Chapter 135: Fight Scene, with Sound Effects
We left our heroes in the pantope, contemplating what to do about the
draconian manta-ship that just launched two missiles at the area we're
trying to evacuate. Well, first we gate the two missiles into the sea.
Tom puts Robbie in charge of slamming the gates shut, since he has the
Ow. That one was close. The second missile went off very nearly at the time we gated it through, and some of the explosion leaks into the pantope, where, as usual, it echoes around the closed geometry for some time.
Bam (Bam (bam ((bam (((bam))) )) )...
In freeze-frame, we open a couple of windows, to shoot at the manta-ship. We note that it's in the very act of firing some kind of beam weapon at the puff of smoke where the missile went off. It shot its own missile, to set it off on us. Well, we knew they could detect our gates; we didn't know they could react to them so quickly. What to do?
We decide to baffle them with decoy doors -- open doors about fifteen times over three seconds. As a safety precaution, Gannar taxies our little fighter craft off the pantope, back to the ranch, and everyone else hunkers down in the armored airlock.
We start in on our decoy sequence. A few moments into it, Kate, Robbie, and Katrina's ray guns all blow up in their holsters.
In the confusion, we leave our doors hanging open. A small missile comes through and hits the pantope deck.
The armored airlock goes rolling, with all of us inside it. Dafnord grabs for Tom; Robbie grabs for the helm computer, only to find it's dead. "Close the door!" Dafnord yells at Tom, who does so.
Just after the second missile comes in.
After a while, the airlock stops pitching. We pick ourselves up, open the door on what is fortunately still a side wall, and look about. The soft emerald deck has several interesting new gouges, and one section of it is a sea of green rubble, bobbing up and down in the pantope's plane of gravity. The various chocolate-fruit trees that were growing in planters have become chocolate pudding mixed with tossed bracken.
Braeta curses, finding that ALL the computers she had in her back pack have died. Seems the manta ship projected some little spherical object into the pantope, which them hit us with an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse). This fried everything electronic, including the helm computer.
Robbie is very glad he isn't electronic anymore. Gannar, when he gets back, is very, very glad he wasn't on the pantope at the time. And a good thing the fighter wasn't, either.
Fortunately, the magic tent was folded up. This meant that the spare helm computers and the autodoc were all largely Elsewhere when the EMP went off.
"Okay," says Tom, "I know what I did wrong." People glare at him. What he means is that, next time, we'll put the doors (and any subsequent missiles) in the armored airlock, while we stay outside, hunkered down behind a force-field generator.
So we do it all again, running a sequence of decoy doors, while Gannar, the fighter, and all the valuables we don't need at the moment are pushed off onto the ranch.
We back up and watch our first sequence of decoys go by. Hm. Those two missiles that hit us had four siblings that didn't hit us. Modified rapture. We lay some more decoys without incident, then pause and bring the fighter and Gannar back aboard.
There follows a peculiar sort of dogfight, in which the manta ship launches another burst of six missiles, while Gannar shoots at it from various angles, with the fighter's lasers. It shrugs these off with radiation screens or some such.
The plasma cannon seems more effective.
Nice riposte. Our plasma cannon is toast. However, the manta ship is now sinking out of the air, toward the city. We watch for a bit in slow motion.
And it's just as well it is slow motion. Markel and Dafnord spot another EMP sphere starting to fade in on us. Tom goes to freeze-frame.
The globe goes off while still translucent, doing no damage.
"Time to dunk 'em," Robbie opines. Tom agrees and opens a wide, wide gate, dropping the dying manta ship into the sea.
We sigh with relief and reluctantly turn our attention to all those stray missiles our foe shot off.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.