Warp War: Prologue
All wars need a name.
It is mostly a matter of shorthand. One could say; "The series of European conflicts fought by various allied nations against France in the period 1799-1815" but it is quicker to say "The Napoleonic Wars" and most people will have a rough idea what you mean.
Thus it is with such conflicts as The American Civil War, The Franco-Prussian War, The Boer War and, of course, World Wars One through Six.
As humanity took to the stars, spreading its wings and philosophies, new conflicts erupted and were duly named. The various Dragon Wars, fought against the Draconians in the 26th Century, The War of the Dying Light, The Martian Colony Revolt, The Dalek War of 4000AD and so on. There were even whispers of a fabled Time War, in which higher species were devastated, but humanity could not put its collective finger on that one.
Humanity received its fair share of salutary bloody noses out there and by the start of the 52nd Century (Old Calendar) had erected a massive and sophisticated home defence system. This was based on concentric rings of sensors and weapons, starting with an electronic picket-line out beyond the orbit of Pluto, falling back through the Jovian laser satellites, the Neutronic mines of the Asteroid belt, right to the Ionic shield that could be erected around the homeworld itself.
They were safe in their bubble of complacency.
In the summer of 5110AD the outer sensor ring detected an incoming threat. Alerts were flashed throughout the solar system. Weapons were activated and the Ion shield powered up around Earth. The threat seemed to be a single missile, of unknown origin, targeting the homeworld at incredible speed. But the sensors kept losing it. It seemed to be phasing, fading in and out of reality. Disappearing and reappearing in an almost random, untrackable pattern.
When the missile finally disappeared, out beyond Neptune, there was a collective sigh of relief but the barriers stayed up whilst the defence experts examined the data, scratching their heads.
Six months later, undetected, the missile detonated over Australia with a force that destroyed the continent and devastated the Pacific Rim in the ensuing tsunami. Three-dimensional defenses defeated by a four-dimensional weapon.
This was followed by a carrier wave that carried a terse declaration of war. The translator-matrices could only make a stab at the attackers' name for themselves and came up with 'Screamers'. The name stuck.
Two years later Marsopolis was lost in the same way. The Screamers were playing a long game.
Faced with catastrophe, Humanity began a frantic research program into Warp technology.
And oh yes, The Warp War got its name...
Warp War: Chapter 1: The Lone Wolf
Mik Dekka jolted out of Cryo. His hand flew to his temple where he tapped at the chip buried beneath his skin, altering the output from the erotic dream that had lasted the best part of three years (Old Calendar) to a basic Bio-scan of his own body.
Symbols flashed in his brain.
Apart from the wasting that always accompanied Cryogenisis, a slightly arrhythmic heartbeat seemed to be his only problem. Mik wondered idly whether the EroDream was a factor as he programmed just the right electric charge. He arced against his restraints as his heart was kicked back to normality.
Satisfied, he touched the chip to provide a tactical analysis.
HUD symbology gave him place and time and flashed up vectors in four dimensions.
He was drifting at the boundary of the Nebula of the Lion Rampant in his small Hunter-class Cryo-ship. Barely a pod really. He hadn't moved out of his command seat in fifteen years. By his reckoning he had been asleep for about twelve of them. Pipes fed him nutrients and took away his waste. His chip gave him dreams – a semblance of life.
It was a living death, but he knew that when he volunteered as a Lone Wolf. Anyway, this was war.
"Contact." The voice – Athena he had christened her- whispered seductively in his ear. "ID positive. Neutrino Missile. Projected target: Sol system."
Not on my watch, thought Dekka.
An iridescent angry triangle blinked in his mind. There it was, phasing this way and that, inside the Nebula.
Dekka locked on his sensors and was rewarded by a constant whine in his ear.
"Target acquired," confirmed Athena.
Over the next twelve hours Dekka patiently constructed and profiled the sizzling ball of warp-energy in the belly of his little ship. When he was satisfied he whispered a single word, "Release."
For the merest second he watched the glowing sphere as it disappeared against the stars. Then he flipped the auto disengage. As his ship began to phase in and out of real-space to escape the area, Athena whispered again, "Predicted intercept possibility 79%. Estimated time to impact 5.85 Years."
He would never know, thought Dekka. Just like the other four intercepts on this mission. He was just playing the numbers.
The stars funneled around him.
He was in a mini-wormhole he had drilled through warp space to the Descrii System and safety from Screamer retribution when Athena suddenly shrilled in his ear: "Collision Alert!"
Dekka was astonished. Collision? In a self-generated wormhole? His chip flashed up a rectangular symbol that melded with that of his own ship.
Dekka was looking down into a cavernous room. Its walls were covered in geometric shapes. There was a dim light coming from somewhere. Looking up at him were two figures. Humanoid. A man and a woman. They were standing at a free-floating circular console.
The man was hefty, slightly stooped and had curly hair. The woman was shorter with square-cut dark hair and some kind of contraption perched on her nose of wire and glass. Both were clothed in a way Dekka had never seen before.
There was a moment of serenity where they just looked at each other before a terrible concussion hit Dekka, as if a giant hammer had struck the hull of his little ship.
He saw the man in the room below fall aside as if knocked over by a great wind. The room itself tilted at an angle. Suddenly the face of the woman filled Dekka's vision. She was screaming but he heard nothing.
Dekka's ship burst laterally back into real space and span down towards the nearest available landfall. It was mortally wounded.
But Dekka had problems of his own. Wedged into the tiny cabin along side him, was the woman from the cavernous room. She was still screaming but Dekka could hear her cry now. Over and over. The same word.
(End of Chapter 1)