target: unknown ship," Wolfsheart said without looking up from the viewscreen. He knew that in a battle, if you blink, you die.

"Target set, mac. Distance four point seven kilometers and widening." Even the computer sounded stark, the hunter thought to himself as he whipped the Minos around to face the pink behemoth, whose pilot was doing the same. Wolfsheart allowed himself a grim smile; the Thargoid was snaring himself in the trap perfectly. "Four point one kilometers and now closing fast, mac. Want me to warm up the big guns?"

The smile grew even wider now, this time in actual amusement. The computer had read his mind, as it very often did. Fifteen years of tinkering would do wonders, and he and the computer now thought almost as one. "You know it," Wolfsheart replied, looking intently at the viewscreen at the Thargoid barreling down on him, "I think we're going to need all the firepower we can mus-"

He cut off in midsentence as the Thargoid pilot let loose another beam of the crackling pink light; Wolfsheart had to adjust the Minos's course slightly to the right to avoid it.

"A pulse laser? The Thargoid must sure think a lot of himself," the Baron whispered into the empty room. He had never seen a Thargoid without a beam laser before. A purple laser was new to him as well. He spoke louder: "Computer, what type of laser is that?" Three point one kilos away now, estimated time of contact fifteen seconds. Wolfsheart pulled the trigger on his twenty megawatt beam laser just to keep the Thargoid pilot on his toes and keep it from getting an accurate lock on him.

"Laser unknown, mac. It's more powerful than any known type, civil or military. Sure packs a wallop." Wolfsheart had to whistle; more powerful than any type on record? The Navy's large plasma accelerator could obliterate small planets. Even too near of a near-miss and the heat from the thing could probably damage some important parts. Wolfsheart found himself pulling the trigger another time. No, he definately didn't want that beading in on him. One point six kilos. Seven seconds to showtime.

Wolfsheart chuckled; fighting a Thargoid and calling it "showtime!" If his fleet commander had ever heard him talking like that he would've had lunch detail until the end of days.

The sweat beaded on his forehead, and he found himself licking his lips in anticipation. One point zero kilos. Zero point eight. Zero point six. Zero point four...

Wolfsheart jerked up on the controls again, slamming on the brakes, barely dodging a last second blast from the mysterious laser as the behemoth ship flew past him at breakneck speeds. He turned the ship forcefully towards the Thargoid, stomping on the accelerator as he did so. The Minos, used to such wild changes of directions, barely even groaned under the high stress maneuver. "Great driving, mac!" Minos shouted exuberantly, finding the tip of itself (along with the tip of the twenty MW laser) pointed right down the "tailpipe" of the Thargoid invader. "Wanna see how well these missiles of ours look when stuck in the rear end of an alien?"

Wolfsheart grinned from ear to ear in response. "I've always wondered about that. Satisfy my curiosity, computer."

"Aye aye, captain." A moment later, the jet streams of two NN500 naval missiles fast on the way to the ship appeared in the viewscreen, and not wanting them to be lonely, Wolfsheart applied pressure to the trigger of the laser. A white beam of pure energy crashed into the shields around the ship and created a disturbance in the air, causing the Thargoid to be enveloped in a beautiful shimmering blue and white light. Wolfsheart's favorite thing to see.

"Target's shields at forty seven percent, mac. I've always wanted to bag me a Thargoid."

"Amen to that, ship. Looks lie you're going to get your wish." The Thargoid's shields were down to fifteen percent and declining rapidly. Wolfsheart altered the path of the laser slightly so that when they broke through the shields they would be aimed at the section of the ship that carried the Thargoid's engine; he wanted to "bag him a Thargoid" as well, but a live one if possible. "Computer, prepare to send a message to Camp Jameson in Facece, designated "code red." Begin recording... now: 'Duke Charon, Baron Jonathan Bush speaking. I need assistance in witchspace immediately, I have a Thargoid Mothership disabled and under my watch. Send as many tow ships and Cour-"

Wolfsheart cut off his speech as a bright purple flash filled the viewscreen, causing him to cover his eyes. "Computer! What the hell was...." The Baron let the sentence fall dead before it was even out of his mouth, looking at the viewscreen with a look best described as fear mingled with disbelief

Other than a bright purple after-image, the only thing to be seen was the rich blue backdrop of hyperspace.

The Thargoid was gone.

The Baron sat there, dejected and silent, for a long time before the Minos spoke up hesitantly. "The unknown ship sent a message before leaving hyperspace, mac."

The old man finally tore himself away to look at the drive where the disk Jaquai sent him still sat. "What did it say?"

The cold robotic voice of the Thargoid ship came out of the speakers situated all around the Baron, mocking him. "YOU WERE FORTUNATE THIS TIME. WE SHALL MEET AGAIN."

Baron Jonathan Bush sighed, leaned back in the expensive leather pilot's seat, and told the Minos to deactivate the Stardreamer when they reached Achenar.

Continue the story with Chapter 5