Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short short (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.
The cosmic inferno bombarding Excalibur didn’t allow even a small chance for disbelief. They were under attack and soon their shields would fail. Sian turned to his tactical officer, demanding an update.
“Sir, we have thirty percent shields. Several of our main areas have been hit hard. We’re venting atmosphere in the cargo bay. I’ve sealed it off from the rest of the ship. Our torpedo weapons are almost depleted. Phasers are firing, but they aren’t doing much damage.”
Sian slammed his fist against the arm of his chair. It’d been a risky move entering Laricka space, especially when they were at war. He’d seen no other options. One of their ships was stranded on the other side of Laricka, its FTL drive badly damaged. They had no way home and was rapidly losing all life support.
The ship Trask had been on a peacekeeping mission with several delegates from surrounding sectors aboard. Initially, talks had gone well and the reports sent home were glowing about Laricka hospitality. That is until a Gosian noticed an oddity with his brother. The Gosian Ambassador was not using all 6 of his arms. It was such a small thing, but enough to send in an elite extraction team – Sian’s team.
Another hit rocked the ship as the gravitation stabilizers shut off. Ranix, the tactical officer, had them back on within seconds. Everything not bolted down slammed back into place.
“Evasive maneuvers, damn it! Delta Six, Alpha Zero!” Sian yelled to his engineer officer, Xeris, sitting at the helm. He braced himself even though the stabilizers would keep the ship steady as they moved.
Excalibur shot forward, directly at the enemy ship. The giant holo-screens covering the front of the ship showed the vast space in front of them. Six vessels were in a loose semi-circle, each one firing phasers. Bursts of light streamed past them as the Excalibur moved too close for the enemy’s targeting range.
Hovering near his right hand was a smaller holo-screen. It contained up-to-the-second data pertaining to the entire ship as well as the ability to toggle to any camera on the vessel. He swiftly flipped through the cameras to check on his crew members. Unfortunately, not everyone survived the initial attack. He’d lost five members and was down to sixteen including himself.
Later, he’d mourn for them. He’d been captain for nearly thirty years and many of his crew had been with him since the beginning. Right now, though, he didn’t have the time to shed a tear. He needed to get the rest to safety and to find the delegates on the Trask.
Glancing to the main holo-screens, he watched as they sped closer to the head ship in formation. The others were turning, trying to get a lock on the Excalibur, but their maneuverability wasn’t as advanced. The Excalibur had been made specifically for stealth missions, ones where they needed to get in and out as quickly as possible. It was smaller, much smaller, than most starships which is why it only required twenty-one personnel instead of hundreds.
The head ship tried to move, tried to get out of the way, but it was too slow. The other captain also assumed, incorrectly, that Sian wanted to ram the larger ship. Maneuver Delta Six, Alpha Zero was to speed towards the main ship and at the last moment to shoot upwards. Most targeting systems worked best between 75 degrees and -75 degree. Straight above or below required special weaponry. Weaponry the Excalibur just happened to have.
They zipped above the enemy and watched in glee as they accidently shot each other. There wasn’t any damage as their shields were still fully intact, but at least that was one less hit for their ship to take.
Sian scrolled through the cameras one more time and bit back a curse. Several of his crew was lying on the ground. They had been fine just a few minutes ago. Something or someone was attacking his people.
“Baklore, we have hostiles aboard. Secure the engine room and the bridge. Lock us down tight!” Sian ordered his security officer. Damn it, how had they infiltrated the ship? Not a single enemy had gotten close to them. A boarding party just wasn’t possible.
Needing more information and trusting his crew, he keyed in his personal encryption code to the computer. His consciousness melded with the computer’s processing unit allowing him to decipher and assimilate everything the computer knew. It’d taken him decades to become this comfortable with the computer. Initially it’d been hard to shed his own consciousness, afraid of losing part of himself. Now, he did it with ease.
Scrolling through the vast amounts of data, he was able to pinpoint when they’d been boarded. It was well before the enemy ships had attacked them. In fact, it was before they’d even left their own space. A tiny alien entity had slipped into the air ducts when they’d docked at the Gosian space station bordering Laricka space. It’d been their last stop to refuel and verify everything was in working order.
The alien entity was as small as a speck of dust. It completely fooled the computer’s sensors into believing it was harmless. Once the ship’s computer knew what to look for, he followed its path through the ship. The alien incapacitated the crew by entering the nasal cavity. He watched in surprise as it controlled each crew member while inside the person.
Then he saw how they’d been detected. The alien had dropped their stealth mode, lighting up space with their presence. The Larickains were expecting a rescue mission and already had plans in place. The Excalibur was the lucky one to fall into their trap.
Sian continued to trace the alien’s path, moving swiftly through the data to figure out where it was now. He gasped in shock, watching as it entered his own nasal cavity. His mind registered the spot but he was unconscious before he reached the floor.