Sunday, July 24, 2016

Escape From The Free Republic - Chapter Twelve

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Free Republic Carrier Umbrage

The main corridor through the center of the ship on the mid-deck was a bit wider than the ones below it, because this deck did not have crew quarters and associated things. This was all meant for work spaces and at each end of the vessel, on this deck, the main power distribution nodes and the protective field generators and the artificial gravity systems were located.

No enemy force had ever boarded a carrier in memory. There was no real good reason for these critical systems to be protected from the inside. They already had the whole ship wrapped around them, they were well-protected from exterior threats.

Tom Grier hefted the Quad-Barreled Battle Rifle, QBR-44, it was longer than he was tall, and weight too much to carry without the powered armor suit he wore. The armored suit of the Free Republic Marines, now worn by a rebel fighting for the independence of a world called Sync.

If Sync won its independence, other worlds would follow. The Free Republic was already weakened by its ruthless but not-quite competent government. As history showed, authoritarian governments and their repression regressed a society and crippled its ability to grow and innovate.

Where are they?” Tom asked. The Marines on the carrier should be there to stop him and the other rebels. They had entered through a tear in a cargo hatch and had climbed the decks fighting unarmored ship security personnel and their lightly armed drones. It had all been a very uneven match. There were Marines on this ship who could give them a real match, but where were they?

Do you think they are inside of the nodes?” Felix asked, “Would that even make sense?”

Tom frowned, “No way. That would be a terrible place to put up a defensive. They need to do that as far from the vital systems as possible.”

Tom clicked the secure communications on his suit, “Skyler, where are you?”

We’re near the forward node. It just feels too quiet,” the other soldier responded.

Same here.”

I’ve got eyes on the entrance to the forward node, it appears unguarded. I don’t get this.

Skyler, search the area for any threat and then hold for my mark, we’ll blow these systems simultaneously if we can,” Tom told him.

Roger tha…” the transmission garbled.

Tom sighed, well it had to happen sooner or later he told himself.

Tom!” A familiar voice sounded in his ear. He looked around and saw that his men were in defensive positions, waiting to move.

Tom, it’s me Maggie,” the voice said, “I was able to hack into your suit. Listen to me, Tom, you need to get off this ship as soon as possible!”

Maggie, can you hear me?” Tom asked, “You should head for the nearest escape pod, I am taking down this ship.”

Tom, you don’t need to do this.

The Free Republic has become despotic. It’s nothing like we were taught. Everything they told us about it in school ended years ago. Sync and the other worlds deserve their independence,” Tom told her, “If you want to live through this, Maggie, get in a pod.”

Listen Tom. The Admiral put up barricades to keep the Marines isolated, but they have found a way in now. They’ll be there soon,” Maggie told him. He had no way to know if it was true. If it was true, then there were no Marines waiting for them inside the node chambers.

Tom weighed the odds. They were unknown, but he decided that she was just being the mouthpiece of the Marine General.

He muted his suit com, “I’ll lead the way, check your weapons.”

The QBR-44 he carried was loaded with different kinds of ammunition. He could fire the regular fifty caliber rounds, grenade rounds, armor-penetrating rounds and acid rounds. The barrels hummed and they spun up into ready mode.

Tom. You should escape while you have time. You don’t need to do this,” Maggie’s voice penetrated through his skull, “The Marines are on the way.

Tom began a fast walk toward the node chamber down the corridor, his men followed on high alert for any threat. No sign of any opposition, which was extremely unnerving. Felix checked the entrances to the left while another soldier looked into all of the doors to the right. The deck was completely abandoned of any personnel.

The look of concern on Felix was more and more pronounced as they proceeded. The entrance to the node chamber was near. Tom considered firing his grenades into the chamber from where he was, but he wanted to carry out the mission as it was planned.

Suddenly five armored Marine suits walked into the corridor between his team and the node chamber.

Into the workshops!” Felix said as they all ducked to the two sides as the first rounds were fired by the Marines.

We are too close to stop now,” Tom said, he clicked the QBR-44 over to grenade rounds and spun out into the corridor, he fired eight rounds in two seconds and ducked back into the side chamber while the Marines were reacting.

He heard the firing of the other QBR-44’s and peeked out. They had shot down the grenade rounds and none of them had flown past the sentries. It was likely that the Marines guarding the node chamber weren’t allowed to fire their own grenade rounds aboard the carrier.

There is an escape pod in that chamber, Tom, use it to escape!” Maggie’s voice interrupted his thoughts. He tried to turn off the connection, he wanted to contact Skyler on the aft side of the ship but nothing was happening.

The Marines aren’t coming after us, they’re just guarding the node chamber,” Felix said, he had stuck the end of his gun into the corridor. The end of the gun had a camera connected to his armored suit, which was not as powerful as a Marine suit.

That makes me even more nervous,” Someone else said.

Something is happening. What is that?” Felix asked, activating his holographic imager over his wrist for a better look.

It’s a Vike! Oh damn it’s armed!”

The robotic “cat” padded its way down the corridor toward them. Normally used to carry supplies or to sneak looks at enemy locations, this one was carrying a big gun. Tom stepped into the corridor and fired a grenade round at the Vike and it sidestepped the round which bounced before exploding. The “Viking Kitty” was thrown but used its legs to “walk” and push off the opposite wall and back to the floor.

Then it began firing at Tom was surprised to see explosive rounds inbound. He threw himself across the corridor and through a closed hatch, busting it off the hinges as the blast missed him. Tom got back up the Vike stopped outside and then turned in his direction.

Tom clicked the gun over to acid rounds.

The Vike pounced at Tom, but he ducked under the robotic beast and moved to the other side of the chamber but the Vike was already pushing off the wall and flying right toward him again. Tom sidestepped and then batted at the Vike with the gun as it passed. This gave the robot pause, so Tom fired two acid rounds at it.

Tom was aiming for the gun it carried on its back. The first acid round hit the robots “head”, which Tom hoped would blind it. The second one hit the gun but it did not appear damaged on the outside.

The Vike stopped and slowly moved its head from side to side. Tom tried not to make a sound. He didn’t know if that made a difference, it was just built in caution. Then maybe its sensors kicked in because it started towards Tom again. He fired some normal rounds at it but it was able to dodge most of those.

It had its own micro-radar. It could detect incoming shells or any other moving target and know exactly where they had come from. The Vike aimed at Tom who tried to shift his direction and found the wall was keeping him from rolling away.

The Vike didn’t fire. It turned and ran into the corridor though where Felix was able to hit it a few times with his own weapon as it padded back to the Marines.

They seem to be playing for time!” Felix said.

The longer we are here, the better chance of moving in enough Marines to mount an offensive. I think we need to attack, as quickly as possible,” Tom told the others over his com.

Tom, other Marines are on the way. I think Colonel Mortimer will be leading the charge.” Maggie told him. Believe her? He did, actually, this time. For some reason General Gallant was letting him know exactly was going on. Which meant something was being left out, no way they would tell Tom everything.

This is Team Two, we are pinned down. Looks like three Marines defending the forward node.

The rebel device to shut down the Marine implants would work if the ship didn’t have a much more powerful null field of its own. Inside of the Umbrage, with the field, the range on the rebel device must be extremely reduced.

Several of his men carried the device, just in case.

Okay, we need to get close to the Marines. Maybe we can knock them out with the device if we are close,” Tom told them, the com to Team Two was open so maybe they could hear, but he wasn’t hearing anything from them.

How would we get close enough without getting killed?” someone asked.

Anyone want to surrender?” Tom asked.

Carrier Umbrage, Bridge

Admiral, the rebel intruders are closing in on the forward and aft nodes!” Commander Grabble reported. The aging Admiral in his hover-chair looked more tired than ever, the skin on his face even seemed to sag. His whole body was slumped and his uniform was wrinkled as if he hadn’t even thought of cleaning up.

We must defend the nodes. Do whatever needs to be done, Commander!” Admiral James “Jim” Robinson ordered.

Good news, some Marines were able to reach the middle deck, sir!” one of the younger officers reported, “It seems they went outside the ship through the lander hangar and came in through an escape pod port.”

They know we need them,” Grabble replied, “They’ll do their jobs.”

I still don’t like Gallant having his men traipsing all over my ship. When this is over, I’m going to tell the… President that the Marines need their own deployment vessels,” Robinson said.

Admiral, the Free Republic hasn’t built a capital ship in a long time,” Commander Grabble reminded him, “We just don’t have that capability right now. The Carriers were built to carry Marines.”

We will redesign them. The Carrier should carry more fighters, why should Onyx flight be the only ones?” The Admiral asked, becoming agitated again.

Commander Grabble held his tongue. The Admiral was just upset. There was no doubt the Admiral knew perfectly well the limitations of space fighters. They were barely useful in the role of ship defense, giving the enemy more targets confuse them and to shoot at. They were mainly used to attack targets on the surface of planets for a very good reason.

What is happening down there?” Robinson demanded.

Looks like the Marines are guarding the nodes and the rebels are hold up nearby.”

Why don’t those Marines just move in and take them out?” The Admiral asked.

Defenders have an advantage over attackers. There are other Marines on the way that will give them the ability to attack without leaving the nodes undefended,” Grabble explained.

Carrier Umbrage, exterior

The Free Republic Marines made their way up the side of the massive vessel wearing their armored powered suits. The suits would keep them alive even in space itself, but they still had to be careful because it was never safe outside.

Hampton, watch your footholds. You’ll slip away if you don’t secure it,” Colonel Mortimer chided one of the Marines for being a little careless.

Aye, sir!”

They arrived at the lock that had been used for an escape pod. The empty pod was three hundred meters away and still silently drifting. The first to arrive was Sergeant Hollings, who still remembered his combat training. The others were older and mostly assigned to administrative duties. Most of the real Marines were down on Sync fighting a rebel uprising.

Suddenly Hollings helmet exploded and most of his head too. Hampton let go of his handholds and tried to pull the battle rifle off of his back but several holes appeared on the hull around him before his chest exploded and the young staff officer floated away, just barely above the surface of the Umbrage.

Where is that coming from?” Mortimer demanded, looking everywhere he could. An explosion to his left had torn another of the Marines into pieces. Worse, it had dislodged Colonel Mortimer and he was flailing as he floated away.

Something crossed in front of him.

Finally Colonel Mortimer used the small rockets to get some control. Then he turned and used the suit booster to get him back to the carrier. That is when he noticed another armored suit that was much larger than his own.

The other soldier, in the strange suit, came close before reaching out and wrapping an armored hand around the neck of the Colonels’ suit. It pulled the colonel close to its own head as if to get a visual inspection. Then the faceplate moved aside and allowed Mortimer to see inside.

Oh God! You’re supposed to be dead!” Colonel Mortimer said as the much larger and more powerful suit threw him against the hull of the carrier. Then he felt the suit he wore buffet and he slowly drifted away from the carrier. His booster malfunctioned and his attitude thrusters just plain did not work.

This is Colonel Mortimer, I have a message for the General!” The Colonel tried to call out on his suit radio. He was drifting away from the carrier. Mortimer could see the large armored suit climb through the pod hatch. The person in that suit was insane, he had to be, he was killing anyone who was in thw way.

Blade!” Mortimer yelled, heard by no-one but himself.


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