TTC: The Cygnus War, Part 32

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The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #32 (Left for Dead, Part 1) By Earl S. Wynn

“That’s it.” A voice crackled across the frequency, butchered by static. “All fighters aboard. Last call.” A pause, more static. “If there’s anybody left out there, you’ve got five seconds before we fold space.”

“Shit shit shit shit! Oye cabron!” Cordova shouted, tearing at his hair. Reaching for the console, he made one last desperate attempt to be heard, then jammed the radio as hard as he could. “Wu Ang Hok, this is Lieutenant Junior Grade Jose Gustavo Cordova of the Von Der Tann IV’s Minerva Squadron! Do you read?” He hesitated, thumb retreating from the radio for the barest scrap of a moment before he jammed it again. “Please respond!”


A Coralate fighter darted overhead with the buffeting rattle of thrusters at hard burn and twisted as it passed, pulling away to arc back toward him again. Plas-flechette railcannons flared to glowing life, shed ice they’d picked up cruising through the debris field. He’d been spotted, that much was clear, and if he didn’t get out of the way quick, he’d be carved down to a wad of spaceborne slag in the first pass.

Cordova jammed the throttle and stick reflexively, throwing his rig hard to the left and dropping it into a quick spin that made the resident AI groan in sleepy resignation. His eyes darted up, caught the edge of the silver rig as it spun away. “Aaah, chinga tu madre, pendejo! I haven’t got time to play with you, you stupid maricon.”

“Nothing.” Came the voice again. “I guess that’s everybody.”

“No, it’s not!” Cordova grumbled into the turn, practically spitting: “puto babaso!” His eyes flicked back toward the Hok– It was close now, maybe thirty seconds at hard burn. Too far. The Coralate rig darted in, twisted and spun, hurtling itself past to drop back behind him again. Plas-Flechette railcannons flared white, spat clouds of fire that scorched the hull of his rig as they passed. Too far–

“Folding space in five... four...”

“Cayate la boca!” Cordova snarled, snapping the volume off. It was hopeless– He scissored the throttle wings and jammed them back in reflexive anger, shifting the rig hard to port and winging over into a sharp spin of reverse-firing thrusters that flitzed the AI for half an instant and left the Coralate fighter burning past, already arcing back, lining up to catch Cordova as he straightened out again.

But Jose was quicker– he leveled his rig out immediately, thrusters flaring. A twitch of the stick, a pump of the throttle, and he was hot on the Cygnan’s tail instead, trailing it at unshakably close range. Crosshairs lit up, lined up. Gloved fingers tightened across the triggers and caps of his rig’s weapon systems, anxious, eager.

“What still works?” He managed through bared teeth. The display lit up with wireframe diagrams and status reports of weapon systems. Cordova’s eyes flicked across the screen. Plasma Discharge Cannon – Operational. Eyes flicked back– that was all he needed to know.

The Coralate rig splintered into a rain of chrome shrapnel as he jammed the trigger and lit up the back end of the target with a rain of hot tracers flung from the Seindrive’s nose-mounted cannon. In the next instant, the Cygnan fighter exploded, bits of silvered fuselage spiraling out for a split second before they were sucked back into the center of the burning mass again, swallowed by the collapse of the ship’s singularity drive. Cordova bit down hard, baring his teeth against the wake as his rig rode rough across the turbulence left by the implosion, then shot a quick glance at the scopes.

Nothing. He blinked. No Terran rigs, no IFF signatures, no Hok.

Cordova stared blankly at the display for a moment, then eased off the throttle and glanced up through the canopy window, eyes catching a distant flicker of silver where the Hok had been. A few detached Coralate rigs moved in disinterested packs away from the debris field, and beyond it all, the massive, silvery bulk of the heavily scarred Coralate warship turned slowly away from the vista of empty space and nosed its way back toward the massive hole the Cygnans had ripped in the fabric of space. A cold feeling of dread began to set in, a feeling of insignificance, of being so small as to be inconsequential, and he shivered reflexively, almost feeling the vast, unchartable distances of space closing in around him. He was one rig, one man adrift in a sea of stars, lost on the rim of an interstellar nation that spread so far in every direction that the distances were mindboggling, disheartening. He pulled in a shaky, suddenly humbled breath, and in the endless darkness, he thought of his wife, his daughter, all the people he would probably never see again.

He’d been left behind, abandoned.

And this time, he was truly alone.
Full title: The Tessa Chronicles: The Cygnus War #32 (Left For Dead, Part 1)

Author Blurb: Whoops. What do you do when you’re one Seindrive in the middle of fathomless distances of empty space, with no hope of rescue and a swarm of Cygnan starships and fighters that wouldn’t hesitate to vaporize you the second you were detected?

Read next week’s installment to find out! :)

Progress report: Episodes are complete all the way up through #34, with a handful of lines done on #35, so don’t worry! TTC will continue! The storyline is just too awesome to let go, and I think you’ll agree once the next handful of episodes come out.

Anyway, this is the thirty-second installment of TTC: The Cygnus War. You can find the previous episode here: [link] The next episode will appear on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 (PST)

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