Chapter 5

The 12th Galaxy

Chapter 5

Professor Angus Littleton sat down in the sunshine of Xyver, scratching his white beard. He was not a thick man, but he was on the level – with the bubble in the middle. On top he was bold, but his crown of hair had grown long, and he had a ponytail at the back. He lifted his straw-hat back to cover the top of his head whilst he wiped the sweat from his brow. He was sitting in the middle of his vegetable garden, watching his lettuce, tomatoes, beans and carrots all around him. Further away, there was a big potato patch.
Behind him, in his little bungalow-like house, a big, smiling woman with long black hair and thick, black rimmed glasses came huffing and puffing through the door.
Angus rose up.
– Martha? What are you doing out here, my darling? he said with his soft, velvety voice.
– You know that the sunshine is not good for you!
Martha Littleton just smiled.
– Angus, my prince, she called out in a puff.
– You are due at the lab soon.
She pointed her finger at him, but she was still smiling.
– You need a bite to eat before you go. I’ve made some apple pie for you.
The old professor licked his lips.
– Any chance of some whipped cream on that?
He knew he was pushing his luck as he was supposed to be careful with fat in his diet.
– Angus Littleton, you devil! Martha said in a stern voice.
Then her face softened up, and a smile spread across her big face.
– I even made some buttermilk for you, she admitted.
The professor shook his head.
– You are too good to me, he said, well knowing that his doctor would tell him off if he could listen in on the conversation.
They both walked slowly towards the bungalow. They had lived in Farmilation Land all their lives, and in the autumn of their lives, they were really enjoying seeing things growing around them. They had a big flower garden, and they grew most of their vegetables themselves. Professor Littleton worked at the Gordonville Laboratories on a top secret project. This is why their house was located inside the large, tall and long electric fences of the laboratories, and they were also protected by a mighty but invisible force field.
Angus Littleton sat down on the porch, devouring a lovely apple pie with whipped cream. The pie was delightful and warm, and the cream cold and soothing. He drank a cup of java, passing on the buttermilk. Then he kissed his wife goodbye, went to his little electric car, and drove off to the main building. Passing though all the security checks, he went to his wardrobe, got undressed, showered, and got on his white work uniform. Then he got into the lift that took him deep, deep, down to a laboratory about five kilometers under ground…

***

Stanley Connors swore again.
– We need to get out of here, he yelled to sheriff West.
– That’s an understatement, Darren West replied.
The Livingston turned around, but it seemed like it took ages.
– Get ready for jumping into hyperspace, Stanley shouted.
– Where are we jumping to? West asked.
– Anywhere but here, Connors bellowed.
West noticed there were about ten other people in the spaceship, but they were no help at all.
– What do you need me to do? Darren West asked.
The ship shook violently again, and all the lights went out.
– No, no, no, no, no, no, Stanley yelled out.
– Darren, can you turn on the auxiliary power?
West looked around him.
– Where?
Stanley pointed behind him.
– A red switch about 30 centimeters from the top over there. Should say AUX beneath it.
Darren West used his finger and followed it down the control board behind him. In the dull lighting, he actually managed to find the right switch. As he moved it, a humming sound ran all over the ship, and suddenly the light was back.
– What’s the damage, Darren? Stanley wanted to know.
Sheriff West checked several control boards.
Seems like we’re still functional, he said.
– What is this blinking red light? HDS?
– Oh shit! Stanley blurted out.
– We’ve lost our hyper drive…
Darren bit his lip. That was bad!
– What do we do now?
– We still got thrusters! We need to land on Plinky and get the hyper drive fixed, or we’re not getting anywhere…
Stanley flew the spaceship diagonally and all the thinkable ways so that the warships would not hit them again.
– Another hit, and we’re all history! he said.
It seemed that the approach to the planet was very slow, but none of the warships were in pursuit. They were busy fighting each other. Slowly, the Livingstone descended towards the surface of the planet called Plinky…

***

With a great bang, the McManus jumped out of hyperspace a few kilometers above the planet’s surface.
– Report, Anderson shouted, jumping out of his chair.
Commander Swift looked up from his scans.
– Still scanning, Sir, he answered.
– No sight of the enemy yet…wait a minute…
He leaned over his station.
– We have scanned a warship, Sir!
Anderson bit his lip.
– Who is it? Where is it?
Swift looked up again.
– It’s almost on the far side, Sir! I can’t make out it’s signature yet. Just another second, Sir!
Anderson stood impatiently still, then reached for his cup of java. Then the commander broke the silence.
-It looks like it’s the Brixton, Sir!
A smile crept round Andersons tired face.
– That’s the best news I’ve had in ages, he said.
– Maybe they have chased off the robots.
Ripley sat still over her monitor, then suddenly stood up with a horrified expression on her face.
– Sir! she stuttered.
– The entire planet is bombed out!
– What? Anderson came over, putting down his java so it squirted all over the floor and table.
– On screen!
Pictures of a bombed out planet came up on the main screen, houses and street bombed away, wounded people running round in the streets.
– I’ll plug into MTV2 for the news, Sir, if that’s okay!
Anderson waved his arm.
– Go ahead…
The TV channel came on the main screen, bringing even more destruction and suffering than the earlier pictures had brought.
– So there you have it, the female commentator said.
– The capital has fallen, the place is crawling with robots, but there are things happening in the south. Plinkian forces are pushing back the robots, slowly winning back piece by piece of the Minnusian country.
She turned around, looking deep into the camera.
– But even if we win this all back, how long will it take to build our planet up again. The destruction is almost complete, and the death tolls are quickly rising.
The reporter pointed up to the sky.
– Maybe there will be help from the skies, she said.
– Maybe there is a future for our world.
Again she turned towards the camera.
– Let all survivors stick together, she practically cried.
– Help the wounded to get to our first aid stations! Stay away from the robots! And if you are not hurt, try to assist those who need it! As we speak, several people are working, trying to reopen the Chase Charity Hospital in Minoa. They have power now, but the buildings still need clearing out.
The cameraman zoomed in close to her face.
– Minnus needs you! she wheezed.
– This is Hilary Brumburger, signing out! We will be back with more reports from the capital shortly!
Anderson made a sign for Ripley to turn off the TV.
– This is bad, he said in a quiet, deep voice.
He cleared his throat.
– It’s time we contacted the Brixton…

***

Stanley Roth sighed heavily.
– I’m sorry, guys, but this can’t be fixed! We’re stranded!
Sheriff West wiped his brow.
– Can’t we get a new hyper drive?
Roth beat him lightly on his chest.
– Do you have money? he shouted.
– I am sorry, but I didn’t have time to go to the back before we took off. I was in a bit of a hurry, you know.
Darren West sighed too.
– Sorry, I didn’t mean to…
A big explosion was heard high in the sky, and they all looked up. One of the four warships had exploded, and they feared the worst.
– Let’s find some food and drink, West suggested.
– Then we need to hide! I have a sneaky feeling that this place will be crawling with robots soon.
They all looked up into the sky.
The fighting had stopped, and the three remaining warships were obviously on a descent towards the planet.
The small group of refugees looked on each other for a little while. Then Roth broke the silence.
– Yeah, I think you’re right! Let’s find some grub!

***

Countess Sheila Blacklock sat behind her desk as the -phone started ringing.
– Blacklock, she answered.
General Drummund was on the other line.
– The Sea Bishop and the Sea Serpent should arrive any time at Plinky, he said.
– The Sea Lion is our last defense.
Blacklock nodded slowly.
– That’s good, she said.
– I just hope they’re not too late…
The general raised his eyebrows.
– But the enemy is at Minnus, he exclaimed.
The countess sat back in her chair.
– They will have finished there before we can get there, she said dryly.
– And their next stop on their way to us in on Plinky. I just hope we’re in time. They have three hours journey, whilst we only have one. If we’re too late, then we depend upon help from Xyver II and Orto if we are to survive.
The general whistled to himself.
– You are so right, duchess, he almost mumbled.
– The enemy seems to be much stronger than we anticipated, he concluded.
– Absolutely, Blacklock agreed.
– And right now, time is of the essence…

***

Enemy fighters flew round the entire planet of Plinky dropping their bombs like they had done on Minnus. Two of the great warships dropped their troops on the outskirts of the capital called Plink City. Slowly but surely they made their way on the westbound highway walking through the wreckage caused by the bombing. One of the warships moved towards the government building where president Arnold was located and hung over it. People started running away as fast as they could as mass hysteria set in. Suddenly a blue ray shot out from the warship, cutting through the government building, causing several explosions and leaving it in flames and ruins. Shouts and cries were heard all through the wreckage…

***

The McManus started a clean-up from the south, supporting the Minnusians fighting on the ground. Slowly, little by little, the robots were driven back towards the capital. The Brixton turned around slowly and jumped into hyper-space headed for Plinky.
It didn’t matter if there was daytime or nighttime on the planet, all over Minnus people were fighting for their freedom, using whatever they could find as weapons. The hours sneaked by, leaving dead bodies and injured people by the thousands.

***

In the skies over Plinky, it was the Sea Serpent who first jumped out of hyper space, and the Sea Bishop was not far behind. Slowly, they descended towards Plink City, opening fire on the big warship that was hovering there.
Captain Calvin on the Sea Serpent led the way, firing lots of missiles on the robot’s warship, now recognized as the Firedrake. The Firedrake took off, leaving the devastated city behind in flames. The Sea Serpent followed in pursuit whilst the Sea Bishop launched it’s fighters over Plink City before following it’s sister ship. When the two warships from Xyver finally caught up with the Firedrake, they were suddenly made aware of the two other enemy warships. The enemy launched all their fighters, about 150 of them, and the Sea Serpent spat out it’s 50 fighters. Rockets, missiles and lasers blasted back and forth, causing explosions on he big warships and totally annihilating several of the fighters. The Firedrake now turned around to face it’s pursuers in the middle of the two other enemy ships, now identified as the Geryon and the Cacus.
The Sea Serpent and the Sea Bishop kept moving to each side, trying to get on opposite sides of the black warships.
The blue ray from the Geryon hit and shook the Sea  Bishop violently. The Sea Serpent got a good hit on the Cacus, but were surprised but the Firedrake who got a bulls eye whilst the Serpent had lowered it’s force field. Shots went back and forth, and the big warships were mostly protected by their force fields. The Sea Serpent moved closely towards the Cacus, the force field reduced till almost nothing. Shots were exchanged in rapid succession, leaving a big, gaping hole in the side of the Sea Serpent. Then the Sea Serpent rammed into the side of the Cacus. The Serpent exploded with a great bang, causing great damage to the side of  the Cacus. The two other enemy warships now concentrated their firepower on the Sea Bishop who still had it’s force field operative. They would have had good chances fighting the Cacus, but because the two Xyveran warships had split up, the Cacus was now hid behind the Firedrake and the Geryon. The Sea Bishop loaded all it’s arsenal towards the Geryon, causing some minor damage to it’s hull. The Geryon, although slightly damaged, was still very much operational, and they shot their blue ray against the Bishop, causing great devastation as they finally lost their force field. The Firedrake shot out their terrible, blue ray also, and cut the Sea Bishop in two. People were dragged into space, arms and legs convulsing for a short while.
After a few more hits, the front half blew up, then, shortly after, the back part were blown into smithereens.

***

Captain Richard Vernon stood on the bridge of the Sea Lion orbiting Xyver. He stroked his shaven head, then his chin, then he started pacing back and forth. He was a muscular man of short stature, a man of few words but many opinions that he mostly kept to himself. Now he felt uneasy, pacing up and down, not knowing what to expect from an enemy who up till now had been invisible. Although he agreed with the galactic council in principle, part of him thought they had done a mistake taking on an enemy they didn’t really know anything about. Intelligence was not good, and the oncoming attack of Minnus, and possibly Plinky, was very disturbing. How many warships did the emperor have, and where were they now?
The tactical officer, Lt. Myra Nolan, was continually scanning the space around Xyver for any approaching spaceships. They were at yellow alert, waiting and searching, fearing the worst, but hoping the best.
Vernon had been on the Sea Lion as captain for nine years now, and he was well liked by the crew. Now, he stood still again, wondering when he would be able to see his wife and five year old daughter again.
As he stood there lost in thought, he was pulled out of his daydream like state by Lt. Nolan.
– Sir, we have two big ships approaching on the far side!
Vernon turned quickly towards her.
– Do we have a visual?
The lieutenant looked on her screen as she typed something with her long, efficient fingers.
– No, Sir! she exclaimed.
– They are too far away, but I can scan them!
The captain nodded seriously.
– Please do, lieutenant! Then report!
Nolan worked quickly at her post. At this point, they could only tell that it was two big ships, but not where they came from or what kind of ships they were. Many cargo ships were large, and even if they were warships, they could be friendly.
Nolan sat back in her chair with a jerk.
– Sir! she said anxiously.
– They are definitely armed to the teeth. They must be warships, but I can not tell who’s they are yet.
Captain Vernon gritted his teeth.
– Let’s get a closer look!
He sat himself down in his seat.
– Let’s go to red alert, he shouted.
– Battle stations, everyone! We must assume the worst!
The Sea Lion moved closer and closer to the two approaching spaceships, and Lt. Nolan worked frantically at her station.
– Sir! she said again.
– They are unknown to our computers. Our sensors say they are named the Erlking and the Adlet…

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