Nurlag felt content as he sank beneath the heated mud. Only his breathing nostrils remained above the surface.
It was just like home in the sacred sulfur swamps of Naelfin-Go.
He thought to himself, 'It is good to be the First Nestling aboard a Star Ship'. Only he was privileged to take a mud bath whenever he wanted.
Just as he was almost completely relaxed and on the verge of sleep, the deck plates vibrated in the rhythmic oscillation of General Alarm.
He climbed out of the basin as fast as he could, dismissed cleaning and dressing with an angry grunt, but he took a moment to drape the cape of Command around his green scaled shoulders, before he made his way to the ship's Control Center.
Jeflag, second in Command, turned as he saw his Highness enter and curled his spiked tail in the appropriate honor position, and faced Nurlag.
The First Nestling scanned the read outs and displays with a fast gaze and then said, Pray to your life-giving Egg protector that this alarm is warranted!"
Jeflag colored his throat skin white to signal utmost devotion and subordination, even though he felt purple with anger. "Your Magnificence, the hasty, but of course completely tactically sound, retreat from the Battle at Harvan seems to have caused a significant miscalculation during our Trans-Dim Jump. We are in unknown space more than 200 Utrepon away from known space!"
Nurlag did not miss the hidden sarcasm and critique of this unworthy Hulam-mollusk. "And this is reason to disturb me and raise Alarm? Are you so incompetent? Simply reset course and go back."
"Your Magnificence. We are only one half Utepron away from a seemingly insignificant and uncharted Solar system that has three Gas giants, perfectly suited to replenish the fleet's fuel supply. I was about to order our fleet to enter that system and refuel, because without it we might not be able to make it back with all Units."
"Again I fail to see a reason for you to raise alarm. I expect you are trained well enough to handle such a menial task yourself!"
Unable to ignore the bits of mud slowly sliding down the scaled skin of his superior Jeflag said, "Your Magnificence, you will commend me for raising alarm! I ordered the standard survey when our sensors picked up this!"
He held a foil print out right before the yellow eyes of Nurlag.
The yellow eyes squinted and squinted again, "This cannot be true! Have the results been confirmed?"
"All ships with long range scanners confirm that there is the largest deposit of Three-hundred-Twelve on the third planet ever scanned!"
Absentmindedly, Nurlag flicked a scale-cleaner maggo, t along with a glob of mud, off his right arm. "That much THREE cannot be natural! Did we stumble upon a secret depot of the Panesi?"
"That is why I raised the alarm. They would never leave such a huge treasure unguarded!"
"Right you are! We better leave and inform the First Nestling-of-All, then return with a huge strike force!"
"That would be a wise course of action, however we would have to leave two thirds of our fleet behind as we are very low on fuel..."
With that much Three, Nurlag could buy anyone and anything. Raise his house to uncontestable importance and himself to the First-Nestling-of-All! "How many Panesi units have we scanned?"
"None!" responded the SIC
"Is it a trap or did they hide it in this unimportant unexplored far away from any traffic lanes system and deem it safe?"
"It might be so, your Magnificence. We cannot detect the slightest Trans Dim Energy activity anywhere."
Nurlag commanded an impressive Fleet. True he had lost four of his battle ships and several Destroyers to the Panesi, but that did not mean they were helpless. "Send the Avrigar closer, but I don't want the Commander of this ship get to close, just close enough to observe and check that planet out!"
Seven hours later the Avrigar reported that the Planet was occupied by beings that looked exactly like Panesi but seemed to use primitive pre-astro technology. This report cemented Nurlag's resolve to take all that THREE. He was now convinced that this was a remote Panesi colony with little protection, but Panesi were cunning and caution was also warranted. So he ordered Fighter craft to be launched, to do a close observation.
NORAD-Cheyenne Mountain Colorado
The Canadian specialist, stationed in front of the high resolution computer screen that depicted the radar scanning results of the Northern Hemisphere, saw it first and went through the proper motions to raise alarm. "Two unidentified objects are closing on North American Airspace and they were fast and came from the general direction of Europe and Russia."
The Cold War was officially over, but NORAD still watched the skies. Especially after the 9/11 terror attacks. The North Koreans, Terrorist groups by the dozen and a host of unfriendly countries could launch some of form aerial attack at any time. Most of the military hardware of Russia was still there and pointed at the US and no one could say for sure who would have the finger on the button tomorrow. The NORAD alert was sent to the closest Air Force base and Interceptors were scrambled.
Enivag forced his space fighter down into the atmosphere of the planet that seemed to have a lot of water. He was accompanied by three other fighter craft and signaled two of them to go around that globe the other way, so they could cover more ground and gather more intelligence.
Four F-22 Raptors screamed into the sky, kicking in their after-burners. All attempts to communicate with the two bogeys had failed so far and they were still on a direct course to Washington DC...
Captain James Scott, call-sign Wild Card had orders to shoot if the unidentified objects would not identify and continue their course. There would not be another 9/11 if he was in the Air.
Enivag went lower and flew over a vast body of water towards a larger landmass. He hated water.
His sensors warned him of high energy search beams using an electro-magnetic spectrum system. He snorted into the voice pick up, "Seems these Paresi have not even Dim scanners! It's going to be easy!"
Enivag was quite surprised as his own scanners detected four fast flying machines, already close enough to see them. Computronic analysis explained that they were equipped with some sort of primitive, but quite effective, stealth measures.
At first the Native flying machines had no armament at all. Suddenly a compartment opened and chemically propelled projectiles accelerated with impressive speed. He laughed again. Primitive missiles against his highly sophisticated energy shields, what a joke! He didn't even try to evade.
Enivag's craft and his wingman exploded almost simultaneously as AIM -54 missiles penetrated the shields meant to deflect energy beams.
Commander Illuitsh dreamed of the old days when the Soviet Army was the pride of Mother Russia, feared and respected. He still hated the Americans who, with all their arrogance and decadence, brought the old System down without firing a shot. When his Radar operators reported two fast flying high altitude objects not identified and not responding to any hails he suspected them to be American spy planes. This was still Russia and this was still spying! He would show them what he thought of that and ordered the craft shot down if they did not respond.
Illuitsh was elated and very proud of the flawless launch and result of his Antey-2500 Surface to Air missile battery as he watched two burning aircraft tumbling out of the sky. Two American Imperialistic spies had met their fate!
Nurlag was furious as he got the report. Four fighters had been lost, and with no contact! Yet no Multi Dim energies where recorded. No Paresi ships left the planet to search for the Attackers. Something was very wrong with this blue planet.
The Avrigar hid behind a tumbling meteoroid awaiting further instructions from Nurlag. Losing 4 fighter craft and not detecting any High energy weapons was very strange.
Lt. Highwater was excited, despite the long trip from Earth, first in the Cargo Hold of the space shuttle and then launched from the Cargo Bay in a very small 2 man craft towards Luna. He shook the hand of Captain Kyle Mason the station commander, "I am so proud to be here, even though I can never tell my son I was on the moon."
Mason smiled with a sad expression in his eyes. "That is the price we all pay. Let's go to command and control. We are about to commence!"
Highwater raised his eyebrow. "Thor is ready? I thought we were months off!"
"Dr. Heinlein made the final adjustments and we are ready and expect the green light from CIC any time now."
"I am not completely briefed. I was told the project is so secret that I would get the complete details only here."
.... There is more of this story ...
Science Fiction /