Part 1 : Between Void and Oblivion
John wandered a bit in the corridors of the space ship, the Grande Alpha. He was whistling some merry air. So far, the day – As far as it could be called a ‘day’— on the ship has been good. And now that the 12 hours of ‘Daylight’ were about to come to an end and been replaced by 12 hours of ‘Nightlight’. It was a common trick on space ships, for having always at least half of the crew awoken. When the Daylight squad was working, the Nightlight one rested, and vice-versa.
John had finished his activities as ‘Daylighter’, and was on his way to have a bit of rest in his cabin. He yawned once, and soon arrived at the door of his cabin. Without thinking, he opened it and entered.
And something pounced on him…
In few seconds, all sleepiness that had invaded John’s mind disappeared with the rush of adrenaline throughout his body. John was panicked, and wondered what was that.
And then, a warm tongue began to lick his face…
-" Carpenter ! You jerk ! You’ve afraid me ! "
-" Really ? Oh ! Then, I should apologise for it… "
-" You bet ! "
-" Hmmm… Maybe like this ? "
And the arctic fox kissed deeply the red fox still pinned to the ground. After a while, they broke it, and Carpenter, his dark eyes contrasting with his pure white fur, smiled at John.
-" Did I earn a mercy from you ? "
John made fun of him, by pretending to think about it.
-" I guess that should be right. For this time. But don’t do it again, or I’ll have to do harsh justice... "
-" Urr… Stop with that. You began to talk like Hara. "
-" Yup. I think I’ve caught some glances of you toward her… "
-" Err… "
-" That’s okay. I know that you have NO chance with her… "
-" You… "
John stopped the incoming flow of imprecations by sealing Carpenter’s lips with another kiss. As John placed his paws behind Carpenter’s head, he felt him becoming all jelly under his soft caresses.
And then… All the alarms of the ship went mad.
-" Shit ! "
-" Of all the rotten timing… "
The two foxes raised quickly, and burst out of their cabin. Their was exceptions to the normal Daylight/Nightlight scheme. And being attacked was one kind of such exceptions… All the members of the Grande Alpha crew ran toward their respective tasks, the psionics of the ship relaying the different orders, and messages.
To all the crew members : This is not training. The ship is attacked. Enemy identified. Venefice ships at five units distance. All pilots are required to their respective Spacefighters.
John and Carpenter both ran toward where the Spacefighters awaiting them.
-" Wonderful. Venefice. I could have passed it… "
-" Don’t worry, John, will kick their sorry asses, and push them back to wherever they came from. "
-" And after, we’ll resume what we had to abandon. "
-" Of course. I bet I’ll crush down at least two more than you. "
-" Don’t be too cocky, you arrogant one. "
Carpenter smirked. They both arrived at their Spacefighters, and jumped into them. They quickly connect to their psionic interfaces, and get prepared to be ejected in space.
-" Jenny, you’re here ? " John asked.
-" Yes, I’m here. All systems will be okay in… Three. Two. One. Now… Good hunt, guys ! I’ll stay here, watching you having all the fun. "
-" Aaah, Jenny, don’t be that disappointed. " Carpenter said. " And, after all, you’ll be with us, in the battle. "
-" Kinda. Okay, guys, I think that you can go, now. You’ll receive the authorization… Now. "
-" Okay, then. Let’s go ! Weehee ! "
After Carpenter’s last remark, the two foxes started their engines. In a burst of fire and meta-energy, the two Spacefighters were launched, with a dozen of others, in space.
-" Morningstar Team here. We’re seeing the ennemy. An entire fleet. Two motherships, and twenty to thirty hunters for each. "
-" Hidden Eye Team. We confirm it. Radar and visual contact established. Psionic contact failed. As usual… "
-" To all the Spacefighters : Commander Hara speaking. The Venefice seem to have decided to lead a front attack. Morningstar and Hidden Eye Teams will stay at their radar limits. Transmit position info via Psionics. Red Wings Team, Four Jokers Team and Sombra Team will remain near the mothership to defend it. All the other teams will go attacking directly the Venefice. If a mothership pass the third unit measure, all teams come back to defend the Grande Alpha. End of transmission. "
-" Darn ! " A pilot said. " Does she REALLY have to speak as if we were still on radio systems ? ! "
-" Not her fault. She’s stuck in past… "
-" Cut it out, the both of you. We have some ticks to handle. "
-" Prepare repellents ! "
With that, the different teams split up, in order to follow the orders they had been given. John and Carpenter, the two members of the Kitsune Team, prepare themselves to directly attack the Venefice.
-" Hey ! Does anyone know exactly what the Venefice are ? "
-" Last time I’ve asked to, I’ve been answered ‘Don’t ask’. My point is, nobody knows for sure… "
-" We’ll talk about that after the battle, will you ? "
-" Carpenter, of the Kitsune Team. Me and John will distract them a bit, on the West point. S’okay, John ? "
-" Okie, dokie. West point. "
-" Take care, Kitsune Team. We’ll handle the Hunters, and try to slow down the motherships. Acatlha Team, finished. "
-" Karl, of the Tempus Fugit Team. Me, and my companions, we’ll give a hand to Kitsune Team. Leggo ! Weehee ! "
-" To the other teams : Let split up to Nadir and Zenith points. "
-" Received "
With that, the different ships began to fly up and down, while John, Carpenter and the Tempus Fugit Team went to the west flank of the Venefice fleet.
And the battle began…
The Venefice ships were fast, like deadly wasps. In the other hand, the two motherships stayed unmoved and kept their normal trajectory. A Venefice hunter tried to attack John’s ship, who tried to dodge its meta-energy strikes, and get rid of it. With a sudden somersault, John arrived on his opponent tail, and destroyed it with but a single shot.
-" Man ! Their ships aren’t that though… "
-" Yeah, John, but they’re dang fast ! " Carpenter replied.
The melee was a true mess, meta-energy running in all directions, ships avoiding them, or being hit. So far, the Furries had taken the advantage, but they had also lost some ships… When nearly a quarter of the Venefice ships were destroyed, one of the two ennemy motherships entered the battle… By shooting at the Furries mothership. Fortunately, the damages done were minor, but as the ship prepared a second strike, the Lieutenant Commander Hara manifested herself via psionic interfaces :
-" Mothership slightly damaged. Concentrate your fire upon the two Venefice motherships. We’ll maneuver to avoid further attacks. "
-" Easy to say ! ! ! What we are supposed to do ? ! ? "
-" Attack them long enough to distract them, so we’ll be able to strike ourselves. End of transmission. "
The Furries ships danced in space with their deadly enemies, trying to damage the Venefice motherships, while dodging their meta-energy assaults. John, after a sly maneuver that had allowed him to destroy two Venefice hunters at once, tried to attack directly one of the two motherships. He shot several times, but with few effects…
-" [censored], their armour is nearly unbreakable !"
-" Watch your language, John" Jenny said. " Lt Commander Hara dislikes it."
-" Yeah, I know... Jenny, could you analyse the Venefice motherships armour and tell me where is their potential weak spot?"
-"Hmmm... It could be done. Okay, I’m on it. Survive long enough, please."
John dodged the Venefice hunters. Sometimes, they were very close, John could sense the vibrations on his Spacefighter each time a meta-energy shot had ran a bit too close. Fortunately, Carpenter was not too far away, and destroyed some hunters when they were a bit too close. From time to time, John would whisper ‘Quick, Jenny, quick…’, while destroying enemy hunters, or avoiding being hit…
-"John! I’ve got it! There is a weaker armoury on the top of the Venefice ships. You see that kind of bulb, on the top?"
-"That tiny thing? Yeah…"
-"That’s it. But I don’t know if that would really harm them…"
John dodged a Venefice shot.
-"John, wait!" Jenny shouted.
-"Hey! What’re you thinking you gonna do?" Carpenter blurted out.
Without answering, John directed is ship toward Zenith (up), in order to target the bulb easier. When he reached an enough high point, he turned his ship nose toward the Venefice mothership. And dived. Some Venefice hunters tried to intercept him, but either they were destroyed by John himself, or by the other Spacefighters. John saw that the Venefice mothership he was targeting was on the point to strike again the Grande Alpha. He targeted the tiny bulb on the top of the ship. And shoot.
The Venefice mothership exploded. With a dextrous maneuver, John managed to avoid the burst of the ship.
-"Jenny! Transmit to all the other Spacefighters! Tell them about this weak spot!"
-"Okay! I’m glad you’re still alive."
-"Me too, Jenny. Me too"
-"Yeehaa!!! John! That was SO cool!" Carpenter shouted.
-"We have another mothership to handle. And some hunters."
-"To all the Teams: The Grande Alpha have reached a strategical point. We’ll strike soon."
John and Carpenter flew together, and used team maneuvers to allure and destroy Venefice Hunters. They were only two, but far better than any of the other teams. The last Venefice mothership entered the battle, and its meta-energy strikes destroyed many Spacefighters.
-"Hey, guys! Beware of this one! He’s a toughie!"
-"Damn! You’re ri… AAAARRRGHH!!!"
This pilot didn’t have the time to finish… The last scream of the pilot sent quivers all along John’s spine. The hunters were very few, now, but it seemed that the mothership alone could do a lot of damage. Finally, the last hunters were destroyed by the Kitsune Team and the Tempus Fugit Team. That’s when the Grande Alpha concentrate meta-energy for a single shot. The strike flew directly toward the Venefice mothership, and destroyed nearly half of it. The Grande Alpha prepared another strike.
The Venefice mothership seemed to fall a little. Suddenly, all Spacefighters pilots could see some sparkles around it. Sparkles, becoming lightning…
-"Hey!" Carpenter shouted. "What’s that?"
-"GET AWAY!!!" Jenny shrieked.
Too late. Many lightning came out of the Venefice ship, and hit surrounding Sapcefighters. Carpenter’s was hit badly, a wing being utterly destroyed.
Carpenter’s ship was heavily damaged and barely able to move away. It made an easy target, as the Venefice ship ultimately striked, just before the Grande Alpha’s second strike definitely destroyed it. The green sphere of meta-energy hit Carpenter’s ship, and this one exploded, sending thousands of sparks in the void of the space…
-"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" John howled.
A tall and sleek otter, dressed with a great fashion taste entered a tiny room, in which was set a kind of metallic sarcophagus. The otter was accompanied by two guards, stout and sturdy dogs in full armour.
-"Hmm… Please, could you wait outside?"
-"Mister… The orders…"
-"I give the orders, here. Please, go outside."
After a bit of hesitating, the two guards left the otter alone. After the door shut down anew, the otter sat down, and watched toward the sarcophagus.
-"You already know your position, here, do you?"
After a few seconds, a loud and twisted voice came out of the sarcophagus:
-"And you know what will happen to you."
-"I’m pretty sure that’s annoying you."
-"I see. Well, anti-socialism will be you’re undoing…"
-"What do you want?"
-"I’m here to offer a second chance" The otter replied. "We are creating a new and secret intervention force. You could be a part of it. After a Modelling…"
A loud snigger came out of the sarcophagus.
-"That won’t be me."
-"In a way." The otter said, casually. "But, you know, it’s either that, or… Well, the common punishment for criminals of your kind."
There was an eerie silence for a while. Then, the otter, a bit annoyed, added:
-"Look, I don’t have much time. I need an answer quickly. So?"
After another silence, the voice answered:
John looked sorrowfully at the picture on which were him and Carpenter. It was taken a while before, on a little planet they both liked, Nar-3.
Carpenter has been dead for three months, now. And it was still painful… Hara had offered him some holidays out of the Grande Alpha. He had set himself on a little asteroid, alone. He had not received news from Jenny for a while, but he had heard that she had found a new job. As a civilian. John had considered himself some retreat of this kind. Or, even, once, about a more definitive retreat…
Someone knocked at the door. John raised himself from the couch he was lying on. After his door was knocked a second time, he stood up, and walked toward the door to open it. Behind it was a white tiger in very elegant clothes. He looked like some kind of ambassador on official mission.
-"Mister John, I’m glad to see you here. Can I enter?"
John hesitated a bit, but he step aside in order to allow the white tiger to enter.
-"Thank you Mister John. I won’t be too long."
The white tiger entered and looked around. If he noticed the picture, he didn’t seem to give it much importance.
-"Hmm… I see that a Spacefighter pilot can’t afford too much…"
-"What do you want?"
-"Well… I’ve heard about your recent difficulties. The lost of your friend. Your attempt at committing suicide…"
-"And?" John replied in a harsh and icy tone.
-"And? The Service is worried, about you. It wouldn’t want to lose one of the best pilots in the Galactic Concord."
-"The Service? What is it?"
-"An organisation. The Galactic Concord secret agency."
John looked at the tiger as if he was mad.
-"Get lost, freak. I have nothing to do with you."
With that, John turned his back toward the tiger. This one sighed.
-"You know, sorrow and despair is the easy way. Suicide a coward solution. Many has been broken to pieces by tragedies like the one you’ve suffered. But some of them didn’t give up life. They had the courage to go forward, despite their wounded souls."
John heard the sound of a plastic card being put on the table, in the middle of the room.
-"If you change your mind…"
Then, the tiger left John alone. The fox turned his head toward the card on the table. A white card, with a big red stylised ‘S’ painted on it, and, under, a number. John sat down on his couch, staring at the card. He stared at it for many hours. This night, he could not find sleep. He was thinking. Hard. And, in the middle of the night, he stood up, grabbed the card, and dialled the number on his computer. Nearly immediately after, the screen showed the image of the tiger, perfectly dressed, without any hint of sleepiness on him.
-"Good night, Mister John."
-"What are you asking for?"
-"Great. In fact, we need your skills as pilot. To form a new Spacefighters Team. You have to understand that I cannot deliver you all the details before you’re a member of it…"
After a few thoughts, John continued:
-"When and where?"
The tiger smiled.
-"Prepare your stuff. I’ll send a ship. He’ll arrive in nearly three hours."
To be continued…