The Suns of War – Chapter 9 (Serial Story)

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 9: A Bomb, more Fanatics, and some Rest

The bomb embedded in the ship was giving off so much energy that it was super-charging the engines. 

“Once we open the energy collectors, we can syphon off the energy. That should slow us down,” Zuri explained again.

Bart’s bushy eyebrows furrowed and he asked, “Where are we going to put all that energy?”

It was Alexandre who replied, “Our new energy cells can hold a hundred and fifty percent of maximum. The rest we’ll be using to drop out of FTL without exploding.”

Bart swallowed hard and just nodded.

It wasn’t long before they had modified the ship and were ready to try. 

“Captain, on your mark,” Zuri said.

Trying not to think about what would happen if they had missed a valve or a bolt, Nessa said, “Bart, prepare for some fancy flying. When we drop out, we’ll be right in the middle of the Ares system and I don’t think they’ll be too happy to see a Martian ship arriving. Okay, Zuri, do it.”

Everyone braced for impact, but other than a worrisome humming noise, not much happened other than the view from the monitors changing.

Once they’d successfully dropped out of FTL, however, things got bumpy. They were still going extremely fast and Ares was one giant asteroid field.

Bart navigated them out of the field and then howled in frustration and anger. 

Nessa knew what it felt like to see your homeworld reduced to rubble and let the man grieve. She asked the rest of the bridge crew, “Damage report?” 

Zuri looked frustrated as she replied, “Working on it captain, but our sensors were damaged, and that’s slowing things down.”

Frowning, Nessa said, “Blue-Sun has to be stopped. We need to find Arthur. From what the Avalonians said, he has the power to stop them.”

“Sir, I’ve been reading through the massive amount of information they gave us on Arthur and I think I found something that will help.” Em looked hopeful.

“Go ahead.”

“It’s said that Arthur can block the connection between the Sun Speakers and their gods. He was also a powerful Sun Speaker himself so he has those powers. It says that the best way to identify Arthur is when he uses his powers.”

Still heartbroken at seeing his homeworld destroyed, Bart asked in a teary voice, “What powers? What can stand up to this level of destruction?”

Em sighed and said, “The text is half metaphors and all flowery language. It’s hard to decipher. Other than blocking the Sun Speakers, there’s something about leading the half-living into battle, and understanding the secrets of war. I really d—” Alarms cut him off and he tapped at his console before saying, “There are four Myrddin ships and they’re hailing us.”

The near mechanical voices boomed over the ships coms, “Myrddin searches for Arthur.”

“Put me on,” Nessa said and once Em did, she said, “Myrddin ships. We are the Galahad and we also search for Arthur.” When they didn’t respond, she asked, “How will you recognize him and what do you plan to do with him?”

It seemed like they weren’t going to answer until the voice said, “We will recognize him by DNA and we shall follow him into the war to end all wars. Why do you search for him?”

Nessa didn’t want to mention Avalon so she settled for a half truth, “We hope he can help against the meaningless destruction of Blue-Sun.”

“They are serpents, which must be destroyed. It is agreed.” The coms cut off and everyone stared at the screen in confusion.

After a moment, Em said, “They’ve sent us a data packet with what looks like medical information.”

Peri, who’d been sitting at a spare station, perked up and said, “Send it to medbay and I’ll look it over.”

Zuri, who seemed to have missed everything, looked up and said, “Looks like sensors, shields, cloak, weapons, FTL engines, and plasma collectors all sustained severe damage.”

“Is that it?” Alexandre said, and Nessa could swear the large lizardman was teasing Zuri.

Blushing, Zuri said, “It’ll take a day and a half to repair.”

Nessa nodded and gestured for her to go ahead. Both her and Alexandre got up and headed to wherever they needed to repair things. “We’ll set up two shifts. Bart and Tanya, you go for a rest, Em and I will take first duty.” When the other two were gone, Nessa told Em to go help the engineers. 

The bridge was so quiet with everyone gone, Nessa could almost believe that she was back as a commander in the Martian military. “Has it really only been a few days?” she asked herself.

She monitored communications, but the usually active channels were quiet. With at least two of the three major powers destroyed, there weren’t many people left.

The shift went on quietly until Bart came to relieve her of duty.

“How are you holding up?” she asked.

“I’m angry and sad, but mostly I feel numb. Those bastards took our homes without breaking a sweat.”

She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and he pulled her into a hug. She said, “I understand.”

“Bah, enough touchy-feely stuff. Get some sleep.”

Her quarters were untouched, but felt wrong, like a relic from another time. She ate a quick meal and then lay down for sleep. She didn’t expect it would be easy, but she closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

She was started out of a dream about chasing ghosts through a maze by Bart over the coms, “Captain, Blue-Sun is broadcasting on all channels that they found Arthur and he’s going to lead them into battle against the rebel suns. We’re reading a massive fleet of Myrddin on their way to the Blue-Sun location.”

Later, on the bridge, Nessa looked around at the assembled crew and said, “It’s probably a trap, but if there’s a chance they found Arthur, we need to make sure he isn’t being used by them.”

“The ship’s ready to go,” Zuri said.

“Let’s go rescue King Arthur Pendragon, Speaker of the Rebel Sun, Ruler of Old Earth and the three kingdoms of War.”

Read Chapter 10


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

The Suns of War – Chapter 8 (Serial Story)

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 8: Angry Parents and Antimatter Bombs

When the fake asteroid hailed them, Nessa had assumed they’d talk to a burly farmer or engineer. There were jokes throughout the Mars system about Proserpinans being uncultured or backwards. 

The man on the screen was dressed in an ancient styled suit and looked like something from the old Earth stories. He had a strange sharp accent like Martian wasn’t his first language. “Arzure Pendreicht, where have you been?” It was the tone of a precise and strict teacher, not a parent.

“Excuse me Sir, but I’m Commander Nessa Muldune of the ISS Galahad. We are searching for a man named Arthur.”

The man turned his piercing grey eyes on Nessa and said, “Would that be King Arthur? Who shall return and rule the galaxy ushering in a golden age of galactic peace?”

Hesitating, Nessa then replied, “Yes.”

With a sly smile the man said, “No one by that name is on Proserpina.” He then scowled at Zuri and commanded, “You will return home immediately or we will retrieve you! You have no business traipsing around the cosmos with these people.” His emphasis on the word people made it clear it was meant as an insult.

“But Father,” she started and then added, “Yes, Sir.”

The line was cut and the whole bridge crew turned to Zuri. Nessa was the first to talk and asked, “How old are you?”

“Twenty. Why?” Zuri looked confused.

“I was sixteen when I enlisted and by Martian law you’re an adult at that age. You don’t have to go with him if you don’t want to.”

Zuri sighed and slumped into the engineering station’s chair. “You don’t understand. He’ll chase us and he’ll destroy this ship.”

Alexandre scoffed. “This might be a Martian design, but with the upgrades done by the Avalonians and yourself, there’s no way that ancient bucket of bolts could touch us.”

“That’s an original old Earth destroyer class colony ship. Its hull was designed to absorb radiation and turn it into fuel. It would take crashing a planet into it to make a dent.” Zuri sounded defeated. 

Nessa put a gentle paw on the girl’s arm and said, “He could command the combined army of the three systems. If you don’t want to return, I will protect you.”

The rest of the crew nodded in agreement and the decision was made. 

“Please,” Zuri said, her voice thin and fragile.

Nessa gestured at the screen and said, “Em, get them back on the vid.”

“Yes Sir,” the master sergeant replied.

“What do you want now?” The man’s glare was as sharp as his suit.

“Zuri is a member of our crew and she wants to stay with us. Our mission is to find Arthur. Any information you can give us would be appreciated.” 

The man fixed his eye on Zuri and said, “If you do this, we will kill everyone on that sh—” His words were interrupted by heavy fire.

“Sir, there are three Myrddin ships that have just dropped out of FTL. They’re firing on both us and the Proserpina,” Tanya said with her fingers poised over the weapon controls.

“They’re firing on both of us,” confirmed Alexandre.

Bart barked, “Let’s get out of here.”

“Agreed,” Nessa replied. “Take us anywhere but here.”

Just as the Galahad jumped to FTL, an explosion rocked the ship. 

Still looking younger than her years, Zuri tapped furiously at her consol, “Captain, we’ve taken severe damage to our engines. I’m not sure how we’re still in FTL.”

“How is that possible and can anyone tell where we’re headed?” Nessa asked. Sometimes it was the Captain’s job to know all the answers and sometimes they had to ask the right ones. Finding the balance was always tricky.

After a little, Em answered from the helm, “It looks like we’re headed toward the Ares system and our speed is increasing. We just passed FTL-20.” Faster than light speed was calculated by multiplying the speed of light. Twenty meant they were moving at twenty the speed of light. With the ship’s engines, they normally moved at a maximum of FTL-15.

“Zuri, I thought you said our engines were down?” Bart asked.

“They are, but that was an antimatter bomb, and it hit our shields at the exact moment we created the FTL bubble. The bomb is stuck in our bubble, fueling our speed, and sustaining the bubble.”

“Can the ship survive this?” Nessa asked, surprised that she couldn’t feel any turbulence.

“Absolutely. The ship isn’t doing anything so it’s not a problem. However, if the bubble bursts before it slows, the ship will be torn apart at a molecular level,” Alexandre replied.

“Sir we just hit FTL-2000. Nope FTL-4000.” Em sounded awed and panicked at the same time. A feeling that Nessa could understand.

“Options?”

“What if we shot a regular bomb at the antimatter one?” Tanya sounded excited about blowing things up. 

With wide eyes, both Alexandre and Em said, “No!”

Zuri explained, “That would probably knock the antimatter bomb out of the bubble, but it would also burst it.”

“We’re moving too fast for my instruments. We’re going to pass Ares in less than an hour,” Em smacked her console as if that would help it make more sense.

“How can we syphon off this speed?” Bart asked. When they all looked at him he said, “When I’m flying the fighter and I’m getting too close to my target, I can activate my rudder flaps to slow me down. Can we do the same, but with the bubble?”

“You’re a genius,” Zuri said, causing the canine to puff up his chest.

“So we have something like a wing rudder?” he asked.

“Tartarus, no! That’s a terrible idea. But you said syphon off our speed. What we need to do is syphon the power of the antimatter bomb into our ship’s energy collectors and that will slow us down.”

“Those are designed for plasma not antimatter,” Alexandre pointed out.

“We just need to make some small changes. These engines were designed to run on plasma converted to antimatter, so we just disconnect the micro-collider and feed it directly.”

Alexandre agreed and Nessa asked, “Is this going to kill us?”

Both Zuri and Alexandre replied, “Probably.”

Read Chapter 9


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

The Suns of War – Chapter 7 (Serial Story)

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 7: Surfing the Rubble of Mars 

They’d almost made it to their ship when they were hit by the shockwave. The Myrddin ship exploded faster and harder than they’d expected. 

“What was in that thing? Explosives?” Bart said, wildly trying to get their shuttle under control before they hit the ship or an asteroid. 

“Sir, if you can hear us, we have to get out of here. The explosion pushed all the asteroids around it toward us.” Em’s voice was clear but panicked over the coms.

Nessa looked out as Bart levelled them out and saw the wave of debris coming toward them. “That’s okay Sergeant, we’ll join you at the edge of the system. Try and keep an eye on the asteroid.” She didn’t want to lose sight of the asteroid that they’d detected that was moving oddly and had the old Earth engine signature.

“I’m working on boosting our shields,” Zuri said.

“Have either of you Martians been on Ares?” When the two of them gave him confused looks, Bart continued, “Most of it is water, clean beautiful water. Our two moons give the planet the most amazing tides. That’s why we have the best surfers in the three systems.”

“Bart. What the Hades does this have to do with our current situation?” Nessa felt totally useless. Bart was driving, Zuri was upgrading, and she was sitting, wishing there was something for her to do.

“I’ve always wanted to try surfing. I guess today is my lucky day.” Bart stood up straight and grunted in the direction of the incoming wave of asteroids.

Zuri poked her head out of the panel she was playing with and said, “That could work. I’ll concentrate the shields on the bottom of the ship. Nessa, shoot anything in our way, and Bart can surf us out of this.”

“I’m not sure about this but I don’t have a better idea. At least I get to shoot something.”

Bart barked a laugh and said, “Hold on to your tails.” He accelerated and the shuttle was thrown up over the curve of the asteroid wave.

They followed the wave and it rode the asteroids; anything too big or close, Nessa shot it.

Soon they were approaching a moon-sized asteroid and Bart grunted, “That beasty has us in its gravity. We’re going to have to go through. You ready to corkscrew?”

Nessa checked the scans and found that the asteroid was mostly water and rock. She trained the laser cannons to fire in an X formation. It would create a tunnel just wide enough for their shuttle. 

She fired and had created half the tunnel when the lasers died. “We’re going to hit the core, reverse!” she shouted.

“No! I can fix them!” Zuri’s confidence was worrying, but Nessa nodded at Bart and he kept course.

As the wall of ice got closer Nessa watched the young engineer work. It was like watching a complicated martial arts routine. She moved like no one and no engineer that Nessa had ever seen. 

“Better fix that fast or I’m going to have to hit the brakes, or the ice,” Bart sounded nervous.

Zuri gave a growl, strange from a human voice, and shoved her hands into the panel she’d been working on. Nessa blinked in confusion a few times as Zuri started to glow. 

The laser control roared back to life and Nessa fired. They were covered in water from the melting of the ice. It froze again the moment it touched the ship.

They made it through the asteroid and surfed a little longer until finally they found themselves at the edge of the system.

They all cheered before Nessa hailed the Galahad, “Everyone alive out there?”

After much too long a pause for Nessa’s liking, they replied, “Yes sir, we made it. We have some damage to the shields, but we’re okay. Coming to pick you up now.”

Once back on the bridge, Nessa sat in the captain’s chair and said, “Did you manage to keep the asteroid in view?”

“Yes sir. Should we follow them or wait for Zuri to finish the repair?” Alexandre’s emotionless voice asked.

“She can handle it on the go. Let’s follow that asteroid.”

“Sir, if that’s really a galactic ion drive, we’ll only be able to catch them if it’s broken or if they want us to catch them,” Tanya said, looking uncomfortable reminding a superior officer of something so obvious.

Nodding, Nessa asked, “How’s the cloak?”

It was Alexandre who replied, “It should hold, but at some point Zuri will need to turn it off to fix the shields.”

“Understood. Let’s go.”

They moved slowly, in comparison, to avoid the many other pockets of planetary debris that covered the entire system and were moving more violently since the explosion.

When they got to the asteroid it was obviously a ship with an illusion or projection that fooled their ship’s sensors. It looked brand new but the design was straight out of the history books about old earth. 

“What ship is that?” Nessa asked.

“Unknown, sir,” Alexandre replied. The rest of the bridge crew shook their heads.

At the same time, Zuri entered and said, “I have to turn the shields and cloak off.” When she looked at the viewscreen she said, “That’s an old earth Yacht. That’s the Proserpina. “How did they get it out of the moon? Oh no, are they looking for me?”

“Why would they be looking for you?” Bart asked, his tail drooping.

“I might have run away,” Zuri looked down and blushed. 

Before anyone could say anything, Em said, “Sir, the asteroid is hailing us.”

Read Chapter 8


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: