Saturday, 19 December 2009

Tales from Sangha Gan'yaka - The Fall Of Adi'Shakta

Fire rained from the sky. Adi’Shakta was burning. The Desacrators had arrived. Shuva piloted the battleship Gayatri up through the lower atmosphere of the planet. He felt the ship groan and shudder as he pushed it to and beyond its limits. The bridge was abuzz with frantic comings and goings. The captain was ever busy absorbing information from various sources, the communications station thrived as constant updates came in. The engineers lamented that the ship could not endure such a rapid ascent. Shuva didn’t listen to them, with the controls set to manual he could feel the entirety of Gayatri as an extension of his being. She could take it! Gazing at the display board he saw great columns of fire blossom forth from the cities of Shakta. His heart burned with anger at the site. Alongside Gayatri two other battleships, the Bhiru and Uopha ascended rapidly through the clouds, like three shining arrow heads. Their purpose, to safe guard the evacuees aboard and those in their own craft that remained desperately close to them. As they reached the upper atmosphere one of the Desacrators’ ships loomed suddenly out of the clouds above and to the left of the fleeing vessels. The very design of their ships invoked fear in those who saw them. They were in the shape of a snake’s hood, poised ready to strike. Several talons curved from a spine into a gapping concave maw round the front.
“Captain, enemy vessel off the starboard bow!” someone cried.
“Prepare all weapons! Have the fighters readied for immediate launch! Pilot, put us between them and the civilians!”
There was an abrupt lunge as, with almost instinctive skill, Shuva swung the starboard side down to act as a shield for any incoming fire. Bhiru and Uopha moved in similarly. The enemy dreadnaught descended upon them. Before it came within range of the battleships’ weapons it opened up with a flurry of its own. Batteries flared with white hot flashes from around the ship’s hood and talons. Missiles flew out of the maw like a swarm of angry insects. They bore down with sickly speed and accuracy. Gunners on all three ships worked feverishly to destroy the incoming projectiles. Gayatri shook violently as two missiles struck her midsection and another exploded just one-thousand meters away. Uopha took five direct hits, grumbling for a moment the ship managed to shrug off its a affliction and continue its ascent. Bhiru was hit the worst. Projectiles ravaged her exoskeleton, punching deep into her interior. Her engines flickered and burned out, a huge, electric blue explosion cascaded out of her engine compartment, ripping cavernous hole in her port side. Bhiru’s ascent slipped to a hault, she seemed to hang sadly for a second in the air and then, surrendering itself to gravity, began a nose first dive back to the ground. Shuva fought internally to keep his horror at bay. Some of his class mates from the academy had been assigned to that ship. He couldn’t believe the enemy could dispatch them with such ease!
“Captain all squads report ready!”
“Launch them! Have squads one and three take out their missiles, I want squads two and four on bombing runs!”
A series of fighters were thrown out of launch tubes into the air, they were joined by their counterparts from Uopha and a small contingent that managed to escape from Bhiru. When the next wave of projectiles came all but one were intercepted by the fighters. The one missile that got through detonated just below Gayatri’s nose, scorching but not penetrating her armour. Another wave and then another were also denied passage. Some of the squads had formed up and made a pass at the dreadnaught. Some explosions rocked the goliath war ship but did no real damage. A second squad was about to make a pass when they were met by a hoard of enemy craft. They set upon the attacking fighters, destroying the majority of them in seconds.
“Have our fighters pull back so we can cover them!” barked the captain.
It was already too late for many, the dozen or so fighters that survived fled back to their fellows. They were pursued by the enemy fighters, once they were in range the gunners let loose, felling some of the enemy, but still they came. The remaining squads twisted and wove into the fray. Their craft were less well armoured than their opponents but made up for this in speed and agility. A few slipped through the brawl, avoided streaks of fire and pelted the battleships with their payloads. Shuva felt each impact, an audible metallic shriek echoed through Gayatri. The ships passed out from the atmosphere now, the sun, Surya, sat half hidden by the curvature of Shakta. Its light illuminated a pitched battle that raged over the north pole of the planet. There was an awful beauty to the sight as shards of debris were pulled down through atmosphere and burned to naught but gas.
“Have the hyper-drive ready, I want to jump out of here as soon as we’re free of the planet’s gravity. Order the fighters back to the hanger.”
The ship rumbled as the hyper-drive charged up. The remaining fighters turned about and fled back to the hanger as did the civilian vessels that would fit. Emboldened by this the enemy pursued them, the dreadnaught closed in for the kill.
“Enemy ship is in range.”
“Fire everything!”
Missiles, lasers, anti-missile turrets, every weapon at Gayatri’s disposal flared off into space. The Desecrators’ vessel replied in kind. Gayatri was struck three more times as was Uopha. Sparks flew out of various components as systems overloaded. Shuva was glad to be strapped in his seat as people were thrown off their feet. Glimpsing the starboard display he saw atmosphere pumping out of Uopha.
“Sir, we can’t take another hit like that!” an engineer wailed.
“Tell the gunners we only need a few more seconds, keep them at bay.”
The fire that streamed from Gayatri intensified, demonstrating the desperation that now gripped all aboard her. All they needed was a few more seconds to free themselves from the pull of Shakta in order for the drive to work. A few more seconds than we might have, thought Shuva. In the barrage one the dreadnaughts talons was severed from the main body. The damage seemed to enraged the enemy for the ship now seemed to burn as it unleashed a terrible wave of missiles.
“Multiple incoming! They’re nuclear!”
“Engage the hyper-drive!” ordered the captain. Shuva glimpsed fear pass over his face.
“We’re not out of the gravity-well yet,” he almost sobbed.
The missiles approached, a few were hit by the gunners but there were too many.
“Impact in ten seconds!” someone shouted.
Shuva pushed at the engines, willing them to give just a bit more thrust.
“...six, five, four...”
Shuva blinked tears from his eyes, a vein pulsed in his temple as he put everything he had into willing the ship to move faster.
“Three, two, one!”
There was a flash and all went deathly quiet as Shuva engaged the hyper-drive and Gayatri sped away.

One year earlier, the people of Adi’Shakta had lived in peace. The people of the Sangha Ganyaka – The Ganayakan Consortium, had prospered. The arts, education, sciences, these had thrived under the council of the Grahas. Then, in the year 1222 After Exodus, from the cold reaches of space they had come. Planet after planet, system after system was conquered and laid waste to. Many had perished. The enemy destroyed much of the beauty that the Ganyakan’s had strived to create since their ancestors had settled on Adi’Shakta. The enemy were dubbed Shivas’narak – The Desecrators. Now the people of The Consortium lived in fear, not knowing where the next attack would come from, not knowing if there was an end to the vast multitude of the enemy armada. Refugees numbered in their billions, as did the war dead. And now Adi’Shakta – the Great Mother had also suffered the fury of the Shivas’narak. Hope seemed lost. Many had given over to despair. Now they strive to find a weakness in the enemy, a way of defending that and those they held dear. The fate of The Consortium teeters on the edge of a blooded sword.

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