Chapter 8, part 3
What Hero Through Yonder Vision Breaks?
The Trader Emergency Coalition
8 years ago, galactic position 305, 835, planet christened "Liberty"
Inside modified fighter "Light Strike"
Kol pressed the trigger buttons repeatedly, yet they did not respond. Hurtling towards the enemy's capital ship, he was helpless inside his own space craft. Jets of light issued from the Vasari's ship, whizzing past Kol's. It was only moments before one of them hit.
Suddenly, a green glowing shield sparked into life around Kol's fighter, absorbing the point defense fire. Kol's mouth dropped. A fighter with a shield? What was going on? The fighter shot nearer to the enemy ship, Kol desperately waiting for whatever super weapon the fighter had prepared to fire. But nothing happened. Going faster and faster towards the capital ship, nothing happened. Then Kol understood. And he screamed again.
The fighter sliced through the enemy's shield like a razor and embedded itself into the side of the capital ship. Kol was thrown out of his seat, restraining straps and all, and darkness closed in on his vision.
darkness closing birds are growing, feasting, learning, hides are turning, ears are moaning, hearing, snoring, eyes are bleeding, weeping, sobbing...
The sounds echoed around Kol's mind. He seemed somewhere between life and death, at least, that was how he perceived it. All around him were softly glowing lights of all colors. To his left lay a field of fire, purple fire, leaping towards the sky and burning merrily. To his right lay a darkness, heavy and oppressive. Kol immediately knew that if he went to the darkness he would die, and if he went to the purple flames he would live. The choice seemed obvious. So why was he inching towards the darkness?
The sounds drew him onward, the voices. They were saying things, terrible things, nonsense things, but Kol still came forward, straining to hear the voice that lay underneath all the other voices. That was the voice he wanted to hear.
But soft! What Hero through yonder vision breaks!
Kol stopped. He had found it. He knew it was talking about him. Talking to him? He had to hear more. He inched closer to the darkness, could feel the dank heat of it wash over him. His face was awash in a cold sweat, but he went nearer, ever nearer. The voice was talking about him. He had to know what it was saying.
What hero through yonder vision breaks? It is the King! It is the King!
Closer, always closer. Kol realized he was on his stomach, crawling, groveling towards the voice.
It is the King, and Alexander is the hero!
Where had the darkness gone? Then Kol realized he was in the darkness, inside the darkness. He was inside death.
Arise, lowly hero, and kill the invading scum.
The voice had moved. Now it was over by the purple fire. Kol stood up and moved towards it, but found that the darkness had trapped him, was holding him like a fly on a spider's web. He could have wept.
Arise, lowly hero, and kill the invading scum, who will soon be sick and pale with terror over your arrival!
With an enormous effort, Kol broke through the darkness. A few thin threads tried to hold him back, but he pushed through those and ran towards the voice. It condensed into one yellow glowing ball, and Kol sprang at it joyously.
Kol's eyes flashed open. The lights of his fighter flickered feebly, creating a sort of gloom about the cockpit. The overhead door was cracked and unsealed, and with little effort Kol broke through it and climbed atop the fighter. What he saw made him gasp. Behind him, a glowing white force field where the fighter had made a hole in the hull, preventing the escape of oxygen from the ship. Apparently these aliens breathed it too. Around the fighter was strewn debris and hazy dust, but nothing else. No aliens, no mechanized creatures. Nobody was there. But Kol was inside the Vasari's capital ship. Crawling over a mound of blackened something, part of the broken hull, Kol thought, he gripped his pistol tightly, although leaving it in its holster by his hip. If he was startled by anything, he didn't want to drop it. Technically, Kol wasn't even supposed to have his weapon with him, but he had forgotten to drop it off in the bin in the hangar. What an idiot he was! But now maybe it would save him.
Kol dropped to the floor and ran down the hallway.
8 years ago, galactic position 305, 835, planet code named VASAR
aboard the Platinum
Num'pol jumped as an explosion rocked the ship. Hurriedly he checked the ship's computers. Had that been some new surprising human missile? No, there had been no missile.
"Status report!" Num'pol barked out. "Tell me what just happened!"
"A human fighter crashed into our hull, Elite Subjugator!" A Vasari Invasion Specialist shouted out.
"How did it get past our shield!" Num'pol roared.
The Invasion Specialist visibly quaked. "I...I am not sure, Elite Subjugator, only that they cut through it as if it were no more than shuffa butter."
Num'pol clenched his fist. "Destroy the fighter!" Then he had a thought. "But if there are any humans left aboard...bring them to me. I would know more about their race."
The Invasion Specialist bowed, knuckle to forehead. "It will be done as such, Elite Subjugator."
The Invasion Specialist fled the room, glad to be away from his master and his dangerous moods.
The Trader Emergency Coalition
8 years ago, galactic position 305, 835, planet christened "Liberty"
aboard Vasari capital ship
"Oh, that looks important."
Kol fired a couple of shots into what looked like a control bank on one of the walls, and it exploded in a shower of sparks.
"Ok...wasn't expecting that large of a fireworks display."
Kol spoke aloud to himself, the sound of his own voice calming him. The stars alone knew how much he needed to be soothed.
"Oh moon nuggets, I hear footsteps..."
Kol peered around the corner and fired a shot. The Vasari figure approaching dropped to the floor, his strange alien gun falling with a clatter to the ground. Kol immediately dived around the corner and took shelter behind the same mini-wall that the Vasari had previously occupied. Peering over that, he fired off another few shots. There hadn't been any Vasari when he crashed, but there sure as hell had come running. And they had big guns. Surprisingly, however, they had refrained from blasting off Kol's head, even when they had perfectly good chances at it. He supposed it was because they wanted him alive to question, which was fine by him. As long as they didn't kill him, everything was fine. But they did keep up a heavy suppressing fire. Glancing down at his gun, Kol sighed. He didn't have many choices. He could keep taking wild shots, hoping to shoot one of them until he ran out of bullets, or he could stand and surrender himself to them. The last was not an option, but the first was hardly one as well. But it didn't really matter. Kol knew he was only trying to stall. He had been having amazing luck with his gun today. Uncanny luck. Kol knew that he would hit the Vasari gunners.
Diving around the mini-wall, Kol let loose a barrage of bullets. The three Vasari fell, their entrenched guns winding to a halt. Panting, Kol picked himself up and grimaced. His shoulder was a bloody mess. Kol slid a new cartridge into his gun with a snap as he proceeded down the hallway. Pain was meaningless. Living was meaningless. Kol had heard the voice again. And it was calling him forward.
He reached the end of the hallway. A heavy double-door barred his way, looking like it was made up of steel 8 inches deep. Which it probably was. Alien steel. Who knew how strong that was? Kol threw himself at them anyway, and cried out in surprise when they opened. Kol picked himself up and looked into the eyes of a Vasari that stood over him, one hand on the door controls, and the other pointing what was obviously a gun at Kol's head.
Kol dropped his gun and slowly raised his hands above his head. This was it. He would die soon. He didn't really care. The voice had disappeared again. Maybe he would find it in death. The Vasari still didn't move. Kol used this time to look around the command bridge, as the place obviously was. It was empty save for Kol and the Vasari. He met the alien stare for stare. If he was going to die, so be it. If he was going to live and become this creature's tortured victim, so be that as well.
The Vasari dropped his gun.
"An even chance, human," it growled, before launching itself at Kol.
He didn't even have time be surprised at the TEC standard English coming out of the alien's mouth. Kol ducked underneath the alien's outstretched arms and kicked at its feet. It hissed angrily as it toppled. With a start Kol realized its knees were on the wrong side of its body. Then he remembered. Alien. Of course. He backhanded the Vasari's face, making it stumble back, giving him some breathing room. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his gun. He dived towards it, and the Vasari hissed again. "No honor!" it seemed to have said, but Kol wasn't listening. He picked up the gun, cocked it, and fired at the alien's face. Bright green blood splattered across Kol, but he hardly noticed. He stared down at the alien, silently. He didn't remember dropping his gun. Silently he rose, and immediately toppled into one of the chairs lining the edges of the room. Weeping silently, Kol clutched himself hard, rocking back and forth. These last few events had just fully caught up with him. He stared at his blood-stained shirt, and tore it apart in sudden fury. He twisted and turned, ripping the shirt to shreds, as if trying to rid himself of the fact. He was a killer. A born killer. A natural. The thought made him want to sick up. But then the voice spoke.
Arise, lowly hero, and assume your place as king!
And then it was gone, and he was running up to the bank of computers, pressing buttons and flipping switches. Something had to work. Hopefully something not as crazy as the dissembling auto-ray. How they had come up with that name.....a transmission icon appeared on the screen, and Kol jumped. He hadn't realized what he was doing had worked.
He leaned forward hurriedly. "Come in Provians, come in Provians!"
His earlier fit had seemingly disappeared completely. Now Kol was focused on something else, something other than feeling disgusted at himself. He had to find a way off this ship.
There was a hiss of static, during which Kol prayed fitfully that he was on an open channel, then a voice that Kol recognized as Major Judman spoke.
"By all the stars in heaven, who is this?"
"This is Alexander J. Kol, sir, speaking from the deck of the enemy capital ship."
There was a long pause. "Kol?!? Is that you? Are you all right? Did they capture you? We saw the explosion your fighter caused."
So they already knew. Kol had hoped he'd be able to fudge that part of his report.
"No, sir, I haven't been made a hostage. I've taken control of the bridge. I've taken control of the ship."
Another long pause. "Kol, are you sure? You killed all of the Vasari?"
"No, sir, not all of them. Only twenty or so on my way to the command bridge. But I got their commander, I know that. He was on the bridge. And I'm about to seal the bridge doors and release all the oxygen from the rest of the ship."
"Twenty...you know how to do that?"
"I've figured it out, sir. There are a few helpful diagrams..."
One was a picture that showed air rushing out of a window around the middle of a ship, with the front windows securely fastened. He hoped he had interpreted it right.
"From heaven to earth, son, do it now! The rest of the enemy craft are almost destroyed, we will pick you up as soon as possible. Sit tight, I'm going to have Petty Officer Francis on constant radio communication with you, remember him?"
Kol said that he did, and Judman continued. "Do not walk away from this radio without telling him! If the Vasari manage to capture you, or you just fall asleep and don't answer, we are not going to board the ship and retrieve you! We lost too many good men and ships today to risk it. Is that also clear?"
"As crystal, sir."
"Then get to it, Kol, and let me be the first to congratulate you. There will surely be a promotion at hand."
Kol signed off and hit the button the Vasari had used to open the bridge doors. They snapped shut with a clang, and a light above the doors switched from green to red. Apparently locked, then. Kol next hit the air symbol and a dim rushing sound began, as if there was a high wind far away. Kol took a tenuous breath to make sure his air hadn't left him, and then grinned. He had done it. He had survived the Vasari and single-handedly captured their capital ship. Hopefully that neutralized his disaster with his fighter. Almost certainly a promotion, if headquarters agreed with Judman. Almost certainly. Kol caught a faint whisper as he sat down in one of the many chairs.
And they shall be sick and pale at your arrival, for you shall be king!