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Red Alert: The War Continues

                                       Jonathon Pierce

The Emerald and the Panther stood defiantly, perched on the brink of disaster. Their position was vulnerable; Greenpeace marked the boundry of the Colonies. The tactical display widened, showing the entire area. Taft's fleet approached the boundary in formation, trying to wedge through the defenses. His area, shown in orange, loomed ever closer toward the boundry. The Second Fleet, battle ready, awaited orders to join the conflict. Blocked by Janus, Saturn's nearest moon, the Second Fleet remained undiscovered for use in time of need. The enemy was enormously outnumbered; the battle should not take long, or cost too many lives. Still, Iffley felt uneasy; things were never as they seemed.

Iffley touched a button on the arm of his console. The screen shifted, the battle raged before him. The Emerald shot a glancing blow across the TGTS Cambridge Bay. The enemy ship retaliated, its shot penetrating the Emerald's shields. A small explosion erupted near the bridge; its life-giving oxygen escaped into the void.

Caxton, as well as all the graduates from the Academy, would be following the procedure for an external puncture. His mind, doubtless, would turn from the battle to save his life, leaving his ship assailable. As expected, the Emerald did not return the volley. The TGTS Cambridge Bay pelted the ship, completely shattering her shields. The Emerald drifted slowly, apparently out of control.

"We're going in, Mr. Thorpe, accelerate: oscilliation2710. Mr. Stone, stand by on weaponry: aim for their engines." The engines hummed with new energy propelling the ship toward the enemy. "I want a clean shot, Mr. Stone. Give her everything we've got. On my order..." The Cambridge Bay grew larger and larger as the distance reduced. Finally, the order was given: An electric blue laser arced through the darkness, striking the Cambridge Bay in the aft section. The ship rocked, but the shields held. A second shot shattered the rear deflectors; the third ripped through the engineering section.

The Cambridge Bay returned the shot. The ship, however, lacked the energy required for a successful attack, and its volley feebly scratched the Scimitar's shields.

"Scan both the Cambridge Bay and the Emerald, Mr. Thorpe."

His second-in-command acknowledged and turned to the scanner. After a few brief moments, he proffered his report, "The Cambridge Bay is severely damaged. Her main drive has exploded. She is running on emergency power. A massive fire has spred from the engineering section to several other levels of the ship. She is quite crippled, Captain.

"The bridge on the Emerald is completely destroyed. Commander Caxton and the crew on the bridge are all dead. The ship will have to be controlled from the Auxilliary bridge. Lt. Commander Roger Horne, I believe, shall command." As if on cue, the Emerald stabilized and positioned herself near the Panther.

Iffley frowned, "Send my condolences to Horne. Tell him to keep up the good work." The communications officer busily went to work assembling and coding and re-coding the message. Iffley turned to the navigations officer, "Plot a course for the Enchantress, oscilliation2720." With a burst of speed, the Scimitar sped off toward her destination.

Iffley leaned back in his chair. Greenpeace would be safe for a short time, he hoped. Perhaps he could still deter the enemy before any more blood was spilt.

"Hail the Enchantress. Scimitar to Enchantress, come in Enchantress."

"Enchantress here, Adena Ludit in command. Please be brief, We're fighting..." Adena stopped mid-sentence, finally recognizing the name. "Iffley, is that you?"

"You were expecting William Tecumseh Sherman? Of course, it's me." He switched to visual communication. Adena, in the reflective red flexxon captain's uniform, was a sight for his sore eyes.

She stared into his eyes, then looked away from him, "Iffley, I have something to tell you. I have moved out of Yorkshire."

Iffley stared at her in disbelief. The war around him seemed insignificant, almost irrelevant. "You WHAT? Well, Little One, I suggest that you move right back in."

"I'm sorry, Iffley, but at the moment, I'm rather busy winning this war."

"Well, Adena, IF you want to win this war, then I suggest you change your battle plans. The best defense is a good offense."

"I believe you have misquoted the quote."

"The saying may be true, but so is its reverse. Have the ships in the First Fleet join the battle at Greenpeace. Concentrate the fire from the fleet at the lead ship, perhaps that will deter them. We may not even need the Second Fleet, but keep them posted on our status. We will discuss your return to the mansion later." She started to say something in protest, but Iffley's stern look stopped her. "Later, Adena," his expression softened. "Scimitar out."

*  * Formation *  *

Minutes later, the Emerald and the Panther had all the support they needed. The Enchantress, Devonshire, Yorkshire, and the Scimitar charged the boundary line. The Paladin, Cutlass, and Spectre attacked from the right side, while the left was bombarded by the Pegasus, Rapier, Cavalier, and the Sickle.

The entire fleet converged on the TGTS Pacemaker. Simultaneously, the fleet attacked, its barrage impacting on three different sides of the ship. Her shields, unable to withstand the energy, dissapated. The attack continued, and the Pacemaker fought valiantly against her foe. The odds, however, were too far weighted against her. Another volley crippled her, destroying her engines and command centers. The final assault was devastating; the Pacemaker exploded in an unspectacular fireball.

A rousing cheer echoed across the bridge. Iffley, in spite of himself, also joined in. The war had just begun, but somehow he felt they had the upper hand. He realized that the war would be an easy victory, but quickly quashed the thought. Overconfidence was a constant enemy that quickly led to downfalls. "Alright, ladies and gentlemen, we have a war to win." The crew hastily returned to their duties.

"Captain," Mr. Thorpe sounded worried, "I have something here on the sensors."

"Put it on the screen."

The screen shifted views, a starfield replacing the exploding hull. Iffley expanded the magnification and gasped. Several hundred fighters were approaching the fleet.

"Captain, what are we going to do? Our weapons are based on large-scale fighting. The chances of hitting one of those fighters is extremely slim."

"I know, Mr. Stone, I know."

 © 1985, 

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

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