The Kavakian Empire
A Space Opera by Dawn Ross
Part Two – The Emperor
(Missed Chapter 1a of this story? Check the last post made on May 9th, 2015. Missed Part One? Email me at email@example.com for the first sci-fi novella of this continuing space saga.)
J.T. kept firing his phaser as he, Hanna, and the other troops retreated into the cave facility. Enemy laser fire erupted all around him and another blast dissipated J.T.’s energy body shield. Damn, that’s three, J.T. said to himself. His energy shield was now neutralized. One more shot would wound or kill him.
J.T. managed to duck inside the facility just in time. Since he had been at the front lines, he and the others near him had been the last to retreat.
“Close the doors!” J.T. commanded needlessly since the thick heavy blast doors were already descending.
The doors seemed to take forever, but in reality it took about five seconds. J.T. let out a sigh of relief when the doors thumped closed. But the moment was not to last. Those doors wouldn’t hold for long.
“Gardner!” J.T. called for one of his lieutenants. “Gardner!”
“He’s dead, Sir,” a man named Walden said.
A twinge of regret washed through J.T. but there was no time for mourning. “Walden, get the bombs in place.”
“Already on it, Sir,” he replied.
Sure enough, a group of troops came forward to set the bombs against the blast doors. When the enemy finally succeeded in opening them, they’d meet with a fiery inferno. Surely they’d expect such a thing so it was unlikely to stop them. But it would slow them down. Hopefully, it would be enough to make sure J.T. and his troops had enough time to set the self-destruct and escape through the elevator shaft.
J.T.’s superiors had debated about whether to dismantle the laser and transport it to safety along with the scientists. But it was too big and too cumbersome. It would take too much time, they said – time they would not have. They implemented a self-destruct, but ultimately, J.T.’s superiors thought they would be able to protect it.
J.T. was just now realizing his superiors had been wrong. Moments after he and his troops fell back behind a second set of blast doors, a huge eruption thundered through the facility. The ground trembled violently beneath J.T.’s feet, causing him and his troops to fall on one another. The walls cracked and crumbled around them. One large part of the plastered ceiling fell away, exposing the hard cave stone overhead.
J.T. helped Hanna to her feet. Her bun had fallen out and she had a streak of blood across her face. It looked like a laser burn, so apparently her body shield had failed too. The troops fell back to the third set of blast doors, and then the final fourth.
“Get the barricade set up quickly!” J.T. yelled as the heavy stone around them shook violently from the blast that had probably taken out the third set of blast doors. Just one more door left, J.T. thought. “Bracht, you have command of the left wing. I’ll take the right. Mendosa, how many grenades do we have left?”
“About two dozen, Sir.”
Damn. “Divide them up. Simmonds, activate the self-destruct. We’ll fight off these warriors for as long as possible, but it looks like we’re going to have to evacuate,” he said to all the remaining troops. “So once Simmonds sets the device, Bracht, you take your men up the shaft and get them out of here. I’ll follow.”
The Rabnoshk warrior didn’t look like he cared for the idea of retreat. But he knew there was no point to sacrificing more lives. He gave a curt nod and readied his men behind the left barricade.
The fourth and final blast door rumbled open.
“Get Ready!” J.T. yelled as he and the others ducked behind the barricades. This set of blast doors would not trigger a bomb. It would be too dangerous for him and his men.
As the door began to rise, J.T. fired is phaser at the exposed feet of the enemy. The sounds of warriors in pain echoed into the chamber, but they weren’t nearly as loud as the angry roars of the other Dragon warriors.
“Self-destruct set!” Simmonds called. “We have twenty minutes.”
“Bracht, go!” J.T. ordered. Bracht himself held his position as half of his men retreated to the elevator shaft. It could only hold twenty at a time and Brach still had at least forty of his team members left. J.T. had a little over thirty so it would take at least four trips to get everyone out before the self-destruct detonated.
The Alliance troops laid cover fire and threw grenades while their comrades escaped. Smoke from the grenades helped conceal them, but it didn’t keep any of them from getting hit with enemy fire. Most everyone’s energy shields had been spent to man after man fell. Two troops carrying a third in retreat was commonplace. Unfortunately, that made them easier targets and many didn’t make it.
“Aaah!” a lieutenant junior grade named Harley Brahm yelled. J.T. glanced at him long enough to see that he had taken a shot in the shoulder. It didn’t stop the young man, though. The dark-haired youth took his phaser in his other hand and fired anew.
“My phaser’s spent!” one of J.T.’s other troops yelled.
“Get back! Go!” J.T. told him. Bracht and his men were gone so it was his men’s turn to escape through the elevator shaft now.
Only a dozen or so of J.T.’s team were left when suddenly a grenade exploded across the hall to the elevator shaft. Then another. The walls rumbled loudly and shards of plaster and rock spewed across the troops J.T., still crouched behind the barrier and facing the enemy, felt sharp pains splatter across his back. His troops cried out in surprise, then groaned in agony.
Hanna and Harley were still on either side of him firing their weapons with desperation. A few other troops were still firing as well, but it all seemed rather hopeless. J.T. was sure his phaser would be spent at any moment and he no longer had a backup. He could try to recover one from a fallen troop, but that would mean leaving the safety of the barricade.
The enemy swarm, still at the open blast doors, had created their own barricade with their metal blast shields. J.T. fired intently into them, but had little luck. A tap on his shoulder nearly made him jump out of his skin.
“Sir,” a voice said. J.T. didn’t turn. He was too busy firing. And he knew the voice was of one of his own men, probably Simmonds. “We’re trapped.”
J.T.’s heart jumped to his throat. He felt the blood drain from his face.
“Those grenades destroyed the elevator,” Simmonds said. Without the elevator taking them close to the surface, the transport system would not be able to beam them out to safety.
Just then, J.T.’s phaser stopped firing. It was out of energy. He he realized Hanna and Harley were no longer firing either. A few of his other troops managed to keep the fire going. But within moments, their weapons were spent too. Shit, J.T. though. We’re dead.
(This sci-fi novella is protected by copyright) Copyright May, 2015 by Dawn Ross
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