Star Force: Backdoor (SF53)

BOOK: Star Force: Backdoor (SF53)



March 3, 2549

System (Lizard



Kara clung to the hull of the lizard cruiser, nestled
up against one of the many lumps on the hull and doing her best to blend in.
Her shadow mode wasn’t active, but her Vorch’nas armor had adjusted its color
to match the yellow/tan ship as she pressed her body up against it in the void
of space doing her best imitation of Spider Man…though to be truthful the wall
crawler had nothing on the Zen’zat. With her armor providing and recycling her
oxygen supply, the Archon patiently rode the enemy cruiser as it rejoined up
with the rest of the lizard fleet, with her already having spent over 8 hours
bouncing from ship to ship.

Her quiet, dangerous little game was about to pay off
for this cruiser was pulling up into escort position along with dozens of
others around the assault pillar that was her target. The 93 kilometer long
siege weapon was orbiting one of the lizards’ strongholds 73 lightyears from
the ADZ border, with Kara having snuck into the system via warship before being
deposited into the upper atmosphere via a quick drone drop off. From there
she’d made her way across the planet and hopped a ride up into the lizards’
orbital facilities.

Now that the cruiser was pulling up nearby the assault
pillar she shifted her armor into shadow mode…nulling out almost all of the
bounce back radiation that eyes and sensors saw with and becoming a black spot
on the hull. She jumped off it, clearing the cruiser and flying across the gap
to the assault pillar. Both ships had their shields down, for as far as they
knew there was no enemy presence within the system.

This fleet was being assembled for another strike on
the ADZ, presumably one of the Sentinel strongholds. To date they’d destroyed 7
of the defensive emplacements, but not enough to get at any particular world.
Unlike the Skarrons they preferred to knock on the door rather than run troops
down to the surface, which was probably due to their history with Star Force
and their penchant for orbital bombardment. The lizards needed to secure orbit
before any planetary assault, and in order to do that they had to take down the

The assault pillars were the key to doing that without
egregious losses, and more and more were beginning to show up in systems near
the ADZ. Star Force and the Hycre were pulling regular reconnaissance missions
to hopefully give themselves a heads up for any future assaults, but there were
so many systems and places to hide a fleet that it was nearly impossible to
find something that someone wanted to keep hidden. Fortunately the lizards
didn’t appear to be playing coy, and had this assault pillar sitting in orbit
around one of their larger and known worlds.

Where it was going Kara didn’t know, or rather where
the lizards planned to take it. She knew where it was going, if the Archon had
her way, as she sailed across the gap and landed on the giant ship’s hull with
her yellow/tan armor reappearing and blending in. She held steady for nearly a
minute, checking the area to make sure she’d gone unseen,
she began crawling across the surface of the ship using grip points on her
fingers to pull her along as she drifted weightless.

Already having a schematic on file in her armor, she
navigated her way to one of the anti-air batteries and nestled up against it.
Using her Dre’mo’don condensed into a fine beam she began cutting through the
weapon very carefully, tearing out pieces without disconnecting them completely
so they wouldn’t float off and be spotted. She opened a hole in the casing and
crawled inside halfway, continuing to cut and reposition various components
like a mole digging through dirt until she got to a fiber bundle.

Kara grabbed it and extruded tiny mechanical tendrils
from her armor that physically hacked in, allowing her to cut the battery off
from remote control and keep it from throwing up any mechanical failure flags.
With that software blind spot established she began cutting more freely,
pulling her body all the way in and moving through the hole in the thick hull armor
that the weapon was concealed within.

There was no gunnery chair or control station attached
to it, for it was merely a remotely controlled turret. The gunnery station was
set in a small cluster of others, so all Kara had to
deal with was machinery as she slowly moved her way through the innards of the
ship’s skin, eventually coming to an atmospheric inner liner. Since she’d cut
her way through the outer one already she had to reconfigure her shields to
cover the panel she was now cutting into. When the hole in it formed and she
removed the small plate, the atmosphere didn’t begin to rush out as it
otherwise would have, giving her enough time to slide through into the small
maintenance crawlway on the other side, turn around, and reseal the panel in

It took some extra melting to get the material to fill
the tiny gap her cutting had created, but once she got a good seal she released
the shield cover and began crawling through the ship. Kara avoided the hallways
and stuck to the maintenance areas, most of which were not head height. The
lizards crawled as well as they walked, so all of the access shafts in these
areas were about a meter high, forcing her to do the same. Given the size of
the ship it took her hours to reach the area she wanted, but eventually she
came to the navigational control nexus with the enemy fleet and crew completely
unaware that she was there.

Still in the maintenance areas, she found the control
line that came from the bridge to the nexus and hacked in again. She cut off
all control signals from the helm, which wasn’t hard considering how primitive
their computer systems were. Kara also felt the same way about Star Force’s own
tech, for she’d gotten so used to using the dragon tech that she wore as a
permanent part of her body that everything else seemed downright pathetic in
comparison. The upgrades the dragon had made to her mind had also considerably
changed her…not in mood or character, but by giving her a great deal of
knowledge that the other Archons lacked.

No matter how much she shared with the others they
would never understand. She not only knew about computer systems, she was
permanently linked to them via her Vorch’nas, and over the years had gotten
used to interfacing in that way…making this type of hack extremely easy.

With the bridge cut off she took control of the ship’s
engines, running a quick diagnostic and ensuring that they were fully
functional before powering them up. She issued movement orders to the escort
fleet around her, indicating that the big ship was going to reposition and that
they needed to get out of the way. It was exactly the type of thing the bridge
would send, except they were completely in the dark up until the giant needle
began to twist to starboard and lightly accelerate…with the cruisers matching
its movements.

Kara figured they were beginning to panic, or would
shortly, when they realized they’d lost control. Then again they could all be
napping, giving that the ship hadn’t moved from its current orbit in the past
19 days according to the navigational logs. Regardless, Kara didn’t care how
they reacted. They didn’t know where she was and they weren’t going to find her
any time soon…not that it would make much of a difference if they did.

Very slowly the giant assault pillar transitioned over
to a jumppoint with hails being sent by a number of lizard superiors inquiring
as to what was going on. Kara didn’t have access to those from her current
position, for the line she was tapped into only held the navigational
operations and it was an isolated system…deliberately so, making it impossible
for an outside source to access their computer systems and interfere with
things like maintaining orbit.

But she wasn’t on the outside, she was inside their
giant chess piece and moving it out away from the planet…and dragging the
escort fleet with it. Whether they knew or not what was happening they
maintained their position, possibly on the orders of others to stay with the
ship until they figured out what was going on.

102 cruisers jumped with it, as Kara gave them the
appropriate navigational linkup to execute a fleet jump. Several preceded it,
with most following a few seconds back as they headed for another planet in the
system. It was uninhabited, with the assault pillar leaving the bulk of the
lizard fleet behind and transitioning to the gas giant and its six moons while
leaving the lizard bridge crew at wit’s end.

Kara moved the assault pillar into orbit of the
largest moon and sent out a beacon pulse from her armor powerful enough to get
through the mass of material around her,
input some final holding commands into the navigational nexus and abandoned her
position. Finally she worked her way out of the maintenance areas and into the
walkways, stretching a bit as she stood up, then took off down one with a three
step run before leaning forward and transitioning into a superman/flash pose
and flew down the hallway, knocking over the first lizard she encountered with
a hefty shoulder hit.

Given how large the ship was, running would take too
long and she didn’t want to use the internal transit system…for that could be
shut down and she just didn’t like the idea of waiting for them to come at her.
She wanted to be on the offensive, so she flew through the corridors with her
feet only inches off the ground and made her way to where she knew there was a
link into the main computer system nearly 3 kilometers away.

She rendered the two lizards in that room unconscious
with a single thought, knocking them out via Ikrid as she walked over and
punched her armored hand into one of the consoles and hacked into the system,
giving her access to the majority of the ship’s primary functions not on
deliberate isolation. With them she was able to access the ship’s sensors,
comms, and weapons control. She shut off the later, taking down the sensor link
to all the gun turrets on the behemoth…leaving them able to shoot but blind as
to what they were shooting at.

The camera feeds from the batteries themselves she
also took out with a simple virus added to the system, but she still maintained
her uncorrupted view of the mounting space battle outside as the Hycre fleet
that had been lying in wait on the far side of the moon came around and began
trashing the escort cruisers.

Kara took the assault pillar’s shields down as well,
with a handful of the Hycre’s beautiful warships hitting the armor plating
around the gravity drive and beginning to cut their way through as the rest of
the fleet quickly cleaned up the easy ambush, which many of the naval
specialists referred to as a ‘gank,’ which was a gaming term meaning the
‘blindsiding of the enemy from concealment.’

That concealment now gone, the lizard fleet around
was immediately alerted by the escort cruisers and
began to move out to the jumppoint. That only gave the Hycre a short window of
opportunity, but in those free minutes they killed 95 of the escort cruisers
with the other 7 successfully running away, trying to draw pursuit off and buy
time for the assault pillar but the Hycre didn’t take the bait. With its
escorts now gone they turned on the giant ship and began targeting specific
areas and hammering on the thick armor protecting the vital systems.

The weapons were another matter, with those being
located in openings on the hull…and without the shields they were completely
exposed. Many of the Hycre ships went for the main weapon, firing up the
‘barrel’ and
the interior while the rest
ignored the defensive weapons, knowing they could easily be replaced after a
quick stint in a shipyard. They needed to severely wound the gravity drives so
it would stay put in orbit. Kara could have taken the ship and let it fall into
the moon, or even the gas giant or star. She didn’t feel comfortable with
slaughtering the crew like that, but there was also another reason for leaving

The Hycre had been operating in this system for a
while now, mostly reconnaissance missions and a few isolated hits, but with
only one inhabited planet for them to guard the lizard fleet was massed in
orbit around it, making any small scale action virtually impossible. If the
assault pillar was stranded here, in orbit around a 2nd location, the lizards
would have to split their forces or leave it unguarded. If they left it
unguarded the Hycre would finish it off, nipping at it until it was just a
floating carcass. If the lizards defended it or tried to bring in enough tugs
to move it to a shipyard then that would offer up options for smaller scale
engagements…and if they brought over their massive fleet from the planet then
the Hycre could strike there when they weren’t guarding their orbital

Either way it changed the playing field while taking
one of their key pieces out of the picture for a while and putting an end to
whatever near future mission they had planned…which spared an ADZ system from
getting hit and bought them more time to build Sentinels and defensive fleets.

That was why Kara had elected to stay on the lizard
front rather than transitioning over to fight the Skarrons. While she could do
a lot in direct battle, she was the only one who had the Vorch’nas and could go
on these insane clandestine missions that would prevent attacks on the ADZ,
potentially saving many lives but more importantly hardware that would be
destroyed even if all the people were preserved. Given the attrition that Star
Force was facing fighting on two fronts, keeping the lizards off their backs
and letting their defenses swell was oh so critical.

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