No one knew where the gates came from, the wondrous planet sized globes whose millions of facets led to destinations across the Universe. No one knew what had killed the thousands of civilizations that had once roamed space across the billions of years since the origin point. Whatever it was, it was back, with a vengeance, destroying the intelligences that might challenge its hegemony of multi-dimensional space. It is up to a few humans, endowed with the very powers the creatures’ fear, to save sentient life in the Universe, and end the threat forever.
Lucille Yamamoto is a warrior, the captain of an Earth Navy battle-cruiser. Howard Turner is a wealthy scientist, physicist turned archeologist, trying to discover the secrets of the ancients. Siobahn Hunsicker is the child of missionaries, controlling powers she does not understand. Together the three are the only hope for the extant intelligences of the Universe. If they have the time to survive the learning curve and challenge the weavers of reality.
“Goddamitt,” said Lt. Marishana Mangana. Lucille looked up from the acceleration tank she was crawling into to see what the assistant tac officer was looking at. The image of a battleship appeared on the main viewer, leaving the gate far to their rear.
“Shit,” added the captain to the cussing going through the bridge. Flashes appeared at the front of the long cylinder as a dozen missiles left their acceleration tubes and headed for their targets. Matter/antimatter warheads exploded into one of the covering destroyers, while the invisible beams of lasers ate through the hull of another.
“We aren’t at war with the Tripods,” exclaimed Lt. Ngyen. “What the hell are they doing?”
Taking advantage of surprise, thought Lucille. The poor bastards at the gate picket hesitated for a moment and paid for it with their lives. A single warhead impacted on the alien battleship, blasting a small hole in the forward hull. Within a second the counterattacking destroyer was spiraling away from the gate, a lifeless wreck. Another cylinder rushed from the gate, a second battleship. Followed by a third.
The lone remaining destroyer maneuvered as fast as her crew could handle, moving along the side of the gate sphere as if trying to escape. Two of the Tripod battleships flared thrusters as they turned to follow, trying to lock their stationary particle beams on the target that was dodging and weaving away from their laser turrets. A missile left a tube, followed by another. But the destroyer’s crew was on the ball and a dozen interceptors left its stern mere microseconds after the missiles. Interceptor missiles struck, antimatter warheads erupted, and the space between hunter and hunted was filled with hellish radiation.
“They really foxed them,” said Ngyen, admiration in his voice.
Yes, thought Lucille. The radiation will interfere with target acquisition as well as helping to diffuse the power of laser and particle beams.
The destroyer rotated swiftly in a maneuver guaranteed to cause casualties if the crew wasn’t in the tanks. A message carrier streaked from a bow tube at thousands of gees acceleration, heading into a specific facet of the gate and disappearing before anyone could do anything about it.
Then the destroyer pulled another high gee turn, lining her own bow up on one of the pursuers and unleashing a volley of missiles. It was to be her last volley. Incoming fire tore through the radiation cloud. Some of the enemy missiles lost target lock and sailed past the smaller ship. Others smashed into her nose, warheads powerful enough to cripple a battle-cruiser like Navarin exploding into the thinly armored hull. The fire of explosion ran instantly down the length of the ship, engulfing her in a maelstrom of flame while pieces of hull and fragments of internal machinery spun into the cold of space, as if trying to escape the inferno. When the flame had attenuated enough to see the destroyer was gone as if it hadn’t existed. Gone too were the three hundred crewmen and women aboard.
Counter missiles from a tripod battleship took out two of the destroyer’s last volley. Laser fire from the target ship took out two more, leaving one to slam into the bow of the battlewagon. The battleship was most heavily armored at the bow, while the destroyer’s torpedo was not nearly as powerful as the ones that had been launched by the tripod battleships. But the fury of its explosion still caused damage to the battleship’s forward missile tubes and its particle beam projectors, as well as closing off its main KE cannon tube. It also took most of the ship’s forward momentum away in an instant, which couldn’t have been healthy for the crew.