Authors: Joshua Dalzelle
Omega Force: Savage Homecoming
By Joshua Dalzelle
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real persons, events, or places are purely coincidental; any references to actual places, people, or brands are fictitious. All rights reserved.
Edited by Monique Happy Editorial Services
As this is the third book in the Omega Force series I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the people who’ve helped along the way.
So… a special thank you to family and friends who understand why they don’t see much of me
anymore and especially to Sarah for the selfless amount of time and help with the first two books.
Thanks to Tasha for putting up with me talking about plot points and dialogue over every meal.
Thanks to my editor, Monique Happy, for massaging and polishing “Savage Homecoming.” I promise one day I’ll figure out where commas are actually supposed to go.
Most of all, a heartfelt thank you to all the readers who were willing to take a chance on an unknown author and have stuck with the series this far. I can’t express how much I appreciate every one of you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
"Captain, we must hurry!"
"What do you think I'm trying to do, Crusher? I'm bumping up against the airspeed limit at this altitude as it is," Jason shot back. He was becoming increasingly irritated at the Galvetic warrior'
s pacing and griping about how slow they were flying. Time was critical, but the planet they were flying over, Fournier Prime, had some strict air traffic regulations and the authorities wouldn't hesitate to revoke their landing permit.
, the Jepsen Aero DL7 gunship that Omega Force crewed, was loafing behind a pair of larger transports as they lumbered across the northern sky. Jason Burke, the captain of the ship and crew, debated trying to zip past them but didn't want their "clean" transponder codes getting a rash of air traffic violations attached to them. Chaffing at the slow speed, but resigned to the inevitable, Captain Burke ground his teeth and flew silently as Crusher continued to pace back and forth in front of the main canopy, annoying everyone on the bridge.
, I've got a high-speed transit lane coming up that we may be able to squeeze into. It's thrusters only, no grav drives, but it allows for hypersonic transit almost all the way to the coastline," Kage said quietly from the right-hand seat. Jason weighed his options as he tried to do the math in his head. If they took the faster flight path at the lower altitude they would run into heavier traffic once they began their final approach, but crawling along their current course behind the heavy cargo haulers was costing them significant time as well.
"Plot it," he said, making his decision. "I'm bringing the mains online now
. Get ready to cut out the grav drive when we begin our course change." He reached over and flipped a series of switches on the engine management panel and was instantly rewarded with the deep rumble of the
four main engines starting up. The new main engines the Eshquarian government had gifted to them the previous year had the delightful habit of starting quickly every time, something the original Jepsen engines had trouble with, a quirk that had almost gotten them killed more than once.
"Five seconds to the veer-off. You're going to have to
get on it hard, Captain; we'll be passing directly over the new flight path and there will be three fast movers bearing down on us," Kage said as he sent the navigational data over to Jason's console. When the countdown reached "one" Jason slammed the throttle down and pushed the nose over.
The shock of the mains fully engaging jarred everyone in their seats as millions of pounds of thrust shot the
off her current course and sent them rocketing down into the lower atmosphere, trying to get ahead of the three fast movers. Crusher let out a howl of delight as the ship transitioned to hypersonic flight, now peering eagerly out through the forward canopy.
I bet if I could roll the window down he'd stick his head out with his tongue slapping the side of his face.
They easily beat the other three ships and raced along towards their destination
: Hellikick Spaceport, a sprawling industrial port of call that was close to Fournier City. The city was their ultimate goal, but thanks to several unforeseen issues they were running well behind schedule. Jason took another look at Crusher and shuddered as he thought of the consequences of being late.
The rest of the flight was uneventful as he piloted the
into the holding pattern over the spaceport and eventually brought them in for a touchdown on one of the more remote landing pads. This unfortunately meant they had a long taxi to their parking berth, another delay that was fraying nerves.
"I am not certain we will make it in time, Captain," Lucky said as he walked onto the bridge.
"Don't even say that," Crusher said, pointing an accusing finger at his synth friend. "You're just going to jinx us."
"If you say so," Lucky replied. "Doc and Twingo are ready in the cargo bay."
"I was wondering where everyone went," Jason mused as he spun the ship around to comply with the alignment marks on the parking pad and began shutting down the primary flight systems. "It looks like we're in time to catch the maglev into the city if we hurry." No sooner had the words left his mouth than Crusher ran by him in a blur and off the bridge. They could hear the stairs leading off the command deck groan, and then a loud thud as the hulking warrior must have jumped from the top step to the lower main deck. Jason just shook his head and rolled his eyes as he climbed out of his seat and hustled off the bridge after the rest of the crew.
The main cargo ramp was already coming down as he ran into the bay and looked over his crew. Omega Force was dressed in their be
st casual clothing that was meant to blend in with the rest of the crowd. On a progressive world like Fournier Prime, only Lucky would stand out among them. "Everybody remember what they're supposed to do?" Jason asked as he approached.
"We're locked and loaded, Captain. Let's get to it!" Twingo, the ship's engineer and Jason's best friend, was even more spun up than Crusher.
"Alright, boys, double time! We've gotta hit that train or we'll be buying a shuttle ride," Jason told them as he punched in the instructions that would lock and secure the ship once they disembarked. They didn't have to be told twice as they ran down the ramp and crossed the tarmac to the terminal at a pace that forced Jason to sprint to catch up.
Once in the terminal complex
, they quickly found which maglev train would be going into the city and boarded. As the train smoothly pulled out from under the platform, the team was buzzing with anticipation. The maglev trains were ubiquitous on most developed worlds and were such an old, reliable technology that some lines were hundreds of years old. Since the train never touched the track they almost never wore out, and they were so inexpensive to operate that they were almost always chosen for mass transit over the more exotic technologies available.
The train raced along at nearly one
hundred kilometers per hour, and was a direct shot into the heart of Fournier City. They would then have to hustle on foot to hit their target on time. Jason knew Lucky and Crusher could do it easily, he and Doc could manage, but Twingo and Kage gave him pause. The shorter two would be hard pressed to keep up with their bigger crewmates. He sat back in the hard plastic seat that seemed designed for a different species and tried to relax. Either they would make it or they wouldn’t.
"Sub-station A17, this is the last stop for Fournier City
The voice of the automated message repeated four more times in as many languages, but the crew was moving before the first iteration had finished coming over the speakers. Jason led them at a hurried pace off the platform and onto one of the main walkways, checking the local time on his com unit as he did
so. They had enough time that they shouldn't need to run and thus attract undue attention. As it was, people were already pointing at Lucky and chattering amongst themselves.
They kept up their brisk pace until they could
see their target: the enormous domed structure just on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. Unable to help himself, Jason switched to a broken half jog now that he was so close. This served as an unvoiced command to the rest of his crew and they went flying by him at almost a full run.
Wait up!" Once again he had to nearly sprint at full speed to catch his crewmates. It wasn't long before Twingo and Kage began to flag and stumble. Without hesitation Crusher grabbed Kage and Lucky grabbed a protesting Twingo, and each carried them the remaining few hundred meters on their shoulders. Despite the indignation, Twingo made no overt move to get down as he grabbed onto Lucky's head in a desperate attempt to not topple off.
"Stop covering my eyes, please," Lucky said pleasantly even as he began to outdistance his friends.
The six rushed up to, and quickly through, the security checkpoint and into the mammoth building. Jason was elated; he had allotted extra time for Lucky to clear the building’s security. That proved to be unneeded. The biological members of the crew, with the exception of Crusher, were sucking in huge gulps of air after the two kilometer run even as they made their way up the stairs and merged with the throng of other beings going the same direction.
"Lucky, break off now and meet us there!" Jason shouted to the battlesynth as they reached a large promenade level. Without hesitation
, the synth dropped Twingo on the ground in a heap and bounded off through the crowd with incredible dexterity.
Twingo shouted as he tried to get up without being trampled by the surging crowd. Jason grabbed and lifted him by the collar to head off any further complaining and hustled him along the walkway.
"This is us," he said to his friends, pointing at the numeric designator on one of the structural support columns. The five of them wormed their way down the narrow stairs until they came to the correct landing and then began sliding past the crowd as they
made their way left.
... Pardon me ... Sorry about that ..."
Any grumbles of protest were squelched by the civilians as they caught a glimpse of Crusher, who was directly behind Jason. They came to a row of oversized seats and finally were able to look out over the interior of the dome. It was breathtaking. Hundreds of square meters of open surface
was artfully littered with debris and other random objects.
"I can't believe we made it!" Kage exclaimed as Crusher put him down. The little Veran looked mildly disappointed, obviously
enjoying the view atop the over two-meter-tall warrior. "Will Lucky get back in time?"
"I will indeed," Lucky said as he stepped over his seat from the row behind him. The rest of Omega Force cheered
since Lucky was carrying two trays loaded with frosty acrylic mugs of the local beer-like drink. They all grabbed two and stood waiting with everyone else as the announcer boomed over the public address system in Jenovian Standard, the accepted universal spoken language for most systems within the ConFed's reach.
"WELCOME ALL TO THE FINAL ELIMINATION ROUND OF THE
NORSTARAN COMBAT LEAGUE!!"
The voice paused while the crowd let out a deafening cheer before continuing,
"ALL COMBATANTS ARE PILOTED AND THIS IS A LAST-WARRIOR-STANDING MATCH. REMEMBER ... MATCHES WILL NOT BE STOPPED FOR SPECTATORS ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE."
Another cheer went up and Crusher let loose with a bellowing roar of approval. Although the crew was somewhat used to this, the spectators in the surrounding seats looked to be quite distressed. Jason flashed them his winningest smile to reassure them that nobody would be devoured or maimed just then.
had been pushing pretty hard over the last year and the strain was showing. During their last resupply from the frigate-class vessel named the
, Crisstof Dalton, their benefactor and frequent employer, insisted that they take some down time. He had discovered that the crew were fans of the "Armor Combat League", a spectator sport in which pilots fought each other in oversized mechanized warriors, and procured tickets for the semi-finals being held on Fournier Prime.
Jason had thought it quite silly at first, reminding him of the spectacle of professional wrestling from his own world, but he quickly came around. The mood of
the crowd was like that of a National Football League playoff game on Earth and he was glad for the distraction and the reprieve. He drank the overly-sweet brew and settled back with his crew, his family, to watch a bunch of oversized machines beat the living hell out of each other.
It was nearly four hours later when the last of the mechanized combatants was cleared off
of the arena floor and the winner was declared, an enormous black bipedal machine that had wicked-looking spikes running up each forearm. The pilot, a wiry little Veran, had climbed out of the protected cockpit and stood on the machine’s shoulder, waving his four hands at the crowd. Kage went wild when he saw that one of his own had been declared the champion, seeming to share in the victory himself despite being hundreds of feet away and too inebriated to stand straight, much less pilot anything.
They shuffled out with the rest of the crowd and paused outside
of the arena on the large concourse. Some of the night’s combatants, including the winner, had been loaded up onto cradles and brought out so the fans could collect images and get up close to their favorite fighters. Not having anything pressing going on, they drifted over to take a look for themselves.
“Do you think Lucky could kick this one’s ass?” Kage asked loudly as he gestured at one of the smaller machines that had been used in the preliminary rounds.
“Without a doubt,” Crusher declared confidently, despite the fact that the machine was nearly fifteen meters tall. “Right?”
“It is difficult to say,” Lucky said patiently. As the only sober member of Omega Force
for the last few hours, he’d endured it all with as much grace as he could. “Since there is no pilot at the moment, I would say my odds are excellent.” For some reason, Twingo found that hysterical and began laughing uncontrollably while leaning against Crusher; he then began to hiccup. Doc looked at him with concern. As the only one among them who seemed to understand the word “moderation” he was still steady on his feet and articulate.