A cooperative of
online writers and resources
"Antares Victory" by Michael McCollum
(c) 2002, All Rights Reserved
After a century of warfare, humanity finally discovered the
Achilles heel of the Ryall, their xenophobic reptilian foe. Spica – Alpha
Virginis – is the key star system in enemy space. It is the hub through which
all Ryall starships must pass, and if humanity can only capture and hold it,
they will strangle the Ryall war machine and end their threat to humankind
It all seemed so simple in the computer simulations: Advance
by stealth, attack without warning, strike swiftly with overwhelming power.
Unfortunately, conquering the Ryall proves the easy part. With the key to
victory in hand, Richard and Bethany Drake discover that they must also conquer
human nature if they are to bring down the alien foe …
Credit Card and PayPal Purchase
Desktop and printed copies
PDF / Desktop
PDF for small
PDF / Handheld (Tagged)
LIT/ MS Reader
Mobipocket, Others PRC
do not display pictures PRC
Palm OS eBook
Reader PDB Formatted
Open Forum EPUB Format, IPHONE Stanza, IPAD, Others
Other Purchase Options
-- An Excerpt
Elizabeth Esperanza was concerned, but not frightened. Whatever Bogey Seven
Delta was, it maneuvered like a warship. That just made their task more
interesting. She would be frightened later, after she had done her job.
well ahead Mercury Force, the result of rushing headlong for hours while
they decelerated for the foldpoint. The speeders and destroyers were a
diminishing formation of glowing drive flares in the rear viewscreen as
Diablo continued its breakneck race across the system. Ahead, and closing
fast, was the blip that was their quarry. It had held its course far longer
than originally projected, and had just begun decelerating for the foldpoint at
Engines with that
capability didn't usually power ore freighters or grain barges. Those kind of
legs generally meant that the vessel possessing them was a warship.
“What do you
suppose it is, Cas?”
She could almost
hear her sensor operator shrugging inside his tank. “Could be anything from a
message boat to a blastship, although from its flare spectrum, I would doubt we
are up against anything larger than a destroyer.”
“Great. They are
only four times our size instead of forty! At least, we’ll have a fighting
chance when we get there.”
“If we get there,
Liz. Watch the time.”
“You worry about
your sensors and I’ll handle the piloting, Stinky.”
On her screen, a
chronometer display was clicking off the seconds to the moment when it would be
their turn to begin deceleration. She was not looking forward to that. In
order to cut off the bogey, they would be going in at twenty gravities, and even
then, would not slow down to system escape velocity before they reached the
foldpoint. It was going to be one quick shot and then a long ride to infinity
unless a tanker caught up with them.
The fluid in which
she floated would theoretically protect her up to hundreds of gravities.
Technology had not yet caught up with science. In truth, the twenty gravity
capability of the engines was also the physiological limit of the crew, and
possibly a little above the limit. Twenty gees would cause damage and would
prematurely age her — how much, she couldn’t guess. Elizabeth didn’t fear
dying. Her nightmares came when she saw herself as a broken down old lady of
However, as an
ancient philosopher once said, “No guts, no glory.” So, Elizabeth willed the
acceleration alarms to sound in each of the tanks and said, “Okay, pull up your
socks, people. Here we go!”
With that, she
ordered engines to full power. In seconds, her whole body was being squeezed as
though in a vise. Her vision went gray and then cleared, as the pumps increased
the internal pressure in her tank to compensate. However, there was blurriness
to her peripheral vision that told her this condition was not good for her.
On the screen, the
velocity display began to change with alarming rapidity and the range to target
indicator slowed perceptibly. They were slowing at the last possible second.
Already, the fuzzy red oval that marked the perimeter of the foldpoint was
coming into view at the edge of the screen. On another edge was the icon that
represented their enemy. It was closing on the foldpoint as well.
It was going to be
“Damn it, he just
online and free,” she responded instinctively. Their quarry had been
identified. They were facing a warship. “Any guesses, Cas?”
“A destroyer for
sure, Liz. Has to be. We have six vampires inbound. Anything smaller and they
would have been hard pressed to fire half that at us in the first salvo.”
“What about a
cruiser that just decided to swat the gnat?”
“Don’t think so.
Not when you consider the stakes we are playing for here. Whoever he is, he
just spit out a maximum salvo.”
She considered it
and had to agree with him. This was no time for half measures. The fate of two
sentient species depended on the outcome of this particular space race.
Maximum salvo. Let’s give him something to worry about.”
bucked six times as long-range missiles spit forth from her magazines,
demonstrating the truly awesome ratio of armament to size that was standard for
the specially built ships of Mercury Force.
The symbols on the
screen showed the two clusters of missiles as they raced between ships. At the
current range, it would take a minute for them to cross the gulf between
combatants. When half that time had passed, Elizabeth ordered another volley,
and was not surprised when the Ryall returned the fire. The second group of
missiles would significantly complicate the job of the defensive computers.
They would learn lessons from the destruction of the first volley and would
adjust defenses accordingly. Modern space war is primarily a battle between
computers, and a race to see which learns the quickest.
began to accelerate erratically as the computer took over defense of the ship.
Lasers flashed out invisibly in the vacuum, seeking out incoming missiles.
Lasers are instantaneous weapons. If they can see a target, they can destroy
it. Unfortunately, their effective range against armored missiles is damnably
volley,” she ordered when the missiles of both sides disappeared before they
could reach their targets. The distance between the two ships was now down to
45 seconds travel time.
“Liz! We’ve got a
ship appearing in the foldpoint!”
“Belay that last
order! Target the new arrival with the third volley. Fire.”
Again, the ship
bucked as the missile ejectors expelled heavy spheres into space where their
matter converter engines could safely drive them toward the enemy. When the
third volley was away, she ordered, “Ripple fire. Send everything we have at
Bogey Seven Delta. Let’s try to swamp him before he swamps us.”
This time the
speeder shuddered for a long time as they emptied their magazines. The Ryall
ship also began continuous firing. It quickly became obvious that the
destroyer’s magazines were larger than Diablo’s.
How long to the other target?”
“They should be
getting there any sec…” On the screen, the newly arrived Ryall ship in the
foldpoint exploded. Having jumped blind into a battle, they had not known what
her attention back to the problem at hand. The space between them and the bogey
filled with ordnance and Diablo’s defensive computer fired lasers as
quickly as they recharged. The target was jinking and firing lasers. The good
news was that they were slower at it than Diablo. The bad news was that
they had more lasers with which to work.
Suddenly, a million
suns burst forth in the space between the two ships, effectively blinding them.
probably intentional,” Lubo Casimir reported. “They’re trying to blind us.”
“They’re doing a
damn good job,” Elizabeth responded. “How much radiation exposure?”
“We’ll live,” Bill
Ames, the engineer reported, “if we get help quickly enough.”
“Ten seconds to
regain sensors. All right, I can see through the fireball again. Enemy ship is
destroyed. I repeat, enemy is destroyed!”
“Apparently, one of
our missiles got through. All I can see is an expanding cloud of plasma.”
“Then let’s get out
of here! Engines to power. Run the tanks dry if you have …”
Esperanza’s order was cut off in mid-sentence when the nuclear-tipped Ryall
missile that had been shielded by the mid-space detonation impacted Diablo’s
engine module. In a dozen nanoseconds, far too quickly for human senses to
detect, the speeder and four human souls ceased to exist. The Ryall had just
drawn first blood.
However, by any
measure, the battle had to be judged a decisive human victory.
© 2000-2010, Third Millennium Publishing, All Rights Reserved
Michael McCollum, CEO
PO Box 14026
Tempe, AZ 85284-0068
Third Millennium Publishing is a division of SFAZ Technologies and Sci Fi -
Page was last edited on
11/11/10 04:29:02 PM