Demons Of The Past 02: Revolution – Chapter 15
Section Two: Minds of Light and Darkness
She realized she was halfway up the corridor, sprinting for all she was worth, before Sasham’s confused “EÃ¶nwyl?” caught up with her. We were justâ€¦ talking! A part of her was wondering what the dark-rock hells was wrong with her, but the other was screaming urgency, move, now!
She skidded to a halt, dropping into her seat and hitting the alarm, seeing the streaming luminescence of conversion space still in the monitors, all indicators green, as they had been for the last twenty hours. More than halfway to Thann’ta now, in Conversion, nothing to worry about!
But her hands were already reaching out for the controls as Sasham ran in after her. His military discipline had taken over; he asked no questions, just yanked on his restraints and brought up the tactical displays.
Even as her fingers touched The EÃ¶nwyl’s controls her instincts told her it was too late, and her beloved vessel seemed to run into a wall, a shuddering shriek echoing through her. Downbreak? But I never triggered it!
Her hands danced across the controls, activating full defenses, as the starfield rematerialized and Sasham gave vent to a sudden curse of disbelief. “Distortion Blockade!”
“Talk to me, Sasham!” She saw other ships â€“ three of them â€“ on her scanners, but she was trying to find a vector and had no time to figure out what she was looking at.
“Distortion Blockade â€“ if you generate a powerful enough DD field in the gravity vector, you basically make a TC drive think it’s about to run into the T-space project of a star and she shuts down.” Disbelief was still strong in the former Navy man’s voice. “But it’s not very wide coverage. You have to know the general vector and course of the target to have a prayer of catching them that way, or picket sensors all over and a really fast response group. And even that doesn’t work all the time. There’s a lot of that set up around Oro and some other major systems â€“ and around places like Zchorada, of course â€“ but here?”
A cloud of dimensional fuzz showed around the largest, suddenly resolved itself into a dozen, two dozen smaller shapes.
“What are we up against?” she demanded, putting all the thrust she could into evading the oncoming swarm.
“Trying to get a reading through their countermeasuresâ€¦Â Oh, Emperor’s Name, it’s a Ternam Ralyeh Carrier.”
“The Dragon Strikers?” This was bad. The Ternam Ralyeh or “Dragon Strikers” were the elite of the Guardsmen, some of the best special forces in the Galaxy. “And a Carrier? What about the other two?”
“The bigger one’s the blockade generator, nothing to worry about from him; he’s got enough screen but no offense. The other’s a picket ship, might even be a Marjaav. The fighters are the real problem. I don’t know how fast The EÃ¶nwyl is but I don’t think you can outrun them.”
“They’re transmitting.” She thought for a moment, decided there was no point in refusing to talk. “This is The EÃ¶nwyl. Identify yourselves immediately.”
“This is Imperial Carrier Kukanaro,” a hard tenor voice replied instantly from the speakers, and she heard “Torline’s Swords!” from behind her. “Commodore Veshdar Morno, commanding. EÃ¶nwyl, you are suspected of harboring fugitives from Imperial justice and as such you are required to cease all maneuvering or combative actions immediately and prepare for boarding and examination. Any continued resistance on your part will be met with deadly force. Do you understand?”
She estimated vectors and chances. We have to get clear of the range of that blockade generator, and we have to do it faster than the fighters can catch us. A quick glance at Varan, who was still cursing below his breath, confirmed her fears. They’re coming faster than I would have expected. Nonstandard maneuver pattern, too, and one suited for dealing with something like The EÃ¶nwyl. That many fighters I can’t possibly take down, even with Sasham’s help.
Almost, she decided to go for it anyway. Being captured by the Empire would seem to be a completely fatal choice as it was, so why not go down fighting?
But the same part of her that had sent her in a dead run before she even realized she was nervous was already having her sit back, cutting off the drives and shields even as Sasham stared at her in disbelief. “Understood, Kukanaro,” she said. “The EÃ¶nwyl, standing by.”
“We will be taking you on board. Make no movements without specific advisory,” Commodore Morno instructed tersely. “Shut down all power except communications and environmental immediately upon tractor contact and wait for additional instructions following landing within our quarantine bay. Any deviation from these instructions or unexpected actions will result in the immediate destruction of your vessel.”
“Understood, Kukanaro,” she responded, and then shut down the comm.
Varan was still staring at her. “EÃ¶nwylâ€¦”
“I know, Sashamâ€¦ but I’m not ready to kill myself in a blaze of glory. Unless we’re dead we still have a chance.”
“Until Shagrath gets here, maybe,” Varan ceded grudgingly.
“You reacted to the nameâ€¦ and the voice, I think. You know this man?”
“Unfortunately yes, unless another Veshdar Morno’s a ranking officer in the Strikers. Which isn’t impossible, but Veshdar’s a pretty rare name, and so’s Morno. And if it is the same guy, we’re in even worse trouble than it looks.” Even as he said this, the displays showed that it was too late to have second thoughts; the fighters now nearly englobed The EÃ¶nwyl.
Vick’s frantic mental inquiries finally registered. Speak! By the First Light, if you do not respond I shall rip the answers from your â€“
Blockaded and captured.
Varan’s short but accurate summary silenced the R’Thann for a moment. Over the internal speakers there was an audible deep oath from Guvthor. “So we are to give no resistance, then?”
“We’ll see. But right now isn’t the time. We need to find some opportunity to escape. If they don’t realize just how strong Sasham is, psionically, or ignore Vick’s capabilities, maybe that will be soon.” She stared with narrowed eyes at the approaching ship, feeling a quiver as the tractor took over. “And I think we really need to find out just how they caught us.”
Because, she thought to herself, there’s no way they could have.
But they did.
“Just as there’s no way you could have known they were about to do it,” Varan said softly, and she realized that she had been thinking so intensely it must have registered even with his passive psionic capabilities, “and yet you did. You were up here in the pilot’s seat before they even switched the generator on.”
“Iâ€¦ I know.”
But for that, she had no answer. And she wasn’t sure whether that scared her more than the bright-yawning bay that was closing, swallowing her ship, and locking her inside.