Wednesday, May 04, 2005
A Short Story
They came without warning. The enemy must have known beforehand he was traveling through here. It means somebody inside was working for the enemy. The commander filed this information away in his brain. Mentally instructing his powersuit's computer to encrypt the information and send it via secure channels. The high admiral must know of this.

"Photon torpedoes coming starboard side, eraser mines directly in-front us"
the steersman shouted. Red lights flashing menacingly. The "Wheee! Wheee!" of the siren blaring throughout the ship.
"Transfer power to front shields, increase speed, maximum propulsion"
The ship jerked forward violently, a collision with the mines inevitable.
"Now, emergency engine stop, engage front thrusters!".
The twin action of the stop and the sudden activation of the front thrusters caused the front of the ship to tip downward, and the back of be thrown forward. A groaning sound reverberated. When the ship is about 30 degrees slanted the commander bellowed "Cut front thrusters, transfer power to top shields and engaged main engines!"
To an outside observer, the ship seemed to have travelled into an L shape pattern. A few of the eraser mines came into contact and detonated, but the ship was otherwise unharmed. It was a brilliant maneuver, but no time to admire such things now.

"Activate maneuver alpha".
The ship suddenly warped out of space. And warped in within a proximity of a few thousand kilometers. Then warped out again, and in, and out, and in. All in random locations, each time discharging photon torpedoes before warping out. The enemy ship saw this and proceeded to do the same maneuver. The torpedoes hitting empty space where it had been before.

The two ships appeared as random points in space. Now present, now gone. Were it not for the constant discharge of photon torpedoes, they would look like two fireflies dancing around a flame. But this dance has a very deadly intent. But the winner of this contest is totally unpredictable. Fights like this can last days. Ending only when one of the ships lose power or breaks off. Indeed, it is almost impossible to detect where the next position of the enemy ship would be. Not to mention hitting it with torpedoes. Even the most advanced nega-engines could not predict with 100% reliability. But the commander has lived close to two hundred years. He's learned a few tricks of the trade.

Yes it was almost impossible to determine the next location of the ship, but tracing the trajectories of the enemy torpedoes, and the patterns it made, suggested a maneuver to him.
"Steersman, stop maneuver Alpha. All power including life-support to forward shields. Then discharge six torpedoes to the following coordinates".
As soon as the ship stopped teleporting out, it was rocked by enemy torpedoes. Damage reports indicate 30% hull damage, A few sectors crumpled, but the redirected power did its job and dissipated most of the heat into space. Now, five torpedoes had been launched at seemingly random positions. It is a small matter to evade them on-by-one, and the enemy ship did - only to be hit directly by the sixth torpedo.

Space vacuum prevented sound, but a circular array of light provided its replacement. The enemy ship's destruction a beautiful sight.

-----

The commander is resting inside his room, when a soft sound alerted him to the presence of a visitor. It is the sub-commander.
"Come in number two".
The room opened to reveal a middleage man in a powersuit. He raised his right hand, then brought it to his chest.
"For the emperor"
"For the emperor" the commander responded to the traditional salute.
"Commander, damage repairs completed. We are now prepared to continue traveling to the Solarrium star system."
A good one this man
"Very good number two"
But when he hesitated to go out
"What is it?"
"Sir, how did you know where to fire the torpedoes? Even the nega-engines cannot predict it with accuracy?"
The old commander smiled lightly and said
"It's called a mating net. I recognized the pattern Colonel".
"Sir?" a confused look greeted him.

"I cannot explain in so many words, but are you perchance familiar with an old earth pastime called chess?"
 
posted by Nezha at 8:23 PM | Permalink |


2 Comments:


  • At 1:28 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker

    Nice story! Murphy's law makes that a random shot always miss.
    Maybe we should speak from a pattern-inspired guess?

     
  • At 5:01 AM, Blogger Mousetrapper

    Chess can be everything, even a space opera. Not bad. Need to check my torpedo arsenal soon.