Starship's Mage: Episode 1 (9 page)

BOOK: Starship's Mage: Episode 1
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#

“What the hell happened?” Rice demanded. The RFLAM turrets had only just started to engage – the missiles had been tens of thousands of kilometers out, nowhere near close enough to actually hit the ship.

“Three of the missiles were decoys,”
Jenna said grimly. “They were augmenting their radar signatures, and we nailed all three. The fourth was an x-ray laser. It blew up at twenty thousand klicks and hit the engines.”

X-ray laser
warheads were rare and expensive – so expensive that even the Martian Navy didn’t use them normally. A small atomic bomb triggered a lasing reaction in specially treated crystals, providing a deadly and precise stand off weapon.

Rice flipped up a link to
engineering. “Kellers, how bad is it?” he demanded.

“We’ve a giant hole through the main conduits for Two and Three,”
the engineer snapped back. “The conduit for One got clipped – that
might
be repairable, but if we fire up Two or Three before a shipyard’s been at them, we may as well just set off a nuke back here.”

“Get me at least one engine back
Kellers,” Rice ordered. He turned back to Jenna, and she answered his question before he asked it.

“It’s gained them forty minutes,”
she said quietly. “Maybe as much as a full hour.”

An inexperienced Mage jumping with anything less than a six hour wait between jumps risked the same fate that Kenneth McLaughlin had suffered.
Rice looked at the link to Damien, knowing that the youth would likely risk it. If they pushed it close enough, it might even work – assuming the pirate didn’t open them to air and let them suffocate. The bounty on Rice’s head would be paid as happily for a vacuum preserved corpse as for a live prisoner. He met the young Mage’s eyes and saw something there he wasn’t expecting: hope.

“Captain, I have an idea,”
Damien told him.

#

He ran for the front of the ship, power flaring through the runes in his palm as he formed his own ‘down’ in the zero-gravity of the ship. A bag of tools, soldering irons and silver wire, banged against his side as he dodged around Singh, who trying to make his way backwards along the keel. The big Sikh stared at him in surprise, then flashed him a thumbs up.

“Whatever you’re doing Montgomery, good luck!”
he shouted after Damien, who barely heard him as he caught a support bar and redirected his personal gravity.

With a bruising thump, Damien slammed into the underside of the
ship’s radiation cap, where the sub-matrix diverted energy away if it wasn’t a jump spell. He focused his gaze on it, following the lines of energy and noting where they detoured.

With a deep breath,
he pulled the soldering iron and embossing tools out. With a single slash of the iron, he severed a rune. Molten silver followed, new runes taking shape that loop the energy back into the general matrix.

One link done,
he slid sideways and repeated the process. Runes were something to carve carefully, with time, precision and detailed calculations. Without time, Damien relied on his sight, on knowing how the energy would flow.

The forward
matrix took him fifteen minutes to disconnect, and then he ran again, redirecting gravity to speed him towards Rib One.

He had
mere hours to change the entire nature of the rune matrix, and all he could do was pray he was doing it right.

#

Damien had made it to Rib Four when the ship lurched out from beneath his feet, his spell failing to compensate for the entire kilometer-length of the vessel jerking a full meter sideways. He slammed into the wall, gouging his hands and cracking his jaw.

Carefully
feeling his jaw for any major injuries, he opened a link to the bridge.

“What the hell was that?”
he demanded.

“They have a laser,”
Rice said shortly. “And we no longer have a forward turret. You’re out of time, Damien. Whenever that thing recharges, we lose the rear turret, and then we either jump or die.”

Damien
looked at the sub-matrix for Rib Four. Most of the runes were severed, with only one rune chain still linking it. With a deep breath, he focused on the lines of energy, and slashed with the soldering iron. If he’d judged it right, he’d broken the rune without creating a dangerous feedback loop, but at this point he could only hope.

“Computer, connect me to engineering,”
he ordered his PC as he charged rearwards for the simulacrum chamber.

“Keller
s, it’s Montgomery,” he told the engineer, focusing his gravity spell so that he fell towards the rear of the ship.

“I’m a little busy trying to keep us from blowing the fuck up kid, this better be important,”
the engineer snapped.

“You know those runes on the main heat exchanger?”
Damien asked, grunting as he slammed into the ladder leading to the keel. He hadn’t slowed himself enough, but he hadn’t broken any bones.

“What?
What about them?” Kellers demanded. “
Watch that hydrogen line
,” he bellowed at somebody else. “Do
not
connect that thing to the conduit yet; hold off till I
tell
you to hook it up.”

“I need you to break the rune chains connecting them to the rest of the ship’s matrix,” the Mage
told him.

There was
silence on the other end of the line as Damien forced his bruised, weary, legs to carry him towards the keel.

“And how the fuck
am I supposed to do that?” Kellersfinally demanded.

“It shouldn’t matter,”
Damien told him honestly. He was pretty sure that destroying the other six matrices would render the one in engineering utterly ineffectual – but he couldn’t be certain. “Weld it, gouge, burn it – take an ax to it for all I care, but I’ll be in the simulacrum chamber in two minutes, and I need those runes disconnected when I get there.”

Another pause.
“You owe me one hell of an explanation Montgomery, but I’ll see what I can do,” Kellersfinally said.

“If we live, I’ll explain with diagrams,” Damien
promised, and then redirected his gravity spell towards the simulacrum.

As long as
he made it to the simulacrum in time, he didn’t care if he broke something anymore.

#

Leaving the door to the simulacrum chamber open had been one of his better ideas. He fell through the door, barely slowing himself at the last minute. With a deep breath and steeling himself against the result, Damien grabbed onto the simulacrum to slow himself.

The
simulacrum
couldn’t
move. He barely held his grip, and one of his arms was clearly going to make him pay later, but he stopped.

He
looked up at the bridge link and met Rice’s eyes.

“They have a six minute recharge on the laser,”
the captain told him. “It’s no Navy gun, but it’s plenty for their purposes. We are now out of defenses, so I hope your idea works.”

“We’ll see,”
he said quietly, opening a link to engineering. “Kellers?”

“It’s done,”
the engineer replied. “You have no idea how scared shitless I am right now.”

“Join the club,”
Damien told him. “Everyone hold on.”

With a deep breath,
he placed the runes on his palms on the model, and became the ship.

This was the true purpose of the matrix
. He knew it the moment he linked in. Before, only trying to cast the jump spell had linked this completely to the ship. Now, just completing the matrix changed everything.

He saw as the ship saw.
Felt as it felt. The scars where the turrets had been burned away hurt as badly as his own strained limbs. The broken engines burned as if his own skin had been seared with fire.

And the
Blue Jay
’s eyes were his eyes. He saw in radiation and heat as clearly as day, and saw the pirate ship closing on them, certain now that it had disabled its victim – so certain they hadn’t even demanded their surrender.

This time,
he had no intention of scaring anyone off. The simple self-defense fire spell every Mage learned leapt to his mind and power leapt from his hands into the runes of the ship. He sensed the power loop through the ship, repeating and building so quickly no one outside the spell would have sensed it.

Fire lit the
darkness of deep space as his magic lit a tiny sun and flung it across the void. His senses and power followed it the entire way, waiting for the pirate to try to dodge.

They
never even saw it coming. Super-heated plasma ripped through their hull, tearing a hole through the length of the ship, until the fireball reached the antimatter storage that fueled the pirate’s engines.

The
ship vanished in the searing white flame of annihilating matter.

#

As the
Blue Jay
drifted in space, the senior officers gathered on the bridge. Damien joined Kellers, Jenna and the Captain and found himself the center of attention.

“What did you
do
?” David asked.

“I turned our jump matrix into an amplifier,”
Damien explained. “There were limiters built into the spell matrix to make it only amplify the jump spell – I removed them.”

“That’s
possible
?” Jenna exclaimed.

“A week ago, I would have said no,”
the young Mage said. “We’re discouraged from looking too closely at the Jump Matrix – messing with it in flight is illegal. I just had no choice.”

“Can we still jump?”

“Yes,” Damien replied, unhesitatingly.

“Good enough,”
Captain Rice replied, turning to Kellers. “What about the engines?”

“We’ve fixed the conduits for One, but Two and
Three are gone until we get to Corinthian.”

The
Captain nodded, looking around at the officers.

“Then, whenever you’re ready Mr. Montgomery, let’s be on our way.”

###


 

Look for Starship’s Mage: Episode 2

R
eleased March 2014

 

Watch for Starship’s Mage: Episode 3

Coming June 2014

and

Starship’s Mage Episode 4

Coming September 2014

 

If
you liked the novella, please leave a review!

 

Follow Glynn Stewart on Twitter @faolanspen or on my blog at www.faolanspen.com

BOOK: Starship's Mage: Episode 1
9.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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