The Draconians had gone to war. After defeating the Teygetians they cast their conquering eye upon the seven worlds of the rich Halem Empire. But the Halems were not going to be an easy target; they were very intelligent and had a strong military and a vast star fleet. So the Draconians waited a few years until the moment was right to strike. It finally came when civil war had broken out on “Salar” – the fifth world of the empire. As the Halems turned their gaze inward the Draconians struck in a number of devastating blitzkrieg manoeuvres taking out the Octar and Hator shipyards as well as the second and third fleets, including the star class battleships “Drefel” and “Halos”. Adding to the Halems troubles, the Draconians had called upon their arachnid allies, the Shriks, opening up a second and third front. The Halems responded by calling upon the military treaties they had with the Kar Federation and the Earth Empire.
A mighty war had commenced. There were other smaller conflicts elsewhere in the galaxy that were beginning to expand. At the time I still didn’t see it as anything other than what it has always been, war is as old as the universe, when the gods finished waging their conflicts, we began ours...war never stops and never changes. It was against this backdrop that I found myself on the fringe of Halem space near the Furies Nebula. I had only one shot to take out my target, if I failed I would never get another, plus I would surely be dead; even in success I would find death...but at least I would have achieved what I had been tasked with. I had made my peace and I had no fear.
General Darken would be transferring to his flag ship “The Inferno”, by shuttle, from a Shriks transport. It was during this stage that I intended to strike. Falstaff had supplied me with this information and it proved accurate. Darken, the Draconians greatest battle commander, destroyer of the Teygetians, conqueror of Milfur 9, and the dread of Shindar, was aboard an unarmed shuttle when I opened fire. I had changed my fighter’s identification code to that of a Draconian Centaur, the personal bodyguards of General Darken. His shuttle was escorted by six of them. I came up from beneath, their computers registering my Centaur code thought nothing of it until it was too late, and by the time they had made visual contact I had already blown the shuttle to smithereens. The general’s arrogance and self belief that he was invulnerable was his downfall.
I let loose with everything I had – all guns blazing. As the shuttle exploded I kept on going straight up, pieces of burning wreckage all around me – some bouncing off my wings. It was like navigating through a minefield. But I had one slim hope of escaping. It would take them several seconds to discern whether or not I had been destroyed in what looked like a suicide attack. But those few and vital seconds could be enough for me to slip away. It partially worked. Instead of six only two of the Draconian Centaurs espied me...and they soon called in the rest. A chase ensued which consisted of me trying not to get blown up. My Raptor Fighter was fast, and I easily out manoeuvred my pursuers and even managing to take one of them out. It was a hair-raising chase. I was flying by the seat of my pants. But it was only a matter of time before they had my number.
I had suffered several major hits and was losing power rapidly when by sheer chance I came upon a particle charged dust cloud. It wasn’t on any of the charts, but not looking a gift horse in the mouth, I limped into the anomaly. The interference charge of the cloud particles rendered all ship senses useless. They couldn’t see me and they couldn’t find me. I held my breath and waited. Seven hours I stayed immersed in that blanket of mercy. I would have stayed longer had not my life support systems failed. I crept out expecting the Draconians to still be waiting, their guns ready to send me to oblivion. But there was no one there. It seemed fate was on my side...or rather Falstaff. If my sensors hadn’t been damaged I would have picked up the debris of the Centaur ships. Instead I moved off, still alive...if only for a few more hours.
As I flew towards neutral space, Falstaff found me. His sleek dark coloured Krullian Devil Fighter was near invisible against the blackness of space. When he hailed me I was relieved. He congratulated me on a job well done and promised me that even greater rewards were awaiting me...in the next life. “The last sacrifice will be the beginning of everything.” As he said this I knew then I had outlived my usefulness. He blew me out of the sky. If I acted a second later I would have been killed. But the instant he finished speaking I threw all power to my engines and took off. When his guns opened up they only got the rear of my Raptor, but it was enough. With my engines gone I spun out of control and got caught in the gravitational force of a nearby planet. Pulled down into the atmosphere at too steep an angle my ship began to burn and break up. Flames engulfed my view and the heat – oh the heat.
Somehow the cockpit and front half of my ship managed to reach the lower atmosphere. But I was gone. I had no control of my Raptor and I was floating in and out of consciousness. I can’t really say if I felt the impact. I can recall getting the nose of the ship to lift up, at the last moment, as it ploughed into the desert. I remember stumbling from the wreckage...my body broken and bloodied. I felt sand sting my eyes and cheeks as a storm covered the landscape. I couldn’t walk. I fell down and awaited death. Then I heard the sound of bells ringing upon the wind. I almost laughed...were they actually tolling for me. How long I lay upon the floor of the sandy desert I do not know. I was told it was hours but it only seemed like minutes. How I survived I also cannot say, providence, whether of God or nature, who can tell, only that it kept me alive. But the one thing I remember was the sound of those bells ringing in the storm and the sweet voice of an angel that followed them: “You’re safe now.” Those words I will never forget.
“You’re safe now.”
Copyright © 2011 by Peter Jessop