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HAVOC!

By: DANAE CONRAD

"Captain Ludit. Captain Ludit. Message arriving on subspace frequency, acknowledge please. Captain Ludit?"

"Hmmm," said a sleepy voice.

"Captain Ludit, sir, there is a message arriving over subspace frequency 8. Shall I read it, sir?"

"Yes, go ahead, Lieutenant."

MESSAGE: Forces in Taft's Domain are massing for an apparent full-scale attack. Their largest ship appears missing, but the others are armed and dangerous. Numerous fighter ships are begin prepared as well. The people in the country are in a state of warhawking and are ready to commence the battle.

"That's all, sir."

"That's all!!! Why didn't you put this on priority one?" She scowled at the screen. "Put Meric on, Lieutenant."

"Meric here, sir."

"Meric, hit the ships comm on. We're on red alert - repeat - that's red alert. Dub in the message that we won't attack. We will defend. Got it!!!"

"Yes sir!"

"I'm on my way to the Enchantress now. Try hailing the Scimitar."

"Sir, we've being trying for days. There is no response. They won't respond...They are just out of our range."

"Right. Thank you, Meric. Relay my message - Captain out."

Adena pushed the hair from her eyes. What kind of game were they playing? A deadly one, a real one, and an unknown one, she decided as she combed her hair up from her face into a chignon. She tried to think all of her reactions through while she changed into her captain's uniform. To make decisions now would save her time on the battlefield. She grabbed a high-power laser gun for any hand on hand combat and she positioned her Keys at the ready. Adena turned to leave the apartment when her reflection in the mirror caught her eye. She saw herself geared for the fight, ready to defend -- what?? She blanched slightly for she was going to war. Not a game, not exercises, she was going to fight a real war.

Her fear at the prospects caused her to swallow the lump in her throat. Her people and his people were counting on her to lead them. She spoke a silent prayer to the heavens to guide her steps and then she left the room. Her first stop was Yorkshire Manor to inform Jonathon of the events.

"Adena, you're not really serious, are you?"

"Of course I am. I wouldn't waste my time creating a lie, would I?"

"Then let me go with you."

"No, Jon. You've got to keep the morale up on T'Mir; that's one of the biggest battles. I'll inform the people myself, but it's your job to keep them optimistic."

She paused and continued, "No matter what happens."

"Do you think he'll come back?"

"I don't know."

"I think he will. Keep in mind, I'm his best friend."

"I know, but I have to rely on what I have right now - myself."

"Take care of T'Mir, Jon."

He came sharply to attention and saluted. "Captain." He surprised her further by going on one knee before her, "and Enchantress. May your victories be complete and your defeats kind."

"Jon, you needn't kneel to a friend."

"I will miss you and worry about you until you return home." He kissed her hand and saluted her. "Now go, T'Mir awaits your lead." She bowed to him and left the room where his eyes streamed silent tears cursing the thief of youth - war.

...UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE T'MIR WILL BE ENGAGED IN A SKIRMISH WITH A FOE. PLEASE OBEY NECESSARY EDICTS AND KEEP YOUR DEFENDERS IN YOUR MINDS AND HEARTS. THANK YOU, ADENA LUDIT...out. She clicked off the machine that had been feeding her words over the entire planet. Everyone had heard; T'Mir was committed to her upkeep.

The rap of sharp boots on a polished for came from behind her. "Captain Ludit, all is ready. Everyone has reported for duty. The ships are powered and ready to go. You have the wind at your back, Enchantress."

"Thank you, Meric. Let's get to the bridge."

The bridge was alive with electric activity that assaulted the senses. It cased slightly with her entrance, but soon assumed the noisy prepatory work required to run the enormous vessel.

"All ships have hailed in 'ready', sir. They have your message and will comply - defense only."

"Sir all stock are full and fuel levels are at optimum."

"Captain, engineering here. The engines are tuned and at your command."

"Sickbay here. Ready for a full load, but we'd rather not have it."

"Point taken, Doctor Sharpe."

"Weapons are ready and fully charged...sir."

With that the bustle on the bridge ceased, all the departments had reported. All that was needed was a word from her. Adena sat quietly in the command chair and glanced around the room. There was an aura of fear and excitement as they awaited her order. They knew as well as she that the outcome of this battle was not entirely in their hands. She exhaled a deep breath and paused before issuing an order.

Iffley, she thought to herself. If you're alive, I need help. If you're dead, send help anyway. In any case, goodbye - I don't feel optimistic about seeing you again.

"Lieutenant." Her voice seemed to stick in her arid throat.

"Yes sir."

"Patch me into the Divad and the Emerald."

"Yes sir....they're on now."

A split picture revealed the commanders of the two ships. "Yes sir," they said in unison.

"You will take your ships to the coordinates being fed into the navigational control and form a blockade."

"A blockade??!!" Commander Gregory Caxton was obviously none to pleased about this.

"Yes, a blockade. Are your communication systems alright, Commander?"

"Yes sir."

"You will try to prevent any foreign ships from entering this space. Defense only, self destruct if necessary."

"Divad acknowledges and accepts status, proceeding as ordered."

The screen now held the contorted visage of Caxton. "What do you think you're doing? Putting the two newest ships in the front line and in a blockade none the less."

"I'm hoping that the appearance of our two new ships will deter an attack. The enemy will hopefully be fooled into the power of our fleet."

"It's too much of a hunch."

"Some of the best things of history have been played on hunches, Commander."

"And some of the worst, Captain." He returned this with a note of sarcasm.

"I see. Who taught you how to question your orders so well, Commander?"

"I was told never to take anything for granted."

"Noted. This course however seems to be the best for the time. If you find that circumstances dictate another, would you be as so good as to inform me immediately."

Commander Caxton was obviously won over by her tact to say the least and he quickly adhered to her orders and took his ship to the blockade zone, that had been coded as Greenpeace. Adena quickly contacted the other vessels sending some to the blockade zone and positioning the others in defending positions with the Enchantress at the head. Now came the time to wait. Would they attack or was this an extreme false alarm Adena hoped for the last but doubted its possibility.

The bridge was once again alive with activity. Adena tried to find some quiet within herself. Time would make them all triggerhappy but laxity would leave them unarmed. She took reports calmly and all seemed to be well. That was the best she could hope for right now.

"Captain?"

"Yes, Meric."

"Would you care for me to relieve you? This is the delta shift now. You've been on for twelve hours."

"No, that's alright, Meric. Go ahead and take a break yourself."

"I have, sir."

"Well, man your station then." Meric obliged, giving her an exasperated glance.

*********************************************************

"...and that's about it, Jon. We've been at battle ready for three days now. Three!!! The second I call them all back, we'll be attacked like buzzards finding an open kill."

"I thought space travel could give you cabin fever, not wars."

"Well, think again, my friend." She shook her head ruefully. "I'm about ready to think that I flew off halfcocked for no good reason."

"Patience, my dear, patience." "Yes, I know. Any message at all?" She kept her voice steady but her eyes were hopeful.

"None."

"It's nice to hope. Thanks Jonathon. Talk to you later." She cut their transmission. The comm whistled again. "Yes."

"Message from the Divad on Greenpeace."

"Put him on the screen. Yes, Commander. What can I do for you?"

"Aside from sending us some action - nothing."

"Are you having any trouble with your crew?"

"Not a bit. The message is still absent of any aggressive actions."

"That's good. I think." They laughed slightly at the situation. "Thanks, Commander." She cut him off, and the comm whistled again. "Yes."

"This is Lieutenant Lapo, sir. No contact can be established with the Scimitar. Anything added to the log?"

"No. Thank you, Lieutenant." As soon as he broken contact, she pounded the desk. "Where on earth have you gone, Iffley?"

She decided not to take any more agression out on her hapless desk. Wandering down to the gym, she slipped into the pool area. It was silent, completely silent. She changed her uniform for a bathing suit and dove into the refreshing water. Pulling several laps across the pool, she felt the tension melting away. Tired, she pushed herself out of the water and shook it from her hair.

As she pulled the last stray hair back and straightened her uniform, she was joined by Doctor Sharpe.

"Just was the doctor ordered, Captain."

"The medicine didn't taste too bitter. In fact, it was rather enjoyable." She smiled slightly and sat down to put on her boots.

"It had to be good medicine; that's the first time you've smiled in days."

She raised an eyebrow at him and stood up. "Wonders never cease." She was about to continue when the intercom interrupted loudly.

CAPTAIN LUDIT - CONDITION YELLOW. GREENPEACE REPORTING IN - URGENT. TO THE BRIDGE PLEASE.

Her eyes flew open in surprise. "It's started." She tossed her towel to Doctor Sharpe and rushed from the gym. Arriving on the bridge, she barked responses to several requests and added several requests of her own. "Put Greenpeace on, quickly." The tension of the waiting was erupting in her mind.

"Commander Caxton, sir."

"Go you. Go ahead, Commander."

"Long range scans have finally picked up something. Small, metallic..."

"how small? What kind of metal? Can you give a location?" Her barrage of questions took Caxton off guard. "Switch on your viewing screen and let me look at them." he did so and she glared at the image. "Can you enhance it, helm?"

"Negative. They're lucky they even picked it up at all."

"Can you tell anything about them?"

"They're not too terribly powerful - probably scout ships of some sort," said Caxton. "Not heavily shielded. A single shot could..."

"There will be NO offensive moves, Mr. Caxton!!"

"Of course, sir. What are we going to do?"

Adena chewed frantically on her lower lip. Her immediate impulse was to move on the ships, but she quelled it in the name of peace. "Mr. Caxton, how many shuttles do you have on board?"

"Two. Why?"

"Lieutenant Lapo."

"Yes sir."

"Get a fix on the two Emerald shuttles. Record any sounds or transmission as they approach the crafts."

"Yes sir!"

"Caxton! Man those two crafts and give the pilots orders to broadcast peace messages - no offensive moves."

"Yes sir," he said, smugly dispatching orders.

"Don't sound so blasted happy about it!" She raised a correcting eyebrow. "All Ready?" She closed her eyes, and said, "Go."

The Enchantress' bridge watched the screen as the two shuttles approached the ships. The space chatter of the peace message backgrounded the bridge noise. Adena was drumming her fingernails on her chair in anxiety. Suddenly a new noise

THEY'RE STILL APPROACHING. THEY ARE TRYING TO APPEASE US WITH OFFERS OF PEACE. NO AGGRESSION - I THINK THEY'RE CHICKEN. Adena's eyes narrowed at that, but she listened. SHOULD WE FIRE? No, she pleaded. You cannot do that. "Give the shuttles orders to stop out of their firing range," she whispered. The shuttles immediately slowed. THEY HAVE STOPPED THE APPROACH. I DON'T THINK THEY CAN TAP TRANSMISSIONS ON THIS CHANNEL. WHAT? YES, SIR. Adena sighed a breath of relief, but it was too soon. IF THE ENCHANTRESS IS MONITORING THIS CALL, SHE WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT SHE WILL LOSE THIS BATTLE AND EVERY OTHER ONE AS WELL. SURRENDER NOW AND THE ADMINISTRATOR WILL SHOW YOU SOME MERCY. Adena bit her tongue; they were trying to bait her into answering. "Tell the shuttles to stand their ground, Caxton. Caxton?"

"Captain, Commander Caxton is on one of the shuttles."

"The idiot!!" She rested her head in her hand. She swung her chair around to look at the screen and jumped out of her chair. "NO!"

The panorama of black space seemed appropriate...The other ships let off a glancing blow on the shuttles. "This is for defense, Captain."

"Caxton, don't do anything silly!"

The shuttle returned a glancing blow. YES, THEY RETURNED FIRE. YES, WE FIRED FIRST. YES, WITH PLEASURE.

"Caxton! They are going to fire! Back off!"

"And make them think we're not willing to stand our ground! Forget it!!"

"That's not a request!"

But the shuttles stayed and they didn't fire. A large spike appeared on the tip of the scout craft. (An adaptation made from a recent ally, Mr. G.) It proceeded to gore the helpless shuttle, expelling its contents to the vacuum of space. Strangled cries erupted over the speakers. Adena gasped as the second shuttle blew up the one ship.

"Got them, Captain!"

"Caxton, that was as offensive as .... consider yourself under court martial. Get out of that mess and come back!"

His reply was cut off by the other two alien ships converging on the craft only to be blown to bits as the shuttle self destructed. All the noise on the bridge was gone. The beep of the computer seemed to silence in respect for the dead. "Green peace. This is your captain. The shuttles are destroyed - no survivors or wreckage. Emerald, Lt. Commander Roger Caxton."

"Sir?"

"Take charge of her and run her well. My regrets your brother was an excellent officer."

"Unorthodox, yes, but a good officer. No hostilities, Captain. "I'll take care of her."

Thank you, Commander. Captain out."

Adena was furious and gave orders to Meric sharply. "The doge are on are trail now."

"Dogs, Meric?"

"Yes." He quoted an ancient author -"Let's cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."

"Well, the Panther is on Greenpeace. Let's hope these dogs are afraid of cats," she said grimly and went back to studying the black of space.


 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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