Battle for the Known Unknown Ch. 17


There was a sudden exhalation of wreckage from one of the breaches and a crushed shattered mass of metal was ejected into space. Along with the pod's debris were space-suited figures that hovered helplessly in space, before being routinely rescued by the Intrepid's defending robots. Not all the survivors were resigned to being taken prisoner in this way and there was a fresh set of rather smaller explosions as space-suits exploded and fragments of flesh and bone flew outwards with the shards of metal and plastic. One figure unscrewed the helmet around his head and was instantly frozen to death.

"Some have made it inside," said Vanity who was studying an image of the outermost level of the ship.

Ali, Svetlana and Jaden crowded around behind Vanity to look at the display of space-suited invaders who were staggering to their feet. They were laden down not only by their clumsy uniforms but also by the weight of their lethal weapons.

"We'll just have to hope that the Intrepid's militia can neutralise the threat," said Professor Manchu.

Jaden nodded.

This was by far the most exciting event of his whole career in astronomy so far. There was so much to do to evaluate the invasion's current progress. Svetlana had already returned to her console where she could study the defence of the Intrepid in slow-motion replay. It was only now that Jaden could appreciate the scale of the invasion and the military tactics used to repel it. At the very leisurely pace of the replay, Jaden could see that the Intrepid's missiles, rather than just heading in a straight line towards their fast receding targets had zigzagged back and forth while releasing small defensive missiles and deadly beams at the invaders' defences. Many, perhaps most, were destroyed before they hit their targets, but the explosions even from a distance caused lethal damage to the invading craft. In one case, an intercepted missile directed the debris from its antimatter explosion outwards and with great accuracy towards the engines of an escaping vehicle which was then extinguished like a candle flame.

"Has the Intrepid completely repelled the invaders?" Jaden asked the professor's avatar.

"We'll soon know," said the professor with an anxious crumpling of his brow. "The data's coming in thick and fast and whatever the outcome there'll be weeks, if not months, of analysis ahead of us."

Jaden inwardly sighed. He guessed that there would now be plenty of opportunity for overtime. His mission had suddenly become much busier.

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