Joint Venture with Yuki Wildstar and Fred Kopetz
Chapter Seven – Enter the First Chairman… (CONCLUSION)
The light near the Argo grew brighter, and then it resolved into some kind of…hyperspace tunnel.
Out of it roared about six Spectran space frigates. The frigates surrounded the Argo and began to blast at her with pinkish weapons beams.
Nova looked at Derek and Sasha and said, “I have a very bad feeling about this. Sasha, something is approaching that is beyond your ability to handle.”
“I can handle it,” Sasha protested.
“Can you?” said Derek as he caught the uncertain look on his niece’s face.
“I..” said Sasha.
Derek started hard at Nova. “Nova. Take the radar. For now. Tell us what we’re facing. Sasha, take over at Analysis!”
“Yessir,” Nova said as she saluted She ran to the radar and began taking scans. “Those lights are warp tunnels, Derek! Two more of them just appeared at RKG-212 and WHR-240! Twelve more ships are emerging from it!”
“Return fire!” Derek snapped.
The Argo began to return fire as the Phoenix just avoided an antimatter missile coming from one of the ships.
The Phoenix did a barrel roll, flying hard and fast to avoid the enemy fire as two more warp tunnels opened up.
The Argo brought down three enemy vessels, but with the new tunnels having opened up, there were now twenty-five enemy vessels attacking the Argo and the Phoenix.
On the Argo, Ganger, the Gamilon officer, read the profusion of blips and signals on her screens and said, “Three missiles approaching! They are heavies!”
“Another warp tunnel has opened up at RKG-200!” cried Nova. “The object coming out of that is MASSIVE!”
“Its power levels…are off my meter,” said Sasha, grimly.
“Video panel change!” snapped Derek.
The Argo’s video panel changed, and the image that came up was that of a huge, ugly ship that looked like some kind of mutated starfish with five arms. It was spinning slowly about its axis, and Nova gave a report. “Derek! Make sure this goes out to the Phoenix! The vessel is an armored spacecraft carrier, wingspan, three hundred meters per wing, size, estimated as about 100,000 gross tons, about that of an Andromeda-class battleship! Sensors report…Sandor, is this right? Sensors report that there are two thousand crewmembers aboard, and possibly…three small 46 centimeter energy cannons, similar to wave motion guns!”
“And those things are beginning to charge!” said Sandor as he read readouts at his post. “Admiral, if those things charge up and fire at us, and we take a direct hit from all three of them at once…we’re all finished! We’ve already taken damage!”
“How encouraging,” said Derek dryly. “Communications, pull in the Phoenix! We’re done screwing around with this fleet! We need to fire the wave motion gun, and NOW!”
“But the wave gun needs some repairs,” said Sandor.
“Get some men to work on it,” said Derek.
“Yessir,” said Sandor.
“I have a report of injured below,” said Nova. “Permission to leave post.”
“Granted, Doctor,” said Derek.
AN HOUR LATER…
The battle had gone on for an hour, with one side trying to get an advantage over the other and failing to do so.
Nova came back into the Bridge in her Doctor’s whites and relieved Sasha at the radar.
Cal Roland, at Communications, said, “Wildstar, sending a signal and…belay that! We have one coming in!”
“From where?” snapped Derek.
“The enemy flagship!”
“Switch to video panel!” said Derek.
On both the Argo’s and Phoenix’s main screens, there appeared the image of a laughing, maniacal-looking man with a pale face, red-rouged lips, a dark purple cloak lined in red, with the rest of his face masked in a grotesque, ugly cowl that made him appear like a deranged Doberman.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” roared a high, sneering voice from his mouth as a second spacecraft carrier of the same kind appeared near the Phoenix. “Now, you foolish little bird Ninja are about to learn what happens when you play games with Spectra! We can play back, and with bigger guns, yet! I have six D’IATS cannons aimed at your Fleet, Wildstar! And, pray tell, who is the commander of the misbegotten little blue plane flying around out there?”
“I am,” Mark said in a determined tone of voice from the Phoenix.
“Oh, you’re the head bird of your stupid little flock?” said Zoltar. “Admiral Wildstar, where did this young pup come from? Is he part of the litter you made with the oh-so-sophisticated and chic Doctor Wildstar?”
“He came from Earth,” said Admiral Wildstar.
“And he’s not one of our children,” added Nova, who thought, Come to think of it, he looks a lot like Derek….why is that?
The Pellian Matrix inside Nova had no answer for her this time as the battle continued.
“I am G-1, the Commander of G-Force,” Mark snapped. “Zoltar, I order you to back down and surrender to us. You have several warrants pending for your arrest due to your previous murders on Earth years ago! Do that, and you will be treated fairly!”
Zoltar laughed insanely and said, “See to this! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Then, three DI’ATS beams were fired at the two ships.
DI’ATS stood for Directed Ionized Anti Tachyon Surge; a weapon developed by the R’Khells, which had been given to Spectra.
The effect of the single small DI’ATS beam hitting the Argo was deadly; the small wave-motion gun like antimatter surge blew a vast hole in the space battleship’s starboard side near the fantail. The Argo’s starboard auxiliary engine went dark, and without balanced thrust from the auxiliaries and the main engine, the Argo lost the ability to warp; at least until the damaged engine was repaired.
One also hit the Phoenix, which trailed away towards the planet trailing smoke while Tiny tried to stop the ship in her death-dive towards the planet.
Then, the Argo took a second hit from a single beam of the infernal enemy weapon while Zoltar cut off the transmission while laughing like mad.
The beam also made the ship shake.
Admiral Wildstar was trying to stand up and put on a helmet when the vessel shook.
He was knocked off his booted feet and onto the deck, while Nova flew after him, crying his name as the Astro-Compass blew up behind him.
Derek crashed to the deck in the middle of a pile of debris and he became unconscious as Nova, beautiful in her medical whites, knelt over him and healed one of the gaping wounds in his scalp with her abilities. Her fingers were slick with his blood as she worked at reducing the swelling in his brain so he would not die at once. However, she found that there was a splinter of metal in his head that she dared not pull out here. He needed surgery, at once, in sterile conditions. Derek then moaned in her arms, woozy but still alive.
“How is he?” said Kitano.
“He’s going to have to go into surgery,” said Nova. “His arm’s broken and he has a small metal splinter in his skull that’s not safe to try and remove here because it may have penetrated into the brain. For those injuries, I’m going to have to operate.” Nova looked at Stephen Sandor and said, “I’ve healed the worst of the damage, but the Admiral is not fit to command right now! Please take command! Have Lieutenant Ragan take his place at Combat!”
“Of course, Nova,” Sandor said as he took command while Nova called for medics and guarded her patient and fallen mate like a faithful hound. “Sasha, take Nova’s post; she’ll be below working on the Skipper. “
“Yessir,” Sasha replied.
Sandor called to the Second Bridge for Ragan.
A moment later, Roland gasped as…something that looked to him like a… monster… showed up on the Bridge.
Ragan was a Ralkhen; one of them many huge cat-people found on many planets in the Pellian Commonwealth.
Roland was petrified as the huge, seven-foot tall furred humanoid saluted Sandor, and growled, “Where shall I go, sir?”
“The main gunnery station. You’ve been trained in how to run it in simulations, Ragan. Now, you will do so for real,” said Sandor.
“Of course, sir,” said Ragan coldly to Sandor (at least it sounded cold. He shook his head at Derek’s predicament, and then Roland swore that the monstrous being bowed to Nova, and said, “M’Lady…if there is anything I can do to help,” in a gentle tone of voice.
“No, Ragan…this is my battle, and Derek’s,” Nova said softly.
“He shall be avenged,” said Ragan. “It is a mortal sin to me…to us…that this battle is causing you pain…M’Lady,” said Ragan as he glared at Roland.
Sasha bowed at Ragan and said, “Get back to your post, Mister Roland.” At that, Sasha looked on as the Argo continued to fight while the medics came and took her Uncle away on a stretcher, with Nova running in their footsteps.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER….
While the battle went on for the Star Force and G-Force, another battle was about to be joined in Sickbay for Admiral Wildstar’s life.
Nova had just changed into scrubs and thrown on her lab coat and operating room sandals with her glasses. She was about to scrub and put on her mask, cap, and paper shoe covers when Lieutenant Miyagi, her anesthesiologist, ran up behind her in his scrubs and OR sandals and said, “Doctor, Dawn Hardy and I have the patient ready.”
“Good,” said Nova as she ran about. “I have no time to waste here; let’s go in and work on the Captain.”
“Ma’am, we’re still in battle,” said Miyagi.
“I know that,” Nova snapped. “I have to get that splinter out of his head now!”
“So what do we do if the vessel takes a hit while we’re working?” said Miyagi.
“Just hold the hell on, Nurse!” Nova snapped. “I’ve done it a hundred times!”
“Yes, Doctor,” said Miyagi.
Where, or where, do some of these nurses come from? Nova thought. Doctor Sane, now I’m realizing why you were driven to drink so much sake!
In the meantime, G-Force was dealing with problems of its own.
“”Damnit!” said Jason on the flight deck of the Phoenix. “We have only nine bird missiles left!” he said.
Mark surveyed the scene. The Argo was fighting on, although not as well as she had been with the damage she had taken. The space battleship was now smoking in six places, and one of her gun turrets had fallen silent, having been turned into twisted metal by a Spectran missile hit. “There’s only one thing we can do, even though it has not yet been tested.”
“And that is?” said Princess.
“The Phoenix has a transmutation mode of its own,” said Mark. “We will have to lock into our positions and go into Firebird mode and attack the flagship! All of us have to be in our places to do so. It is a very stressful and dangerous procedure.”
“It’s better than runnin’ out of missiles,” said Jason with a smirk. “Let’s do it!”
“But Commander, that mode ain’t ever been tested! We don’t even know if it’ll work!” said Tiny.
“I’m with Tiny, I don’t think we should try it yet,” said Princess.
“Brooop-dreep…fried birds,” said Keyop.
“This is NOT a democracy!” snapped Mark. “It’s a military outfit, or have you people forgotten that? I give the orders here. Ready for Firebird mode!”
“Yessir,” said Jason.
Princess sighed and began to strap in. “Okay, readying for Firebird mode,” said Tiny as he began to work controls. “Changing engine configuration, setting energy boosters and conduits, control of the ship now given to the Commander. Mark?”
“Lock down, here we go,” said Mark. “Commencing Firebird mode in ten minutes! Prepare for Beta-Transmute!”
The note of the Phoenix’s engines began to change as the ship began to prepare for Firebird Mode.
In the meantime, on the Argo, Sandor was surveying the situation, and he said, “Our framework can’t take much more of this.”
“No, sir, it can’t,” said Kitano as the ship took hit after hit.
“The gun barrels are beginning to heat dangerously, sir,” said Ragan from his post.
“Call in the Black Tigers; Wakefield’s done enough for one day; at least we’re rid of most of the enemy frigates.”
“Message from G-Force; they’re ready to attack the enemy flagship,” said Roland.
“Acknowledge, and wish the Commander luck,” said Sandor. “That leaves us with the other ship, and I know what we’re going to have to do; we have to get the enemy ship and that base,” said Sandor. “Stop all engines. Prepare the wave motion gun for firing!”
“Yessir, with pleasure,” said Kitano with a wicked grin.
“I will relish this kill,” growled Ragan as he brought up the target scope.
Down below, in Sickbay, Derek was laid under Nova’s knives
and instruments as she feverishly worked on him with Miyagi’s and Dawn Hardy’s
assistance as the battle went on.
“Cannula, number forty-five,” Nova snapped. “I have the patient’s skull open and the hair shaved at the small operating site. “I’ve found the metal splinter and am about to remove it, but there’s bone splinters, too.”
“Miyagi, prepare to help the Doctor suction them out,” said Dawn. “Miyagi, what’s the Skipper’s heart rate?”
“It’s good,” said Miyagi while Nova worked. “Currently at Nominal, Doctor,” he said as he looked at Nova.
Nova took a deep breath and worked with some new instruments.
A moment later, she had a bloody piece of metal in her forceps. “Taken right out of the back of Derek’s head. It just barely avoided piercing the dura mater. I’m scanning; we don’t have to go into the brain itself. Thank You, God,” Doctor Wildstar sighed. “Now let’s get his arm fixed; it’s going to need surgical screws, then I’ll have to use a bone welder on it.”
“Yes, Doctor,” said Miyagi.
“Stop looking so worried,” said Dawn. “We should be done with him and have him in the Recovery Room in no time.”
“There are days I’m very glad I went to Med School,” said Nova. “This is one of them…”
“Amen to that,” said Dawn.
“Now, let’s get his arm fixed,” Nova said as her eyes brimmed a little with tears behind her glasses.
“Yes, Doctor,” said Miyagi.
On the Phoenix, Mark had strapped in. “Prepare to increase gravitational force…ready for Firebird Mode!” he snapped.
He began to pull back a lever. The inside of the Phoenix began to glow, as if everyone was on fire.
Princess held her seat and grunted. Gravity was pressing down on her like a death-knell.
Even Jason was having a hard time breathing as the ship’s structure began to transmute…
…and then, there came a flash of light, and the procedure suddenly stopped!
“What the hell?” said Jason.
“Mark’s gone!” screamed Princess.
“What?” snapped Tiny.
“He’s vanished! He’s gone!” said Princess. “MARK!”
“Where did he go?” said Jason.
Then, the Phoenix’s screen lit up.
They could see Mark…in agony…with Zoltar standing right behind him!
“What the hell?” said Jason.
“As you idiots can see, I have your Commander!” said Zoltar. “Surrender, or he DIES!”
Mark found himself on the bridge of the Spectran vessel, screaming in utter agony.
The reason he was in agony was because he was surrounded by angry plant tendrils that seemed to come from nowhere.
The tendrils were like vines with a mind of their own. And they had thorns. Sharp ones.
Soon, Mark’s Birdstyle uniform was being born to shreds around his mid-section as Zoltar laughed and laughed at him.
Mark recognized Zoltar on sight. All of their training materials had referenced what the evil Commanding General (or First Chairman) of Spectra’s strange, vaguely communistic theocracy looked like. And he was just a bizarre-looking in person as he was on the old videos and sketches made of him from the impressions of EDF officers and friendly agents who had fought him in the past.
“Zoltar, you deranged fiend!” yelled Mark in rage and pain as he tried to escape.
“That is quite an original greeting, my little bird. What were you about to do on your pathetic little ship? Pull a lever?”
“Yes, and if I was able to do so, you would be screaming in agony while you burned up, you mad terrorist!” Mark snapped. “Well, we will destroy your base…”
“Which I could give two small coins about,” said Zoltar as he came up to Mark and stroked under his chin with a swagger stick. Then, he hit him in the face with the stick, hard, as he said, “What I really wanted was to get into a position where I could smash your G-Force before it ever got off the ground! Don’t you know that we know all of your names and identities already, G-1?” sneered Zoltar. He was partially lying, because he did not know their secret identities yet, but Zoltar thought that he did not need to know that. Likewise, this brat did not need to know that the Luminous One had helped to bring him there. “You are but a clone of the original Gatchaman. A poor copy of the late, great, Ken Washio, my friend! A dirty bird hatched from a rotten, stinky egg!”
“We will not stand for this!” said Mark. “Your flagship will be boarded! I will be rescued!”
“By whom?” said Zoltar as he began to laugh.
A moment later, several Bird Missiles slammed into the Spectran ship.
“WHAAT?” roared Zoltar.
“The small blue ship; unit known as G-Force, sir,” said one of Zoltar’s officers.
“Damn them!” Zoltar said. “Power up all three DIATS cannons at once…target…that ship!”
The cannons came on line.
Mark hissed in rage as the guns began to beep.
They have them targeted dead to rights, he thought. Unless I can get free of these vines and stop it…
Suddenly, a bright light appeared on the bridge.
A single figure, burning with light, appeared out of nowhere and walked towards Zoltar and Mark.
Zoltar’s men turned towards the burning apparition, emptying bullet after bullet at the terrible being. But, the bullets just bounced away from the gleaming field around the apparition. Zoltar saw there was a power in that field.
Mark looked shocked at the being, and so did Zoltar.
“Who…who ARE you?” demanded Zoltar, in utter fear as this flaming Being sat down on one of the consoles.
None of the Spectrans dared to go near her.
For a moment, Mark was even a bit afraid of her. “Who, who are you?” he gasped.
“I DEMANDED the same from you a moment ago, spirit!” hissed Zoltar.
“I am your worst nightmare made manifest, Zoltar. I am a servant of the Secret Fire. Your darkness will not avail against me, sorcerer,” said a soft, alto voice from the center of the light.
A hand went up, and the vines loosened around Mark.
“We have to get back to the Argo,” said the Being. Mark blinked his eyes.
“In my other guise, yes,” Nova said.
Zoltar howled at her, and something like darkness surrounded her after he mumbled strange words in some unknown tongue.
Nova dispelled the darkness with a sweep of a gleaming hand.
Then, with a strength Mark never knew she possessed, she grabbed him, threw him over a shoulder and said, “Our time is short! We have about five…four…three…two….”
A massive light began to fill the Bridge as Zoltar screamed, screamed again, and then vanished.
The last thing the Spectrans saw before the new Light blinded them forever was Nova’s light turning incredibly bright, and her vanishing with Mark in her arms like a child.
A moment later, the Light and heat swallowed up the Spectrans and their vessel.
The Argo’s wave motion gun had just fired.
And…the devastation was total. Only one frigate escaped, that with Zoltar aboard.
Everything else, the other frigates, the carriers, the Spectran commander who had been in charge, and the Spectran base were all blown apart.
There would no longer be a Spectran presence in the Horsehead Nebula.
G-Force and the Star Force had won.
FOUR DAYS LATER…
The Star Force and G-Force were now almost home.
A rather confused Commander Mark Washio of G-Force was walking around the Argo with Jason, saying, “They’ll disband the team for this.”
“Yeah, we messed up big time,” said Jason. “We lost you to that Zoltar freak when we were about to go Firebird Mode, I fired all our missiles; the Argo had to pull our chestnuts out of the fire, and Princess has been ordered to write a full action report. I see a big inquiry comin’ out of this, Mark. Maybe even a court-martial.”
They stepped into Sickbay, and found a strange scene.
Admiral Wildstar, whom they had not seen up in a few days, was sitting on a stool, shirt off, showing some very impressive pecs as Doctor Wildstar worked on his arm like a friendly sprite.
Nova looked disarmingly normal to Mark, a diminutive figure in white, wearing her glasses, lab coat, and open-toed pumps in polished white. She was humming softly as she taped up Derek’s arm, and she stopped now and then to look into his eyes through her glasses.
Jason had some uncanny sense that the two of them were communicating in some wordless speech.
Derek then shook his head and looked at them. “Yes, G-1, and G-2. I’m told you fought to the last, and were ready to defeat the enemy yourselves before Zoltar interfered with his…strange powers. Good work.”
“Zoltar is a walking demon,” Nova said softly. “Filled with darkness and tricks far older than any of us. I’m in my forties. I am a child next to him, and have only had my own special abilities since a number of strange events in 2208 and 2209, so, next to him, we are all young and untrained. There is no need to feel inadequate. We all did the best we could. Zoltar is going to be very hard to defeat. The battle of our planets may take years, even decades for us to win.”
“I was told you had some recommendations for us,” said Mark.
“I do,” said Derek. “You are now off training status. You have passed your final tests and are ready to be deployed as your own special missions unit. I will not be your commander, henceforth. You will be reassigned back to ISO Special Missions Command, and will again take orders from your previous training officer, Doctor Anderson, who will be your Operations Chief. You are being assigned to an underwater base in the Pacific between Japan and the West Coast of the US known as “Center Neptune”. Not even I know where it is, because we have other business.”
“What other sort of business, sir?” said Jason.
“R’Khells,” said Derek. “We will stop in the Sol System tomorrow at Saturn-Titan to pick up our regular crew and then head towards the Galactic Center, where we have our own new mission to deal with. When you return to the Phoenix, this is goodbye for now.”
“We have word,” said Nova. “That Spectra is sending some other sort of weapon towards Earth. Intel says it looks…like a giant, deadly Turtle King. You will receive more intel from Chief Anderson. Good luck.”
“Thank you,” said Jason and Mark as they saluted and left Derek and Nova Wildstar behind.
There were many questions that they had about these two. Questions that would not be solved for years.
At any rate, they would not see the Wildstars, or the Argo again for a long time.
Their questions would have to wait.
ON THE WAY HOME….
From the distance the Phoenix’s crew watched the Argo roaring away, flashing with light as she passed into warp and vanished.
“Well, what do you think?” Mark said.
“About what?” snapped Jason.
“Our new positions,” said Mark. “No longer trainees…we’re now warriors of our own.
“I think we’re screwed,” said Jason. “We still need to test this crate in Firebird Mode.”
“Really, that sounds so positive,” said Princess sarcastically.
“Hey, I hear they got good spaceburgers at Center Neptune,” said Tiny.
“Broop-breep,” said Keyop. “Thinking with your damned stomach!”
“Better than what Jason thinks with!” said Mark.
“And that is?” said Jason.
At that, the rest of G-Force just laughed.
Jason thought, Damnit to hell, this is gonna be a long war!
The End (or is it the Beginning?)
Thanks to Yuki Wildstar for her great writing that helped this project come off.