A sci-fi fantasy short story by Tyler Golec
74 Spatio Annus (SA)
“LUE-System activating,” her cockpit came to life as the UNE dreadnaughts began releasing fighters. The golden halo around her head began to glow. It was just like the countless simulations she would run growing up.
“Captain Pavlov,” she heard the voice of the LU Admiral. “Take the lead with the Inanis Eques 001 against the fighters. Our drones will support you.”
Kimberly Pavlov felt her physical sense of self fading as she became one with the system. They had tried other candidates for the LUE-System. The strain of the testing was too much for them. Only the Daughters of Pavlov could survive it.
She was everything and everywhere. She could feel the connection between the UNE pilots flying with their E-System. They were like children holding hands, playing an adult’s game with little toys. They were totally ignorant of their inferiority. Like that bold-faced boy who had dominated the testing. His brain melted the first time he attempted to sync with LUE-System.
She knew everything about them. Their E-System was broadcasting their every thought to her. She could see them like she could see waves of radio, radiation, and the great variety of everything that crossed the cosmos.
She had heard from her grandmother, that her every moment was like this. Kim could only experience this when in sync with the LUE-System. It was the only way she wanted to see the cosmos now.
She took control of the LU’s drones.
“I will sync the drones with my LUE-System. Together, we’ll make quick work of these fighters.”
“We will prepare to fire on their fleet.” Starcross III and Starcross IV had arrived giving them a massive four-dreadnought fleet to drive the LU away from the planet or back to the surface. The LU had two military-grade freighters, a deep space colony transport, two drone carriers, and half-a-dozen gunships. Four dreadnoughts easily overmatched the LU fleet, and they were just the reinforcements. However, the LU fleet had a Daughter of Pavlov.
Encompassed in a cloud of drones, Inanis Eques 001 met the approaching fighters. Inanis Eques 001 was slightly larger than a standard fighter with four armored shell-like wings with uranium turrets mounted inside each. The center of the ship was a heavily armored orb with a beam cannon at its front. It had no visible means of propulsion, but its Mark II Singularity Drive gave it incredible acceleration, deceleration, and maneuverability.
Through the LUE-System, here and the drones were perfectly harmonized. She knew each fighter’s move before they made it, she killed them all. Over three hundred fighters were destroyed in moments. Most of the work was done by her drones, once easy prey for the E-Class Fighters.
No longer hidden from each other by the curvature of Epsilon Eridani C, the two fleets opened fire. The activity that filled the distance between the fleets was blinding for Kim. She turned her focus toward the Starcross Fleet.
They weren’t entirely defenseless without their fighters. ASC Turrets were a bit of a challenge for the LUE-System initially. Without their use of the E-System, it was actually slightly harder for her to make predictions. However, she only lost a few drones. The UNE had nothing that could touch the Inanis Eques 001.
* * *
Project Fifteen watched the battle unfurling with a great deal of fascination. On Starcross II he was fairly safe within the command bridge, but he was curious how long that would last. A single ship, not much larger than a standard fighter, and a horde of drones were dominating the pinnacle of UNE technology.
“Turn off all E-Systems,” Project Fifteen suggested.
The admiral looked at him oddly. The projects were in the room for protection, not for their input.
“Why?” the admiral asked Project Fifteen.
“She has access to all the data that is communicated through the E-System.”
“How do you know?”
“I can feel her in my mind,” said Project Fifteen. “Her new system lets her receive human thoughts. The E-Sytem is why she just needed 47 seconds to wipe out our fighters.”
“Access to thought?” The admiral asked.
“Yes Admiral,” Project Fifteen said. “The only weakness I see is that I caught some of her thoughts too.”
The Admiral didn’t seem to know what to do with this information before he turned back to his crew. “Full shutdown and shield the electronics, send the order to the whole fleet. It’s one fighter, we will hit it with an EMP.”
That might work. However, Project Fifteen felt that it was Kimberly Pavlov, not the Inanis Eques 001, that they needed to fear.
* * *
She knew they planned to hit her with an EMP. She could chance it. The Inanis Eques 001 was supposed to be shielded against such attacks. In tune with her LUE-System, she came up with a better plan. That project that could sense her was on Starcross II. She released a series of decoys that would briefly broadcast data as if they were the Inanis Eques 001. She used this moment of confusion to land and anchor into Starcross II.
She had a hole cut in the craft and was in Starcross II before the EMP went off. Her drones were done for. Should could feel them going silent. Still wearing her golden halo, she was still connected to her LUE-System. Her LUE-System would survive the pulse. It was not entirely inorganic.
Despite shielding their electronics, the EMP had damaged the Starcross Fleet as well. It would be precious moments before they could return fire, or shield themselves from the LU volley.
She needed to find this project. Projects were human chemistry experiments. Experiencing biological and chemical enhancements since before they were out of the womb. Projects were the UNE’s most terrifying soldiers. They were all different though. This project could, to some degree, sync with her LUE-System.
Starcross II was coming back to life. She was in the ship’s systems. She saw her project, Project Fifteen according to the system, leaving the command bridge. He was heading towards her. Kim was armed with a side arm. She located the closest barracks.
The project wasn’t going to let her beat him there. He was fas. Two soldiers were about to patrol past her. They rounded the corner. She quickly fired off two uranium shells. They punched through the soldiers’ neck armor, killing them instantly.
They were armed with laser rifles tuned to say they wouldn’t damage the ship if fired inside. She picked one up and tuned it using her LUE-System to be able to hopefully handle a project.
It was here. There was no pause once it saw her from down the hall. Its non-reflective silver mask with its unnecessary grin made for a haunting visage. Its dark fluid armor only made the effect more terrifying.
She fired at it. With the LUE-System, she couldn’t miss. The project took the first laser. It seemed to barely faze him but his armor hissed. There was less of it now. He had his own rifle on him and returned fire as he approached her. He didn’t have her LUE-System. Without thinking she adjusted to avoid the laser, then she returned fire.
He tore a metal door from the wall to catch her second shot. The laser cut the door apart but the project was unharmed. He was sprinting at her now. She would have time for one more shot.
* * *
Project Fifteen felt the third shot from the over-tuned laser rifle. It was probably better that he took it, not the ship. His armor kept the laser from cutting through him, but it was still burning his flesh. His fluid armor was nearly depleted keeping him alive.
Her reaction time was incredible. She ducked his slash with his plasma edge. She had her sidearm out. Project Fifteen barely got a hand on the weapon before it fired at his leg. His remaining armor rushed to defend the area, but he still felt the round punching into his thigh.
He swung her at the wall with her weapon and the hand that he held. She spun in the air and was able to hit the wall with her feet. She kicked off and caught his right hand and knocked his plasma blade away from his hand with a swift kick.
They were both unarmed. Project Fifteen was stronger, but even with the enhancements to his reflexes and cognition, she was moving much faster and with more conviction than him. Hand to hand they fought in the hallways of the Starcross II. He could feel their minds melding closer and closer as they fought.
* * *
She couldn’t believe it. As they fought, the project was becoming more and more closely connected to her LUE-System. He wasn’t able to take control of it, but he was for sure, compatible with it. She let him unknowingly sync himself with the LUE-System. Fighting, the project was more than close enough to the golden halo.
He wasn’t a ship she could command, or an E-System to take advantage of. He was human, and his thoughts were leaking through. A recent memory. He had saved lives on the planet below. With mastery over the LUE-System that the project lacked, she gave him a blind spot allowing her to kick him across the jaw, he dropped to the hallway floor unconscious. His mask fell away from his face.
There would be soldiers here soon. She commanded all the emergency doors in the hallways to close. It bought her a moment before the command from her LUE-System was overridden. He was incredibly heavy, but she was able to get him back to the Inanis Eques 001.
Releasing from the hull of Starcross II, Kim soaked up the battle around her. During their inactivity, the Starcross Fleet had taken incredible damage. But now, they were returning it to the retreating LU fleet.
They hadn’t noticed the Inanis Eques 001. She hung there for a moment, allowing Inanis Eques 001’s wings to soak up the light of the Orange sun. She aimed her beam cannon through Starcross II at Starcross III. They became aware of her.
She fired her charge prematurely but it still tore through Starcross II and struck Starcross III. The damage to Starcross II was devastating. The ship hung uselessly as its crew tried to seal off its gaping hole.
The Inanis Eques 001 escaped the remaining craft of the UNE’s fleet returning to the LU’s.
“We thought we lost you,” the LU admiral’s voice filled her cockpit.
“Just needed to bide my time after that EMP. I brought us a project.”
“His name is Project Fifteen, and he’s still alive. He has special qualities. He will be my prisoner.”
She was a Daughter of Pavlov. It didn’t matter how the admiral felt about it.
“Will the project need medical attention?”
“Some,” she said. “But he’s already recovering.”
* * *
He was in a medical room back on Epsilon Eridani C. He recognized the sensation of real gravity. He was bound to his bed. He was a prisoner and he was still alive. He must not have been captured for long. Either his body would start to break down soon due to a lack of his chemical necessities or Project One would make the call and deadly chemicals would be released throughout his body.
At least they gave him a nice view. Looking out across this planet wouldn’t be a bad way to die.
“You are not going to die.” The project turned his head slightly to see the girl with the golden halo standing at the side of his bed. It was odd not having his mask on, constantly feeding him information.
“Your new system?”
“I used it to pull necessary information out of your mind. All toxin cartridges have been removed from your body and that drip is identical to what the UNE doctors give you.”
“The UNE doesn’t have an answer for your new system.”
“That was the idea behind its development,” she said. “My Grandmother has had the best minds in the LU dedicated to its development.”
“And she chose you to be the pilot?”
“Other candidates tried, but the system was devastating and even deadly to many who attempted to use it.”
“But, not for you, Kimberly Pavlov?”
“Not for me, not for any of my sisters.”
“Daughters of Pavlov.”
“Why didn’t you kill me?”
“Because you can sync with the LUE-System too.”
“You want me to do this?”
“You think I will cooperate?”
“You hate those who made you.”
Their room was silent.
“I don’t hate all of them.”
“What if you could stop them from making more.”
This wasn’t something Project Fifteen had thought about before.
“We can keep you alive. I can train you on how to pilot the Inanis Eques 001 using the LUE-System.”
“How many of those fighters do you have?”
“That hasn’t been our problem. There are only six of us that can pilot them.”
“This still doesn’t make much sense, what if I turn on you?”
“How do you know?”
“Tell me about me?”
Project Fifteen realized he knew everything about her. She was born in the Temple of Europa, built over the remains of Europa 7. Raina Pavlov, the Priestess of Europa, had three daughters and each of them had two.
From birth, Kimberly Pavlov’s life led a precise course. It was privileged but honestly, there were parts not much different than his own. Less cruel, but she and others had been subjected to intense education and daunting physical challenges to deem their suitability for the LUE-System.
But at the end of the training, it was only the Daughters of Pavlov that could handle the system without dying.
“You still love her?”
“My grandmother? Of course! and now, I also know everything about you.” Her eyes were bright. “Together, because I know you will join us, we will have it all. We will have the stars!”
Want more stories from my Spatio Annus sci-fi ‘verse? check out Tides of Europa. A story from 23 SA and the disaster that occured on Europa’s colonies.
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