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Authors: Saxon Andrew

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BOOK: Lens of Time
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“The Rhys has broken off their attack and our fleets are no longer being challenged. The Rhys are being attacked by the Krim but we don’t think they will continue if the ships attacking us return to their domain.”

“How many civilizations are still being attacked?”

“Only twenty four and it appears that half of those will be conquered and disposed of within a short time.”

“How many have been destroyed?”

“Fifty one.”

“About ten percent have fallen. Are all of the advanced members still staying out of the fight?”

“They are so far. If they come in at the end the number destroyed could go up.”

The dark creature thought a moment, “Are any of the ones we have mutual defense agreements with in jeopardy?”

“Four, but ships from all of our domains are patrolling each other’s planets.”

“I suspect that is also happening with the other weak systems.”

“It is.”

The large creature paused and didn’t want to know but finally forced himself to ask, “What have you heard from our source in the other sector?”

“If this large of an attack happens again, the other sector is considering invasion.”

“That limits our response to the rebellious Minors.”

“That’s why we’ve always had them fighting each other. No one is willing to risk attacking them for fear of being overwhelmed afterwards.”

“We must do something.”

“Some are starting to talk. You know how long it will take to get agreement.”

The large creature saw something in his aide’s expression, “You’re withholding something.”

“My source in the other sector says that one of them has been contacted by one of the rebellious Minors and has been given one of those ships. There was an attack to destroy that ship but it failed. The other sector will have to factor that into whatever plans they make.”

“That might slow a response.”

“My source seems to think it will to some extent. I expect the magnitude of our next attacks on the Minors and the number of ships lost will be the determining factor.”

“It’s a very tight line we’re crawling on.”

“It is.”

“Does the High Assembly know any of this?”

“They do not.”

The creature thought a moment and said, “I want to lay on this for a while. I’ll let you know what I want to do with this information later.”

The aide lowered his head to the floor and the door slammed down. He turned and slithered away. The High Assembly didn’t know but he felt certain that other Majors had the same information. All of them were thinking about how to use it to take control of the sector.

The dark creature remained at his door for a moment and thought about what all this meant. He craved a position on the High Council but didn’t know how to parley this information into getting him the position. He flipped the switch on his necklace and said, “Have you taken the ship to a secure location?”

“We have.”

“What have you been able to discover?”

“The force fields, weapons, and drives are double our strength.”

“Collect the technology and get back to me.”

“It will be done as you order.”

The dark creature turned and went to the ground. As he slithered back to his pad he thought about the good fortune of one of his ships stumbling on the site of a space battle between one of the Nexu ships and forty Hoyeis. Every ship was killed but the Nexu ship was not so damaged that it couldn’t be examined. He sincerely hoped the Nexu would never discover who had taken the derelict. Their reaction would be swift and severe. However, so far the theft had gone unreported. First his ships; then he would approach the High Assembly. Fear often made things happen that just wouldn’t occur normally. He curled up his fifty foot length, pulled his eight pairs of arms close to his side, and closed his eyes.

• • •

Boden looked at the detail of the new ship and said, “It will still be vulnerable to the predator’s ships.”

“We don’t have any new advances in force field technology.”

Boden stared at the diagrams and said, “If we can’t stop the beams, would it be possible to escape them?”

“What do you mean?”

“Is there a way to slow the beam down after it hits and move the ship beyond it?”

“We could possibly have an inner force field controlled by one reactor that would slow it down twenty thousandth of a second. I don’t see us being able to make it any stronger. Remember that the first force field will be slightly weakened by not using that reactor.”

“Do we have a relay that will respond that fast?”

The engineer thought a moment and said, “We have several slightly faster than that.”

“Follow me on this. If the ships drives are active and on line and the outer force field is breeched and the incoming beam hits the second force field, could an automatic relay trip the drive circuit and push the ship forward?”

The engineer entered the calculations in his unit and said, “The ship would be weightless so the movement would happen almost immediately. However, almost is significant when attempting to operate at these speeds.”

“Give me your best guess.”

The engineer stared at the data and said, “The ship could be pushed to one quarter light speed in that time. It would take the relay forty thousandth of a second to trigger the drive.”

“How far would it move in that remaining forty thousandth of a second?”

“About one mile six hundred yards.”

“That is longer than the ship.”

The engineer shrugged, “Yes but it may slam it into another ship if the fighting is at close quarters.”

“The ship will be weightless so no damage would happen. It would then have an opportunity to fire on the ship that attacked it.”

“It could also cause the ship to jerk its way across the battle scene one mile at a time if the attacker continues to fire.”

“But somewhere in that time our ship would be able to return fire.”

“There is that.”

Boden thought for a moment and said, “This is not a defense system that will be easily controlled.”

“It will have to be automatic. Even the ship’s computer couldn’t react fast enough to do it.”

Boden looked at the ship building yard and said, “I want that ship over there set up with this system and we’ll trial it when it’s ready.”

The engineer nodded and left.

• • •

A week later the Engineer reported back to Boden. “It’s not going to work.”

“Why not?”

“The sudden move disrupts the computer. It forces it to reboot. While that happens the ship is defenseless. The computer can’t do it fast enough but if the system moves the ship without having the computer in the process…”

“The computer is forced to reboot.” The Engineer nodded. “Well, we need to find something. Let me know if you have any other ideas.”

• • •

Kate watched the display with Kenny and said, “What’s going on?”

“I want you to give me your take on something.”

“Sure, is that why you’re not telling me what you’re doing?”

“You’ve broken the code.” Kenny said, “Jess, are you ready to pursue?”

“I am.”

“Then jump to the coordinates and send the signal.”

The Tampa jumped and Kate saw an old Alliance Warship accelerate away from a Moet Cruiser. The Moet accelerated after the escaping ship and started firing beams at it. The two ships disappeared in jumps and the Tampa followed close behind. Kate saw the Moet gaining on the battle ship and six jumps later watched as it blew the large Alliance Battleship apart. The Moet then turned and attacked the Tampa. The Tampa hit the Moet with six new main beams and vaporized it.

Kenny turned to Kate and she said, “I hope there weren’t any crewmen on those ships.”

“There weren’t. Tell me what you think?”

Kate sat back down from where she had stood up during the battle and said, “It looked real to me. If you hadn’t said anything about it wanting my opinion, I would have thought they had gone back to war with each other. Why did you do this?”

“One more thing; did you see anything else happen during the chase?”

Kate thought about it, “I don’t know what you mean?”

“Then you didn’t see it.”

“See what?”

“The Alliance and Moet ships each deployed three advanced sensor probes when they were jumping through Sierra Space.”

“So that’s what this is about?”

“It is.”

“Well, I didn’t see them being delivered. How did you do it?”

“We released them under the ships as they moved through Sierra Space. Once they were clear of the drive field, the antenna popped into normal space and the rest of the buoy in Sierra Space was reduced to the size of an atom. The delivery took less than a hundredth of a second.”

“What are you planning to do?”

“We’re launching 800 pairs of ships and have them jump into M-87 and deploy as many sensor buoys as possible before they’re destroyed. This was a trial to see if we could pull off the disguise of two ships attacking each other.”

“It appeared real to me.”

Kenny looked at his computer, “Jess, did you detect the buoys being launched?”

“I did but I was really scanning for them. The buoys followed a missile out of the launcher tubes. I was able to barely see one of them and I wasn’t able to get a good read on it.”

Kate tilted her head and said, “If the computer couldn’t see them when it was looking for them, I suspect you’ve got it set up the right way.”

Kenny pushed a button and said, “Jess, jump us out to the ships.” The Tampa disappeared from the outer edge of the galaxy and reappeared in deep space between M-87 and M-83. Kenny looked at the sixteen hundred ships and noticed they were spread out across a twenty thousand mile front. Kate said, “Are you jumping all of them simultaneously?”

“I am. We want it to appear as if the Alliance Ships are being pursued from a space battle.” Kenny pressed a clear cover and a yellow button came up out of the console. Kenny turned the button to the right and then pressed it. The sixteen hundred ships disappeared. “Let’s go back to Sierra Garcia and see if any are delivered.” The Tampa disappeared.

• • •

“Attack warning, attack warning; we have large numbers of ships jumping into our sector. Lock on the invaders and eliminate them.”

An old Alliance Ship appeared in the Lunje system. It was being chased by an old Moet Cruiser and they were firing on each other. Ten ships appeared around the two ships just before they jumped back into Sierra Space. The ten ships pursued the two combatants.

The Lunje Commander looked over at his navigator, “Where did these ships originate?”

“The trails indicate they came from a rather distant galaxy. My scanners indicate they are currently in the process of a space battle.”

The Commander pressed his console, “Central Control, it appears these ships are chasing each other. We’ve scanned them and their technology is not anything to concern us. It appears this is the continuation of a space battle that started in another galaxy.”

“Destroy those ships.”

“One has just been killed by the chaser. We’ve just eliminated the other ship.”

“All ships report in on destruction of your targets.”

Ten minutes later, all sixteen hundred ships were expanding clouds of gas and debris.

George sat in the lower level of the command center and waited until ten hours had passed after the destruction of the last ship. He looked around the room and said, “Activate your buoys.”

The huge room had more than six hundred operators at consoles. There was an identical room on the level below and George waited for the count. “Sir, only two of the Major’s Capitals did not have a successful deployment. The others are on line.”

“How many others were deployed?”

“About six hundred others.”

George frowned, “Only a quarter of them were deployed.”

Bob looked at his board, “Sir, half of the ships were destroyed before they made another jump. They only deployed one buoy. Two of them never had the opportunity to deploy one. Whatever system they use for defense is effective.”

George looked at Bob’s board and said, “Get the computers learning the languages. I want those buoys monitored around the clock.”

“We’re on it, Sir.”

George looked at the board again and then turned and left the room.

• • •

The aide arrived and the door went up on his leader’s quarters, “What have you been able to determine about the ships that entered our sector?”

“The general consensus is that they were from a space battle that started in another galaxy and ended with the pursued ships fleeing here to attempt an escape.”

“Do you have the plot from Central Control?”

“I do.”

“Did you notice anything irregular in the path those ships flew?”

The aide paused and thought a moment and then said, “I don’t think so.”

The large creature waited and the aide finally said, “What am I missing?”

“What are the chances of all eight hundred of those pairs of ships jumping into an inhabited planet’s system on every jump and every capital had them arrive there first?”

The aide saw it, “This is not what it was made to appear.”

“No, it wasn’t. But what was it? That’s what’s troubling me.”

“Could it have been an attempt to test our defensive capabilities?”

The large creature was silent and finally said, “Perhaps. But no signal was recorded leaving those ships. I’ve also sent several of my ships to investigate the sites of their destruction and there is no residue of any bodies in the wreckage.”

“They might have been completely burned in the explosion. Our beams are quite hot.”

“I understand that; but no residue? There should have been some on the molecular level.”

“Do you think they were flown by remote control?”

“I don’t want to go that way but what else would explain the missing protoplasm at every site? Someone did something here; I’ve not been able to figure out what it is.”

The aide thought a moment and said, “Well, if no signal was sent by those ships then they couldn’t have been sent to map our sector or plot our defenses unless they have a communications system we can’t track.”

BOOK: Lens of Time
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