(Author’s Note)… No, sorry, I haven’t forgotten that I am still posting chapters of book four of my action/humor science fiction series: The Otherwhere Chronicles… the first three books of which are available over there—> in my sidebar—>
The action… as in the huge space battle between the woefully-disadvantaged allied fleet and the monstrously-large Black Fleet from another dimension… is heating up.
Don’t worry, Arthur… uh, not me, the other me, from that other dimension being invaded by yet another dimension… will fix things as he always does… with pure luck.
From the pilot’s seat the Warlord told Arthur, “The fleet should reach the gate in about an hour, minus those that are playing dead. By that time there will still be less than 4,000 ships of the second wave through the gate. That should make our forces just about even.” Arthur could tell by the Xxo’s voice that he was enjoying himself immensely.
Arthur’s cell phone rang. It was Mr. Toad. “I thought you should know that Reporters are covering the battle. You seem to be doing quite well,” said the Brain-Friend happily.
Arthur quickly explained that it was not quite so much a battle as a stage show, and then he had another idea, as he so often does. “The universe has mourned me long enough,” he said into the phone. “Go get the Reporter out of the maintenance closet near the lounge and bring him to the comm room any way you can. Put him where he can see the screen. I have a little announcement to make.” In two minutes this had been accomplished. Mr. Toad had simply told the Reporter that he was going to give it exclusive coverage of the biggest breaking news in the universe, and it followed him like a happy puppy.
“Okay, Gup, put me on the screen, no scrambler, open channel,” Arthur requested. Then he turned to the camera and began to speak.
“Hello, universe. This is your old buddy, Arthur Blacke. I apologize profusely for having to fake my death. The bomb was real, and the enemy was trying to kill me and my friends. We had to pretend it went off to fool them, and it worked. Please support our allied troops any way you can. Now, if you will excuse me, I have an enemy invasion to crush so we can all get back to our peaceful lives. Thank you, and I’ll see you soon.”
And all over the universe, every being with access to any kind of news outlet went absolutely crazy with joy and relief.
Arthur realized that the enemy was undoubtedly seeing this newscast as well. As long as the cat was out of the bag, he decided to rub it in. Yes, I know that was a horrible mismatching of clichés, but you know what I mean.
He stepped closer to the camera and glared directly into the lens. “You hear that, Fahh? I’m still alive. You have tried to have me killed so many times I can’t remember them all, and I’m still here. Now it’s your turn. I am coming for you.” Arthur paused, smiled and waved. “Hi, Mom, sorry about the whole being dead thing. Love you.” And with that Gup cleared the channel.
“We are approaching the second wave units now, Admiral,” said the Warlord calmly. “There is no indication that we have been spotted.”
“Gup, can you find me that other spy ship?” Arthur asked.
“I can track the transport machine to within a few yards,” Gup replied.
They prepared more of the surveillance bugs and their control panel. They sent six bugs into space before they hit the cabin of the other spy ship with the seventh. Then Arthur gave the robot called Number One his orders and beamed it over. On two separate monitors Arthur watched the scene unfold through the bug’s eyes and the robot’s. The ten or so Keelar responded to Number One before he had finished materializing. They tried to blast their unwanted metallic visitor while he was still transporting and learned the lesson of the ricochets the hard way. Arthur didn’t worry about the two Keelar who were hit by the diminished, bouncing power beams, but he did hope they didn’t damage their ship. He wanted it for himself.
As Number One became able to move and function, he began to command the Keelar to surrender in that cute little girl’s voice. They responded by blasting him with more energy beams. Chunks and bits blew off the robot, but it managed to return fire with the electro-net bundles, and as quickly as that there were Keelar rocketing about inside the cabin. Unfortunately, the Keelar were more spread out and the effect was not as devastating as it might have been. Arthur was already sending Number Two as backup, but he felt horrible about the damage Number One was taking. Fortunately, the transport bubble around Number Two protected his mechanical brother from most of the energy beams.
Number One used this cover well, but he was either out of electro-net ammo or the launchers were damaged. Through the robot’s eyes Arthur watched as brave Number One returned fire with the rubber bullets. To get a better view Arthur switched his eyes to the other monitor showing the bug’s view. The rubber bullets impacted the Keelar’s rounded little bodies with loud thuds. Arthur could see their thick skin ripple and wobble around where the bullets hit. The Keelar were knocked over but scrambled rapidly back onto their four sack-like feet seemingly unhurt. Despite their inability to tolerate electrical shocks, the Keelar were some tough little guys.
Now two robots were yelling in their strangely adorable voices. Arthur was prepared to send Number Three if he had to, but Number Two’s electro-nets turned the tide of battle. The last two Keelar surrendered, and threw down their weapons.
“Rubar, go over there with Gup and keep him safe. Secure the prisoners,” Arthur said rapidly. “Gup, shut down that beam machine. And take a good look at it. See if it’s the same as ours. And try to figure out how the beam is used to get ships through the gate. Oh, and send Number One back.” Rubar and Gup touched shoulders and Gup activated the remote he held. In moments they were gone.
Number One soon appeared. Arthur saw that it was chewed up rather badly, and he apologized and promised that he would send him back to Tarlek Da for repairs as soon as possible.
Thirty seconds later Gup had the transport machine on the other craft shut down and the ships of the second wave ceased popping out into space. They had begun arriving twenty-eight minutes before, and now there were slightly less than 1,700 of them milling about. That meant the good guys outnumbered them for now. It also meant there were still 28,300 or so of the second wave stuck on the far side of the gate, at least for the moment. Now was the time to cut off the snake’s head.
And it turned out to be remarkably easy to do. Alone, and with no reinforcements arriving, unable even to contact their ships on the other side of the gate, they were already panicked by the ease with which the defenders were seemingly crushing the first wave. They were ready to break, they just needed one last little shove.
So they were completely unprepared to deal with Arthur’s next deception. He told the Warlord to take them close to the front of the enemy commander’s ship. Maybe not the command ship of the entire second wave, but the one that Gup, by monitoring their communications, and the General, by examining their formation, had agreed was the ship that was the highest ranked to come through the gate so far. They came to a halt just a few thousand yards in front of the stationary vessel.
Arthur activated Tarlek Da’s big holo-projector to the image he had chosen. Then he told the Warlord to put him on the screen with the enemy ship. When he got a nod from the Xxo, he addressed the alien captain. “Ahoy, invading war vessel, this is Arthur Blacke. Can you hear me?”
An ugly face with blotchy pink and gray skin, rolls of fat, and a huge, dangling nose appeared on the screen. Arthur thought for a moment that it was the leader of the alien supremacists from the Hub, but then he noticed that this one appeared older and there was a scar that ran through the blubber on one cheek from ear-hole to chin.
“I hear you, human,” replied the repulsive face. His beady black eyes seemed wary.
“Do you have view ports on you ship?” asked Arthur in conversational tones.
“Yes,” replied the elephant seal-faced captain in some confusion.
“You might want to take a peak out your front window,” suggested Arthur.
Through the screen of the spy ship, which by the way didn’t actually have windows, Arthur watched a heavily armored section of the nose of the enemy ship slide down. They were so close he could see the tiny head of the captain as he came to the armor-glass and pressed his face up against it. “It’s dark out there,” complained the captain.
“Turn on you running lights,” said Arthur, as if speaking to a not-overly-bright child.
The captain did so, and Arthur heard him gasp. Because what he saw, or what he thought he saw, thanks to the magic of Tarlek Da’s projector, parked nose to nose with his ship, was the most monstrous, huge and awesome Heavy Battle Ship the captain could ever imagine.
“You didn’t know we have hundreds of stealth-cloaked battle ships, did you?” asked Arthur malevolently.
The tip of the second wave surrendered without firing a single shot.