Year 15
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A surgical strike

by Escher - 7th Aug 1999
Concealed in a cloud of chaff, a small fighter craft hung silently, waiting. Within the cramped cockpit, the pilot dozed, dreaming of home. The steady pulsing of the sensor sweep lit the cabin an eerie green.

A quiet tone indicated a ship had dropped out of hyperspace and into the kill-zone. Quickly, the ship’s computer verified that the ship was it’s designated target, before bringing the engines on-line.

.

‘Zero-two hundred hours, course adjustments for Vendorian gravity well laid in, sir.’

Tiny jets flared briefly into life on the hull of the GC transport vessel Dulwich, turning it ever so slightly on it’s journey to VDS1. The vessel’s captain smiled grimly at his navigator. ‘Anything from the surface?’

‘Negative, sir. Scanners are zero.’ he blinked. ‘Wait a minute, sir. We just picked up a blip.’

Frowning, the captain activated his own console, and checked the scans. ‘You idiot, that’s just a cloud of debris.’ He sighed and relaxed back into his chair.

‘Sir, I’m certain I spotted up an energy signature.’

.

The fighter pilot watched as the larger ship drew inexorably closer. The computer chimed to indicate that weapons systems were ready. The computer’s display brought attention to the vessel’s bridge. The pilot gripped the throttle, and waited, eyes narrowed. The target vessel continued it’s path, presenting it’s great slab-like flanks for assault. Perfect.

Gently, the fighter nosed its way through the cloud of debris. There was a momentary flare, and the ship’s three engines roared into life. On a funnel of white flame, the black ship streaked towards it’s target.

The pilot casually armed the ship’s primary weapon, and placed a glowing crosshair over the Dulwich‘s bridge. The larger vessel was travelling quickly, there would only be one shot at this, as the fighter intercepted from the side, almost on a collision course.

One shot was plenty.

The fighter shuddered as the mass-driver’s coils charged up, then the cockpit shook as the burst of super-energised matter left the weapon’s muzzle.

.

‘Sir, it’s moving! It’s on an intercept course, two kliks and closing, heading three-one-nine...’

For a second, the Dulwich‘s shields were awash with light, the thick armaplas windows as bright as a sun. In the second that followed, the crew barely had time to register shock as their tiny world shattered around them.

Everything exploded.

The front of the ship tore away as though a toy in the hands of a giant. In an instant the ship was surrounded by twisted metal, spinning white-hot fragments and billowing clouds of supercooled gases dancing like flies around the now-headless ship.

Emergency bulkheads slammed shut, klaxons sounded, and the engines shut down. All over the ship a dozen automated systems shrieked the awful truth.

The fighter rolled and banked, soaring across the bow of the stricken vessel and away, soon to be lost in the silent skies.
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