Star Force: Backdoor (SF53) (2 page)

That,
and she just liked
messing with the enemy’s big ships.

With her sabotage efforts done, Kara flew through the
assault pillar’s interior not even aware of the pounding it was taking. Nothing
could be heard or felt where she was at, for the ship was just that freaking
huge. That said, she still had her own sensors and was able to pick up the
Hycre signals between their ships and tap into their own version of a
battlemap…though they didn’t know that she could.

Picking a spot on the hull that wasn’t under
attack,
she headed for one of the many small hangar bays and
knocked aside the lizards in her way with either brute force or telekinesis as
she coasted up to the doors. She opened them with a casual button press and
walked through, launching herself over to the control station and barging her
way inside. She waved a hand at the occupants theatrically and the six standard
variety lizards dropped unconscious along with one librarian. Putting them into
a deep sleep via ‘the Force’ she walked over and activated the bay doors.

When they began to part she walked back out into the
bay, knocking down a pair of armed guards heading her way with an invisible
Lachka punch that felt like a crate hitting their scaly faces. One was rendered
unconscious by the hit, with the other squirming around stunned but trying to
get back on its feet and to its weapon as quickly as possible.

Kara ignored them and flew off across the deck, zigzagging
through the various ships and darting out through the atmospheric shield and
the crack in the doors. Once into open space she activated her beacon and let
the Hycre know where she was. Using the gravity drives in her armor she flew a
curved course up and around the massive ship, heading for one Hycre cruiser in
particular as it pounded on the assault pillar.

It opened a portion of its shields and let her in to
one of its airlocks. She ducked inside and let the exterior doors reseal, then
the inside of the small cubicle filled with the hot, thick, sulfur-laced
atmosphere that the Hycre lived in. Her armor didn’t mind and she walked
inside, heading through the ship and passing several of the floating gas-bags
until she got to the chamber where they wanted her.

It was several stories tall, with Hycre floating
through it at various altitudes. She flew up a level and sat on a support pylon
jutting out from the wall to connect to a workstation. Keeping out of their way
she sat and waited, watching their sensor feeds in her HUD as they pounded the
assault pillar and eventually broke through its armor, getting at the sensitive
interior.

When the lizard fleet began to arrive the Hycre took
the opportunity to kill a few of their cruisers, then as the numbers swelled
and they’d done sufficient damage to the assault pillar they began to withdraw
using their superior binary drives to pull away from the lizards at range, but
still able to fire cleansing beams back at them.

They stuck around the edges for some 20 minutes
sniping the lizards before they came out after them in packs of 30+ ships to
one…but it wasn’t until the lizards began to backdoor the Hycre and try to
pinch them off with other sneaky attempted ganks did the Hycre eventually
withdraw. Some of the ships stayed in the system, bouncing off to other gravity
wells and putting
themselves
outside of lizard sensor
range waiting for an opportunity to jump back in and kill a ship or two.

Kara’s cruiser took her back to the two stars at
system center, allowing her to transition over to the Star Force warship
waiting there. Her task done, it jumped out of the system and she headed over
to the sanctum for a quick run to flush out the stagnation she’d been
accumulating from sitting and waiting for so long…then she got some much needed
sleep. When she woke she headed back to the sanctum for some real workouts as
the warship took her to the next location on her hit list.

And that list was growing with each year that passed.

 
 

2

 
 

April 21, 2549

Reesi
System (Beta
Region)

Metropolis

 

Ikki watched the countdown inside his Valerie cockpit
anxiously, wanting to get out into clean air but still tucked up inside the
carrier that was just now entering the atmosphere. The big ship served as his
Axius squadron’s mobile base of operations and had just entered the system via
jumpship, detached, and was now making its way down to the planet under naval
escort. According to the battlemap telemetry the Skarron navy was doing their
best to get at the carrier and other vessels but the Star Force drones were
holding them at bay, giving them their window of opportunity to get down to the
planet.

Metropolis was a Human/Kiritak world on the border of
the ADZ and one of the more recent Skarron invasion points. The fighting had
stalled in orbit just like everywhere else as the Sentinels kept the enemy
pinned to higher orbits aside from staged runs down to the surface to escort
troops, with the heavy fighting occurring planetside. Metropolis was badly in
need of reinforcement, having already lost one of its three large continents to
the enemy, but with so many engagement zones across the ADZ reinforcements were
hard to come by.

Ikki and his squadron were relatively new, having only
been in three previous campaigns against the lizards, but some of the pilots
with him had considerable experience. Their ‘Cap’ was a veteran from the very
beginning of Axius by the name of Chitticki, an Irondel, but one with good
skills and could keep up with the rest of the squadron that was made up solely
of Urik’kadel. All of their fighters were standard Valerie, no specialty
variants, given that this was going to be a mixed operational campaign and they
needed flexibility. Other squadrons would have the different models, but
Ikki’s
was straight up regulars with the idea being that
they would go wherever needed.

Orders had already come through concerning the
drop…for they were going into combat immediately. The Skarrons had established
aerial superiority wherever they had walker clusters or one of the bigger
models, but they were extending that range out by employing massive numbers of
their own crappy fighters. The Skarrons flew them themselves, not their
Aronsic, meaning the craft were big, heavy, and didn’t maneuver well compared
to the Valeries…but they were tanks when it came to survivability and required
a lot of hits to take down.

Combine that
tankiness
with
numbers and you had an aerial force that could literally run over any other
small squadrons, even if they didn’t kill them. That meant keeping them back
from targets was difficult enough, and with the enemy not seeming to care about
losses you had a juggernaut that could wash over any nearby section of the
planet and support/cover for infantry advances.

On the up side the enemy fighters weren’t too good at
poaching mechs, but they were trying to none the less with swarm tactics…which
was probably why the mech kill stats for fighters was nearly the equal of the
Star Force aerial total. On average the veteran pilots had a running 77/1 kill
ratio, but given how many fighters the Skarrons had, and were continuing to
receive from reinforcement runs, Star Force couldn’t establish aerial
superiority except for in locations where they had mech or city backup.

Axius might not have a lot of ground troops to bring
into the fold, yet, for they were still growing and growing rapidly, but they
did have a huge
aerial
division. The
Urik’kadel were largely responsible for that, choosing to ally with Axius for
nearly all military applications rather than try to contribute on their own.
Ikki had grown up in an Axius colony, but several of the pilots in his squadron
had not. They’d transferred over specifically to join the military, as had many
others. In response Axius had devoted more resources to fighter creation so
they’d have enough Valeries to accommodate them all.

They all lived in Axius colonies now, but those who
were not native to them planned on returning home when their time here was
done. That said
,
they were all Axius in blood now,
even the newer additions, given the length of training they’d all endured
together. Axius didn’t field rookies, and Ikki had had to prove himself time
and again before being given his first combat slot.

And when he had gotten it there was more training to
be done in order to get
himself
accustomed to flying
with the members of his squadron. They’d gone through hundreds of simulator
runs onboard the carrier prior to each assault and in the down times in
between, working on learning each other’s tendencies and practicing combined
maneuvers of so many varieties it’d been a challenge for Ikki to learn it
all…but he had, as had the others, and because of it and their natural piloting
skill they were about to go to school on the Skarrons with it.

Ikki waited impatiently until the countdown finally
ended, with his fighter being given the go to launch. He lifted up off the
small deck that his fighter sat on and moved out into the large hangar bay that
had the rest of his squadron parked into the back wall in niches. The
Urik’kadel followed three other Valeries out the opening bay doors and shot
through the atmospheric containment field, immediately getting hit with
turbulence as the carrier continued to descend through the atmosphere.

As soon as he was outside his battlemap lit up with
target contacts being highlighted by either the Cap or a controller in the
carrier. Regardless he shot out after them, seeing several hundred enemy
fighters coming in to harass the carrier and troop transports that were coming
down and now splitting up to head to different locations on the surface. His
targets were about 50
klicks
out, but that was
nothing for his pointy-nose Valerie and he shot out across the sky of the new
world, linking up with his 10 man squadron as he did so.

Cap flew center, with three trios spread around him,
making what was called a ‘tri-force’ formation. Ikki didn’t understand the
metaphor there, but he’d learned the grouping early on and found it was the
most reliable for head on engagements, for each piece would split up and chase
down Skarron fighters in the simulations. Since they required more pounding
having 3 Valeries working together could take them down pretty quick, leaving
Cap to fly around on his own as a diversion or to add a few kills of his own
with enough persistence.

He did well with that, and when the break came Ikki
went with his pair flying starboard wing and following
Fanvi’s
lead. A targeting mark appeared around one particular enemy fighter and the
trio went after it, with Ikki flying wide. He turned sharp left and came at it
from the flank as
Fanvi
shot it head on and dove low,
getting a two hit run in. The third fighter in their group,
Mava
,
spun around and came in on its tail, pounding it relentlessly with a scattergun
until it suddenly fell out of the sky…their first kill of the day.

There would be many more to follow, for the carrier
held some 60 squadrons and there were multiple carriers coming down to the
planet. It was feeding time, and the largely Urik’kadel comprised squadrons
went to work on the slow Skarron hordes with a ravenous appetite for kills.

 

Two Axius armadillos landed outside one of the
captured Star Force cities on the Skarron-held continent that was currently
undergoing a counterassault. Infantry was coming up out of the ocean and
heading into the city while aquatic mechs held off and were doing a good job of
chewing up the few Skarron walkers challenging them. In addition one aquatics battleship
had risen up out of the water and was adding its firepower to the insertion,
ensuring that the infantry made it inside the buildings where they began taking
it to the invaders in close quarters fighting.

The armadillos landed several kilometers away on the
north side, far enough away from the Skarron walkers not to come under fire,
given that the largest in play was a Type-3 that didn’t have any missiles and a
few lachar blasts weren’t a cause for concern. The two large ships set down on
the marshy ground and opened up their doors, spewing out a contingent of Axius
mechs that immediately began running towards the city as they fanned out into a
loose line that buckled outward into an arch. Inside that arch followed infantry…huge
infantry.

Reen scurried out with their long necks reaching up
nearly two stories high as their six pointy legs poked holes into the soft
ground as they walked/ran their way forward covered in heavy armor that made
them look like mechs themselves. The big race actually had turrets on their
armor in lieu of the handheld weapons they didn’t have…given that they didn’t
have hands. Each of them also had a tiny mauler on their head, able to point it
wherever they looked and fire in addition to the plasma cannons placed at the
high knee joints on their inverted ‘V’ shaped legs that rose halfway up their
neck length.

They were far larger than the Skarrons, but still able
to move around in tight confines given their ability to crunch down into a
smaller form. That said
,
it was going to take several
minutes for them to get to the city walls before they could get inside, with
the mechs providing them an escort to make sure they did prior to going after
the walkers.

Then, almost as an afterthought, a few more ‘infantry’
came out of the transports last of all. There were 7 in total, each of which
was an Ikrotor that stood taller than the mechs. The Ent-like race also had
body armor covering their already stone-like bodies, but where the Reen were
mildly slow the Axius-trained Ikrotor were not. They ran ahead, quickly
catching up to the Reen and then the mech line. When they passed it a few of
the mechs accelerated to keep pace with them, for they were not heading for the
city…they were heading directly for the enemy walkers and coming up on their
rear flank as they battled the shoreline aquatics forces.

The Ikrotor were bipedal and enormous. Untrained
individuals moved about slowly and ponderously, like the
Ents
they resembled, but with time and Star Force-specialized training, a little
side project of Wilson’s, they’d gotten their stride length and cadence up,
allowing them to actually run with strides that ate up nearly 20 meters with
each step…and that was with armor weighing them down, for theirs didn’t have a
powered function as of yet.

In stark comparison the tiny Irondel in the mechs beside
them kept pace despite their being smaller than a cat. Through the use of
technology and Star Force’s unique approach to warfare, both incompatible races
now fought side by side within Axius, with both ambushing the Skarron mechs
with a fervor born of going into battle knowing you were going to win and win
big.

The mechs that went with the Ikrotor started pounding
on the Skarron’s shields from range with plasma and maulers, eating into and
weakening them as the giants ran directly up to the enemy machines while
charging plasma nubs on their fists. Like the Elarioni and lizard aquatic
weapons, the plasma was held concentrated in a small container until physical
contact was made, then released suddenly with no dissipation loss suffered from
firing over range.

The first Ikrotor to get to a Type-5 walker punched
the golf ball square in the center, with the plasma blasting through what was
left of the shield and the physical impact to follow tipping it backwards. The
walker’s thick bipedal legs made choppy steps trying to catch its balance but
the Ikrotor didn’t relent, swinging its other plasma charged fist into the
armor and melting a bit of it off while knocking it further back.

The Skarron walker tipped over and immediately pulled
its legs in to begin the righting process, but that wasn’t to occur. The
Ikrotor came up on it and, even while it was showering out tiny white plasma
blasts like a bright sprinkler, punched it repeatedly on top, keeping it pinned
to the ground while melting through the armor with each semi-charged hit. That
eventually weakened the protective shell enough that the physical blows cracked
it open.

The Ikrotor reached in and peeled the shell open,
then
pounded plasma inside until the walker stopped
returning fire. The giant infantry stood up and stepped aside, its shields
having gone down and it taken a few slight scorch marks to its armor but that
didn’t matter. It looked around at the others and focused on the nearest Type-3
as two more of its brothers headed towards it, running off to join them a few
hundred meters back and meeting up with a
Weapon
-class
aquatic mech coming in from the other side as the Skarron walkers suddenly
found themselves severely out gunned and began to scurry around in a panic.

The Axius mechs moved through the chaotic mess and
pounded down shields while letting the Ikrotor inflict the armor and physical
damage. In the case of the Type-3 its back legs were wrapped up by the
mechanical tentacles on the aquatic mech which held it close as it pounded one
side of its double-hulled body with pointblank mauler shots. At the same time
the three Ikrotor came at the other section and tore off one of its front legs
with repeated plasma punches to the spindly support.

The walker shot out a tether launcher from underneath,
which attached to the leg of one of the Ikrotor and tripped it up, pulling it
in underneath it where it launched a waterfall of plasma down onto its armored
figure before one of the others got to the cable and cut it.

Its leg now free, the Ikrotor stood back up and,
instead of running away, stayed underneath and punched up into its belly taking
out a few plasma cannons as the other two likewise pounded on various segments.
Unable to move with the aquatic ‘tick’ on its backside the Skarron walker
poured as much plasma damage as it could into its opponents before it
eventually went down, with the Ikrotor tearing through its armor shell and
pouring plasma inside to make the kill with the aquatic mech letting them
finish it off as it retreated back to shore.

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