With his hands on his hands Felix grinned at the three Marines guarding node chamber as he approached. He had dropped his weapons in full view and now walked toward them as if to surrender himself.
The device that would cripple their armored suits was in plain view on his chest but these Marines didn’t know anything about it. They may have heard that there was such a device, since it had been used quite effectively in the battles down on Sync but they wouldn’t be expecting this.
In fact, Felix didn’t even know whether it would work on board the Umbrage, which had a powerful field to dampen that sort of thing. Fortunately that field was directed outward rather than inward.
“Name?” One of the Marines asked as he approached.
“Felix Santayana, I was born in Upper Range Province,” he told them, “Although I’m sure the records of my birth were destroyed in one of your bombings.”
Just another meter or two.
“Tell me, do your people still carry out show trials before the execution, or after?” Felix asked, still grinning with his face-plate open.
“Those who surrender do not get executed,” One of the marines said, “Stop there and turn around.”
Felix stopped, “I suppose it’s hard labor in some asteroid mine for someone like me.”
Now! Felix flexed his left wrist, this was to set off the device. Immediately his suits instrumentation went haywire, but he heard thumps as the three marines hit the floor. He turned to see them, the suits so heavy that they couldn’t really move from inside. The other rebels came to join him,
“Good job, Felix,” his commander, the new guy named Tom Grier said. They took the weapons from the Marines and moved them aside.
“Felix, check out the node chamber, see if there’s a trap or anything.” Tom Grier ordered, Felix saluted and exaggerated a march towards the open chamber. Inside the oval-shaped chamber he saw two large contraptions that filled the two ends, from ceiling to floor. Felix could see pipes and ducts along the walls, as more systems than just gravity and field generators were sent through.
Felix was about to send an all-clear message when someone stepped out from behind the large module at the far end of the chamber. The armored suit was unfamiliar, it was much too large, as if the torso allowed one to curl up for naps inside.
“Who…?” Felix managed to say before a large hole opened up in his chest, right through the rebel armor he wore. Everything went black rather quickly.
Blade could see the others start to enter the chamber but when they saw the body they moved to one side of the entrance or the other. One of them had been wearing the armor of a Marine; Tom Grier.
Tom Grier was the rebel scum that had destroyed his body. Falling from the tower had broken his spine, but Blade didn’t let that stop him. Blade had pulled and pushed with his arms, he had left a trail of blood and bits of flesh on the ground behind him. By the time he had been found by the agent named Bolton, he was nearly bled out.
Thankfully, Bolton had taken him into the shuttle. Bolton did not ask questions when Blade demanded to be taken to the Marine Tech ship Dispensation. The few people on that ship hadn’t wanted to let them open the hatch but a medical emergency required them to render aid.
Blade had known about the prototype suit for months, they had tested him for it. Using Blade they had made sure that a full-grown Marine would be comfortable inside it. He had followed orders not to tell anyone, not even Admiral Robinson about the prototype. It never left his mind though. His thoughts and dreams had revolved around that armored suit everyday since.
He lay there helpless on the cot for days in the Medical Ward of the Dispensation wondering how would he get to the suit? Except he had known, deep down, that he was already connected to the suit. His mind had been the one they used when programming it for the psych connection. It was to be much more advanced than the present physical relay. It was.
The suit had felt him there. It had called to him and asked for orders. Blade had even been a little surprised but pleasantly surprised. He told the suit to come to him and to kill anyone else that it saw along the way.
The screams in the corridor were like church bells, raising his flagging spirits. The suit appeared in the doorway and then opened itself, lifting Blade’s broken body and fitting him inside. Blade no longer needed his own legs, he had better ones. A suit that was more powerful than any Marine armor, one that was like its own spacecraft while waiting for the chance to get inside the Umbrage.
It could have even survived the fall and burn into the atmosphere of the planet, Sync, below. It was truly a remarkable machine. Possibly one that could be used to rule a world. For now he would be satisfied with revenge against the one who had crippled him. Then maybe, he would make the Umbrage his own ship.
Something approximating a smile crossed his lips.
He thought to the machine and it began walking toward the only exit in the node chamber, Blade was looking forward to tearing Tom Grier into pieces. After finishing off these rebels he would heard toward the bridge and introduce himself to Admiral Robinson properly. His plans were falling into place.
“What is that thing?” Someone asked.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Tom told them, “It doesn’t matter how big it is, we still have to take it out. Get those explosive charges ready.”
“What’s happening Tom?” Maggie’s voice asked, she sounded concerned.
“I don’t have time to talk, okay?” Tom replied, “You didn’t warn me about this thing, is it some kind of tank?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tom. I don’t see anything moving near you on the sensors.”
Tom knew Maggie well enough to know that statement did not sound like a lie. She didn’t know about that thing? It wasn’t showing up on the sensors? This was not good news.
“It’s a huge armored suit, probably from the Marines.”
“The General hasn’t said anything about such a suit Tom. Not around me.”
Time was up.
Tom took the QBR-44 from his back and turned the corner. The massive armor suit was only a few meters away. The arm of the suit didn’t move but part of the forearm moved aside and a weapon appeared which was already moving toward Tom.
Tom dodged sideways as the weapon fired, an energy beam punched a hole right through the wall of the chamber. Tom returned fire, an explosive round right at the chest of the massive suit. Some sort of force-field had stopped it from causing any damage.
This was not good at all.
The rebels were leaning over from the doorway firing rounds at the enemy armor, but it was paying no attention to them.
“Explosive charge, now!” Tom told them. He moved away from the hulking suit toward the back of the chamber as the first charge landed amidst its feet. The suit stopped and seemed to look down as the explosion rocked the whole chamber and floor.
The suit appeared undamaged, unlike the floor and part of the nearby walls.
“What is this thing?”
The suit now started moving toward Tom a lot faster than it had any right to be moving. Tom fired a burst of anti-armor rounds right at it, but they only seemed to scratch some paint of its chest. Then it stopped and the faceplate moved aside.
It was the sniper he had fought in Valla.
The sneer on the mans face broke into an ugly smile, “I wondered that myself, Tom Grier, but I think the better question is ‘why?’. The answer to that question is simple, so that I can get my revenge on you and others who wronged me!”
Blade took aim at Tom Grier with his powerful V-Beam weapon just as the lights went out. Something thumped him on the back of the suit, probably those rebels with their puny weapons again. Now why was the night vision and sensors not working? Thankfully life support was working, the air circulation system was running in fits and starts.
The lights came back on and he wasn’t looking at Tom Grier anymore. He was looking at one of the gravitic nodes. The suit informed him that some of field generator had caused a computer error but that systems were self-repairing. He could move again.
Now where did Tom and his merry band of rebels run off to?
There, near the entrance to the chamber. Two of them were carrying the body of that rebel he had killed first. Tom Grier had holstered his big Marine rifle and was holding something else in his hands. With a thought a powerful projectile gun appeared in the hand of Blades suit, since the energy weapon was still malfunctioning.
“Your device to cripple the Marine suits don’t work on this one, Tom!” He said as he made the suit take the first steps toward the chamber exit. Then he extended his gun arm and thought the order to fire but nothing happened.
The rebels were moving fast away from him, down the corridor.
The computer said the rounds had indeed been fired but that the rounds had been suspended inside of the barrels. He saw a representation of this appear as if watching an x-ray machine, the rounds then moved quickly in reverse and exploded out the back of the suits armored elbow.
The suit was also being pulled and turned. The whole chamber was twisting, he could hear the metal moaning through the thick armor. The suit turned around and he could see the gravitic node had been destroyed by explosives, the explosion itself was struggling to expand against the force of artificial gravity out of control.
The chamber and everything else, including his armored suit, was twisting around the fiery node as if it were a small black hole. It seemed to be happening in slow motion to Blade, who had been mesmerized by the view for a moment. Now he was struggling to get free of the grip of the depolarized, unbalanced gravity node.
A vessel the size of the Umbrage required two nodes, at polar ends but near the middle decks to balance the artificial gravity. If one were to weaken, the other would weaken automatically in response, because the whole system depended on balance. The two nodes were in special chambers because they needed to be the most protected parts of the ship.
If one of the nodes were to be blown up and the other was prevented from shutting down in response, the out of control gravitic forces could twist and tear the ship apart.
This was Tom Griers whole goal, of course. The destruction of the Umbrage would be a severe blow to the Free Republic. They couldn’t build ships like it any longer, things had gone downhill far too much for that.
“We have to get off this ship, now!” Tom told the others as they ran. He had sent the same message to the other team.
“Signal the base to send a ship to get us!” He said, but it was too soon. There was probably no chance a message could reach the ground, there was too much jamming. In fact, the unleashed gravitic reaction was causing more than the fleet ever could.
“Tom, what’s happening?” Maggie’s voice sounded in his suit helmet again.
“The Umbrage is toast, Maggie. You need to get on an escape pod, now!” He answered.
Umbrage, Marine Deck
“Everybody to the escape pods! The Dispensation is moving into position to pick us up!” General Gallant ordered, it was a good thing most of the Marines were on Sync because the Tech ship wasn’t that big. The alarms were ringing all through the ship, it looked like the whole thing might tear itself apart.
Gallant checked the last of the officer quarters and assumed most had already gotten off. He moved to get aboard one of the few remaining pods when he heard the metal scream and the whole bulkhead started pulsating and then twisting as he watched. It made him feel sick to his stomach but it was all the impetus he needed to get out.
There was no saving the Umbrage from this. He strapped into the seat as the controller Maggie Anders climbed in.
“What are you still doing here?”
“Looking for you!”
“It’s not my ship, I’m not going to go down with it!” he told her as he slapped the release mechanism and the pod pushed away from the ship.
He breathed a sigh of relief but a whimper from Maggie Anders made him open his eyes and look out the porthole. Instead of a gentle move away from the twisting hulk of carrier Umbrage, the pods and a lot of wreckage broken from the large vessel were swaying and being pulled around with it. Like playthings floating in the tub of an unruly child.
General Gallant used the radio to contact the Dispensation, “Where are you?”
“I can’t get any closer! This ship would be caught in that mess too.” Lt General Edwards responded.
“Get as close as you dare! We’re going to need some help!”
Free Republic Fleet Carrier Umbrage, Bridge
“What is happening to my ship?” Admiral James “Jim” Robinson tried to make himself hear above the alarms and the sounds of twisting metal, “Commander Grabble!”
Grabble finally appeared, “Admiral, we need to get in an escape pod!”
“No! I’m not leaving my post!”
“Admiral, this ship is dying, it’s not going to survive this!”
“It must, the Umbrage is the most powerful ship in the Free Republic fleet, we must be victorious!”
The Admiral was in full denial about what was happening. The crew had abandoned their posts and were getting out in the escape pods.
“Admiral, we must leave at once!”
“The rebels did this! Order a bombardment of the surface, all cities! Turn them all to dust!”
The Commander shook his head, he couldn’t get through. The Admiral was truly out of his mind. The Commander left and ran towards one of the remaining escape pods. The Admiral was now bouncing around the bridge almost uncontrollably in his hover-chair.
“I’m not going to lose this one!” Admiral James Robinson vowed, “We aren’t going to lose, we’re going to be victorious and all those who don’t join us shall be vanquished!”
Somehow the Admiral made it to his office. He activated the holograph of his dearest Sarah, her visage shifted and waved along with the gravitational forces tearing the ship apart. She was one of his deepest and most profound regrets. How could she have left him? Even for the vaunted Emperor? Though he had accepted it, he was only now understanding that he did partially blame her.
“My Sarah,” he whispered with a raspy breath.
Then the power went out.