Posts Tagged ‘battle’

Risha and Jeana talking about battle plans at the end of the story. Yes, this is jumping way ahead. For all I know I’ll never use this scene. I wrote it for a few reasons:

I wanted to see Risha and Jeana acting like Elizabeth and Walsingham.
I wanted to see Risha acting like a queen, where her criminal genius background came into play.
I wanted to write a scene that passed the Bechdel test.

Artillery explosions rumbled in the distance. A smear of fire glowed over the lip of the horizon, like early sunrise. The city and the enemy positions burned. Risha heard a hiss, then a clatter of falling bombs. Air strike. She considered having coffee. Someone had left a pot of it by the map deck.

“Still strategizing?”

Risha looked up. Jeana walked in, looking strangely calm. “Don’t you get tired?” Risha asked.

“Battle meditation. I know how to relax myself so I can sleep.”

“I wish I could do that.”

“You’re doing fine so far. I’ll teach you a few techniques when we have a moment.” She looked at the coffee pot. “You need sleep more than caffeine.”

“I couldn’t sleep. Better to just keep busy than lay there fighting it.”

Jeana nodded toward the map. “What are you thinking about?”

“The fucking Fels. We need them to attack, in force, from the north. Otherwise in a week we’ll be up to our britches in Ro’s troops. The problem is they’re known for their patience, not their ferocity. They’ll fight when it suits them. Let someone else do the bleeding.”

Risha rubbed her eyes. She yawned. She couldn’t see, but Jeana smiled at it. “I have two ideas on that. First, sweeten the deal. Soften up the enemy position so they can get a decisive victory. They’ll have something to crow about and I’ll pretend I’m impressed.

“Second, bring the battle to them. Hit Ro to the west so that they retreat east. It’ll drive them into Fel. Better to fight Fel than us. Fel outnumbers them two to one. They’ll still win but it’ll be bloody.”

“Fel will be bleeding rather than us.”

“That’s it. “

“Play it out for me.”

“We’re in the end game. Everyone knows it. No one’s worried about the win, or justice. They’re thinking ahead to the next move.

“Fel wants to keep Staven’s lands. We don’t have enough power to force them to give it back. They earned them with blood, but we fought this war for freedom, not conquest.

“I want Ro. I want to put him on trial and make his end a symbol for the planet’s new beginning. I’ll take his head, too. Either one works.

“The worst case for me is that Ro escapes to Fel and they grant him safe haven. No trial, nothing. It’s a mockery of what we fought for. Fel holds him as revenge because I didn’t give them Staven lands.

Jeana waited. Risha folded her arms. “Rekkish Fel is a chess player. He already has what he wants. All he has to do is sit still, leave his armies where they are, and wait for the game to end. If he gets his hands on Ro, he has leverage on me to validate his claim on Staven lands.”

“What if you don’t?”

“Then I’ve made an enemy.” Risha smiled. “Which he already is, anyway. So nothing lost there. Nobody else in the aristocracy wants Fel to have those lands. They’ll stand behind me. The Fels leave Staven and I’m stuck with rebuilding the country. The citizens of Staven, and even Ro, are grateful to me for not letting them be wrung out by Fel.”

Jeana nodded. “Ro is only a symbol. Like that crown Merritt was so worried about.”

“I still want his head.” And she did. People craved symbols. And the bastard had tried to kill her three times. Justice mattered.

Risha brushed her finger along the troop positions on the map. She tapped the citadel in the center. Ro’s palace. A dangerous, daring idea was taking shape in her head.

“What is it?” Jeana asked.

“If Ro is gone, his inner council will crumble. Ro’s army surrenders.” Risha pressed her finger on the citadel. “One more lightning strike. Could we do it?”

Jeana laughed. She stopped. “You’re serious?”

“General Tsavo told me today that he has a division of paratroops that are itching to assault the citadel just to have a chance at taking the bastard alive. I told him no. The cost in lives is too great.”

“I’m guessing 25% casualties at least.”

“I did a bank heist on Ularov once. We started a fire in the building next door. We arrived disguised among the fire company—they were cut in for half—and we worked on the safe while they took their time with the fire. We blew a power feed to cover our tracks on the way out. Worked like a charm.” Risha drew a circle around one of Ro’s units on the eastern flank. “That’s our fire company.”

Jeana’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”

“They’ve already parleyed with us on a prisoner exchange. Their commander would have been shot for treason if Ro knew.”

“If Jaesa can get close enough, she can give us a sense of whether or not they’ll help us.”

Risha laughed. She leaned on the table. Risha hung her head, still smiling. “I feel like a ten-kilo weight just came off my head.”

“It must be have been your crown.”

“Maybe. Thanks, Je. On that note, I’m going to bed.” Jeana bowed. “Knock it off. I’m still just Risha to you.”


USMC fast rope extraction

Post #40 from the Dubrillion Burning series

Jeana and Jaesa disemboweled the two hacked droids while Raina and Cartog climbed up the fifth generator. The sixth had already had its dish shredded by Jeana’s first droid. Cartog set the charges while Raina covered him. With their power plants ripped apart, the droids limply tried to fight back on batteries only. The Sith and Jedi made short work of them.

Raina said, “They aren’t coming out.”

“They know they’re dead if they do,” Cartog said. “Watch anyway.”

The generators were vibrating from the shield charge. Their metallic equipment glowed a residual blue haze from the radiation. The generators were about activate the shield.

Their unit coms crackled. “Strike team, this Vector.”

“Go ahead, Vector,” Raina said, letting Cartog work.

“I’m getting vehicles headed your way. The shield crews probably called for help.”


“A minute.”

Cartog said, “That’s it. Down. Jeana! Jaesa! Cover!”

The strike team ran to the generator crew’s tents and got behind what little there was for cover. Cartog fired the detonator.

The shield dishes all blew at once, red and black flashes cracking the dishes like old crockery. The power field did the rest of the damage. Plasma arced across the wire frame skeletons. Durasteel bones melted. Reflective tiles flaked and flit away like dead skin.

One of the specks of light overhead rushed toward them. A roar, then blinding white light, and a concussive blast of air shoved them down. The wind faded away as the Whiskey Comet righted itself. Both of its turrets blazed rapid blaster fire at distant targets.

The Comet‘s rear hatch opened. Bowdaar dropped down a fast rope tied to a winch. Jeana and Jaesa leaped up by themselves. Cartog and Raina started tying off, still watching the shield generators’ hatches for last-minute heroes.

A pair of missiles shot away from the Comet. Just after the explosion, they heard Raffa say, “Finally! That son of a bitch AA turret dogged us the whole way down!”

They were ready. The two agents waved up at Bowdaar. The Wookiee roared. The winch yanked them off the ground and Comet streaked away.

They flew past the Loyalist lines in an instant, reaching the bay and the open sea moments after that. Wind and ocean smell replaced the sounds of war. Strong hands from Bowdaar and the others lifted them into the ship. Bowdaar closed the hatch.

The team looked at each other. “Did we do it?” Jaesa asked.

The unit com crackled. Risha asked, “Raff, did you get the strike team?”

Jeana smiled. She said, “We’re all here. Are you all right?”

Risha sounded out of breath, like she was running. “A few walking wounded but we’re okay. We just crossed into Rebel territory. I’ll feel safer once we’re out of the battle area, but we’re looking good for now.”

Vector said, “The Rebels are hitting the Loyalists from all sides. No pursuit from the Loyalist northern defense. You look all clear.”

They could hear Risha’s smile in her voice over the comlink. “That’s a win, then. That is a win!!!”

Photo credit: “View from Above,” U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Joyner, at Flickr
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coronating lightning

Post #39 of the Dubrillion Burning series

The droid moaned. Who said you couldn’t program them to be sorry for messing up? As it paused to correct its fire, Jeana pointed her hand up, thrust it skyward, and the droid shot twenty feet into the air. It wobbled and crashed down on its side, denting three of its guns into scrap. The droid kicked and struggled to get up like a titanic steel beetle on its back. Jeana zigzagged toward it, dodging fire, and skewered two of its knee joints. It wouldn’t get up again.

Jaesa held up her hand as her droid fired its electricity field. The charge coronated her body but didn’t touch her. She slashed off its antipersonnel guns one after the other, trying to get in another good stab.

“Two charges set!” Cartog said. He and Raina were climbing down from the first set of generators.

Jeana stabbed her saber into her droid’s underbelly. The droid shook, then became silent and still. Jeana hacked off the rest of its guns for good measure.

Jaesa’s droid overextended itself and she gave it another good stab. It bucked and fired wild. Jaesa leaped into the air, spinning her staff and deflecting a volley of blaster fire that would have hit Cartog. Half of them hit the droid, sending it falling back. It groaned.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

“No wounds but my dignity,” he replied. He climbed up the next generator. Raina was already ahead of him, placing detonators on her next set of charges.

Jeana arrived behind it and took out one of its legs. It didn’t have enough battery power left to try its electricity field again. It hit the ground, dragging itself to face Jeana, then Jaesa stabbed it in the belly like Jeana had.

As Raina stood to move to the next generator, hatches in front of her and behind her opened. A Loyalist corporal with a pistol jumped out of the former. Raina pointed her fist at her and fired a gas dart. It hit her center mass. The corporal slapped at it. Half a second later she slumped unconscious, half in, half out of the hatch.

Jaesa waved her hand at the soldier from the rear hatch. She shouted, “The droids have gone berserk!” The soldier’s eyes widened and he dropped back inside.

Jeana chuckled. “You’re so nice.”

“It’s how I roll, mistress,” Jaesa said.

Hatches on the other generators started opening–one each. Cartog shot at one with his sidearm, who dropped back in. Jeana took another and threw her into the air. The landing wouldn’t be pretty. Raina was in the middle of climbing down from her generator and had to take cover as a Loyalist fired at her.

Jaesa fired a bolt of Force power at the Loyalist. The bolt hit him like a boulder. He flew back, hit the dish, and landed limp on top of the generator.

Jeana looked at Jaesa. “Mostly nice,” Jaesa explained.

Tonight’s use of the word “coronated” is brought to you by Bloodstone Sci Fi 🙂 .

Photo credit: “Tesla Coil” by leeno at Flickr
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battle robot

Post #38 of the Dubrillion Burning series

The droids were Republic issue 304’s, as large as the speeder they’d just left, armed with a heavy blaster turret for vehicles, rotating antipersonnel guns for troops, and an electrifying web to discourage Sith. Since they were deep inside the space port there were only four of them, one at every compass point, to discourage saboteurs. Their detection equipment wasn’t good enough to see through the strike team’s stealth fields. That would change in a minute.

The stealth field crackled. The two nearest droids started scanning their way.

Or maybe sooner.

Cartog said, “It’s the power surge. The field won’t hold.”

“Plan B,” Jeana said.

“Get ready.”

Cartog and Raina pointed their fists at the droids. They started tapping codes into datapads on their sleeves. Jeana and Jaesa took out their lightsabers.

“Good luck, everyone,” Jaesa said softly.

The stealth field winked out. The power in Cartog and Raina’s armor switched to broadcast a high-powered stream of fractal nonsense that smothered the droids’ receivers. Both went into cybernetic convulsions. Arcs of electricity jumped across their bodies.

The other two droids detected the enemies immediately. They roared – it was really their reactors firing up but it sounded like lions just the same – and ran toward them. Jeana used the Force to throw one into the side of a shield generator. Jaesa had a different skill set and froze hers in place. They both leaped to the attack, Jeana’s blue saber and Jaesa’s green staff flashing in the air.

Jeana landed on the droid just long enough to slash off a handful of sensor antennae. Light as a dove she sprang away. The droid fired its electrical shield and only succeeded in blinding itself.

Cartog and Raina climbed atop the two nearest shield generators. They began setting charges to the power conduits.

Jaesa rammed her lightstaff into the middle of the droid. She winced. The thick armor was too much to cut through. Jaesa closed her eyes slightly and a pulse of light ran down the blade into the droid. Something gave way. A bright white flash bled out of the droid. It wasn’t dead yet. Jaesa jumped off as it drunkenly tried to slap her with its guns.

Jeana’s droid fired like a man half blind. Jeana wove and danced in a cat’s cradle of gunfire. In a flash of inspiration she leaped through the air and landed next to a generator dish.

The droid kept firing and perforated the edge of the dish. Wild energy flashed everywhere. Jeana leaped away, her boots trailing stray tendrils of blue light.

Cartog laughed. “Beautiful!” he cried.

“Could we please focus, darling?” Raina asked breathlessly.

Photo credit: “Still 8 – RIP” by Reptile FX at Flickr
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Kadanak light

Post #37 of the Dubrillion Burning series

What happened next, seemed to happen at once.

Every Loyalist eye at the spaceport that wasn’t looking through a gun sight looked north. The fireball continued to reach into the sky. It could be seen for dozens of kilometers. Pilots dogfighting over the city wondered what had happened.

The Rebel commander on the other side of the bridge grabbed his binoculars and zoomed in on the Loyalist barricade. He saw one tank on fire, two on the move, and three buildings filled with infantry that he realized were firing on someone else. His tanks fired like madmen, knocking out one of the Loyalist tanks and disabling the other. The Rebels charged the bridge.

The Loyalist commander ordered a company of mechanized infantry to pull out of position and get things under control at the northern defense, now. Then he saw the Rebels taking the bridge and ordered a company of armor to go with them. He would stuff the choke point with armor and rubble until the shield was back up. And burn bloody all the partisans or whoever they were that he could find.

Antiaircraft guns wove thickets of fire trying to get the Whiskey Comet. The Comet hid behind a transport that became shredded almost instantly. The Comet tapdanced away, fired thrusters on full burn and ducked hundreds of meters under the crossfire before they could target it again.

Two of the transports, flying flatter trajectories outside the drop channel, got taken out by Rebel antiaircraft on the western side of the city. A third took a missile hit from a Rebel fighter. Streaming smoke and wobbling, it kept coming as the Rebel got chased away by a Loyalist.

The Loyalist fighter cover received the order to begin pulling back. The Rebel fighters already had more room to fly because three of base’s AA guns were chasing some nut job making a suicide run in a free trader. With less heat on them, some strafed Loyalist armored vehicles that were heading north in the open on the spaceport access roads.

The shield projector crews received the order to begin powering up again. The air around the crews itched as the reactors spun up. The projector dishes began to glow. The ambient power surge made the hair stand up on the back of Jeana’s neck as the strike team ran past the battle droids.

Jeana smiled as she heard Risha make her declaration for free Dubrillion. “That a girl,” she whispered. Her hand drifted toward her lightsaber. Time to join the party.

Photo credit: US Army photo, “Kadanak lights” by Master Sergeant Tracy DeMarco, at Flickr
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ruined wall

Post #35 of the Dubrillion Burning series

As much of a glorious flourish as the ending to last night’s Dubrillion post was, I need to make an edit. The diversion team has one more job to do before she blows the ammo dump.

Oh, and rather than having Dr. Lokin in the Cartog’s ship doing recon, it’s Vector, his crew member who communes with an insect hive mind. They need combat medics on the ground.

We’re picking up here: “With the Rebels in front of them, most of the defenders thought they had bigger things to worry about.”

Risha ran through the bombed-out, ruined edge of the city, scanning windows left and right for movement, helmets, gun sights, anything that would tell them they’d been made.

The unit coms erupted with a roar from Jeana’s captain Pierce, followed by a flash and explosion two blocks to her right. Loyalists started screaming. Survivors started yelling. Gunfire that had been going west turned east and fortified buildings became savage combat dens. Say this for him: he knew how to make an impression.

By the sound of it the squad of Drayen troops hit next. She hoped Merak was careful. The old man was as brave as anyone but he wasn’t as young as he used to be, and he didn’t care.

Vector said, “Squads three and four are fully engaged. One of the Loyalist tanks at the bridge is turning.”

Risha said, “Squad two, get under cover!”

“We’re not in position yet!” their leader replied.

“Blow holes in the walls until you get there then but get the hell out of the street!” Risha replied. She made a good example and kicked in the door of the nearest building. She didn’t know where the tank was going but couldn’t risk being caught in the open. It used to be an office building. Some kind of insurance company. Windows were already broken into jagged teeth and the southern side of it was burned out. It looked like the Loyalists had looted the water cooler and a vending machine. They reached the other side of the building and ran across the street.

From here they could see the ferrocrete barriers near the bridge. Flashes of light from explosions and blaster fire flared around the them. This block was where the Loyalists had bunkered up.

Risha saw movement in a third-floor window and fired at it.

Vette’s sister Taunt and one of her friends fired on it too. Risha cried, “Keep moving!”

“Couldn’t stay hidden forever,” Vette said.

Risha heard muffled concussion blasts, then raging gunfire as squad two entered the block next to them.

“Our turn,” Risha said. “They’ll be coming down. Everyone get ready!”

She and Vette flanked the nearest door. Someone had smashed off the doorknob a long time ago. The corner of Risha’s mouth turned up. You couldn’t count on someone making your job easier for you, but when they did, you gave fate a little thank-you. Taunt and Jeana’s captain Quinn fired on the third floor again. Risha and Vette entered the building, followed by the rest of the squad.

My favorite part of this scene is Risha’s little smile at the end. Having her kick ass is easy, but having her take a slice of gratitude for good luck is an insight into her criminal background and the freewheeling side of her personality. I need more of that.

Photo credit: “Somewhere in a dark place” by lainmoon at Flickr
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female soldierPost #34 of the Dubrillion Burning series

Finally! The flurry of work isn’t over yet, but I caught a break tonight. As thrilled as I am to publish Shadow and Shade — and I’ll be smiling about that one for months — I’ve been dying to get back to the Battle of Cainar Spaceport.

We left off with a strike team heading for the base shields, a diversion team heading for the unit guarding the northern flank, and Raffa doing some fancy flying in the middle of the transport drop. The big change that I’m making tonight is that I’m putting Risha in direct command of the diversion team. Originally I had her in a sniper position where she could fight and see the big picture at the same time. As realistic as this is, I decided a while ago that I didn’t want her to be an armchair general. She’s in the thick of it. Like The Wild Geese, they make their plans, the teams get their assignments, then they carry them out. There isn’t anyone giving orders from a tent miles away. I need to think more about this, but in the meantime this is where I’m going.

The communications officer working the fighter cover channel said, “Acknowledged, raider inbound.” He switched to the frequency for the antiaircraft gunners. “Air defense, priority alpha. Raider inbound in the drop channel. Danger close. Do not fire unless you have a clear shot.”

The com line crackled. A gunner asked, “What are we supposed to do, then? Wave at him?”

The Loyalist general in charge of the base looked at the drop channel display on holo. The raider was weaving back and forth between the transport ships, adjusting speed to stay out of fire lines from escorts and the ground. It was suicide. He had to be less than a dozen meters away from them as he passed. The general couldn’t tell if he was doing it on purpose or messing with the convoy’s heads. Twice he thought he actually saw them bump each other. The transport captains were swearing, calling for help.

“Is it a suicide run?” he asked. “Plasma reading?”

“Negative plasma reading,” a technician said.

“Could they have a shielded bomb?”

“No sir. We’d still see something at this range.”

At least they weren’t all about to be turned into cinders. It was a five-minute drop. Four minutes to go. He had to decide now. They needed those transports, but the raider could be heavily armed. The fuel depot, ammunition, the shields… one ship couldn’t do much, but no one could be stupid enough to pull a stunt like this without aiming at a big payoff.

The general said, “Divert three antiair units. Take him out. Tell the transports to break out of the channel.” They could lose half of the transports or worse now, but he couldn’t take the risk.

At the northern end of the spaceport, Rebel forces threw a rain of artillery and blaster fire on a park and buildings at the other side of bridge from their positions. The Loyalist positions had been turned into a small castle of ferrocrete barriers and gun positions weeks ago.

A company of Loyalist troops fired back. They fired more than they had to in order to keep the Rebels from getting ideas about crossing the bridge. They just had to wait until the shields were up again. More than one wished they could just blow the bridge and be done with it, but the commander wanted it kept up. Bridges were expensive and time-consuming to rebuild. It was only a matter of time before they pushed the Rebels back across the sea. And while it was here, the Rebels would keep attacking it, bleeding themselves out against a position they couldn’t take.

Behind the combat area, medics ran back and forth pulling out wounded as they needed. Near the medical section, a miniature command post had been set up to coordinate the defense. It was a small group, mostly there to handle communications, identify targets and ask for artillery. South of the command post, sheltered by tall buildings, troops manning two ammunition and supply dumps tried to look harmless and stay out of the artillery fire.

The major in charge of the northern defense shook his head. His captain asked, “A raider?”

“Not our problem,” the major replied. He checked his watch. Three minutes, fifty seconds. Blaster fire struck a building near them. He ducked. Slowly, he came back up. “Check on those—”

His eyes widened as a dozen troops in muddy green armor stormed the post. He gasped, lifting his comlink to call for help, when a beautiful woman with brown hair and blue eyes marked with deadly conviction put four shots of automatic blaster fire into his face.

The medical section and ammo dumps were overrun even faster. Over the unit coms, people heard shooting and screaming, abruptly cut off. With the Rebels in front of them, most of the defenders thought they had bigger things to worry about. Those few who were just beginning to turn their heads were met with a blinding tower of fire as Risha blew the ammunition dump.

On an open channel, she shouted, “Free Dubrillion!”

I haven’t decided whether these Loyalist commanders are important enough to have names. The general might. The one leading the northern defense didn’t live long enough to merit one, but it could help for flavor and clarity. “The major,” “the captain,” etc. gets old.

Photo credit unknown. Used without permission.

burning car

Post #32 of the Dubrillion Burning series

Raffa said, “Rebel interceptors coming in…”

The last two interceptors moved into position. The lead two began to roll. The shield dropped.

It looked like every gun on the planet opened fire on the spaceport. Risha could barely see it. Shells burst. Jets of plasma burned and exploded. The interceptors went to their afterburners almost immediately and soared up into the sky, pair after pair reaching for the night. A second blast of afterburners roared all around her as fighters from the Widom carriers arrived.

Risha checked the battle feed. The strike team was crossing the spaceport’s northern lines.

“Stay close!”

The northern perimeter of the spaceport was a collection of ferrocrete barricades, flanked with sand bags with antitank missile launchers and machine gun nests. There weren’t any troops besides the sand bag emplacements because this was the second line of defense. The first was at the bridge between east and west Cainar. This was here to cover a retreat from there, to slow the enemy down until help from inside the spaceport arrived.

With their stealth vests on, no one looked up as Cartog, Raina, Jeana and Jaesa jumped over the ferrocrete barricades. There was too much noise, and it was too dark. In broad daylight someone might have noticed quaking like heat in the air. With the battle raging, they might as well have been ghosts. They wore goggles so they could see each other, but no one even looked in their direction.

Then a Loyalist trooper peeking out of an armored vehicle did start to look their way. Cartog was afraid he might have caught a shadow – bad luck happened – but then another barrage of artillery came in and he ducked inside his hatch. Let’s hear it for sensible troops. They ran down the main access road that led into the spaceport. Smoke and fire dotted the ground ahead of them.

Cartog saw they were headed toward where an officer had parked a military speeder before the shooting started. He remembered that there were no checkpoints between here and the shield generators.

“Wait. Everyone, stop.”

They did. Everyone stared at him. Jeana asked, “What is it? There’s no time.”

Cartog waited for another explosion and smashed in the speeder’s window. Even he barely heard it. He pried open the control board under the steering wheel. His fingers fluttered across the circuit boards. Cartog grinned. The engine fired up. “Thought we might like to ride instead of run.”

Everyone got in. “Do they teach that in Intelligence?” Jaesa asked they peeled out.

“I was stealing speeders to trade parts for food as a teenager.” He shut off the stealth field. They might look suspicious if someone got a good look, but a speeder without a driver would look even worse. “We’ll turn it back on when we’re close.”

Cartog floored the accelerator. The access roads were mostly empty. The only other vehicles they saw were other speeders loaded with poor saps caught in the open who were trying to get to shelter. They rode past the spaceport office buildings. Windows were shattered. Blaster burns and shell cratering gouged the walls. Some of them were on fire.

“Right!” Jaesa cried.

Cartog jogged right and an artillery shell landed on the side of the road where they’d been driving. And let’s hear it for the Force, too.

They crossed into the access road for the tarmac. The wide spaces of the launch pads and air strips were dotted with smoke and fire. Around the edges of the tarmac, Loyalist tanks exchanged fire with their Rebel counterparts. Here and there, antiaircraft tanks fired shells into the night sky at Rebel interceptors. Cartog had been a soldier before he’d been a spy. The whole scene felt like a strange homecoming.

“There they are,” Raina said, pointing. Cartog nodded. They were a little over 800 meters away. “They’re protected by Republic battle droids. They’ll ping us for Identify Friend or Foe recognition when we get within a hundred meters.”

Cartog pulled off the access road. “Best to stop here. Don’t want to risk them locking onto the vehicle.” He reactivated the stealth field.

A sudden screech. They all hit the dirt. An artillery shell went off less than ten meters away. Cartog’s ears rang. He thought he felt fragments skittering over his armor, but then he always imagined that.

He looked at Raina’s eyes. Dirty and her face against the asphalt, she smiled at him and gave him thumbs up.

“Everybody all right?” Jeana asked.

Everyone was. As they started jogging toward the shield generators, their earpieces crackled. Risha said, “Strike team, nobody said anything about a car.”

“Couldn’t resist,” Cartog said.

It crackled again. Raffa said, “They’re starting the drop! Convoy headed your way.”

They had five minutes to destroy the shield generators before they were trapped inside the spaceport.

Photo credit: The Guardian
Used without permission

RAF Tornado

Post #31 of the Dubrillion Burning series

I know there are scenes that need to happen between Port Nowhere and here, but I’ve been doing nothing but thinking and planning for a week. I need to blow something up, fictionally speaking. I’m going to write about the attack on the spaceport.

Risha swept her binoculars across the spaceport. In the middle of the facility, six dishes were unfolded atop transport vehicles the size of heavy trucks. Blazing blue light soared up from each of them. Her binoculars adjusted automatically to make it bearable to look at. The light reached a point about a two hundred yards over the space port, then formed a smooth, flat dome.

Her binoculars tagged moving objects. Risha clicked some of them using touch pads on the sides of the binocs. Six interceptors. She changed spectra. Six with engines warm, and six more heating up. She toggled her comlink. “Vette, looks like we’ve got a drop coming in. I’ve got a squadron of interceptors prepping for launch on the south airstrip. Do you see them?”

“I’ve got the same thing,” Vette said.

On cue, bombardment from the western side of the city started to pick up. Risha was about to adjust frequencies and call Raffa when she heard him say over the channel, “Wake up, boys and girls. I’ve got six slow movers and two dozen fast movers coming over the planet’s horizon. Convoy inbound.”

“Status check,” Risha said.

“Strike team, go,” Cartog said.

“Diversion, go,” Pierce said.

“You know we’re ready,” Raffa said.

“All teams, move out,” Risha said. Her heart pounded. It was that easy to say, but what it meant… the world was about to change. She swore under her breath. Damned Raffa. The military people in the unit would never take him seriously if he kept acting like a knucklehead.

Risha checked the spaceport again. The warmed-up interceptors were taxiing for the runway. The shield was taking light bombardment. The Rebels were testing, looking for weaknesses. The dome flared as high explosives struck it, fading to red and orange sparks.

She zoomed in on the far side of the bay from her position. Rebel tanks were moving out of cover. Fire began to intensify. The bridge that connected the western side of the city to the spaceport’s peninsula was already starting to look thick with blaster fire. The Loyalists were already in position, of course. They knew when the drops came in. Risha tried to see toward their flank. From here most of her vision was blocked by the shield flare and the spaceport itself.

“Eckard, feed me a view of the battle area,” she said.

Dr. Lokin – she called him by his first name, Eckard – was a member of Cartog’s team. He sat in Cartog’s ship, which had better stealth than Raffa’s, in low orbit just above the ionosphere. It was like a submarine hiding in a thermal layer. From there, he had balcony seats on the battle.

Her binoculars picked up the data stream. Risha brought it up. She could see the diversion team moving into position, behind the Loyalists near the bridge.

“Six interceptors on the launch line,” Vette said. “Four more behind them. Two more coming up.”

They were almost ready. They always flew a dozen interceptors up for cover. Cartog’s team had watched two drops from their ship, and they had witnessed one a few days ago after they’d moved into position. A dozen, every time. Risha switched back to the binocular view. The bombardment on the shield was getting intense. The piston-pounding noise of the tank guns made her wince, even from here. Get used to it, girl. Get used to it.

Photo credit: “RAF Tornado GR4 in Afghanistan” by UK Ministry of Defence at Flickr
© Crown Copyright 2013
Photographer: Sergeant Ross Tilly (RAF)
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

space battleI was watching a ridiculous action movie over the weekend and got inspired to write this scene. Don’t even ask me what it was — it’s embarrassing — but I will say it’s one hell of a fun roller coaster ride.

Post #18 of the Dubrillion Burning series

Raffa fired the aft rear thruster as hard as it would go, then pushed it into red. Alerts went off all over the cabin. Blue missile jets streaked less than twenty meters over the cockpit.

“Whoo—eee! I do hate it when that happens!”

Cartog could barely keep up. “Five still on us! I’ve got two more coming, one two zero!” Raffa heard the upper turret firing. The scope flared.

“Make that one less,” Corso said through the ship’s comm.

“That’s my boy, Corso. Keep it up!” To Cartog, he said, “One second. Exhale when it happens.”

“When what happens?”

Raffa flipped the Comet over like a pancake and rammed the engines to full. The Comet’s gravity system couldn’t keep up. Everyone on the ship was thrown sideways, then back as the engine burn kicked them in the ass. Cartog gagged. He swore a blue streak.

“That’s good! Swearing counts as exhaling!”

The fighters on their tail broke wildly as the Comet came right at them. Corso took out one head-on and shot the other two as they tried to come around. A piece of the first one’s wing clanked off the Comet’s belly as they flew through the wreckage and dispersing gas.

The newcomers got clear shots on the Comet’s upper deck but Raffa felt it coming first. He rolled the Comet over and most of the fire missed. What did hit battered the shields like angry hailstones. The shields pulsed blue haze over the cockpit. The Comet groaned but didn’t break. “Hang in there, girl. I’ve got this,” Raffa whispered.

“We’re down to three. We’re heading back toward the enemy squadron.”

“Yup. I know.”

“They’re coming around.” They started taking fire. Raffa adjusted the shields just as proximity warheads started going off all around them. The ship shook hard enough to make their teeth chatter. “What the hell are you doing?”

“I have a brilliant idea!”

“I hate your brilliant ideas!”

A bomb went off so close it felt like a contact hit. It wasn’t — they would be dead already if it was. The enemy fighters broke off. The cockpit window looked they were flying through Balmorran independence day.

“Get ready to fire missiles on my mark.”

“You’re shitting me!”

God, he missed Risha. “On my mark!”

“Listen to him, Car! I know this trick!” Corso yelled.

The incoming fire reached crescendo. Raffa pointed the Comet’s nose toward the conning tower of the nearest ship. A destroyer.

“Three… two… FIRE THE MOTHERF—“

Cartog never heard the end of what Raffa said. The Comet took a shot to the nose so hard that it blew down the forward shields. He still hit the missile release. A fraction of a second later, Raffa moved the Comet’s nose two ticks north and went to lightspeed.

The missiles locked on automatically, and the Comet’s hyperspace wake disrupted the ship’s shields enough to make them flicker. The missiles sailed through unimpeded and slammed the destroyer dead amidships, blowing off half of its sensor web and comm systems. It wasn’t a kill — the Comet didn’t have that kind of firepower — but it would be out of action for a month.

The sudden flash of light and the quiet of hyperspace sounded like they’d flown into a church. Raffa engaged the autopilot. He hooted and slapped his leg. Corso was laughing. Cartog was still staring out the viewport.

“You… are… insane,” Cartog said.

Raffa handed him a flask. “And you are no longer a virgin. You’ve flown with me. That means you drink with the captain.”

Cartog closed his eyes hard and swigged it back hard. Raffa applauded. The former agent blinked in surprise. “Dear gods. That’s really good.” He handed it back to Raffa.

The captain toasted him. “Twenty-four-year-old Mantellian. Always.”

“I was expecting rotgut.”

“Only for people we don’t like.” Raffa pat him on the shoulder. “You did great, Car. Why don’t you go chill out? Corso and I can check the damage.”

Cartog shook his head. “No. I want to help.” The guy was still shaking.

Raffa smiled. “I’ll make a spacer out of you yet.”

Photo credit: Blaster219 at Flickr. Photo is unmodified.
Shared under Creative Commons license.

Have you ever been in a situation when all hell was breaking loose but it worked out okay?

First thoughts:

I like this scene. It was a fun idea and it got even more fun as I wrote it. I started to hang up on the tech jargon and the exact size of the enemy force. I made it all up on the fly, but sometimes you lay those bones down before you write the scene. Whatever works.

Moving on…

One of my favorite parts is the drink on the other side. Cartog can handle danger, but flying with a madman is something else. The poor guy’s been through the wringer. Not only did he pass initiation, he got a drink of good whiskey besides.

This is just the end, of course, but even this part needs to be a little longer — say, when they’re heading towards the destroyer — to torture Cartog a little more and sweeten the payoff.

Speaking of which, I’ll need to show him doing more than holding on for dear life when I fill out the scene. He’s in the copilot position, so he’s watching sensing and ship’s systems, including the shields, and the hyperdrive navicomputer.

Naturally, I need to come up with a scene where Raffa is in Cartog’s element now. 🙂