Fall and Rise of the Macas
Chapter 1 - Contact
Jarvis, Maca of Ayran, Captain of Flight, stirred at the sound of Captain Tamar’s words coming into his quarters. “We are closing in on the attackers,” brought him to his feet. He finished dressing and ran through the short corridor into the Command Center.
He clenched and unclench his huge hands, easing the tenseness of all those years of searching for an enemy that they knew were out there. His dark eyes swept over his staff as he ran in and slammed his bulk into the commander’s chair. His straight, dark hair was swept back and heavy, black eyebrows softened the wide angled face cut by a huge wedge of a nose. His thick, sensuous lips curled in a triumphant smile. His facial features were supported by a wide, corded neck blending into the slope of his shoulders. His whole body gave promise of vicious fighting, but now he was stilled as he focused on the screen showing the approaching craft.
Jarvis never cared if his crew hated his decision to remain these extra five years in space searching for Draygons. They had known this would be a long mission in a Thalian spaceship designed to find and close with an attacking ship. Over the ten years of this mission their enthusiasm for a fight had dimmed, but Jarvis persisted.
At five minutes before twelve hundred hours the message had come through the Communication’s audio. The De’Chin’s language was auto-translated into Thalian. “Urgent! We are under attack by unknown beings. Respond. This is our exploratory outpost at system Twenty-five on the Quadrant charts. Respond. This is urgent!”
He had squelched any reply the staff person at the communications station was ready to send. Lasa, a Tri from Don protested.
“They need assistance.”
“Aye, and they shall have it, but whoever the attackers are, they shall nay ken we are coming.”
Now Jarvis turned to Captain Tamar, Lad of Don, and snapped out his orders. “Take us in.”
Lillie, Lady of Don and Betron, his Communications and Recording Director, sat to his right, her dark head bowed over the screen. He heard her mutter, “Here it comes.”
All were staring at the screen. Jarvis looked at the shape and the numbers running at the top of the screen and worked his portion of the panel to settle his ship slightly lower and to the left. The alien’s craft was round, unlike the oval shaped spaceships in the Justine League.
“Steady, Warriors. Nay misses.”
“They will try to fire first.” Lillie was muttering.
“Aye, when we close.” Jarvis’s response was clipped as his attention was on the screen and the number coordinates massing in his mind. He sensed, rather saw the ship shift to his left and he redirected the first blast.
The alien returned fire and both ships wobbled as they moved closer. Again and again his wide fingers struck the blast panel, their bodies rocking with the ship’s sway. The alien ship tilted and shifted downward toward the planet and Jarvis followed.
“Back off,” Lillie pointed at the screen. “They have a craft below us and are firing upward.”
Jarvis saw the alien ship turning and moving toward them.
Tamar’s frantic voice advised, “We must go up.”
“’That tis what they want,” and Jarvis swept his ship lower and to the left. His eyes danced as the beam from Dragon’s grounded fighter caught its own ship. He swung his craft around and Tamar had to grasp at the arms of his chair to keep from tumbling out. Jarvis leveled the craft and fired again. Elation surged through him as the alien vessel spiraled downward and once more his fingers worked the panel blasting the ship into debris that turned into burning bands as they entered the atmosphere of the asteroid. He swooped down and blasted the fighter that was beginning to rise.
“Lillie, run the scanners. We need to determine where the rest of their fighters are.”
“Ye pilot recklessly.” She smiled at him, her brown eyes gleaming and then bent over the screen.
Jarvis leaned backward and swiveled the chair. “Damage?” He noticed Tamar helping Lasa up.
Lasa gave both a sickly smile and scanned her section. “Nay damage here, but the Supply Sector took a hit. All systems are operational.”
Jarvis nodded and connected to Engineering. “Are we battle ready? We need to take out any low flight fighters and ground installations.”
“Aye, Captain, Nay damage here except minor shaking of our teeth. All shields are intact again.”
He swung back to the screen. Lillie had the locations of grounded fighters and their coordinates in batches of numbers. The crew could hear his words on the Command channel.
“Three fighters coming upward,” Lillie could not help adding unnecessary words. “Mayhap they think we are damaged to send such insects after us.”
“Do ye wish to capture them?” Tamar asked.
“Nay, I wish to check their abilities.” Jarvis eyes were lit with hard beams of light. The fighters were swift, but lacked the fire power of the mother ship and one by one the bolts from the Thalians’ ship made them disintegrate.
“Shall I take it down for ye?” asked Tamar.
“And be blown into the Darkness?” Contempt was beginning to build in Jarvis. He swallowed and turned to Lillie.
“Lillie, keep the scans going. We’ll cruise for a closer look. Tamar, when anything shows, I want degrees for blasting.”
“Captain, there could be De’Chins alive,” protested Tamar. “Ye canna destroy the base without cause. The Justine League has certain standards.”
“The League can discuss standards for centuries,” he snapped as he completed the maneuver to orbit.
Lasa’s next words stopped any fight. “Captain, the Director of Supplies reports a disaster area.”
Jarvis punched the communicator. “Kahli, what tis wrong?”
“The shaking and turning has tumbled some of our tanks. Sodium and hydro trays were dumped. There tis metal in the walls. Mayhap the shields shifted. The engineering crew tis on their way to do the repair if possible. We may go on short rations ere we return to Thalia if we canna pick up supplies and bios off the asteroid below.”
Jarvis suppressed a grin. Kahli, Lad of Don, did nay believe in failure. He simply totaled the obstacles and calculated ways to circumvent them.
“If ye were thinking of blowing up this place, dinna.” Kahli’s sharp voice continued. “Besides the bios, I will need fresh water. We have been away too long.”
“Aye.” Jarvis conceded. He needed his crew intact when they returned and he needed to ken more about the enemy. It had been the excitement of battle. The space attack forty years ago when on a probe had been a blow to his pride. He was nay sure whether it was his fighting skills, the technology, or Daniel’s starpath skills that had mapped the way home that enabled him to make it to Brendon and then back to Thalia. Some had speculated the attack had been lost beings from another part of the universe. Now he could prove them wrong. The Justines had not approved the building of space fighters, but since Thalia controlled the Justine League, it mattered nay.
Lillie nudged him. She had everything displayed on screen: ship locations, hot spots, and where all the beings were.
“Good,” he grunted not bothering with thanks.
“There are still three fighters grounded,” she said. “A ground cruiser tis there, but I canna determine whether they belong to the De’Chins or the attackers.”
He took the ship in on her coordinates and blasted. In battle, he expected no favors and granted nay. Thrice he held the key down and then looked at his Recording Director.
“All tis logged.”
Jarvis could almost hear the crew relax.
“Do we land now?” asked Tamar.
“Nay in this ship. I’ll take warriors in fighters and the cruiser. Ye are to remain in orbit. There may be more fighters stalking for an intruder. Ye are to head for Thalia if things go wrong. If ye are swarmed, send messages to the closest planet or mining exploration colony.”
“Lillie, ye continue to look for ground cruisers or hidden mining camps. I dinna like surprises.”
“Jarvis, ye need me there to record the events, and I am a Warrior.” Her voice was as direct as her eyes.
Jarvis studied her six-foot five frame, the same as his though not as wide or muscular. She was, however, the Guardian of Flight’s lassie, a descendent of the Great LouElla.
“Besides, Rade can scan as well as I can. He tis awake and chomping for something to do.”
“Aye,” he conceded. “Ye will attend.”
Chapter 2 - The Enemy
The asteroid was a cold and dreary; a barren rocky outpost of sand dunes shifted by fierce winds that screamed through the rock canyons. From high above, scanty moisture dripped to feed what few life forms existed before evaporating away in the open. Any falling water that might hit the sand disappeared. Any warmth at midday vanished within two hours. The De’Chins had claimed this desolate place to mine for the depleted mineral and ore supplies on their home planet. There were two known inhabited outposts.
A quick survey of the landscape turned up the aliens’ fighters and the De’Chins’ outposts. The De’Chin vessels and one of the outposts were melted into lumps of odd angles and twisted metal. Jarvis remained wary. He set his fighter down and walked with Lillie and Pillar, Captain of Troopers.
“There should be ground cruisers, De’Chin, or the attackers. Where are they?”
Jarvis answered Pillar’s question. “They are waiting to draw us into a trap.” he turned towards Pillar. “Would the De’Chins have started another outpost and nay had time to install the power source?”
“Aye, there could be another either for a new mining shaft or for defense.” Their voices buzzed in their ears through the protective helmets. “I would have another fighter underground. It would be essential for survival. It could even be used for a retreat to their home planet with the right two people and a starpath finder.”
“Aye, have your troopers shield for battle. Ye will take a quick turn in the fighter, but nay hover if ye find them. Ye can order those above to fire.”
“Captain, if ye stay afoot, request to do the same. All Captains are trained to observe from a fighter.”
Jarvis grinned at the man. Pillar was a true Thalian Warrior. The arena would seem tame after today. “Where would ye say the probable location tis?”
“They would situate it like the other outposts for mining. That means set into a canyon with protecting ledges and/or walls as a buffer against the winds.”
Jarvis nodded and contacted the waiting troopers. “All advance, except the five chosen to remain in our ships. Captain Beni, take one of the fighters and locate any life forms and relay the coordinates. They should be within a five mile radius. We’ll check the other outposts till ye tell us different. Just execute a fly over and dinna hover; nay do ye attack. Keep an eye out for any hidden fighter.”
“Aye, Captain,” said Beni and she ran toward her fighter.
They waited in the cold sand swirling up to their knees as they watched the fighter move along the base of the foothills, then move higher until it was a spec sweeping under the clouds. They were fifteen men and women waiting for a battle they had trained and trained for but didn’t expect in their four hundred year life span since the peace imposed by Thalia was now almost one hundred years in effect. The winds swirled the sand upward, then shifted the grit and dust downward. Over the howling wind, someone could be heard muttering on the com line, “I wonder if they breathe this piss naturally.”
Their weapons were ready, set to drop any known being, but not kill. The Guardian of Flight had given orders that prisoners be taken if contact made. The Justine League would need a live De’Chin to prove Thalia was nay the attacker. Ten minutes later, Captain Beni’s scouting message sounded in their ears.
“Captain Jarvis, life forms three miles to your right. A deliberate cloaking cover has been designed over the area. There are two types of beings: four are De’Chins, the other ten are nay recorded. One fighter tis under rock cover and two ground cruisers are there. One of the cruisers tis the De’Chins’. Ye could drop a party just above them.”
“They would use the fighter if we dropped too low. Will they be able to see us as we approach?”
“Aye, Captain. If ye try to go straight at them, the wind twill sweep the sand in a different direction and give a clear view for a while.”
Jarvis looked at Pillar. “Any suggestions?”
Pillar, once a Tri from Don, had worked his way through the Army ranks after it opened for men. In truth, most of his crew were of Tri origin, nay House. Thalia’s Houses had been depleted during the Justine Wars, and the imposed Sisterhood rule had completed the decimation.
Pillar pointed upward, his dark eyes shaded by a helmet. “We move into the foothills here, work up and around, and then down.”
“They will be expecting us.”
“Aye, but once we’re out of sight, we break into two parties. One group will take a twenty minute lead, climb higher and then descend.”
“They could be using field scanners.”