The Fallen
- Chapter 10 -
by MAC

Rev. 0.7

Lillith of Velor, Copyright, 1998, 1999, Infinity Bridge. All rights reserved.


On the planet Tetra


Peering out from her hiding place behind a web of heavy canvas webbing at the far aft end of the main cabin, a very frightened Mina pulled back into the shadows when she heard William and Phil frantically dash up the ladder, calling for her as they came. She knew she had done something terrible, especially when William cursed as he slapped down the cap of the control stick. Four Traynor guns banged immediately back into their bays.

Phil jumped quickly into a modified seat in front of a large console to the right and a little aft of William's pilot seat. Both were rapidly buckling themselves in as William scanned the gauges.

"Eighty-five percent, Phil. You ready?"
"Indeed, sir. This instrument appears to be functioning."

William turned to look directly at Phil. Through the forward windows, the Kintzi attackers could be seen making another approach in the distance. William spoke calmly as he made eye contact with his friend.

"Alright, Phil, just as we practiced it. Keep it short, tell me what I need to know. Any questions?"
"None, sir. You may proceed."

William nodded with a smile as he flipped open a small compartment at the rear of the center console. Mina had never seen that compartment opened before. Her head rotated slightly with curiosity as her tiny eyes blinked.

Reaching inside the compartment, William pulled a yellow and red striped handle upward forcefully. Instantly, a single row of five tiny lights simultaneously illuminated on both Phil's panel and William's as a momentary klaxon sounded. In cadence as the lights sequentially turned off, William called out the countdown.


"Oooo, that's nice!"

William snapped his head down in the direction of Mina's voice to see the tiny Tetrite admiring the Rail Launch Activation Handle. At the same moment, the last light on both panels winked out.

The Sabre burst into flight along the rail like a bullet from a gun. Mina was instantly flung twelve feet straight back to impact the aft cabin bulkhead. If it hadn't been for the loud roar of the engines, William and Phil would have heard a loud squeak as she hit.

William couldn't take the time to see where Mina had ended up since the launch of the Sabre was directly into the oncoming flight of four Kintzi K spacecraft. Rolling inverted and pushing the flight control forward, the Sabre shot upward, missing a collision with the right-center K by inches. The pilot of the Kintzi K was so unnerved that he jammed his own control forward to miss the Sabre, forgetting how low they were attacking. The K slammed into the ground under full power and was obliterated within the deep crater that marked the point of impact.

"Okay, Phil," shouted William above the roar. "Where are they?"

"You have three targets, sir. Two are..."

"I saw four, Phil!" interrupted William.

"One appears to have retired early, sir."

William smiled with a nod.

"That's fine, Phil. My mistake. Where are my three targets?"

"One appears to be moving away toward something on the ground."

William peered out through his forward-looking windows without spotting a thing.

"What about the others, Phil?"

Phil adjusted a knob on the console.

"Most interesting, sir. They have decided to join with us and are flying directly behind ...."

William hauled back on the control stick, forcing the Sabre into vertical climb just as yellow flashes streaked through the part of the sky they had just vacated. Snapping the Sabre into a hard left turn, then breaking immediately into a violent descending maneuver, William fought to lose the two Kintzis on his tail.

Mina had just regained her footing when William began his dogfight. Unrestrained, she was thrown around the cabin continuously. Each time she hit something, a loud squeak came out of her as if she were a squeeze toy. William heard one of those squeaks as he continued to try to shake the attackers.

"Phil! Is that Mina? What the hell is she doin' here? Is she alright?"

Phil turned in his seat to see a shaking, wide-eyed Mina desperately holding on to a loose strap about midpoint in the cabin.

"She is fine, sir."

"THAT IS INVALID INFORMA..." shrieked Mina until another snap-roll made her lose her grip. Hurled straight up, Mina was held against the ceiling by the negative-g forces of the maneuver. When the Sabre rolled out, Mina fell to the deck, almost exactly where she had been before.

Just as she regained her footing, a dozen yellow pulses of energy penetrated the cabin in a random pattern all around her. The loud whack of each Kintzi pulse as it tore through the hull sounded like an explosion to the frantic Tetrite. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she dashed wildly forward flinging herself into William's lap for safety.

The sudden appearance of a panicked fuzzy creature in his lap so startled William that he jerked the control stick back instantly along with the throttles in his other hand. The Sabre pitched up and came to an abrupt halt as it immediately ceased to fly. Both Kintzi rocketed past underneath the stalled Terran craft totally confused as to what just happened. William quickly recovered, slamming the throttles and the control stick forward. The Sabre nosed down and accelerated after the Kintzi craft.

William was now pursuing the Kintzi.

Over the Bendrahar Canyons on Tolan

From their vantage point high above the battle, Dorn and the remains of the Red Wings squadron watched in fascination at the incredible battle occurring below. Two powerful, invulnerable women were fighting in mid-air for the future of Tolan.

It was fascinating to watch as the two Velorians fought. It reminded Dorn of the way birds battle, cutting and turning so sharply, striking then swooping instantly back at their opponent again. Every part of their bodies became weapons: fists, elbows, feet, head, knees, anything that could be used to strike out and defeat the other.

Dorn watched with pride as Carpathia, the Protector of his planet, repeatedly landed incredible punches and kicks on the intruder. Each one throwing and tumbling the intruder around the sky so violently that Dorn almost cheered at the sight of it. The intruder, on the other hand, appeared to want to wrestle more than fight as she constantly grabbed Carpathia, holding her throughout repeated counterattacks. Dorn nodded approvingly, convinced that how each fought was proof enough that Carpathia would win this battle and avenge his dead.

Blonde hair and fists flailed wildly in the skies over the Bendrahar Canyons. There were times when Dorn could actually see the shock waves from immense blows emanate from the point of impact. The idea that such power existed in the Universe frightened him a little, making him wonder how mere mortals such as himself could ever survive. The answer, he realized, was right there just a few thousand feet below. The good and the bad, the right and the wrong. It all balanced out. It had to. Without one, the other would not exist. Dorn smiled at the idea of his thoughts becoming so metaphysical. He was a combat pilot, not a philosopher. Still, he could appreciate seeing what he was seeing.

Then it all went terribly wrong.

A'ya savagely smashed both of her fists into both sides of Carpathia's head simultaneously. The terrible blows stunned the Protector of Tolan, leaving herself open for an onslaught of massive punches and kicks that tore the fight from the mighty Protector.

Since neither Kintzi nor Arions could fly, Carpathia had never fought hand-to-hand in flight before, but A'ya was well practiced. A'ya had long ago learned to yield to her opponent's blows while preventing her opponent from doing the same. It was only now that Carpathia realized that A'ya would always have a solid hold on her with her free hand or her legs when she would attack. Carpathia's own punches would only spin A'ya or fling her away, wasting most of the force of the blow. Now Carpathia realized her mistake.

A realization that came too late.

Just as the Protector of Tolan fell limply from the sky, Dorn almost jumped from his seat. That was impossible, his thoughts screamed to him. Impossible! For a moment, he didn't know what to do. Half his men were gone, the Protector defeated, and there was little hope of turning this battle around. A devastating realization of defeat swept through Dorn and he hated it. Despised it. He suddenly felt as if his life lost value because of what he saw below.

Dorn looked hard at the red indicator on his panel that showed that he was flying on his last reserves of fuel. The rest of his men were also critically low. He had to get them out now.

Dorn saw A'ya catch Carpathia by the hair and hold her up like a prize. Her other hand slowly pushed into the upper belly of Carpathia, very slowly, as if she were enjoying the moment. Dorn didn't know what was going on, but he didn't like it. He felt a rage building inside, a rage against the intruder. He keyed his mike.

"Red Wing Flight, Red One. Fuel is critical, fly zero-niner-five to intercept the beacon to Valfrahn. Red Three is lead."

The radio was silent for a brief moment before a crackling sound made Dorn jump a bit, tearing him from his thoughts.

"Red One, Red Three. Negative, sir. I'll stay on your wing."

Dorn glanced over at the bobbing Warhawk abeam of his and nodded slowly. His voice became low, calm, almost gentle.

"Three, I don't plan on leaving."

"On your lead, Red One. I'm stayin'."

Dorn cleared his throat and keyed the mike again.
"Red Six, take `em home."

Red Six responded quickly.
"Can't do that, sir. My Commander is here and here is where I stay."

Dorn had a small mutiny on his hands.

"Red One, this is Seven. I don't know what we can do about it, sir, but the lady's in trouble and we gotta do something. Hell, sir, I don't have the fuel to get back anyway. Might as well stay here."

"Red Eight's got nowhere to be this afternoon, sir."

"Anytime, anywhere, sir. This place is as good as any." added Red Nine.

Dorn closed his eyes for a moment before he spoke the words.

"Alright, gentlemen, our weapons are ineffective against her, but maybe we can draw the intruder away from Carpathia long enough to make a difference. Our orders call for `maximum effort', but in the history of the Red Wings, there's never been any other way. Carpathia's put her life on the line for us all too many times for us to leave now. Now's the time and here's the place to do the same for her. Let me hear you."

With the discipline of a machine, each checked in.

"Red Three."
"On your lead, sir. Red Six."
"Red Seven."
"Red Eight."
"Damn straight, sir. Red Nine."

That was it then. Dorn's shaking hand steadied as he spoke one last time

"Form on me, you magnificent bastards. That's one of our own down there and no one gets left behind. Red Wings! On my mark, descending break to the left, attack in sections, and....MARK!"

A'ya had just about gripped the still beating heart of Carpathia when she heard the incredibly loud shriek of six Tolan Warhawks descending on her from above. Her eyes widened in disbelief at the incredible foolishness of such an act. Don't these Tolanai learn? Why aren't they running for their lives? Well, she thought, if they needed another lesson, they could have it.

A'ya flung the unconscious body of Carpathia over and gripped both slender ankles. Wielding Carpathia's invulnerable body like a club, A'ya charged upward toward the attacking Tolanai.

In pursuit of a Kintzi K, Tetra

"Are you going to harm them?"

A still frantic Mina stared intently at the bobbing Kintzi craft just ahead. One Kintzi had peeled away; Phil was tracking him. William stayed on the tail of the other, waiting for a weapons-lock. The Traynors were deployed and ready to fire.

"Yes, Mina," responded William, obviously distracted by her questions. "I'm afraid I really have to."

"Couldn't we just..." Mina's question was interrupted by a loud beep that signaled a lock. The Traynors were now articulating freely to keep the Kintzi K within a narrow cone of fire. William pulled in his index finger on the control stick and all four Traynors erupted in a blinding flash. Mina screamed loudly and could be heard even above the immense din of the Traynors.

The burst only lasted a fraction of a second, but the Kintzi K was gone.

"For crissakes, Mina! you've gotta stop yelling like that!" William picked up the stunned Tetrite, looked around for anywhere he could put her within reach, and chose some exposed hook'n'loop material on a nearby rigging. Mina's fur stuck perfectly, giving her the appearance of a large lint ball on an olive-drab canvas sweater. She didn't notice the indignity at first.

"Wher....where is the Kintzi?" she asked, stunned to see open sky ahead where a large craft had, just moments ago, been bobbing and weaving.

"He's gone, Mina." William was back to flying the Sabre. "Phil, where's that other guy."

"He appears to be leaving the planet, sir."

"Gone?" Mina asked.

"Yes, Mina." said William as he pulled the Sabre around to return. "He is completely gone."

"Poor Kintzi." muttered Mina as she hung from her perch. "They don't talk much, do they?"

"No, Mina, unfortunately, they don't. Phil, where's that other guy, the one that was moving toward the ground?"

On the surface of Tetra, at the Tower

Toomethatilutus continued to crank the air raid siren handle frantically.

Although they had all discussed how to start the warning signal, nobody had brought up how to stop the signal. Afraid that he might blunder by stopping too soon, Toomethatilutus continued to crank away throughout the entire raid, in spite of the roaring Kintzi K strafing the area from overhead.

At the base of the tower, his female mate tried desperately to call him down. Around her, a dozen tiny offspring bounced and chittered anxiously up at their father.

"Toomethatilutus! Come down! Come down and hide with us!"

But Toomethatilutus could not come down. He could not leave his post as long as the siren needed to be sounded.

When the Kintzi craft roared overhead, all of the young would immediately retreat underneath their mother, like a school of fish darting from a threat. When the threat was gone, out they would come to bounce and chitter as before. All the while, Toomethatilutus cranked away on the `sweetheart' device.

It was now that the Kintzi decided to deal with the tower. Rolling over into a steep approach, he setup his attack run at the single Tetrite who was cranking something on that structure. An easy kill.

Toomethatilutus seemed to sense that the Kintzi was now coming for him. His terror should have made him run for his life, instead it somehow forced him to crank the handle even faster. As the Kintzi opened fire, Toomethatilutus cranked the siren like a Tetrite possessed, the wail rising in pitch to a high shriek. Energy bursts impacted all around the tower, tearing pieces away and blasting holes through it, but still Toomethatilutus cranked the siren faster and harder until the handle suddenly broke off the shaft. As the siren wound down, the handle dangled loosely in the grip of the stunned Tetrite.

No longer able to sound the alarm and still under attack, Toomethatilutus became frantic. Scrambling first one way then the next, he started to panic at the screeching sound of the coming Kintzi K and the impacts of the yellow energy pulses around the tower. Finally, enveloped in the roar of the Kintzi K as it passed incredibly low, directly overhead, the terrorized Tetrite squeezed his eyes closed to hide from the horror before mindlessly flinging the useless curved metal handle straight up into the air.

The antique handle grazed the heavily armored leading edge of the Kintzi K and spun wildly into the underside of the craft where it impacted a small, unarmored inspection plate. The high speed of the K gave unusual force to the otherwise benign object as it tore through the plate and smashed rearward. Glancing off a spar plate, the handle continued back toward the fuel mix system. When it impacted a hose fitting, the coupling broke immediately, releasing large amounts of Composite-G, the Kintzi catalyst fuel. The main engine immediately stopped, releasing a puff of black smoke from the rear of the craft.

On the ground, one Tetrite on the tower and thirteen on the ground all rotated their heads simultaneously from curiosity as to why the Kintzi K puffed smoke and stopped. By then, the pooling Composite-G found a minor leak of the primary fuel, Zylstrom. When they touched, the reaction only left enough time for the Kintzi pilot to snarl with contempt at the sudden fire alarm light.

The Kintzi K erupted into a massive fireball that shattered the craft and everything in it. Burning remnants fell through an arc to the Tetra desert floor in a cascading shower of sparks, flame, and smoke. The twelve small Tetrite young immediately retreated under their mother as both of their parents stared in complete disbelief at the destruction. When the last of the wreckage smashed noisily to the ground, the female looked up at the tower.

"Toomethatilutus!" she scolded.

Toomethatilutus slowly looked down from the tower, his mouth still open from surprise. He said nothing as he saw his mate shake a leg at him.

"What did you DO?!"

Toomethatilutus closed his mouth, blinked innocently, and sighed with the thought that he might be in trouble.

Leaving the orbit of Tetra

Captain Fhar, the Kintzi Squadron Commander, was livid with anger. He had come to Tetra with seven K fighters to do a simple probe. Even the plan was simple - three high to observe and four low to probe. Of the four K that probed the Tetra defenses, only one returned and that one wasn't responding to him. The coward would merely stare straight ahead as Fhar unleashed a steady stream of curses and threats at him over the radio.

The one Fhar truly wanted to get his hands on was Krag, that idiot who started this whole disaster. Unfortunately, right now Krag was spread over a large area of the planet's desert region, his K destroyed by some sort of ground-based weapon. Served him right, thought Fhar. Jumping at some perceived threat like a cub when he should have followed orders and withdrew. Instead he jeopardized his entire flight of four. By the stars, what if the Protector had suddenly appeared? They would all be dead by now and the Fleet wouldn't know a thing about it!

As the K craft roared out of the Tetra system on their way back to the distant Kintzi fleet, Fhar held his mic button closed, snarling his words to the young pilot flying in formation just to his left.

"Well, young Ensign, you live while everyone else dies, eh? Do you know what I will do to you when we return to the Fleet, you filthy coward? I will shred your stinking hide with my own claws and eat your heart. I will bleed you, Ensign, bleed you from a hook. You ignored my orders. No one ignores my orders, you filth. But to ignore my orders and then to run away from what comes of it? No one flies in this squadron who makes two stupid decisions in a row. I will gut you, Ensign. I will..."

Something flashed inside the cockpit of the Ensign's K, instantly flinging large amounts of red liquid and pieces of goo all over the inside of the clear canopy. Realizing that the Ensign had just shot himself, Fhar shouted for the two other craft to break away, but it was too late. The uncontrolled K of the dead Ensign snapped violently to the left impacting the close flying K of Leutenant Ngar. The explosion detonated a third K just before impact, killing Flight Sargeant Vbok instantly. Fhar watched spellbound as the fireballs dissipated and the debris continued on as if still in formation flight.

The mistakes of the morning had grown into a disaster by midday and Captain Fhar returned to the Fleet through the silence of Space alone.



The Fallen continues....


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