Star Cat: War Mage

Andrew Mackay

STAR CAT

WAR MAGE

Chrome Valley Books

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CHAPTER ONE

“We discover, adapt and create.

Acting on our discoveries is all we have.

Let us not regret our indecisions.”

Pascal D’Souza

(2056–2111)

* * *

Botanix

Space Opera Beta – Level Three

Dozens of Shanta creatures snaked through the broken Botanix wall. Tripp, Bonnie, and Jaycee lifted their firearms and prepared to blast the creatures to smithereens.

“What did Wool say?” Bonnie turned to Tripp. “What’s up with Jelly?”

He hooked his finger around the trigger and prepared to take a shot at an incoming creature, “She’s pregnant.”

BAM-SPLATCH!

Tripp blasted the Shanta’s slit open. The beast exploded, tossing its twelve severed limbs in all directions.

What?” Bonnie tore her gaze away from the bullet-storm, “Say that again?”

“I said Jelly’s pregnant,” Tripp shouted over the gunfire.

“God damn it, there’s thousands of them,” Jaycee thumped the side of his floor-mounted K-SPARK turret. The meter on the side of the barrel displayed a rapidly reducing ammunition level, “Less than five hundred rounds. I figure we have two minutes before we’re outnumbered.”

BAM-BAM-BAM!

The turret swung back and forth, firing at the swathes of Shanta creatures scuttling along the ground, walls, and ceiling.

Several of the disgusting beasts exploded. Their pink gore splattered the already-desecrated rows of plants.

Jaycees finally processed the revelation, “Wait a minute? Pregnant?”

“That’s what Wool said,” Tripp flung his empty Rez-9 magazine at the creatures, “That’s it, I’m out.”

Thousands of Shanta scurried over the sandy horizon towards the ship. Tripp threw his gun at them. They tussled over each other in an attempt to grab it with their talons.

The water dispenser that Tor and Jelly had taken cover behind earlier caught Tripp’s attention.

“Jaycee, we need to get out of here but the door might not hold them back. Come and help me.”

“You got it.”

“I got you covered, go,” Bonnie slammed her Cortex K-12 leg into her palms. The end of her boot slid open and released five canon-barreled toes, “Come and get some, you ugly sonofabitches!”

THRAA-TA-AAA-ATT-TT!

The bullets shredded through the limbs of the dozen-strong Shanta. Most slumped to the floor and bled their internal fluids into the five-inch pool of fresh water on the ground.

“I can’t hold them off much longer,” Bonnie palmed the lever on the side of her leg, “Reloading.”

Tripp watched Jaycee grab the sides of the water dispenser, “Do it.”

“I am, I am,” the great hunk of android wrestled with the unit, “It’s heavy.”

“So are you.”

“Yeah, but I’m not attached to the wall, am I?”

BAM-BAM-BAM-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK…

The mounted K-SPARK turret emptied its final magazine into the hordes of creatures and clicked into nothingness. The oscillator function whirred down to a close.

“That’s it, we’re outnumbered and outgunned,” Tripp shouted at Bonnie.

CLUNK-SCHLAMM!

Jaycee wrenched the water unit from the wall with an almighty crunch, “Got it. Stand back.”

A hefty, continuous blast of pure water splashed over Jaycee as he turned around with the unit in his arms, “Go on, get out of here. Now.”

Bonnie stomped her Cortex K-12 limb rifle to the floor and darted over to the door, “Let’s get outta here.”

Tripp took one last look at the hungry creatures. They shrieked and jumped from the white sand and flooded Botanix, “Jaycee?”

He slammed the unit to the ground beside the door and thumped the compartment on the side of his leg, “Yeah?”

“You coming?”

The Botanix door slid open. Bonnie hopped through it and beckoned Tripp to join her, “Come on, quick.”

“You want them to spread through Opera Beta like a damn virus?” Jaycee took out a sliver of wire from the cavern in his leg. He wound it around the one hand he had left and attached it to the water unit.

“I’ll take my chances on sealing these bastards in here, thanks.”

Tripp stepped back through the door, “No, but—”

SCREEEEEEEEE!

A Shanta extended each of its twelve limbs and used the back four to launch itself at Jaycee.

“Christ, get out of there,” Bonnie said.

Jaycee snapped the wire taut and kicked himself away from the unit.

SCHWIPP!

The wire lifted up and juddered to a halt in mid-air.

SCHTING-SCHTING-SCHTANG!

The creature spun its limbs around like a carnival ride and extended its talons. It smashed against the wall in two halves having been dissected by the goo-drenched wire.

“Jeeez,” Tripp slammed the panel on the other end of the door, trying to close it, “C’mon, c’mon, close.”

“Wait up,” Jaycee bounded toward the door as it began to close.

“Let’s go, come on,” Tripp held his hand through the closing door as Jaycee stomped towards it, “There’s another one behind you.”

If Jaycee had stopped to look over his shoulder, he’d have seen a fifteen-foot Shanta fan all its limbs out like a giant, fleshy cobweb.

Tripp saw the bicycle-like monstrosity as Jaycee bolted towards the door, “Oh, oh, damn.”

Jaycee’s palm slammed into Tripp’s, “Gotcha.”

“Get the hell of here, now.”

Tripp yanked Jaycee through the door and slammed the panel on the wall.

The Shanta fanned its limbs out like a cartwheel and rolled toward the door, “Screeeeeee—”

SCHWIP-SCHA-JUNT!

Jaycee fell to the floor and tugged on the wire. The gossamer-thin strip wound taut. The door slammed down on it, yanking the water unit across the floor. It crashed against the creature’s front two limbs, shattering the bones and flesh. The force knocked the cartwheeled vision of death onto its side. It squealed in pain as the rest of the Shanta stampeded over it.

BOOM.

The door slammed shut, providing a fantastic view of the utter chaos behind the window.

BOP-BOP-SLAM!

Bonnie stepped back and held out her hands, “I don’t want to be here, anymore.”

“You don’t say,” Tripp offered Jaycee his hand, “Get up, soldier.”

Jaycee climbed to his feet and brushed his exo-suit down. He detached the wire from his belt and moved to the window with great curiosity, “What the hell are those things?”

Tripp couldn’t provide an explanation, “I have no idea.”

Jaycee reached into the compartment in his leg and took out a red dumb bomb. He teased the pin with his thumb, “Do I have your permission to toss this in Botanix and buy us some time?”

“If you do, we lose oxygen—”

“—Are you out of your mind, Healy?” Jaycee stomped his boot to the floor. The arsenal inside his leg compartment rattled around.

“Have you seen the state of Botanix? It’s as good as over, anyway.”

“But the oxygen?” Bonnie asked. “We’re screwed without it.”

Jaycee turned to the window once again. The Shanta chewed and ravaged their way through the charcoaled plants and soil and bashed against the door.

“You’re forgetting one thing,” Jaycee flicked the pin from the dumb bomb. The lights lit up and the device armed itself, “We don’t need oxygen. We’re Androgynes.”

Jaycee grabbed the lip of the door and pulled it across its slider. “Nggggg…”

Biddip-biddip-biddip-beeeep.

“Go to Medix and find Wool. Go, go,” Jaycee tossed the live dumb bomb through the ten-inch gap in the door.

Tripp and Bonnie shot off down the walkway.

Jaycee to pushed the door shut. The Shanta backed away from the beeping device rolling around the floor. One of them crouched on its front four limbs. Its top ‘arms’ bent over and tried to pick it up the rolling grenade.

“Screeeeeeee,” another shouted when realizing what the device was.

KA-BLOICK!

The dumb bomb exploded. A torrent of pink gloop splattered up inside of the door’s window. Jaycee caught sight of his severed left hand in the window a ...

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