Solara: My Winged Angel Pt. 04byDocOc©
It has been twelve years and six more children since we returned to Bortinan (EE4). We now have a thriving colony here and were looking forward to our earth brothers' arrival in about ten more years when we got the shock of all time. The Constellation and 5 huge cargo ships entered orbit. A safe orbital path I might add as we cleared out all the rocks and debris to build our defense platforms thus also giving them large free-fire zones.
When Capt. Rosewood landed in his shuttle he filled us in on all that has happened around Earth. There were riots on Beta Centauri as the government tried to institute a selective breeding program. The Government tried to put down the rebellion but in the end was overthrown and a new Peoples Republic was put in its place. The old bunch was tried for crimes against the people and was sentenced to the asteroid mines for life.
Mars got a full voting seat on the Council of Governors and promptly halted all forced immigration. The old Mars station, that I knew, was moved closer to the asteroid belt and two new stations were built at L5 and L6.
Moon base 10 was completed as were the tram tunnels between all Moon bases. Moon base 10 was built on the 'Dark' side of the Moon so that Earth-light would not interfere with astronomical observations.
The biggest thing of all was the development of an FTL engine system. It seems that some of the people that worked on the 9024 when she was there discovered a way to focus the Orlanan Gravity Drive into a beam that would open a wormhole. The original trouble was that the Orlanans had tried it but it was unstable. The guys at Space Command found that by heterodyning three drives of different frequencies focused on the same spot the wormhole could be made stable. This allowed for speeds up to about 2.5L. What really got things going was when a young engineer named Thomas Dillon discovered that by focusing the 'drive waves' on the ships own shields it allowed the ship to just slide through space/time at amounted to almost instantaneous movement. The gest is that it used gravity to warp space so that two places were in affect joined as one and all you had to do was cross the threshold between the two. Like squirting a seed from between your fingers was one crew-man's comment; it stuck, and 'Squirt Drive' is what it's called.
The Connie's crew said it took them ten days to reach the transit point and ten days to reach EE4; twenty days to cross 10.5 light years when it took me 11 years. Two of the ships with Constellation were filled with colonists and the other three with supplies.
One of the cargo ships is to be used as a tug to get Enterprise home for her refit and then return with more colonists and supplies. Capt. Rosewood informed Cmdr. Sordane and us that 9024 would also be towed to Earth for an engine refit. One of the other cargo ships would go on to Orlana to apprise then of the development of the new drive system and then would return here with colonists and supplies. Our little world was not going to be little much longer.
Another year gone; and with the 'squirt drive' FTL ships there is a lot of tourist traffic to both here and Orlana as everyone is curious about the place of first contact and the world of the 'Angels'. Solara and I went to Orlana to visit family and friends and to check on the family's investments. I find it hard to believe how much I have; let alone the family. Father's legal staff invested my royalties and took great care in doing so. I am worth over 3 billion 'Mann' equal to about 200 million NAC dollars.
So much has changed and some not for the good; there are reports that some Orlanan exploration vessels have been attacked in the two core-ward sectors. Lord Chula is concerned that rumors of a warrior race in that region are not just rumors.
Another year gone and the 9024 and Enterprise have returned from refit. Cmdr. Sordane says it is so strange to no longer need the sleep cells and to be able to go from world to world in just a blink. The 9024 will continue on to Orlana to show off here new drive system while the 'E' will remain here with the 'Connie' to maintain security and explore core-ward on our side of the nebula.
The 'Connie' has just returned and she is damaged; fired upon by scout ships three systems core-ward from us. Capt. Rosewood reports that he had just entered real space when they were attacked by more than 300 scout-sized ships. After their first volley the 'Connie' returned fire and most of the first wave of attackers was destroyed. By the time 'Connie' had fired her fourth volley all but about a dozen escaping ships were destroyed. Those ships escaping fled core-ward and appeared to have a drive system similar to ours. The 'Connie' searched the debris field and two ships not heavily damaged were tractored to shuttle bays for examination. One of the ships had no survivors on board but the other had two on board; injured but alive. They were Cats! Not the house cats of old but the size of an old Earth tiger and walked upright.
So how do you talk to a 2 meter tall, 140Kg hissing, spitting, ill-tempered fur-ball? Well first you drug it; then you put it in a cell. The next step is figure out its language; what I wouldn't give for Dr. Nakamura, give her 24hrs and she could talk to an ant.
We sent out 'squirt probes' to Earth, Tau Ceti, Beta Centauri, Orlana, Arilon, Vega, Omicron 3 and others requesting information about a race of Cats. Bommer's World was the first back saying that they had had a run-in with a race of cats calling themselves the 'Kreel' or something like that; it had been about 500 years ago so their memory was vague. Their world being all water the 'Kreel' had left them alone and not returned.
Next in was Talaria; they even sent video and audio recordings. The 'Skree' as they call themselves are a feline based warrior race from an area about 100 light-years core-ward. As the Talarians can produce a very painful electric shock from their bodies and their world is an ice giant the 'Skree' left them alone. They had not heard anything about them in over 600,000 cycles (about 550 years).
When the Xeno-linguists got these videos and listened to our two 'friends' talk it took them about a month with the aid of the computer and we had some limited understanding of their language. They are indeed the 'Skree' as our guests were so bold as to boast. They are the dominant life form in the galaxy and all others are to be their slaves or chattel. They are now returning to this quadrant as they have cleared out the vermin from core-ward, spin-ward and anti-spin-ward of their home world. They consider themselves the master of all they survey and if we didn't agree then we would be exterminated or; he licked his chops as he looked at Cmdr. Sordane, eaten: "We like bird flesh." I thought Cmdr. Sordane would shoot him on the spot but he maintained his composure and we left the cell block.
Our tear-down and examination of their ships revealed that they used a drive system similar to the 'squirt drive' but powered by fission reactors; very small, very efficient but fission just the same. One good pulse cannon shoot and boom "No more ship." The problem was we found out that the 'Skree' built these ships by the thousands and were more than willing to sacrifice ship and crew to stop an enemy. The one possible key to their defeat lie in the fact that their military was very stratified; the orders came from the top down and nobody questioned them: the commanders gave the orders and the soldiers followed them, Period! The lower ranks did not think for themselves at all. We checked and found out that the one we had that liked to brag was a ship Commander and the only reason he had not rammed the 'Connie' was a pulse cannon shot on another ship had taken out his drive.
It was about a month later that something happened to make me rethink the whole relationship I had with Solara; and my idea of their peaceful society. I had picked up one of the translators to go with me to the 'Connie' to see the 'Skree' Cmdr. When Solara found out where I was going she decided to come along to meet face-to-face our coming trouble.
When the three of us came to the Cmdr.'s cell he looks at Solara and says; "How nice, you brought me a snack." Now Solara give him a look that would freeze Jupiter to the core, when suddenly the Cmdr. leaps forward his arms through the bars and tries to grab my darling. Before anyone could react to it Solara had lept up and grabbed the overhead and swung her feet up and sank her claws; NO, TALONS into the Cmdr.'s arms. My, oh so sweet, so calm, so loving, gentle as could be lover had 160 to 175mm razor sharp TALONS completely through the Cmdr.'s arms. He cuts loose with the most blood-curdling scream and is trying to get free from her grasp. She is holding on to some piping in the overhead and he is pulling for all he's worth and all that is happening is the flesh on his arms is being peeled right off the bones. Finally Solara relaxes her muscles and the talons retract releasing the Cmdr. letting him drop to the floor of his cell. He is still screaming in what must be mind numbing pain as Solara turns to exit saying as she does; "I need a bath now!"
The medical staff rushes in and drugs him so that they can tend to him but it is to no avail as they cannot repair the severed arties in his arms; he is dead. I take a close look and his arms look like they have been feed to a saw. There are four through-and --through cuts where her talons caught him near the elbow and ripped open the flesh all the way to the wrist; a good ½ meter. I went to find Solara and an explanation.
When I found her she was headed to the shuttle bay to return to the surface. When I asked her, "What was that?"
I got, "What was what?"
"Don't give me that; I just saw you rip that Skree's arms apart like they were confetti."
"Oh that; he attacked me and I defended myself as I am entitled to do."
"Well, ya but what about those..."
"You know... those... those claws?"
"You mean these?" and she balances herself and raised her left foot and I saw muscles in her calf flex and there they were; they still had blood on them; razor sharp talons. Three top front and one to the rear and not only did I know they were lethal but just out in the open the way they were now they looked the part. She relaxed and the talons retracted and we resumed our walk in silence. When I got to the surface I went hunting Father sure that I could get some answers from him.
Now Torlan was single for over 40 years before I came on the scene and up-set the 'applecart' so to speak. But he decided to follow this crazy Earther son-in-law to a new world and start over. Now 36 of his other 38 daughters decided to go were dad went and as their husband/mates worked for or with Father it made it easy for them to just pack-up and go.
Now there was an Orlanan female named Shutor that had been widowed young; she only had four daughters. She decided that the pickings would be better on a new planet where most of the males would be un-attached; she was right. Her two oldest soon found husband/mates among the Enterprise crew. The other two found a couple of un-attached Orlanans; one from the 9024 and the other a colonist's son. But then Father saw her and about midway through our fifth year here they married; which surprised Solara. What surprised her even more was that about two years after they married Shutor gave birth to two more girls.
So I found Father at his favorite past-time; dotting on his newest family members. When I asked him about what happened on the ship he didn't seem surprised by it at all. He tells me: "Approximately 10,000 years ago our ancestors were not much bigger than the eagles of your planet. The main difference was that rather than live as single families we lived in clans supporting one-another and protecting each other. The story is told that one clan leader named 'Altor' saw that the 'people' were getting nowhere and that the clans had to put aside their differences and work together for the good of all. As the clans slowly dissolved and the 'people' took better care of themselves and there was less and less conflict the 'people' began to grow in stature: but we remained what we were and that is 'birds of prey' as you Earthers put it."
"When the Skree made to attack Solara her instincts took over and she reacted in defense of herself and most probably you too as you were there. Now as to her talons those were primarily used for capturing large prey, the ones you need watch out for are these;" and he held up his hand and flexed muscles in his forearm and claws appeared just like the talons but there were four of them about 25 to 30mm long coming from each finger an another about 20 to 25mm long from his thumb.
I felt a shiver run down my spine when I thought of how lethal my darling could be. My first thought was I was glad I had never made her mad enough to use those things on me. But then I got an even colder thought 'how about the throws of passion' what would I look like if she made a mistake and... So I went home with a new respect for the control over emotions that Solara must exercise on a daily bases. I also thought that if that is what happens when she is surprised what about if it was on purpose? I shudder to think.
It has been nearly a year since the incident on the ship and so far we are doing pretty good. Our 8 orbital stations are complete and online, the 'E' is on patrol, the 'Connie' is in orbit and the 9024 has returned and brought five more ships like her; all new 'squirt' ships. The trouble is I thought too soon and jinxed it.
The day dawned dark and overcast and as I was on my way to the office suddenly alarms sirens are going off everywhere; we are under attack. Humans are running everywhere and Orlanans are swooping down to stations. As I enter the Ground Control Center the readouts tell me all I need to know. There are more than one thousand ships up there against our 8 stations and 7 ships. As the battle wages I can see that some 200 Skree ships have broken off from the others and are heading for landing sites all around our small city. I detail three of my Space Marine companies to concentrate their defense in the area of the port as it appears the majority of the Skree will land there. The other company of Marines and the Orlanan Rangers will see to the perimeter landings. There seems to be a single minded tactic on the part of the Skree; flood the defenses with as many ships and troops as it takes to just over-whelm them; damn the casualties.
And we are causing them a great deal of casualties. Their body armor is of little or no use against a pulse rifle. And the Rangers are a sight to behold. Imagine if you can a 1.5 to 1.6m tall, 6m wingspan, 70 to 75Kg Peregrine Falcon or Golden Eagle. They come down from above and swooped through the trees; twisting and turning and suddenly you see a Skree in the clutches of those talons. Then before his friends can react he is released and slammed into a tree at 50Kmh or so; SPLAT! If the talons don't kill the impact surely does.
The tide is turning; for over 6hrs now the Skree have poured hundreds of soldiers in to the battle only to have them slaughtered at the hands of the Marines or Rangers. We have been hurt though; Nearly 50 dead and dozens more wounded among the Marines and over a hundred dead Rangers, more than 200 wounded. But the cost to the Skree; they could not even get their ships back off the ground, Orlanan Rangers with pulse rifles made a game of who could get off the most unlikely shot. No grounded ships survived.
In space it was worse: after the first shots were fired the Skree started just ramming ships trying to get their soldiers aboard our ships to take them over. The problem for the Skree was that our ships are compartmented and whole segments can be sealed off and even vented to space. They died by the thousands. The Enterprises first volley took out almost 100 ships as there reactors just blew up. The Constellation started a new tactic as she moved through the Skree ships; a rotational fire pattern from all of her main guns cycling them in loops and figure 8's as the ship rolled on its axis. The Skree didn't stand a chance; the fire coming off of Constellation was so intense that ships flying into it literally just melted in place. Soon the 'E' and the Orlanans took up the pattern and they herded the Skree into the fire zones of the stations and that was all it took. Later analysis of data showed that of 5260 Skree ships that started the attack only 3 managed to get away.
The 9024 had one gun battery and crew destroyed and damage from four other ramming's. The 'E' had two pulse cannon and five lesser gun batteries destroyed, eight other ramming's. The 'Connie' had two pulse cannon and six lesser gun batteries destroyed, ten other ramming's. Three of the orbital stations were heavily damaged by ramming's and the 9187 that had come from Orlana with the 9024 was lost with all hand when she was rammed through a shuttle bay and damaged the containment field of her fusion core and she exploded. Total losses on our side 3314 dead; estimated Skree losses 500,000, but we stopped them.
In the days and weeks that followed the Space Command staffs of both Earth and Orlana decided to take the initiative and take the war directly to the Skree home world. As ships were repaired and crews replaced the planning went on. It was though that because their ships were so poorly built and with the new tactic from Capt. Rosewood that if we could get in to their home system without being detected then we might be able to destroy the entire structure from the top down.
Orlana sent word to all ships to come home, 'squirt' ships were sent to bring in those that had not yet been converted and work got started to do just that. Earth on the other hand had an armada; there was the: Yamato, Kirov, Liberty, Washington, Constellation, Lenin, Hermes, Thor, Victorious and of course Enterprise. All capitol ships and when combined with escorts and support vessels over one thousand ships. Tau Ceti and Beta Centauri sent ships as well as did any who felt it in their best interest that the Skree be destroyed. By the time we found the Skree home world we had more than 100,000 vessels prepared for war.
It took almost a year to track down and find the Skree home but by using bits and pieces of data combed from wrecked Skree ships and from hints from other civilizations their navigation vectors began to make sense. They never went straight to or from their home system when going to or coming from raided systems. Everything seemed to be routed through various outlying systems and then to home world. They are 21 systems core-ward and 4 systems spin-ward from us here at Eridani so we were the obvious staging point for the final assault.
All is in readiness as I join the crew of Enterprise and Solara joins 9024. We move beyond the Oort cloud and all ships as one energize their 'squirt' drive. We drop into real space in a system devoid of all planets or asteroids or anything save a lone planet around a class 'G' star. The admiral proposes that they stripped the system to build their war machine and rely solely on what is brought in from conquered systems to support the populous. There is one other thing in this system and that is thousands upon thousands of Skree scout size ships. Both sides open fire immediately. We are getting hit from every turn but each time those pulse cannons on the big ships fire there is a huge gap in their lines as ships just disintegrate.
Suddenly it's as if we can't hit anything it's as if the Skree suddenly have a shield that or guns can't get through. I get a call from Cmdr. Sordane, he has it figured out. They are using their smaller size and their own 'squirt' drives to suddenly move as we fire thus making us miss. I plug this data into the fire-control computers and he is right on the money, they are moving just 100Km ahead of where we fire. I pass this on to the Admiral and he in turn to the fleet, us your guns in pairs; the first one fire and the second aim 100Km ahead of that ship and fire with a 1sec delay. It works; suddenly the hit rate is back up and huge holes are opening in their groups.