Chapter Four: Adipose System, 2019
“What’s the ship count?” Captain Groosalugg called.
“Forty-seven,” Lieutenant Hammer replied.
Forty-seven Dalek warships against one Gaian lifeship. A fairly easy fight.
The Groosalugg had been a warrior all his life. He always sought the greatest battles. But when he saw the battle over London, he knew that this war would be different. The greatest warriors wielded not swords and axes, but men. They were leaders, commanders, strategists. It was a completely different way of fighting.
So he decided to learn it.
He had enrolled at the United States Naval Academy in the fall of 2006. He had thrown himself into studying strategy, tactics, and the art of command. He had actually memorized Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War. He had graduated in 2010. After six years as a lieutenant and then a commander under Captain Angel’s command on the Cordelia Chase
, he had landed his current post – XO of the Los Angeles
, the flagship of Admiral Illyria. Illyria had been the obvious choice to command the Navy – she had literally millions of years of experience as a leader of armies. And she had proven to be a very capable ship driver.
“Raise storm shields,” Illyria commanded.
“Aye, sir.” They would be going toe-to-toe with the Daleks. It was similar to the kind of fighting the Groosalugg had always enjoyed. Victory would depend on quick thinking and skill at arms.
And, as usual, the fact that Gaian lifeships were not exactly bound by the laws of physics.
Above, the sky filled with black storm clouds. The raising of the storm shields was a multisensory experience. First the sky would darken, then brighten again from lightning flashes. This would be followed by the sound of thunder, and then the feeling of rain. The rain would strengthen the plant life growing on the Los Angeles
, thereby reinforcing the magical field that powered the whole ship. To any form of sensors, the storm shields seemed as immaterial as water vapor, but they were capable of absorbing unbelievable amounts of damage. The stom shields that protected Earth were nigh-invincible.
Civilians often wondered why they would deliberately block their view, but the truth was that space combat was rarely fought at distances where eyeballs would be useful. Gaian lifeships were equipped with all sorts of visual aids, with different commanders favoring different ones. Andrew Wells’ Enterprise
was equipped with viewscreens connected to tiny satellite-cameras that sat just outside the storm shields. Willow Rosenberg preferred an entirely magical approach, sensing the enemy ships. And Los Angeles
made use of alien holoprojectors, allowing for a three-dimensional view of the battlefield.
“Prepare for missile salvo, on my mark” Illyria ordered.
“Aye, Admiral,” the Groosalugg nodded. He relayed the order to his crew.
The holoscreen lit up as dozens of missile icons appeared, streaming toward the Dalek ships. Each missile was vaporized by the Dalek shields, but the payload was another matter. At least nine of the ships had been hit by living plasma.
Living plasma was one of the nastier weapons in the Gaian arsenal. It had been a simple matter of adapting the living fire spell to plasma. The plasma wasn’t immediately deadly, but it would spread outward from the impact point, gaining strength as it vaporized more of the ship. Those ships were pretty much doomed, although they might survive long enough to defeat the Los Angeles
“The Daleks have launched their own missiles!” Hammer reported. “Impact in sixty seconds!”
The Groosalugg – like Illyria – was fearless, but he was not so brash as to disregard the implications of a Dalek missile barrage. One of those missiles could devastate a continent. Three could bring down a storm shield – and the fourth would destroy the ship.
“Prepare for teleportation!” Illyria’s voice was steady. The coordinates flashed on the screen. Around the ship, warlocks prepared to move the ship instantaneously from one point to another. Teleportation wasn’t easy, but it was effective. The magical teleportation used by the Gaians was also scientifically impossible, which made it impossible to block. There was no alternate dimension involved, no wormhole, no transmatter beam. Just magic.
“Thirty seconds to impact!”
The Los Angeles
winked out of existence, and reappeared in the heart of the Dalek fleet.
“FIRE ALL WEAPONS!” Illyria roared.
“Fire!” the Groosalugg repeated.
An almighty storm came into being, one that the laws of physics said could not exist. Close range was where the Gaians reigned supreme. Gobs of living plasma spat forth, setting the Dalek ships alight. Curses weakened their systems and clouded their minds. And black lightning ripped their hulls apart.
The Daleks fought back. Death rays and missiles stabbed through space. Individual Daleks flew from their dying ships in an attempt to board the Gaian vessel. But the storm shields held. One by one, the Dalek ships were annihilated.
They were fortunate, the Groosalugg knew. And while the loss of forty-seven ships would hurt the Daleks in this region (not to mention sparing the Adiposians from annihilation), it was a mere drop in the water compared to the thousands of ships the Daleks wielded, especially when the Gaian fleet had less than thirty lifeships of its own.
Like any nation at war, the Gaians had their propaganda. Lorne was constantly trumpeting their victories. The Gaians seemed invincible. Nearly every time the Gaians and Daleks met in battle, the Gaians emerged victorious. Only two Gaian ships had ever been lost in battle. Hundreds of worlds had been spared.
But this concealed certain facts. Such as the fact that the Gaians’ record only stood up if you ignored the battles they didn’t fight. That was the work of prophecy – the Gaians could see what battles they could win. But they could not see how to win the war.