Darkship Revenge – Snippet 01

Darkship Revenge

Sarah A. Hoyt

Beginning And End

Battle Born

I never wanted to be a mother. I always get what I don’t want.

My name is Athena Hera Sinistra.  I was meant to be the woman without a mother, the mother of a race of gods. Bioengineered madmen created me, assembled me protein by protein, to be the Eve of a new race, the start of a new humanity.

It didn’t work out that way.

But I did become a mother.  Suddenly.  By surprise.

Alright, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the thing is I had no idea how easy making a human being was.  My foster mother disappeared when I was six, and my so called father, the old bastard in whose image I’d been made, was never interested in forming my mind, only in keeping my body healthy.  Sure, I’d got the usual lectures.  Which I’d ignored.  And nothing had happened even when I ignored them.

There were reasons for that, of course. Most of my lovers were genetically incompatible.  And for those who weren’t, I’m sure my father had kept me on contraceptive implant, perhaps installed at my annual exams.  Preserved free of taint until he was ready to begin the breeding program.

I hadn’t noticed. I thought it was lucky I never caught.

I’d found out I was pregnant while I, my husband and our friends, were under siege in Eden, suspected of treason or worse.  Even after we were freed and proven innocent, I didn’t want my child to be born in a place where it seemed like every hand was against us, and everyone suspected us of something awful. And I didn’t want to stay in Eden longer than absolutely necessary.

So, when Kit said he wanted to go on a powerpod collecting trip, from our hidden colony of Eden to Earth orbit, three months away, I’d said yes.  I hadn’t told him I was pregnant either, because then he wouldn’t go.  I knew men had a near-superstitious fear of birth and babies.  But I figured if primitive humans could give birth without assistance, surely I, who had been bio-enhanced to be stronger, faster, smarter, would have no trouble.

I’d give birth in our Darkship, the Cathouse.

It would be me, and Kit, and we’d have three months to get used to being parents before we came back to Eden.  By which time, hopefully, things in Eden would be better too.

Did I mention that things never happen the way I expect them to?

My child was born during a battle.  A strange battle started when an unknown ship, of an unknown, lithe design, attacked the Cathouse, the darkship my husband, Kit, and I flew to steal powerpods from Earth orbit to power Kit’s native colony of Eden.

We were three days from the powertrees in Earth orbit.  We didn’t even see the other ship before it fired on us.

One moment we were under-power, still too far away from possible near-earth traffic for either of us to man our stations, the other moment our alarms were blaring that our ship was damaged.

I abandoned the reader where I’d been searching for instructions on how to give birth and Kit came running out of the exercise room.

And we fought our attacker with all we had.  It wasn’t much.

The Cathouse was ill equipped for battle.  It only had weapons at all – energy cannons mounted on the surface – because Earth had recently started trying to capture ships from Eden colony when they came to collect powerpods.  And some of us had finally decided it was better to fight than to just commit suicide in order to avoid interrogation.

But our weapons were small and relatively ineffective. Built to discourage rather than to destroy.  Built to allow us to fire a warning shot and run away. Built to save on weight and therefore fuel and leave more space on the ship for the harvested powerpods.  But also built not to create such outrage at us that Earth dropped everything to find and destroy us.

Before the alarms had stopped sounding, Kit and I were at our battle stations, also known as our powerpod collecting stations and also our landing stations.  They were all the same, just two rooms on opposite ends of the spherical ship, where all the navigation and piloting took place.  One was for the navigator and one for the pilot.  I was clicking the lock on my belt, when I felt Kit’s baffled shock. I felt it because, to avoid detection, pilot and Nav from Kit’s world had a form of telepathic communication.  It was engineered into them for the purpose, and it had been engineered into me for completely different reasons, which didn’t matter, because it still worked.

To my wordless question, he returned the image he could see on his screens. Kit’s eyes had been enhanced to be able to pilot in near-perfect dark.   He could see what I couldn’t.  His screen which would look dark to me, showed him a silver ship: triangle-shaped, but with added flips to the wings.

I was already calculating coordinates in my head, to target our defensive shot, and rattled them off to Kit via mind link.  My normal work aboard was to calculate coordinates and maneuvers for Kit to pilot without lights in the tight confines of the powertrees, where any wrong move could bring you in contact with a ripe powerpod and to sudden, explosive death.

But the ability to calculate coordinates on the fly and to communicate them to my husband served us well in this too.  He spun the Cathouse to aim our weapons at the attacker, and let fly with a blast of power.

Our opponent… flipped, like a falling leaf twirling in an impossible wind. I guessed the purpose of the maneuver and directed Kit to move us sharply down, which he did, avoiding the return blast, which flew by above us.

Before Kit was done plunging, I’d directed him to fire again.

We did and targeting light from our weapons played across the other ship which seemed to me to falter for a moment.

I remembered some genius of the twenty first century had written a treatise on how space battles were impossible, because ships could always evade other ships in three dimensions.  It hadn’t occurred to said genius that in that case, as in air battles between airplanes, one ship could follow the other.

I just thought we should follow the ship and —

A sharp pain cut through my middle.  It hurt almost as badly as when I’d got stabbed in the gut in a back-alley fight when I was twelve. Almost as bad as when I’d crashed my anti-gravity wand – broom in slang – against a wall when I was fourteen.

For a moment I lost breath and the ability to focus.  Thena? Kit screamed in my mind.

We got hit.  The ship shook.  Our sensors started blaring.

I sat, frozen, not because I was afraid this ship would destroy us.  I was afraid of that too, but mostly I was shocked I’d wet myself.  I’d never wet myself in any of the fights I’d got into, in mental hospitals and military camps, not even when my father had sent my very young self to them in hopes of taming me.

And then pain rippled through me again, thought-stopping.  I’d read something —

Kit, Kit, I think the baby is coming. And then, by an effort of will, I sent coordinates.  Shoot at 45-26-10.