tagSci-Fi & FantasyThree Square Meals Ch. 014

Three Square Meals Ch. 014


The elevator swished open quietly and John, Alyssa, and Calara darted into their respective positions on the bridge. Sparks turned to face them as they arrived on the Command deck.

"We're getting an incoming distress call from a freighter. They've been disabled by pirates and are being boarded!" Sparks said with alarm.

"Alyssa, plot a course to their location. Calara, shields up and weapons armed, we're going to need to strike quickly," John ordered decisively.

The girls sprung into action as they responded to his commands. Holographic images sprang into existence in the middle of the room, as Alyssa rapidly charted a new course in the system map to the scene of the battle, and Calara activated the Invictus' weaponry. The rotating image of the assault cruiser showed the armoured hull sliding back, revealing the formidable arsenal at their disposal.

"Weapons hot Commander!" Calara reported, as the Mass drivers, laser cannons, beam lasers and point defence all glowed menacingly on the weapon loadout display for the Invictus.

"Two minutes until we're in range," Alyssa stated calmly, as the assault cruiser swung in a smooth arc to adjust to the course change.

Sparks turned her attention back to the long range scanners as it began to display the information it had gathered from the initial sensor sweep.

"I'm picking up five ships John," the redhead called out. "Only one has an active transponder. That's the freighter Calypso. The rest have their transponders switched off."

"See if you can hail the freighter, Sparks," John asked.

Calara activated a couple of controls on her console, and the weapon loadout of the Invictus disappeared, replaced by a glowing hologram showing the local system map instead. John leaned forward to study the image as more details were revealed, the ship scans becoming more revealing the closer they got. The Calypso had suffered damage to its engines, and a sleek looking corvette had sidled alongside it, now attached by the docking collar to the freighter's starboard flank.

A shocked gasp interrupted the quiet focus of the bridge. "That's the Griffon!" Calara exclaimed.

"Are you sure?" John asked. There were hundreds of Corvettes in the Terran Federation Navy and they looked largely the same to him.

"Yes, there's no question. It's a Marlin class Corvette, and look at the rear stabilisers! They were upgraded just before the ship left Port Heracles!" the Latina insisted.

Before they could react to this startling bit of news, the vid-feed crackled, and an image of a panicked woman filled the screen.

"We're being boarded!" the brown haired, middle-aged woman shouted as gunfire echoed in the background, followed by shrill screams. "Please help us!"

John leaned forward and replied in a steely voice, "This is Commander Blake of the Assault Cruiser Invictus. We'll be with you in just over a minute, so try and hold out as long as you can!" More gunfire drowned out the Calypso Captain's response and the line went dead.

The three remaining ships, two battered looking Lexon class frigates and a blunt nosed corvette, were providing cover for their pirate colleagues who were performing the boarding action. The pirate vessels had picked up the incoming Assault cruiser on their scanners, and the worn looking ships were turning to engage.

Sparks watched the unfolding engagement with awe, the pivoting pirate craft looking menacing as they turned in their direction, with many weapon barrels being brought to bear. On the other side of the holographic map, the Invictus surged forward with deadly purpose, looking like a sinister predator as it descended on the smaller vessels.

"Thirty seconds until we're in range!" Alyssa announced.

"Lieutenant take them out fast, so we can save the freighter!" John urged.

Calara's eyes narrowed in concentration, as she focused on the holographic targeting matrix floating in front of her face. "Yes, Sir!" she responded grimly.

Sparks watched the tactical map with bated breath, as their assault cruiser bore down on the weaker enemy vessels. The long cones displaying the fire arcs of their weapons brushed over the approaching Pirate ships, and Calara sprung into action. The map illuminated brightly as the ship's vibrant coruscating beams blasted out, caressing the frigates lovingly. Three beams hit each craft squarely, overloading their shields in a crackling instant, and followed through to gouge glowing trenches in the thick armour on the front of the pirate ships.

"Firing main guns!" Calara called out a second later and the ship trembled with the recoil, as the 200 metre long magnetic rails of the Mass drivers launched their shells at Hyper warp into the burning frigates.

The first frigate shuddered as both shells slammed into its port side, knocking it sideways. The shells detonated a second later, and the entire left side exploded outwards, showering the area with debris. The second frigate was hit head on, the Impact from the shells devastating the bridge and instantly killing their command crew, even before the enormous explosive force obliterated the front half of the frigate.

Sparks could see icons showing that the Mass drivers were reloading and that the beams were cooling, as the Invictus finally closed to laser cannon range. Now in range to fire back, the blunt nosed frigate opened up with its two pairs of three laser cannons as it charged in bravely. Half the incoming laser fire sailed past harmlessly as Alyssa half rolled the Invictus but the other three blasts of energy all hit squarely, and were harmlessly absorbed by their shields.

"Shields at 97%, John!" Sparks said excitedly, and John glanced at her, smiling at her enthusiasm.

With Alyssa's skilful roll, the Invictus now faced the passing corvette with its bristling top deck, sixteen turreted laser cannons now able to track the target as it appeared in their firing arcs. Calara opened fire with a ferocious broadside, and the corvette's weaker shields shorted out after the first few impacts, leaving the lightly armoured hull exposed to a blistering barrage. The hull lit up as laser cannon fire tore it to pieces, ripping the ship in half with explosions.

"Nice work ladies," John congratulated them both, as they neutralised all active pirate ships in just under ten seconds.

Alyssa brought the Invictus around to flank the Griffon, and she smoothly docked the two craft, their assault cruiser dwarfing the corvette.

"Do you want me to disable their engines?" Calara asked John cautiously.

"There's no need, I can keep them immobilised with the tractor beam!" Sparks interjected.

Her fingers pressed a number of controls on the console, and the corvette was enveloped in a shimmering purple field, locking it in place.

"They aren't going anywhere!" Sparks grinned happily.

"Nice work" John grinned back at her, before turning towards Alyssa, and rising from his chair. "XO you're with me, let's get suited up fast!"

The young woman nodded, and darted down the illuminated steps of the command podium to call the elevator.

"Calara, keep an eye out for other pirates. Separate the ships if you have to fight, but we need to protect the Calypso from any further attacks," he ordered, as he jogged down the steps to the waiting elevator.

The Latina nodded, but looked over at Sparks as they shared a worried expression. The last thing they wanted to do was to abandon their friends with a horde of angry pirates.

John and Alyssa raced down the corridor on Deck Two, and darted into their walk-in-wardrobe to hurriedly suit up in their combat armour. John finished gearing up first, and after picking up an assault rifle from the weapon rack, he slammed a magazine home in the bullpup slot, and sighted through the scope. Alyssa had finished getting ready, so he handed her the rifle and a couple of spare mags, before picking up the second matching assault rifle and loading it. Grabbing a few spare mgazines for himself, he turned and followed his lover out of the room as they made their way back to the elevator.

He could feel the pre-combat tension building and he glanced over to Alyssa to check she was ok. The teenager looked back at him confidently with a sparkling smile, and he felt reassured that she would be able to handle herself. The door swished open, and they both got in, taking the lift down to the lowest deck, where they jogged up to the airlock, and John placed his hand on the DNA reader. A flickering green light travelled across the panel, and scanned the DNA in his hand, beeping quietly in recognition, followed by the airlock door spiralling open in front of them.

They stepped inside the airlock, with John closing the inner door to the Invictus behind him. He produced the small chrome decryption device from a container on his belt, and feeling a strong sense of déjà vu, he hooked up the device. It hummed happily to itself when he placed it on the airlock door to the corvette Griffon, and they hugged either side of the doorway while they waited for it to do its work. After a few moments there was a dull thunk from the door in front of them, and the sturdy airlock door rotated upwards, granting access to the ship. John cautiously peered out but could see no welcoming reception from the pirates, so he retrieved the device and stashed it back on his belt.

The two of them stepped out into the corridor and followed it around the corner as it led deeper into the ship. John could see that the ship was already looking like it had seen better days, after nearly a month in the pirates less than tender care. He listened carefully for the sound of any nearby marauders, but the only noise he could hear was the muted sound of distant gunfire, coming from what he could only assume was the freighter. They performed a quick sweep of the ship, and John confirmed his suspicions; that the undisciplined pirates had all joined the boarding action, and were probably not even aware that their colleagues had already fallen prey to the Invictus.

They found the airlock on the other side of the Griffon already open, as was the interconnecting airlock on the freighter Calypso. John took point, and moved quickly and steadily down the first corridor, listening out for the marauding pirates, and following the sounds of combat. To an unknowing observer, John and Alyssa moved fluidly as a single unit; he moved up to the corridor and covered the right, the blonde moving simultaneously to cover the left. What that observer would be oblivious to, was the silent stream of thought commands John was giving to Alyssa as he led her into the ship.

*We're approaching another cross section. I can hear sounds ahead, but check the left in case the pirates split up, I'll cover the right.*

*Nicely done. Check our rear every twenty paces or so, just in case anyone slipped around behind us. I'll cover ahead.*

They stopped at the latest intersection, as John tilted his head slightly, listening intently. *I can hear people talking to our right. I'll take the lead, you follow but face behind us and watch in case it's an ambush.*

They walked quietly down the corridor, seeing an open doorway to the side, sounds of talking getting louder.

"It's seems like such a waste," a voice said, as it drifted into the corridor.

"I know, but that's what the Captain ordered," a gruff voice said in return.

"They wouldn't mind if we had a go first would they?" the first voice said lecherously, followed by the sounds of female voices sobbing in despair.

"How would they know?" the gruff voice chuckled evilly.

John clenched his teeth with anger and got in position by the doorway. He peeped his head around for a split second before ducking back, glimpsing two figures standing over three kneeling ones.

*Kneel and take the left,* he thought to Alyssa. He hugged the wall, making room for her to crouch and ready her weapon, while he sighted his rifle on the pirate to the right.

"Brrt!", "Brrt!" The two assault rifles chattered simultaneously as caseless hollow point rounds slammed into each brigand from behind. Their heads exploded, showering the opposite walls in gore, and the pirates slumped over lifelessly. John walked into the room, checking for any more pirates he might have missed.

"Oh thank you!" one of the kneeling women gasped. "They were going to rape us!"

"You're safe now. Take their weapons and barricade the door" John said, nodding towards the pistols the pirates still grasped in their nerveless fingers.

One of the other terrified women looked up at him with wild eyes and sobbed, "But you can't leave us!"

"We have to save the rest of the crew," John replied brusquely.

"Don't worry! We'll be back to check on you, once we've rescued everyone else," Alyssa said, smiling at them reassuringly.

Leaving the women to follow his instructions, John and Alyssa moved back into the corridor, and headed back to the previous intersection.

*Be careful now, the others might have heard our gunshots,* John warned Alyssa, and she nodded as she glanced at him.

They could still hear the sounds of a gunfight around the corner to their right, and after quickly checking the other corridors, they moved to follow the sounds again. A set of double doors was wide open, and the flash of gunfire could be seen coming from in the room. John darted silently across to the other side of the door, so that both he and Alyssa could get into position on either side of the doorway. He glanced into the room and saw that the freighter crew were in a dire situation.

"Surrender and we'll spare your lives," a hulking pirate barked, his voice sounding harsh and strangely metallic. The pirate boss, and around a dozen of his men, were spread out behind overturned tables in what used to be the ship's mess. They were armed with a variety of pistols and rifles, and were shooting at the kitchen sporadically.

"Fuck you, slaver!" came the reply from the far side of the room, where two men were huddled behind the kitchen unit, firing wildly with their pistols. Blood was sprayed over one side of the kitchen, and John could see a body on the floor to their side. He spotted a door behind the brave freighter crewmen, and terrified faces peeked around the corner, watching the exchange.

*There's a lot of them,* John warned Alyssa. *Take the right side and work your way to the centre, I'll take the left.*

The resolute teenager crouched to avoid crossing lines of fire with him, and sighted the far pirate on the right through her scope.

*OK, go!* John thought, giving the signal to his young lover.

They strafed along the row of marauding pirates, round after round slamming into unarmoured flesh, turning this end of the room into a charnel house of red ichor, as blood sprayed in riotous abandon all over the upended tables. The pirates were taken completely unawares, and were unable to react in time to the shocking appearance of the attackers behind them. One of them close to the middle leapt over the table, in a desperate bid to escape being killed by Alyssa, only for the two freighter crewmen to shoot him as he exposed himself from cover.

John blasted the last of his pirate targets, bullets stitching their way across the man's chest as he whirled to face him. The man cartwheeled backwards and crashed into the tables, accompanied by the sound of an ominous click as John's magazine ran empty.

Alyssa had taken out five of her six designated targets, the Calypso crew shooting the sixth, so she targeted the burly pirate leader. Aiming for centre mass, she fired two bursts at his chest as the pirate Captain whirled to face them. The bullets ricocheted harmlessly with metallic sounding pings, leaving the hulking brute unscathed. Now they could see him clearly for the first time, it was apparent that the pirate leader was a heavily augmented cyborg. His torso and right arm were blocky and armoured, his normal body parts changed for bionic replacements.

"I'm gonna fucking rip you apart!" The enraged cyborg bellowed with a synthetic roar, as he charged towards the two of them.

John was reaching for a spare mag to reload his assault rifle, when the Pirate Captain barrelled into them. The pirate clipped Alyssa's arm with his bulky shoulder, knocking her sprawling down the corridor before he then slammed into John. The impact of the cyborg's four hundred pound frame sending him sailing through the air, before crashing into the wall opposite, knocking the wind out of him.

The furious pirate Captain stalked after him, before reaching down with his cyber-arm, to grab him with his massive metallic fist. The powerful servos whirred loudly as he hauled John up off the floor, and slammed him repeatedly into the wall.

"You little insect!" he roared in John's face, before hurling him down the corridor.

John groaned in pain, his back and shoulders throbbing from the brutal battering, and he desperately tried to reach for his rifle and magazine that had been knocked just out of reach. The cyborg stomped up, and booted the rifle out of his outstretched fingers, before leaning down again with his bulky augmented arm to pin John to the floor.

"Brrt!", "Brrt!", "Brrt!" Alyssa's rifle barked as she fired three bursts, all aimed for the Pirate captain's head this time, but again the rounds ricocheted away harmlessly.

"Hahahaha!" The cyborg chortled insanely as her shots bounced off his skull. "Armour plated cranium bitch!" he snarled defiantly.

The murderous pirate levelled a broad barrelled grenade launcher in Alyssa's direction and looked down at John, as he writhed futilely under the cyborg's pinning hold. "Say goodbye to your whore!" the Captain snarled, grinned evilly, as he savoured the desperation in John's eyes.

"I've got to save her!" John thought frantically, as he fought with all his strength against the relentless power of the Cyber-arm.

"Raaaarrrrhhhh!!!" he bellowed, as his vision seemed to narrow into a tiny tunnel, completely focused on the homicidal cyborg's arm that was preventing him from protecting his woman.

Alyssa stared at the blunt muzzle of the grenade launcher, feeling a chill run down her spine, knowing she had nowhere to hide. When the Pirate Captain charged them, she had been knocked back along the corridor, and the nearest doorways were too far away for her to dart to safety. She watched helplessly as John flailed away under the pirate's implacable grasp, the Cyborg narrowing his eyes and grinning malevolently, as he prepared to end her young life.

Suddenly the pirate lurched to the side, tottering over to slam head first into the wall. She could see his dazed expression turn to one of shock, as he was suddenly twisted again, and slammed into the wall on the opposite side of the corridor with overwhelming force. John rose smoothly and with deadly purpose, the pirate's cybernetic arm clenched in his hands. He put his booted foot against the pirates torso, and hauled back with both arms, ripping the bulky cyber arm away from the pirate's torso to the accompanying screech of twisting metal. The pirate was unbalanced at having the weighty limb ripped so unceremoniously from his body, and he crashed over on to his side with a noisy clang.

John casually tossed the hundred pound arm aside as if it weighed nothing, and the cyborg watched him incredulously as the man bore down on him.

The Pirate Captain still had the grenade launcher clenched in his fist, and he swung it around, preparing to fire at point blank range. John caught his arm in his right hand, just below the wrist, and then chopped down with his left, breaking the marauder's forearm with a sickening crunch. The cyborg stared at his ruined arm in horror as John knelt on his chest.

"Time to die," John said, his voice low and menacing.

He grabbed each side of the Pirate Captain's head in his hands and pulled. The Cyborg's strangled metallic death screech echoed down the corridors, as John ripped the slaver's head clean off his body. Suddenly exhausted, John slumped backwards, letting the pirates lifeless head slip from his fingers and roll off to the side.

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byTefler© 41 comments/ 58110 views/ 59 favorites

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