Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The River Battle

The River Battle

We made it through the night without incident, although when we arrived in the control room we found it a shambles. Apparently the drunken orgy had made its way up here, and Carrie's night crew seemed powerless to stop it. The desks had been tipped over, drinks spilled on equipment, and trash lay everywhere. A few of the idiots still lay around in a drunken stupor. I poked a few with my shotgun, none too softly, and told them, "if you ever enter an officer's area again, you will be throw overboard." They beat a hasty retreat.

We spent most of the morning cleaning up the place, a thankless and disgusting job. Heaven knows how they didn't destroy the Matrix or turn the crew into zombies. I had to reboot half a dozen systems. Finally we restored all the telemetry and external camera displays to make sure we didn't collide with other shipping. Fortunately our GPS navigation system prevented us from running ashore overnight while the night crew tied one on. Far off in the distance, I could just make out the British coastline. We cruised through the English Channel at quarter speed, still a healthy 50 knots. Throngs of pleasure craft and small airplanes came out to view us, but now they kept a healthy distance.

By the time Carrie stumbled in, it was already past lunchtime. She was escorted by a young Pirate, one of the new men on the ship. They kissed and the man walked away. I shot Misty a look and she returned a quizzical stare. We had thought Carrie was with Xyllan, but apparently not. Partway across the Palace, we could see him staring our way, looking none too happy about the situation.

I started complaining vociferously to Carrie about the night crew but she waved me off. "Ross, it's no big deal. You need to learn to relax." I could see she was still pretty drunk.

She wandered over to a small couch and laid down. "Just wake me if anything comes up. You've got our route, don't you? Good night."

From the way Misty pounded her keyboard with her fingers I could tell she was moments away from bitch-slapping Carrie into tomorrow. None of us had much sleep, and to have Carrie snore right in front of us was infuriating. "Let's get some lunch," I suggested.

By now the three of us had armed ourselves to the teeth. We each carried two pistols, mostly 9mm semi-automatics, Rod and I carried shotguns, as well as knives. I even found a small dagger for Julia as well as a switchblade. We closed up the control center as best we could, hopefully any alarms would wake Carrie. We also could see the large movie wall from anywhere in the Palace so we could see if trouble developed.

We checked the kitchen for malcontents before allowing Julia in there. We only found the normal staff in there, so we let her cook while we talked.

"We need body armor," said Rod, "instead of this bloody Pirate crap. These new scoundrels are going to be the death of us I'm afraid. And our drunken Queen is not helping matters. She's losing her control. These fellows know it, and it's only a matter of time before something tries something."

"I guess I can talk to her," I suggested. "A mutiny would be disastrous. As the only identifiable officers on this boat aside from Xyllan, we'd be the first targets. After a few days without any raids, these guys are getting restless."

Julia began bringing our food out as she cooked it. Deliciously tender fried chicken, noodle soup, sesame salad. A few groggy pirates wandered over, tempted by the scent of fresh food. The kitchen exhaust system didn't work well since it wound through the thick palace wall, so you could smell whatever was cooking throughout the Palace. The same could be said for the urinals, however, since they too didn't drain well. We told the pirates this was the Officer's seating, and they'd have to wait their turn. I don't think they liked that. And they liked not getting Julia's food even less.

We approached the narrowest part of the English Channel as we finished our meals. On one side, the Cliffs of Dover, on the other, the quaint city of Calais, and somewhere beneath us, the Channel Tunnel. Only 21 miles separated the two countries at this point. We finished up quickly and headed back to the control center. Carrie still snored loudly. I felt like dunking a bucket of ice water on her.

After passing though the Strait of Dover, we turned North, passing by the Isle of Thanet. We cruised back West, heading towards the mouth of the River Thames. Ahead of us I could see a line of gray dots along the river mouth. Not even waiting for Carrie, I sounded the General Quarters Klaxon. Hopefully the stupid pirates would know enough to get in here and close the Palace hatches. Carrie jumped off the couch.

"What the fuck? Goddamit!"

I pointed up at the monitor. We could see a line of naval vessels blocking out route up towards London.

"Shit," spat Carrie. "Where the hell are the rest of my officers?"

"You tell me," I spat back. "What kind of fucking operation is this? This is bullshit!"

"Fuck you, Ross," she cried. "Fuck everybody. Find my goddamn crew."

"You go find them yourself. As you can see, we're kind of busy. We're almost surrounded, they're closing in from behind."

Carrie and I stared at each other for a moment. "Fine, it's you guys then."

"We're being hailed," said Misty from the communications console. "It's CINCFLEET. There's a Commander Jeffries wishes to discuss the terms of our surrender. Do you want to talk with him? We have a video hookup."

"Give it to me," Carrie snapped, reaching for the headset, then hesitated, a smiled crossing her face. "You do it, Nguyen. You know how to talk to these people. I'll talk to you through your headset. Come over here, Rod, help me set it up."

"No," stated Misty. "I'm drawing the line right here. I'm not going to threaten my own countrymen. I'm not going to be a part of this any more. I'm not helping you attack England." She threw down her headset and jumped out of her seat.

Instantly Carrie drew a gun, and Rod and I drew ours too. "Get back on that line," hissed Carrie, who looked at me. "I will fucking end her, right now. You want to take that risk, Ross? You drop your goddamn guns."

I looked around the room. Julia huddled under a desk. Misty stood at her console, staring at the weapon aimed at her head. I heard the patter of the Pirates running towards the control room. In moments we would be outnumbered. I just couldn't risk Misty's life. I pointed my gun towards the ceiling and lowered it to the floor. Rod did the same. Xyllan and his men jumped in and confiscated our weapons, pushing us back into our seats with guns to our heads. So much for being Captain.

Misty sat back in her chair, her face a maze of worry. Her hands shook as she put her headset back on. "Stand by for transmission," she said.

Rod hooked up the system so we could see and hear both sides of the conversation, and let Carrie tell Misty what to say.

"CINCFLEET go. Officer Nguyen of Queen Carrie One speaking," said Misty, and Cmdr. Jeffries' face filled the screen.

"You are in violation of the sovereign waters of the United Kingdom," said Jeffries. "You have five minutes to reverse course or we will open fire."

I could see the agony writ on Misty's face. "If you do not let us proceed, we will destroy your fleet. Any hostile act on your part will result in immediate retaliation."

"The Royal Navy is prepared to use any and all means, and I mean all means at our disposal to stop you here. You will proceed no further. This is your last warning."

"Please, Sir," pleaded Misty, going off-script. "You don't fully understand our capabilities. Please do not provoke an attack. If you would just listen--"

Carrie cut the connection. "Enough chit chat. Prepare the Singularity Matrix! It's zapping time!"

The Klaxon sounded, this time with the most ominous tone. The heavy leaden doors closed, trapping us in a radiation-proof shell.

Carrie finally found a couple of her hungover Matrix operators to key in the sequence to activate the offensive capabilities of the Matrix. As the timer counted down to zero, a number of ships launched missiles in our direction.

"Fire!" yelled Carrie. The ship shook as the Singularity gobbled up a heap of fresh matter and expelled its deadly energy wave. Outside, nothing immediately changed. The missiles kept coming. Closer and closer they approached, finally sailing over our deck and continuing on path, their electronics fried and useless. We also caught footage of surveillance planes and drones tumbling out of the sky, crashing to the ground in big bursts of orange. Even inside the Palace we could feel the rumbles of those detonations.

"Fire Exocets," commanded Carrie. Two missiles flew out from our deck and impacted on the two ships nearest to our path, exploding in huge balls of flame and deafening thunder. None of the ships moved. Not a single thing moved for miles around. We had crippled the entire Royal Navy with one quick blow.

"Ross, you still with me," demanded Carrie. "Make a damn choice. Are we going to invade this country? Are we going to get what's coming to us?"

I nodded sheepishly. Misty glared at me. "You bloody bastard! You little shit! You're still with her? After everything she's done to us? You fucking pussy. I'm going to rip you apart!" She jumped at me but Xyllan's men held her back.

"Get her out of here," I cried. "And her slave too. Misty, you two-faced whore, I never want to see you again. I've had it with you! If you can't see by now what we're trying to do here, you never will. Get the hell out of my sight."

Misty started to retort, but her eyes burst into tears. She began wailing loudly. Julia approached me. "Please Captain Ross, how can you do this? You love her. She'll be better. She'll try harder. Please."

I turned my back as they were dragged away. Carrie's triumphant smile made me want to hurl.

Xyllan asked, "what should we do with them? Throw them overboard?"

"No," I said quickly. "I have something special planned for them. Just keep them safe right now. I don't want them to be touched until I'm ready. Don't worry, after what she did to me last night, it will be slow and painful."

Xyllan grinned. "No problem, Captain."

I have a lot more to say right now but I think it's best if I end it here. Let's just say the sight of the zombified hordes fighting across the decks of the British ships will haunt me 'til the end of my days.

Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2008 @ 11:27 PM

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments. I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able.