The Whisper of Damkina Part Twenty Two

June 11th, 2014  |  Published in Whisper of Damkina  |  11 Comments

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“I think we should separate temporarily,” Haetara said as they ate. “I want to see at what range Amanpreet and Kyla can hear each other in hyperspace.”

Amanpreet and Kyla looked at each other for a moment then shook their heads simultaneously.

“That’s not a good idea,” Amanpreet said. “It would delay us significantly, since we’ll have to get some distance between us to do it, and I don’t think that’s wise, since the Vaians are probably after Kyla. Wait until we reach Aletheia, then, once I’ve given my evidence about Promise, I’ll take the Whisper out to some distance while Kyla and the Dreamsong stay near Aletheia.”

“She’s right and you know it, Doctor Pareta,” Kyla said.

“For heavens’ sake, Kyla,” Haetara said. “Stop being so formal. You can call me Haetara, you know.” She tutted to herself then nodded. “Yes, separating would be risky if the Vaians found us, wouldn’t it? But I really want to do some testing that doesn’t involve the two of you in the same dome.” She drummed her chopsticks rhythmically on the edge of her plate as she thought. “Ah! Ok, a bit simpler this time… could Kyla use the Dreamsong’s dome while the ships are merged? It’s not much distance but it would be a start.”

“Oh, yes,” Amanpreet said. “That should work. We’ll try it tomorrow if you wan–” She broke off as a chiming alarm went off a moment before a shudder went through the entire ship. That would have been bad at any time but given they were in hyperspace… She reached over and tapped the intercom. “Mark, what–”

“We’re being attacked,” he replied before she could finish. “Two Sticks, visibly armed. They’re trying to force us to drop out of hyperspace. I’m trying to evade them and get a look at their ID at the same time.” There was a long pause then he cursed. “Tag starts VM … They’re Vaian.”

“Well that figures.” Amanpreet turned to the others. “We’d better strap in. This is likely to get bumpy.”

“Argh!” Kayla exclaimed as she did as suggested. “How did they find us already?”

“They were probably checking the common routes from Damkina to Aletheia,” Kane said. “They’d have figured out where you were going, after all.”

“We can worry about that later,” Amanpreet said. “For now we need to get away.” She turned on the intercom again, “Mark, where are we? Any hazards we might be able to hide in nearby?”

“I already thought of that,” he said. “They might be armed but their shielding looks like crap, so I’ve taken us into a vortex to buy some thinking time, but they’ll be waiting when we leave… unless–”

Amanpreet was glad she’d strapped herself in when the food plates clattered to the wall as Mark swung the Whisper through a 90 degree turn faster than the Stick’s artificial gravity could react. A moment later the plates clattered again as the gravity caught up and the floor became down again.

“Is he–” Kyla began then stopped as the shuddering in the walls made it obvious he was navigating the Whisper along the heart of the vortex. “Bloody hell!”

“Mark, be careful,” Amanpreet said. “Our shields can stand a bit of Vortex exposure but they aren’t up to Vortex climbing..”

“A little bit of hyperspace exposure won’t kill people, Am,” he said drily. “But I think the Vaians might if they drive us back into normal space.”

“I’m more worried about the Whisper’s response to losing–” She stopped as she felt hyperspace begin to scratch across her skin. “Too late, you’ve stripped the shields. Try not to kill my ship, please, Mark.”

“It should be okay,” Vanna said. “The Whisper has bloody good specs. She can survive unshielded hyperspace exposure for at least two hours relatively unscathed, and probably a day or so without losing all function. I always thought she was a bit overspeced for trading, but I’m glad of it now.”

Kyla gave a low whistle. “How did you afford an advanced military grade ship? Vaia is affluent and it still has to upgrade standard grade Sticks for anything larger than the Dreamsong.” She undid her straps. “I’d best go check her status. She’s not so tough and I don’t want to lose her.”

Amanpreet chuckled. “The Whisper was a bargain – a decommissioned Damkina Defence Force vessel. They’d removed all but the asteroid buster weapons, but left the shielding. I didn’t know her underlying structure was so tough though.”

“You should read the manual some time,” Vanna said. “Instead of just chucking it at me.” She grimaced. “My skin is stinging. Is that hyperspace?”

“Yeah.” Amanpreet unstrapped herself. “Can you go with Kyla to check on the Dreamsong. Initiate a full merge to protect it if you have to.”

“Of course,” Vanna said. “What about you?”

“Since we’re running without shields anyway I’m going up to the dome,” Amanpreet said. “I want to assess the situation myself.”

***

“I wondered how long it would take you to figure out that, with the shielding down, there was no reason not to crack the dome,” Mark said as Amanpreet climbed through the hatch. “The Vaians haven’t followed us, as far as I can tell, but it’s hard to see what’s happening outside the Vortex to be sure.”

Amanpreet leaned on the back of his chair and looked out. Outside it looked like a incredible lightning storm was going on with constant bolts travelling in the same direction as the Whisper and clinging to its skin. She strained to see beyond the storm into the normal chaos of hyperspace to see if the Vaian ships had realised what they were doing and paced them but, as Mark said, it was hard to see anything. She was about to give up when a large shadow – too large for a Stick – appeared. It was coming towards them and a moment later Promise swam into the Vortex directly towards the Whisper and swallowed them whole.

The sensation of hyperspace ceased abruptly. Amanpreet let out a relieved sigh. “Saved! How did it know? And what a risk – the Whisper must be large enough to give it indigestion. We’d best get Niobe to thank it.”

***

“From what it said,” Niobe explained, after she’d spoken to the Fish. “Promise felt your need when the shields went down. It had engaged the Vaian ships to give us chance to run but it broke off to come and rescue us. It doesn’t think it was followed and says it can handle them anyway since they can’t use their weapons in hyperspace and have to depend on ramming. It also says we’re fine – it was designed to swallow some very large things if needed.” She hesitated. “It’s asking about the route to Aletheia from here, since it’s never travelled it before and it can’t just follow us any more.”

Prompt Post 22 is here. Come and leave a prompt.

Comments Welcome.

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11 Responses to “The Whisper of Damkina Part Twenty Two”

  1. mjkj says:

    Wow, great. Promise to the rescue…
    😀
    Nice way you incorporated my prompt.
    🙂
    What I do not understand is how the Vaian attacked the Whisper in hyperspace to force them out (see paragraph seven) – but obviously they cannot use weapons in hyperspace (see last paragraph) – so how did they do it?
    Ramming someone at that speed will easily destroy both ships (except if the pilot has extraordinary skill to ram with just a very little more speed – which in turn would result in a “slow” approach or rapid deceleration before impact which gives also a quite long exposure in the proximity of the other ship). Further more there should have been a proximity alert before they even came close enough to ram them…

    • Rebecca Sutton says:

      Hmmm… perhaps ramming is the wrong word? You can’t use energy weapons in hyperspace – they fail to work and any form of ranged physical weapon would require manual sighting – so hyperspace fighting generally involves ship to ship contact and fixed weaponry. Think the hyperspace equivalent of pre-cannon naval combat.

      As to proximity alerts – sensors are another thing that don’t work in hyperspace – hence the need for unshielded navigators. Machines can’t even detect hyperspace – that’s part of why it’s so dangerous (the fact it does physical damage is the other).

      • mjkj says:

        Well, that is why I asked.

        Ah, true, proximity alerts would not work either…
        😕
        …well, shoot canons with manual sightings (and use a navigator for that…)?

        How would one attack without ranged weapon? except ramming or putting obstacles in the way of the other…

      • torvawk says:

        So how does shielding work?

      • Rebecca Sutton says:

        Very well, thank you ;-P

        More seriously I could technobabble at you but most simply the shielding is part of the ship that blocks hyperspace energy thus making the inside an island of normal space rather than an anti-weapon shield like in Star Trek.

  2. torvawk says:

    wow, did my prompt create the vortex or was that planned already?

  3. Francisco says:

    I found this the other day and been waiting a bit of time to read it. I like what I’ve read so far.

    I take it the Fish is going to know her thoughts (or at least her understanding of the situation) but can’t talk to her directly?

    • Rebecca Sutton says:

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you’re enjoying the story. 🙂

      The Fish can mainly pick up Am and Kyla’s feelings rather than thoughts (and then only in hyperspace and if they’re really intense). We’ll see more of the limits of this as time goes on.

  4. Francisco says:

    Sorry, this is a double post but I didn’t get an acknowledgement of my previous post:

    I found this the other day and been waiting a bit of time to read it. I like what I’ve read so far.

    I take it the Fish is going to know her thoughts (or at least her understanding of the situation) but can’t talk to her directly?

Leave a Reply to Francisco