FIC: The Flight Of The Morrigan (7/?)
“I say!” Giles stormed onto the bridge, his face flushed from the head-long rush from his quarters. “What’s with the sirens?”
Xander didn’t look around from peering out of their cruiser’s front window, the view a flashing tangle of silvery strands. “Skywalker’s been in touch, apparently over-night there was close to a hundred assassinations and attempted assassinations across the galaxy. The Galactic Republic is in uproar and moments ago, an armada of unknown alien origin appeared out of the Outer Rim approaching Ansion. The two events have to be linked, the armada can’t be friendly.”
“And we’re going in on our own?” Wood demanded.
“No,” Xander still didn’t look away, “the Galactic Republic is mustering as many ships as it can, but they’re in disarray, and even if they weren’t, we’re far faster than they are.”
“One ship against a fleet?” a newly-arrived Faith let out a gasp, the other Slayers trailing in behind their leader.
“Ansion has a population of twenty-five million, we can’t protect our own people, but we can help theirs,” Xander replied.
“Oh bloo-,” Giles forced himself to calm. Their path was already set, there was no point railing against it. “What can we do?”
“Huh,” Xander let out a surprised grunt. Clearly he’d been expecting more of an argument, but it wasn’t the Jedi way to rage against the inevitable, rather they chose to prepare for it as best they could. “Have you been practicing with your force-lances?”
“In-between practicing with the Force, yes,” Giles replied.
Xander nodded. “In that case, how about you Jedi split into three groups of three and patrol the ship in readiness against boarders? The Slayers can stay on the bridge as a defence against boarders get this far.”
“Already preparing for boarders, that’s optimistic.”
Xander shot a muttering Michael a look. “That reminds me, send fifty security droids each to Engineering and Medical Bay to guard them, and spread the rest evenly throughout the floors.” Xander looked towards Sam who was busy piloting the ship. “How long?”
“Five to ten minutes.”
“Very well,” Giles looked towards his fellow ‘Jedi’. “Graham, Kate, you’re with me. Robin, please take Oz and Groo. Oliver, I’d appreciate it if you’d partner with Harri and Justine.”
Condensation streamed off the thick foliage surrounding the Jedi Praxeum, heat sinking down like an almost physical force. Yet despite the discomfort Kyle Katarn felt a rare peace as he stood outside the Great Temple and took in the new day.
He stiffened, his peace disrupted as something brushed up against his force. Eyes narrowing he reached out with his senses, into the vast forests that surrounded the Great Temple, and searched. He recoiled instinctively, a chill running through him at what he felt lurking in the jungle’s bowels.
Lips drying, he turned on the Great Temple’s alarms, and sent mental messages to the leaders amongst the Praxeum. In seconds the temple’s doors were opening and Kyp Durron and Ganner Rhysode were racing towards him. “The others-.”
“Are getting the younglings and padawans ready to leave,” Kyp crisply interrupted, his fellow Jedi’s eyes narrowing. “What seems to be the problem?”
Kyle shook his head. “Reach out.”
His two fellow Jedi complied, paling as they received the search results. “Terentateks!” Kyp hissed. “They’re-.”
“We’ve all read about them in the holocrons,” Kyle interrupted. Nightmarish creatures bred specifically to attack Jedi, beasts that were even larger and more dangerous than the Rancors they had originally been. “Now, they might be directly immune to the Force, but they can be hurt by objects thrown using the force, so that’s what we’re going to do, when they charge us, we’ll throw boulders, uproot trees, whatever it takes. Then when we hear the last of the ships depart, we’ll pull back into the temple, and close its doors behind us, and wait this out.”
“Quite the plan,” Kyp muttered.
“Inspiring,” Ganner added.
A smile played on Kyle’s lips despite the fraught situation. His companions were if nothing else seasoned warriors. His smile disappeared as a chilling roar cut through the early morning. “They’re coming,” he hissed.
And then suddenly they were there, monsters standing around four metres high and on relatively stubby legs with longer forelimbs that ended in four-clawed hands. The beast’s flat faces were dominated by a gaping maw filled with razor sharp teeth and curved tusks in each corner. Spikes ran up and down its curved back, while the monster was covered in a thick, leathery hide.
Kyp centred himself as he picked up a boulder the size of an escape pod and dropped it onto the head of the lead Terentatek, trapping its still convulsing body under it. Meanwhile, his companions tore century old trees out of the ground, and flung them like javelins into the following Terentateks, skewering them through their thick torsos, blood spraying everywhere as they staggered and fell, the ground shuddering under their heavy bodies.
And still the next ones rushed on.
Sweat steaming down his face, and muscles aching with the mental effort, Kyle re-centred himself, flinging a barrage of smaller but still substantial stones at the next few monsters. Every blow that hit home staggered the monsters, but it took several of the smaller hits to put any of the creatures down, their bodies stubbornly twitching before finally submitting to death’s grasp.
Meanwhile his companions continued to use the trees, ripping them out of their age-old roots, then using them to club a target into a bloody mess.
“The last of the padawans are loaded onto the ships, you can stop now. Thank you for your efforts.”
Kyle let out a relieved gasp as he heard the warm comforting voice of one of his fellow teachers in his head. Glancing at the other Jedi, he nodded wearily and started a retreat towards the temple, ducking beneath its comforting shadow. Seeing another bunch of terentateks racing towards them, almost dropping onto all fours in their charge, Kyle fell to one knee, gritted his teeth, and threw every near-by rock at them, the bombardment knocking the monsters back long enough for them to retreat into the building.
Warmaster Tsavong stared down with satisfaction at the planet beneath him. It had taken but a couple of hours to obliterate the planet’s desultory defence forces and in just a few moments his forces would begin their attack of the planet surface itself-. He looked up, brow creasing in puzzlement. That was impossible!
“We’ll be exiting slipstream in under a minute.”
Xander nodded at Sam’s terse report. “Okay, position us between the armada and the planet,” he looked towards Morrigan’s hologram, “I want to speak to the lead ship the moment we drop out. I want to warn them this planet is under High Guard protection.”
“A bluff, Xander?” Michael queried.
“If they think there’s more ships like the Morrigan on the way they might back off,” Xander replied. Xander swallowed, his stomach twisting as they dropped out of slipstream to find strange, alien-looking ships stretching for as far as the eye could see in both directions, seemingly more plentiful than the stars themselves.
“Oh you really dropped us in it Harris.”
Xander ignored Faith’s mutter to look towards Morrigan’s hologram. “We’re broadcasting to them,” the screen cleared to be dominated by a towering, thick-set alien as ugly and formidable-looking as any of the demons he’d faced. Which said something considering Xander’s experience.
Xander nodded. “You can translate what I say?” At Morrigan’s nod, Xander turned to the alien. “This planet is under our protection and the protection of the High Guard. Please withdraw before we are forced to respond to your unwarranted and aggressive actions.”
Morrigan’s nostrils flared. “They’re firing on us sir.”
“Damn it,” Xander looked around. “We have our answer. Michael, launch the attack missiles at their biggest ships, and ready our defensive missiles to keep their fighters away from us. Riley, launch our offensive missiles at their nearest ships. Sam, it’s on you to keep their weapons from hitting us. Morrigan, you have control of the AP cannons. Everyone, you have your places, take these ships out of the sky.”
Sam swallowed as she twisted the Morrigan to the right, under the fire of an oblong-shaped warship close to or perhaps even exceeding their ship even as Morrigan spat green fire right back at the ship, her particle beams tearing deep furrows down the enemy ship’s left and right flanks. Her eyes widened as she noted another ship of a similar size and shape bearing down from above and pushed her nose up and drove to meet it, Morrigan’s AP cannons firing a vanguard of green flame.
The enemy ship shuddered as the fire tore through its underside, Sam letting out a gasp as it exploded as if torn apart from the inside. “Two frigates moving to flank us.”
Sam re-focussed at Xander’s terse voice. “On it,” she replied, before throwing the Morrigan into a tight loop that flung them away from the approaching enemy while inwardly marvelling at such a large ship’s nimbleness, the Morrigan’s AP cannons firing the moment the ship righted, ripping gouges down the centres of both ships. “Incoming fighters,” Xander reported.
“Launching drones to counter,” Michael tersely replied.
“Good,” Xander staggered, hands clinging to the counter before him.
Fire blazed from half a dozen directions as Sam pulled the ship left, right, and up and down, utilising its greater agility to minimise the hits they took while the ship’s particle weapons returned fire with murderous efficiency. Sweat poured down Sam’s face and her jaw clenched painfully as she concentred on keeping them alive. She bobbed in and out of the enemy’s retaliatory fire even as the Morrigan’s AP cannons shredded emerald fire through several more of the medium-sized ships.
“Okay,” she heard Xander gasp as their ship took another hit, “screw this, let’s give them something to really think about.”
“What do you suggest?” Sam grunted as executed a barrel roll, flinging everybody who wasn’t sat down from their feet.
“See those huge, moon-sized monstrosities at the fleet’s rear?” Xander queried. “I want one of them blown out of my sky!”
“The whole fleet’s between us and them!” Michael protested.
“Not if we come up behind them,” Xander suggested.
“This is nuts,” Sam complained as she did an abrupt u-turn away from the fleet and tore away from the enemy armada, the engines screeching as she powered away and on a circuit around the planet, several fighters in vain pursuit.
The moment they reached the fleet’s rear, Xander let out a growl. “Run a course at the nearest ship, Morrigan launch MIKV missiles at it until it’s blown out of the sky.”
“You realise if you blow one up, its debris will-.”
“Fall on the planet surface,” Xander nodded at the hologram’s comment. “I know, but we’ll just have to hope most it will break up in the planet’s atmosphere.”
Sam shuddered as she weaved in and out of the hulking ship’s fire, the enemy fighters still on her tail. According to the ship specifications she’d read, MIKVs were a special missile delivery system that contained as many as a dozen independently targeting warheads within a missile. Used mainly for the element of surprise, they would overwhelm an enemy’s scanners by giving it too much to handle. MIKVs left the ship’s missile tubes in less than a minute and as they sped towards the massive craft split into hundreds. The first wave was caught by what looked to be the protective minefield encircling the mammoth craft, but then some of the second wave got through the holes blown in the protective screening, and impacted on the space ship, flames bursting with the impact, until finally the ship blew apart, huge chunks plummeting to the planet’s surface.
And then she threw the ship into a tight loop, flinging it behind the fighters Harriing its rear, their AP cannons spitting green fire at them, ripping them out of the sky.
Warmaster Tsavong’s jaw dropped open, shock filling him as victory turned to ash in his mouth. A Koros-Strohna destroyed and by a ship of a construction unfamiliar to their spies?
And it wasn’t only the loss of a worldship, as immense as a setback that was, a single one of the enemy ships had also taken out several coral-skippers, a pair of Uro-ik v'alh, and a quartet of I'Friil Ma-Nats. They had plenty of resources left to them, and nothing apart from the worldship couldn’t be easily replaced, still this was far more losses than they’d expected to suffer.
“Very well,” his nostrils flared as he glared balefully at the heretics in their midst, “I want that ship boxed in and caught in a crossfire, rip it apart-.”
“Sir!” His glare snapped towards his subordinate who took a backstep and swallowed before continuing. “We have reports of several ships dropping out of space.”
Warmaster Tsavong bit back a snarl when a glance down at the sensor array confirmed what he was being told. According to the display a pair of Bulwark-class led a group consisting of Bothan Assault Cruisers, Belarus-class medium cruisers, Liberator-class cruisers, Majestic-class heavy cruisers, and even several dozen gunships. “Very well,” the ash now stuck in his throat, “sound the withdrawal.”