read / discuss / question

Links / Related: Hatrack River / Cool: Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

Login:    Password:      Don't have a username? Register!

Coup De Main - Chapter Three

classifications: Science-Fiction / Space Opera / Heroic / Action

I decided to re-post this chapter by chapter. I really want you guys to be rough. I know this thing has holes everywhere, but give advice to fix them.

I want to know what you think, yes, but also what's wrong, and what's right.

More like this / More by this author

The Keyboard Caper sat in front of several computers, neural interface cables running from four of them to jacks along his spine. He watched two more displays with his eyes, occasionally closing them as one or more of his interfaced computers demanded his attention.

The air was thick with the morning fog, small avian creatures flew overhead, and a slight breeze was beginning to stir. It was shaping up to be a nice day.

Capers' eyes centered on one of the displays, and his fingers twitched as he input commands. Suddenly, he twitched in surprise as a signal came over one of his neural linkups. Canceling the order he had just put in the terminal in front of him, he typed a new command - and his eyes widened as he read the results on the display. He shut his eyes, requesting the data from one of his interfaced computers. Standing up, he pushed a button on his shoulder, popping his neural links off. Bending down, he grabbed a wireless neural transceiver, connected it to a jack above his right ear, and started off at a run toward the cliff.

Lieutenant Khri'cht twitched around, facing the leafy wall behind the cliff where him and Commander Myth Ran'dyr were sitting.

"[Someone comes.]" He said in the harsh, bitten-off sounds that made up his native language. "[One person. Clumsy. Running.]" He stood up, his long body held nearly horizontal to the ground by two taloned, reverse-articulated legs. His deadly two-meter tail uncurled from its slot on his back, and rose over his head in preparation to strike. He raised his arms in a ready stance, flipping the three razor edged claws out over his delicate four-fingered hands.

By now Ran'dyr could hear the footsteps coming closer, and suddenly, The Keyboard Caper stumbled through the brush. Merely glancing at Khri'cht, he seemed not to notice the deadly stance of the other as he turned to the commander who was sitting to the side, hanging his feet off the cliff edge.

"Sir! The planethary shield has shuth down, as well as the shield over the compound." His breath came ragged, he being unused to physical exertion, "Thwo unidenthified objecths were launched from the compound ath a fighther wing thath was in orbith investhigating a vessel thath slid in abouth an hour ago."

Startled, Ran'dyr jumped to his feet. He could not resist a jab, however; "What's the matter, Khri'cht? Scared of a walking computer?" Caper, not realizing it was a joke, took offence and shouted, "Ath leasth computhers listhen when you give them importhanth informathion insthead of insulthing you!"

Khri'cht merely looked at Ran'dyr, chittered something unintelligible, then folded his claws back into their slots on his wrists as he walked back toward the camp.

"Ok, fine." Ran'dyr muttered at the receding figure, then turned to Caper and patiently said, "It was a joke, Caper; don't worry. I did listen."

"Oh." Caper said, a bit uncertain, "You mean ith was supposed tho be funny? Are you sure?"

Exasperated, Ran'dyr turned and walked away, shouting over his shoulder, "Never mind, Caper! Just come on!"

In a matter of moments, the small group was ready to leave. Vertas Roman, being the only pilot that could operate it, had a Weaver Industries SK-4 "skimmer". This was a small, single seat craft about 2 meters long consisting of a central, downward slanting bar ending in a lift plate, which was essentially a smaller version of the rotor used on the old terran helicopters, only much smaller. The seat was just in front of the Ion Drive, between the control handlebars. The right trigger controlled propulsion power, and the left trigger controlled lift power.

To steer, the pilot leaned to the right or left, and the lift plate then pushed the front around in the direction the pilot leaned. The craft was nightmarishly difficult to keep from crashing, but the fact it was about the fastest and most maneuverable ground vehicle available kept it in production.

Operation was easy. Staying alive, on the other hand, was not. The pilot started the Ion drive, then climbed into the seat between the handlebars. The pilot then raises the lift power, raising the front end off the ground. At the same time, he increases thrust, pushing the skimmer forward. The pilot must keep a certain thrust-to-lift ratio, for if the lift was too high, he would be flipped over backwards; but if the thrust was to high, the front end would be slammed into the ground.

The other vehicles were both made by Tyrell Corporation; The XV-22 Mark II and IV, respectively. They both worked on the same principle, i.e. using tilting ducted fans to provide lift and propulsion. The Mark II had two fans, mounted in a straight line under two seats and a cargo compartment.

Skill level was minimal, and unlike the skimmer, it had weapons; specifically a Depleted Uranium Slugthrower. The pilot sat in front of his passenger under a clear polymer cowling, and steering was computer enhanced. The Mark IV had 4 TD fans, could hold 2 passengers behind the pilot, and could actually fly. It was triangular in shape, and it had two of the same DT Slugthrowers as the Mark II.

After loading two crates with personal weapons, medical kits and other small items. The group suited up. The Humans wore combat armor, the nine-rayed starburst of the Terran Empire emblazoned on the chest plastron. Advisor Kalyn D'arfei wore joint enhancers, which provided the strength and stamina of powered armor, without the bulky oversuit. The Ka'chin simply strapped weapons onto their left shoulder and right arms. They also wore a Tirk'icht, which was a helmet with visual enhancements, and an armored neck cover. It was on this that the Tetrarch's green tetrahedron of four diamonds was placed. Caper disappeared for about 15 minutes, then reappeared, with several new bits of electronics stuck to him.

They all got in their vehicles, and took off, Roman leading the way at 700 kph.

Estimated travel time: 10 minutes

- - -

The bridge of the Argonaut was in total chaos. Admiral Mykincha was standing on the central command station, looking up through the clear dome overhead at the backup fleet that had just slid in. Sighing, he shook himself out of his reverie, and scanned the four long rows of crew emplacements that sprouted off at right angles from the command station. Couriers ran back and forth between the various departments, crewmen shouted orders and requests from each other, and alarms blared.

Why everything always happens at once, he wondered. It must be me. The wing of Stingrays had gone out, then the planetary shield had been shut down, and these strange weapons had shot off the surface, one of them hitting a Stingray. They could hear the screams of the pilot. Then silence as the Stingray blew apart. At the same time, a message came from the docking bay, reporting that the pilot of the Stingray, a Private Jurdan Robert, had suddenly appeared on the floor of the bay, unharmed and still in his ejection seat.

Then the backup fleet slid in, and the shield went back up. Wing Commander Petir told the Admiral that the Anakhronyx had gone to the planet surface. They had also, at nearly the same time, received a burst laser message from the forward observation party. Apparently they had detected the shutdown of the shield, and had gone to the compound to check it out.

He was so tired of this whole thing. He wished he could just go back to fighting the Ka'chin. It was more dangerous, but at least it was simpler.

drd (March 25th, 2003, 6:30 pm)

Me liking, getting more interesting now.

Unknown tech, seemingly(?) human, but advanced beyond norm, interesting charactors and minimal descriptions keep it grabbing my attention.

Register to post.