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War by Troy Latto

War

by
Troy Latto


Vila stared at Avon in shocked disbelief. "Avon! This is stupid!"

Avon was only half listening, his mind was grappling with the enormity of the task ahead. Advance elements of the Andromedan battle fleet were pouring through the gap in the defence shield and the Liberator was the only ship in the vicinity that could resist them.

He knew that to stay was to invite destruction. He should run and leave the war to Servalan and the Federation. She had more resources, more ships and much more to lose. Yes, that would be the smart thing to do – but where would he go? How far would be safe? Deep down, he knew the answer.

In the split second it takes for the human mind to accept the inevitability of destruction, Avon saw the truth. It all ends here, one way or another. I will be free at last! Free of Blake, free of this life. Free! A triumphant mask flitted briefly across his face. "When did that ever stop us?" he shouted. "FIRE!" His hand crashed down on the secondary weapons console and the full weight of the Liberator’s neutron broadside lanced into the oncoming hoards.

The effect was stunning and immediate. The giant Andromedan cruiser that led the way was annihilated in a split second, blasted into atomic particles and scattered across the path of its followers. The Liberator crew were stunned.

"It can’t be that easy, surely?" wondered Vila aloud. "I mean, a big ship like that – it should be damaged, but not just explode! You must have hit its energy banks."

Avon was puzzled, but too busy to enter into debate. "Who cares? Just line up the next ship and blast it! Zen - battle computers are to analyse alien fleet attack patterns and calculate counter measures. Any extra resources are to probe the ships for structural and design weaknesses."

+CONIRMED. ALIEN FLEET ELEMENT NOW GROUPING IN SECTOR 5 AND PREPARING TO ATTACK STAR ONE+

Avon acted immediately. "We must head them off. Bring us around on an intercept course, target the lead vessel and fire!"

The Liberator darted across the line of attacking ships and fired at the leader of the formation. The neutron beam disintegrated it. The aliens split up and tried to regroup, but they were obviously stunned at the devastation wrought by Liberator's broadside. The Liberator began picking them off one by one.

Too easy, thought Avon. Either they are decoying us away with substandard ships, or... "Zen!" he shouted. "Any data on the alien vessel construction?"

+PRELIMINARY SCANS INDICATE HULL COMPOSITION OF ALIEN VESSELS IS A LIGHT ALLOY OF HERCULANIUM AND ORGANIC COMPOSITE. ALERT! EIGHTEEN VESSELS ARE GROUPED IN SECTOR 12 AND COMMENCING ATTACK+

Avon’s head whipped round. "Orac - can you scramble their computers?"

"I have been trying. They do not use Tarial Cell technology and are therefore immune to my attempts at interface."

Avon smacked a clenched fist on to the weapons console. He would have to do this the old fashioned way. "Take a feed from the Liberator’s battle computers. Analyse the alien vessels and their strategy. Find a weakness, anything we can exploit!" He looked across at Cally. "Any sign of reinforcements?"

"The Federation 8th Fleet report ETA in three hours and thirty-seven minutes. They are the closest."

+WEAPONS LAUNCH DETECTED. SIX ENERGY BOLTS RUNNING AND TARGETING LIBERATOR+

Avon acted immediately. "Take evasive action - force wall up!" He looked up at Jenna. "Take manual, get us amongst them. They will be afraid to fire at us if they risk hitting each other." Jenna nodded and manipulated the controls.

+FOUR ENERGY BOLTS HAVE BEEN EVADED. TWO ARE STILL RUNNING AND WILL IMPACT IN TEN SECONDS+

"Looks like we are going to cop this one in the neck," Vila moaned. They barely had time to brace themselves before the salvo struck. The lights dimmed and the Liberator shuddered as the missiles detonated on the force wall. Vila recovered and looked at the readouts from his console. "Force wall down to sixty percent, energy banks draining fast. We can’t keep this up much longer, Avon. Let’s get out of here while we still can!"

Avon cleared debris from the computer console and began taking readouts. "We must keep them busy until the Federation Fleet can get here. Then we run."

"I was afraid you’d say that."

The Liberator dodged and weaved among the Andromedan Armada, firing accurate bursts into the massed ships and taking a terrible toll on them. Barrage after barrage of energy bolts were launched at the Liberator, but most were evaded.

On the flight deck, Avon studied the situation dispassionately. The first elements of the invasion force were through, but the rest of the fleet was not moving. "Why don’t they come on? They could overwhelm the Liberator in a mass attack, or at least make us retreat. Why not just do it? Orac, any progress on your analysis of the aliens?"

"The Andromedan fleet numbers 5,863 vessels of varying configurations. The majority are large vessels roughly equivalent in class to Federation battle cruisers that mount heavy energy based weapons. There are also several smaller tactical vessels and surface capable landers for troops contained within."

"Drive capabilities?"

"Each larger vessel is equipped with both interstellar and intergalactic drives. The smaller craft are interstellar capable, but only for short periods."

"Weaknesses?"

"The limited information I have managed to assimilate from the battle computers and sensors indicate that the alien vessels are extremely vulnerable to neutron energy weapons."

Avon narrowed his eyes. "Go on..."

A barrage struck the Liberator, flinging everyone sideways. Jenna’s hold on the guidance system kept her from losing her grip. She barked out a quick report, "Inertial dampers offline – compensating with auxiliary thrust."

Avon stood up and rasped at Orac, "Continue your hypothesis – but make it fast!"

"In order to cover intergalactic space in a relatively short period, the Andromedans have developed a drive system of staggering power. Their propulsion relies upon the enclosure of black hole matter in a sub-space containment unit. When they wish to travel intergalactic, they channel the gravitational vortex of the black hole matter into a single spacial co-ordinate. This rips space-time, causing the vessel to be drawn into the resultant singularity and accelerating it across vast distances in milliseconds. Truly ingenious! I should like to study it more closely..."

Another hit rocked the ship. "Maybe if we survive long enough you can. How does this make them vulnerable to neutron energy weapons?"

"The black hole mass has to be maintained on a very fine threshold. The overall mass of the vessel must not exceed the mass of the singularity within or it could collapse on itself, destroying the vessel utterly. I am theorising that compromises have been made in the ship's structure to keep the mass below the threshold required and still make it large enough to transport troops and equipment across intergalactic space. The most critical structural compromise has been the removal of every third nucleus in the binding atoms of the hull structure. However, such engineering requires that energy as well as mass levels remain neutral."

"So, by firing a neutron blaster at the hull of the alien ship, we disturb the balance of the atomic structure and cause a mass collapse of the black hole contained within the ship’s intergalactic drive."

"A crude summary, but essentially correct."

"Will Federation plasma bolts be as effective as Liberator’s weapons?"

"No. Plasma bolts are proton based weapons and will not cause the atomic structure to collapse. However, they will still cause significant damage to the hull structure."

Vila’s panicked voice cut through his reverie. "Force wall down to twenty percent and energy banks severely depleted. We need to disengage now, Avon!"

Avon considered quickly. They must hold the aliens while the Federation were racing to intercept, but they must also preserve the Liberator. The information that Orac was gathering could be vital in the defence of the galaxy. "Take us to the night side of the planet. One orbit only. All priority to energy bank recharge, weapons and propulsion."

Vila sighed. "Phew! About time! You will get us all killed you know..."

"Only if I’m very lucky," snarled Avon in return.

He turned back to Orac. "How do you assess Liberator’s strategic position?"

"Logic would dictate the sheer weight of numbers will see the Liberator overwhelmed before help can arrive. However the aliens would appear to be wary of the Liberator’s weaponry. I suggest you exploit this fear and delay the inevitability of destruction as long as possible."

"How?"

"The hole in the defence shield is the only way for the alien fleet to enter. You must seal that entry and keep Star One from falling into enemy hands."

"Orac, we have no time for guessing games. State your recommendations immediately!"

"Both the Liberator and the Star One defence shields use neutron based energy systems. By detonating one of Liberator's energy storage cells in the defence shield gap, we can create a neutron flux field that will re-link the generation elements and close it. I have already calculated the necessary flight paths and energy requirements, and it can be done."

"Won’t that leave Liberator short on energy?"

"Yes, but I have calculated this vessel will be able to conserve its energy requirements by shutting down unused deck areas and redundant systems. This will make significant amounts of energy available without compromising offensive or defensive capabilities."

"Send the data to Zen. We must get started immediately!"

"Wait! I haven’t finished. The neutron flux field alone cannot sustain the defence shield. You must repair the matter transmutation generators at the source so the shield can be self sustaining."

Avon’s heart filled with a sudden dread. "You don’t mean..."

"Yes, Kerr Avon. You must go back to the Star One command centre and effect repairs on the damaged shield generators, if the galaxy is to survive this invasion."

Avon’s face turned to granite. How dare Orac place him in this impossible position! There may be Andromedan troops already on the planet; the shield generators may be too badly damaged to repair; the Liberator may be destroyed when they break off the attack on the fleet. Going back to Star One was futile at best, a death sentence at worst - but there were no other options. He slammed his hand down on Orac in a wave of fury. Damn it to hell! Why me?

He rounded on the flightdeck crew. "Jenna! Take us into teleport range of Star One. After I have teleported down, I want you to keep the aliens bottled up in the defence shield gap as much as possible. See if you can disable a few of their ships in there and slow down the infiltration. Orac and Zen will advise you on tactics. I will call when I need a pickup." He stormed toward the teleport section.

Cally called the question in all their minds: "Avon! What is your plan?"

"If I am successful, we will seal the defence shield and give the galaxy a fighting chance. If not... then it won’t matter anyway."

Vila made to follow. Without looking, Avon held up a hand. "No, Vila. I go alone. You stay here and fight."

Dismayed, Vila sat down again. "But who will operate the teleport?" he asked in a hurt voice.

"Blake," was the abrupt reply.

***

Avon snapped on a teleport bracelet as Blake slumped into the console. The painkillers had dulled the agony, but he was still very weak.

"What are you doing, Avon?" he slurred. "I told you, we need to stay and fight..."

"I am buying you... us... everyone time, Blake - a commodity that becomes more valuable with each second you delay." He stepped into the teleport alcove. "Now put me down!"

Blake stared at Avon. He longed to stand against him; to argue with him, force him to bend to his will as he had done so many times before. But he was tired, weak, and for once in his life, indifferent. He had gambled everything on one stroke and won – but it had turned into a hollow victory. The great goal was finally achieved - the Federation was dying – and Roj Blake along with it.

Avon saw the look in Blake’s eyes. "Why so melancholy, Blake?" he sneered. "You have won. The Federation will be obliterated and you will have your victory. And when the aliens have set up their empire in the heart of human space, you can lead the survivors in a crusade against a new tyranny."

Blake stared at him. Even now, with death staring them in the face, Avon had to resort to cheap shots.

There was no way Blake was going to cede power to Avon - he had fought hard to gain supremacy over him and Roj Blake never gave up a fight. Even in death, he wanted to be Avon’s conscience – guiding, prodding, taunting. He fixed Avon with a contemptuous stare. "I know you have always hated me, Avon – but I know that you fear me far more. So remember this: whatever happens, you will never be free of me."

Before Avon could reply, Blake punched in the co-ordinates and operated the de-materialization circuits. Avon swirled and vanished. Blake slumped down and drifted into unconsciousness as the Liberator rocked to the rhythm of Andromedan fire.

***

The bleak landscape of Star One shimmered into view as Avon materialised on its surface. He quickly drew his gun and took cover behind a boulder. "Jenna! I’m down. Orbit the planet once and then head for the gap in the defence shield. See if you can get a few of the small ships to follow you. I will call you once I have repaired the generators. Out!"

Jenna replied through a haze of static. "Alright Avon – and good luck."

Avon took a quick look around before heading toward the control centre. Above him the bleak sky flashed and boomed as the battle between Liberator and elements of the alien fleet raged on. The thin atmosphere of the planet didn’t offer much protection and several times he had to shelter as wreckage from re-entering alien ships rained down. The entry to the control centre yawned open and he hurried inside.

The emergency lighting system cast a dim, shadowy glow through the corridors as he carefully headed toward the central generator room. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, Avon could make out the glowing green bodies of decomposing aliens, their death odours adding a sulphurous tinge to the sharp tang of burning electrical equipment.

He rounded the corner and stepped into the main control centre. The consoles were fused and burning but some were still providing status information to the long dead technical crew. Avon pushed aside some rubble and began interrogating the readouts for the shield generators. He narrowed his eyes. Not good. Forty out of the seventy generators were offline and many that were left were failing fast. He grimly opened his toolkit and started removing access panels. Only the sweat on his brow gave any indication of the stress he felt.

***

+AN ALIEN VESSEL IS LANDING ON STAR ONE. SENSORS INDICATE THAT TROOPS ARE BEING DEPLOYED AND ARE HEADING TO THE CENTRAL COMPUTER COMPLEX+

"Jenna, we must get Avon out of there! Break off and get us into position for pickup!" yelled Cally.

Vila looked up. "He said NOT to teleport until he gave the word – you heard him."

Jenna ignored them both. "Zen, prepare for surface bombardment. Get us over the top of the command centre. Set our orbit at azimuth minus six. We must stop them getting to the command centre."

Liberator rose from behind the planet like a delicate satellite and parked itself above the control centre zone.

"Why bother using troops?" Vila asked rhetorically. "Why not just bombard it from space?"

Orac responded, "Ship scanners identify this as a support vessel. The alien ships capable of surface bombardment are unable to penetrate the hole in the shield. Presumably, these are shock troops sent to finish the destruction of the shield systems."

"Well, Avon had better get a move on, or he will have several heavily armed green blobs to contend with!"

Jenna worked the manual controls and fixed the Liberator’s orbit. "Not if I can help it. Zen, have you located the alien landing craft?"

+ALIEN VESSEL SURFACE CO-ORDINATES HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED+

"Commence surface bombardment – low level pulse, broad spectrum. Avoid hitting the command centre at all costs!"

+CONFIRMED+

Liberator dipped to bring its armament to bear and started firing into the atmosphere of Star One. Energy bolts impacted and spread like mushrooms across the surface. A secondary explosion indicated at least one found its mark.

+SENSORS INDICATE ALIEN LANDING CRAFT HAS BEEN DESTROYED. ALERT! ANOTHER GROUP OF SIX VESSELS HAS JUST CRESTED THE HORIZON OF STAR ONE AND ARE RAPIDLY CLOSING ON LIBERATOR+

Jenna’s response was swift. "Engage orbital exit sequence and plot an intercept course. Let's just hope we got those troops!"

***

A series of heavy tremors shook the command centre. Cascades of rubble and clouds of choking dust engulfed Avon as he lay under the generator console. He coughed loudly but continued repairing the power matrix sequencer he was holding. A few more like that and I may have to dig my way out of here, he thought. His chronometer beeped. One hour had passed and he had only managed to isolate and repair ten generators. Still, at least the shield barrier was holding. If he could fix a couple more, the Liberator could knit the gap in the defence shield and hold the aliens at bay for a little while longer. Maybe.

He slotted in the sequencer and touched a switch on the console. He smiled grimly as the indicators wound up and another four generators came online. Fifty-four out of seventy; that would have to do.

"Liberator! I need teleport!"

"Avon, this is Cally. Liberator is currently on the far side of Star One and will be in position for pickup in ten minutes."

Avon cursed. "Well, try and get here sooner! I don’t fancy being stuck on this rock for eternity." He shut off the comm link before Cally could reply.

He gathered up his tools and started out the door. A shadow flitted across the wall and Avon’s finely honed survival skills kicked in. He dropped behind a large concrete boulder and drew his weapon. Breathing heavily, he looked over the top.

One, possibly more, amorphous shapes oozed around the curve of the devastated corridor heading toward the command center. Despite their bulk, they moved swiftly and silently. Avon’s mind considered the tactical situation. If the aliens spread out, they would cut off the corridor and he wouldn’t make it to the exit in time to be picked up. He needed to hit them fast while they were still deploying. His only previous encounter with the Andromedans had been a surprise attack - then he had been lucky. Now they were here in force and, judging by the way they were attired, these were no covert operatives. They were shock troops probably bred for war. He needed more than luck this time.

***

Blake stood at the port entrance to the flight deck. He was still dizzy and in pain but could not stay away from the battle. The ship rocked with impacts and he staggered, almost losing his grip on the hatch frame. Nobody noticed him and, for the first time in a long while, he was content just to watch.

"Zen! Status report on energy banks!" barked Jenna. Blake noted her natural air of command, the cool way she handled the ship in a crisis.

+ENERGY BANKS ONE, FIVE, NINE AND TWELVE ARE AT CRITICAL+

"We need to break off and pick up Avon, Jenna. Suggested exit strategy now displaying on your navigation screen. Break off and head for sector 447." Cally’s warrior training came to the fore as she collated and fed information to the command crew. Blake smiled. So quiet... so caring... so deadly.

"Just like Avon! Here we are in the middle of the greatest battle in the history of the galaxy and he expects us to drop everything and pick him up. I suppose I’ll have to go down and rescue him, next. Bloody inconsiderate that’s what he is..." Vila’s customary whine was not unexpected, but neither was it malicious. Blake reflected on the talented Delta thief. A fool knows everything... and nothing. That phrase had unlocked the key to Star One and it applied equally to Vila. By acting the fool, he hid his keen intelligence and caused his enemies – and friends - to underestimate him. He always survived and, where possible, prospered. Perhaps Vila was, after all, the smartest man on the ship...

"Oh, shut up, Vila!" Jenna thundered. "Zen, set us up for an elliptical orbit, speed standard by two. If we make the lower azimuth above the control centre, we can pick Avon up quickly while maintaining cover. Shut down life support and environmental systems everywhere except the flight deck, habitation and teleport. Priority to weapons, propulsion and force wall. Self repair systems to go offline, except for emergency hull breach or loss of critical systems."

+CONFIRMED. ESTIMATED ARRIVAL OVER COMMAND CENTER SEVEN MINUTES+

Blake retreated toward the teleport bay. They don’t need me anymore, he thought. They are Avon’s crew now...

***

Avon sat with his back to the rubble and rapidly worked the scenarios through his mind. As before, his one key advantage was surprise – even if the aliens suspected there was another presence in the command centre, they would not know who it was or how many there were. He had counted at least four moving up the corridor. Four to one. Add the element of surprise, some desperation and the need to survive and that just may even the odds. He smiled thinly – an even chance is better than odds against. Even Vila would take that wager. His chronometer softly chimed: four minutes to pickup. Time to move.

He steeled himself and began padding his way down the corridor in the aliens' wake. He hid in the shadows, stalking his prey like a wolf. He could see their bulky frames on the opposite wall and brought his gun to bear. Sweat rolled down his face and seeped under his collar. He swallowed, but his mouth was dry and blood thundered in his ears and his mind raced and small sounds amplified fifty times so that his footsteps sounded like gongs in an empty chamber and there is the enemy shoot – roll – shoot – roll – shoot – cover – roll - shoot – dark shapes make noises like pain and thrash among the debris - shoot – roll – shoot – duck - a blinding flash and concrete chips and confusion – shoot – frenzy – green shape with glowing blood - smash it - smash it – scream in pain - or is it fury - or is it me – turn – nothing.

Nothing. Quiet. Only the muffled sounds of the battle above and his gasping breath penetrated the stillness. The red combat haze dissipated from Avon’s eyes and he took in the carnage he had wrought. The alien troops lay dead at his feet, oozing fluorescent blood. He took time to note that there were five bodies but in his heightened state of activity he had not known or cared. His gun, shattered in the melee, hung limply from his shaking right hand. A wave of nausea washed over him as the after effects of the adrenalin-fuelled rampage dissipated. The comm link chimed. Cally’s voice was barely audible above the sounds of the battle.

"Avon! Are you there? We only have a few seconds to pick you up! Avon, respond please!"

"Liberator! Teleport in fifteen seconds – and don’t waste any time about it!"

Shaking, Avon made his way up the corridor, discarding his now useless gun and picking up his tools. He rounded the corner and dashed toward the exit.

***

Liberator weaved among the Andromedan fleet. Energy bolts flew and ships powered by at crazy angles as the aliens tried to grapple with their nimble adversary. On the flightdeck, Avon was interrogating Orac.

"Are you sure, Orac?"

"Yes. The Liberator MUST get to within 30,000 spacials and be travelling at speed standard by two in order to deliver the neutron power cell weapon to the correct position in the defence shield gap. Any variation will produce unsatisfactory results."

"Such as?"

"Too close and the ship will be caught in the blast. Too far and the weapon risks interception. The onboard timer and guidance systems will be programmed to detonate the cell at precisely the correct moment to ensure the gap is sealed."

Avon bit his lip and steadied himself as the Liberator lurched from an impact. "Given the current status of the Liberator, what do you estimate are our chances of surviving both the delivery and the subsequent detonation?"

"Force wall down to sixty percent!" yelled Vila.

"Even with all systems nominal, the chances of successfully outrunning the neutron flux explosion are less than ten percent. With the current state of the Liberator, I would calculate the chance of success as being significantly less."

Avon sighed. Another life-or-death choice. He seemed to be making a lot of those lately. "Is the neutron weapon ready to be ejected from the forward missile bay?"

"Cally is just setting the final co-ordinates in to its navigation computer now," said Jenna. "It will be ready in three minutes."

Avon stood silently as the Liberator gyrated. In order to conserve energy, they had stopped attacking the alien fleet – something which the Andromedans now took as their opportunity to strike. The force wall, Avon’s own contribution to this marvellous fighting ship, was never designed to stand up to this sort of punishment. Soon it would be stripped away and the only thing standing between them and destruction would be Liberator’s own flimsy shields, the Herculanium hull and Jenna’s piloting skills. He hoped it would be enough.

Cally called down through the intercom. "It's ready, Avon!"

"Wait there," he replied. "Jenna – how far to the gap?"

"52,000 spacials at standard by five."

"Cally, reprogram guidance and detonation sequence for standard by three and 10,000 spacials."

Jenna and Vila gaped at Avon. Vila spoke first. "You're mad! Orac said if we get too close we’ll be caught in the blast! We’ll be destroyed!"

"We must be certain the weapon reaches the gap without the Andromedans intercepting it," was the terse reply.

"At 30,000 spacials, Liberator couldn’t sustain the concussion of the explosion," said Jenna. "At best, the ship would be severely disabled. At 10,000 we will be atomised. There must be another way."

Avon looked away and shook his head. "Our survival is no longer relevant. This is the last throw of the dice and it must succeed. Everything hinges on us delaying the aliens long enough for Servalan to get here with the Federation fleet. If the aliens break out and scatter, they will establish themselves in this galaxy. I have seen them close up and believe me, they will not be easily defeated. If we can’t stop them now, they will wipe us clean from our own galaxy."

"Death by explosion or death by torture – hardly an appetising choice," groaned Vila.

Avon regarded the thief with a withering gaze. "Regardless of how it may look, I don’t intend to commit suicide just yet."

"Pity. It's only the thought of that that keeps me going!"

Avon ignored the remark. "I have an emergency protocol in the computer system. Once the neutron cell is launched, we can direct all remaining energy to the propulsion system and accelerate to standard by sixteen. At that speed we stand a better than average chance of outrunning the main blast."

Vila frowned."What about the shields and force wall?"

"The power diversion programme is a fixed process that will shut down everything bar life support and Zen, channelling all remaining energy to propulsion. Once the ship accelerates to standard by sixteen, it will become an unguided missile that will send us back into the galaxy and, hopefully, toward some of the known worlds on the outer rim. The major risk, of course, is that the engines will burn out before we reach anywhere useful."

The intercom chimed. "Weapon re-programmed, Avon. I hope you know what you're doing."

"So do I. Get back up here."

"So, this way we can possibly survive AND find somewhere to shelter in the event we need to abandon ship?" asked Jenna.

"That is the theory. Either way, we have no choice."

"Speed standard by three. Launch window, two minutes." Jenna resumed the helm with her usual efficiency.

Cally stood in front of Avon and smiled. You are brave like the warrior and yet wise like the king, Kerr Avon, she telepathed to him.

He looked over her head and saw Blake standing in the shadows of the port entry. His nemesis – or his conscience? Avon’s eyes narrowed. He looked at Cally. "Neither."

***

The Liberator and its precious cargo dodged and weaved toward the defence shield. The alien ships jostled for position like bulls at a gate, waiting for their turn to go through and smite the tiny toreador that dared defy them.

Great blasts of energy dissipated on the Liberator's force wall as they fired through holes in the shield. Tiny interceptors snapped at her heels like dogs as she flew through the firestorm like a blazing arrow to deliver her message of death.

Just as it seemed destruction was imminent, Liberator swerved aside. The aliens took their chance and roared away in pursuit, hitting her again and again. Great chunks of hull plating were peeled away like dead skin, exposing the skeletal inner structure. Liberator was hurting – but her arrow still had a deadly point.

Then it happened – a great, tearing explosion. Silent. Bright. Deadly. The neutron flux shockwave ignited by the detonation of the energy cell reached out like a giant firewall to engulf friend and foe alike. Liberator was bathed in a highly radioactive lather but she kept on, bearing her charges away like a rescuing knight.

The enemy dragon, though not slain, was grievously wounded. The neutron flux wave upset the delicate balance of the containment field around their intergalactic drives. One by one, the ships caught in the flux collapsed in on themselves, leaving nothing but a puff of radiation. The myriad other vessels caught in the maelstrom were left drifting helplessly in intergalactic space.

***

The defence shield was restored – but not fully. Over the next few hours the remaining little ships of the fleet probed and prodded, finding the gaps. Slowly they gathered numbers and headed for Star One to finish the job started by their covert ops team so long ago. However, the delay would prove fatal to their cause.

Liberator powered on; blind, deaf and grievously wounded. Three hours after the Philistines had invaded the promised land, David has struck Goliath a mortal blow – but unlike the ancient Philistine army of ancient times, the Andromedans did not turn and run. They had come a long way and they would fight to the bitter end.




***


All original fan fiction hosted on Horizon is copyright to the individual authors. No attempt is being made to supersede any copyright held by the estate of Terry Nation, the BBC, B7 Media, Big Finish or any other licensees or holders of copyright on Blake's 7 material.

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