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Authors: Bruce George

Tags: #space opera, #science fiction, #spaceship, #space war, #alien contact, #military sci fi, #star fighter

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BOOK: Starting from Scratch
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“I thought you told me the Saurans kept most of their
crew in stasis and that usually no more than two would be
awake.”

That’s true, but I don’t know how or why this ship
was damaged. I would think they probably awakened the crew for
repairs, after the incident. I have no way of knowing.

“What if we offer to send over some of our crew to
help them?”

The answer to that would be maybe yes and maybe no.
Even the crew of a lowly transport has their pride. If the damage
is bad and they lost part of their crew, then perhaps the Senior
Pilot would welcome our assistance. It could get you to the
entrance.

But that ship has the same design as this one. The
hanger deck is a long way from the bridge. As soon as the computer
saw any indication of armed assault, it would immediately send out
a detailed distress signal. That’s the very thing we want to avoid.
Even if you get to the bridge and manage to overwhelm the crew, it
would be to late. The warning would have been sent.

“OK. Good to know. We’ll have to work on that. What
about breaching the hull and going for the bridge?”

Breaching would be easy. Transport hulls are thin
and not designed for direct combat. You could be onto the bridge in
less than two minutes, but you would still be facing armed Saurans.
They enjoy fighting and will kill just for the fun of it, not to
mention that they will fight to the death. And then there’s still
the problem of the warning signal.

And another problem would be the computer. We
computers are programmed to scramble everything, in a situation as
you are describing. I mean everything, Mike. There would be no way
to operate the ship.

“Once we’ve established control, couldn’t you
download a new program?”

The drive would have been melted by then. It’s part
of the scramble program. And in case your thinking of installing a
new drive, it would need to have more than three million different
connections, in order to run the ship. It could take humans
hundreds of lifetimes to get it done.

“This is good, Bambi. We’re making progress.”

Bullshit, we’re not making progress.

He was actually glad to hear her vulgar sarcasm
return. It was a sign that she wasn’t as frightened as she had
been. Apparently, just like humans, when an AI addresses her fears,
and begins to deal with them, she feels less afraid, because she’s
doing something about it.

“Bambi, we are doing something constructive here.
When we identify a problem and look at specifics about it, we begin
the process of finding a solution. It isn’t always easy, but in
most cases it can be done.

“You’ve given me some valuable info on that ship and
possible Sauran reactions. The more we talk about it, the more I
learn. However, strategy isn’t my strong point. I wish Max were
awake. Oh what the hell, wake him up and tell him to meet me on the
bridge.”

Yes sir.

The tone of her voice seemed almost chipper.

Mike was on the bridge, when General Kolbe entered.
Max told him, “Bambi brought me up to speed on the damaged ship
headed this way and what she had already discussed with you. There
are some possibilities here.”

Mike lifted his coffee cup, “Like what?”

“From your questions, I believe we are thinking along
the same lines. We have to try and take that ship. Whatever it’s
carrying will give us more insight to the galaxy, even if it’s
nothing more than farm equipment.”

“I agree. We really have no choice, but to go for it.
The damn thing is headed this way regardless of what we want. The
biggest problem, as I see it, is that it could get off an alert
message, before we can disable the comm. Then there’s the problem
of how many awake Saurans are going to be waiting for us.”

Max nodded. “We can do this, Mike. It will depend on
how badly damaged it is and how big of a welcome they’ll give us.
This operation calls for more men. So we need to get the old vets
on the stick and put them through the upgrade.

“If Bambi is correct about Sauran fighting ability,
we are definitely going to lose some people on this mission. But if
it results in the capture of that ship, it’ll be worth it.”

Mike hated to hear him mention casualties so early in
the planning stage. But he knew that Max was right. They needed
more men and they were going to take losses.

Bambi, we will probably be assaulting three
different locations, the hanger deck for certain, a breach at the
closest point to the bridge and we’ll need your guidance on the
best place to breach that can get us to engineering.

General, there are four possibilities for getting to
the bridge. The most obvious is not truly the best. In my
calculation the Saurans would have that way heavily protected. The
next two would require your warriors to fight down three levels and
the Saurans would have time to establish a blocking force. The ship
is damaged anyway, so why not go through all three levels at once?
I can design a charge that would blow through the hull and the next
three levels, giving you open access to the bridge from space. The
Saurans would be caught by surprise and the seconds you would save
would also save lives.

Max looked at Mike and winked. “Damn girl, you just
may have the plan we need. I thought you had no experience with
combat. How did you learn to assault a spaceship?”

Earth science fiction books, sci-fi TV and movies.
You do realize the warriors will need space suits. I’ll design
them. I have designs for Saurans, Thorians, Januki and seventeen
other races.

Mike asked, “Would the Saurans be wearing some sort
of space suit?”

“Maybe. Their physiology allows them to briefly
withstand a vacuum, usually about four to five minutes. Then, their
bodies begin to succumb to the internal pressure, as their body’s
air runs out. However, on the bridge, they have quick suits, which
they can put on in a matter of forty to fifty seconds. If we breach
all three levels, we’ll expose them to outer space and they’ll move
to put on the quick suits, if they haven’t already climbed into
them. It will buy time for our warriors to get in and confront
them.”

“Bambi, when you make our suits, is there any way to
make them impervious to the plasma weapons?”

Yes sir, there is. But they would be extremely heavy
and cumbersome, even for an upgraded human.

“That’s OK. Only the men in the lead will need them.
The men behind them can be the fast movers for us. What about the
Saurans, would they be likely to where armor?”

It’s possible, but not likely. Saurans have
genetically altered skin that has its own natural resistance to low
yield plasma bolts and projectiles. It’s also what makes it
possible for them to handle short duration vacuum pressure. With
their big egos, they would assume that an assaulting force would be
unlikely to be able to harm them, unless they carried something
more powerful. I know we have such hand weapons, but I have no
direct knowledge of their capabilities against Sauran heavy armor.
As the ship is already damaged, it’s possible they would be armored
and carrying heavy weapons. As I’ve said time and again, they are
cautious.

“Is there a suit of Sauran armor on board? I’d like
to test it and see how it reacts to a full power shot from a plasma
gun.”

I believe that one of the small secret storage
compartments has ten of them, sir. I can have a robot place one at
the end of a target range for you.

Max, probing for every advantage he could think of,
asked, “Can an upgraded human wear one of those and if he did,
would a Sauran know he wasn’t facing a Sauran?”

Mike mentally kicked himself for not considering
that.

It’s very unlikely that you could pull that off sir.
The battle armor is mentally melded to the wearer, through the
users biologic comm. Even with my help it would take months of use
to be able to present the user as a Sauran. Without that
familiarization, the enemy would notice it very quickly…in seconds
I would think.

Mike mumbled, “That might be enough for a human to
get off a disabling shot.”

Max was disappointed. “Shit. Bambi, you don’t give us
much hope. If we don’t get stopped, before we breach the bridge, we
will still have to face at least one and probably two Saurans. And
you’re saying we have no chance in close combat with a Sauran.”

Mike shook his head. “Hold on Max. These guys may be
fast and strong, but close combat can go either way. My unfortunate
skirmish with a wounded Sauran proved that they could be beaten, if
we use teamwork. The least little thing can turn the fight into an
advantage for the weaker man, or men. I know, because I’ve been in
that situation before.

“If we can fool the Saurans for just a few seconds,
we might be able to bring weapons to bear and get off a few shots.
It could give us an opening.

“In hand to hand combat, every one of the five senses
is heightened and of all those, sight is usually the most
important. Bambi, what would happen if a Sauran had his eyes shot
by a plasma gun?”

He would be blinded. A med unit could repair his
sight, of course.

“Yes, but once he’s blinded, he would be vulnerable
to additional wounds and death. It might take several attempts, but
I bet we could nail the bastards. We’ll tell the men to shoot for
their eyes first. Sweetheart, where is the next most vulnerable
spot on a Sauran?

Through his comm, the Sauran will still have access
to the ship’s cameras and sensors. He would still be able to target
you using those. Although I suspect it would take a second or two
for him to focus on them and shoot accurately. As for the next most
vulnerable area, I would say the hands and arms. When I have sensed
concern on the part of a Sauran, it was always when his hands might
be lost. Again, the med unit would grow them back, but he would be
worthless until then and be ridiculed by his fellow warriors. Peer
image is very big for Saurans.

The possibilities still didn’t look good, but the way
Mike and Max kept pushing Bambi, had her sounding less skeptical
about their chances.

She told them, “
I have never heard Saurans as
relentless as the two of you. You just won’t accept the facts. You
keep pushing and pushing, and then you see something I never would
have considered. I believe you are both brilliant warriors,
although I doubt either of you could best a single Sauran.

Max laughed and teased, “Bambi, with compliments like
that, we will never be over confidant; discouraged perhaps, but
never defeated. Perhaps you can learn to think as we do, without
this mental block about the Saurans being unbeatable. No one is
without weaknesses. We just have to find theirs.”

Mike called their gathering to a halt. “Max, I’m
going to grab a shower and give this some more thought. Bambi, in
two hours, wake the staff, bring them up to date on this, and have
them meet us in the conference room for breakfast and a
brainstorming session.”

General Hurst, is there anything special you would
like for breakfast?

He cut loose an evil laugh and told her, “Yes, I want
fried Sauran hearts, with my eggs.”

At first, Bambi didn’t get his gallows humor.
Sir,
I don’t have that available right now. If you give me two days, I
can take out the heart of the Sauran that Jo killed and have it
replicated in the food processor.

It was Max’s turn to laugh as he told her, “That was
a joke, Bambi. Don’t worry, he wasn’t serious about cannibalizing
the enemy.”

Oh! I see. Well, even if he did wish to eat a Sauran
heart, I would have no problem with that. The God of us all has
seen them do much worse to their victims.

Mike found it odd that this sentient computer would
make a reference to God. Yet, why would she not? Aren’t all
creatures in the universe children of God? That a living, thinking
being like her would bring God into her thoughts was strangely
comforting.

Then he wondered if Bet had any religious beliefs and
would they conflict with the actions the Terran Space Navy would
have to take, in order to protect the Earth. He hoped not. He liked
her and didn’t want to do anything to lose her respect.

 

 

Chapter
6

 

 

Al Benson had commed Mike to tell him he would be
late for the meeting, because he was attempting to resolve a few
issues that the veterans had raised. He would listen in on the
meeting, with Bambi’s help.

When Mike walked into the conference room, he was
embarrassed to see he was the last one there. His son looked up and
casually taunted him, “Well, if isn’t our fearless leader. He drags
us away from a good nights sleep, and then is late for his own
meeting.”

As Mike poured himself a cup of coffee, he decided to
ignore the good natured prod from Wayne. He filled a plate with a
mound of food and realized he thought nothing of the enormous
volume of food he had been eating lately. Also, he noted, that he
and the other upgrades ate five or six times a day.

Bambi had told him the upgrade process would require
more intake of food to satisfy the higher metabolism they now
possessed. Apparently they were burning up the calories at a
prodigious rate.

Bambi, will we always need to consume this much
food.

General, I doubt it will be necessary to eat this
great a volume, as your bodies settle into the new regimen. But,
you will definitely need more basic sustenance and the additives
that I provide.

That comment surprised him.
What
additives.

Sir, in order to maintain your proper supply of
nanites, I add small amounts of elements to your food and drink.
Nanites have a short shelf life and the fundamental metals and
chemicals are needed to help your nanite production centers
maintain the proper level of nanites in your system.

BOOK: Starting from Scratch
13.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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